Post-Lockdown, What’s Next?

We’re back! We took a long-ish break but we’re ramping up again…collecting our thoughts…getting rid of anger and frustration as the world seems to be literally exploding.

What’s Next

RafifJ, #Malaga, #Spain

The lockdown in Spain is over, at least for now. We’re mostly practicing social distancing (and are required to wear masks in public), but the situation around the rest of the world is hardly comforting. Numbers are going up in areas that have resumed almost-normal. The potential for a second wave is there and probably increasing. Meanwhile, the world is going to shit with more-obvious-than-ever hatred and racism. Didn’t we once believe humanity was better than this? What we’re seeing on flagrant display is just devastating. But I’m trying to think positive thoughts: DC statehood, #BlackLivesMatter, and movements for justice cropping up around the world. I am personally embarking on a couple of big initiatives that involve Syria and activism.

I’ll leave it at that tonight. Tomorrow is another day. Who knows, maybe Trump will finally catch the #Coronavirus.

The New Karen

Tina F., Fairfax, #Virginia

During the past few weeks, we have witnessed the world waking up to confront years of bigotry and racism in the wake of the horrific murder of George Floyd by a white police officer in Minnesota. There are fleeting glimpses that we the people may actually be coming together in support of the social injustices perpetrated against the black citizens of this country and the minorities of the world.

With that awareness comes a different problem in America. People are policing others and shaming them into doing the “right” thing. Meanwhile, thanks to technology, there is a camera rolling somewhere, capturing these encounters. Many recordings have gone viral and made headlines.

Most prominent is the angry middle-aged white woman nicknamed “Karen” who personifies white privilege and entitlement. It is a little vague as to the origin of this nickname, but recently “Karen” has been recorded ranting at people of color and minorities in a confrontational and aggressive manner.

As I watch the scenes unfold on my social media feeds, I am touched by a myriad of emotions. I am shocked, amused, angry, sad, and even disgusted. These encounters are not new, but have a new meaning in light of the rising black voices against racism.

By now we are all familiar with Amy Cooper, the Central Park woman who becomes irate at a black man for telling her to keep her dog on a leash. She even calls the police and lies that she is being “attacked by an African-American man.” Why does she think it’s okay to do that?…. because she is a Karen. This Karen is using her white privilege to put a black man “in his place.”

Or the other one was the Karen in San Francisco who accused a man of defacing private property because he was chalking “Black Lives Matter” on the front of a home in an affluent neighborhood.

She and her husband assumed that he did not live there because of his “brown” skin color. Not only was it his home, but he had lived there for 18 years.

I realize that there are two sides to every story, but as soon as a white person takes a hammer and beats the shit out of a neighbor’s car they have lost the argument. As was the case with the LA Karen.

White privilege in America and the delusional assumption that they are superior has really gone on way too long, but isn’t that why millions of people have been protesting around the world these past few weeks? Demanding social justice for people of color? BLACK LIVES MATTER! Black people matter.

Remember I said I had a myriad of emotions? Well I forgot to add conflicted. I wonder if these incidents can be avoided altogether. Maybe we should we stop trying to police each other? Especially during tenuous times when everyone is on edge. Everyone is on hyper-alert at the moment. I think if we lay off the antagonism and take a chill pill or walk away, we could avoid these blow ups. Hey, just don’t be a Karen!

Becoming an Activist

Reposed with permission from Wayne Wallace, McLean, Virginia

It didn’t happen overnight. Despite (or perhaps because of) growing up in the South in the 60s and 70s, I have been offended by overt racism most of my life. But the more insidious, constant racism that permeates our society, not so much. It’s not that I didn’t see it; it’s that I didn’t see how harmful it actually was. Plus, it didn’t affect me. And who am I to change the world?

While I never thought it was fair that my opinion mattered more than my Black, Brown, and female colleagues, I didn’t see it as that big of a deal. I could see that it was annoying, but worth making a fuss about? Certainly not

for me. For one, I was the beneficiary of the subtle racism, and I had more important things to do. And who am I to change the world?

Then a lot of things happened that changed my perspective. For starters, I spent a lot of time with Syrian activists and saw what a difference a little activism can make. No, they didn’t topple the regime, but they did a lot of good and have helped establish the bedrock needed to make Syria better once the regime is gone. They made a difference. It’s inspiring.

I also had major changes and losses in my life that significantly altered my perspective about what is important. Not that I ever thought material possessions were key to a successful life, but my focus was more there than on improving the world beyond my very small circle. And besides, who am I to change the world? I should focus on raising my kids and improving MY world. Not THE world.

Now, the injustices in the world are too much for me to simply watch and ask, “Who am I to change the world?” I’m just one voice, but if a group of voices can work together, we can pry dictators out of their fortresses and into courts of justice. We can bring about real change.

So today I write, I document, I photograph, and perhaps film the world I see around me. I will add my voice to those of the others marching in Washington, Minneapolis, Paris, Sydney, Amsterdam, and Idlib. I know I can’t do much on my own. But by joining with others, we can bring about real change. People of color in my country can achieve true equality; oppressed people in other countries can know democracy. Peoples suffering from decades of occupation, war, and injustice can one day know freedom and peace.

Who am I to change the world? I’m an activist.

Thank you for reading our blog! We welcome all feedback.

If you’d like to contribute a post, please get in touch! Send me an email, contact me on Twitter, or leave a comment here.

Post 78: #Coronavirus and a perspective

We’re sharing our experiences, thoughts, and uncensored opinions during lockdown, quarantine, and self-isolation. For some of us, it’s DAY 78.

Tonight we’re free-form writing

Them Cats

RJD, #Beirut, #Lebanon

Today, I want to add a little humor into our otherwise morbid quarantines and the ticking time bombs exploding worldwide. Hong Kong, Lebanon, Minneapolis, and most U.S. cities are but a few places where racial inequality, hunger, and poverty loom and are among the many issues that we will have to grapple with once we start “re-living.”

I live with 5 felines who consider us humans their staff. And each one of them has personality traits that crack me up! I just might need to change their names.

Cosi, our eldest Himalayan Lilac Point is a quiet soul who never needs anything except his treats. He meows and demands this right several times a day. The rest of the time, he contemplates and sleeps. Very much like Putin. He states his intentions, gets what he wants quietly, and retracts.

Casper, who is 4 years old, is an adventurer, a hiker, and a climber. Where there are heights, he needs to reach them. Very much like Jacinda Adern. Once he reaches the top, he will only look to reach higher.

Bambi, a 3-year-old Persian, is a cuddle of sweetness and kindness. He is very much like Angela Merkel: efficient, effective, and direct.

Jazz, a grey Persian kitten, is the epitome of a bully. He doesn’t poop in his litter box, he steals the treats from other cats, he pushes everyone out of the way to reach his food bowl, and then makes the other 4 play musical chairs with theirs. You know like ummmmm, yep, you got it…Idiot-in-Chief!

Miskeh, his twin sister, is the relentless one who lives by her rules. But she also wants to be loved and taken care of. She is the smart one, she picked whom she felt is the right person for her. She did not vote for me. She voted for my husband. It’s her right. She made a choice and in an otherwise democratic household, she exemplifies today’s poor world citizen.

Me believes me will need therapy after the lockdowns are lifted for many-a-reason!

G-5 Summit

Freedom for All

Tina F., Fairfax, #Virginia

I want to write something lighthearted today, I really do, but I’m unable to concentrate. My brain is in mourning over the crazy shit we are seeing in America.

I finally watched the CNN reporter and crew being arrested on live TV. As they were covering the protests in Minneapolis, the police arrested the crew for no apparent reason. It did not make an impact on me a few days ago because I was fuming at the lack of justice for George Floyd. Now with all the frenzy of the clashes of demonstrators and police, we are looking at an amplified response from citizens of the United States.

Are they protestor or demonstrators? Are they making a valid point or are they “thugs”?

How can we even begin to pass a judgment? ENOUGH ALREADY. People have had enough of the inequality and the racial injustice in this “Great” country.

A physical response from the people is what happens when people are at their wits’ end for not being heard.

America has ignored racial disparity for far too long. George Floyd’s death at the hands of the police was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

As an immigrant, I stand by minorities and I stand by the downtrodden and the underrepresented. No matter how we protest our mistreatment and inequality, we are silenced and/or imprisoned.

Living in a country where we afraid because of the color of our skin is not the country I immigrated to. When prominent sports figures took a knee in silent protest, they fired and labeled “unpatriotic.”

I am reminded that I could be living in any third-world dictatorship at this point. Where the government has to control its people with might. Where curfews are imposed. Where police drive cars into protestors. And of course, where the country’s leader is justifying this ugly behavior.

But I chose America! A proud country of immigrants. The free America. The America that speaks up against injustice. Or so I thought.

As it turns out, my America is selfish and self-serving. It speaks up only when there is something in it for the privileged few.

If you do nothing else…

RafifJ, #Malaga, #Spain

…change your profile pic. Support the Movement for Black Lives in their call for a week of action June 1-June 5. Use hashtags #DefundPolice and #DefendBlackLife.

Silence equals acceptance. Stand up for human rights. #BlackLivesMatter.

Thank you for reading our blog! We welcome all feedback.

If you’d like to contribute a post, please get in touch! Send me an email, contact me on Twitter, or leave a comment here. 

Post 77: #Coronavirus and a perspective: #Riots2020

We’re sharing our experiences, thoughts, and uncensored opinions during lockdown, quarantine, and self-isolation. For some of us, it’s DAY 77.

Almost speechless

RafifJ, #Malaga, #Spain

The tragic events over the past week have left me almost speechless. I’m still not sure I can express my sorrow at what has happened in America. Any progress People of Color thought they had made over the centuries has been undone, not just by the murder of #GeorgeFloyd, but all the senseless killings, human rights abuses, and other injustices that Whites have not had to suffer, not like this. By the disenfranchisement and marginalization of people because their skin is a different shade. Because of fear, ignorance, and hatred – all perpetuated, today, right now, by a racist in the White House. That he was elected is further proof of the utter imbalance of justice, morality, ethics, human values, and power in America. And this insidious, virus – which I’ll call Trump – continues to pour gasoline on the fire.

Why do people riot? Because they’ve been left with no other choice. Never forget the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: “A riot is the language of the unheard.”

America should have been better than this. So many of us grew up with the notion that this was the land of liberty, the one place where “equal” and “opportunity” were part of the deal. Our Black brothers and sisters have known all along about America’s evil side. And today, right now, the rest of the world knows it, too. Today, right now, we need to take a stand: We can no longer un-see images or videos of innocents being murdered because they are Black. We can no longer un-hear the statements of White supremacists. #BlackLivesMatter.

We can no longer look away, or hope this will blow over. Today, right now, no amount of “land of the free” or “home of the brave” or waving of flags can be enough for us to go back to complacency and silence. Dr. King taught us that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Silence equals acceptance. Now go out and make some noise.

What is happening?

Norma B. Wallace, Bend, #Oregon

I am hanging my head – part of me wants to bury my head in the sand – what happened in Minneapolis and the aftermath can’t be happening in my country. My country stands for Freedom for All and Liberty and Freedom and and…. Well, it is happening in my country, we can’t look the other way, we can’t pretend it is an isolated case, we can’t blame others, it happened right here.

I have reposted two posts from my community, one from the police chief and one from my pastor on my Facebook page. They both said it better than I could – I am proud that my leaders in Bend are committed to service to those historically oppressed. Unfortunately, even in this community where there is an attempt, even pride, that we are inclusive – I know of instances where we have not been. Where People of Color have been afraid to walk on the street in an area that prides itself on being inclusive and inviting diversity. There is a lot of work to be done everywhere, and we can only start where we are and move forward. 

I was in college in the Sixties and there were many race riots, police brutality, and injustices. That was 55 years ago. I naively thought those days were over. I have seen lots of advancements – but today we took a giant step back. If this is going to be behind us, we need to fix the cause and change the system so that the inequities of opportunity do not exist. Then we will be able to hold our head up high. 

Retrieved from

In keeping with the purpose of the blog, I must relate to the #Covid-19 virus. The Virus of Racism is worse. Those who are using the masks that are supposed to be protecting others from the Covid virus, but are using them to disguise themselves, are no better than the KKK wearing white sheets.  Those who are coming into cities to agitate, loot, destroy on the pretext of protests should be dealt with for what they are. Those who are truly grieving for George Floyd and for the injustices towards him and trying to do so peacefully, should be protected.

I hope that I can someday hold my head up with pride again in My Country. 

Breach of contract

Wayne Wallace in McLean, #Virginia

It shouldn’t take a video. We should do the right thing always. Evil should be punished universally, not just when there’s a camera recording the evildoer. You would think that the panopticon enabled by universal cellphone cameras and social media would make this type of tragedy anomaly, rather than then all too frequent event that it is.

We were told to always act as though our mothers could see what we were doing. If we followed this advice, or at least acted as if the camera was always rolling on our actions, tragedies like the Amy Cooper “swatting” of a black man, the shooting of Ahmaud Arbery, and the public murder of George Floyd would not have happened.

As Trevor Noah says in his brilliant analysis, the social contract is broken. We are all asked to behave in a certain way, live by certain values. What good are those values when they don’t apply to Law Enforcement? We are asked to live by a code of conduct that applies only to some. Society, and our social contract, are designed to protect those who live by the rules. We’ve learned, over and over, that protection does not apply to People of Color.

And justice does not apply to White law enforcement officers. How can we expect anyone to uphold the social contract or their end of the agreement, when those who represent the law are above the law? How do we not expect lawlessness when our contract offers lawlessness?

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If you’d like to contribute a post, please get in touch! Send me an email, contact me on Twitter, or leave a comment here. 

Post 75: #Coronavirus and a global perspective.

Today’s topic: If you were ________, how would you have handled the pandemic?

We’re sharing our experiences, thoughts, and uncensored opinions during lockdown, quarantine, and self-isolation. For some of us, it’s DAY 75.

Blindfold or Mouth Gag?

RJD, #Beirut, #Lebanon

Oh, how this pandemic has shown the true colors of many people around the world, be they leaders, politicians, corporate thieves, humanitarians, educators, first responders, medical staff, or simple normal people.

In hindsight, it is always easy to criticize and claim there was a better way to do things. But when one is in a massively difficult decision-making position, weighing all the options and visualizing all the scenarios is awfully difficult.

Unless you are the Idiot in Chief and you are more worried about your Twitter image than displaying true leadership. So, if I were the President of the United States —a country I love and miss terribly—I would have done 8 things:

  1. Listened to the warnings coming out of China in December and begun a real assessment of where this might lead my country and acted on it.
  2. Hired a team of experts to take over the daily management of the Pandemic, giving them total autonomy and authority to act as needed for the greater good.
  3. Closed the borders immediately, but also would have opened refugee camps for those who have nowhere to go.
  4. Teamed up with international leaders to create a policy that will save the fragile economies worldwide.
  5. Supported the World Health Organization more than usual so that they can manage the chaos and give better guidance.
  6. I would not have used the Pandemic as a campaigning platform to toot my own horn.
  7. I would not accuse others of my wrongdoings.
  8. I would have worn a mask.
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If I were Any World Leader Today…

Charlie, Metro #Washington, DC

I think this is the first of many pandemics and today’s world leaders need to start making plans for living in a Pandemic World.

Why do I think we’re going to be binge-experiencing pandemics? Several possible reasons. One, years of covering the news taught me that events come in clusters. There was a time when plane hijackings were regular news fodder. Don’t hear about those much anymore. 9/11 brought on a spate of smaller terrorist attacks. Not so much of that happening now, except if you live in the Middle East, of course. Mass shootings? If there are any, the news isn’t covering them. Now we’ve got a pandemic. If news history repeats itself, we’ve got a few more lockdowns ahead of us.

But it’s more than history repeating itself that says world leaders need to have national and international plans for dealing with rogue viruses. Personally, I think bioterrorists and bioterrorist nations are seeing just how unprepared the world is for dealing with a pandemic—whether a pandemic created by Mother Nature, who thinks the human species needs to be brought down a peg or two for its cavalier attitude towards her; or by certain countries flexing their power; or by a consortium of individuals who stand to profit from the demise of our current economic system.

World leaders and their publics—i.e., us—need to get ready for a new world plagued by plagues. This particular pandemic may be over soon, but there are going to be more. And next time we may be battling more than one or two simultaneously. There won’t be enough labs in the world to create all the vaccines we need.

My personal solution…I’m going to start eating some dirt. Build up my body’s immune system. No more pampering my body with gluten-avoidance. Being a GMO fraidy-cat. So precious with myself I can only eat organic. No. I want a body that can take on all comers. I want a body that will make any virus say “calf rope” when it tries to infect me. (“Calf rope,” BTW, is Texan for, “I give up.”)

If I Were the #Coronavirus

RafifJ, #Malaga, #Spain

Heh, heh, I sure showed you, world! I bet you wish you hadn’t taken so much for granted! You thought it was normal to slaughter animals in the open-air markets…you thought it was normal to live your lives of privilege without a care for the environment or your fellow humans. You thought you were immune to everything.

Well, I brought you to your knees! I brought your world economies, your health care systems, and your stock markets to a standstill. I defeated your fake power structures; I exposed your false social narratives. My crown trumps – with a lower-case t – your missiles any day.

And I’ll be back. Even if you find a vaccine, I’ll be back, and stronger. You know why? Because I’ve been studying you humans for millennia. I’ve learned that you don’t learn. Your leaders are simultaneously empty suits and full of hot air. Mask, no mask; gloves, no gloves; social distancing or not. Go ahead and hug, gather, and claim to love each other in your houses of worship. I’ve exposed so many of you for what you are, you bigots; I’ve made you show your true colors, you racists. I see you going back to your “normal,” selfish behavior; your manmade borders, your enslavement of others, your xenophobia. I see that disregard for human life – unless it’s feeding your agenda and coffers – is part of your holy grail.

I’m the great equalizer: poor, downtrodden versus rich and famous; I’ll strike you at my will. I’ve proven that all you claim to stand for is nothing when confronted with my thorny crown. Your willingness to destroy everything around you for the sake of a few bright, shiny coins makes me stronger. Your own false sense of power makes me, Corona, invincible.

And so I’ll strike again. And again.

Photo by Mick Haupt. Retrieved from

If I Were a Leader…

Tina F., Fairfax, #Virginia

If I were able to be anyone I wanted, I probably would pick the person who could have nipped this pandemic in the bud at its onset, China’s President Xi Jinping. The Chinese government is no stranger to flu pandemics, having experienced three in the last decade alone.

I finally understand why the Asian population has been wearing masks in all public places for the past few years. They know how quickly these flu symptoms spread and are not taking chances. Now the whole world is following suit.

So if I were the Chinese President, I would have responded immediately. As soon the first reports emerged from the hospitals indicating a surge of flu-related admissions, I would have isolated those patients and immediately contacted the World Health Organization.

I would not have delayed the announcement, nor would I have imprisoned doctors raising alarms for “rumor mongering.”

Photo of Dr. Li Wenliang, whistleblower. RIP.
Retrieved from

Actually, if I were the president of any country, I would emanate confidence in my government and my citizens. There is so much ambiguity when it comes to the truth. We must lean on the experts and consider what they have to say. If people are afraid to speak up because they may be fired or imprisoned, then there is a problem in the system. Knowing what we know now, there should be no excuses about a straightforward handling of any epidemic/pandemic.

But in all fairness, if I were the president of China, I would also remind the world that our final death toll was approximately 4,630 to our population of 1.4 billion.

Thank you for reading our blog! We welcome all feedback.

If you’d like to contribute a post, please get in touch! Send me an email, contact me on Twitter, or leave a comment here. 

Post 74: #Coronavirus and a global perspective.

Today’s topic: If this were 2019…

We’re sharing our experiences, thoughts, and uncensored opinions during lockdown, quarantine, and self-isolation. For some of us, it’s DAY 74.

Head in the sand

RafifJ, #Malaga, #Spain

It’s May 2019, and I am weeping uncontrollably. My countries are a mess and there’s nothing I can do about it. The land of my parents is embroiled in a conflict that has killed at least hundreds of thousands of civilians, while the international community has watched, impotently, and clucked sympathetic yet meaningless drivel. The struggle for power in #Syria just fuels hatred and sows fear while civilians are literally dying to be free.

Meanwhile, the land of my birth, once (to me at least) the bastion of freedom, the land of equal opportunity, the upholder of human rights, is descending into authoritarianism, the kind we see in the land of my parents. The ongoing racism and increasingly blatant hatred in America have chipped away at any belief I once had that the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness were sacred for all Americans, not just the White ones. Since January 2017, I have been watching a power grab that sows hatred and fear in America, while people of color are literally dying because they are not free.

It’s May 2019, and I cannot stomach the thought of another revolution. The one in Syria was already too much for me. I apply for a long-term visa to Spain. If I can’t be effective in either of my countries, at least I can figuratively stick my head in the beautiful, peaceful, soothing sand of the Costa del Sol.

Silver Lining in Every Cloud

Charlie, Metro #Washington, DC

What was I doing with my life this time last year? I was swigging Dr Pepper. Eating pre-digested, nutrient-free junk food, engorged with every petro-chemical-laden flavor enhancer. All this high living was topped off with me watching 24/7 news 24/7.

Today, in the time of corona, I haven’t had a Dr Pepper in three months. I only let homecooked, fresh foods pass my lips now, so my digestive system’s doing the happy dance 24/7. And 24/7 news binge watching? Off the menu. I refuse to let the words of another broadcast opinionist, who’s posing as a journalist, hit my eardrums ever again. And this is coming from someone who used to be a member of that tribe. It was once a semi-proud profession. Now the Founding Fathers are wondering about the wisdom of the First Amendment. They may be thinking someone should open a good old-fashioned can of Second Amendment whoop-ass on that tribe.

No longer watching the news has given me all the time I need to work with a business/publishing consultant to put the polishing touches on a book I’ve written. Comes out in a few weeks. The consultant’s also guiding me in retooling my business, which corona has taken its toll on. But that’s okay, because now I created a better…pandemic-proof…business.

So, even when the lockdown’s lifted, I’m staying in. Except for going to the hair salon. This time last year my hair looked pretty fetching. Not so much today.

May 27, 2019

Tina F., Fairfax, #Virginia

If this were May 27, 2019, it would be Memorial Day and my family and I would be gathering at my friend’s pool for the annual “official start of summer” party. There would be around 25 adults and teenagers for a special kefta BBQ. We would be eating, drinking, and swimming all day. Whilst a few brave souls attempt to sing karaoke.

But it’s May 27, 2020, and it is Day 74 since the Covid shutdowns began. I have been at home celebrating for the past 2.5 months, eating and drinking every day. The public pools will not open for the season this year and it looks like my friends pool will not be open to non family either. But don’t worry about me, after several cocktails I will shake the dust off my bikini and attempt to wear it on my overweight body. Then I’ll go running through the sprinklers in the front yard singing Shake that Money Maker at the top of my voice. That should spice up the neighborhood gossip.

Retrieved from

Italy, work, family, work

RJD, #Beirut, #Lebanon

Every summer, I visit my family in Virginia for a few weeks and then my husband and I go on a trip for a month. Usually, Italy is on the books for 10 days, somewhere during that month. 

Last year, we spent 3 weeks in Tuscany and Cinque Terre. Blissful, peaceful, quiet, beautiful. 

I always used to worry about my work back in Beirut, because during the summer the workload was lighter and we usually did some housekeeping. I had to stay on top of things and could not disconnect completely from Beirut. 

But what I do, when on these trips, is spend time alone walking the streets of where we are for a few hours, go to a spa, and immerse myself in the culture. In Italy, cocktails before dinner is a tradition. Sitting at a bar in the local piazza with a glass of Prosecco and big giant green olives is heavenly.

During that time, I scan through my phone to locate the best way to walk to the restaurant, where we will have dinner, taking the longest way possible to enjoy the sounds of the town, look into the shops, and talk to the natives. 

I can just hear it now, the sound of people chit-chatting, walking their dogs on cobblestone streets, stopping by to say “ciao” and there is always the one guy who knows everyone and is the loudest! He also always has a dog!!!

Oh, how I miss Italy, my work worries, my family, and my life in 2019. And oh, how I look forward to visiting Italy and my family as soon as possible. Meantime, I do also miss my work and my ex-normal life. Yes, I am adjusting to 2020, and 2019 is nothing but a distant memory in my otherwise busy head. 

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We sometimes use photos and images we find on the Internet. No copyright infringement intended.

If you’d like to contribute a post, please get in touch! Send me an email, contact me on Twitter, or leave a comment here.