Category Archives: Personal

One Year Later – State of Yo

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Today is what would have been the 6 year mark of YoYoSkills and nearly the 1 year mark of YoYoSkills being on hiatus.  I can’t tell you how much I have missed you all.

Last September I decided to hang up my proverbial Keyboard and Mouse. My wife and I started Foster Care certification classes to hopefully, increase our family.  Leaving YoYoSkills was a move that was hard to make and I was humbled by the a significant amount of support you guys gave me.   5 years of my life and 5 years of dedication.  As much as I miss it I still feel it was the right decision to make.

As today is the 1 year mark,  I felt I owed you an update as to where I am in the progress of my life changes.  I also wanted to take the opportunity to speak to the state of our community as I have observed it.

Family:

We finished our classes to get our Foster certification in October.  It took several months to then get the house certified, and then the search began.  My wife and I went to several interviews, saw several case files and talked to many, many social workers.  Looking for a child to adopt is a surreal experience.  You look at so many case files they start to blur together.  Initially the Foster Agency has you create a “Target Range” with specifications when you are looking;  Boy or Girl,  Age range,   Ethnicity,   Siblings,   Temperament, ect.   In a way, it is like choosing a yo-yo but one million percent more serious.  My wife and I already have a natural daughter so our target specifications were primarily based on what would be the healthiest for her. Rylie is a very strong kid, but she is just a kid after all and it was very important that we set her up for success.  Being a big sister is no small feat.  We wanted a boy, but were open to a girl if there was a good fit.  We wanted to stay within a few years of the age of my daughter.  We wanted a child that would fit well temperament wise in our family.  The rest of it was not important to us.  We looked so many case files, had so many interviews and saw so many kids in need.  It was hard to not take them all.  This process took so long that I found myself seeing kids in our target range in public and wondering if they were available to adopt!

In March, we were blessed with an interview that fell out of our requirements, but felt right in every way possible.  They were brothers,  aged 3 and 4.   They were younger than we were looking for and both came with challenges.  I will level with you, never in my life had I ever considered three children but these two stole my heart immediately and my wife felt the same way.  After a month of visits we moved onto overnights, and then in May they moved in.  For the last four months these two boys have transformed my heart and family and it honestly has felt like they were always part of my life.   Before all of this, I never considered life with three kids and now I can never see my life without them.

These two boys bring my child count up to three, and one is still a toddler.  They demand all my free time and I am more than willing to give it to them.  At the end of my day when my wife and I collapse in exhaustion into an unmade bed with the mornings unfolded laundry,  when my office job goes immediately to a fatherhood referee upon coming in the front door, when there is enough fighting among siblings that we could have a WWE ladder match in the family room and when I only get to throw a yo-yo for those sweet quiet 15 minutes after everything is all done before I have to get ready to do it all again in the morning, it is worth every single moment.

YoYoing:

Though I don’t get much time any more to be part of the yo-yo world  I do still manage to squeeze in participation where I can.  MonkeyfingeR was kind enough to offer me a position on the team as a Brand Manager and I have been doing my best to help Ray keep the MonkeyfingeR brand focused and on track.  This arrangement is great.   MonkeyfingeR is an amazing indie brand and being a brand manager is similar to program management which I do for a living anyway.  I also got to help design a new yo-yo, the Gelada 2 which is the best yo-yo I have every played.  I am thrilled at the reception  the MonkeyfingeR brand and the Gelada 2 has been getting and with throws like the Apex, Co-Lab, and Gelada 2 receiving positive feedback I get the same feeling I got when I ran YoYoSkills.  I am extremely excited for the future of MonkeyfingeR and can’t wait to show you guys what we have coming up next.  MonkeyfingeR has allowed me to take a step back from YoYoSkills but still be active in the community, and I can never repay Ray and the team for that chance.

That said, YoYoSkills is something I miss daily.  I miss reviewing yoyos from around the world.  I miss covering yo-yo news.  I miss having time to watch hundreds of throw videos from players all over the world and highlighting them on the worlds largest yo-yo news website.  While prepping this write-up, I was shocked to see that YoYoSkills STILL gets a few hundred views a day.  I was expecting maybe dozens, but hundreds?  I miss you guys too.  Not a week has gone by without someone asking me to start up YoYoSkills again.  As much as I want to I would not be able to dedicate the time to the website that you guys deserve.  I have also been asked to hand it off to another party but honestly it would take the right person with the right track record and the right circumstances to make that happen.  As it stands, I have not been presented anything that gives me confidence that YoYoSkills will continue to be run with my vision in mind.

On that, there is nothing that is keeping you  from starting your own blog.  When it comes right down to it, YoYoSkills is just a name, brand, and web domain.   If I could grow it organically with zero web franchise experience, you can too.

The Players:

This has been a banner year for yo-yo players.  The evolution of tricks is absolutely  amazing.  The tricks I see online and from friends are absolutely amazing and we are not exactly talking about a huge amount of time.  Zac Rubino, who first started getting into 4a seriously a few years ago is now considered to be one of the best in the world.  Tessa Piccillo whom I campaigned in 2010 for a spot on the YoYojam team has captured the top female yo-yoer position.  Gentry Stein, who I called out in 2009 as one of 5 players that NEEDED to be sponsored, is now the World Champion.  These guys are not the only ones but I mention these three specifically because they are players who I have been cheering for and supported for years.  They have grown into world level performers.  Don’t get me wrong,  I had ZERO to do with these three incredible players successes, but it is amazing to see three players whom I cheered and rooted for become so successful.   I admire them as a fan, applaud them as a friend, and am very proud of them.

The Community:

It is amazing what happens when you step back and take a look from a 10,000 foot view.

For the majority, the community is kind, welcoming, and inviting, but there are very vocal outliers that don’t seem to want to sport to grow, or only want to target a certain demographic with a certain style and attitude.  While I know that this has existed forever my new focus as a brand manager seems to reveal it with more clarity.  Instead of calling out names and incidents, I feel it would be more constructive to share my personal architecture of community success.

1: Build the next generation – YoYoing will grow and evolve as the community grows and evolves.  Without a generation of players to replace those that are graduating to different roles in the community, the only result will be stale contentment.

2: Respect the work of the last generation – You are here because of them, whether you want to admit it or not.

3: Welcome new opinions and ideas – This industry can never be run by one person or one group of people successfully.  It takes a constant flow of talent and ideas, just like it takes a constant flow of water and sunlight to grow a forest.

4: If you want something, start something – Want another YoYoskills?  Start one.  Want a club in your city?  Start one.  Want another place to buy yoyos?  Start one.  Want a yo-yo company to make a certain kind of throw?  Start one.  This community is run by the constant steam and power of people who started something, and it will continue when you start something also.

Lastly-  YoYoing is for everyone, and everyone should be welcome to yo-yo – If you exclude someone or something, you prevent yourself from becoming smarter, stronger, and loving more.  Much like how I never considered having three kids, now I can’t imagine my life without them.

- Chris “Dr. Yo-Yo” Allen

YoYoSkills.com – Indefinite Hiatus

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I have been sitting at my computer now for an hour trying to figure out how to write this out. The best way is to just be straight forward and come from the heart… it’s not you, its me.

(ha)

No but really. I really love all of you guys. The readers, fans, and yes even “teh haters.” For 5 years YoYoSkills.com has been my passion and my drive in the yo-yo world. When I started there were only a handful of yoyo web blogs but now…. now there are HUNDREDS. The landscape is changing and the time has come for me to realign my hobbies to my lifestyle. I am a father who is getting ready to add to our family through adoption, I have a full time career that is very demanding of my energy, and I am quickly approaching a few specialty training courses followed up by a Masters program. I am a busy guy and as much as I love bringing everyone in the yo-yo world news, reviews and videos I just don’t have enough time to juggle everything effectively. I have to focus on my family, my career, and my education and to do that unfortunately I have to make responsible sacrifices. That’s right, being an adult can suck.

So I am placing YoYoSkills.com on indefinite hiatus. That is a fancy way of saying YoYoSkills is on hold, and maybe if things align or change I may re-launch YoYoSkills.

A few questions I expect:

Are you quitting yoyoing?
No, Just the website, and its not quitting its just on hold. I still plan to come to contests and be part of the community.

Are you going to sell the domain?
No, and I won’t autoforward it either. There may be a few tweaks to the front page but the main site will stay up in archive mode.

Can we still comment on stuff?
Sure.

What about YoYoNation?
The YoYonation project turned into a giant cluster of programmers rage. I am still picking apart the code to dig for the the online content from the store. If I come up with anything salvageable I will upload it. The forum is at YoYoNation.net is up but in all forms of reality should be considered “For reference use only.”

Will you still be selling the Skill Life Shirt and the Throw Game?
Yes, links are in the side bar.

Was that a shameless plug?
Your mother…

Where will you go now?
Wherever there is new content… I’ll be there. Wherever there is a new video… I’ll be there. Wherever there is El Guapo, the Three Amigos will be there…. I’ll be around also. I may find another role in the yo-yo world that doesn’t require daily site updates, but we shall see. In the mean time there is always Facebook and Twitter

Any other questions, feel free to hit me up. I do really love this site and all of you. 5 years of my blood, sweat and tears are embedded in this PHP and HTML script bag along with a ton of time and dedication but the professional career world is calling, the kids need help with homework, and I have a book report due on Tuesday.

Love you all

- Chris Allen

Skill Life Shirts – NOW ON SALE

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Only $15 plus S&H for a limited time! Regular price will be $18.95
 

Skill Life Shirt (S)
$15.00
Skill Life Shirt (M)
$15.00
Skill Life Shirt (L)
$15.00
Skill Life Shirt (XL)
$15.00
Skill Life Shirt (2 XL)
$15.00


In Memorandum – Bob Bowden – 1954-2013

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Yesterday while on “Post Worlds” phone call with Greg Cohen, Greg revealed to me that the legendary Bob Bowden passed away having lost his battle with cancer. Bob was a pillar in the yo-yo community during the last yo-yo boom. He is one of the few yoyoers who found his work published on a world wide scale and was key in the promotion of many yo-yo companies. Bob was also one of the first yoyoers with an online presence paving the way for sites like YoYoSkills.com.
I never had the pleasure to meet Bob in person, but his death will have an impact on the yo-yo world as his life did. I asked Chuck Short, a close friend and colleague to Bob Bowden to write a few words.

Bob Bowden, a pioneer in the on-line presence of the art and sport of yo-yoing, passed away on August 6th, a day after his 59th Birthday, after a long bout with cancer.
A resident of Vancouver, British Columbia, Bob worked over the course of 3 decades teaching and inspiring thousands of others to yo-yo through the Spintastics “Science of Spin” program, as well as authoring two books on the subject, “Awesome yo-yo tricks” and “Yo-Yo for beginners” .
Bob may be best known for his role as a participant and administrator in the first established yo-yo chat at irc.yoyoing.com, where we made hundreds of friends throughout the world and established himself as someone that could be relied on for information and help. His work continued through his web site “Bob’s Land O’ Yo” a very early resource for information and links to other yo-yoing related sites. Beside working extensively with Spintastics and their elementary school based programs throughout Canada and the Pacific Northwest of the United States, Bob was one of the attendees of the now famous “Yo-Yo University” seminars put on by HPK marketing in Hawaii in 1998, that featured many of the top yo-yo performers and instructors of the day, many of which are still active today, and has been thought of as a catalyst for the famous “yo-yo boom” in the late 90s and early 2000s.
Bob served for many years as a member of the Board Of Directors of the American yo-yo Association (AYYA) and was the first international member of the board.

Since being diagnosed with cancer 4 years ago, Bob has turned his attention to another of his great passions in life, the guitar, and has been very actively involved with making as much music as possible, playing hundreds of shows as part of his own “music therapy”.
Bob touched a pot of peoples lives and was a beloved character to people that have known him over the years, both in and out of the yo-yo scene, and he will be deeply missed by this family and many friends.

Nostalgia – Just because

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When Fantasia 2000 came out in 1999 , it was at the tail end of the yo-yo boom and let me tell you, this clip make my 20 year old heart sing with joy and it made me feel like a 5 year old again, stealing my sisters Yoffy yoyo and falling in love with the toy that would grow to define a large part of my life. I had kind of a hard day today (just busy) at work so I thought I would cheer myself up, and then I thought I would cheer you up also.

Enjoy.

Boston….. Focus

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I don’t want to go into the politics of it.

I had a write up and deleted it, and wrote again and deleted it.  This went on for about an hour.

The bombings are, were, and continues to be terrible.  The marathon that was hit is an annual event that caters to a niche group of enthused competitors.  An event like this is something we all can relate too.

Please take a moment and focus prayers, good thoughts, and support on Boston.

You can go here if you need help getting a hold of someone

Boston Mayor’s Hotline for families of victims: 617-635-4500
Boston Police line for witnesses who may have information: 800-494-8477

My thoughts are with the yoyoers in and around Boston, and the families of the victims.

Paul Ash – AKA Sniffy-Yo – In Memorial

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Today I found out that I lost a colleague. There is really no way to cushion the blow except come right out and say it. Paul Ash, also known as Sniffy-Yo, took his own life. He left a personal note filled with anger and suffering and made the decision to take his own life. I knew Paul in the yo-yo world, but not well enough to call him a close and personal friend. I wish I did though. I wish I had known he needed a place to stay and an ear to listen. I wish I knew him better.  I wish I was able to be there for him in his time of need. My interactions with Paul were all positive. He came to me with advice for Video Reviews, and also offered me feedback on my written reviews. We would send yoyos back and forth to each other and at one point, we considered merging the Sniffy and YoYoSkills blog. Paul was a great asset to this community and never asked for special treatment or favors. He was a connection I was proud to have and valued. His opinion mattered when it came time to increase your collection, and that already short list of people has gotten even smaller. He will be missed by the yo-yo community, and by me. Paul is, was, and always will be a source of knowledge, unbiased opinion, and inspiration. He gave without expectation of receiving. We will miss you Paul.  You had a greater impact than you ever could have known.

I have more news for the day, but will not be posting it. Today I lost a colleague in the yo-yo blogging world and out of respect, YoYoSkills will stand still.

Sniffy-Yo.com

I have asked a few people to write about Paul. Zammy was the first to respond. If more would like to remember Paul in your own words, please use the comment section below.

Zammy:

“Paul Sniffy Ash was not only a “good” person but in my eyes a “great” person. I say of this with full confidence and I have never once met the man face to face. But there was this fun type of vibe I got when I would speak to him through Twitter. He would often cheer me up when I was down, we would often speak of yoyo and we were in discussion of his new Sniffy interview series. His hardwork for the community through his reviews/videos were very important and some of the most unbiased straight forward reviews out there. I always had a good read over them. He really cared about yoyos and in general cheering people up, or at least to me.

We spoke about our own demons we dealt with, and he gave me quite a bit of good life advice. I’ll remember it for a long time. Thank you Sniffy for everything. I hope you are at peace. RIP 2-13-2013″

David from OneDrop had this to say:

Sniffy-Yo (Paul Ash) passed away on 2/8/13. R.I.P.

Your excellent blog and clever reviews will be missed by many. Your passion and how it enabled you to do charity projects like the one you did for kittydreams.org will be one of your legacies. It was an honor to work with you on that.

-David

We lost one of our own – R.I.P Nate Dewitt

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NOTE: I talked to a Fox News reporter today about Nate. They asked a few questions that I was unable to answer since I did not know Nate. I believe this video (found on yoyonews.com who also have a very touching story from Augie Fash) is the news report that I was being asked about. If anyone knows anything, please get that info to the right people or even do it anonymously so that Nate’s family can gain some sort of footing on this extremely unstable ground.

Nathan Dewitt, of Chandler, demonstrates his skills during First Fridays in Phoenix on July 1, 2011. – azcentral.com

This truly is the worst part of running a news blog in such a focused community. I just found this out and am providing the information I have available to me at this time.

Nathan Dewitt, 2005 PNW champion, yoyo instructor, died in a car crash having sustained injuries from a gun shot.

From the San Francisco Chronicle -

PHOENIX (AP) — Authorities say a man is dead after being shot and then crashing his car into a tree in Phoenix.
Phoenix police say 23-year-old Nathan Dewitt died early Wednesday after being taken to a hospital.
Police and Phoenix Fire crews responded to a rollover crash shortly after midnight and found an SUV on its side.
They say Dewitt crawled out of the vehicle and had been shot.
Police say it’s still unclear if Dewitt died from the shooting wound, injuries from the crash or both.
Detectives are trying to determine what happened leading up to Dewitt’s death and say he possibly was at Christmas party before the shooting and crash.

I did not know Nathan personally, but the yoyo community is so small and connected, we all feel it when a member of ours is lost.

- chris

Operation: Green Triangle #OGTyoyo

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Like the trick it is named after, Operation Green Triangle may be hard. It may be hard to give up a part of your collection, but once your donation is completed it can be very satisfying.

The three points of the Green Triangle represent the three charities I want to focus on. You can technically donate to any charity, but the American Cancer Society (ACS), the Cancer Research Institute (CRI) and CureSearch for Children’s Cancer are my personal three tiers of charity donations. Here is why.

Support – The American Cancer Society is a massive organization that provides services on a breadth of areas but primarily focuses on patient support. Helping patients and families with therapy and support is a drastically needed service and the American Cancer Society does a phenomenal job.

Research – The Cancer Research Institute is dedicated to finding novel ways to harness the our own immunities and boosting the healing power of our own bodies to fight and cure cancer. This is important in finding ways to prevent cancer in the first place, and provide treatments to patients who cannot receive chemotherapy or aggressive therapy treatments.

Children – CureSearch for Children’s Cancer funds and supports children’s cancer research and provide information and resources to all those affected by children’s cancer.

  • Step 1:  Find an item that you want to donate
  • Step 2: Go to the eBay.com “Sell” page
  • Step 3: Fill out the listing with pictures and details.  Be sure to use #OGTyoyo in the title
  • Step 4: Under “Choose how you’d like to sell your item” look for “Giving Works and click “select another nonprofit you love”
  • Step 5: Select American Cancer Society (ACS), the Cancer Research Institute (CRI) or CureSearch for Children’s Cancer (Or another of your choice)
  • Step 6: Complete your auction and put the link in the comments below or on the YoYoExpert Thread
  • Step 7: Put item in shipping box and ship it to the buyer.  Smile knowing you may be stopping cancer, helping someone treat cancer, or helping a child with cancer

 

 

 

The following items are being sold under Operation: Green Triangle

Great ways YoYoers can SUPPORT Cancer Research and Treatment RIGHT NOW

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After yesterdays post, I spent a lot of time in chat and on the phone with a few people and we decided that the injustice presented would not go unanswered.  Here are THREE great ways you can support Cancer Research.  More may follow.

First way to slap cancer in the face:

YoYo Community (www.YoYoCommunity.com) is teaming up with some of the industries best vendors to fundraise for the American Cancer Society during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Starting October 3rd, they will begin pre-sales for their first item by Toxic Strings, the Brett Grimes Signature BG-1s, in all PINK! Future fundraising items will be PINK Drop Bears by Ten YoYo, PINK Nessie T-shirts by G Squared YoYos, PINK Packaged Trifecta Bearings by Twisted Stringz, PINK YoYo Community YoYo Holders by Coty Michelle, along with contest prizes donated by King Yo Star YoYo’s to name a few.

You will be able to see how much is being donated on each item in their shop and can follow along with each sale to see how much is being raised. Every Monday they will donate the raised amount for the previous week to the American Cancer Society and will post the transaction on their Facebook page (www.facebook.com/yoyocommunity) Twitter account (www.twitter.com/yoyocommunity) and on their website.

Second way you can tell cancer to “COME AT ME BRO”

YoYoJam’s Pink sale

Vera Bell, wife of YoYoJam’s President Dale Bell, is a breast cancer survivor. So every year, we run a special edition yo-yo in her honor and donate 100% of the proceeds to breast cancer research. This year, the special edition is a Hot Pink Classic! We are taking 100 of these to Nationals where they will be available for $10 each. Pick up yours and help us raise $1000 for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

 

THIRD way you can put Cancer in a Head Lock and SLEEPER HOLD OF JUSTICE

Lastly, I started an auction drive called Operation Green Triangle.  Hopefully this will be an annual thing.

Cancer has in some way affected 40% of the global population.  Nearly 1 in 2 people have either had cancer, had a close call with cancer, lost a loved one to cancer, or are actively seeking treatment for cancer and the money promised to the American Cancer Society was stolen

Today, with the assistance and council of a few key members in the yo-yo community, I am announcing

Operation Green Triangle  – #OGTyoyo for short
The Green Triangle is a core trick in the development of a modern yoyoer.  It is difficult to learn, satisfying to master, and has three points.

What I am asking, is for community participation:
Pick an item in your collection.  Post it up to ebay with 100% of the auction going to a Cancer Charity, and use the tag #OGTyoyo in the title.   

Using eBay Giving Works, you can set an auction to donate 100% of that auction to a specific registered charity of your choice.    eBay waves the listing and selling fees and the money goes directly from the buyer to the charity.  There is no middle man.  Once the funds are transferred, the seller receives shipping instructions for the buyer.  This setup is 100% transparent and ensures that all promised auctions funds… 100% of them go directly to the charity.  No middle man.  No product to anyone but the buyer, no money to anyone but the charity.  Period end.

From now until the November 1st,  eBay auctions using the tag #OGTyoyo will be captured in a widget on YoYoSkills.  Successful sales will be tracked.  When you create your auction post a link to it on this thread. I’ll keep an updated list of what was donated and who donated it. The total amount raised will be presented at the end.  I will be auctioning off some items from my personal collections for this charity drive.   My auctions will be set to automatically transfer 100% of the sale going to one of my chosen charities.  My hope is that you will do the same.

Thank you to Jason Week, Paul Escolar, LJ (vega), Caribou Chris, Zammy, Jrod, Louis Alley and all the others who provided input and feedback

Thank you to YoYoJam, Tony Alonzo, Coty Michelle, and Jacob Gross for getting me the info.

 

 

Theyo forum and Theyostoretoo.com

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Well guys this is something that is near and dear to my heart.   Theyo forum is celebrating 10 years since YoMike started it and Theyostore, now Theyostoretoo.  Claudia Cuff (YoSis) and Randy Bird (YoCuz) have announced that in the up coming weeks, the product line is going to be updated and expanded.  Also as a special treat, Randy has worked it out with OneDrop to produce a special edition Cascade for Theyo’s tenth anniversary. More info can be found here.  Theyo was the first yoyo forum that I joined and was the only one I was a part of for a long while.  So this announcement is something that I am very happy about.  When Mike passed away, I was afraid that the forum and the store would be lost.  So let me take this time to put in a plug for both.  Theyo forum has taken a new lay out that is very clean and easy to navigate.  Theyo still has some very good members that frequent the forum.  The store may not have the same volume of items that some of the other sites have, but they still have some very nice yoyos that you would have a hard time finding anywhere else.  So take some time to check it out.

Hey Josh Yee, you so craaaaaaaaaaaaazy (Madhouse)

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Josh Yee is a long time contributor and friend of YoYoSkills.com. I have always thought that Josh should be sponsored. He is constantly in the top 10 in contests and plays all 5 play styles. He is a talented dude and now, he is sponsored by Madhouse YoYo’s! YoYoSkills.com family member Josh Yee is moving into the big leagues and we here at YoYoSkills are very excited for him.

“We here at the MadHouse have been talking with this player for the last year about his and our philosophy and perspectives on the yoyo community and he has decided to go with us.
So we are proud and excited to announce that we just picked up Josh Yee!… for the MadHouse.
Josh has been a great contributor and motivator in the yoyo community. We feel with his unique talents and our distinctive and interesting products it’s a perfect fit! So we are proud to welcome Josh to the MadHouse! We look forward to seeing what Josh accomplishes in the future!… “