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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Creative Spot - "Kurumitto" by Zita and Speedy

This is the you tube link to an instrumental version of the old Gypsies song "Kurumitto". Zita Perera Subasinghe on the keyboard has joined Mahendra (Speedy) Gonsalkorala on this production which has been compiled and presented by Speedy.


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Creative Spot - A Poem by Mahendra Gonsalkorala

We are trees

We are trees and live on what you breathe out 
We just stand and observe day in and day out 
We only move when it's windy, staying still mostly
We are alive like you, and do grow,  albeit slowly. 

Yes, we have no feelings, and devoid of emotion
But that’s no bad thing is our considered notion
You see, we don't feel pain sadness or hunger 
And this may be the reason we carry on longer

You ask us, ask us, are you conscious?
"What is consciousness", we remark
"Have you got a soul", you then ask
Questions! Questions! Goodness gracious

Friday, July 18, 2014

Creative Spot - A painting by Lakshman Weerasooriya

Lucky Weerasooriya had started this hobby after he retired in 2002. He himself confesses that he was unaware of his  capability of wielding a paint brush to produce good results. This painting done by him is ample proof.

                                                                          A street in Madrid after Rain

127th Anniversar​y Internatio​nal Medical Congress of the SLMA

As you probably know, the 127th Anniversar​y Internatio​nal Medical Congress of the Sri Lanka Medical Associatio​n (SLMA) is now going on. I have received these pictures from the Joint Social Activities Secretary Prof. Vajira Dissanayake.  Along with the other Social Activities Secretary Dr. Preethi Wijegoonewardene, they had done an excellent job in organising this entertaining social event which forms an important part of the medical congress. The SLMA President this year is Dr. Palitha Abeykoon (known to most of you) who was in our parallel batch in Peradeniya.

Doctor’s Concert 2014
A variety entertainment by Doctors and their Families
Compere: Dr. Gananath Dasanayaka

Christo and the gang
Dr Christo Fernando, Dr Farzad Nazeem,  Dr Isha Prematilleke, Dr Suran Kuruppu,  Ray Gomes,  Prof Srinath Chandrasekera

"A Musical Journey" - A medley of songs by the "Southern Symphonia”

Please click on the following links for some of the individual items.  (Save the last dance)   (More than I can say) ( Quando quando)
SLMA Walk and Run 
Dr. Malik Fernando
Malik is a Past President of the SLMA and son of the late eminent physician Dr. Cyril Fernando. 
More pictures will follow.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Reposting "How to post a comment"

Many viewers have been asking me why they encounter problems (like asking for a profile ID to publish a comment etc.). They also want to know why only Mahendra (Speedy) Gonsalkorala has been able to post comments on new postings. The explanation is simple. Being an expert on blogging, Speedy had found a way of doing it although my settings had not been the way they should ideally be. Therefore, I sought his assistance to clear the way for anyone who wishes to post comments.
I am very grateful to Speedy who lost no time in sending the following set of instructions for the benefit of viewers. We are doing all this to make this blog more interactive at a time we are closing in on our 50th Anniversary Batch Reunion.

I have helped Lucky to make some changes to the Colombo Medgrads Web Blog to make it easier to post comments.

There are several ways of doing this but the two most popular methods will be covered. I suspect most of you will be using Method 1 and I shall deal with it first. I have made it as simple as possible, not because I doubt the intelligence of users but to suit all types of computer familiarity.

Method 1

At the end of every posting by Lucky (e.g., Tilak Dayatane or English Countryside), you will see this:-  Posted by Lucky Abey (and time. e.g., 1:20am) followed by No comment if there are no comments or as 1 comment or 2 comments etc according to number of comments.

1.Now move your mouse cursor over the light blue  "no comment. or 2 comments etc" area and left click the mouse button.
You should now see "Post a comment " , with a boxed window where it says -"Enter your comment". Below that you will see-  Comment as and a small window which says - select your profile.(with small arrows to choose options on its right side)

2. Type your comment in the box.

3. From Comment as: Select your profile, choose Anonymous from the pick list which appears when you click on the little arrows by the side of the select profile box.

4. Make sure you give your name at the end of your comment as it will appear as an anonymous post.

5. If  you like to correct anything before it gets into the system or just like to preview it, click on preview. This will take you to a window where your comment is there and there will be a light blue "edit" area on which you should click if you want to edit.

6. Once you are happy, just click on Publish (again always with your Left mouse button), And that's it!

Happy posting!

Method 2

For those who have a Gmail address or Google address, after writing a comment as before, from Comment as:- choose Google from list. Then you will be taken to the Google login screen where you enter your email address and password.  Then your comment will be seen in the window and you will need to click on Publish. If you choose this method, your comment will appear with your chosen Google name (and image if you have added a photo) and not as Anonymous. 

Hope everything is clear now and let us see more and more people contributing with comments-


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Creative Spot - Sri Lankan Man by Speedy

A painting by Speedy done in 2009.

From Fazli Sameer's Blog

I wonder how many of you are followers of Fazli Sameer's very informative blog. I came across it by chance when he had picked up my old article on Manning Town from a national newspaper. I later heard that Fazli is an old Royalist who now lives in Riyadh. I wonder whether Speedy knew him. Apparently, he is much younger than us.

Having read comments made by Speedy and ND after I posted an article taken from Fazli 's blog about old Radio Ceylon and Jimmy Barucha, I thought of posting the following piece on bandleader Harold Seneviratne too. In case any of you are interested in reading more of Fazli's postings, here is the link:

Friday, January 21, 2011

Grand Old Harold Moves On

SENEVIRATNE - HAROLD MELVYN PERERA - Son of late H.M.P. Seneviratne and Lilian, most loving husband of Barbara (nee VanderWert), precious father of JO, Hugh, Jacquie, Jenny and Ramona, loving father-in-law of Ranjan, Lilian, Gerard, Gamini and Ravi, darling papa of Chevaan, Anoushka, Melissa, Shehan, Heshan, Julianne, Jonathan, Denver, Julian, Serala, Loushanie and Racquel, great grandfather of Rachel, brother of Tissa, Chandra, Indra, late Srimal, Ranjith, Senaka, Srikantha, Ranjini, Shanthi and Mallika. Cortege leaves A.F. Raymond’s Funeral Parlour at 4.30 p.m. on Saturday 22nd January. Burial at General Cemetery Kanatte (General Christian Section) Daily News Jan 21 2011 -

A great Sri Lankan musician who entertained us all since the 1960's. May he rest in Peace

Last Trumpet for Harold:

The last trumpet for the saxophonist Harold Seneviratne, one. of the veteran musicians of the Sri Lankan music scene for more than half a century. passed away last morning after a brief illness-Seneviratne, 21-1-2011 was synonymous, with vintage music of very high quality which held Sri Lankans enthralled for several decades.The dance band's career in Sri Lanka the combo's outings overseas. the musical backing for countless foreign acts, the regular radio broadcasts, the record releases (then it was 45 rpm) the programmed series that were Harold Seneviratne specials. and his years as Entertainment Manager. are history now In his halcyon days Harold was a dominant force in the local Western music scene.Harold took to music at the tender age of thirteen while still at his 'Alma mater' St. Peters College He learnt his basics from *Papa' Menezes and the late showman Donovan Andree, who nurtured his talent and encouraged him tremendously in his musical career.
Harold learnt the violin as a start to his musical career with his two brothers Tissa and Chandra under the guidance of Papa menezes. He mastered the piano and later switched to the sax, which he was associated with and known for worldwide, till he retired a few years ago.

His performances at the Silver Fawn night club. the Orchid Room. the GOB and New Delhi, just to mention a few venues, are now legendary: Harold has had the honour of playing before such international personalities as Dave Brubeck• Duke Ellington and Jack Tea Garden. He has also provided the musical backing for his schoolmate Bill Forbes Cliff Foenander Malcolm De Kauwe. The Golden Gale' quartet, Tony Brent. The Blue Diamonds and other top flight international artists.His remains he at AE Raymond's Funeral Parlour The burial will take place at the General Cemetery Kanatte on Saturday: 22 January.

Playing with Peter Prins in Sri Lanka:

May he rest in Peace!

More pics of Harold from those memorable days

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Creative Spot - A Taste of Bunter # 5

Another EM image. I think it might be a kidney! I was just having fun with these.


Creative Spot - A Taste of Bunter # 4

I used a black and white photo of an electron microscopy image (from a text book, I think) and went wild with the colors.


Creative Spot - A Taste of Bunter # 3

This was done in oils from a photo taken in Cape Ann in Massachusetts. It is a beautiful spot, and I think I was on a bird watching trip with friends.


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Creative Spot - A Taste of Bunter #2

This is from a photo I took of my daughter’s friend. I started the painting many years ago and finally completed it last year.


Sisira Ranasinghe and wife found Buddhist temple in Fort Wayne, Indiana

Ranasinghe and wife found Buddhist temple 

During most of the 38 years Dr. Sisira Ranasinghe and his wife Sarogini (or “Gini”) have lived in Fort Wayne, they’ve had no formal place to worship Buddhism, their religion. 

The Ranasinghes struggled to expose their two children to their native religion; in fact, Sisira and Gini invited a monk from Washington, D.C., to their home several times. The family created a Buddhist altar in their home so they had a place to worship, but they always wanted more. 

They were motivated to establish a formal temple in Fort Wayne after Gini’s Mother became acquainted with two Sri Lankan monks living in California. 

The Ranasinghes founded the Indiana Buddhist Temple in 2003, with those same two monks relocating to provide spiritual guidance. Originally located on Webster Street in Fort Wayne, it is now located in a two-story house on a large lot at 7528 Thompson Road, Hoagland. It is the only Sri Lankan Buddhist Institute in Indiana. (Theravada Buddhist temples vary according to language and ethnicity; other Buddhist temples in Fort Wayne are associated with Laotians, Burmese, and Mon natives). 

The temple offers free meditation classes that are open to anyone interested. It also offers many Buddhist activities and cultural events throughout the year, such as the Sinhala and Tamil New Year Festival last April. About 200 devotees from Indiana and neighboring states attended the celebration and participated in the Avurudu activities, according to the temple’s web site. “The temple draws a lot of visitors,” Sisira said. 

After years of having no one and no place for sharing their religion, now the Ranasinghes spend the greatest amount of their free time at the temple, nurturing the monks and others. “The monks are extremely happy,” Sisira said. And so are the Ranasinghes.


Monday, July 7, 2014

Creative Spot - Photography and Music by Speedy

Speedy wants to label it as the "Impossible Dream". Please click on the link below and have your speakers on. Listen to the lovely background music which blends perfectly with Speedy's visuals. You will no doubt recognise the scenic spots as seen through his camera lens, made even more beautiful by his superb voice.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

NOSTALGIA: When Ceylon ruled the airwaves


Once the pride of the region, Radio Ceylon is today a fading memory. Can the Sri Lankan Broadcasting Corporation regain its lost glory?

Magnetic voice: A file picture of Jimmy Bharucha broadcasting.

IT is Christmas time and Jim Reeves is on air, taking Sri Lanka back to its days of romance and charm. "You are listening to Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation and we've got more Christmas music going out for you. Hope you are tuned in to us," trills the friendly announcer. Another glorious old number "When A Child Is Born" floats across the skies. Requests pour in from all over the country and the programme continues to enthral those tuned in.
When Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation (as Radio Ceylon is now called) celebrated its 80th birthday on December 16, it was, sadly, a pale shadow of its past. Once the pride of the region's airwaves, it is today relegated to fading memories and confined to chapters of an era of broadcasting élan.
High quality

For Indian radio enthusiasts of decades gone by, it was Radio Ceylon that set the standards. Those were days before commercial broadcasts commenced in India and taking a break from the monotonous, though informative, broadcasts of All India Radio (AIR) meant twirling those vintage radios to trap Radio Ceylon's programmes. Once tuned in, the listener was treated not just to music of the highest quality. The magnetic voices of broadcasters, Jimmy Barucha (English), Ameen Sayani (Hindi) and Mayilvaganam (Tamil), to mention just three, ensnared the listeners, taking Radio Ceylon to the top slot in the region's radio network.
The history of broadcasting, published in Wikipedia, notes that gramophone music was broadcast from a tiny room in Colombo's Central Telegraph Office with the aid of a transmitted built by Telegraph Department engineers from the radio equipment from a captured German submarine.
The beginnings

This metamorphosed into South Asia's first radio broadcasting station, which was inaugurated on December 16, 1925. The real catalyst was to come later, with the shifting of Radio SEAC (South East Asia Command) to Ceylon in 1949. Radio SEAC, was established during World War II for the British servicemen. Radio Ceylon, as it was called from 1949 became a public broadcasting corporation in 1967. Ceylon Broadcasting Corporation became Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation in 1972 when the island-nation changed its name.
"Sri Lanka was fortunate that Radio SEAC was established to entertain and inform the troops," recalls Eric Fernando, former Director General, SLBC. "Geographically Sri Lanka was the ideal location because the (transmission) reach could be all over the region, and at the end of the War, we inherited it."
Radio Ceylon, through its music programmes, carved a niche for itself among the region's broadcasters. Its base of Indian listeners was huge between the 1950s and the 1970s. "We were popular in India because we had a steady supply of English music," Fernando, who started his career as a broadcaster at SLBC in the mid 1970s said.
For Indians of the radio generation, Radio Ceylon was the first introduction to paradise-island and to the world of music. "I first heard The Beatles over Radio Ceylon. We grew up listening to songs over Radio Ceylon. It was part of my growing up," remembers Nirupama Rao, the Indian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka.
In addition to its well-structured English music programmes, Sayani's "Binaca Geetmala", revolutionised radio presentation. Having elevated broadcasting to a fine art in the region, Sayani remains etched in the minds of many. Mayilvaganam's silken voice, with his singsong Jaffna Tamil diction, captivated the ears of Indian listeners. Between them Barucha, Sayani and Mayilvaganam opened up the listeners' sensitivities to the finer elements that transcended mundane facts.
However, there has been a dip in the number of Indian listeners over the years. With Vividh Bharathi — AIR's commercial services section — Radio Ceylon's hold was diluted. The cassette revolution, which made music more affordable, the advent of TV, private radio stations and FM broadcasts were other developments. Slowly, but certainly, Radio Ceylon was pushed to the pages of history.
Along the corridors of the SLBC's headquarters, this history remains frozen. Elegant old studios retain their stately charm, complete with original BBC microphones. Groups of musicians and radio-drama artistes continue to use the studios to churn out programmes. However, somewhere, something is missing.
Simply put, SLBC lagged behind the times.
SLBC should leverage its past and harness itself to the current developments in radio broadcasting. SLBC's most unique attribute is its archives — home to more than 1,00,000 original records, comprising Sinhalese, Tamil, English and Hindi music. Sunil Shantha Perera, the new Chairman of SLBC plans to digitise the collection and share them with the National Archives. In addition, the originals with the National Archives are to be shared with SLBC. This digitally reformatted music, Fernando points out, could form the basis for a unique programme that will capture the past and lure audiences back.
Future plans

Plans are also on to offer more programmes on the Internet. Presently the Sinhala and Tamil National services and City FM are available on the Internet ( . An improved English content is also on the cards. The SLBC has collaborated with the BBC to share its programmes for six hours every day. Now a new English channel is being planned. "A national radio must have a national English channel," emphasises Perera.
The abolition of licenses for radio sets in the late 1990s had also punctured its revenues. However, deals with the internationally reputed radio stations such as NHK of Japan and DW of Germany have helped bolster its finances.
SLBC officials are emphatic that "radio is still popular", and point to the increasing "car-radio segment". However, for SLBC to regain its lost slot as the premier broadcaster, the most critical element is fresh thinking, coupled with leveraging its inherent strengths of the past. For, its success will depend on increasing the number of listeners who willingly tune in to that catchy line: "you are listening to Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation".
Courtesy: The Hindu 

Indra Anandasabapathy on visit to Sri Lanka

Indra and Rani from Staten Island, NY are on holiday in Sri Lanka. A few of us met them on July 4th at dinner. Here are some pictures. See whether you can recognise each and every one. After all, we were all members of the same 1962 batch!


Creative Spot - A Taste of Bunter - 1

Srianee (Bunter) has sent in the first in the series of her own contributions to Speedy's idea of concept of  "Creative Spot". As Speedy quite rightly pointed out, members of our batch have loads of their own special talents. The first in this latest series appeared a few days ago and Speedy himself was given the top spot to set the ball rolling. That was under the heading "Speedy on the Keyboard" but sans a formal announcement on this new series from the blog administrator. ND continues to display his writing skills (last article was on "Growing Up in the 21st Century"). Razaque has been sending in humorous sketches about his past life. Zita sends in her compositions in poetry quite regularly, but we are yet to hear from her about her talents at the piano. Their future contributions will be included in the "Creative Spot".

So, Bora (ballroom dancing), Suji (Kandyan dancing), Primrose (singing), Pram (achievements in social service and community organisation), Nalin Nana (scuba diving, radio ham), or any others who have chosen to keep their not so well known talents under wraps, how about sending in some stuff? Please remember that this is your own blog. You don't have to be modest at all!

I would like to extend an appeal even to our sportsmen like Lareef, Cyril, Harsha (cricket), Watte (tennis), JC (athletics), Virginia (swimming), et all to send in scanned copies of any old newspaper clippings taken from your scrap books or photographs. Your e-mails will give me implied consent for them to be published on the blog.

Back to Srianee's work of art.
This was done in oils from a photo that I took in Sri Lanka more than 20 years ago. A bullock cart with cement bags. We don’t see many of them any more.

Srianee (Bunter)

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Growing up in the 21st century

By  Dr. Nihal D Amerasekera

It was in 1932 that the distinguished philosopher Bertrand Russell wrote his famous essay “In Praise of Idleness”. His words ring true today.

Like most of my generation, I was brought up on the saying: 'Satan finds some mischief for idle hands to do.' I think that there is far too much work done in the world, that immense harm is caused by the belief that work is virtuous– Bertrand Russell

What I remember most of all of my childhood are the hours of idyllic idleness. Watching hours of cricket seated on the grass brought me immense pleasure. Long periods of inactivity fishing in a murky pond are images from the past which even now gives me much satisfaction. Restraint and patience are incredible gifts learnt whilst idle. Doodling and day dreaming brings peace to ones soul.  We spent hours creating our own games and toys with simple household possessions like rubber bands, cigarette tins and bottle tops. We spent hours reading. We imagined the characters in books playing their roles in vivid technicolour. There was a world of fairies, Cinderella and Pinocchio. The superbly descriptive poems of Alfred Tennyson, H.W Longfellow and Samuel Taylor Coleridge helps to improve the powers of imagination. During the monsoons the darkening skies and the strong winds before the downpour had its own splendor. In the dry season the swirling winds  carried plumes of dust high into the sky. I had time to be enchanted by these acts of nature and allow my thoughts to wander free.  

Even as a kid I was fascinated by the green mountains. Its winding roads touching the clouds brought a sense of exhilaration. The gurgling streams that disappeared into the valleys below enthralled me. I feel immensely grateful for those opportunities to enjoy nature’s gifts as a child. I wish I can see its charm in the same way as 50 years ago when I could absorb so much of its magic so completely. 

On recent visits to Sri Lanka I saw the childrens’ endless treadmill of tuition and more tuition, some starting at an early age of eight. Teaching after school hours has become a lucrative occupation. Those teachers who are in a position to advice parents who should require special help have a conflict of interest. I am unaware of any attempts by schools to discourage the practice of unnecessary tuition. Perhaps they encourage this in the hope they would get the benefit of good results. I read in the South China Morning post a story of a parent who asked her daughter what she would like to do on her 11th birthday. The child spends every weekend and most evenings being ferried from one extra curricular activity to another. She wanted to spend her birthday lying on her bed doing nothing. She got a clip round the ear for being “so ungrateful” 

We now live in a material world. Mobile phones and games consoles have taken over the lives of our children from a young age. These are fascinating innovations and there is a need for them in their lives. Leisure time is being invaded by the escapist virtual worlds of the computer. They ought also to develop their imagination and this requires free time and space. Many of our children are geared young towards lucrative careers which require high grades at public examinations. Pushy Parents in their enthusiasm arrange private tuition taking away large chunks of their free time. They make their childhood full of stress, competing. Their young lives are crammed full of activities and homework. As a result they miss out  on their childhood. It is merely a reflection of the tremendous competition to enter the course and university of ones choice. This luxury comes at a tremendous price.  The suicide rates amongst children have increased just like the incidence of mental illness. I am not suggesting children should not work hard to achieve their goal and full potential. Common sense must prevail and a crucial balance has to be reached. We must allow time for them to develop their own privacy and depth. This would be their shelter from the inevitable storms of life in the years to come. 

No one wants to be poor. As a child I remember being driven through the rough, impoverished suburbs of Colombo which had a lasting impression on my young mind. I was struck by the poverty and inequality. My parents made me understand I had to make my own way in life which gave me the incentive to work hard. The crucial period for hard work is the 3 years between GCE O’levels and University Entrance. The endless tuition before this period takes away their free time for little gain. Coming top in the class is good for one’s ego. If it is the result of endless tuition you have paid too high a price. 

Money and wealth are no guarantee of happiness and is something that has to be drummed into our youth along with the encouragement to hard work. Does the child have free time for the imagination to blossom and appreciate nature, art and poetry. They must learn social skills to play with the kids down the road.  Are they streetwise? A childhood missed is lost forever. 

Policies on education by the government is part of the problem. They have introduced a series of examinations from a young age adding pressure introducing a climate of competition from the very beginning.

All parents give of their best to the kids. They spend their waking hours ferrying children from one tuition to another and then to other extra curricular activities sacrificing their own leisure. Parents want nothing but the best for them. They must also consider giving the children a happy well balanced childhood. The alternative is a high achieving child with psychiatric problems as an adult. 

John Stuart Mill, philosopher and economist was born in 1806. He was educated by his father. He learnt Greek at 3 and Latin by the age of 12. The paternal pressure made him complete his education by the tender age of 14.  By 16 John Mills was a well trained economist. At 20 he suffered a nervous breakdown that persuaded him that more was needed in life than devotion to the development of an analytically sharp intellect. It was the imaginative  poetry of Geothe and Wordsworth that helped him recover from depression. 

Streaming of students according to ability and small class sizes (30) will help to avoid extra lessons after school hours. The teachers should not move on to a new lesson until all the students have understood what has been taught. This is perhaps an over-simplification of a complex problem but indeed is a good starting point. Surely, if the majority in the class needs tuition it reflects poorly on the teacher. Is the width of the syllabus reasonable? 

The best teachers should be rewarded - the most competent, must be adequately remunerated to remain in a profession known for low pay, low status and soul-destroying bureaucracy. The teachers’ pay should be performance related. There has to be a genuine attempt to apportion credit and blame and, in some cases, target help to teachers who need to improve. There is a dearth of dedicated teachers of the kind we experienced in Ceylon in the early to mid 20th century. The teaching profession is packed with people with low morale. They in turn have no loyalty to the profession, students or to their institution. The students suffer as a result. Better pay for teachers will re-invigorate this noble profession. Do the white collar bureaucrats of the Department of Education show any concern for the problem?         One has to care to be concerned!!                                                                                  

It is never my intention to discourage tuition for those who have a dire need. It is now generally assumed that everyone needs tuition and that also from the very beginning of their school careers. This would be hard to justify and most certainly have a detrimental effect on their development.


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Creative Spot - Speedy on the Keyboard

Speedy has sent in this youtube link to a recording he had done recently. I am sure you will find it most enjoyable, just as much as I did.

The song is "Oba Dutue e mul dine" sung originally by Dushan Jayathilaka.
Speedy plays and sings on a Yamaha Tyros 4.

Preview YouTube video Oba Dutu Tyros 4

As you can see, there is so much talent in our batch, but it's a pity that much of it is not displayed. Apart from Speedy's musical piece, Zita has been contributing regularly with her creative poetry. She is also a talented pianist. ND has been another "Regular" with his contributions, not forgetting Razaque's humourous sketches.

Speedy has also come up with the great idea of using our blog for creative people in our batch to post some of their work. As always, he is thinking of ways to inject some much needed new life to it. This I think is a good sustenance mechanism. You
will recall that I made a similar suggestion some time ago, but it fell by the wayside. Hence the need to repeat the plea. Speedy has gone a step further and suggested that all such contributions received could come under a common heading such as "Medgrad 1962 Creative Spot" or something like that.

So, please think about it and start sending in whatever you already have, or anything new that you can come up with..