Bringing STEM education to the classroom and beyond

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PSEG Long Island President & COO Dan Eichhorn with the 2017-18 QIRT STEM Leadership Program students.


Our newly-appointed President and COO Dan Eichhorn is no stranger to the importance of real-world experience within education. An alumnus of Drexel University, Dan participated in the school’s co-operative program, which blends internship opportunities within its five-year curriculum to help students better prepare for the workforce upon graduation.

Discovering professional upward mobility through education is also near and dear to Dan’s heart. As the son of a utility lineman in Philadelphia, Dan saw his father work hard to support his family and was inspired to do the same. After receiving his undergraduate degree in electrical engineering from Drexel, he continued his education and received his MBA in finance.

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So, it’s no surprise Dan is now one of the leading forces in PSEG Long Island’s partnership with the Queens High School for Information, Research and Technology (QIRT). The program, which began earlier this week, provides students with a full year of STEM curriculum to hone their problem-solving and leadership skills, while introducing them to fundamentals of electric theory. The program brings certified engineers and other professionals within the company to meet with students face-to-face, about twice a week.

“This all springs from PSEG Long Island’s commitment to community involvement,” Dan said during the kick-off event for the program on Oct. 16. “We are working to strengthen the electrical infrastructure, but also to contribute to the places where our customers live and work. This partnership with QIRT was a perfect fit. We are excited to help these young people achieve their goals and I hope that someday I see some of these same faces as I walk through the halls of our offices. ”

Students enrolled in QIRT often come from lower-income backgrounds and many are the first in their families to attend college, so the emphasis on their preparedness is amplified.

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QIRT principal Carl Manalo, left, and PSEG Long Island President & COO Dan Eichhorn, right.

“QIRT strives to prepare its students for success in college and beyond through technology, community and parent partnerships, and enrichment activities,” said QIRT principal Carl Manalo. “I believe that many students don’t truly know what they want to do until they actually hear someone talk about it. And for students growing up in under-served communities, this may be the first time they get that kind of firsthand exposure to the engineering profession.”

We spoke to two students participating in the program about what they hope to learn, and where they see themselves in the future:

Kenisha Sutton

Antoinette Daley

For more photos from the STEM event, click here! And, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more stories like this one.

Introducing our newest way to save energy and money – MyEnergy

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October is National Financial Planning Month. Throughout the next couple of weeks, we’ll be highlighting some of the programs we offer for residential and small business customers on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. But today, we’re excited to announce our newest tool to help customers save money – MyEnergy.

What is MyEnergy?

MyEnergy is a new, online platform accessible through MyAccount, that allows customers to view their energy usage; track energy efficiency; and compare it to that of their neighbors.

How will MyEnergy help me save?

After you’ve filled out your energy profile in MyEnergy through the MyAccount portal (for information on how to register for MyAccount, visit here), you’ll receive detailed information on your personal energy usage. This includes easy-to-read graphs that compare your energy usage to homes similar to your own. MyEnergy will also provide customers with timely tips based upon the season to improve energy efficiency, as well as information on energy-saving progress. The reports are available 24/7 within the MyEnergy portal.

What other services does MyEnergy offer?

In addition to the reports, MyEnergy allows users to view their energy consumption month over month, and view how they use energy by activity. For the most accurate representation of your energy usage, be sure to complete your home energy profile.

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MyEnergy also provides a saving tips plan with actions you can take to save energy, and an estimate of how much money the action will save you over the course of a year.

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Have a question, data correction or request about your reports? Email MyEnergyLI@pseg.com or call 1-800-692-2626 (Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.).

What else can I do to save money on my energy bills?

MyEnergy is just one of many programs we offer to help our customers save energy and money.

We also offer a variety of rebates on ENERGY STAR-certified appliances and products, including washing machines, dish washers, power strips and others; as well as an $85 incentive through our Smart Savers Thermostat Program. This program allows us to make minor, short-term adjustments to your air conditioning that reduce power during periods of high demand for electricity.

For more ways to save, visit our efficiency page here. And, be on the lookout for our revamped energy analyzer, set to be unveiled by the end of 2017. In the meantime, take advantage of our existing Online Home Energy Analyzer, and be entered to win a $500 Amazon Gift Card.

It’s Customer Service Week! Meet two of our new social representatives

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This week is Customer Service week, a celebration of excellent customer service from companies across the country, and PSEG Long Island is joining the party. We recently expanded our customer services to include social media, which helps us better serve our customers across Long Island and the Rockaways.

The team responds to questions about billing, outages, MyAccount, and more on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts. They’re available Monday through Friday, from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.; and on Saturday and Sunday, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

We chatted with two of our customer service reps about the most rewarding parts of their job, favorite memories with customers, and more.

 

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Name: Lorraine B.

Title: Social Media Supervisor

Hometown: Franklin Square

Previous line of work / college major: Billing Analyst/Marketing

Why customer service?
I’ve been in customer service for almost 10 years. Before PSEG Long Island, I was a customer service representative for National Grid. I genuinely enjoy turning around a customer experience by helping a customer resolve an issue.

What’s the most rewarding thing about working with our customers? When we’re able to help one of our customers, it’s something we do because that’s the nature of the business we work in. With social media, when a customer thanks us publicly, their meaningful words are appreciated and the thank you is that much more rewarding.

What’re the most common types of questions you get?
We get a lot of questions about how customers are able to report an outage, make billing payments or general questions about their account. We handle each inquiry as if the customer were reaching out to us in the call center. Most customer service requests can be handled socially, either on our wall or offline in messenger. Certain account scenarios may require speaking with a representative, and at that time we would refer them to the call center.

What’s your favorite memory of working with a customer?
Shortly after I took my position as one of the social media supervisors, a customer posted on our wall that a cat had gotten stuck high up in the tree in her front yard. She was getting no help from the fire department or ASPCA. I reached out to the town’s fire department and explained how the post was public and that other customers from their town were commenting and asking if help was on the way. Shortly after I got off the phone with the fire department, they called me back advising that they were sending a truck to the location and asked me to let the customer know. Turns out, the cat was actually her pet. The customer posted a picture of the cat on our wall, thanking the social media team for helping bring her cat home safe and sound.

How do you think social media has helped us / you better serve our customers? Social media is the future of customer service. People today want answers even faster than they did, just five years ago. We’re given time to reach out to various departments without having to put customers on hold while looking for the answer. Being able to speak to our customers virtually allows us to not only answer faster, but more efficiently.

If you could tell our customers one thing, what would it be?
Follow us! The social media team is available to answer your inquires. We’re customers just like yourselves, here to help make your customer experience a great one.

 

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Name: Alex C.

Title: Social Media Analyst

Hometown: Shoreham, NY

Previous line of work: Marketing Supervisor at Total Graphics

Why customer service?
Every job I’ve ever had involved working with customers. I have always enjoyed working one-on-one and going the extra mile to ensure customer satisfaction.

What’s the most rewarding thing about working with our customers?
Being able to help our customers when they need it the most. It’s important for our customers to know we are here to help, no matter what the issue is. Most customers who reach out to us are not aware we can help with most issues though social media. They are usually surprised and very appreciative, when we resolve them without them having to make a phone call.

What’re the most common types of questions you get?
We receive a lot of questions on how to report an outage. Some customers are not aware they can report it socially and get updates about the outage. This also gives us an opportunity to share other ways they can report an outage, such as online with our outage map or by text.

What’s your favorite memory of working with a customer?
I am fortunate enough to have many great experiences with our customers. One involved a customer who messaged us about a new pole that was being installed in front of their house. They were worried the support wire was being installed to close to where their kids play. We were able to reach out to the supervisor who was at the location and made them aware of the situation. We worked with the customer and made sure the support wire was installed in a safe location. The customer was very appreciative that we were able to help them so quickly.

How do you think social media has helped us / you better serve our customers?
Social media is a convenient way for customers to reach out to us regarding any questions with your account or service.  You can message us at your convenience and get a quick response from our team.

If you could tell our customers one thing, what would it be?
We are here for you!  Whether it’s a question about your bill, or an issue with your service, our social media team is here to provide assistance seven days week!

Teaching students energy efficiency through theater

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Which words or phrases come to mind when you think of the electric utility industry?

Reliability, surely. Energy efficiency and restoration, likely. But curtain call? Not so much—until now.

We’ve partnered with The National Theatre for Children (NTC) to bring The Energized Guyz—a short play for elementary school students about energy efficiency—to schools across Long Island and the Rockaways. PSEG Long Island is the first utility in New York to work with NTC to showcase energy awareness to local schools.

The 25-minute production is an interactive comedy for Kindergarten through sixth grade students. The plot revolves around junior superhero Nikki Neutron, who is on a mission to stop energy from being wasted all over town. Along the way, Nikki and the students learn important lessons about energy resources and conservation—and even convince the crafty villain, the Sneaker, to join their cause. The program focuses on what energy is, how it is used, ways it is wasted and how it can be conserved.

“Live theatre is a great way to educate,” said NTC president and founder Ward Eames. “The show goes beyond reading or other more passive methods of engaging kids. These children are watching a story unfold right before their very eyes, with the two actors playing all sorts of characters. We don’t lose the kids’ attention for a minute, because they get to respond and interact with the show. It really sticks with them.”

The Energized Guyz is headed to more than 200 schools across Long Island and the Rockaways throughout 2017, and has received outstanding feedback from teachers across our service territory.

“This sponsored program was age appropriate and entertaining to my grade level,” said Denise Dima, a second-grade teacher at Ridge Elementary in Ridge. “The presenters were energized and knowledgeable. It was an enjoyable presentation for all. Thank you PSEG Long Island!”

Denise isn’t alone in her positive experience.

31586839266_5b31471238_z“Thank you for bringing this performance to our school,” said second-grade teacher Meg Knight of Centennial Elementary School in Roosevelt. “My students enjoyed the program and learned new information about energy. The costumes and characters held their attention throughout the program.”

For more information, or to arrange a performance at your child’s school, visit our website here. And, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube for pictures and video from the events; as well as other content about energy efficiency.

Recent hurricane devastation acts as solemn reminder for LIers to be prepared

Hurricane Harvey Impacts

Just days after Hurricane Harvey devastated parts of Texas and Louisiana, Hurricane Irma swept through the Caribbean, leaving destruction in its wake. Now, with Irma’s sights set on Florida and Jose on its heels, our hearts and thoughts are with the people who have been, and could be, affected by these natural disasters.

We also recognize that Long Islanders and Rockaway residents are no strangers to the heartbreaking aftermath of a hurricane. Nearly five years ago, Super Storm Sandy left members of our community without homes, cars and cherished belongings. These types of storms–Sandy, Harvey, Irma and others–are a somber reminder that the peak of hurricane season is upon us. And because September is emergency preparedness month, having a disaster plan should be a priority for both our customers and the utility.

What we’ve done:

Since the creation of PSEG Long Island in 2014, and with Sandy’s devastation top of mind, infrastructure improvement and reliability projects have been two of our biggest urgencies. With the help of Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), $729 million of federal recovery funds were secured for the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) through an agreement between Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. The funds will allow us to replace more than 1,000 miles of mainline circuit facilities; elevate and protect flood-prone substations; and install innovative automation that isolates faults, all of which will allow us to limit the number of customers impacted by an outage and significantly speed-up their restoration if power is lost.

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Most recently, we started work in the Towns of Hempstead and Oyster Bay—specifically Seaford and Massapequa—to harden the energy grid. Here, we’re replacing existing wires, installing new and more durable poles, and replacing switching equipment.

But our work to improve reliability is only a piece of the puzzle when it comes to emergency preparedness. We, with the help of multiple other businesses and organizations in our service territory, are here to ensure our customers have the tools they need to be ready and stay safe.

What you can do:

We suggest our customers familiarize themselves and bookmark our mobile-friendly website and outage map. The outage map allows you to report an outage; and view outage locations, expected restoration time and number of customers affected. Information is updated every 15 minutes.

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We also urge customers to register for MyAlerts, a texting/e-mailing service that provides outage and restoration updates right to your cellphone. You can also text us to report an outage, and check the status of an outage.

To register:

  • Text the letters OUT to PSEGLI (773454) and press SEND.
  • You will be prompted for type of outage – NO LIGHTS or PARTIAL LIGHTS.
  • Reply/text back your choice.
  • You will be prompted with a confirmation text.

For immediate status updates:

  • Text the letters STAT back to PSEGLI (773454) and press SEND.

Connecting with us on social media is another crucial way to receive up-to-date storm information. Be sure to follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram for alerts about storms and outages, and advice for preparing and staying safe. Our customer service representatives are available to answer questions and receive outage reports, Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Additional resources:

IMG_1308A year ago, we partnered with the United Way of Long Island, and 211, to create BeReadyLI, an all-encompassing online resource with tips for storm prep; news and alerts about storms in your area, and information specific to those with special needs. The site also offers resources for kids to better understand evacuation plans, family emergency kits and more.

And, don’t miss our blog post from the start of hurricane season with additional resources to be prepared for whatever Mother Nature sends our way.

What Labor Day means for our union workers

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Ron Bauer, right, and friends at the PSEG Long Island-sponsored Ducks game in August. Our linemen took to the field to sing ‘Take Me Out to the Ball Game’ during the 7th-inning stretch. Watch the video here!

Labor Day began as a time to honor those who worked in some of the most difficult and dangerous conditions with a day of rest. With roots in the Industrial Revolution during the 19th century, the holiday has morphed into an end-of-summer staple complete with barbecues, parades and parties. Despite the evolution of how Labor Day is celebrated, and the working conditions of manual laborers, the essence of its foundation is not lost.

Much of what we do at PSEG Long Island is reliant upon our hard-working and dedicated union employees. Our linemen, meter readers and other union employees work in heat, snow, wind and rain to help us keep the lights on for our customers, as generations have done before. But being part of the union means more than just braving the elements for a job.

Meet one of our long-standing union employees, Ron Bauer. Ron is a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1049, which represents utility workers that generate and maintain the electric and gas transmission and distribution system on Long Island, most recently taking over as its business manager for Don Daley in February 2017. He started his labor career in 1987 as a union member with Local 1486 (International Union of Painters and Allied Trades) then joining IBEW Local 1381/1049 in December 1991.

As part of IBEW Local 1049, Ron has chaired various committees, attended conferences, and received training during his labor career that have instilled in him the core values and principles of all working people.

“Being a union member is very beneficial,” he said.  “Good and fair wages, benefits, security, a career path, dignity, a voice at work, a safety conscious job and fair treatment all through collective bargaining and activism.”

Ron currently volunteers with Hope for the Warriors, which benefits disabled veterans; Make a Wish’s Polar Bear Plunge; The American Cancer Society’s Making Strides 5K; the Marcum Workplace Challenge; and the United Way’s March of Dimes 5K.

The camaraderie from participating in these events as a union employee, Ron said, is truly a unique experience.

“The unity and family atmosphere a union brings is unparalleled,” he said. “I’m grateful to be a member of Local 1049 and feel truly blessed.  The opportunity to serve more than 4000 IBEW members [between electric and gas] is such an honor.”

We’re incredibly grateful for all of the work Ron, IBEW 1049, and all of our employees do for PSEG Long Island on a daily basis. Wishing everyone a happy, relaxing and well-deserved Labor Day!

Car shopping? Save money and the environment with the Nissan LEAF!

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Electric cars have been inundating the market in recent years, from electric-gas hybrids like the Toyota Prius and Chevy Bolt; to pure electric cars, like the Tesla or the Nissan LEAF, among dozens of other models from various companies.

We at PSEG Long Island offer our customers a variety of incentives for choosing a “green” form of transportation, and realize the want to do so varies from customer to customer. Whether you’re considering an electric vehicle to help protect our environment, or hoping to cut costs on gas, we’re here to help you make the most of your motivation.

With this in mind, we’re particularly excited to announce a new incentive from Nissan – a $10,000 rebate off its 2017 LEAF model. The rebate is provided by Nissan and open to customers and employees of PSEG Long Island. It will be available through Sept. 30 or until 2017 LEAFs are out of stock (whichever occurs first).

In addition to the $10,000 rebate provided by Nissan, customers could be eligible for a $7,500 tax credit from the federal government and a $1,700 “Drive Clean” rebate from the State of New York.

Here’s how the price breaks down:

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($32,500 is for a base model LEAF; the MSRP of cars available will vary based on features)

Want to take advantage of the offer? Our customers simply should take a copy of their PSEG Long Island bill and a promotional flyer to their local Nissan Dealer. We encourage those considering the purchase to call dealerships in advantage, to ensure the car is in stock. It is also worth noting that the promotion cannot be combined with other deals.

To download the flyer, visit our website here.

And for more information on all things electric vehicles, visit us here, and follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram!

6 easy ways to save while on vacation

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Back to school is right around the corner, but there’s still a few more weeks of summer to kick back, relax and head to your favorite seasonal get-away. Regardless of where you’re going, a vacation should be full of “ahhhs” instead of “oh nos”; so don’t let the stress of high energy bills get in your way.

Follow these simple tips to help save money while you’re away and put some dollars back in your pocket for your return home:

  1. Turn the AC down, or off. Before you hit the road, consider adjusting your central AC to around 84 degrees or turning it off completely.
  2. Adjust the temperature on your water heater. If you have a natural gas water heater, you can set it to “low” or “vacation” mode. If you have an electric water heater, set the temperature as low as possible.
  3. Don’t empty the refrigerator. Did you know a full fridge is more efficient than a half-empty one? You’ll save energy by getting rid of any perishables, and stacking the shelves with water bottles while you’re away. To conserve even more, adjust the thermostats to higher settings: 38 degrees for the refrigerator and 5 degrees for the freezer.
  4. Unplug appliances and power strips. Whenever an appliance is plugged in, it’s using energy. Find anything that has a display screen or light like a TV, cable box, coffee maker or toaster oven and switch it off. Plugging these into a smart strip makes this step even easier.
  5. Close blinds and pull curtains down. This will prevent the sun from warming up your home and lower the amount of heat that’s coming in.
  6. Switch off fans and lights. You can also use an automatic timer for security reasons. Save even more money by switching to LED bulbs.

As a final tip, snap a photo of your stove dial in the ‘off’ position before leaving the house. This will give you peace of mind and allow you to relax worry-free.

For more tips on how to stave money and energy, follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram!

Stay safe: Always call 8-1-1 before digging

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8/11 is more than just another hot day in August – it’s National Safe Digging Day, in honor of the country-wide safety hotline, 8-1-1. Whether you’re installing a fence to keep the family pet in the back yard, or getting a head start on some fall landscaping, we want to remind our customers that making a call to 811 beforehand is not only important for safety reasons, but it is also the law.

Calling 811 is free, and you’ll connect automatically to the New York One-Call center, which collects information about your digging project to ensure there’s no interference with underground pipelines, conduits, wires and cables. The one-call center then provides the information to the utility companies, who will send representatives to mark the locations of underground lines in the immediate vicinity of the planned work location with flags, paint or both. Once lines have been properly marked and you receive confirmation, you can begin your project. The process typically takes about two business days.

Use these tips to help yourself, friends and family stay safe:

  • Call 811 at least two business days before each job to have underground facilities located.
  • If you hired a contractor, confirm that a call to 811 has been made. Do not allow work to begin if the lines aren’t marked.
  • Large and small projects, such as installing a fence, building a deck and planting a tree, all warrant a call to 811.
  • Property owners must maintain and respect the marks. Always hand dig within two feet of marked lines or the area known as the Tolerance Zone.
  • Various colors are used when marking lines, learn what each color represents at www.call811.com.

If an underground facility is struck resulting in an electrical or gas emergency:

  • Leave the area immediately and keep others away.
  • Call 911 to report the incident and the respective utility:
  • If electrical equipment was damaged, call PSEG Long Island’s electric service line at 800-490-0075.
  • If you accidentally damage gas piping or smell gas when excavating, call 911 and National Grid Long Island’s gas emergency line at 800-490-0045 immediately from a safe area.

For more tips on how to stay safe, follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram!

Turning the tables on STEM stereotypes

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Two summers ago–nearly to the day–the hashtag #ILookLikeAnEngineer swept the Twitterverse, highlighting the contributions and importance women and minorities have in STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math). The viral campaign came about after a slew of sexist responses to an ad for the company OneLogin, featuring a female engineer.

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“My team is great. Everyone is smart, creative and hilarious,” reads the copy next to a photo of Isis Wenger, a platform engineer.

Commenters ridiculed Wenger for her appearance and expression, while others debated the validity of the campaign itself. She later took to the Internet to write about her experience.

“This industry’s culture fosters an unconscious lack of sensitivity towards those who do not fit a certain mold,” she wrote.

But we at PSEG Long Island are determined to change that. We’re working hard to defy the stereotypes often associated with STEM professions, starting with some of our youngest customers.

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Thanks to our partnership with the Girl Scouts of Suffolk County, we recently unveiled the Energy Patch during a special event at the STEM center at Camp Sobaco. Girl Scouts receive the patch upon learning about electric safety, reliability, energy efficiency and community.

Media relations specialist Elizabeth Flagler and graphic designer Carol Mele designed the patch, which is shaped like the iconic Girl Scout Trefoil cookie. The patch comprises four diverse girls joining hands around a hard hat, light bulb, work zone cone and home, and “PSEG orange” stitching along the perimeter.

Our work to encourage and showcase female work in STEM doesn’t stop with the Girl Scouts. We also work closely with Stony Brook University to sponsor a STEM summer program, called Stony Brook University Exploration in STEM Research. In order to participate, students must come up with a research proposal, find a faculty member to act as a mentor throughout the summer, and submit an application, which is reviewed by a faculty selection committee.

The program is geared towards freshmen and sophomores who would not necessarily have the opportunity to do research.  Last year we met with three of the 20 students involved in the program, highlighted in this blog post. Of the 20 participants, eight were women, many of whom were also minorities.

In addition to our foundation work with Stony Brook University, PSEG Long Island hosts an annual supplier diversity fair, catering to businesses classified as New York State Minority and Women’s Business Enterprises (MWBEs) and Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Businesses (SDVOBs).

The annual fair provides networking opportunities for these companies to meet with PSEG Long Island and other prospective clients. Attendees also learn how to do business with us; meet other businesses that currently work with us; and receive information on New York State’s supplier diversity program.

To see other ways we’re helping women and minorities succeed in STEM, follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram!