#ThinkDifferent: 3 Keys to High Traffic Fields

Grass Fields CAN Take More! Positive thinking and “thinking different” have established that.  The possibilities of grass fields are endless.

BUT HOW??? When it comes to current maintenance and real practicality, what changes to move forward and have your grass fields take more? 

Think Different.   Yes.  We are back to that! 

Each field’s current condition is created and maintained with an established approach.  How much has that approach changed from last year to this year? What about in the last 3 years?  5 years? 

Remember:  “If you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you always got”

Meeting the demands of increased traffic is stressful.  It can even be overwhelming to know where to start on changing a maintenance plan.  What a challenging task!  Walt Disney might have been right when he said “It is kind of do the impossible”.  But he left out the part about it being such hard work right?!  

In order to meet the demands of high traffic with grass fields and to evolve the maintenance approach, lets take a step back and simplify the challenge.  By breaking a maintenance approach into 3 keys to focus and “think different” about separately, the challenge becomes more manageable 

1)  Aggressive Cultivation

2) Nutrient Management

3) Traffic Management 

Jerad Minnick and Sarah Hardy wrote an article for SportsTurf magazine in October of 2012 that lays the foundation for these 3 keys.  Have a read of that article:  THREE KEYS to managing high traffic, high quality athletic fields

Did the concepts in the article create any new ideas for you?  Yes… it is still overwhelming to think about all of those things isn’t it?  Each key has so many actionable parts to think differently about.  With the challenge still looming and the ideas of that article being nearly 2 years old, let’s break down the 3 keys again.

Over the next week, together let’s break down each topic and share ideas, possibilities, and examples of implementation where it has been proven:  Grass fields CAN take more! 

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#TBT….. Picture Summary- SoccerPlex Stadium Renovation

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This gallery contains 16 photos.

Originally posted on Growing Green Grass #GrassCanTakeMore®:
Poa Infestation GreenOne Industries Koro Field TopMaker GreenOne Industries removes SoccerPlex Stadium Field SoccerPlex Stadium after removal Paint lines showing 4″ down into sand profile SpeedDresser 18 adding 1/2″ of new sand at 4.5 mph SpeedDressing…

#ThinkDifferent. Grass Fields CAN Take More!

Growing Green Grass is dedicated to the possibilities of natural grass fields.  Grass fields CAN take more use!  The foundation for these possibilities of positive thinking.  Positive thinking encourages creativity and fuels the mind to Think Different about what is possible….

As children, we are encouraged to set goals for our lives and to “dream big”.  Walt Disney fills our lives with positive influence and encouraging quotes….

“If you can dream it, you can do it”

“All of our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them”

And the ultimate…  “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible”

Impossible.  As children, we are taught that nothing is impossible.  Then as we grew into teens, somewhere that spirit was lost.  The push of encouragement and confidence was replaced with “life lessons” and a “dose of reality”.  We can’t be little kid dreamers forever right?  And reality says so many things really are impossible.

Have you ever asked yourself when that change in life happened?  Who is it that got to decide what IS and is NOT possible?  

Why?  How?

Christopher Columbus didn’t get the impossible memo.  Nether did Alexander Graham Bell.  Or NASA.  Or Steve Jobs.  Impossible only fueled their work!

Have you ever stopped and asked yourself the same question about natural grass fields?  Why was it decide that it is impossible for natural grass fields to take high traffic?  Why are there limits on the use natural grass fields can take?  Where in time was it decide for us what IS and is NOT possible.

WHY?  HOW?  

In the childhood of grass field maintenance, the fore fathers of grass field management weren’t putting limits on how much a grass field could take.  They simply were trying to create a safe smooth surface for the players.  No large equipment. No advanced technology in fertilizer and plant genetics. No professional organizations to support them.  Now, the industry is greatly advanced in professionalism and technology.  It really is amazing!

Stop and ask yourself…  why is it IMPOSSIBLE for natural grass fields to meet the demands of high use?   What if instead of focusing on WHY its impossible for grass fields to take high traffic, you asked HOW can grass fields take high traffic?  Shed the boundaries created by someone else.  Use technologies and your own creativity to use and evolve new maintenance methods to meet the demands.  Can you bring back that positive thinking Disney spirit of “If you can dream it, you can do it“? Can you THINK DIFFERENT!?

YES YOU CAN!  Exciting isn’t it!?!?

Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in prison before becoming President of South Africa in 1994.  Mr. Mandela certainly knew that word IMPOSSIBLE.  Yet one of his famous quotes is “It always seems impossible until its done”.  Wow!  SO TRUE!  Our phones are computers in our pocket and men have walked on the moon.  Creating natural grass fields that can take high traffic IS achievable.  Grass fields CAN TAKE MORE!

Dynamic speaker and writer Harvey Mackay gives us the perfect closing story in this posting on impossible  

“A college student arrived a few minutes late for his final exam in mathematics. The room was quiet, with everyone working hard, and the professor silently handed him the test. It consisted of five math problems on the first page and two on the second. The student sat down and began to work. He solved the first five problems in half the time, but the two on the second page were tougher. Everyone else finished the exam and left, so the student was alone by the end of the time period. He finished the final problem at the last second.
The next day he got a phone call in his dorm room from the professor. “I don’t believe it! You solved the final two problems?”
“Uh, yeah,” the student said. “What’s the big deal?”
“Those were brain teasers,” the prof explained. “I announced before the exam that they wouldn’t count toward your final grade, but you missed that because you were late. But hardly anyone solves those problems in so short a time! You must be a genius!””

The student was able to answer them simply because he had not be told they were impossible.  He himself decided what is or is not impossible.

“Genius” is sometimes just not realizing that something is impossible.

Are you ready to be a GENIUS of natural grass fields?  Walt Disney was right… it is “FUN to do the impossible

THINK DIFFERENT.  GRASS FIELDS CAN TAKE MORE! 

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Welcome Back to the Possibilities of Natural Grass!

Late summer greetings to you!  Welcome back to Growing Green Grass.  We have organized our thoughts and are prepared for an exciting future of sharing the possibilities of natural grass fields.

Those possibilities expand every single day.  Grass fields really can TAKE MORE!

To achieve the possibilities for grass fields, outside the box thinking is required.  Acceptance of new things is essential.  And pressing on through the fear of change is paramount.  Because….

“If You Always Do What You Have Always Done, You Will Always Get What You Always Got”

Thankfully the excitement of the possibilities overcomes the challenge of change.   There are examples around the world of how grass fields CAN TAKE MORE!  Progressive technology, innovative maintenance practices, and growing professionalism and creativity from Grass Field Managers are opening these new possibilities.

Growing Green Grass is back and dedicated to bringing you those technologies, practices, and fostering professionalism and creativity.  We look forward to sharing and encourage your interaction!  Because think about this…

Right now, you might have a question that you are seeking the answer too.  A colleague reading this could have the answer to that very question. Great!    But more so…  a colleague also might have an answer to a question that you have not yet even thought to ask!!!

Share. Communicate.  Engage.  Encourage.  Through this collection of thoughts, through Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. Even texting pictures to colleagues of successes and challenges . Innovation and improvement are improved with collaborative thinking.

Welcome back.  The future for natural grass fields is BRIGHT! The natural grass revolution is STRONG!  Grass fields CAN take more!

#grasscantakemore  #thinkdifferent

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Natural Grass Facts for Earth Day

Earth Day 2014 is here!  1st recognized in 1970,  April 22 is the day the world unites to celebrate and support environmental protection.

The Environmental Protection Agency has a unique fun program to engage kids and adults alike in their environmental commitment.  Check it out!

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As we celebrate Earth Day in the grass field management industry, we have a lot to be proud of.  The positive impact of natural grass to the environment is extensive.

2 of the most impactful facts:

1) A 2 acre soccer field in 1 year sequesters enough carbon from the air to equal driving a car from DC to LA and then back

2) A dense stand of grass reduces pollution and run off (2013 EPA Report)

With those keys, here are some more fun facts are provided us by the Lawn Institute:

– The front lawns of eight average houses have the cooling effect of about 70 tons (68 metric tons) of air conditioning, while the average home-size central air has only a 3 to 4 ton capacity (2.7 to 3.9 metric tons).

– In a well maintained, thick 10,000 square foot (929 square meter) lawn there will be 6 turf plants per square inch (25.4 millimeters), 850 turf plants per square foot (30.45 square meters) for a total of 8.5 million turf plants.

– A lawn, 50 by 50 feet releases enough oxygen for a family of four, while absorbing carbon dioxide, ozone, hydrogen fluoride, and peroxyacetyl nitrate.

– A dense, healthy lawn prevents run-off, absorbing rainfall six times more effectively than a wheat field and four times better than a hay field.

– Grass plants are 75 to 80% water, by weight.

– Up to 90% of the weight of a grass plant is in its roots.

– Grass clippings are approximately 90% water, by weight.

– Clippings contain nutrients useable to the grass, when left on the lawn.

– Turfgrass helps control pollution, trapping much of an estimated 12 million tons (10.9 million metric tons) of dust and dirt released annually into the US atmosphere.

– As part of a well-designed and maintained landscape, turfgrass increases a home’s property value by 15 to 20 %.

Additionally, here is a fantastic fact sheet on the benefits of natural grass from Kansas State University

 

ENJOY EARTH DAY! And enjoy your natural grass!

 

Response to Notre Dame Decision to Install Artificial Turf

The headline on ESPN.com today reads: “Notre Dam Stadium to Feature Artificial Turf”  .

We at Growing Green Grass respect Notre Dame’s decision to do as they please, but the reason for the change must be challenged.

Graduation in May is being blamed for a poor field in the fall.  A field damaged by graduation May can be re-sodded or even re-seeded and be in perfect condition within weeks.  Notre Dame being unable to achieve perfect condition is not the grass field’s fault.  It is a simple management issue.  Improved management approaches arise daily. Technology is surging in the natural grass industry: stability/ reinforcement, improved genetics, lights to grow grass in total darkness and cold, etc, etc.  Any of these tools could have served as tools to help the field management staff as cheaper alternatives to artificial turf.

Again… it is Notre Dame’s decision to do as they please with their field.  But blaming graduation in May for a poor quality field in the fall is just an excuse.

This response comes from Growing Green Grass because that excuse is damaging to the every grass field in the world.  That excuse makes it seem that no grass field can survive extra use.  The excuse makes managing grass fields at the grass roots level seem impossible!  How can soccer clubs, little leagues, parks and recreation, etc with small budgets even have a good grass field when Notre Dame can not.

The fact is that grass fields around the world sustain 10x the use and wear that Notre Dame Stadium sustains in 1 year.   And hard working sports field managers produce high quality grass, even in the north, with that use and wear.  This story from the Las Vegas Review Journal highlights the success of one of those hard working Sports Field Managers.  Kudos to Kevin Moses for his hard work!!!  (and thank you to Darian Daily for sharing the link on Facebook as well!)

We wish Notre Dame all the best in their endeavors.  But again, it’s not the existing grass field’s fault that you want to make a change to artificial.

http://espn.go.com/college-football/story/_/id/10772179/notre-dame-stadium-install-artificial-turf-prior-2014-season

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Turf Republic 2014 Innovation Award

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Have you seen the recent announcement from Turf Republic on the 2014 Innovation Award?  The announcement came out last week, more can be seen at: http://turfrepublic.com/tag/excellence-in-innovation-award-2014/

@turfinnovation on Twitter

Turf Republic on Facebook

What is it the Turf Republic Excellence in Innovation Award?

The Turf Republic Excellence in Innovation Award recognizes individuals or organizations that contribute in ways that moves the turf industry forward. This award will showcase and celebrate the ingenuity and innovation of turf managers in the Sports Turf and Golf.

How It Works
1. Submit a nomination of yourself, someone you know or an organization using the nomination form
2. Finalists will be selected from the panel of judges
3. Award winner will be selected by public vote.
4. Award will be presented at San Antonio, GIS 2015 at the Jacobsen booth.

Who Can Be Nominated
We are looking for individuals organizations that have addressed challenges and issues affecting their business using the following criteria:
– Out of box thinking
– Can be applied throughout the industry
– Created positive impact on staff, operation or industry as a whole
– Resulted in financial savings for the business
– Originality

 

So if you have an idea or invention that you think is worthy of an award, or even if it might just be able to help your neighbor improve their grass…  share and submit!  Winner will be announced at the 2015 Golf Industry Show in San Antonio, TX

– See more at: http://turfrepublic.com/turf-republic-excellence-in-innovation-award/#sthash.nIFjN80C.dpuf

Proud Product of American Agriculture!

From Growing Green Grass Founder Jerad Minnick:

This blog has evolved into an idea sharing tool for natural grass fields more so than a personal blog for my own. But tonight I want to share something personal.  Today, March 25, 2014, is National Agriculture Day here in the USA.  National Agriculture Day is “to celebrate the abundance provided by American agriculture” to the entire world.  This year’s theme is “365 Sunrises and 7 Billion Mouths to Feed”.  See this video:

It is appropriate for this blog to encourage the celebration of National Agriculture Day because we as turfgrass managers are part of the American agriculture society. Certainly we are not providing food, clothes, and durable good for every single person in this entire world like the American farmer. But we are growing plants, interacting with nature, and improving the environment. Here in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, turfgrass is the #1 “crop” grown in the region equaling 3.8 million acres. Amazing! Well done to each and every turfgrass manager out there.. lawns, sports, golf.. even the do it yourself homeowner!

But National Agriculture Day is personal to me because I am a product of the abundance provided by American agriculture.  Because of my slick shoes and fancy suits,  it likely comes as a surprise to many… I grew up on a family farm in the middle of north central Missouri’s fertile agricultural region. My family still operates that farm today.  And they will continue to do so for generations to come, just as so many other American family farms (87% of farms are family farms).

Why do they choose that life?  Simple.  Because  the demand on American agriculture is huge. Currently, there are over 313 million people in the United States.  Out of all of those people, less than 1% are farmers.  By 2050, agriculture production must double to meet the demand by you.. me.. your kids.. my kids.. and the other 9.6 billion people who will be living on our planet in 2050.

Yes, I said production must DOUBLE! Yes.. Increase by 100%. Wow! With less than 1% of the population involved, that kind of production increase will be IMPOSSIBLE! Right??

Thankfully, IMPOSSIBLE doesn’t exist to American agriculture. That demand will be met. Guaranteed.  How do I know?  Because I have experienced the spirit of the American agriculture personally.  At 62 years old, my father has never really taken a single day off.  Even with a rare muscle disease that has tried to hold him back, he has never stopped working.  I have travelled over 50,000 miles in the last year.  Stood beneath the Eiffel Tower… gazed atop a skyscraper in Tokyo… watched the sun set off the California coast. And all the while, my dad has been out there in “flyover country” (the preferred term of so many of my “big city” friends to describe those”red states” out there with nothing in them) just working away.  And my mom is there supporting him.  My grandpa worked the same way his entire life. Never, ever, ever have I heard them complain. Never in my life have I heard them say “I can’t”.  Never in my life have I witnessed them cut a corner or take the easy way out of a challenge.  Never in my life have I known them to see anything as IMPOSSIBLE.

Making the impossible possible is what the American agriculture does.  And THAT is the spirit that National Ag Day celebrates.

And THAT is why I am thankful to be a product of American agriculture. Growing up on a farm is absolutely a different life.  Waking up early, working late until you are too tired to go anymore.. and then going for another 2 hours, and always having to find a way to do a job by yourself that should take 3 people.  Being part of less than 1% of American people isn’t easy. But it taught me lessons that I appreciate and use daily!

People ask me where I get some of my crazy ideas.  Or why my big push is to encourage others to realize that Nelson Mandela was right when he said “It Always Seems Impossible  Until Its Done”.  Or my favorite.. “Impossible Is Not Something That Can Not Be Done, It Is Just Something That Has Not Been Done Yet”.  Being a product of America agriculture, I know no other way of thinking.  I appreciate and THANK YOU for letting me share that spirit with you on this blog.    The spirit of making the impossible possible.  The spirit of American agriculture.

Happy National Agriculture Day!  Please THANK an American farmer!

Welcome to the Future?!

As part of “ThinkDifferent”, I have repeatedly made the statement that “within 5 years, there WILL be a natural grass alternative to synthetic turf.”  That is a statement that the natural grass industry is closer to than any of us realize.  Through combining the best technologies and techniques with creative thinking… we are close!  No one has any idea what the future holds!

During a recent visit to France, I got a peek into what the future does hold for natural grass fields and us as Grass Field Managers.  For possibly the first time ever, two grass field agronomists (Mr. Chris Hague from Denmark and myself) spent several hours in a NeuroMusculoskeletal Biomechanics lab with some of France’s top research and medical specialists.  Country and western singer Brad Paisley’s 2009 hit “Welcome to the Future” played in my mind as we were exposed to research on the interaction between players and the field surface from a scientific, biomechanics perspective. Or maybe the more proper song would have been the introduction to the “Twilight Zone“, as we truly were introduced to an entirely new dimension in which grass fields soon will be moving.  Either song is fitting.  And the opportunity Chris and I had to be introduced to some exciting new ideas technology for natural grass fields was game changing.  Let’s take a quick look:

The group Natural Grass is responsible for the game changing ideas and research taking place in France.  Their concept revolves around the use of granulated cork in a sand root zone for a natural grass sports field.  The cork mixed in sand absorbs energy displaced into the sand from each step a player running takes.  The energy is being absorbed, lowering the injury potential.   The cork in the field gives, not the player’s ligaments or tendons.   What a great idea yeah?!?  Wow.

Granulated Cork Pieces

Granulated Cork Pieces

The agronomic benefit is similar.  With the energy absorption, the compaction potential in the sand root zone is lowered/ eliminated.  The result is an air-filled root zone in which strong, healthy grass roots can always exist.  Strong, healthy roots allow the grass can always continue to grow and recover.  And a grass sward that is always growing and recovering can take an increased amount of traffic without an increased amount of maintenance.

THE FUTURE!?!?

4" Width x 8" Profile Sample

4″ Width x 8″ Profile Sample

The research behind the cork concept is being done at the George Charpak Institute for NeuroMusculoskeletal Biomechanics.  The institute has 3 teams for research:

1) Musculoskeletal Modelling and Clinical Innovation: Oriented towards patient-specific biomechanical modelling of the musculoskeletal system, this research aims to improve the understanding of pathologies resulting from degenerative processes, traumatism or handicap, as well as develop computer aided diagnosis and therapeutic tools, or design implants and technical aids
2) Biomechanics and Nervous System: Motion Analysis and Restoration: This research is based in clinical site (CHU Henri Mondor Creteil). The aim is to better understand relationships existing between motion muscular actuators and their neurocontrol command.  Analyzing and modelling motion disorders that happen subsequently to a neurological handicap, leads to design and objective evaluation of rehabilitation protocols.  
3) Biomechanics: Sport, Health and Safety: This research, carried out in clinical site (CHU Avicenne-University Paris 13), copes with three issues: inter-relationships between sportive practice and musculoskeletal remodeling in order to optimize performance while reducing induced pathology; mechanisms of injury after impacts (road crashes, sports) to improve protection devices; tissues and structures characterization at various loading speeds

(*Information from the Institute information sheet provided us)

The Institute has completed 4 years of testing on different concepts for sports field and how they react to energy absorption and the human body.  The work is amazing.  And the results are eye-opening.  There truly is a relationship between the shock from players legs and the field surface.  Not only does the data expose the need for absorption in the soil, but also for we as grass field managers to embark on an aggressive surface testing program.

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Again….  THE FUTURE!?!?

Will it become common for grass field managers to be communicating with fitness experts and biomechanical experts?  I think YES!  Outside experts becoming involved in research and innovation for natural grass create entirely new possibilities for the limits of natural grass fields.  EXCITING!

Chris and I also had the opportunity to visit Aube Stadium in Troyes, France.  Aude is the first stadium to install the “AirFibr” system on their field (summer of 2013).  Thank you to Aube Head Grounds Manager Eric Robin for hosting us!

R to L: Chris Hague, Eric Robin, Jerad Minnick

R to L: Chris Hague, Eric Robin, Jerad Minnick

(As you look through the Natural Grass website, yes there are a few more components/ parts to the first Natural Grass product, “AirFibr”. The additional of synthetic microfibers helps with stability of a weakened root zone for winter time play, and silica sand helps with superior drainage in the French market.  And yes, some of the information Natural Grass has is commercial, as they believe in their product and want to sell it.  

But let us focusing on the concept of the cork and the energy absorption.  Let us see the creativity and importance of the Natural Grass relationship with some of France’s best researchers in the biomechanics field of study)

Here is another snap shot of the particular “Air Fibr” product: 

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Background on Organic Sand Amendments… and How Global Communication is Improving the Industry 
During a tour of the Sports Turf Research Institute (STRI) last fall (October 2013) with Mr. Simon Gumbrill of Campey Turf Care, STRI’s Dr. Christian Spring lead us past an abandoned trial on sports field root zone mixtures involving coconuts husks.  Seeing visible squares of live and dead grass, Simon’s inquisitive mind asked the question of what was happening.  The plots containing coconut had survived the uncommon summer heat of 2013 better than the plots without, even with the trial abandoned.  

That experience left me curious about the possibilities of organic soil amendments for sand to increase durability and decrease compaction potential without introducing something like peat.   Peat is great for golf.  Why do we always have to follow golf?  For sports peat is expensive and can lead to compaction potential.  

With those thoughts on my mind, later that week I was meeting with Premier Pitches Mr. Carl Pass and Mr. Russell Latham and discussing the topic of sand reinforcement and sustainability for high traffic fields. Carl and Russell had recently visited Paris, France to see a new reinforcement  product with cork called “Air Fibr”.  There and then the connection to France and the USA via England was made.  Now our United States marketplace has another idea for innovation and natural grass durability for the future.  Communication and sharing is changing our world…  Thank you to everyone involved in sharing, communicating, and idea exchange.  Together we are re-defining our FUTURE! 

 

Greetings from Japan!

Happy Thursday morning from Tokyo, Japan.  Its only Wednesday night in the USA… hurry and catch up with us across the ocean!  Looking forward to the 1st ever Japanese Sports Field Manager workshop this afternoon.  No doubt some fantastic ideas will be exchanged!  

This trip to Japan has been extremely exciting and thought provoking already.  The highlights from Tuesday’s visit include: 

Tuesday:  A trip via bullet train south to Kobe, Japan.  Train travel at 200mph is certainly efficient.  The need for such travel in the USA is unfortunately a political discussion we will avoid…  But wow!  

In Kobe, we visited Noevir Stadium.  Noevir is home of Vissel Kobe of the J-League (Japanese top soccer league),  INAC Kobe Leonessa of the Japanese women’s soccer league, and the Kobe Steel Kobelco Steelers of the Japanese Rugby Union top league.  Head Grounds Manager Kanji Yamanaka was very gracious with his time to show me around and share about his challenges and solutions.  Thank you to him for being so open and kind!  Noevir is extremely unique by American standards, as it is a 30,000 seat stadium with a retractable roof.  It was originally built for the World Cup in 2002.  

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Back aboard the bullet train, our next stop was Toyota Stadium in Toyota City, Japan.  It doesn’t take much to figure out that the Toyota Motor Company world headquarters is also in Toyota City.  Head Grounds Manager Mr. Osamu Tainaka ironically drives a shiny Dodge Challenger! haha.  Thank you to him for staying late to see us and for being so open as well.  Toyota Stadium is another stadium with a retractable roof, reaching a capacity of about 45,000 people.  Toyota Stadium is home to a J-League team as well, along with rugby, concerts, the FIFA Club World Cup (Toyota Cup), and multiple community events.  What an amazing structure!  

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Off to the Japanese Sports Field Managers workshop… but more updates to come on additional stadium visit!  Good night USA!