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30 June 2012 @ 11:51 pm
Serious/Less serious  
1. Bloody hell, Colorado! It's horrifying watching coverage of the fires sweeping through – thank goodness there has been minimal loss of life so far. Those conditions sound simply horrific, and all those homes and habitat lost is just heartbreaking. I have friends in the area who are out helping with relief efforts and, just as when such things happen here, the one single positive is the way that so many people have worked together to help each other. But still, I feel reasonably certain no one needed that much character built.

2. Ladies, please take better care of your health! I've had another dear friend fall in a heap due to lack of focus on her body as a biological construct, and it's pissing me off as much as it's upsetting me.

As women, we seem encouraged to spend more time worrying about the aesthetics of our bodies than about their functionality. Which is bullshit. Fitness is so important, and it's just not emphasised (unlike diet and thinness, which is apparently the raison d'etre of women's existence), which is stupid, because exercise is the number one thing that you can do to improve your health right away and continuously thereafter. And you don't need to be putting in a massive effort, simple things like leaving the car at home and walking, taking the stairs rather than the lift or escalator, and getting off the bus a stop early all add up.

My friend is thin, and so has been telling herself she is fit. But when we recently ran for a bus, she could only manage about 10 steps and then I had to sprint ahead and hold it for her, convincing the driver to take pity on the middle-aged and out of shape through a combination of blarney and a shameless abuse of cleavage. When she got on the bus, she was puffing away, and I expressed concern at her lack of fitness.

She pointed out that my arse is three sizes larger than it was when we met, which is true – I started off with a teeny arse, but put on weight after I shattered my foot, and then more later on when the tendonitis got bad. Indeed, my arse has been even larger than it is at the moment. But I tensed my glutes, grabbed her hand, and demonstrated that most of that arse is muscle, which is why I can run fast despite buggered legs. I mentioned my friend Emma, who is a size 18 and runs marathons. And then there is that girl I don't know at the gym who is basically built like a brick shithouse, but strong and fast and flexible and fit. All of us able to out-run, out-ride, out-swim, out-lift, out everything except out-size-six her. She rolled her eyes and told me I sounded like a zealot (I poked out my tongue and said she started it, because I am such a successful adult.)

And now she is looking at possible surgery and a lifetime of medication and her doctor is saying 'You need to make significant lifestyle changes' and I don't work at the same publishing house anymore, so I can't go for a run or ride with her at lunch and she is younger than me. And if even a year ago she had said 'You know, I don't need to drive everywhere', it could probably have been avoided, given there was nothing congenitally wrong.

So if you have good basic mobility and no pressing health issues, see if you can run for a bus without losing your breath. Or walk briskly up a steep hill or a flight or two of steps. And if you find it hard, then just start to incorporate a bit more physical effort into your days. You'll feel better, you'll look better, you will physically be better and it's pretty damn good for your mental health, too. Because our bodies can turn on us enough without us encouraging them!

3. To end on a lighter note – most of you will be aware that I have a passion for cycling, which wages war with living in Sydney, one of the worst cities in the world to ride a bike in (though slightly better than it used to be). Riding my Lady Bike deals with some of my cycling needs, though she is big and heavy, so 10km is a long ride on her. My new pub bike is good for local jaunts, but far too crap for anything more, so there is a gap in my life where road riding used to be.

I have been filling this with spin classes of late, which are fun, and even have had to buy new cycling nix as those saddles are murder on one's nether regions. The instructors are hilarious, with one relaxed and encouraging, one spiritual and super-focused, and one ex-Olympian who basically treats us as though we are training at a velodrome, sometimes shouting incomprehensible instructions that I suspect were meant for a Kierin team. I love them all.

Olympian surpassed himself on Wednesday, he had a regimen that had us standing on the pedals at near-top gear for long stretches, interspersed with seated power climbs and continuous add-ons of gear until we literally maxed out. It was hard work. At the end of one track, we all took a bit of recovery time at lower gear, and as soon as he caught his breath and had a drink, he looked out at us and said, 'You're tired, yes? Heart pumping and breathing hard? Legs a bit jelly? That was eight minutes. Think about the riders in the Tour de France, they have to do that for hours on end, day after day. No wonder they're all juicing!'
fragrantwoods: cottle prioritiesfragrantwoods on June 30th, 2012 02:15 pm (UTC)
This post was a great reminder to me. I've slipped in the fitness area over the last months and was telling myself it was okay because the scales haven't moved. You're right, though, that has nothing to do with being fit.Thanks for the inspiration!
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 30th, 2012 02:58 pm (UTC)
You're very welcome. I let myself slip a long way when my foot was really buggered, which was stupid because it just made the foot worse and worse, but it has been reassuring to see that it can all be reversed reasonably quickly.

It was interesting to me how little link there is between weight and fitness, having been climbing back down to small at a slower rate than climbing uphill to peak fitness. I know that I could lose weight faster if I dropped my nutrition intake a bit, but then I wouldn't have the energy to work as well, so I'm just concentrating on there being an overall downward trend in the weight and hitting specific speed, endurance, strength and flexibility goals. And I feel fab!
spirillen: Tim Minchinspirillen on June 30th, 2012 02:52 pm (UTC)
I concur - after 15 years of desk based jobs I can definitely feel my back getting stiffer and at 40 I really am too young for that.
One of the most fab things I've come across are these podcasts from the NHS.I have never, ever been a runner (I was always the slowest in school and have hated running ever since) but this really got me started. I am so proud that I can now run for 30 mins without collapsing - not a lot compared to most of my friends but from struggling to run for 1 minute it's a huge achievement. And it's free and great to do in the British summer (which currently is much like a Sydney winter)


Excercise does not necessarily make you thinner - I gained two pounds during my yoga challenge last summer but looked much better due to better posture - and hopefully a little bit more muscle tone (I absolutely believe muscle weighs more than fat, please don't tell me otherwise :) )
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 30th, 2012 03:14 pm (UTC)
That's brilliant! I remember you telling me about that when you were over here – and 30 minutes is nothing to sneeze at!

I need to focus more on running, but am still working my way back to happy foot land. Cycling remains dominant for the moment, alas.

And you are not wrong! Muscle is definitely denser than fat (it doesn't weigh more, because weight is weight and a pound of something is a pound, but a 45cm thigh that is mostly muscle will weigh about 20% more than a 45cm thigh that is mostly fat.)

And you looked fabulous the last time I saw you – it inspired me to take up Pilates, having the examples of you and shu-shusleeps to go by!
Nennenenne on June 30th, 2012 03:41 pm (UTC)
To me it was a real pleasure (apart from the fact that I feel really sorry for your friend) to read this post because I could do so without a guilty conscience at all. :D

After Easter I started excercising again after a long period without and I know have four regular one hour workouts a week. I won't hide the fact that this has to do with weight loss as well, but the health issues were certainly a part of pushing me into action.

I hope your friend gets better soon.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 30th, 2012 03:52 pm (UTC)
I hope she does, too. She worries me, because she eats mostly junk, and she smokes and drinks too much, but she's naturally thin, so she's always pretended that it doesn't matter. At least now she has a Very Serious doctor telling her everything we've been telling her, so there's a good chance she'll listen! And if she has to have the surgery that is currently a maybe, I think it will scare her into rethinking things.

I had an acquaintance die earlier this year, and he took just as little care of himself as she does, except that it showed more on him. I thought he was about my age, he was 36. That's not right!

And I hear you on the lack of guilty conscience ;-) But I do wish I had never had a break in fitness, and that more of my friends were keeping up with theirs.
Darry Willis: Heart tattoonursedarry on June 30th, 2012 05:47 pm (UTC)
Just a gentle reminder that sometimes being a woman is all the predisposition we need. Genetics and the spontaneous conception of twins (eg. I didn't expect this AT ALL, nor what it might do to me) is what did my heart in. Up until then, I was teaching aerobics. But indeed, sometimes we do bring things on ourselves.

And I love your purely justified use of cleavage. Sometimes there are benefits amidst all the rubbish.

Also...where are my socks? Will I have them in time for the winter:)
blamebramptonblamebrampton on July 1st, 2012 03:10 am (UTC)
Absolutely, a lot of my friends get a pass under 'pressing health issues', which go from congenital issues to my darling Midlands friend who was an Army Reservist until giving birth buggered her pelvis for life.

It's actually one of the reasons I have started to press the issue a bit with some of my friends, because we live in countries with medical budgets that are generous but not infinite. So the more people like me and my work friend do to take care of ourselves, the more money is left for people who need it for reasons that aren't 'I really like sitting down!' Because that is a crap reason!

There are 1.5 socks currently in existence! They have been slowed down by the most ridiculous amount of writing and the churning out of a quick baby hat for a newborn and then a hat and mitten set for Treacle's toddler because it is currently bloody freezing in Tassie, but I will be back on them next week and hope to finish them with another fortnight or two's work (they be fiddly!) You will DEFINITELY have them for winter!
Heather: Thor: Darcyfaynia on June 30th, 2012 06:08 pm (UTC)
Wow. Just. Wow. I've been looking for a motivator beyond looking fabulous and feeling good and knowing that it's GOOD FOR YOU, but having a real example of what could actually go WRONG is a bigger motivator than I thought it would be.

I hope your friend is all right!

(Last time I rode my bicycle I kept singing Queen. It was maybe a problem.)
blamebramptonblamebrampton on July 1st, 2012 03:38 am (UTC)
Singing on your bike is NEVER a problem! I once made it through all the parts I knew in the Hallelujah chorus on a long ride, only scaring two or three motorists! (It's my experience that you only notice the open windows at red lights when it is far too late to do anything about your dignity, so you may as well just keep going ;-)) And Queen is the Greatest Band in the World for any sort of road trip!

And yeah, I hope she'll be OK, too. I'm really happy that we live in a country where she will receive a lot of professional help and encouragement without it costing her a lot of money, but I worry a bit that she'll decide it's all fixable with drugs and ignore the bit where her doctor has said 'you are wasting a perfectly good body. You are laying waste to a perfectly good body!' However, she's told a few of us that's what she's been told, so maybe that's a good sign and one of those 'If I outsource the impetus, I'll have to keep it up' things.
Admiral of Strange Shipsnoeon on June 30th, 2012 07:00 pm (UTC)
She pointed out that my arse is three sizes larger than it was when we met, which is true – I started off with a teeny arse, but put on weight after I shattered my foot, and then more later on when the tendonitis got bad. Indeed, my arse has been even larger than it is at the moment. But I tensed my glutes, grabbed her hand, and demonstrated that most of that arse is muscle, which is why I can run fast despite buggered legs. I mentioned my friend Emma, who is a size 18 and runs marathons. And then there is that girl I don't know at the gym who is basically built like a brick shithouse, but strong and fast and flexible and fit. All of us able to out-run, out-ride, out-swim, out-lift, out everything except out-size-six her. She rolled her eyes and told me I sounded like a zealot (I poked out my tongue and said she started it, because I am such a successful adult.)

My adoration knows no bounds, Brammers. Genuinely.

Thank you for this. I believe this all to be true--and aim to live by it--and I am surrounded by insane, starving people. It's nice to hear from the fitness first underground. I constantly get in trouble with my GP for my weight and I can walk 3 miles in 90 degrees with little problem and lift an ungodly amount of cat litter. I also have great lab values, so she's had to back off.

Also, hello, brains need fat. Without fat, you have no neural sheaths. Jus' sayin'
blamebramptonblamebrampton on July 1st, 2012 04:06 am (UTC)
Oh Noe, it's SO CRAZY! I have been everything from a UK size 4 when I was dancing and running long distance up to a 16 over the course of my 27 years as an adult.

Now both ends took some effort to get to: the upper one was reached after I'd put on some weight from a year of not being able to walk (shattered foot accident), then had very busy jobs that involved not leaving my desk for days on end (a bit more weight), then a really stressful job that involved a lot of chocolate to stop acts of homicide at the same time as a very bad foot year (and more weight). I was not fit at this point, though I could still walk 10km, I had to take it easy on hills and stairs.

Being a size 4 while dancing and running was easy (I have a small frame), because I also rode my horse almost every day and did swimming and school and then university sport. So I could shovel in food and it would just get burned off. But being a size 4 after I stopped dancing and running was the harbinger of the least-healthy period of my life, when I actually considered checking myself into the hospital as I was constantly ill, fatigued and just bleagh.

My boyfriend at the time said, 'Why don't you put on a bit of weight, we can always buy you new clothes,' and lo! It was a miracle cure!

Right now, I'm the fittest I've been since 1995 (taxi/bike accident) and probably a bit fitter than I was that year. I am very close to my peak of fitness since I was 20 and stopped dancing. I'm a size 12/14, my thighs still wobble when I stomp and there is definitely lard on my arse ;-) Although I have abs, they have insulation. But my body is strong and capable again, and although my bloody deviated septum means that every cold is an adventure in snot, this year my lungs just went 'Meh, we can cough that crap up' rather than 'Oh Waily! We are oppressed!' as they have in recent years. It's lovely getting back to what a body can really do!

No fat diets do make people crazy for that exact reason, their body is just shrieking out for a bit of healthy oil to feed to their brains. Tell em to kick over to the Mediterranean or Low-GI diet if they really want life-long health benefits to go with weight loss. There is so much scientific literature available on the ridiculousness of no-fat and no-carb diets that I just do not understand why people still do these things to themselves!
(no subject) - ladyjaneva on July 1st, 2012 09:14 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - blamebrampton on July 1st, 2012 02:42 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Lee Marchaisleemarchais on June 30th, 2012 07:38 pm (UTC)
I loved watching the spin classes when I able to go to the gym regularly. They look like fun and hard work.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on July 1st, 2012 04:08 am (UTC)
It's nice that you can set the work level yourself, so an old saddle-fiend like myself can do the whole class on the last half-turn of the gearing knob, while someone new to cycling can have it at an easy gear for a lot of the time. You still get a workout, regardless!

And they are a lot of fun: I enjoy the sensation of cycling without having to keep an eye out for mad drivers coming to kill me ;-)
kayokokayoko on July 1st, 2012 12:26 am (UTC)
Oh, you cycle so I can ask you questions! I'm new to cycling at the gym and I've noticed that I pedal a lot harder with my right leg than my left leg. Do you switch it up sometimes? It was a weird sensation to force myself to focus on using my left leg (it got tired so much faster).
blamebramptonblamebrampton on July 1st, 2012 04:22 am (UTC)
I am a cycling fiend so I am always happy to answer cycling questions! And Mr Brammers is an ex-road racer, so the bits I don't know, he does. Feel free to give a hoi if you ever need help!

Uneven legs is pretty normal, especially at the start when you haven't been riding for a while. Since you're riding in the gym, there's a good drill that you can do to strengthen your 'off' leg.
* Start off by sitting square and straight on the bike, pedal for a few minutes to warm up.
* Leaving your left hand where it is, move your right hand across it and grip the handlebar with your hands overlapping. Let your bodyweight shift to the left, trying to keep your hips in pretty much the same position in the saddle (you will tilt, but try not to actually move, keep it small if you feel you have to move).
* Ride for a couple of minutes, powering down and pulling up through your left leg, ignore your right leg, it'll just follow along.
* Then switch back to normal riding for the rest of the session.

This will both build up the strength in your off leg and make you more conscious of the feeling of moving your left leg and how the muscles feel when they are engaged. Over time, your body will engage them more and more without conscious thought!

hometimehometime on July 1st, 2012 01:13 am (UTC)
The other thing that many people assume is that weight loss= good. I'm fairly fit, and not overweight, but have had several episodes of high stress and mental health issues where I haven't eaten much for a week. And every time people have commented on how I've lost weight as though it is a good thing! Losing weight because you didn't eat because you were doing suicide watch for a relative does not in any way equal healthy, but in many people's minds overweight= not healthy, skinny or losing weight= healthy. And they are so wrong....
blamebramptonblamebrampton on July 1st, 2012 04:31 am (UTC)

And it always shocks me when people are encouraging of weightloss in the already thin. I remember being back at uni and I decided that I had to fit into all my dance clothes, because I had gained weight and that was obviously evil. I was a size 8. So I just stopped eating and was so very sick, but some of my girlfriends were all 'Oooh, you look so good!' Happily I had a nice boyfriend who gently and lovingly pointed out that I was being an idiot.

We come in all sorts of shapes naturally, and so I hate the idea of 'real women' = curvy just as much as I hate healthy/attractive woman = thin. But when my thin friends lose weight without there being an obvious cause, like training for a triathlon (all the cool fortysomethings are doing it!), it's almost always because they are going through something hugely stressful. And the only good thing about that is that the natural impulse to bake for our friends as a cheer-up technique is actually useful!
(no subject) - ladyjaneva on July 1st, 2012 07:56 am (UTC) (Expand)
down the hills and round the bendsnorton_gale on July 1st, 2012 04:05 am (UTC)
It's true... you get to middle age, and many of us just imagine we're as fit as we ever were. And we're not. I get my main exercise now chasing after my twins. And lifting them - I swear my son must be about 35 lbs now, and he constantly asks me to pick him up and throw him on the couch (that doesn't sound very nice written down, but he really does want to be tossed). Then there are the times I have to carry both of them. Needless to say my back is in good shape and my biceps look great. However, I need to work on aerobic exercise and stamina since weightlifting is much of what I do.

Glad to hear you are in good shape! I fear I could not handle an entire spin class at this point.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on July 1st, 2012 04:41 am (UTC)
The fittest women at the weights room are all mums, just because they get all those random lifts in all day every day ;-)

You were one of the main pushes for change! I looked at the photos of us in Florence and was all 'Oh dear … When did THAT happen?' And finding those hotel steps tiring was a shock!

You used to cycle, didn't you? I think that you would be surprised how easy spin is for the cyclists: those muscles never forget! Also, MUCH LOVE to you and the twins and the G-man!
Sometimes You Get Marshmallows: backsideflorahart on July 1st, 2012 04:55 am (UTC)
And you don't need to be putting in a massive effort, simple things like leaving the car at home and walking, taking the stairs rather than the lift or escalator, and getting off the bus a stop early all add up.

I would note that large portions of the year some of these things are actively ungood for me because pollen and/or otherwise crappy air. I used to walk and bike places a lot, but ever since the great asthma debacle of 2002, I just plain cannot count on being able to get back home in one piece, so I don't try.

*argues repeatedly with insurance company about ways in which they like to humiliate me because I refuse to create circumstances under which I will turn blue, which means sometimes I am not exercising "enough" for a person whose bullshit formula BMI is what mine is (I do in fact maintain (and pay for) a gym membership which I do use when I can breathe; this is apparently not good enough* The reason they can get away with that is the prevailing attitude that it's EASY to just walk further etc. They have to be reminded oh, every 4-6 months, why that's so often off the table for me even though they have my frigging health records.

What I'm saying is, yeah, sure, there are lots of ways that are easy for many people to choose to get more seconds of exercise in a day. However, when it's framed as, this is easy for anyone, that can be another way in which privilege shows, you know? And believe me, I know it wasn't your intent to make anyone feel like a freak for her limitations, but the cumulative effect, well.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on July 1st, 2012 05:13 am (UTC)
I think asthma and serious hayfever definitely come under 'pressing health issues' but I should probably have put that caveat at the top rather than further down. It isn't easy for everyone, and there are a lot of things that genuinely get in the way of many of the easier paths to fitness, I completely agree.

Having had a brief bout of post-viral asthma last year, I am further in awe of all the asthmatics I know who get out there and keep up an exercise regimen, because it's awful! I knew it wasn't good, but had no idea how actually bad it was until my first fit of wheezing. People who keep going through that are bloody champions.

Your health insurance company on the other hand are bloody idiots. And don't get me started on BMI …
(no subject) - doushkasmum on July 1st, 2012 05:39 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - blamebrampton on July 1st, 2012 05:54 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - kath_ballantyne on July 1st, 2012 01:15 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - blamebrampton on July 1st, 2012 01:25 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - kath_ballantyne on July 1st, 2012 01:43 pm (UTC) (Expand)
ladyjanevaladyjaneva on July 1st, 2012 07:51 am (UTC)
The last sentence made me laugh out loud!

I'm sorry about your friend, and you are SO SO right. I've always been fairly slim, but have not always been fit. I am not fit right now (stress, sickness, lazieness), but 10 minutes of basic exercises mean no pain killer for my back. How great is that, just 10 minutes each day and not to need a pain killer!!!

When I say I'm not fit I guess I'm still fitter than some others, just beacuse I live under the roof of a 4 story building without a lift (old building - when we got company we can always judge who regularly clims stairs and who doesn't) and I do everything by bike. You'd out-drive me at once, but riding my bike for all those little things around the city is a good, healthy basis.

The woman who opened my eyes to the 'not' equation of slim=fit was my best friend. That woman was never and will never be thin, she's not built that way. What she is, is super fit. She's stronger and faster and just everything '-er' than everybody else I know. She's got the black belt in Karate. You don't want to cross her ;-)
blamebramptonblamebrampton on July 1st, 2012 01:52 pm (UTC)
Me too, and I had sadly just taken a big swig from my water bottle, so that was glamorous ;-)

And yeah, it's amazing how much better most bodies responds to movement. My foot and knee still hurt, because they're buggered, but it is so much less during and after movement than after a day sitting at my desk. Some days I have to drag myself out to the gym or the park, but I never regret it afterwards!

I think I was quite lucky in knowing so many countrywomen and lesbians growing up, and a sizable contingent of modern dancers, all of whom combined amazing physical form with a huge variety of body shapes. You simply cannot judge someone's health by body size. I love the sound of your bestie, I promise never to cross her!
(no subject) - ladyjaneva on July 1st, 2012 04:51 pm (UTC) (Expand)
turnonmyheels on July 1st, 2012 11:23 am (UTC)
It's so easy to let physical fitness slip, just a few days of 'resting' can undo months of work. I hope your friend starts moving more
blamebramptonblamebrampton on July 1st, 2012 01:55 pm (UTC)
I hope she does, too. And just starts taking good care of herself in general!
mrsquizzical: potter mollywobblesmrsquizzical on July 1st, 2012 01:04 pm (UTC)
thanks for this. xo
blamebramptonblamebrampton on July 1st, 2012 02:00 pm (UTC)
I just want all my friends to live as long and as well as possible.

And seven billion pounds, but I have more hopes with the first one …
κάτι τρέχει στα γύφτικα: Jul-rotating-1_inbetween_ on July 1st, 2012 01:28 pm (UTC)
I think I read all the threads but I still don't understand why your friend needs to have surgery and meds all her life? Unless it is obviously the heart and I didn't get it.

You've been and are so active that it never really works for me when you list yourself as "just doing a little bit to be fit but as lazy and overweight as y*all".

I don't know how to increase my lung capacity. I can't really fill them well, I think.

I thought spin glasses where those where you twirl around and around ... I'm sure in some TV show it was what the women did ...
blamebramptonblamebrampton on July 1st, 2012 02:17 pm (UTC)
It is her heart, and her lungs, and when we last spoke she said they are going to see how she responds to meds before deciding on whether or not she needs surgery.

And there's a disconnect between active and fit and thin. Even at my fattest and sluggiest I was still active, by necessity, because I can't drive. So if I want to get anywhere, I have to walk. The worst shape I've been in was still a shape where I could walk 10km, but going up hills or stairs puffed me, and I was really too heavy for my size, especially given my buggered joints.

After ramping up my exercise in every direction since the end of 2008, I'm a moderate amount smaller, but a hell of a lot fitter. I'm nowhere near the level of fitness I've been at in the past when I did a lot of exercise, but a reasonably small investment of about four-five hours a week on top of general walking and riding has left me with healthier lungs, stronger limbs, actual abs, all that sort of stuff. I'm still not thin again – buying size large cycling nix is still my lot in life, but at least they are often on the sale rack!

As for increasing lung capacity, the easiest way is stairs. If you have no underlying health issues (asthma, heart or lung disease, etc) then find some steepish stairs close to you and start by just walking up and down them a few times. Once that's easy, walk quickly up, slowly down. Once that's easy, run up, walk down. Increase speed and the number of repetitions as it becomes simpler. You will also end up with bum muscles of steel!

I would love classes that were all spinning around like a whirling dervish! I used to do that as a girl until I fell over and then had to get up and unwind the other way!
(no subject) - _inbetween_ on July 1st, 2012 02:26 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - blamebrampton on July 1st, 2012 02:39 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - _inbetween_ on July 1st, 2012 04:08 pm (UTC) (Expand)