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A Good Leader Inspires

 

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I’ve spoken on this before but it still holds true and can’t be said enough. Real leaders will inspire their people, they won’t lead from the back, shouting orders and pointing the finger to guide their people to the future. They will be on the front lines, risking everything that they have in order to better the future for their people, to show that they are no better and no worse than those that follow them.

They will inspire others to stride forward, to become stronger, to become wolves in their own right rather than bleating sheep that will seek to follow when the path gets rough. Real leaders will be tough and they will know when to draw a line in the sand, but they will also know when to be wary of alienating those that they seek to lead, and those that could be possible allies. Real leaders to do not act solely on impulse and without thought of what might happen later in life. A good leader will take the time to weigh their actions and their words to insure that their people, THEIR PEOPLE, are cared for above their own interests.

A good leader, a REAL leader, will not stand in front of their people and feed them a smile and a great deal of rhetoric and pronounce that they are an expert of everything. A good leader knows that they are a servant to those that follow them, and must put the needs of the many above their own.

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Furthermore, a good leader will not cast blame upon those that come before them. They will not blame the sins of the past for their inability to deal with the present. Good leaders, REAL leaders, will find a way to move forward and continue to serve their people to the best of their capacity.

Do we have a leader that inspires people? It all depends on who you talk to.

America’s Educational Rank Worldwide

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Does anyone want to hazard a guess at where America falls on the educational charts when compared to other countries? Anyone? When last I checked the USA was either 15th or 17th in the world when it came to the quality of the education that the average student receives, and for a nation that prides itself on being the top country in the world that sets the pace for all others that just doesn’t seem right.

Why is that? Why in the world does a nation that seems to pride itself on so much fall so far below the world average when it comes to education? Well there are a few valid reasons that people might not like to hear since to many the USA is the greatest nation in the world and of course we can’t be faulted for the problems that are plaguing our own educational system. If you didn’t catch the sarcasm in that statement it’s because type doesn’t transmit it as well as live speech.

But anyway, here’s just a few ideas as to why we’re falling so far behind.

The quality of our education is lacking in many ways.

We’re raised to think that education is important, but at the same time as kids we see that even those that don’t have a college or even high school education manage to find jobs and do fairly well in life. The unfortunate part about this is that we don’t always see the hardship that comes from not having an education and being able to do what you want, where you want, and when you want to do it.

Education in other countries is fiercely competitive and unlike the USA, where shame is not deemed as acceptable and is in fact simply abhorrent, some countries simply don’t care who’s shamed in favor of someone else advancing. It’s a matter of who’s the best, who’s the most qualified, and who can reach their goals and break through their limits, not who’s feeling badly about themselves because they want to perform half measures and get by on doing the minimum amount.

This is where our educational system begins to fail. We consistently lower our standards so that those that either can’t or don’t want to try to succeed bring down the national average. Those that excel do so on their own, while the rest that simply want life handed to them are accommodated first and foremost in their adult lives by the system that’s charged with educating them and pushing them to new heights. It’s hard to learn anything when a D-average is able to get you an education.

Sports is our main concern, not the education that is required to earn it.

Granted, a lot of athletes will work hard in the classroom to get good grades and push themselves through school so that they can compete, but too many still bank on getting into their desired school for sports and have dreams and aspirations of reaching pro level to think about their education. By the time they either realize their dreams of going pro aren’t going to happen or their pro career is finished it’s imperative to know that they have something to fall back on. While some do in fact make good use of the education that was necessary to get them there, others treat their education as an ends to a mean, meaning that they have nothing left when all is said and done.

Sports in other countries are a leisure activity and not to be taken so seriously, but in the USA sports become everything for some athletes, even at the cost of a valuable and priceless education.

Too many of the students in the USA don’t believe the system has anything to offer them.

It could also be that by living in the “Me” generation that education has become more of an option than a requirement. Too many young folks these days, even those that work to maintain a solid GPA, are too self-oriented to believe that the educational system has anything to offer. They won’t give their undivided attention to the system largely because they want the end reward as incentive rather than the work that is meant to help them achieve that end result. It’s a matter of “I want” instead of “I want to learn”.

There are still many students that will put their nose to the metaphorical grindstone and do what is expected in order to achieve their goals, but too many these days want what comes after the work before ever opening a textbook or studying for a single test. The “Me First” generation is here and is in full effect, creating a very negative effect by demanding everything while learning nothing.

It’d be great if all these problems were easily solvable, but it’s going to take some time, and possibly the bottoming out of the system to finally realize where we’re going wrong.

You Know History? (part VII)

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Seaside, OR

Current Day

Okay, so going off to see Vlad the Impaler was a bad idea. I’d no sooner arrived than I was under attack, which was not hard to understand why because somehow I landed in the middle of a damned battle. But I did see enough to know that Vlad was there, and that he was just as vicious as the history books say. I saw him impale a couple of people in the heat of battle, though he didn’t stake them into the ground as the legends go, at least not then and there. That came after, when I got to experience it a little too close and personal for my liking.

I’m not a fighter, so far be it from me to engage in the sort of behavior that I saw all around me when I was unceremoniously plunked into the middle of a battlefield that was pitting Vlad’s forces against the Turks against whom he’d been fighting for some time. The only way I could identify the dreaded Impaler was from a mental image I’d had of him and the fact that he fit the image quite well as I saw. Other than that however, I was at a loss. There were so many people around trying to kill Vlad and his guards that it was all I could to just stay out of the way and not get killed.

That didn’t go so well. I got knocked down, trampled, stabbed a couple of times in the back, once in the buttocks, and had my ankle stepped on so hard I think I actually heard the bone snap over the cacophony of battle. So in other words, I got hurt so badly that I passed out from the pain.

When I came to I wasn’t back in the water, and the pain had only intensified as my ankle was swollen like a balloon and my back was on fire from the wounds I’d been given. I couldn’t move if I’d wanted to, but given what happened next I really wish I could have. You see, Vlad’s forces didn’t just sit around and watch as he rammed people onto stakes and then stuck said stakes into the ground. Oh no. They helped, and managed to stick enough people with those sharpened stakes as Vlad ever did.

The only difference was who was I was placed next to when it came right down to it. Let’s get past the staking part first by saying that never in your life will you ever hope to feel the sensation of something the size of your leg being shoved up your backside, the sharp point used for entry and to widen the entry digging at your insides as you were stuck like a rotisserie chicken and then hoisted into the air. Imagine the sensation of sliding down said pole, stake, whatever you want to call it, as the damn thing cores you like an apple and eventually comes bursting out of lung to carry on through your chest. It took forever to die, and in that time I saw through pain and shock-filled eyes who was next to me.

It was Vlad. There’s no mistaking it, he’d been staked by his own people, or perhaps by the Turks, I don’t know. All I know is that the same man I’d seen on the battlefield was now riding the pine right alongside me. I know it likely wasn’t pine but give me a break, I had a giant pole shoved through me like a skewer and my body was taking its sweet time realizing I was already dead.

Thankfully shock took over after a while and I simply drifted off.

That almost turned me off to the whole experience of it. Almost.

(to be continued)

Honesty Bites (part VII)

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Multnomah County Corrections

Beaverton, OR

September 27th, 2021

Sitting in front of the TV screen in the small, white-walled room as he watched the judge on the screen rifling through his file, Jim couldn’t help but blow out a breath. Looking to the camera that was broadcasting to the judge he winced inwardly as he remembered that the man on the screen could see him as well.

“Are we taking up too much of your time sir?” the judge asked. He was a mousy-looking man with a balding pate a thick pair of spectacles that rode low on his hawkish nose. Right now the dark brown eyes behind those spectacles were directed right at the camera, giving the illusion that the judge was looking right at him. He might as well been Jim supposed.

“No sir” he replied.

“I see here you’ve got only a few priors, misdemeanors all of them. I’ll be releasing you today and recommending that you remind yourself just what it would mean to gather up too many of these,” he shook Jim’s file lightly in one hand. “The law only allows me to do so much, but at this point Mr. Alain I am letting you out because I feel that there is still time for you to change your ways. I hope to never see you here again sir, and that you find something positive in your life to cling to. That will be all Mr. Alain.”

Jim nodded and said “Thank you sir” before rising to his feet, making his way back out to the gleaming white walls and hard benches of the waiting room for an officer to come and escort him back to his cell. He would be getting out soon now, but to be honest he didn’t have much to look forward to. His wife had kicked him out and given up on him, his kids wanted nothing to do with him, his friends had abandoned him, and even his distant relatives and business associates wanted absolutely no mention of him to cross their paths.

He was alone. The world didn’t care about him and it was probably for the best, as he’d never been the type to wallow in self-pity. He’d obtain the money that was his, and his belongings, and then make for the nearest liquor store. Most of them would cash a check, especially since they knew that it was likely that part of it would never leave the store. In all honesty, a part of Jim never seem to leave those stores these days.

Sitting on one of the hard benches he waited for an officer to come, listening to the ranting and ravings of those inmates that thought they were tough. One of them, a pint-sized younger man with his hair bound up in greasy dreadlocks and a thin, wispy mustache over his upper lip was talking about how he’d been sent to the hole numerous times and still kept doing what he wanted. Jim only paid him half an ear, knowing that young men like these might have been scrappers, but they were also the ones that tended to cry themselves to sleep when they went to the hole.

He’d heard enough of them to know.

(to be continued)

What Europeans are Coming to Think of America

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It’s easy to see that Europeans have had their own preconceived notions of Americans for a long time now, and it’s just as easy to see that it goes both ways as through use of propaganda and the clever manipulations of our media and leaders it’s been simple enough to set us against each other even as they preach that the world has to unite as one against common enemies. But lately one has to wonder just how the rest of the world has been seeing Americans, especially since the current POTUS took office and started exercising his thumbs and his mouth in an unending tirade of what he might call “taking charge”.

So he’s putting America first…..I heard the crickets too but many people believe that he’s doing what he can to make our country into a great place while at the same time he’s openly challenging and mocking those that would be better allies than enemies. His supporters, especially those that are ‘ride or die’ types would gladly say that he’s looking out for our best interests as a nation and pulling the country free of useless alliances that haven’t done much for us in the past. But in truth, having allies in this world is far better than alienating the rest of the landscape and having to stand utterly alone if the day ever comes that America actually needs the rest of the world.

Yes, America has come to the aid of several countries in the past, but it’s also had trouble policing it’s own back yard and taking control of situations in which it had no business being in the first place. America is not the end-all country that can be everything for everyone, and it’s not the one country among all that can solve all the ills of the world. In fact at this point our country can’t even solve its own ills but yet our POTUS seems to think that he can make everything go away and solve it all because no one knows how to do it better.

In essence the rest of the country is being judged by the things he says and does in this day and age, as from the night of the election until now Trump has been the driving force and the face of our country. He’s done great things so far? Wonderful, but his public image is that of a bully that simply expects everyone to follow his way or get out of the way, and that doesn’t work for everyone. What happens if he tries that with someone that decides to push back?

More importantly, he deflects and he casts a lot of blame in directions that are irrelevant to the current state of the nation.

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Even if previous presidents did mess things up, that’s not relevant at the moment as it’s his job to fix them and to guide the nation back into prosperity. Blaming those that came before is the act of a child throwing a tantrum while screaming “I didn’t do it! They made my job harder!”

The nation might hate to tell Trump this but many of us have felt this kind of pinch in the past, maybe on a much lesser scale, but still in the same manner. What have we done? We’ve sorted through the mess and made the best of it as much as we could. Unfortunately this man is how the world is seeing us at the moment, no matter that he is hardly the face of the nation and more of a figurehead that tweets too much and continually forgets to add a filter between his brain and his mouth.

He is our POTUS, but unfortunately he is also the representative of our nation. Europe, please don’t judge our country based on one man. He’s our president by election, but does not represent our hearts and minds.

How the Irish View Fake Irish Accents

First let me clarify that I’m not trying to make fun of anyone or ridicule any particular group of people. But hearing actual Irish people talk and then listening to them side by side is kind of amusing since there are times in Hollywood when actors tend to get it right and then, then there are times that their accent is just horrific. And listening to actual Irish people listen to them and then offer commentary is absolutely great because quite honestly if you belong to a country and possess the accent that’s being used you’re going to be able to spot a fake accent from a mile away most times.

So watching the clip is funny because you can’t help but wonder what they’re thinking before they start talking about each individual. Sean Connery is perhaps one of the best as they describe him going from Irish to Scottish to English all in the span of a single sentence. And to be honest, Connery is what a lot of people have thought was the exemplification of an Irish accent. But then you listen to Tom Cruise and Gerard Butler and you can’t help but agree with them that some of what they say is simply dreadful. The real surprise however is their reaction to Brad Pitt.

They love the guy.

A couple of them comment that his speed is what makes his accent so believable, which is amazing since understanding what he’s saying required subtitles for some folks. But the fact that Pitt was voted as the best and most spot on was kind of a surprise.

But hey, if you think that it’s funny when Irish folks pick out some of the most cockeyed accents that emulate their own then you’ll get a kick out of the clip below.

Remember, no judgment and no mockery, this is all for fun.

As hard as it is for many Americans to nail an Irish accent, no matter how many different dialects they might have, it’s even more difficult for a lot of Irish folks, let alone Europeans in general, to nail down the many different American dialects. Quite honestly American English is a mess as from east to west we have so many different dialects that change from state to state and region to region that trying to get them all is confusing. Listening to a bunch of Irish men and women trying to get them down however is just hilarious since it gives a bit of justification that accents are tough to pick up no matter where you go.

Some might think that a Canadian accent is fairly simply as you simply round a lot of your syllables and say ‘eh?’ a lot. But there’s a little more to it than that.

Then there’s the Southern accent with for some people is just a lazy drawl that lets you release a bit of tension in your voice as you let it just kind of hang on its own and allow certain syllables to drawl out, almost as if you’re just terminally tired and can’t be bothered to speak in nice, clipped sentences that other dialects are known for.

Then there’s the California surfer drawl that so many people think defines Californians. Sure, down in Southern Cali it might be a thing, but being as there are many different regions in the state you probably wouldn’t hear too much of the surfer accent up north near the border.

Take note that they don’t make it all the way to the Pacific Northwest, which is probably a good thing. Our accents in this region are so varied that even those of us that live here get confused sometimes.

It’s just fun to listen to people trying out different accents sometimes.

Will America Stand Alone?

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It’s becoming increasingly clear that Trump, who has never hidden this fact, has decided to play hardball with the rest of the world, until he sets foot in Russia. Now you can call out whatever kind of collusion you want or you can refute it if that’s your preference but it looks sketchy either way when the leader of America sees fit to make his presence felt during the meeting with NATO by calling out Germany right from the start.

Some people would agree that tip-toeing around NATO has gone on long enough and that a president with a harder approach and less ability to control what is on his mind is what’s been needed. But purposefully antagonizing world leaders and alienating oneself from those that could be allies seems rather counterproductive to the cause of America. Many of those countries that have been allies to the USA for years might be wondering just what has happened to a country that up until now was seen in many different lights but at the very least had a leader that could be counted upon to be civil. While Trump has obviously put his foot down and decided not to be a patsy he’s also brought his fist down at the same time and demanded that Europe step up their game a bit simply because they’re not doing enough.

Oh, and the line that “Europeans can be arrogant” is cute, even if it is true at times, because quite honestly “Americans can and are sometimes much worse”. We shouldn’t have to point any fingers to figure out just what kind of ‘worse’ is being discussed.

Going out of his way to make the other world leaders uncomfortable and looking forward to a meeting with Vladimi Putin that he believes will be far easier is something that makes Trump’s motives look extremely shady, but calling him out for this is tough without any real evidence of what people might think is going on.

Right now it would appear that Trump is purposefully lambasting the allies that the US has depended on for a while and is looking forward to sitting down with a man that has nothing to lose and everything to gain. The sad part about this is that if the worst happens and the US loses any of its allies it will have gained little to nothing by forming a friendship with Russia. In short Trump seems to be banking the country’s future on being hard-nosed with his allies and granting a soft touch to someone that doesn’t really care if America stands alone.

Despite our military might, America is not a nation that can stand alone anymore than any other country can. Perhaps it’s time for someone to remind Trump of a little thing called tact.

When It’s Time to Leave the Nest

By now a lot of us have probably heard the story of the 30-year old man that had to be sued by his parents so that he would eventually leave their home, yeah? Well quite honestly it’s still something that a lot of parents seem to have to deal with in this day and age and while it’s become a natural thing for kids to move back in with their parents for various reasons the underlying fact is that many of them still have the desire to GET OUT eventually. A lot of us might love our parents a lot and be welcomed back any time, but in this case it was seen that the individual simply didn’t want to leave.

Yes, he stated that he needed more time and would go, but quite honestly the line of excuses that never seemed to end suggested otherwise. Should we examine why it was so wise of his parents to finally kick him out?

By the age of 18 a lot of kids are ready to get out and be their own person.

Some are ready before this, others are a little more hesitant and might seek to help out the household if their parents decide to lay down the law against freeloading. This man did none of that. He was out on his own at one point reportedly but upon moving back in seemed content to stick around and do absolutely nothing. And if anyone decides to state that we’re hearing everything from the view of the parents and not the man himself then listen to the video. The guy is a certifiable nut and worse than that, he’s flat out lazy.

A lot of kids would be glad to get out of their parent’s home. In fact most kids seem psyched to be on their own even after finding out that they have to pay bills and be accountable for all they do. Even then, many people would choose to never move back home unless it was absolutely needed. Yet this guy, who has lost custody of his kid, apparently lost his self-respect, and lost all desire to move despite the massive issues that he and his parent’s have, is nothing but a walking excuse.

He had no job at the time of this interview, his parents actually gave him money to get started, and unfortunately he had no plan to move ahead any time soon.

To think that this was newsworthy was kind of ridiculous.

At a certain age it’s time to leave the nest and be your own person. Coming back to the nest, moving home in other words, is usually supposed to be temporary when a person meets a serious setback in their life or has need of a place to stay while they move on to the next step in their life. Going to school can be a great excuse to move back home to save money, losing a home or a job can be a good excuse, but the point is that it is TEMPORARY. Eight years is not a temporary situation, it is a habitation.

This guy is nothing but a walking excuse. Yes it was devastating to lose his son, but many people, although grieving, would get their feet under them and keep moving. Instead of bowing down before adversity many folks would get up and move forward. People can call him a typical Millenial as much as they want, but it’s not entirely about his generation, it’s about his lack of willpower to do what he needs to do. Let’s just say that there’s not enough information on just WHY he lost custody of his son, or WHY he feels the need to make excuses for being a waste of space, and agree that this man seriously needed the reality check that his parents and then the judge decided to lay on him.

Unless it’s a workable situation, kids do need to leave home eventually. Coming back isn’t a sin, but staying for too long and being a drain on your parents isn’t fair to them and it’s not conducive to one’s continued development. Thirty years old is too young to be a lump on a couch with no prospects for the future.

Why It’s Important to Fall in Life

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No, I’m not just talking about a physical act, though if you do fall it’s just as necessary to get back up, dust yourself off, and keep going until you accomplish what you want. This life isn’t a nice place sometimes, it can be mean, nasty, and downright rough on those that aren’t ready for it. At some point in life we’re going to fail, we’re going to fall, and how we take it, how we deal with it, is what makes us who we are.

Those that fall and get up will always be stronger and more determined than those that fall and settle where they’re at.

At some point in life you will have to settle, you will find it necessary and will do so gladly. But it needs to be on your terms, not anyone else’s, and not because Life beat you into submission. Life will be hard, it will be cruel, but if you can make through the loads of hardship and struggle that await all of us at some point then you will have shown that you’re not weak, you’re not susceptible to the beatdown that Life will throw at you, and you’ll glad get up, aching and hurting, but defiant all the same. This life is not kind to anyone and will test each and every one of us to our limits many times throughout a lifetime. Just because a person doesn’t seem to be struggling doesn’t mean they aren’t fighting an inner battle that you know nothing about.

Life isn’t partial to anyone, it will challenge every soul that draws breath in one way or another, and it will not be kind in doing so. But challenging Life to a contest of wills, to see who can outlast the other, is what makes living all the worthwhile. You don’t have to be overly aggressive in your life, but you certainly can’t afford to be overly passive if you you want to have any type of fun in this world. You will fall once or more in your life, physical and metaphorically. You will fail more than once in this life, and if you’re strong enough, if you’re up to Life’s constant challenge, then you will gladly stand back up and say, “I can take it.”

This one had to be said, as it’s a personal motto.

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As I said, Life will knock you down a time or two, and it won’t apologize for the act or even turn back to see if you’re okay. Some might dispute the language and the idea of this, but for those that enjoy the challenges that life brings sometimes, go ahead and smile as you read, because while no one will ever hit harder than Life, that doesn’t mean that you can’t have a little fun in getting back up. Life is a continuing challenge, rise up to it and let your voice be heard.

Let Life know that you’re here for the duration, and you’re not staying down.

Honesty Bites (part VI)

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(continued)

Multnomah County Corrections

Beaverton, OR

September 27th, 2021

Sunday passed without any issues except one, a little punk that had thought he was big and tough had nearly gotten knocked over the railing that ran across the walkway that jutted out from the top bank of cells. The whole incident had gone down much as he’d seen it happen in the past. Some little guy had come in with an attitude, thinking he was tougher than anyone else, and he’d nearly paid for it with his life. As it was he was now the most reviled guy on the block.

Like most little guys this particular inmate had a serious problem with his lack of stature and wanted to make everyone aware that he was a lot tougher than he looked. The unfortunate part was that he was short and skinny, in fact he might have gone a buck ten had he been soaking wet, but on a dry day he’d be lucky to break the one hundred mark. Yet he acted like he was biggest dog in the yard and the moment that someone had stood in his way, unknowingly, he’d decided to bark.

Sadly for him the guy he’d decided to pop off to hadn’t been in the mood to entertain the smaller man’s temper or his need to impose his will. Instead what everyone had thought was going to happen had proceeded in a very typical fashion. The bigger man had asked the little guy if he wanted to fight, to which the little guy had replied that he would kick the big man’s monkey ass all over the place. That had been amusing enough, but the bigger man had invited the smaller guy up to his cell, where they wouldn’t be seen.

So they’d gone to the upper tier, and like a bunch of schoolyard kids most of the other guys in the cell block had gone running after them to see a fight. It was amazing just how foolish people could be when there was a spectacle to be seen. Of course someone had called out that the guards were no doubt watching and they’d all get in trouble if they went rushing up like something was happening. He knew better, the guards didn’t care one way or another. They had to stop the fight of course but they wouldn’t go rushing in. It didn’t matter much anyway.

The next sound had been the flat smack of bone on flesh as the little guy had been sent backpedaling out of the cell. His back had hit the railing so hard that he’d almost done a backflip to his death, but he’d caught himself just in time. After that he’d just walked away, but that hadn’t been the end of it. The little prick had started trying to find allies after that, talking to whomever would listen to him in order to gain allies. It wasn’t a smart move no matter how it might have been shown on TV or in movies. Most guys in county just wanted to do their time and get out.

When the little punk had finally come to talk to him he’d had one word in mind and had used it before the little guy had a chance to speak.

“No,” he’d said, holding up a hand as the younger man had opened his mouth.

“You haven’t heard what I have to say,” he’d replied in protest, already looking perturbed. The red mark around his mouth where he’d been hit had already been starting to bruise, making it look like he’d tried sucking face with a vacuum cleaner and forgotten where his own lips were.

“I don’t care,” he’d said in reply, “I’m doing my time and getting out. I don’t want anything to do with your plans.”

Saying this kind of thing to someone wasn’t a good way to make friends, but he didn’t care. This punk hadn’t been his cell mate so outside of the common area he didn’t have to deal with him. The rest of the day had gone pretty smoothly, but the little punk had failed to get even one person on his side, and it had made him smile inside.

(to be continued)