They Don’t Want Gun Control

They Don’t Want Gun Control,

by Will Saunders

There is often lots of attention given to this topic, especially immediately following a huge incident of gun violence. After each one, people scream about gun laws being too lenient – they scream for about 30 seconds – until the next incident.

It seems to happen all the time, such as the incident in Orlando at the Pulse Night Club where 49 were killed; or the incident in San Bernardino, California at a public health center where 22 were killed; or the shooting at the Ft. Lauderdale, Florida airport where 5 were killed; or the shooting at Ft. Hood, Texas killing 13; or the shooting at Virginia Tech leaving 32 dead; or the incident at the Washington, DC Navy Yard killing 12; or the incident in Baton Rouge, Louisiana killing 3; or most recently a mass shooting at an office park in Edgewood, Maryland killing 3 or the incident in Las Vegas killing 58.

Obviously this list of tragedies is only a smidgen, a small sampling of the many incidents of gun violence resulting in mass casualties. After each one, there is a renewed push to improve gun control, and it often stops in the lap of the National Rifle Association (NRA). The NRA is a nonprofit lobbyist group that advocates for stronger gun rights of American citizens. According to its website, it was founded in 1871 and has actively lobbied for legislation to support gun rights since 1975. Most people who are politically connected will agree the NRA is one of the most influential lobbyist groups. They have a lot of power.

Those in favor of gun ownership use their 2nd Amendment right to gun ownership. Congress could easily pass a bill to tighten up the current legislation while still retaining a person’s ability to legally purchase and own guns; however, they don’t do a thing. That’s possibly because of the strong hold of the NRA. An argument they often use to support a wider array of gun ownership is, if more people were armed in more places, they could stop some of these folks in their tracks and minimize the number of casualties. That’s an approach that South Dakota embraces. The state legislature enacted a law to allow armed teachers in schools. I don’t know if that’s the answer either. Have more guns doesn’t necessarily mean fewer casualties. Frankly, I wouldn’t want my son or daughter sitting between a mass shooter on one end and a vigilante teacher on the other.

I don’t know what the answer is. But clearly what we have now isn’t working. There must be a better way, I just don’t know what that is.

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Self-Indulgence: The Best Thing For You

Self-Indulgence: The Best Thing For You, by Will Saunders

I was reading a leadership development white paper published by Management Concepts titled, “When You Manage Resilience, Your Best Self Shows Up,” that identified several tips for enhanced professional development and career growth. One of the tips hit me very hard. That tip is: ”Start every day with a focus on yourself. Dedicate (and defend) time that’s just about you.” This is something I try to do every day. The key word here is try.

Taking time for self is crucial, and starting the day focused on this helps to ensure you don’t become self-neglectful. There are very many things that require most people’s time and attention all during the day, from the time they get up till they get back in bed at night. These include some or all of the following: children, siblings, the dog, significant other, homeowner’s association, aging parents, friends, coworkers, boss, bill collector, annoying neighbor, panhandler on the corner, and the list can go on from there. Trying to battle all of these things can be encumbering and cause most people to take time away from nurturing themselves. If you’re one of those people who feel it’s your duty to always nurture others, I get it; however, a little self-care will better enable you to care for others. Think about the last time you took a flight someplace. The security and safety briefing advises passengers to don their own oxygen mask before trying to help others with theirs. Live your whole life that way.

I try to take time for me by developing my mind, body, and spirit (which includes a healthy diet, physical activity, prayer and meditation, and an abundance of solitude and this includes thanksgiving). But I sometimes get consumed by life and forget to nurture myself. It really does help me get through the day and better cope with any stressors if I start my day focused on me before my focus shifts to everything else the day has to offer. When the mind and body are in the right place, I think it helps make everything else fall into place more easily. If nothing else, doing this helps me to respond to things more effectively and proactively rather than reactively. It makes the day much better. Nurturing myself also helps keep me from saying the wrong thing to the unreasonable people who cross my path, and I feel as if I get the lion’s share of them.

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Cops Who Killed Black Folks?

Thought I’d share Darnell’s post today. 😔

I Am Going To Write

Last week I was looking for a list of Black folks killed by cops. It wasn’t hard to find. Then I looked for a list of cops and authority who killed Black folks, and I found nothing.

I went on a search through these 264 names. There are many left off. Feel free to fill in the list. And if any are incorrect, please correct it. These people are MURDERERS. Their names must be known.

1. Walter Scott 50- Michael Slager
2. Bernard Moore 62- Christopher Blaise
3. Lavall Hall 25- Eddo Trimino
4. Jonathan Ryan Paul 42- Pedro Medina, Steve Schmid
5. Jamie Croom 31- Josie Wells
6. Terry Garnett Jr. 37- Joseph Costa
7. Monique Jenee Deckard 43- Kevin Flanagan, Dale Miller, Jonathan Nooitgedagt
8. Tony Terrell Robinson Jr. 19- Matt Kenny
9. Tyrone Ryerson Lawrence 45- Milwaukee Police Department
10. Naeschylus Vinzant 37- Paul Jerothe
11. Andrew…

View original post 2,203 more words

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It’s Funny How Things Work Out

  • It’s funny how things work out, by Will Saunders

I was thinking about a pal of mine who had been sick for nearly 2 ½ weeks. He didn’t eat very much and lay in bed all day on most days during that time. That period of not eating much and convalescing with little to no movement, he lost 12 pounds.

Then on the flip side, I think of people I know who purposely eat fewer calories – and they get regular exercise; however, they still seem to struggle to shed the pounds. Sometime people might even gain a pound or two. What irony. This reminds me of a funny dialogue years ago between two friends of my mom at a social function.

Gwen: Wow, you look great Sherman. Wish I could lose these pounds like you did.

Sherman: It wasn’t by choice. I lost them when I was sick, following my surgery.

Gwen: Shoot, let me go have some surgery too, then.

We all had a long, hearty laugh about that. Weight maintenance is indeed no laughing matter, especially if you’re one of those people who find it an up-hill battle trying to shed those pounds and keeping them off. It’s a struggle for millions of people. In fact, because of the difficulties in losing and keeping the weight off, many people stop trying. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association in a March 2017 article titled Change in Percentages of Adults With Overweight or Obesity Trying to Lose Weight, 1988-2014, it’s not uncommon for people to simply give up or not even try in the first place. I’m here to tell you it definitely can be discouraging. I try to focus on reignite my weight management plan pretty quickly after I realize I’ve put on a few pounds. Somehow, I noticed around my birthday in April that I had gained about 15 pounds. I let myself go a bit, and as hard as it’s been to get back on the wagon, I’m glad I only had 15 pounds to get back to my target weight. I cannot even wrap my head around the difficulties people must face who have double that (or more) to lose. It has to be overwhelming.

I’ve talked to a few people, offering encouragement, advice, or just an empathic, non-judgmental ear. It’s hard. After all of your efforts, your clothes are still too tight or the number on the scale doesn’t go down any further – or you eat right and exercise and to your surprise (and dismay), you’ve gained a couple of pounds since your last weigh-in.

When I first began writing this, I was going to offer tips and recommendations. You can search my archives for that, as I have written about it before. But, I’ve come to realize that no matter how good the advice may be, some things won’t work for everybody. Nonetheless, there is one thing I have found that can help immeasurably, and that is having a good network of people around you. Whether it’s that person who offers you authentic compliments or someone to whom you can be accountable, that connection can be one of the best motivators. It can be friends, coworkers, or your online pals. There are even some apps that do this too. Having someone with whom you can check in regularly could mean the difference between your success or failure.


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The Good Ol’ Days

The Good Ol’ Days, by Will Saunders

People sometimes speak of the good old days, referring to a point in time that was supposedly better than what we see in the present day. It’s debatable when that time actually was; however, it often was generally between the years 1928 and 1950. The Good Ol’ Days is often thought of as the period just prior to the Great Depression and up through FDR’s New Deal. I think of the opening theme song of the TV show All In the Family titled, ”Those Were The Days” – which, referred to a time in history about 40 years before the show first aired and in my mind were NOT all that good.

You don’t have to go that far back to see a time when jobs were not all that plentiful – a time in which anybody who was part of any minority group, including but not limited to women and blacks, had a lack of equity in society and in the workplace – much more so than we see today. But people – then and now – call it the good old days.

Yes, there might have been some paltry aspects of that period that could be considered fabulous. But I do not think overall it was all that great. There were more than 15.5 million people who were unemployed, compared with around 8.2 million who are unemployed today, per data from the Bureau of Labor Statics, Current Population Survey. The aftermath of the Great Depression was catastrophic, a condition that had been brewing for a long time and the aftermath lingered for many years afterward.

Then the Great Plains states, which includes states such as Kansas, Nebraska, the Dakotas, and some others experienced the worst drought in American history. As if that weren’t bad enough, these Great Plains states also endured a number of severe wind storms as well as what scientists called “black blizzards” that carried away the dirt and soil, eliminating any possibility for farmers to cultivate their crop. They were called black blizzards, unlike traditional blizzards which are white from the blinding snow storm/white out conditions, because they were formed from dried dirt and sand that blew heavily from winds at a velocity of 30 mph or greater. Because the soil was dried and because there was little to no precipitation for a duration of many weeks, food wasn’t very plentiful.

Besides all of these conditions, the treatment of women and minorities during this time was unspeakable. The Women’s March – January 21, 2017, highlighted awareness and sought more fairness and greater degrees of pay parity between men and women in the workplace. But travel back in time 80 plus years to see a much bigger rift between of men’s and women’s wages. Between 1936 and 1937, there was widespread activism to attempt to elicit more empathy and create a greater degree of fairness. As unfair as things still are now for women, the unfairness was far more egregious back in the day.

I’m not even going to devote much time talking about the treatment of the black community back in those days or Jews or persons with disabilities or many other disenfranchised groups. The Civil Rights Act, which wasn’t codified until 1964, provided legal remedy for discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Prior to this, there were many overt examples of discriminatory acts.

So, help me understand why those days are called the Good Ol’ Days. From my vantage point, despite the many challenges and troubles we may see, times sure are better now, in my humble opinion. These are the Good Ol’ Days. The Good Ol’ Days are right now.


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Russia and the Trump Administration

Russia and the Trump Administration, by Will Saunders

I’m not big on conspiracy theories, but sometimes I think of certain things and one just hit me last night. (Really, I do feed into conspiracy theories. I’ve seen the movie, Conspiracy Theory, more times than I care to mention. I know many things are not what they appear to be on the surface). The latest in a string of developments with Donald Trump, members of his administration, and the Russia investigation is the upcoming testimony of former FBI Director James Comey.

The last time a witness was due to testify against a sitting president on matters of this serious magnitude, the witness died before testifying. We studied this extensively when I was an undergrad and in grad school too. William Casey, the CIA Director at the time, was scheduled to testify about his knowledge of the Iran-Contra scandal. By way of background, The Iran-Contra scandal (also known as Irangate, Iran-Contra Affair, and Contragate) was an arms deal in which the United States orchestrated the sale of munitions and weaponry to Iran to support the Contras in Nicaragua, which was to ultimately effect the release of US hostages.

It was a big deal because such an arrangement was illegal by virtue of the Boland Amendment, a series of foreign policy directives promulgated to specifically prohibit the use of US-funds for the Contras in Nicaragua. Although Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North (he was indicted and later convicted) was a loyal Marine who fell on the sword and took all the blame (some of his convictions were overturned on appeal, and President George Herbert Walker Bush later pardoned him for the remaining charges), Director Casey’s testimony would surely have implicated President Reagan and might have brought him to ruins.

Anyhow, the day before Casey was supposed to testify, he fell sick as a result of what they said were seizures (I don’t believe it was seizures, but that’s just me). He was too sick to testify. His doctor supposedly diagnosed him with a brain tumor, which is what led to the seizures, and he was rushed to surgery. This tumor was previously undiagnosed. He died without testifying. I always thought it was strange that he suddenly got sick – almost overnight – then wheeled off to surgery, then died before he could testify. Maybe I think too much, but I don’t believe in coincidences.

I hope Mr. Comey keeps himself safe. I wouldn’t want anything to prevent him from testifying. Mr. Comey had better go into hiding and stay there until he has completed his testimony. Frankly if it were me, I would have to think long and hard before I testified against a US president, even one as contemptible as Donald Trump. Things happen to people with information that could impugn the reputation of a president. I won’t even go into the controversy surrounding Vince Foster and his alleged suicide. You can look that up yourself. Some people think it was just a suicide while others think it was so much more than that. I fall into the latter group.


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Thrill Seekers: Climbing Mt. Everest

Thrill Seekers: Climbing Mt. Everest, by Will Saunders

A couple of weeks ago, my managers organized a leadership/team-building exercise for me and my colleagues that simulated climbing Mt. Everest. It was an interesting undertaking, and I think – unlike most boring team building exercises – it was highly valuable and a very engaging activity. The purpose was to help those who supervise and lead teams to recognize how communication styles, interactions with each other,  and decision-making processes can help or hinder the team’s progress.

The exercise was executed much like a board game in which participants engaged in role-playing on a team of five hikers trying and reach the top of the mountain. There were five teams (all my coworkers who were fellow team leaders and supervisors). Each team was competing with the others to get to the top….not necessarily to beat the other team but rather, just to make it there successfully. The Leadership and Team Simulation is part of Harvard Business School’s leadership development resources.

Though the simulation was designed for educators to use with students, it really can be used for any group. By way of background, Mt. Everest is 29,029 feet above sea level (the highest mountain peak in the world) and is situated in Nepal, nestled between China and India. Each hiker has a variety of factors impacting them individually as well as the hiking team, including their health, the weather, and supplies.

The exercise was eye-opening for me. Many of my colleagues were not successful and didn’t make it to the top. When I say they were not successful, I mean they did not survive. A few of us made the decision to turn back and not continue, which most certainly saved our lives. But many other team members succumbed to the elements or the physical limitations brought about from mountain climbing.

Until I participated in this exercise, I never realized that a large number of people who attempt to climb Mt. Everest die during the climb. I was prompted to write about this today because of the media reports about a few people who died this past weekend on the mountain. People die for a variety of reasons. Some die from hypothermia; some die from a lack of oxygen; some fall – and consequently cause others to fall with them; and some die from a condition known as Acute Mountain Sickness, which refers to the body’s reaction to a lack of oxygen. It’s not bad enough that in many people a lack of oxygen causes the lungs and heart to stop which kills them. But a lack of oxygen can have other effects too, such as a loss of appetite, vomiting, nausea, dizziness, confusion, memory loss, impaired judgment, just to name a few. These conditions are only temporary, though, because prolonged loss of oxygen will ultimately lead to one’s demise.

I almost missed the most salient points of the exercise – which were (1) communicating cogently with one another; (2) maintaining improved interpersonal abilities; and (3)using sound judgment with decision-making – because I focused so much on all the things that could go wrong. Needless to say, climbing Mt. Everest is not on my bucket list. Those who know me well know I’m too chicken. But more importantly, it’s out of my budget. The cost of such an expedition can range between $25,000 and $50,000, and in most instances that doesn’t include the cost of getting there and any accommodations and meals. Getting there is pricey too. So, if I had that much extra dough laying around, I can come up with dozens of things I’d do with it. Traveling to Nepal and climbing Mt. Everest isn’t one of them.

It’s obviously a very appealing enterprise to many. If you want to know more, check out the 2015 movie titled Everest, which is on Amazon Prime. The 1996 movie of the same title is also a good one. Both films, while largely fiction, are based on real life events. . One thing they both have in common, I’ll tell you without giving anything away, is the extent to which people can still argue and be disagreeable even when their lives are at stake. Egos will always rule.

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Health and Fitness Failure: New Beginnings

Health and Fitness Failure: New Beginnings, by Will Saunders 

Between December 2016 and April, I fell off the wagon. I mean, I fell waaaaaaayyyyyy off. I really failed at it. I fell so far off the wagon, I was walking around looking for it. I couldn’t see where it was. I began eating and drinking too much of the wrong things, I quit my regular exercise, and I gained 15 pounds. I know some of you will say catching myself at a 15 pound gain is good. That’s what a coworker said to me. Many people gain double or triple that (or more) before restarting. I knew that already, and it wasn’t very comforting hearing it from my work pal.

I was so dismayed, dismayed primarily because I had made such remarkable progress prior to that. I had been very strict with my eating, I tracked everything, I was working out about five days a week (or more) and was feeling and looking great. Last summer, I spent 20 minutes talking to this fella on the DC Metro who noticed my progress and asked how I did it. He was a fellow commuter who evidently had been watching me. If you are a regular reader of this blog, you may recall my post, “You never know who is watching you” that I wrote last summer. Recalling that experience – one of several I’ve had over the years – is additional inspiration for me to become a trainer. More on that later. It’s great when people notice my progress and they are motivated to work on their own progress. But all that progress is gone. Oh well. C’est la vie. I can’t cry over spilled milk. 

Three Mondays ago, April 24th, was my last day of mindless eating and drinking. It was my birthday. That was my new beginning. I’m back on my game. I felt compelled to do so when I tried to put on a pair of my favorite party pants and could barely fasten them. I looked like Wimpy. You remember him don’t you, from the Popeye comic strip? 

Well, of course I’m exaggerating. I didn’t really look like him. But I sure felt like I was him. I initially wanted to blame it on the laundry. “Maybe they shrunk,” I wanted to say. But the reality is, I got a little chunky. I felt chunkier than I actually was. But I knew it was time for a change. It didn’t help that I had just finished watching a show on the Discovery Channel on the rise in premature deaths attributed to rather small increases in a person’s weight. It scared me.

Now, for the past three weeks, I’ve been back at it. I have been at it so hard that I even endured an injury to my lower back two weeks ago, and it’s just now healed. I forgot that I can’t go hard when I haven’t been going at all for five months, especially since I’m no longer in my twenties anymore. I know now. I’ve been working with a trainer – not really working with him, but he began chatting with me while I was working out. He walked up to me amid my workout and began counseling me, something which I tend to find very annoying. He offered me some free sessions, so I kept talking with him anyhow to be nice. Besides, I love anything free. Though I prefer to do it on my own (I know what I need to do and how to do it), his tips have been helpful. In fact, dude encouraged me to become a trainer myself. He said he had been watching me and thinks the even-tempered way in which I assist the other gym-goers when they ask “stupid questions” (his words, not mine) was admirable. I was thinking of being a health and wellness coach. But as a fitness trainer too, I think together they would be great and serve as an amazing side gig.

I don’t usually talk about my pending goals, because I always feel I’d be embarrassed and let people down if I don’t succeed. Everyone always expects me to do it the right way, to never quit, and achieve great heights. That’s the inspiration I’d give to other people, so I’m supposed to live by my own words, right? Well against my norm, I’m going to tell you that I signed up for personal trainer classes this week through the National Council on Strength and Fitness. That’s the same place where my trainer studied.  I just began reading chapter one of the textbook, Advanced Concepts of Personal Training, by Brian D. Biagioli. Chapter One, “Functional Anatomy,” is a primer on bones, muscles, and joints and the way in which they each intersect with one another.

There’s no specific time limit for completing the program, but the counselor said most people complete it in between 8-10 months. That seems quite ambitious to me, but I’m giving it my all. My trainer said he completed it in 13 months. If he could do it, so can I. A part of me feels as if I’m biting off more than I can chew. But like in the story, The Little Engine that Could, “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.” Eventually I’ll learn to believe those words, cause as of this writing, I don’t know if I’m in over my head. I ‘m feeling a bit overwhelmed.

Wish me luck and check in on me in a few weeks to see how I’m doing. I may need a little nudging to keep me on it.

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It’s So Batty

It’s So Batty, by Will Saunders

When I left home to go to work the other day, it was still a little dark out just as it usually is. A bird (or what I presumed was a bird) flew past my head into some bushes near the spot where I parked my car. I had to duck to keep it from slamming into my face. It startled me quite a bit. I thought, “That sure is a strange looking bird.”

The shape of it was odd, and it had odd-shaped wings. I was thinking of some of the eerie animals I’ve seen from the movie or video game, Resident Evil. But more than that, it didn’t seem to be healthy based on how it was flying. I initially figured it was the early morning darkness that kept me from getting a good look at it, and the fact that I still may not have been fully awake, that caused my eyes and imagination to be doing its work on my judgment. I still kept thinking it was odd, as I know most birds typically do not fly when it’s dark. But I pressed on and thought no more about it.

Fast-forward to later in the day when I got back home, I saw flyers posted around the neighborhood warning residents of wild bats in the area. I also received an email from the condo association about it and that the county animal control office would be dispatching a crew. Seeing those notices scared me. At the time, it didn’t dawn on me that the creature was a bat. I soon realized that’s exactly what it was. That explained why it was out in the dark …it’s not uncommon for bats to be out in the dark… and why it didn’t fly with grace the way a bird might have flown. Recently, a coworker who lives in Maryland and a Facebook friend who lives in Pennsylvania each had a bat get into their homes. I think the only thing worse than having to deal with a bat in my home is having to deal with a snake in my home – although maybe the snake would be a viable solution to bat problem. Bats are a delicacy to snakes.

Fortunately, the bat didn’t find its way into my home. That’s a good thing too, because I know I would have been emotionally out of sorts if it had. Bats are like other rodents. They can squish themselves down and squeeze through very small openings. The average bat can squeeze through openings with a diameter of between 20- 25 centimeters, which is roughly the size of a quarter. That’s not very large at all. For the past few days, every little sound I have heard – the dishwasher changing cycles, the sounds of the printer, a noise outside, and the imaginary sounds in my head – all left me a little jumpy. Bats are known carriers of rabies, so I’m very elated and fortunate that the creature didn’t slam into my face. Even without rabies, I do not want to face a bat. I hope those bats go back to where they have been hiding all winter.

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The Color of Temptation

The Color of Temptation, by Will Saunders

It’s funny how a lot of people hardly ever take turns being the bigger person. It’s usually the same ones, over and over and over again, who stand tall and shine, who bite their tongues, and who act civilized – going the extra mile – while others live wantonly saying and doing whatever they darn well please with no regard for anybody else.

While I was bellyaching to someone about this, that person told me it’s just God’s way of stretching good people, making them better. I don’t know if that person was just trying to make me feel better (and yes, it did make me feel better —- alternative ways of looking at things can always add value), but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that person was likely right. It took me a few days to get there, though. It is tantamount to turning the other cheek, doing unto others as you’d have them do unto you, or forgiving someone of their trespasses just like you want God to forgive you of yours. It’s nothing but karma, The Golden Rule, or whatever it is you want to call it.

The other funny thing is, when you’re trying to teach someone something, it seems much easier than trying to teach yourself that same thing. I’m always telling this to others, but while facing it myself, my insight became cloudy. That person counseling me talked about God stretching me, trying to help me to grow. But as I’m sitting here in my prayer and meditation, I’m thinking of something else too.

What I’m thinking about is temptation. Obviously being the bigger person is the right thing to do, no doubt about that. But where temptation comes in is that luscious feeling I might have to flip out and tell the other person where they can go – or become overtly mean or inconsiderate to them because of their repeated acts of selfishness, forgetting they aren’t the only one who matters. Those who know me well know that I’d feel so horribly mournful afterwards if I treated them in the same insensitive way in which they treated me.

I guess I’m in good company because, even Jesus was tempted. According to the book of Matthew (well actually it’s addressed in Matthew, Mark and Luke but I prefer Matthew’s account of it) when Jesus was fasting in the Judean Desert for 40 days and nights, Satan appeared trying to tempt him. Satan tried unsuccessfully three times.

You might ask, “So, what does all this have to do with being the bigger person?” Good question. The point of it all is, doing the right thing regardless how you might feel on the surface, should always win. I pray when tempted such as this – I find myself praying more and more these days – and that is what God wants from me.

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 2:18; 4:15-16).

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