Kauai Travel Blog
It is a Hawaiian tradition to talk, share, and enjoy the company of others. It's called "Talk Story" and we post some of our thoughts here.
Hau'oli Makahiki Hou
By Amanda Hartley
Published: 12/08/21 Topics: Comments: 0
The ancient Hawaiian New Year festival known throughout the island chain marks the celebration of Makahiki. And this white girl wants to be a part of the conversation.
The year is 2005, and I'm on my way out of high school when a book was re-released as a limited edition. My advanced placement (AP) Literature teacher at the time picked it up and brought it into class, waxing poetic about his formative writing years.
The book was like a wild ride into another dark side of Americana. It's to Hawai'i what Fear and Loathing was to Las Vegas: the crazy tales of a journalist's "coverage."
Infamous gonzo-style writer Hunter S. Thompson describes his time on the Big Island in an article commissioned by Running Magazine to report on the Hawaii Marathon in 1980. A few years later, his book, The Curse Of Lono, was released, and only 1000 publications were ever produced.
In the book, Thompson often breaks away into excerpts of The Last Voyage of Captain Cook. And on occasion, details clobbering his ocean catches to death with Samoan war
On Kaua'i, Makahiki celebrations take off at the beginning of October with morning ceremonies at a south-shore heiau. The variance of the season's arrival depends on who you ask. This ancient celebration is a four-month period of truce, harvest, taxes, games, relaxation and mo'olelo (the Hawaiian word for story) amongst the neighboring islands.
In antiquity- women, men, and young children would mark the beginning of the Hawaiian new year when a specific collection of glittering space-gems against the black velvet drape of night. Na hiku o Makali'i (Pleiades) appeared at sunset, and the Kanaka Maoli (commoners) would invoke the bounty and protections the god Lono provided.
Often associated with 'ikua (the noisy month), Lono's visualized as storm-clad clouds, like thunder, the partial rainbow, whirlwinds, and even waterspouts.
Fast forward to the present day, Ka Moloka'i Makahiki festival has been celebrating this time of year en masse since 1981. They "are beginning to see the second and third generation of Moloka'i youths assist with the program," says Maria Holmes, a Hawaiian cultural activist who handles publicity for Ka Moloka'i Makahiki.
Her attitude is that "Education" is a major aim of the Organization. No one else in the state has a cultural program that has worked with so many youths for such a long period of time."
Sure, many families or grandfathered-in-stewards still live and work in the heart of these chartreuse and sage landscapes, passing on those traditions to the next generation. But the historical obligations and recognition of Lono, the akua of the Makahiki season, are not synonymous with how the residents of Hawai'i remember it today.
Generally speaking, Hawaiian customs and folklore live on through the margins of modern hotel resorts, replete with games and festivities for its travelers. Some schools and churches include food drives too. Items are then donated to charity and distributed island-wide throughout the holiday.
However, this season, traditions are getting a new show of appreciation by locals. Hawaii Farm Trails- a statewide concept of agri-tourism as a responsible alternative to conventional tourism, will host a Makahiki event on Kaua'i in mid-January.
Hawaii Farm Trails works closely with the Hawaii Tourism Authority, Hawaii Agritourism Association, USDA, Cultivate Resilience and many more to further perpetuate Hawaiian culture, food from farm to table and boundless mo'olelo.
Although the Kaua'i Festivals and Events webpage has not officially saved the date, the event is slated to begin Saturday, January 15, 2022, at 9 AM in the Lihue area of Kaua'i. It will feature ancient Hawaiian games, cultural demonstrations, displays and crafts by community groups, and ono street food.
Living in Hawaii comes with education and recognition of indebtedness. It's a privilege to live on the shores of this sea-cradled state. Where you can fancy-free night-time sparklers.
The fascinating history of this island chain consumes me every day. It's my hope that this love letter reflects my gratitude for cultural diversity in itself and expresses genuine tributes of thanks to the Hawaiian people for cultivating my curiosity.
Hau'oli Makahiki Hou
Author: Amanda Hartley
Blog #: 0851 – 12/08/21
Kaua'i: The Westsider
By Amanda Hartley
Published: 11/22/21 Topics: Comments: 0
Growing up, like most kids, you spend an awful lot of time planning the day you can get out of Dodge. And for some of us, you vow to never look back. You've got your reasons.
Then before you know it, you've planted roots in a place that's so reminiscent of home. It's a place that has the perfect fusion of cowboy country and aloha.
The west side of Kaua'i can be summarized as 'old Hawai'i' with ghost towns hidden by Jurassic Park-looking grasses at every corner.
It is home to a good chunk of the island's 73,000 permanent residents. And let's not forget the island's midnight to morning trumpets-truly voices of angels, the feral chicken.
But which came first? The hurricane or the chicken?
Travelers whose itineraries are jam-packed with excursions to Hanalei on the north shore and shopping from the gray, east side's Coconut Coast to the sunny south shore can finally unwind out west. You wake up every day to warm hues of rust and offset tropical greens against a sea of Windex water.
Situated just northwest of O'ahu- the oldest island in the Hawaiian chain, Kaua'i has been a destination for eco-travel a millennium before that became a popular buzzword. It has a heritage that's steeped in both myth and legend. Some even insist that it's in fact, its own kingdom. There are stories of a Spaniard by the name of Gaetan who mistook these shores for Mexico. They searched for the gold they'd only just heard about. Finding no such gifts of land and labor, they departed shortly after arrival in the 16th century, never to return.
Whatever the truth might be, Kaua'i remained a world unto itself. The arrival of Captain James Cook in 1778 changed that.
On that fateful third and final journey through the Pacific, he sailed two ships (Discovery, Resolution) into Waimea Bay, beginning the era that would forever alter the polytheistic and natural resources of the people.
Over fifty years after Hawai'i was forcibly adopted into U.S. territories in 1893, it was eventually granted statehood in 1959, even getting its own time zone. Hawaii is one of two states in the union (Arizona, Hawai'i) that don't subscribe to Daylight Savings.
Being a west-side person comes with its snares along the road. Quite seriously, there's only one main drag wrapping the perimeter of Kaua'i. Think about that! More than 75% of the island is untouched, pristine with fiercely jagged, green mountains.
Getting stuck in traffic here isn't all that bad. Most of the time, you're in and out without much thought. Where else can you listen to crickets or spot rainbows while palm trees turn to silhouettes on the side of the road?
This all sounds so poetic, like a Kerouac excursion across the mainland USA but it's the truth.
Shopping can be an inconvenient 45-minute drive east where affordable Costco Gas and the only fully-equipped home improvement store, Home Depot is located. Most folks out this distance are self-reliant in their own ways.
It's pretty common to get the look of "I don't know what you're talking about" when gushing over the new shopping developments or restaurants east to the north shore.
Westside does mean less traffic, which ultimately means less shopping and attractions. Yet the people still manage to brew beer out here. Of which the coldest draughts are not poured at Kaua'i Island Brewing. But 20 minutes further west at 'Da Pizza Place inside Chicken In A Barrel at the Waimea Plantation Cottages.
After you've continued on past Waimea Canyon Drive, just follow the scent of smoky barbecue, and you're there.
From the downhill descent into Ele'Ele to the flood plains past Kekaha, there are more young families whose children can play in the streets. Freely, without a brand new 2003 lifted Toyota Tacoma running them over.
It's a safe and deeply connected community. It's a place where the ever-elusive Mark Zuckerberg can be seen in his natural environment, surfing on a hydrofoil while holding the American flag.
Author: Amanda Hartley
Blog #: 0837 – 11/22/21
Why Tip? - Lodging Newsletter February 28, 2021
By Wm, May
Published: 02/28/21 Topics: AirBnB, Branding, Channel Management, Lodging Newsletter, Vacation Rental Management, Vacation Rentals Comments: 0
A new vacation rental landlord was appalled to find that the management firm put "Housekeeper Tip Envelopes" into homes. She incorrectly concluded that the housekeepers were not paid sufficiently.
Seems she has no idea how to be in the hospitality industry. Certainly housekeepers appreciate tips, but tips are not really there for the money.
- Tips show appreciation.
- Tips show recognition of the hard work.
- Tips show respect for undesirable work.
- Tips are the price you pay to avoid the job.
- Tips show you are a kind person.
Maybe if she scrubbed floors, unclogged toilets, and pushed a vacuum until her hands grew callouses, and did it for years on end, just maybe she would begin to feel what it's like to be disrespected.
During the Covid crisis, it has been reported that customers are tipping restaurant servers, delivery drivers, and other service people, less than ever before. Of course, some consumers have less money available to leave tips, but for everyone else - shame on us.
Millions have lost jobs. Some have taken positions at lower wages. Some have been forced into part-time work. So now is the time to show more respect for people, not less.
Without much forethought our family has been trying to tip higher than usual nowadays. But this ungrateful client gave us a brand new idea. Not only is it time to tip everyone well, maybe it's time to start a movement - it's time to double tip everyone.
Tonight we stopped for fast-food take-out and tipped $20 on a $25 order, plus a big heartfelt THANK YOU to people willing to work in a steamy hot restaurant kitchen so we could have an easy meal.
The wonderful young clerk said, "Oh, that’s too much." To which we had to say, "Oh no, that’s just right." And the best part of tipping double is that you will get more out of it than the recipient. Generosity always benefits the giver.
Do we brag too much in these newsletter? Or maybe we promote too little, because it is our duty to help clients make a good decision when choosing to become vacation rental landlords.
There are signficant differences in how to run a vacation rental, how to hire a thoroughly competent managers, how to deal with guests, what to think about all the advertising websites and their usurious fees. And even bigger issues confront someone cavalierly deciding to become a "Do It Yourself" owner.
Why would anyone want to DIY vacation rental management? There are those who need a hobby. Some feel it would be a joy to "talk" with guests. Some love the idea of sharing a home they are so proud of.
Those reasons are fine, of course, but the hidden factor in lodging managemement is that guests don't care about what owners want. It's not about the owner, it's about the guest.
Any owner can feel some success because, with today's online websites, most anyone, for most any kind of property can secure some bookings. But getting some bookings and getting all bookings at the highest possible rates is just not possible for most owners.
As the old saying goes, "Even a blind squirrel finds an acorn every now and then."
So the question is how much are owners losing by going Do it Yourself?
Without the kind of completely comprehensive marketing, advertising, distribution, cross selling, hospitality grade cleaning, quick maintenance, and reservation experts like ours, most owners are earning half what they should be earning. And working twice as hard.
A HomeAway.com study revealed that owners spend an average of 9.2 hours per week dealing with rental issues. And some of those are in the middle of the night.
Self managing may give owners a sense of control, but unfortunately many such owners are overly selfish and fail at the good hospitality test. Some think they are "cutting out the middle man" (manager's fee), but most are actually cutting their income and increasing their work greatly.
By speaking with hundreds of guests on the phone each week, we hear them scream complaints about dealing with owners directly. They talk about owners who are non-responsive, not clean enough, rude and demanding. Not everyone is cut out to be in the hospitality industry.
If you don’t love people, even when they are difficult, you can't succeed fully in this business.
During Covid we have received calls from DIY owners everyday whose housekeepers failed to show up to clean. These owners lived hundreds or thousands of miles from their rental homes. They thought all they needed was someone to come over immediately to clean their homes,
They begged, "Hey can you help me out just this one time?"
We helped where we could, but our time and allegiance must be to home owners who value the stabilty, reliablity and quality of what we do and realize the value of having a trusted management firm ready to handle every little thing.
Author: Wm, May, Vortex Managers
Blog #: 0811 – 02/28/21
Sponsor: Vortex Organization – We train quality people to help run unique Inns, Resorts and We train quality people to help run unique Inns, Resorts and Vacation Rental Management companies in an industry that has been a webby net of technology combined with good old fashioned property, guest and owner services. – VortexManagers.com
If Jimi Hendricks, Prince, and Pavarotti Were Hawaiian
By Wm. May
Published: 05/18/20 Topics: Hawaii, Music, Self Improvement Comments: 0
This blog is not about me. But a bit of background might help. I grew up playing all kinds of music from a young age, not necessarily playing well but playing none the less.
It started with a concert level pianist mother and a father with a soaring tenor voice. I picked up a trumpet in fourth grade, met the high school band instructor and play with him for 8 years through high school.
But first there were piano and trumpet lessons and concerts with the concert band, marching band, stage band, pep band, concert orchestra and even our own little school sponsored "Tijuana Brass" imitation band called - unbelievably in 1969- the Marijuana Brass.
A the age of 13 I happened to hear some new English group called the Beatles on the radio of our tiny neighborhood store Perini's. I was hooked and started a band, then another, playing with many great musicians while we all wanted to become famous and play on the Ed Sullivan TV show.
Or at least we wanted to be swooned over by girls in the way they swooned when watching the Beatles. In 1964, at the age of 13, somehow I talked some parent into driving my bandmates and I the 100 miles to attend a Beatles concerts at the Seattle Center Coliseum.
The Beatles played in the round and the stage slowly revolved so everyone could see them. The sound equipment quality was terrible. The girls screamed so loud we could not hear the music. But we could see the magic.
I played guitar and bass in numerous rock bands and made a living at it for some years, a small living. I partnered in a sound studio, a jingle company and an advertising agency. But eventually moved on to being a fan and not a performer. It was a good run.
In the Charles Cross's biography of Seattle's rock band "Heart", Ann and Nancy Wilson revealed they too attended one of the two times the Beatles played in Seattle.
As they walked out of the concert Nancy, the younger sister, asked , "Why are they all the girls screaming?"
To which Ann said, "They all want to marry the Beatles."
Said Nancy, "We don't want to marry the Beatles, we want to be the Beatles?
And the rest is Heart rock and roll history. They became famous. I did not.
As I said, this blog isn't about me, it is only to imply that I know a little about music and I know that I achieved journeyman status at best.. Years later I stumbled upon a musician who proved it.
Hearing Uncle Willie K music on the radio in Hawaii and then seeing him perform left me flabbergasted by his talent. His skill was astounding and his versatility beyond believing. You can love music and respect the musician at the same time.
Better than all of that, he had a kind of charisma I had never seen - sheer confidence and humor. He knew he could take an audience anywhere he wanted them to go. Including his rendition of "We are the world" completed with uncanny imitations of Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen and Tina Turner. No body else can do that
Eric Gilliom, a versatile TV actor and Hawaiian music master, formed a "Hawaiian Super group" with Willie called Barefoot Natives. Before one show willie asked him what was the most money he had ever made doing a concert. When Eric said something like $10,000 willie sat down and said, "Let me see your $10,000 show tonight."
willie and Eric' sister the superlative Amy Hanaialii Gilliom became a couple and willie produce four award winning albums of their own brand of Hawaiian and other music. I loved the music before I knew who they were. As did every Hawaiian.
William Awihilima Kahaiali'I - willie K - grew up playing young at the knee of his father the nationally known and admired Manu Kahaiali'i. Willie was just one of 13 children, so his Dad played music 7 days a week to pay the bills, everything from jazz, blues and Hawaiian of course.
Maybe that is why he branched in so many musical directions. He idolized Jimi Hendricks and prince. That lead him to just about every other kind of music. He was famous for Christmas Carols, but also Salsa, Jazz and Reggae.
He was sought out and accompanied Mick Fleetwood of Fleet Mac, his solo chagrined Billy Idol of ZZ top, Prince praised him, Willy Nelson sang duets with him, but so did Alice Cooper. BB king invited him on stage, he sang with the Commodores and he laughed with comedian Jim Cary. Barack Obama played willie K loud during workouts. willie and Steven Tyler became best buddies.
Maybe they loved they guy because they felt a little like me - unworthy.
He was known through out the world for guitar and ukulele skills but 10 years ago at a local Hawaiian concert he baffled the audience when he dismissed the other musicians from stage, stood silent a long while and finally said, very somberly,
"I am very sad. Last week Pavarotti died. I think he and I were brothers. Tonight I will sing Nessum Dorma"
Afterward, 800 people sat silent and then jumped to their feet screaming "Hanna Hou" (encore). It was the start of many appearances with symphony's singing opera music. On a trip to Israel he brought Jewish congregations to tears by mastering the Israeli national nation.
In 2018, willie K announced that he had contracted a very aggressive cancer, but promised to keep performing as he always had, at every opportunity. His Maui Bluest fest continued each year. He took aggressive treatment but in the end he died quietly at his home May 18, 2020 surround by Ohana.
I didn’t know William Awihilima Kahaiali'I personally, and yet everyone who saw him perform knew him personally. The way it is with all great musicians and performers, they leave themselves, their skills, their personalities and souls on stage with all to see.
Upon hearing of willie's passing, Alice Cooper said it best, "Heaven will be in for one hell of a surprise. I can almost hear the thunderous applause."
There are so many links because of the variety. Couldn't stop myself.
Author: Wm. May – Music Fan
Blog #: 0757 – 05/18/20
Clean, Wipe, Soak, Scrub, Brush, Scour, Polish
By Ron Lee
Published: 04/18/20 Topics: Covid-19 Virus, Housekeeping, Property Management Comments: 0
How to Clean and Sanitize Vacation Rental Homes
Since our first office opened in 1964, we have been rigorously cleaning and sanitizing properties for decades. This is nothing new to us. In fact, our homes are cleaned to a degree higher than most people have at home. It has always been our commitment to have every home safe and ready for guest arrival.
Get a Real Getaway
If you need a vacation, holiday escape, spring break, fresh air and time alone, vacation rentals are the best option. Bring kids or not. Bring the family or just your spouse. Most homes are free-standing, so you can avoid crowds. Even in our condos, the homes are open corridor, so there is no need to pass through common areas, like lobbies and dark hallways.
When Guests Depart
After guests depart, housekeepers arrive at every home to clean, wipe, soak, scrub, brush, scour, mop and polish bathrooms, kitchens, bedrooms, common spaces and even decks and patios, linens, towels and surfaces. Hot tubs are disinfected. This entire process - called "out Clean" - takes many hours. Then homes are spot checked by managers to ensure good work. When departing, all staff members use bleach rags, so that even the door knob and key-safe are sanitized. Wow!
Sanitation Cleaning Products
We use a variety of products to clean, disinfect and sanitize. All are approved for high health standards. We still use bleach for some areas because it is still the gold standard for killing every kind of bug. In fact, if you enter a home immediately after housekeepers depart, for a few minutes you may detect a slight cleaning smell. That is your assurance of sanitization.
Bathroom Super Scrub
Cleaning bathrooms is not a fun task, but we carefully clean all sinks, mirrors, toilets, drawers, bathtubs and shower enclosures until they sparkle. But they have also been sprayed and later wiped with disinfectant. Soiled and unsoiled towels are removed before cleaning starts to avoid cross contamination. This is a hands-and-knees job, but housekeepers pride themselves on meticulous cleaning.
Proper Wipe Downs
You might think that spraying and wiping surfaces with disinfectant is sufficient, but it is not. Instead, disinfectant must be left on surfaces for a period of time before it is wiped away. This gives time for the liquid to kill all the germs.
- Door knobs inside and outside.
- Window switches.
- Light switches and sockets.
- Lamp switches.
- Cupboard doors and surfaces.
- Table tops including night stands.
- Appliances - top and sides.
- Counter tops.
- Reachable walls.
- Outdoor furniture.
- Stairs and deck handrails.
- Toasters and coffee makers.
- TV and other remote controls.
- Stereos and computers.
- Door bells and key safes.
- Toys and board games.
- Pet toys and blankets.
- And more.
Vacuuming, Mopping, Sweeping
Are you ever tempted to do floors fast? By slowing down the process and covering every floor surface carefully, dirt, grime and germs are removed. We keep equipment new and well maintained to get the best results. Housekeepers are never limited to cleaning hours. Instead, they are encouraged to take all the time they need to do the job right.
Kitchens and Dining Rooms
Kitchens get splattered on, baked in and used heavily. It is a big job, but to get kitchens spic-and-span is essential, from the stove to oven to refrigerator, but also microwaves, cupboards, fans and light fixtures. Cleaned inside and out. You will notice we remove condiments, such as ketchup and mustard left from prior guests, because leaving open containers violates health standards. You'll have to bring your own, but you'll know they are new and fresh.
Hot Tubs and Spas
Every hot tub is completely disinfected after each booking by trained staff members. Sand or debris is removed, filters are inspected, and chemicals are adjusted. In addition, the hot tub cove, top and side surfaces are disinfected. If you arrive to a tub that is not yet fully heated, please wait because we had to empty and refill it. Takes time to reheat.
Towels and Linens
Washing and drying linens and towels is an obvious step, be we wall all of them, even if a bed does not appear to have been slept in. They are transported to the washer-dryer using rubber gloves and laundry bags, and they are returned to beds in baskets to avoid cross contamination. Along with quality detergent, additional disinfectant is added to all washing to ensure germs are eradicated.
In addition to our rigorous out-clean, homes receive deep cleans regularly to cover hard to access areas, including heating ducts, cupboard sides and ceilings, high surfaces, fans, carpets and more. This takes many hours, and ensures the cleanest possible property.
When Guests Depart
You may notice that we do NOT as guests to do laundry or to remove linens and towels to the laundry area. We do it all to ensure that every textile has been washed and cleaned properly without dragging it through the house.
Call Us Quick: 206-504-2744
If at any time during your stay, if you find any issue, call our 24-7-365 day phone number for assistance. If necessary, our staff will happily come to the property to ensure all is right. And if you want daily cleaning, we can arrange that too, for a small additional fee.
Avoid Crowds, Stay in a Private, Vacation Home!
Year round, in every season, and no matter what is happening in the rest of the world, vacation rentals offer a respite from the rate race, a chance to get away and to enjoy a sparkling clean, sanitized home.
Author: Ron Lee, Vortex Managers
Blog #: 0742 – 04/18/20
By William May
Published: 01/17/15 Topics: Government Comments: 0
This is not a story about prohibiting Christmas trees from governmental property due to freedom of religion restrictions. Instead, it’s a new taking of your ability to put a Christmas Tree in the lobby of privately owned condo buildings, restaurants and more. Geeeesh. Is nothing sacred? Read more Leave comments
By William May
Published: 08/15/12 Topics: Comments: 0
Going to a grand hotel for grand service will never go away. Stopping for a quick night at a convenient motel makes long trips easier. And now Vacation Rentals allow property owners to share their homes with responsible guests. It lights up the neighborhood, keeps home in good condition and shows the communities hospitality. Read more Leave comments
By William May
Published: 03/01/10 Topics: Comments: 0
Operating a vacation rental business can be fun and profitable but it also an opportunity to do some good in the world. Now property owners and managers can do that by participating in a public program that offer Read more Leave comments
By William May
Published: 01/09/09 Topics: Comments: 0
The Grand Hyatt at Poipu Kauai Hawaii is a real gem. If you want beauty and pampering this is your place - provided you want to a small room, high prices, less privacy and a hike to everything you might want to do. For just about $400 per night you get one of the 602 motel 6 size rooms. Better appo Read more Leave comments
By William May
Published: 11/24/08 Topics: Comments: 0
The next President of the United States has effectively endorsed the entire concept of Vacation Rentals by renting a private home in Kailua on the North Shore of Oahu, a Hawaiian Island. He is staying there for a week with his wife Michelle and two daughters. He is staying at a secluded beach re Read more Leave comments
By Ana M. Kinkaid
Published: 06/11/07 Topics: Comments: 0
Vacation Rentals are the newest member of the hospitality industry. Here are some of the ways that vacation rentals offer an attractive alternative to traditional lodging. LOTS OF ROOM - One of the biggest differences between a vacation rental and almost all other forms of lodging is the space ava Read more Leave comments
By William May
Published: 09/05/04 Topics: Comments: 0
I kid you not. The LA Times is reporting that Estullah Rooz, after years of fighting Soviets, rival Mujahedee and the Taliban, the man known as the Commander Mullah is going corporate. And how you say? Well, he's building the first Swiss designed and pre-fabricated Vacation Rental homes on Lake Qarg Read more Leave comments
By William May
Published: 04/06/04 Topics: Comments: 0
Can anyone tell me why a family would stay in a Hotel for their vacation? I was reminded recently of how distressing it can be when we visited the famous Waikiki Beach area of Hawaii. Penny and I hadn't spent much time there for 20 years but my 14 year old son decided there were things he just nee Read more Leave comments
By William May
Published: 12/22/03 Topics: Comments: 0
It was six years ago on Christmas day. My then eight year old son and I were snorkeling about 40 yards off shore at Poipu Beach Kauai. Having taken weekly swimming lessons since he was just 9 months old Taylor felt safe swimming with me out and around a point in hopes of seeing one of the endangered Read more Leave comments
By William May
Published: 12/15/03 Topics: Comments: 0
Mele Kalikimaka Haouli Makahiki Hou (Merry Christmas Happy New Year from Hawaii). There are many wonderful reasons for owning a vacation home. But my favorite is the way ownership allows people to make another place home. And I don't mean just a nice place to eat and sleep. Instead, if you are Read more Leave comments