Music To Soothe & Lift Our Spirits

In these present, troubling, and daunting times on Earth, on our various continents, and my own continent of North America and the United States, I often find solace in music; from 18th- and 19th-century classical music to my childhood and teenage years of great music. For the last four days or more I have been compiling many of my own favorites from the 1970’s and many that are mainstream, but not necessarily what I personally would choose as my own. Eh, we must think outside of ourselves at times, right? 😉

Without further ado I present my 170+ classic great songs (more less) from the golden age of 1969-ish to 1979. Hope you enjoy these hours of tunes as much as myself, and my Mom—yes, my Mom introduced me to many of these artists when I was a boy—here or on my YouTube playlist: Great Pop & Rock Hits of the 1970’s

Addendum — Due to YouTube’s/Google’s unknown international playing, viewing, copyright laws, etc., across national-regional borders, some or many songs in my playlist are not visible or playable. To rectify this unintended (on my part) inconvenience, Click here for a complete playlist of all songs & artists. Then should you choose, you may find the track in your country’s YouTube site. Happy listening and dancing!

Live Well – Love Much – Laugh Often – Learn Always

Destiny to Tragedy

Last Sunday night I was able to catch a documentary film I’ve been eagerly wanting to watch for awhile, Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain by Morgan Neville. Like most of his fans I couldn’t get enough of the diverse places, people, cultures and cuisine he’d show and share with us in his prolific storytelling way. Not knowing the intimate minutia which offers some understanding and closure of “Why” gnawed at me ever since June 8th, 2018.

His suicide was terribly sad for me as much as it was to his dearest friends and family. As some of you know, I am a survivor of my Dad’s suicide, so this was especially heart-wrenching. I identified with Anthony Bourdain and his passion for human cultures foreign to his and my own. Now he identified with me in an all-together new, painful way. He had left behind a young daughter with no explanation, no answers. How could this happen? Why do that to your own little girl? The following day I had as many questions as any of his fans. Bourdain was not simply well-known from No Reservations and Parts Unknown, but for many in his personal circles on an intimate level he was an enigma and seemingly more unknown.

Check that. That is, unknown to those with no knowledge or awareness of Manic Depressive Disorder and mental-illness. Did you know that Anthony Bourdain was a heroine addict until just months before he became a New York restaurant line-cook and eventually Executive Chef at Brasserie Les Halles in Manhattan?

∼ ∼ ∼ § ∼ ∼ ∼

One of my favorite lines describing the paradox of human existence and its sometimes absurd events in which we find ourselves, comes from one of my most endearing movies. On film, as it is in life, the bewilderment can invoke our highest joys, our lowest despairs, and then when the ride ends inexplicably give either little solace or an enormous epiphany. The line comes from the 1990 film Dances With Wolves where John Dunbar is utterly perplexed by the outcome of his attempted death at the hands and gun barrels of his Confederate enemies. He writes in his journal:

“The strangeness of this life can not be measured. In trying to produce my own death, I was elevated to the status of living hero.”

John J. Dunbar – Dances with wolves

Anthony Bourdain’s rise to food & travel hero was not unlike 1st Lt. Dunbar’s trajectory to Civil War hero—with the exception that both men arranged very divergent epilogues.

Bourdain at Green Dirt Farm, KS – No Reservations, 2012

As I listened to each interview from Anthony’s closest colleagues, dear friends, acquaintances, ex-wives, family, and clips with his last girlfriend… the signs and bells showed themselves. The mental warning flags were waving as plain as day to me—internally Bourdain was in a desperate struggle. Also obvious was his one single coping-mechanism for a self-perceived unwinnable strain or torment. It was as one colleague aptly described, “Tony was always rushing. Rushing to enter a scene. Rushing to exit to the next scene.” Three symptoms of Manic Depressive Disorder are in fact 1) unusually increased activity, energy or agitation, 2) racing thoughts, and 3) abnormally upbeat, jumpy or wired behavior. One of his close director-producers remarked, “Tony was usually quite restless.” In his own words repeated many times in various forms:

“If I’m an advocate for anything, it’s to move. As far as you can, as much as you can. Across the ocean, or simply across the river. Walk in someone else’s shoes or at least eat their food. It’s a plus for everybody.”

anthony bourdain

Like many, I thoroughly enjoyed Bourdain’s travels from continent to continent finding and visiting his favorite acclaimed chef’s while unabashedly finding the remote hole-in-the-wall grills, street-venders and pubs. His wit and candor, then compassion one day and blunt smart-ass another is certainly what made his shows unique and appealing to me and his audience. I often thought, “This is the type of travel companion I would want exploring the world eating, drinking, dancing, and laughing until I could no more.” He’d be the best of friends and the worst of friends; hopefully more the former than the latter, right?

It is apparent in his interactions with native fellow diners Anthony’s dark side would surface. His camera-crew, directors, and producers also knew this. One of Bourdain’s own top three films of all-time was Apocalypse Now. His two favorite characters in the movie Capt. Willard (Martin Sheen) and Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando). For those of us who closely watched Bourdain and more closely listened to him, this comes as no surprise. In the movie while on their disturbing personal journeys, both characters—like Bourdain’s restless soul—Willard and Kurtz come to realize how abnormal and bizarre life can impact us, mark us, and change all of us whether we embrace the experience for its reality or not.

“Without experimentation, a willingness to ask questions and try new things, we shall surely become static, repetitive, and moribund.”

anthony bourdain

Spoken like a true, emboldened always restless explorer. From my years employed in the Psych/A&D field, this was a veiled invitation to not take his words at face value. The last word was a dead giveaway. Addiction, with accompanying disorders and left unaddressed and untreated, will not disappear. They only go dormant until triggered again. Though Anthony Bourdain quit his heroin addiction cold-turkey on his own early in his career, locking it up in the proverbial back closet or basement doesn’t make it disappear. As his dearest friend and artist David Choe correctly described, “Tony’s addiction only jumped.” It merely morphed into restless workaholism then incessant perfectionism.

It can be easily said Anthony Bourdain reached the top of the world when he met, fell in love, had a daughter (Ariane) and married Ottavia Busia in 2007. It was unmistakable Anthony was overly happy. He had found a stable, normal foundation he often thought alluded him. He became more grounded and less “rushing” or constantly semi-frantic. The smaller things in life now mattered much more. He even found great joy grilling hamburgers, sausage, and hotdogs in their backyard next to the swimming pool with only Ottavia and Ariane around.

Anthony, Ottavia, and daughter Ariane (right)

Sadly, by 2015, just eight years later, this fulfilling, steady base which Ottavia and her family lovingly provided, balancing Anthony so well… was no longer enough. Adventure-seeking’s addiction had been gaining more and more head-space and hormones in Tony. Woah! Hello! Big yellow-flag waving again to be noticed!

Anthony had several good friends that were musicians. One of his closest was Josh Homme of Queens Of the Stone Age. In one of their clips together from Roadrunner, Josh and Anthony are sharing years earlier the non-stop travel and touring they do and how it effects them and exhausts them and their families. In this scene Homme shares a poignant pearl of wisdom with Bourdain: “You love it when you’re home and you love it when you leave home.” Bourdain could only pause, stare thunderstruck, nod, and remain silent. It hit home, hard; pun absolutely intended.

Anthony and Iggy in Miami – image by Max Vadukul, GQ magazine

Another gut-punch scene for Anthony was his meal with Iggy Pop. In fact, the interview with Iggy was extraordinarily telling about where Anthony’s head, heart, and addiction were at the time. He asked Iggy, What thrills you? Iggy answers his question…

This is very embarrassing, but being loved, and actually appreciating the people that are freely giving that to me.

iggy pop

Bourdain’s face said it all when Iggy finished; he hadn’t experienced love anywhere close to that magnitude. Or at least Anthony thought he had never experienced it before. His blank stare at Iggy was telling as if Anthony had just been stripped of all his clothing and well constructed walls torn down. The 5-second, slow-motion, silent void was palpable. I could see in Tony’s eyes the deep disappointment poorly hidden behind his face. Once again, bright yellow-flag waving, begging to be seen by some rescuer!

∼ ∼ ∼ § ∼ ∼ ∼

There’s no doubt that Anthony Bourdain touched many people’s lives. He touched them in lots of ways, mine included. But perhaps the most frequent touch was identifying with those strangers compassionately, supportively by first listening acutely, then acknowledging in Anthony’s intuitive, eloquent response… he got it. He walked in their shoes even if it was only for an hour or two. As his two mega-hit shows portray time after time, strangers loved him for that. It was his nature to know what question was best to ask, then he asked another just as probing, precise and genuinely curious, yet getting deep into their story, their core. I identified fondly with Anthony’s non-assuming gift for the marrow of people’s story over food and drink. Bourdain was an incredible explorer and storyteller even Marco Polo or Charles Dickens would envy!

There are many good and not-so-good reviews of Roadrunner, but being a huge fan of Anthony Bourdain for years and avid watcher of No Reservations and Parts Unknown, two of a few critical reviews I think are most accurate and grasp the entire intended content of Neville’s documentary. First is Alissa Wilkinson’s of Vox Media. She states it’s thorny, a bit uncomfortable due to the mental-illness never addressed by Bourdain or his closest friends. The other review is by Owen Gleiberman of Variety Magazine. But Wilkinson says (emphasis mine):

So, it’s a gutting film. It’s unsettling in spots. It doesn’t offer answers, or at least not answers that make things better. The end of Bourdain’s life doesn’t have a single meaning, a neat takeaway. The messiness of existence is the point.

And that, Roadrunner suggests, is where Bourdain’s cultural significance lies. He loved food, loved people, loved travel and adventure. He could be brusque and loving, tender and tough, brilliant and baffling. He was a person worth making a biographical documentary about. In resisting the urge to paint its subject as a saint, Roadrunner gives us something better: a human.”

Alissa wilkinson, vox media, https://www.vox.com/22573903/roadrunner-anthony-bourdain-review

The other review is by Owen Gleiberman, writing for Variety Magazine, and it describes in-depth Anthony Bourdain’s documentary film in more powerful terms:

[Roadrunner is] an intimate and fascinating portrait of the beloved celebrity chef and television globe-trotter and a spiritual investigation into why [Bourdain’s] life ended.

Owen Gleiberman, variety

But there’s no denying that Bourdain’s dark side and later obsession with death and dying were just as prominent as his gift in living life to its fullest. Gleiberman concludes quite correctly in the same piece, Bourdain’s death was a tragedy, but Roadrunner suggests it was a tragedy with a touch of destiny.

Over the years of watching Anthony Bourdain’s shows, I began to notice his words and self-taught wisdom was increasingly contradicting his off-camera behavior. Yes, we’re all given a margin of error, a sort of grace period accumulation for what we say and do. This is good, this is necessary. However, what if forms of mental-illness and addiction are mixed into one’s life? Behavioral patterns and pathology we can’t see for ourselves or the dark path they lead us down? What then?

“I learned a long time ago that trying to micromanage the perfect vacation is always a disaster. That leads to terrible times.”

anthony bourdain

In the last year and months of his life, Anthony could no longer recognize or self-correct his own micromanaging despite what he said above! Another warning flag raised, this one red. “Terrible times” indeed. Eerie. Self-fulfilling.

If Anthony wasn’t himself recognizing his gradual descent, and lost while subtly reaching out, searching out some form of help, WHY did none of his closest friends, colleagues, or ex’s not see him spiraling deeper and deeper? Was it because like most all of Americans, and perhaps Europeans too, we shy away from mental-illness? In understanding mental-illness intimately, and by doing so will it uncover something(s) too painful, too shameful to admit, to rectify?

For Anthony Bourdain and all inside his inner-circle with the same boldness, courage, and ambition to see, to taste, smell, hear, and learn of so many cultures, to experience fully life’s bounties… I find this child-like fear about the serious reality of mental-illness and addiction to be absurdly ironic! I can’t emphasize enough their paradoxical condition by so many colleagues and friends that loved(?) Anthony! It doesn’t make sense. When someone has obviously become more and more recluse, more agoraphobic (of all glaring things!), something has to be done, especially with the background history Anthony Bourdain openly and bravely shared with the world freely! So how? How did so many friends, ex’s, kitchen-table colleagues, and extended family miss so many warning flags?

“When I die, I will decidedly not be regretting missed opportunities for a good time. My regrets will be more along the lines of a sad list of people hurt, people let down, assets wasted, and advantages squandered.”

anthony bourdain

That painful opportunity missed by his closest friends and work colleagues to help stop Anthony not go out dead like Jeff Heston (Charles Bronson) in the 1970 Italian film, Violent City, will be what haunts the friends and colleagues dearest to him. In one short scene of Roadrunner, Courtney Sexton (I believe?), the CNN executive producer who for years worked with Bourdain, states quite assuredly that ‘we’ll never fully understand why Anthony took his own life.’ No! I could not disagree more vehemently with Sexton. You, Courtney Sexton were part of the tragedy, the fear and ignorance that let Bourdain slip down more and more into his bottomless hole each month, each year.

All the signs, alarms, and warning flags were there, plain as day. And it doesn’t take a 30-year experienced psychiatrist to see them. Some key facts and information easily learned about psychology and addiction, coupled inside continuing mental-illness awareness most likely would’ve saved Bourdain from the black-hole he was falling into. Of this, I am convinced had just one or two of his dearest friends been adequately educated with mental-health/illness. No one needs a Ph.D. or Masters in the field to help someone get professional help. It is literally as easy as boiling an egg or brewing coffee.

“You’re probably going to find out about this anyway, so here’s a little preëmptive truth-telling,” Bourdain says, in disembodied voice-over, in the [Roadrunner] movie’s first few minutes. “There’s no happy ending.”

helen rosner – the new yorker, july 15, 2021 at https://www.newyorker.com/culture/annals-of-gastronomy/the-haunting-afterlife-of-anthony-bourdain

Mental-health & Crisis Suicide Resources

My mother and I are and have been NIMH members since 1992. Their website and resources are a good place to start your extended education about mental-health and illness as well as removing the national stigma surrounding mental-illness. Click on the NIMH link to learn more. Mental-illness is as common in society and all families as regular disagreements or bad kitchen recipes, I assure you. There’s no justifiable reason to avoid it. Please suspend any fears or insecurities and find out how to save a life!

Inside the U.S. there is a hotline by the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or at 1-800-273-8255. Help is available 24/7, 365 days a year.

If you live outside the United States and need support/help concerning mental-illness and/or crisis-suicide prevention, here’s a webpage listing organizations, websites, and phone numbers by country: Crisis Information, Help & Support.

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The Holidays & American Football?

If any of you did not know, I am a former collegiate, pro and semi-pro athlete. I played abroad in W. Africa, Europe, and South America as a futeboller, or footballer as they call it in many foreign countries, or a soccer player here. I come from athletic sports families on both sides, American sports to be precise. You might say that it is in our blood, in our American blood. I was and still am the only one in both families that ever played soccer collegiately and professionally here and abroad. Maybe your family is different over the holidays. Perhaps your family has a strong matriarch who doesn’t allow non-stop American football on TV’s during these special holiday times. I can’t say I would blame her.

Thanksgiving Football Pigskin Instead of Turkey DinnerThese two seasons of the year—autumn and winter—along with the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays (at least in Texas), in my two huge parental families of south Houston (near Galveston) and various small towns outside of Austin, were typically filled with large spreads of traditional holiday foods, that took massive amounts of time, effort, joking, laughter, and crews in the kitchens. Our holidays would also include friends who were in town and not travelling. Our enormous get-togethers also included games of dominoes, or cards, kids games outside, and most definitely any important football games on all the TV’s. American football games to clarify for my international readers and followers. In Texas, as in many parts of the U.S., football games have become a long-standing, enthusiastic (male?) tradition during the holidays. I dare say it is a must with many of the men and boys, and perhaps with certain female personality-types in the families. Would my American readers agree?

Over the last 10, 15, or 20-years this American family past-time has changed. It has evolved into a very different sort of “game” now, particularly on the TV. Have you noticed how much the NFL or NCAA D1 games have changed? For that matter, have you noticed how the NBA, MLB, along with the NFL—the three major sports in the U.S.—have changed the last 2-3 decades?

Over many, many holidays I have often found myself in a discussion or debate with cousins, uncles (mostly), and a gazillion friends—American friends—as to what sport is the “best” sport, the “most popular” sport, the “most enjoyable” sport, and/or the “richest” sport in the world. Richest often seemed to be a leading criteria for “best” or “most popular.” That always puzzled me. I am sad to say to my international readers and Followers that many/most Americans, definitely with my own family members, are infatuated with the misconception, the misnomer that the American NFL, NCAA D1, basketball, and baseball are not only the best, most popular sports in the entire world, they also believe America’s three major sports (NFL, NBA, and MLB) are the richest sports leagues in the entire world… and in their vivid imaginations, for good reasons.

Depending how one analyzes these “accolades,” in some ways they are correct. But in at least two ways they are misguided. Attempting to demonstrate and explain why they are sometimes grossly astray with their American sporting fantasy can be similar to teaching a grizzly bear to stay away from the hive of honey. 🙄 (face-palm, que Winnie the Pooh’s “Oh bother!”)

Time out! Throw the red challenge-flag onto the turf! Who is right and who is wrong? Let’s examine today’s evidence.

According to Howmuch.net, who measures financial information across various economic sectors, the American NFL generated $13-billion in revenues in the 2015-2016 season. The MLB, with a more international appeal, drew $9.5-billion in the same year.

sports-leagues-by-revenue-July2016Yes, four of the top five sports are in North America, a fact American sports fans proudly boast to foreign sports fans. But is it a monetary fact to freely boast about? From the standpoint of  entertainment-value is American football really worthy of endless boasting?

I am surrounded, no… I am smothered by guys (and a handful of women) who explicitly and implicitly talk, watch, cheer, cry, angrily scream, then talk twice as long post-game about their team and how American football, both collegiate and in the NFL, are the greatest games played on planet Earth. I challenge them with questions and facts about other highly popular sports around the world, but when a national past-time is so deeply and emotionally ingrained into a person’s heart and mind—exactly like religious fervor, ironically—no matter the facts and evidence, it cannot sway or change the person’s electrified conviction!

There is a big, yet not-so-blatant reason why the NFL runs away with any revenue-profit comparisons. The highly lucrative business of American football’s top spot rests on its gullible spending fan-base. Case and point:

Anyone who has ever tuned into an NFL broadcast knows that plenty of air time is spent showing players huddling, coaches yelling, and fans cheering. That’s because while the on-field action can be exciting, it’s usually short-lived. In fact, according to a 2010 Wall Street Journal study of four football broadcasts, the ball was only in play for an average of 10 minutes and 43 seconds — approximately 4 seconds per play — even though an NFL telecast lasts about three hours.
11 Minutes of Action, Curiosity.com, accessed Dec. 2, 2018

What is it that fanatical American football supporters are ACTUALLY watching? With an excessive amount of game interruptions, from video-reviews to player injuries to intentional league stoppages for TV sponsors, there are countless game stoppages and commercials!

[Commercials] demand about an hour of airtime. Replays take about 17 minutes, footage of cheerleaders command about 3 seconds, and shots of players standing around make up an average of 67 minutes, according to WSJ. Despite this minimal action, football viewership is in the millions. According to Fortune, more than 111 million people tuned in to the 2017 Super Bowl.
11 Minutes of Action, Curiosity.com, accessed Dec. 2, 2018

NFL_1It begs the question, is watching over an hour of corporate sales and marketing strategies, team fans acting bonkers getting in front of cameras, and players standing around with very little game-action happening, really something to boast about? Isn’t that what those corporate sponsors and the NFL want you to do for them? One way or another all they want from you is to open up your pocket-book repeatedly, directly or indirectly, every single season. It’s what makes the league and owners richer and richer while corporate businesses get in front of your face. Is it any shocking mystery why the NFL and other N. American sports leagues are so filthy rich? And what sort of return-on-investment do the fans get? Granted, there are many charities the leagues donate to and support like the “My Cause, My Cleats,” a three-week campaign. Those are outstanding causes and always needed; no argument there. But these sorts of charities are done every season by the majority of all sports leagues around the world. It’s nothing new. Consider this, from a playing-time standpoint have American football fans really analyzed how much time and energy they are spending in front of those live televised games watching very little football-action?

Here’s another highly sensitive question about “supporting” the NFL:  How many times has the NFL allowed domestic abusers or civil law-breakers to continue playing in the league? Reuben Foster and Kareem Hunt are only the most recent in a long, long, long list of players given “special privileges” to keep playing. Fans of American football probably do not want to hear/read all the actual statistics. Excessive money talks, excessive money is often above laws and civil human rights. Team owners and the NFL Commissioner certainly don’t want those facts overly publicized! It hurts their personal bank accounts. Yes, domestic abuse, drug abuse, etc, are not strictly a sports problem, it is a societal problem. However, sports is a huge revenue-generating part of most all civilized societies as any other business or public sector. Therefore, it should be firmly and fairly addressed ANYWHERE it rears its ugly head and correct precedents actualized.

Nonetheless, in the end I can honestly think of several, much better ways to spend my cherished holiday time with friends and family than glued to a TV-set of American Corporate football. Amazingly though, I am in the minority. Wow, riddle me that! (scratch head)

Do you have similar experiences with your family and friends during the holiday season? Do you agree, disagree with this post? What should the holiday season be about?

————

Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always — Watch Less NFL!

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Of Best Laid Plans

To a popular Mouse…

That small heap of leaves and stubble,
Has cost you many a weary nibble!
Now you are turned out, for all your trouble,
Without house or holding,
To endure the winter’s sleety dribble,
And hoar-frost cold.

But Mouse, you are not alone,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid plans of mice and men
Go often askew,
And leave us nothing but grief and pain,
For promised joy!

In less than ten days I will be moved out of our family’s rural 10-acre, 2,850 sq. ft. Ranchita home (FINALLY!), and soon be returning to my life and particular unconventional lifestyle in the enormous thriving DFW Metroplex I had over 3-years ago, of which does not and cannot exist in a tiny rural central Texas town. HAH!

Oh how I have missed my life up there, my appetites quenched up there, and my tribe up there. It has been far too long. But my strong duties to family, their well-being, and of familial values we hold from multiple generations back to 17th century Europe and nine generations here in Texas, refused to let me be so self-centered. I answered the desperate need that in the end took three long, exhausting years and every summer break the last five. It is coming to an end and very soon will be the start of the next phase of life in one of several of my cherished homes: Dallas-Fort Worth.

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As the 5th largest metropolitan area in North America, Dallas (the bigger half shown above) has two major airports (DFW International & Love Field) that boost an eclectic world flavor, many recreational parks with 11 large lakes, arboretums, museums, sports complexes/stadiums, including a pro soccer club, and a very good, extensive public transit system for eco-friendly Green-lifers, festivals galore throughout the year, a very large Steampunk community, and an exceptionally diverse nightlife with, yes you guessed it… a gigantic alternative-lifestyles communities, events, and network found nowhere else in the state in size or participation, bar none.

Am I beyond excited? Does the tin-man have a sheet-metal cock!? Okay, back on topic.

I had planned in vain foresight to post my Excursion to Perversions — II post well before now, however, “The best laid schemes of mice and men go often askew.” Interruptions have plagued my well-intended superior blogging time and skills — ‘cept a few various comments on other blogs — at the expense of leaving all of you in but grief and pain for promised blog-joys undelivered! Ghastly I know. Thus, my apology here, now, and likely beyond the New Year’s Day and week. In many ways I will be starting a new phase, a new life in a renewed but familiar place among very familiar friends and new ones yet discovered. WordPress and personal blogging must take a temporary back seat until then.

Meanwhile, I’ll pop-in every so often, see what’s about and what trouble I can find. 😈 😉

Everyone have a safe, sensational holiday season with friends and family, and a marvelous, safe New Year’s Eve and Day! Cheers!

Live Well Love Much Laugh Often Learn Always

Christmas_Lights

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Is The Swingers’ Lifestyle Male-Driven?

As part of the Alternative Lifestyles blog-posts migration over to the new blog The Professor’s Lifestyles Memoirs, this post has been moved there. To read this post please click the link to the blog.

Your patience is appreciated. Thank you!