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reports and thoughts on legal issues, music, Orthodox Christianity and/or whatever else strikes my interest

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Location: Houston, Texas, United States

My name is David Stone. I live in Houston, Texas. I am a 30-something single white male. I am an Orthodox Christian and am a member of an English-language parish of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR).

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

St. Nicholas Church at Tolmachy

This press release from the Moscow Patriarchate website details how the Vladimirskaya Icon of the Theotokos now resides in a functioning church located within the Tretyakov Gallery museum in Moscow.

The Church is named the Church of St. Nicholas at Tolmachy. Archpriest Nikolai Sokolov is the Rector assigned to the Church. The Church serves the spiritual needs of the staff of the Tretyakov museum and is also open to guests of the museum.

The article also relates how Patriarch Alexei II recently served Divine Liturgy at the Church.

A Russian language website for the Church of St. Nicholas at Tolmachy can be found here.

Stoney Larue

The other night I was able to hear Stoney Larue playing over at Big Texas in Spring.

I was not really familiar with his music but had heard good things about him so I decided to check out the concert. Stoney has been getting some good press as one of the leading members of the "Red Dirt Music" scene. For more information on "Red Dirt Music" see here and here.

Stoney played an intriguing set of original songs interspersed with a few well chosen covers. Samples of Stoney's original songs from his "Red Dirt" cd can be found here.

His cover songs, however, were the highlights of the show for me. A few well-done cover songs that I can remember were: Emmylou Harris' "Bluebird Wine" (also recorded by Rodney Crowell), Ray Charles' and Willie Nelson's "Seven Spanish Angels" and Bob Dylan's "Forever Young".

All in all it was a pretty enjoyable show. The band was very good as well featuring some excellent guitar playing.

This is another artist in the Texas Music scene that is worth looking into.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Count by Count

The Houston Chronicle has the Enron Verdict Scorecard here.


The Prosecution ran the table.

Preliminary reports are stating that Ken Lay has been found guilty on all counts in the Enron trial. He was also found guilty on all counts in his bank fraud trial which was decided separately by Judge Sim Lake.

Jeff Skilling has been found guilty on all counts against him with the exception of the insider trading counts.

Judge Sim Lake will decide the sentencing in both cases.

More to follow.

Breaking News

The jury has reached a verdict in the Enron Trial. The verdict is scheduled to be announced at 11:00am CST.

I had a feeling something was up when I arrived at work today since the lobby was full of media personnel that were streaming in from the Federal Courthouse across the street. They must have been coming directly from the media rooms at the Courthouse which show the live feed from the Courtroom.

Stay tuned...

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Russian Orthodox Priest Adopts 60 Children

This press release from the Moscow Patriarchate reminded me of the remarkable story of Father Nikolai Stremsky and his family and the Holy Trinity-House of Mercy community in Russia.

More information regarding the history of this community can be found here.

Many remarkable photos of the community can be found both here and here.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Upcoming Shows

Here is a list of upcoming concerts in the Houston area that look intriguing. While I would like to go to all of these shows I probably will only make a few. I am going to John Prine for sure though since I got my tickets today. : )

05/26 Patrice Pike @ McGonigel's Mucky Duck
05/26 Miss Leslie & Her Juke-Jointers @ Blanco's
05/27 Kelly Willis @ McGonigel's Mucky Duck
05/30 John Evans @ McGonigel's Mucky Duck
06/04 Nine Inch Nails/Bauhaus/TV On The Radio @ The Woodlands (mostly to see Bauhaus)
06/08 Branford Marsalis Quartet @ Verizon Wireless Theater
06/08 Gordy Quist/Adam Carroll @ McGonigel's Mucky Duck
06/09 Joe Ely @ McGonigel's Mucky Duck
06/10 John Prine/Todd Snider @ Verizon Wireless Theater
06/16-17 Nanci Griffith @ Anderson Fair
06/20 John Hiatt/The North Mississippi Allstars @ Verizon Wireless Theater
06/23 Sidehill Gougers @ Anderson Fair
06/24 Hayes Carll @ McGonigel's Mucky Duck
06/24 Houston Marchman @ Anderson Fair
06/29 Guy Forsyth @ McGonigel's Mucky Duck
06/30 Tom Russell Band @ McGonigel's Mucky Duck

Vioxx Spin

There has been a lot of reporting lately on the different interpretations regarding recently released data involving Vioxx studies.

Here is one interesting article from the New York Times.

Here is another article on the same subject from Forbes.

Florida Asbestos Attorney Indicted

A former high-profile asbestos attorney in Florida surrendered to authorities today after he was indicted on charges of fraud.

Here is an article from the Miami Herald with more details.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Milberg Weiss Indictment

After years of investigations the law firm of Milberg Weiss was formally indicted last Thursday on charges of conspiracy and fraud among others. Two of the firm's partners were also indicted.

The complete indictment can be read here.

The law firm was once one of the leading plaintiffs' firms dealing in class-action securities lawsuits.

More details can be found here.

One big question is whether the firm will now suffer the same fate as Arthur Andersen.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Epistle from the Council of Bishops of ROCOR

Here is the Epistle from the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.

A summary of the Council of Bishops and Epistle can be found here.

The Gospel According to Lego

While "googling" for the website to the Brick film discussed in my last post I ran across this site.

I can't decide whether I am horrified or very impressed.

I think my "favorite" picture is this one.

Thursday, May 18, 2006


I went to see the film Brick last night at the Angelika across the street from work.

Very cool film! It was one of the most original movies I have seen in years. I highly recommend it.

If you like Noir or Dashiell Hammett then you will want to see this movie.

It is basically a classic noir detective story updated to a modern-day suburban high school setting. Very well done and original. The critics are also impressed.

One of my favorite aspects of the movie was all the great lingo that the characters used. There is even a glossary put out as part of the film's publicity.

Here are some classic lines from the film which include the following:

"Throw one at me if you want, hash head. I've got all five senses and I slept last night, that puts me six up on the lot of you"

"Do you trust me now?"
"Less than when I didn't trust you before."

"I've got knives in my eyes, I'm going home sick."

"Maybe I'll just sit here and bleed at you."

Go see Brick.

For more info on Brick see here.

The Other Ken Lay Trial

My Ken Lay sighting the other day reminded me that he went on trial again starting today.

Here is a report from the Houston Chronicle on the other Ken Lay trial.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Volokh on Churchill

Here is an editorial from Eugene Volokh of the Volokh Conspiracy on the recent report from the University of Colorado regarding allegations of plagiarism against professor Ward Churchill.

Elevators again

Today I was reminded of this earlier post as I was stepping off of the elevator on my way to lunch.

Just as I was getting off my elevator I found myself walking directly behind Ken Lay and his wife as they were getting on an elevator headed towards the parking garage.

And yes...they were going down.

To the Jury

The Enron trial involving Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling has finally gone to the jury for their deliberations.

The case went to the jury after the Judge gave the final instructions to the jury and the prosecution and defense gave their closing arguments.

The jury instructions are now available online through the Houston Chronicle in two parts both here and here.

The verdict form that the jurors will have to complete can be seen here.

The closing argument from the prosecution can be found here and the closing arguments from the defense can be found here.

Epistle and Resolution on the IV All-Diaspora Council

The Epistle of the IV All-Diaspora Council of ROCOR can be read here.

The Epistle includes the following statement regarding the work of the All-Diaspora Council:

"We now call upon our God-loving flock to prayerfully support the constructive task begun by our IV All-Diaspora Council. Its culmination will be the reestablishment of the unity of the Local Russian Church desired by all."

The Resolution on the IV All-Diaspora Council can be read here.

The Resolution also includes the following statement regarding the All-Diaspora Council:

"To raise thanks to God, Who enabled us to successfully hold the IV All-Diaspora Council with the participation of clergy and laity from all dioceses of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, that obvious unity of spirit was expressed on the principle question, that the culmination of its constructive work will be the reestablishment of the desired unity of the Local Russian Church, as was expressed in the Epistle of the Council. "

Monday, May 15, 2006

Reckless Kelly

Last night I was able to hear Reckless Kelly in concert at the Big Texas Dance Hall and Saloon in Spring.

This was another concert and venue that I just had to go check out since it was just down the road from where I live. This concert was part of an ambitious series of shows that Big Texas will be presenting over the next several weeks including Stoney Larue, Honeybrowne, and Roger Creager to name a few.

I had heard a lot of good things about Reckless Kelly but had never heard any of their music before.

They are a very impressive band. The best way to describe them that I can think of is a very hard-rocking, guitar-driven alt-country band.

You can check out some samples of their music and purchase their cds here.

They played a full two hour show nearly nonstop that was packed with plenty of hard-rockin songs with lots of great hooks. I can see now why the band is so popular and why I had heard so many recommendations. They are definitely a great group to see in concert.

The only negative was the sound system was not as good as some of the other live-music venues in town. Still it was a great opportunity to see a great band in my part of town.

I will have to check out some of the other concerts in the series. Hopefully it will be the start of a new tradition.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

IV All-Diaspora Council Concludes

Photo from: www.sobor2006.com

While the main subject of the Council was the question of reconciliation with the Moscow Patriarchate other issues were also addressed.

Two lectures on issues and problems facing the youth of the Church can be found here and here.

Here is a lecture from Archpriest Fr. Victor Potapov on the role of the Orthodox parish.

Here is another lecture from Priest Andrew Phillips on challenges facing the Church.

Cherish the Ladies

Last night I saw Cherish the Ladies in concert at the Centrum in Spring, Texas.

I recently moved out to Spring and the Centrum is just down the road from me...literally. So I just could not pass up a chance to hear one of the best Celtic music groups around when they were playing a venue on my street!

I had never seen the group in concert before but was familiar with some of their recordings. Joanie Madden, the leader of the group, mentioned that they had performed in Houston twice before: once with the Houston Symphony and once at the "famous Mucky Duck".

The concert was a nice mix of traditional Irish and Scottish dance tunes and songs as well as some newly composed works and some old favorites. There was even step-dancing. The concert featured a lot of material from the group's latest cd Woman of the House.

The lead singer of the group, Heidi Talbot, also performed a song from the new cd that features the English folk-singer Kate Rusby. Kate Rusby is another of my favorite performers and I could hear a real similarity in the voice of Heidi Talbot.

There were some other songs that I recognized but I am not sure exactly from where. I know I have heard Cherish the Ladies recordings played a number of times on the Thistle & Shamrock before though.

I also remembered that I have Joanie Madden's cd Song of the Irish Whistle and it is an excellent solo recording.

It was a very entertaining concert...the only thing missing was the pints. This is definitely music meant to be heard in a pub.

Oh well maybe next time...

Saturday, May 13, 2006

The World Council of Churches

The Resolution of the IV All-Diaspora Council of ROCOR referenced in the previous posts contains a critical mention of the Moscow Patriarchate's continued participation in the World Council of Churches (WCC).

Some may be unfamiliar with the WCC and its activities.

Here are sections from their website on what the WCC says it is, a history of the WCC and the Constitution of the WCC.

Here is a section on Member Churches of the WCC which contains the following on Orthodox participation:

The Orthodox churches have been part of the WCC from its beginning. Along the way, they have raised certain questions about WCC positions and practices. In response to these questions, the eighth assembly in December 1998 created a Special Commission to address Orthodox concerns about WCC membership and the Council's decision-making style, public statements, worship practices and other issues.

The Commission's report was received in 2002 and key recommendations will go to the WCC's next (2006) assembly for approval. Its main recommendations relate to:- the centrality of ecclesiology: the Commission reminded WCC member churches that their commitment to the fellowship of churches implies a corresponding commitment to the study of ecclesiology, or what it means to be the church; - praying together: having affirmed the need to pray together, the Commission suggested that worship at WCC gatherings like assemblies, central committee meetings and other large-profile meetings be clearly defined as either "confessional" or "interconfessional" common prayer;- taking decisions: the Council is to move from majority rule to a "consensus" form of decision-making.

The Commission also challenged the WCC to design new categories of membership through which churches may participate in the Council.

The Commission's suggestions and recommendations provide WCC member churches with new opportunities for growing together. The period until the 2006 assembly will allow the Council to test how these recommendations would work in practice.

The full Special Commission Report on Orthodox participation can be read here.

More information on the 9th Assembly of the WCC held earlier this year can be found here.

An Orthodox critique of the 8th Assembly of the WCC can be found here.

More information on Orthodox criticism of the Ecumenical Movement can be found on the Ecumenism Awareness page of the Orthodox Christian Information Center. Some specific articles of interest from this site can be found here.

For further information and materials from Orthodox who support involvement in the WCC see here.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Reports on ROCOR Resolution

Photo from: http://www.sobor2006.com/

Here is a good article from Reuters on the Resolution from the IV All-Diaspora Council of ROCOR.

Here is another report from the BBC.

The Resolution of the IV All-Diaspora Council

We, the participants of the IV All-Diaspora Council, having gathered in the God-preserved city of San Francisco, in the blessed presence of the Protectress of the Russian Diaspora, the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God, and the holy relics of Saint John of Shanghai and San Francisco, in trembling recognition of the duty laid upon us, in obedience to our Archpastor, Christ, with complete trust and love of the pastors and laity to our First Hierarch, His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus, and the Council of Bishops, attest that as loyal children of the Holy Church, we shall submit to Divine will and obey the decisions of the forthcoming Council of Bishops.

We archpastors, pastors and laymen, members of the IV All-Diaspora Council, unanimously express our resoluteness to heal the wounds of division within the Russian Church—between her parts in the Fatherland and abroad. Our Paschal joy is joined by the great hope that in the appropriate time, the unity of the Russian Church will be restored upon the foundation of the Truth of Christ, opening for us the possibility to serve together and to commune from one Chalice.

Hearing the lectures read at the Council, the reports made by the Commission on negotiations with the corresponding Commission of the Moscow Patriarchate, and the various points of view expressed during the discussions, we express our conciliar consent that it is necessary to confirm the canonical status of the Russian Church Abroad for the future as a self-governing part of the Local Russian Church, in accordance with the Regulations of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia currently in force.

From discussions at the Council it is apparent that the participation of the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate in the World Council of Churches evokes confusion among our clergy and flock. With heartfelt pain we ask the hierarchy of the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate to heed the plea of our flock to expediently remove this temptation.

We hope that the forthcoming Local Council of One Russian Church will settle remaining unresolved church problems.

Bowing down before the podvig [spiritual feats] of the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia, glorified both by the Russian Church Abroad and by the Russian Church in the Fatherland, we see within them the spiritual bridge which rises above the abyss of the lethal division in the Russian Church and makes possible the restoration of that unity which is desired by all.

And we, the members of the IV All-Diaspora Council, address our brothers and sisters in the faith in our renascent Homeland with the Paschal hymns: "Pascha! Let us embrace each other joyously!"

from www.sobor2006.com

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Akathistos Hymn

Here is a nice post from On An Overgrown Path on the Akathistos Hymn by Orthodox composer Ivan Moody.

I can also recommend Ivan Moody's work Passion and Resurrection.

Owens Corning Asbestos Settlement

As further evidence that the stalled Senate Asbestos Bill is unlikely to ever pass Owens Corning announced a $5.2 Billion asbestos settlement today.

This article from Bloomberg has the details.

The article includes the following regarding the possibility of more companies reaching settlements:

"The fact that this has settled and it's so big and so complex has sent a signal to everybody that settlements are going to happen more quickly,'' said Charles Tatelbaum, a lawyer with Ft. Lauderdale, Florida's Adorno & Yoss. Tatelbaum, a former vice president of research for the American Bankruptcy Institute, has represented creditors in asbestos-related cases in the past.

"The view is now that Congress isn't going to do anything, so they're settling,'' Tatelbaum said about the federal bill proposing an asbestos fund.

"I think what we're going to see is a considerable number of bankruptcies resolve in the next year or so,'' said Mark Lanier, of the Lanier Law Firm in Houston, who represents asbestos claimants including those against Owens Corning. "I'm an optimist that the system is working.''

All-Diaspora Council Update

Some interesting documents from the IV-All Diaspora Council so far include:

Greeting of His Holiness Patriarch Alexei of the Moscow Patriarchate

Opening Address of His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia

A Lecture by Archpriest Nicholas Karipoff

A Lecture by Priest Nikolai Savchenko

and a Lecture by His Eminence Archbishop Mark

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Perfect Songs

Last night I was listening to some Townes Van Zandt and came across one of his "perfect songs".

In the recently released documentary Be Here to Love Me Townes tells an interviewer that "...now every song I write has to be perfect...there can't be a wrong note, a wrong line, a wrong nothin'..."

I was listening to the Rear View Mirror, Volume 2 cd which is a compilation of various live recordings. It is a great disc and a must have for all Townes fans.

The song that really caught my attention though was I'll Be Here in the Morning.

Here are the lyrics:

There's no stronger wind than the one that blows
down a lonesome railroad line

No prettier sight than looking back on a town you left behind

There is nothin' that's as real as a love that's in my mind


Close your eyes I'll be here in the morning
Close your eyes I'll be here for a while

There's lots of things along the road I'd surely like to see
I'd like to lean into the wind and tell myself I'm free
but your softest whisper's louder than the highways call to me


All the mountains and the rivers and the valleys can't compare
to your blue lit dancin' eyes and yellow shining hair
I could never hit the open road and leave you layin' there


Lay your head back easy, love, close your cryin' eyes
I'll be layin' here beside you when the sun comes on the rise
I'll stay as long as the cuckoo wails and the lonesome bluejay cries

Close your eyes I'll be here in the morning
Close your eyes I'll be here for awhile.

Townes' gentle acoustic guitar accompaniment perfectly complements the poetic essence of the words. His gentle, yet slightly raw, singing on this recording also adds a very poignant touch.

A short sample of this song can be heard here (Real Player Required).

Congoleum Asbestos Settlement

St. Paul Travelers has agreed to pay $25 million into a trust fund for asbestos claimants who have claims filed against Congoleum Corp.

This article from the Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal has more details.

All-Diaspora Council Photos

Photo galleries from the IV All-Diaspora Council of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia can be viewed here.

Even More on Poppea

This is a follow up to my posts here and here on HGO's production of Poppea.

Houston's KUHF recently aired an interview with principals Susan Graham and William Burden.

The interview can be heard here.

Monday, May 08, 2006

More Articles on Silicosis Debacle

The Houston Chronicle has been reporting on the Silicosis Debacle over the last few days.

Articles can be found here, here and here.


The IV All-Diaspora Council of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia has officially begun at the Cathedral of the Mother of God "Joy of All Who Sorrow" in San Francisco.

Here is a report on the Opening Ceremonies.

Daily updates on the Council can be found both here and here in English. Updates in Russian can be found here, here and here.

Some photo-reports of this historic event featuring the beautiful interior of the Cathedral can be seen both here and here.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Jole Blon

Lately I keep coming across references to the Cajun song "Jole Blon".

It seems like nearly every time that I go out to see a live-show or put on a new cd there is either a version of "Jole Blon" performed or there is a reference made to it in one of the songs.

I know next to nothing about this song...other than it is evidently VERY popular in these parts. So I decided to do some research and this is what I found.

The song was originally written by Harry H. Choates who seems to have been quite a character. Kind of a Cajun version of Hank Williams I guess.

He is the guy who put the "Aieee" into Cajun music.

The song was instantly popular and has since been recorded by many different artists.

Recently I have run across this song or references to it while listening to the music of: Shake Russell, The Sidehill Gougers and Townes Van Zandt.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Prempro Litigation

Wyeth, one of the leading companies in the Pharma industry, now faces over 4,000 lawsuits involving its drug Prempro.

Prempro was developed as a hormone replacement therapy drug used to treat menopause.

The lawsuits allege that Prempro can cause breast cancer.

The lawsuits also allege that Wyeth over-promoted the drug to patients who should never have taken it.

CNN/Money recently had this article concerning Prempro litigation.

The first Prempro trial is scheduled to begin in July.

For more information on this trial and the rest of the pending Prempro cases see here.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Questions Answered

His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II of the Moscow Patriarchate and His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia have both recently answered questions regarding the reconciliation process between the MP and ROCOR.

Patriarch Alexy's answers can be found here in Russian and here in English. Metropolitan Laurus' answers can be found here in Russian and here in English.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

United 93

I saw United 93 the other night and would highly recommend this film.

It is one of the most emotionally powerful and intense films that I have ever seen.

It is also, technically speaking, a nearly flawless piece of filmmaking.

I was hesitant at first to see it because I was afraid that it was indeed too soon for such a movie, or that somehow it might exploit the memory of those lost on 9/11.

Fortunately my fears were unfounded.

Sure there are moments in the film where the raw emotions of anger, fear and sadness are overwhelming. It is also almost impossible not to shed tears in several scenes.

Still my overwhelming response was one of pride and amazement at the heroic actions of both the doomed passengers as well as the FAA and military personnel on the ground.

This film is getting almost universally positive reviews and deservedly so.

There have been a few negative reviews which honestly I don't get. I can understand that some people will simply not want to see any movie dealing with the events of 9/11 and I can respect that. To give this particular film a bad review, however, seems unfair. While there are certainly some areas where I can see some people being critical these are relatively minor. I think director Paul Greengrass did a remarkable job in making this film.

Another amazing fact about this film is that some of the FAA and military personnel on duty that day actually play themselves in the film!

I have a very hard time imagining a film that could portray this subject matter any more respectfully. Undoubtedly there will be more 9/11 films and some of them will be a lot worse than this one. Somehow I doubt that Oliver Stone and Nicholas Cage are going to be able to match the dignity, neutrality and artistic quality of United 93.

Overall this is one of the most powerful and important films that I have ever seen.

Interesting Read

Here is a very thought-provoking read from author Dan Simmons.

This is his fictional (at least I hope it is) take on the coming "Century war" with Islam.

As a side note...Dan Simmons is a great writer. I read a lot of his books back when I was in high school and college. I even got to meet him once or twice when he did signings in Houston at the old Future Visions store (if anyone still remembers it) and I believe at one of the ArmadilloCons in Austin.

The Hyperion books are a good place to start exploring his work.

It was also through his novel Hyperion that I gained an appreciation for the poetry of Keats.

Lawyer cracks "Da Vinci Code"?

Not exactly...but here is a link to an interesting article on the cracking of the Judge's code from the recent ruling in the copyright infringement lawsuit.

For more on Dan Brown's "Da Vinci Code" see Fr. Joseph Huneycutt's highly informative series of posts here.

IV All-Diaspora Council

The IV All-Diaspora Council of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia will begin later this week in San Francisco.

The Official Schedule of the Council has now been released and can be viewed here.

Here is an earlier post on the Council.

Monday, May 01, 2006

More on Poppea

Here is a review of Houston Grand Opera's excellent production of Poppea from the Houston Chronicle.

Jamail Again

Professor Bainbridge has weighed in on the Jamail deposition video.

His post can be found here.

Bainbridge points out that this was not the first time that Mr. Jamail had behaved poorly during a deposition. He points to a case argued in Delaware where Jamail was criticized by the Delaware Supreme Court for being "extraordinarily rude, uncivil, and vulgar" and making inappropriate comments including:

"You can ask some questions, but get off of that. I'm tired of you. You could gag a maggot off a meat wagon."

"Come on. Quit talking. Ask the question. Nobody wants to socialize with you."

"Well, go on and shut up. ... You don't know what you're doing. Obviously someone wrote out a long outline of stuff for you to ask. You have no concept of what you're doing. Now, I've tolerated you for three hours. If you've got another question, get on with it. This is going to stop one hour from now, period. Go."

[Defense Counsel]: ... "I don't need this kind of abuse."

"Then just ask the next question. ..."