Friday, June 28, 2013

Me and My Opposite-Gender Friends: A History

I didn't set out to have mostly female friends.  In fact, it wasn't until after I graduated from high school that I even had a girl who I could call a "best friend."  Sure, I've always had acquaintances of the opposite gender, and even some real-life crushes, but, lately, things have changed big time.  Not only are the top friends listed on my Facebook profile--which are not determined by me, but always seems to be the same--all female, but the number of private message conversations I've had on my new Facebook account, which started on April 1, can be counted on one hand.  How did that happen? I'll try and answer that question by starting from the beginning.
The first good friend I remember having was a kid named Robert.  He was actually several years older than me, but we bonded over Commodore 64 and Mac System 7 games.  Unfortunately, due to my condition, he and I got into some altercations, sometimes when he didn't even do anything.  I learned from him about asthma, as he had a rather severe case of it.  We had some fun times, as did me and my second good friend, Ben...but I ended up losing contact with them.
However, things all changed when I made friends with four siblings--Lowell, Ricardo, Emil, and Linda-- from my neighborhood.  Not only did they only live two houses down from me--which made it easy to get to each others' houses--but they had an original Nintendo and later got a Nintendo 64, which woke me up to the world of video games.  Originally, we only played outside, whether old-school backyard games like hide-and-seek or board games ranging from Monopoly Junior to Knock-Out to Clue.  They moved just before I started middle school; I sorely missed them afterwards, and the feelings appeared to be mutual.
Just before those friends moved, I made friends with two brothers, Korrey and Kevin.  They were originally intended to be kids in my mom's daycare, but, since they were much older than any of the other children there, they hung out with me instead.  Not only were they smart, but they didn't fall for trends, and they loved to laugh about...well, anything.  My mom said that was good therapy for me, because I tended to be a bit too uptight most of the time.  We had mutual interests, but, just like those kids from my neighborhood, we mostly bonded over gaming, whether it be with dice and pawns or of the Nintendo variety.  Around that same time, I made friends with Cody, my sixth grade classmate.  I lost contact with all of them, but was able to reconnect with Korrey and Kevin through Facebook.  From seventh grade throughout the rest of high school, my best friend was Jakob, who I still do consider among my good friends, thanks to keeping in touch via Zuckerberg's website.  We had some similar interests at first, but we ended up really bonding over Lizzie McGuire.
Now, here's where things changed quite a bit: Most high school guys wouldn't willingly watch a Disney Channel show (at least, for the right reasons), and my new-found tastes in entertainment put me at odds with most of my male classmates.  However, right many of the coeval females I knew at least liked some of the Disney Channel shows.  Previously, my main interest--gaming--was more popular with guys then girls, and, though I still played video games in high school, they got short shrift because of the Disney shows and their stars.  Like most elementary school kids, I though girls were yucky until I was in sixth grade (though I did have a thing for certain famous women: Amy Jo Johnson, Catherine Bell, and Pam Dawber, to be specific) which only made it harder to have friends of the opposite gender at the time. However, trying to talk about Hilary Duff or Chelsea Daniels with my guy friends got me absolutely nowhere, so, I became good friends with my female peers, if only because of similar tastes.
Sometime in early 2007, I got a friend request from a young lady who later became my first female "best friend": Emily.  Those of you who know my history know that she and I will likely never be friends again; that is my fault, and I admit it 100%.  I barely knew her prior to her contacting me on Facebook; we had two classes together, and rode the same bus for part of one year, but that was it.  Still, over time, our friendship grew, before it all came crashing down; again, my fault.
However, it wasn't just Emily; my interactions with girls/women of all ages, from younger than me to old enough to be my parents, showed that they understood me better than guys tended to.  Was it a product of being raised by women? Did it have to do with the differences between men's and women's personalities? It's hard to say...but I do know that, when I had a problem with someone or something, I was much more likely to turn to a woman for advice about it than a guy.  That actually cost me a friendship; when a new friend was bombarded by previous private details before I asked her for advice, she said, "Why in the world are you telling me this?" It was only a few weeks later that she unfriended me.
In recent years, my church has become the place where all my friends are.  During most worship services and many classes, you'll almost always see me sitting next to one of my lovely female friends.  I do talk with the guys there--in fact, I always love "talking tech" with them--but, usually, I spend my time hanging out with the pretty ladies.  If I had to guess, I would say that it's just a natural thing for me to get along better with women than guys.  Why, exactly? I don't know...but it sure is fun!
In conclusion, let me say this: As a lifelong single, it is much easier to have many friends of the opposite gender than it would be if I had a significant other.  I'm sure most of you married or engaged ladies would have a problem with your fiancée or husband constantly hanging out with attractive women.  Still, one thing that I have to make sure of is that I absolutely do not cross any moral boundaries.  Having good friends who are female is wonderful, but, if it veers into sinful and/or obscene territory, I'm in for a whole world of trouble.  My biological father--who was gone when I was still an infant--was, among other morally objectionable things, a womanizer.  Some sources even say that he left my mom, my sisters, and me for another woman.  In that--and other areas, too--he serves as what I call a Tim Taylor example: He showed me what not to do.  (Yes, I know the host of Tool Time never cheated on his wife; as many times as I've seen that show, I probably know it better than any of you reading this.)  I've got to make sure that, no matter what kind of connection I have with a female friend, unless I'm married to her, it must stay innocent!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

What Do You Want Me to Do?

Pretty much all of us have or have had someone who tells/told us what to do.  Whether it was a parent, a boss, a teacher, or whoever else, we had to do what he/she said or face the consequences.  Though some people correctly use such authority, others misuse it or use it when it hasn't even been given to them.  I've had way too much experience being on the receiving end of the latter; people pushed me around when I was younger because they believed there was nothing I could do to stop them.  That has led to a bit of a standoffish attitude towards others in recent years; people might have had well-meaning suggestions of what to do to improve my life, but I usually refuted them without another thought.  Sometimes, well after the fact, I realized that whoever or whatever was right, but, by that point, it was too little, too late.
Then again, I have always had a bit of trouble with listening.  When I was younger, commands or questions from others were met by a, "What?" It got so bad that my sister remarked that I needed a hearing aid.  My mom actually had my hearing checked more than once, and it was fine; my problem was, as she put it, "You just don't listen!" Spoken multi-step directions were also hard for me to follow, especially when they were non-specific, i.e., someone saying, "Move that dresser over," and I proceed to move it in the wrong direction. (Hey, "over" could be any direction!) Yet, written directions have usually been easy for me to follow; I could prepare TV dinners as a kid like nobody's business, and followed the directions to a "T".  Maybe that's why I'm an avid reader; I can understand it better in writing than spoken.
So, other than putting it in writing, how can you get me to listen to you? Well, I have two suggestions that may prove hard for many of my friends who are reading this to follow.  Still, if you don't follow them, getting me to do what you say might prove to be quite the impossible mission.  The first--and cardinal rule--is: Don't insult me.  Those of you who are Harry Potter fans may remember that iconic scene in Order of the Phoenix when Hermione proclaims, "Oh, Harry, don't you see? If she could have done one thing to make absolutely sure that every single person in this school will read your interview, it was banning it!" The context of that quotation? The almost universally disliked Professor Umbridge, who had taken over Hogwarts, banned an interview Harry did with the wizarding newspaper The Daily Prophet.  Since Umbridge got little respect, the students were all the more likely to defy her ban, if only because they didn't like her.
Unfortunately, it seems that some people want to mix disrespect with instruction.  When I get reprimanded for something I'm doing/not doing in an insulting way, I am all the more ready to keep doing (or not doing) whatever, regardless of what whoever or whatever is saying.  Some people have spouted off so much garbage--personal attacks? public embarrassment? needless, non-joking insults? physical pain?--that it's highly unlikely I will ever even consider anything they say again.  Defending others who do that is just as bad.  In short: If I can't respect you, it's unlikely that I will do as you say.
As a side note: When it comes to my tastes, I am not as "dogmatic" as some people claim that I am.  A difference of opinion is one thing; I realize that most people, including those reading this, probably like less than a third of the same things I do.  However, when "I don't like _____" turns into, "_____ is not appropriate for you," or "You like ______? That's stupid!", that's when the claws come out.  I realize that I used to exhibit such behavior myself; I staunchly protested everything from others watching sports to people going to the beach to owning and loving dogs just because I disagreed with them.  I hated sports; I despised the beach; dogs were nothing more than an annoyance; why couldn't anyone else see that? After realizing that I needed to respect others' preferences--isn't that what the Golden Rule is all about?--and that the supposed fanaticism I disliked in others couldn't hold a candle to my obsessions, I decided to stop pushing such issues.  However, that didn't stop the mouthy denizens of Planet Earth from still dishing it out to me.  (Such people need to go read James 3:1-12.)
The second rule? Make sure you have sufficient backup for whatever you are saying.  Just saying that I can't like or dislike whatever or whoever because that's not "cool," "hip," or "appropriate" for my age or gender isn't going to work; if you truly knew me, you'd know that I don't care about all that mess, anyway.  Some people have come up with some ridiculous arguments against my tastes; a babysitter I had once told me I couldn't watch Power Rangers because, and this is a direct quote, "That show makes you do weird things like wear your pants backwards!" which episode did Jason, Tommy, Billy, or Kimberly wear anything backwards? (Thanks to Shout! Factory and my local MovieStop, I can now laugh in her face.) Others have spouted off some other ridiculous claims, yet they were said in all seriousness.  That's not to say anyone who contradicts me is wrong; when an older friend informed me that going to camp for a week would involve me being outdoors the whole time, I couldn't believe I had glossed over that obvious detail, and was no longer interested in going.  (If you know me, you understand why that's a deal-breaker.)
The final rule? Pick your battles wisely.  No matter how you feel about me watching Disney Channel shows, trying to get me to give them up isn't worth it.  Not only will your disapproval make me want to do it even more--more on that later--but taking that away from me would be equivalent to taking away sports from the guys--and even some ladies--of this country.  Seriously, that is how important it is to me.  That said, if there is something that I am doing that is somehow bothering, hurting, annoying, etc., other people, you should say something.  I want to live out Romans 12:18--"Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone." (NLT)--but how can I stop annoying people if I don't know that I am?
In conclusion, let me say this: Most of you reading this probably never met my grandmother, but she was a wonderful woman.  One story my mom has told about her was how she got her driver's license.  When my mom was a kid, her mother--that is, my grandmother--did not drive; they relied on my grandfather to drive them everywhere.  After my mom was grown, my grandmother had a desire to get a driver's license...but my grandfather told her, "You'll never get it!" That made my grandmother all the more determined to get it, and it was a good thing that she did, because, after my grandfather died, she definitely needed it.
My point? When someone--anyone, really--tells me, "You shouldn't be watching Disney shows!", "You're a guy; how can you not like sports?", "Why don't you like dogs? They're so cute!" or anything to that effect, it just makes me all the more determined to do whatever they're chiding me for doing.  People have been dropping such gauntlets for years without realizing it; they don't realize that, despite their mouthiness, they've always lost, and will continue to do so.  I have my likes and dislikes, just like everyone else; if you can't take mine...there's the door.

Friday, June 14, 2013

"My Way or the Highway"? No Way!

Unless you've watched absolutely zero broadcast television or fast forwarded/muted every single commercial break over the past several years, no doubt you have seen some commercial with a little kid saying, "Mommy doesn't ______!" The entire point of those ads is to show that "Mommy" has a better way of doing things: using the product which is being advertised.  My mom doesn't like those commercials, and I agree that they are a bit annoying.
Still, I think they make a valid point about the "way" we do things.  Of course, there are always certain rules that have to be followed, especially on the job.  When it comes to everyday life, especially leisurely pursuits, however, there aren't many rules.  As long as you keep it in following with Biblical commandments, no one should have a problem.
Most of you reading this probably already know that my "way" of doing things is...well, not "normal".  Compared to the "average" millennial, my tastes, my priorities, my hobbies, my interests, and even my way of thinking are quite different.  (If you and I are coeval, can you honestly disagree?)  You could even say the same about me and the "average" guy of any age; how many other human American males do you know who couldn't care less about professional sports? (Okay, maybe you know a few...but only a few, I'm sure!) It's a combination of being mildly autistic--though not disabled; remember?--and being raised in a family situation that was unique in multiple ways.
As most of you can imagine--and some of you probably already know--people have often challenged my "way".  Here are some common behaviors of mine, along with the questions I get and the responses I give (or would give):
What I DoWhat They Say About ItWhat I Say in Response (If I Can)
Bring my own books with me when going to the library just for fun"Why do you need those? There are plenty of books to read at the library!"I have a large collection of books of my own that I need to read in order to get rid of them.  Going to the library is a good way to get out of the house and avoid getting "cabin fever".
Consume "kiddie" entertainment instead of shows, movies, music, etc. that is popular with my peers"You're too old for that! You should be watching stuff meant for people your own age!"Most entertainment specifically intended for "young adults" is morally offensive, and I refuse to take part in it.  My friends aren't bothered by it in the least bit, and, by getting all out of joint about it, you've proven that you are not my friend.
Consuming entertainment that some find too "girly" (i.e., Princess Diaries or Christian "young adult" novels with adolescent females as the target demographic)"What would your guy friends think if they knew you were reading [or watching] _____?"My guy friends would probably be more bothered that you feel that such a matter is a problem than the fact I was consuming whatever entertainment; they're mature enough to refrain from judging, unlike you.  Your response smacks of the immature behavior that I saw kids deal other kids who were "different" when I was in middle school. "For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ." (Galatians 1:10d, NKJV)
You bet, my "way" has been challenged for years! Even on Facebook, I have been unfriended without warning several times, presumably because they were "weirded out" and didn't know what else to do.  Therein lies a problem, though: I have to stand firm in what I believe in...but how do I refrain from becoming conceited and/or believing that my way is the only way? Just over a year ago, an acquaintance commented, "You are very rigid about your opinions, and it seems that if one does not agree with you, they are persecuting you, or just wrong. [...] Being so dogmatic can lead people to just agree without sharing their own ideas and opinions, because they don’t want to argue anymore."  Before that, other friends and peers had similar things to say.  One older friend commented on a post about the likely impossibility of me driving and said, "The real issue is pride: 'I am right and pretty much everyone else is wrong.'" (Yes, he was quoting me.) Even if you go back to my freshman year of high school, a coeval friend from church reprimanded me for my attitude after I talked about something I knew that the rest of the class--including her--didn't; her exact words were, "You shouldn't think you're better than us because you know who that is and we don't!" When I replied, "Did I say I was better than you?", she quickly countered with, "No...but you implied it!" In those cases and other similar ones, it was not my intent to look down on others because their belief was supposedly incorrect or they didn't know some bit of trivia...but I still came off that way.
When I was in seventh grade, we did an activity at my youth group meeting involving a hypothetical coeval classmate whose situation was randomly generated from a numeric list of options.  One of the kids ended up with a "sloppy, disliked kid" whose problem was being conceited.  Upon hearing that, some of the kids there started to laugh; if no one liked the kid, how could he be stuck-up? They were soon silenced, however, by a rather smart girl who commented something to the effect of, "Maybe his opinion of himself was inflated because everyone else's opinion of him was so low."  I think I had a similar problem: When countless people told me my "way" was wrong, I insisted it was right and said that their "way"--which was usually much more "normal" than mine--was wrong, which caused a lot of friction between me and that person, and, sometimes, our mutual friends.
That attitude is wrong, though; it's problematically similar to the hypothetical Pharisee whom Jesus vilified: "I thank you, God, that I am not a sinner like everyone else. For I don't cheat, I don't sin, and I don't commit adultery. I'm certainly not like that tax collector! I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income." (Luke 18:11b-12, NLT) Though it's right for me to stand firm in my beliefs--as long as they are correct beliefs, that is--it's not right for me to use conflicting opinions as a catalyst for dissension.  It shouldn't be a "my way or the highway" deal; Paul warned about that in 2 Timothy 2:23: "Stay away from foolish and stupid arguments. You know that these arguments grow into bigger arguments." (ERV)
One thing I've noticed about myself--which could be an A.S. thing, or simply a personality trait; maybe even a combination of both--is that I tend to operate in extremes.  Essentially, I either take things too far--eating too much of the same food, the obsessions/addictions, reading the same material a thousand times--or don't take it far enough: walking as slow as I can on my "mile run" in P.E. class, only opening a Bible during a church service or Sunday school class, not taking my medication or brushing my teeth as often as I was directed.  In both departments, I have improved to a degree; still, it seems that I don't know how to "stand firm" or have good self-esteem without becoming prideful.  Though Psalm 139:14 says us humans are "fearfully and wonderfully made" (NIV), Proverbs 16:18 also says, "Pride leads to destruction; a proud attitude brings ruin." (NCV) I used to choose to have low self-esteem because of not only that verse, but also annoyance with people who were stuck-up.  There's a happy medium that I need to strike: standing firm in my beliefs and being proud of the way God made me, but not becoming "dogmatic" or conceited.  Unfortunately, I don't know if I can do it; it seems like I'll just end up gravitating to one extreme or the other.
I will end by saying this: Most of you already know that I have felt that a relationship is unlikely in my near future for multiple reasons.  That right there puts me at odds with many people; some folks feel that getting married is a rite of passage, just like graduating from high school or learning to ride a bicycle.  That acquaintance who called me "dogmatic" also said, "[Siobhan], I truly believe you have the potential to [...] have a happy, full life with [...] God willing, a wife/family. I know that you have the rocky path of Asperger's [sic] to deal with, but I think that if you are given the right guidance, you can overcome the obstacles in your way. It may take longer for you to reach, but that goal is attainable for you." I hate to disagree with something that is presented in such a sweet, kind fashion, but said individual is, in a word, wrong.  Marriage isn't for everyone; I don't need to quote the Bible verses again that say just that.  Still, people like that acquaintance think that they're doing the right thing when they suggest that I should try what "everyone else" is doing, not realizing that they could be sending me down a path I'll end up wishing I never traveled.  That doesn't mean that said road is wrong for my friends, but it is wrong for me.  All the good intentions in the world aren't going to change that.  Is living "the single life" any better than being married? No; every sort of lifestyle has its own pitfalls and temptations.  What I need to do is learn to work with what I've got, instead of obsessing over what I don't have.
Any comments?

Monday, June 10, 2013

Blooming Where I'm Planted

Most of us have felt homesickness at some point.  Even though I've never been much of a traveler, I felt a twinge of it while at church camp in 1998, when I looked at my watch and realized, "If I were home right now, I could be watching Growing Pains."  Later that year, my area was hit by a severe winter storm that forced my family to evacuate to my grandmother's house from Christmas Eve until December 26, which had all of us pretty bummed.
Still, for most of my life, I have felt what I call "reverse homesickness."  There's an old joke I once read about it that goes like this (don't blame me if you don't think it's funny; I didn't make it up):
A husband finds his wife crying at home, so, he asks what is wrong.

"I am homesick!" his wife replied.

"But...this is your home, sweetheart!" the husband responded.

"Yes, and I am sick of it!" said his wife.
 Whether or not that joke made you laugh, it still brings home a serious point: For far too long, I have been sick of being home.  Instead of taking advantage of the time I have at my own residence, I usually end up wasting it or unnecessarily preparing to go elsewhere.  That's why many of my books, DVDs, and VHS tapes have sat and collected dust for a long time; I spent time that could have been used enjoying a movie or a good book essentially pouting because I wasn't doing something outside the house.  I would even waste time traveling places to do what I could just as easily do at home, such as reading my own books; why couldn't I have done that in my own living room?
Unfortunately, it seems that I have similar problems in other areas of my life; it's probably the worst in the relationship area.  This summer, four of my coeval friends are set to be married, all to fiancés whom I have never met.  I can't really say I'm envious of their soon-to-be-spouses; one of those friends is a guy, another has been essentially engaged for as long as I've known her, and the other two are nice young ladies and good friends, but not really the type of girls I would want to marry, so, frankly, I don't feel deprived or jealous.  Still, my Facebook news feed has been abuzz with updates about their upcoming nuptials and others' romances, including details about the love lives of people whom I know nothing about on my Ticker.  Part of me wants to whine and complain: "Well, where's my significant other? Why don't I have a wife?"  Yet, the other part of me realizes that I should be taking advantage of not being tied down to a woman at the moment.
I'm reminded of the Bible story where a woman pours costly perfume on Jesus' head.  When the disciples become indignant--they thought it was a big waste, and that the perfume could have been sold for money, which would have been given to the poor--Christ replied, "The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me." (Matthew 26:11, NIV 2010) It serves as an analogy for our lives: I'm not always going to have everyone whom/everything that I have around me right now.  People pass away, relocate and lose contact, or just grow apart from one another.  Material things wear out, get lost or stolen, or become destroyed.  That means that I have to take advantage of my situation right now: where I'm living, where I'm working, what I can do with what I have, and the people I have around me at the current time.
Most of you reading this probably believe in spiritual, unseen evil, as described in Ephesians 6:12.  I'm of the belief that most, if not all, sinful thoughts and desires come from those influences.  It seems that the demon of discontent is one that has been bothering me all my life; it wasn't possible for me to be happy unless I had whatever it was I wanted at the time...yet, once I got whatever "it" was, I wanted something else.  That's in violation of Philippians 4:13, which describes being content in any situation.  Even Psalm 23:1 (NLT) says, "The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need."  One of the things I need to learn is to be content in whatever situation I might be in, regardless of what whoever or whatever is doing.  (Can I count on you to keep me accountable?)
There are two points I want to finish with.  First off: Being single actually rocks, when you think about it.  A few weeks ago, I was at my local barber shop, and Danielle, the lady who cut my hair that day--yes, even though it's a place for guys to get their hair cut, all of the "stylists" are women--had never given me a haircut in the 4.5 years that I've been going to that place.  Since I enjoy talking to people, I asked her the usual "get to know you" questions, one of which is, "Are you married?" Usually, the women there say they already are committed to a significant other, but she said she wasn't; she was single, but wouldn't have it any other way, because she got to do what she wanted to do.  Well, I say Danielle--who just happens to share her name with my iPod--was right on target!
I've heard married people say that they don't have as many opposite gender friends as they did when they were single.  Though I currently lack a significant other, I have plenty of friends who are female; the ladies seem to gravitate to me for some reason, and I love it.  I often think jokingly that God saw fit to bless me with several women instead of just one; however, when you really think about it, that isn't a joke.  If my Maker decided that I should have several lady friends instead of just one, that must mean He considers me special.
My final point: When facing a challenge like this, it is wrong to expect instant gratification.  Just think: When was the last time you made a New Year's resolution?  Usually, people don't make them because they know they won't keep them.  I've often found that many people just make resolutions that are simply too audacious, such as running two or three miles every single day.  What a New Year's resolution should be is something that you work on gradually until the last page of the calendar turns.  My resolution for 2013 was to spend less time doing completely pointless and non-constructive tasks, like pacing and talking to myself, or looking through old e-mails or Facebook messages for the thousandth time.  Have I completely conquered that battle yet? No...but I'm doing better than I was at the end of 2012, and I've still got 6.5 months left to reach my goal!  Even if I haven't completely rid myself of my non-constructive habits by January 1, 2014, if I've made significant progress, that is something of which to be proud.
When it comes to learning to be content in any situation, that won't happen overnight either; it's something that has to be learned.  The fact that I'm not burning with jealousy of any of my Facebook friends is a step in the right direction; it wasn't all that long ago that I lashed out in anger at the news of a friend's engagement.  This situation I am in right now might actually be a blessing; frankly, I think I currently lack the maturity to be in a relationship.  Asperger Syndrome is a form of developmental delay, which means that I am socially behind for my age.  That likely explains why I was almost the only one among my high school friends who liked the Disney shows; I was socially the target age for Lizzie McGuire and The Suite Life of Zack and Cody.  That hasn't gone away; lately, I've found myself devouring a three-disc, thirty-episode set of the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, which is/was intended for essentially the same age group.  It's funny; many parents have problems with teenagers thinking of themselves as adults.  I remember seeing an argument where an adolescent female said, "I am an adult!", and her mother replied, "No; you are a child!" With me, it's the exact opposite; I sometimes think of myself as still a child, even though I am actually a quarter-century old.  Thinking that way has led to some sticky situations.
Though I have made progress in my life, sometimes I wonder if others don't think of me in the way that Tru felt of her developmentally disabled brother Eddie in the Disney Channel Original Movie (DCOM) Tru Confessions: "I'm going to be off to college, get married, have kids, and Eddie is always going to be Eddie."  I sometimes feel that way about myself, but I know that the "I am what I am; I cannot change; I am hopeless" mentality is nothing more than one of Satan's many lies.  With God's help, I can--and will--continue to progress and mature...but I won't end up ready to be married tomorrow.  Still, with the help of my many friends, who are likely reading this, I will do it over the course of time.
Any comments?