How to Prevent Children from Thinking…Letters From Below…Barney Beard

My Dear Maggott,

We have been fighting the glorious battle for many a long year. We must press on. Ignorance has been our greatest tool, literacy our ultimate enemy. Our noble struggle for mastery is worthy of our finest efforts.

I have good news. At last we are turning the tables on the work of the detestable Gutenberg. We shall fight fire with fire, a brilliant concept, a winning strategy. Instead of opposing their access to knowledge, we shall give them that which they crave in superabundance. We shall drown them in a bottomless sea of trivia, a meaningless quagmire of their own making. They shall choke on their own disgusting vomit. What a brilliant and unexpected outcome this will provide. They themselves will supply the means of our triumph. Oh, I can only imagine our joy as I consider our impending success with our new tool.

We have been tireless in our efforts to stop children from learning to think for themselves and now we have an aid to increase our success. In fact, it may be the ultimate solution. I am beside myself with pleasure. His stupid pets have constructed the vehicle to carry them to their destruction. What a serendipitous tool we have been given. We shall make every use of it and hasten their demise.

In addition to the tried and true methods of insuring their offspring remain vacuous into adulthood, we have personal phones, computers, video games and all kinds of modern digital devices to attract children’s attention, fill their little heads to bursting with nothing of significance and at the same time prevent the little insects from learning even one of his hideous ideas. The crowning glory of this plan is the prevention of the most horrible malady of all, reading.

I can think of no greater ambition than to occupy the hatchlings’ minds with the pursuit of sports, pleasure and frivolity while they listen incessantly to blaring music, view hours and hours of mindless television and intersperse their every day with the consumption of mounds and mounds of meaningless minutiae.

We now have the means at our disposal to turn the detestable creatures attention away from books. The little beasts are disgusting, aren’t they? I would love to crunch them all under my heel.

Joy upon joy. They are finally of their own accord getting rid of their bookshelves and books. They have even begun calling the library the media center. Can you believe our good fortune? I am overjoyed. I can’t express the satisfaction I receive from your news. What a brilliant idea. Unknowingly, they are doing our work for us. They will drown themselves in a sea of nothingness. I didn’t think I would live to see the day.

In my younger days we had to fight tooth and nail to prevent the filthy little beggars from visiting the libraries. We did everything we could to keep them out of school and now, of their own volition, they’re getting rid of their bookshelves. I can’t express my unbounded optimism for our complete success.

As you know, reading used to be the privilege of the ruling classes. That wasn’t so bad. By using the power of class  snobbery, among other wonderful moral attributes, we delayed the advent of widespread literacy for a very long time.

Then he came, curse the day. His coming changed everything. From that moment our work load has been increased infinitely. We will overcome but his horrible interference has greatly increased the difficulty of our task and delayed our victory. Sometimes I feel a kinship with Sisyphus but I have every confidence in the success of our new strategy.

Because of him there are those who believe all our potential subjects should learn to read and think for themselves so they can read and think upon his macabre propaganda. How insipid. We’ve changed a lot of people’s minds about him but have a long way to go to get everyone. Literacy is still a problem. A few are still reading and teaching their detestable spawn to read his book. What a terrible waste.

We can’t stop their curiosity but we can dilute it to the point of meaninglessness. Put a phone in everyone’s hand. Let them believe all knowledge is theirs at the touch of a button or with a simple voice command. Let them believe they never have to observe and think for themselves.

Let me remind you of the central method we have of influencing children. Get them involved as early as possible in the pursuit of pleasure. Make them the slave of instant gratification. Teach them sports, games or immerse them in the electronic twanging they call music. Occupy their mind. Do anything you can to prevent a quiet environment which results in thinking. Stuff their minds full of nonessential trifles during every waking moment. Never give their useless little minds a minute of peace or they might begin observing and thinking for themselves. If they begin using their own minds it can cause a backlash and untold future problems.

Music, chatter, gossip and mindless viewing require no thinking and can dominate them. Rule of thumb: Keep the TV on day and night. Let them gaze and glaze. If they’re not watching the television or playing video games make certain they’re listening to music, do anything to prevent self-cognition. Above all, never give them a moments rest.

Gaze and glaze is our mantra. Be assured it is successful. At all costs, stop them from reading.

As you know, influencing their offspring is made much easier by the pursuit of pleasure, especially mind altering chemicals. Alcohol has been the time honored favorite of mine and continues to be one of our tools at the forefront of battle.

Remember, their destruction is our goal. Our overriding task is to stop them from thinking. Teaching the joy of consuming alcoholic drinks at an early age is unsurpassed in accomplishing our desired result. My work in this area has brought untold success. I expect you to emulate. Of course, you can make available a plethora of mind occupying drugs to the nasty little creatures. They deserve it. We have now a variety of chemical substances we can use with his pets which will prevent them from reading, observing and thinking.

You are doing an excellent job. I applaud your success. Books are increasingly being ignored and even destroyed. The truth is, we don’t have to burn books to ruin his pets, all we have to do is get them to stop reading. We’re doing an excellent job. No need to burn books and be crudely obvious. I don’t have to tell you that when they stop reading there will be no chance of them taking that final terrible step and begin writing. The two go hand in glove.

Stop them from reading and you’ll prevent them from writing.

The above reminds me to warn you to give special effort to bring to an end the activities of that stupid, antiquated old man in your charge who keeps writing books. We have prevented most everyone from reading them but he insists on sending books by the armload to his grandchildren and other relatives. He is a growing nuisance. His infection may spread. He should be silenced. No one is paying him any attention but he is tireless and who knows what horrible eventuality might occur from his misguided attempts to thwart our noble efforts. Stop him at all costs. His premature death would be a boon to our cause. I wish we had that power. Do everything possible to obfuscate his nefarious efforts in the lives of his progeny. He, and all those like him, must be defeated. Be tireless in your efforts.

In closing let me remind you once again, do your best to defeat the antiquated old fool. Quash both him and his love of books. He is quite an anachronism.

Your uncle below,

Grotty

 

ps. My Dear Grandchildren, read, read, read. Your imagination activates when you read. Reading will provide you with a plethora of images created inside of your own head. Reading is cinema for the mind.

pps. All my books are available on Amazon-Click Here.

ppps. If you want to receive, “Letters To My Grandchildren” in your email, click the icon that says ‘follow’.  Then type in your email address and every time I write a new blog it will come straight to you.

pppps. I write a golf instructional blog.  I tell stories there. You might enjoy them.  If want to check it out CLICK HERE.

Copyright©2020 by Barney Beard.  All Rights Reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system without permission in writing from the author.

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Non-Smelly Gardenias…Letters to My Grandchildren…Barney Beard

Non-Smelly Gardenias

 

 

My Dear Grandchildren,

In the middle of the lawn to the west of my little yellow house there are two non-smelly gardenias. In that same west lawn there is a third non-smelly gardenia at the north end of the lawn against the west wall of the laundry room. After three mild winters the three lovely shrubs are huge. Non-smelly gardenias are not to be confused with smelly gardenias. The leaves and blossoms look much the same but they don’t smell the same.

Non-smelly gardenias have a lovely white bloom but no aroma whatsoever. Smelly gardenias have the same lovely white bloom as the non-smelly variety but smelly gardenias have a sweet, romantic, captivating fragrance that makes one think of a sultry summer evening on the back veranda surrounded by live oaks draped in Spanish moss and a scenic view overlooking a peaceful southern lake. One writer described the fragrance of gardenias as settling inside of you and waking the ancient memory of your soul.

If you visit me here in central Florida during the spring, summer or autumn you’ll find the non-smelly gardenias in the west lawn and the smelly gardenias in the secret garden on the east side of the house. I put the smelly gardenias in the secret garden because the garden is small, walled in with a canopy of oak limbs, thus trapping the fragrance.

I love both non-smelly gardenias and smelly gardenias, but the smelly variety is my favorite because of the fragrance. I remember lying on my grandparents’ bed in the front bed room at Lake Weir watching a movie with my family. Their bed was sitting catty-cornered on the north west corner of the front of the house between two huge sash windows. In the summertime my grandparents’ smelly gardenias would bloom just outside the window and the soft summer breeze would waft their heavenly smell across the bed. I don’t believe anyone who smells a gardenia can think, do or be involved in anything bad that day. We should have more gardenias, shouldn’t we? But this letter isn’t about smelly gardenias. It’s about non-smelly gardenias.

I love the non-smelly gardenias, too, but for a different reason. They grow, and grow and grow and bloom and bloom and bloom. They grow and bloom all summer. The gardenia shrubs with their delicate white blossoms and waxy green leaves dominate the west lawn and are filled with blooms and buds the entire summer. I can’t tell you the visual impact they make on the person who has never seen them.

Non-smelly gardenias are perennial. They come back every year. If they were annuals, they would not come back after a freeze. If they were bi-annuals they would last only two years. Since they’re perennial, they come back every spring. If they freeze, the exposed part of the plant above ground will die but the roots remain healthy and will produce new growth every spring. I wish I were perennial. Alas, my time here is limited. I guess you could say I’m multi-annual with a definite sell-by date. Oh well.

Because we have had two consecutive winters here in central Florida without a freeze, the three non-smelly gardenias have grown, grown and grown into huge shrubs, taller than my head and too big to fit in the kitchen. Not only are they huge but from early spring they bloom constantly, a beautiful, pure-white gardenia bloom set against the lovely, waxy-green leaves.

Alas, the non-smelly gardenia blooms don’t have that characteristic aroma of the smelly gardenia variety but they are just as beautiful. The west lawn of my little yellow house with it’s three prolific, gigantic non-smelly gardenias would be a marvelous place for a wedding, wouldn’t it?

Every spring when the three non-smelly gardenias begin to grow taller and wider and put out new leaves and begin to bloom, I enjoy looking at them. I go out every morning with a cup of coffee, walk around the garden and enjoy. When I walk around the non-smelly gardenias in the west lawn, I nip off the yellowing leaves and remove the sagging blooms that have wilted, withered and turned dark. When I’m finished with my minor pruning, I leave the entire shrub in a state of showcase perfection. I can’t describe its breathtaking beauty, a beauty that lasts all summer.

Every morning I take my coffee and walk around the house and observe the garden and think how beautiful it is. Every morning during my walk I observe, think and plan. I’m constantly thinking how I can keep the garden beautiful and what I can do to make it more beautiful. Cicero and I believe the same thing. If you have a garden and a library, you have all you will ever need.

It’s now the middle of May. It’s been about a month since the non-smelly gardenias began producing flowers and the stems began putting out new leaves. When the blooms and new growth began, I also began nipping off the wilting blossoms and yellowed leaves.

I often sit on my tailgate and think. I keep my truck parked in my open carport on the west side of my little yellow house. Yesterday as I was sitting on my tailgate looking at the non-smelly gardenias flourishing just a few feet away, I had a thought. If you, or any stranger were to walk through the west lawn between my little yellow house and the blue trailer, you would immediately be struck by the stunning beauty of those three gorgeous, huge gardenias. Everyone who sees them comments. They are magnificent.

However, my perception of those three gardenias has changed. My eyes don’t see what your eyes see. Since I have been nipping off the yellowed leaves and wilted blossoms, I have begun looking at the three beautiful gardenias with different eyes. Yesterday for the first time I noticed the change in how I view them.

Instead of looking at three stunning plants and seeing them covered in hundreds of pure white blooms, so white and delicate you would think you could eat them and they would taste like nectar, I have been seeing only the yellowed leaves and withered blossoms.

Now when I walk around the non-smelly gardenias, my eyes immediately search for yellowed leaves and discolored blossoms, the imperfections that need to be removed and thrown into the back of the Mexican petunia bed as compost.

Instead of seeing the beautiful plant as a whole in all its glorious perfection, I have taught myself to see only the plant’s flaws.

I have stolen the joy from my eyes.

I was shocked when I realized what had happened in my mind. I was taken aback at how my view of one of the most stunningly beautiful things on earth had changed. I had taught myself to ignore beauty and see defect.

I had a subsequent thought. If I can learn to look at a beautiful gardenia shrub in full bloom and see only its failings, how easy it would be for me to view my fellow man with the same jaundiced eye, to learn to see only the flaws and shortcomings in those around me.

How terrible to go through life and learn to see imperfections and flaws and miss the glory.

Perhaps grandchildren have been given to us so that when we’re older we can avoid the terrible personal fault of seeing only deformity and ugliness in our world. When I think of you, my grandchild, I never think of your flaws or imperfections. When I think of you, I think of the magnificent person you are and the marvelous person you’re going to be. I see only beauty and your measureless potential. You are magnificent, magnificent beyond description.

I promise I’ll never think of you as a shrub and see only your yellowed leaves and wilted blossoms. That would be a terrible thought, wouldn’t it?

Every day when I think of you, I feel you grow and blossom in my heart.

Your grandfather,

Barney

xoxoxo

ps. My Dear Grandchildren, read, read, read. Your imagination activates when you read. Reading will provide you with a plethora of images created inside of your own head. Reading is cinema for the mind.

pps. All my books are available on Amazon-Click Here.

ppps. If you want to receive, “Letters To My Grandchildren” in your email, click the icon that says ‘follow’.  Then type in your email address and every time I write a new blog it will come straight to you.

pppps. I write a golf instructional blog.  I tell stories there. You might enjoy them.  If want to check it out CLICK HERE.

Copyright©2020 by Barney Beard.  All Rights Reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system without permission in writing from the author.

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Words…Annie Sullivan & Helen Keller…Tools for Your Toolbox…Barney Beard

The Remarkable Annie Sullivan

My Dear Grandchildren,

I love words. I love the sound of words. I love to learn new words.

Once upon a time last century when I needed new brakes for my car, I decided to replace them myself. I was never much of a car mechanic but this was in the olden days when cars were much simpler. In the olden days your automobile mechanic didn’t have electronic devices to tell him what was wrong with your car. If you can imagine, cars in my day didn’t have a computer of any kind.  In fact, I once owned an old GMC pickup truck that ran on the old six volt system. That’s how old I am.

So, with my little red tool box beside me, I jacked up my car, removed the tire and wheel, removed the hub in order to expose the brakes and with my little toolbox I began to do something I had never done before.

I don’t remember much about that day except one thing. There was a small, powerful spring that held the brake shoes in place against the back plate. The spring had to be removed in order to install the new brake shoes. I tried to remove the spring with the tools I had but to no avail. I was determined to do the job myself so I decided I needed professional advice, so off I go to the parts store.

At the auto parts store I was told I needed a special tool to remove the spring. I purchased the little tool that allowed me to compress and turn the spring in one motion and remove it from the keyed retainer.  With my marvelous, new tool I was able to remove the springs and replace the brakes. I was proud of myself. With the right tools, I was able to replace the brake shoes on my old car and save myself a few dollars.

I kept that tool for many years. I can still see it’s red plastic handle and the round concave end. It was a good tool.  In fact, it was absolutely necessary, indispensable for that job. Every car mechanic in the world had one of those tools in their tool box.

Words are to your brain like tools are to your toolbox. You’re not a mechanic unless you have tools. You’re not a thinker unless you have words.

If you want to disassemble, repair and reassemble machines like my old automobile, you will need the proper tools. If you don’t have the proper tools, you can’t do the work. That makes sense, doesn’t it?

Well, your brain requires words in order for you to think about things. No words, no thinking. If you didn’t have words you would grunt, scratch, yell, bite and smash things in order to communicate. You’ve probably known a few people like that, haven’t you?

Helen Keller was a deaf and blind little girl. She couldn’t talk and couldn’t hear. She had no way to communicate with her parents. Helen Keller behaved much like an animal, grunting, snatching and clawing around her home. The family dog was better behaved than little Helen.

If you didn’t have words in your head you would be like Helen Keller before Annie Sullivan gave her words.

Helen Keller’s mother and father felt sorry for their little girl but what could they do? They couldn’t communicate with their daughter, not one word.

In desperation Mr. and Mrs. Keller hired a young woman recently graduated from Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, Massachusetts to be their little girl’s tutor. The young woman’s name was Annie Sullivan.

Annie Sullivan figured out a way to give little Helen the tools for communication. The tools that Annie Sullivan gave Helen Keller are called words. Annie Sullivan gave Helen Keller some of the same tools your parents gave you when you were little. If you want to read the story about the remarkable life of Annie Sullivan CLICK HERE.

Annie Sullivan gave young Helen the tools to use her brain. She put tools in Helen Keller’s toolbox.  Annie Sullivan gave a young woman the ability to change from a mindless animal into a productive human being who went on to earn a bachelor’s degree and publish twelve books. I would say Annie Sullivan is indeed The Miracle Worker. (click here).

The truth is, as remarkable as Helen Keller is, the more remarkable person is Annie Sullivan, the young woman who understood the necessity of a human mind having the right tools.

The same is true for you. If you want to work on machines, you need the proper tools. If you want to be a skilled finish carpenter, you need the right tools. If you want to carve stone, you need the right tools. If you want to say something to another person, if you want to communicate what you are thinking you must have the right tools, you must have words. I’ll go so far as to say, if you don’t have words you’re no different than a horse, cow or monkey in a tree.

Here’s how it works. Let’s say I see this thing growing out of the ground but I don’t know the name of it. It’s tall, big around and has lots of arms, big and small, growing out the side and the top. It’s comfortable to sit under when the sun is hot. You can cut it down and saw it up into boards and build your house from it. I ask you, what is this thing I don’t know the name of?

It’s a ‘tree’, you say.

Very good. Now I know the name for that big, tall thing growing out of the ground.

What are the dozens of big things like arms growing out the sides of the tree?

They’re limbs.

Superb. I’m learning new words all the time.

What are the thousands of little green things about the size of your hand growing all over the limbs that block the sun on a hot day?

They are called leaves.

You are so smart. You know everything, don’t you?

So, you see, if I have a name for things I can tell someone else that name and we can begin to talk.

If you don’t have words, the inside of your mind would be like a library full of shelves but not one single book. If you didn’t have words your mind would be like a big, new toolbox with not one tool inside.

The more tools you have, the more complicated cars you can work on.

The more carpenters’s tools you have, the bigger and fancier you can build a house.

The more words you have, the more ideas you can think of, the more you can imagine. The more words you have the more you can think of and associate things, ideas, concepts, theories, notions, opinions, viewpoints, hypotheses and beliefs.

Be assured, if someone will allow you time to learn the names for the concepts and ideas they are talking about you can talk intelligently with ANYONE. However, if you don’t have the words and you don’t understand the names for the ideas and concepts they’re discussing you might as well go fly a kite.

Can you imagine a painter with no paints?

Here’s another question. What do you call the man who was your mother’s father? There’s a single word to describe him. There’s a word for that single idea.

He’s your ‘grandfather’, isn’t he? Very good.

You are so smart.

Learn lots of words. Think big thoughts.

Learn more words. Think bigger thoughts.

Learn more words. Think even bigger thoughts.

Learn more words. Think bigger thoughts than you can imagine.

Watch TV, play video games and sports and text on your phone. If you do a lot of those things, you’re not going to need a very large toolbox.

I love you dearly,

Learn lots of words.

Your grandfather,

Barney

ps. My Dear Grandchildren, read, read, read. Your imagination activates when you read. Reading will provide you with a plethora of images created inside of your own head. Reading is cinema for the mind.

pps. All my books are available on Amazon-Click Here.

ppps. If you want to receive, “Letters To My Grandchildren” in your email, click the icon that says ‘follow’.  Then type in your email address and every time I write a new blog it will come straight to you.

pppps. I write a golf instructional blog.  I tell stories there. You might enjoy them.  If want to check it out CLICK HERE.

Copyright©2019 by Barney Beard.  All Rights Reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system without permission in writing from the author.

 

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Bentley Goes On Vacation…Barney Beard

My Dear Grandchildren,

You’ve read some of my stories about Bentley, my boyhood friend. I haven’t seen him in years. Well, to my surprise Bentley decided to visit me here in Florida. That’s right. He arrived just yesterday afternoon. I had no idea he was coming.

Bentley and I have remained in touch since I left Walker County. Over the years he and I have preferred written correspondence over the more modern digital forms of communication. We have good reason.

Bentley continues to do quite a bit of writing. He has always kept a journal and has published a number of books, I think fifteen in all. His latest two books received international attention and were serialized in prestigious peer-review scientific journals. Bentley is a lot smarter than I am.

You are probably unfamiliar with the term ‘written correspondence’. Written correspondence is a primitive method of communication. People who communicate by written correspondence write the words they want to communicate on paper and then send that paper to their friend, colleague or loved one via the post office rather than the modern way of communicating words by voice, email, face time, or text.

You may think the written correspondence method a bit cumbersome but a lot of us old folks still write old fashioned letters now and again to the people we care about. There is something compelling about holding someone’s very words in your hand, something deep, emotive and enduring. You should try it sometime.

Well, yesterday when I was watering in the back, who should unexpectedly hop around the corner but my dear old friend Bentley. I must confess I was shocked at first. I was speechless but then a tear came to my eye. I was so pleased to see him. You can imagine the feelings you might experience upon seeing your best friend and confidant after years of separation. We had quite an emotional reunion under the big oak in the secret garden under the hanging baskets of sun patiens. We spent the entire afternoon catching up.

Bentley looked a little older, I must confess. He said I looked the same as always but Bentley has always been a perfect gentleman and would never intentionally or otherwise hurt anyone’s feelings.

His fur had a little grey here and there and I don’t think he was hopping quite as fast or as high as he used to, but his ears were as erect as always and that intelligent sparkle in his eye was just as bright as I remember. Bentley’s intelligence has always impressed me. From that first day when I met him in the old pine thicket, I knew he was most intelligent and someone I would be proud to know.

I asked him how long he was going to stay in Florida and he said he didn’t know. He said there were lots of changes going on up in Walker County where we’re from. He said there are new people moving into the south part of the county and it’s getting crowded.

Besides, he didn’t like the long winters and the cold weather as much as he did when we were kids. Slipping and sliding up and down the ridge in the wintertime isn’t nearly as much fun as it was when we were little.

He politely requested me to allow him to stay for a while as my guest. I told him I thought it a grand idea. I asked him how long he wanted to stay and he said maybe for a few weeks. He had no definite plans and no job to go back to. His family would be fine without him for a while and he was ready for a change of scenery. He said not to worry. He wouldn’t wear out his welcome. He would not be a bother and would let me go about my business as usual. He said that, at least for a while, it would be like old times. I agreed.

“Barney, as you can see I brought my bag with me. I don’t need a lot to be happy. Who knows, I might stay for a long time. I like the clouds down here. I might spend some time lying on my back and looking for shapes in the clouds and thinking and, of course, I’m considering writing that book of stories you were always encouraging me to write, especially since you can help me publish. I don’t really care if anyone reads them but I do have a lot of relatives who are anxious to see them in print. That’s all I care about.”

I was pleased. I told him he could stay as long as he wished, however I explained he couldn’t stay under my house because my little yellow house has solid skirting and brickwork all the way around that extends down into the soil with no easy access anywhere. He couldn’t stay under my house but I showed him the blue house next to mine down the hill which already had front and back access under the skirting. The folks there wouldn’t mind at all. In just a minute I’ll tell you why the folks in the blue house wouldn’t mind Bentley staying underneath their floor.

I explained to Bentley that last year there had been an armadillo family staying underneath the blue house but they had moved on when my neighbors moved in with their little dog, Harley. The armadillos loved it under the blue house. They had made a private front door behind the mexican petunias and the oleander.

Their convenient back door was on the east side at the back corner of the house just down from my tangerine tree and next to the row of mature yew plum pines that were growing on the fence line. Bentley had a good look under the blue house and declared it would be perfect. There was plenty of room and it was obviously quiet here at the end of the street next to my lovely garden.

He asked who lived in the blue house and I told him dead people lived there. He couldn’t believe what I had just said.

“Dead people live there?” Bentley asked with a stunned look on his face. “How can dead people be living in a house? How can they be dead? What are you talking about, Barney?”

“Well,” I replied, “This is Florida. Lot’s of dead people live here in Florida. It’s common knowledge.”

“It’s not common knowledge to me, Barney. How do you know they’re dead? You’re going to have to explain.”

“It’s quite simple,” I answered. “I’ve lived here next to the blue house for several years. I take care of the gardening, the lawn and shrubs. I know what I’m talking about. Besides never seeing anyone come in or go out of the house there are lots of reasons for me to believe the people who live in the blue house must be dead.”

“Barney, have you lost your mind? What makes you think dead people live in the blue house?”

“Well, Bentley, first they don’t have electricity. I never see a light on at night. Everyone knows dead people don’t need electricity. Have you ever seen street lights in a graveyard? They don’t need lights because they don’t have eyes. Because they don’t have eyes they don’t need a television or radio, thus no electricity. Therefore the blue house is always quiet.”

“Barney, I think the Florida sun has got to you. You really believe dead people live there?”

“Yes, I do. I have other reasons. Since dead people don’t have ears, they never listen to music, listen to the radio or listen to the news or weather, another reason for them not to have electricity. And obviously, since they don’t have vocal chords, you’ll never hear anyone raise their voice in the blue house. There’s never any arguing in the house next door.”

“I have to say it’s a good thing not to listen to the news or weather,” Bentley said, nodding his head. I never listen to the news. My mother raised us to think for ourselves. She was adamant that we shouldn’t let the media tell us what to believe. Tell me more about the people who live in the blue house. You have my attention.”

“Well, not only do they not have electricity but they don’t have water either. Dead people don’t need water. When I water their plants I have to use my own garden hose. Dead people don’t drink water, coffee or tea. Since they don’t eat or drink they don’t need water for the toilet or for cooking. They don’t have skin so they don’t sweat and therefore don’t need to shower. Since they don’t have a stomach they don’t eat and therefore they don’t have to brush their teeth. Therefore, I said as I sat up straight to increase my importance, they never had the water turned on.”

Bentley just sat on the tailgate and leaned back on the big box of books for my golf students I had in the back of my truck and looked at me. He slowly shook his head left and right. “Barney, you don’t have to put on airs for me. Remember who it is you’re talking to. You’ve gone loco. That’s all I can say. You’re bonkers.”

I smiled. “No Bentley, this time I know what I’m talking about. Look over there at the back window on this side. See the blinds half way up? The dead people have those blinds up so the sun will shine through in the morning and warm their bones. Because they don’t have flesh and blood they’re not 98.6 anymore. Just like alligators, they have to lay in the sun to get warm. Besides, I know there are no living people in the house because they don’t have a car. They don’t have a car because they never go anywhere because they don’t need anything. Because they don’t need anything they don’t need money so they don’t have a job. They don’t get mail because they can’t read. Dead people don’t have eyes. I know what I’m talking about.”

“Well, that’s some story. I think you’re pulling my leg,” Bentley said.

“Well, when you meet Jack and Jill they’ll tell you the same story.  They know a lot more about this than I do. They’ve been here a lot longer. They’ll also tell you something I didn’t know. Dead people are very proud of their teeth, especially the folks who went to the orthodontist when they were kids.”

“Well, that makes sense,” Bentley said.

“We have quite a few dead people here in our housing estate. Jack has been telling me recently that they’re really angry about one thing in particular.”

Bentley turned and looked straight at my face. “What could dead people possibly be angry about?”, he asked incredulously.

“Well, as you know, most of the dead people here in Florida don’t work and they’re quite angry about being taxed even though they don’t have a paycheck coming in. The saying is true according to them, you can’t escape death and taxes. They’re living proof, pardon the pun. Jack says they’re doing their best to get rid of all the hefty government death taxes. Even after they’re dead they’re getting taxed right, left and center.

The argument the dead people are making is the same argument used through the ages by people, living and dead, who are oppressed by government, there should be no taxation without representation. All the dead people around here are demanding representation. There should be more dead people in congress.”

Bentley just looked up at me and laughed, “Don’t you think you have enough dead people in congress now?”

I agreed with him. We were both laughing as we parted for the afternoon. He said he was going under the blue house and do a little tidying up before turning in for the night.

I reminded him to make sure he left my bean sprouts alone. There was plenty for him to eat across the field. He promised he wouldn’t eat my little bean plants in a moment of weakness. He said he would see me bright and early in the morning.

I reminded him, since he had read The Bow Window, that there are things going on around my little yellow house that a casual observer might miss, especially things that happen by the light of the full moon.

“To be honest, Barney, that’s what I been thinking about. I read The Bow Window just last week. I know you and I always believed you to be honest and straight forward. I’m not saying I haven’t had to keep my eye on you in the past but I’ve never thought you one to completely invent things. I think we may have some of the best adventures of our lives, don’t you?”

“We shall see, my friend. In any case, I’m overjoyed to have you visiting. You’re welcome to stay as long as you like, Bentley. I would appreciate the company.”

And that’s how Bentley came to stay in Florida under the blue house next door. I can’t tell you how excited I am to have renewed my friendship with Bentley. He is one of the main reasons that I write and, to tell the truth, he had a big influence on my life. I suppose, except for my parents, Bentley is the single most influential person in my life, especially my literary life.

I promise to write any stories he tells me. I won’t miss a thing. I wouldn’t want his stories lost to posterity.

Your grandfather,

Barney

oxoxoxoxxo

ps. My Dear Grandchildren, read, read, read. Your imagination is activated, becomes powerful and is enriched when you read. Reading will provide you with a plethora of images created inside of your own head. Reading is cinema for the mind.

pps. All my books are available on Amazon-Click Here.

ppps. If you want to receive, “Letters To My Grandchildren” in your email, click the icon that says ‘follow’.  Then type in your email address and every time I write a new blog it will come straight to you.

pppps. I write a golf instructional blog.  I tell stories there. You might enjoy them.  If want to check it out CLICK HERE.

Copyright©2019 by Barney Beard.  All Rights Reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system without permission in writing from the author.

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Treasure Island…Robert Louis Stevenson…My Favorite Character…Barney Beard

My Dear Grandchildren,

When I was a boy Daddy gave me a copy of both Treasure Island and Kidnapped. They were his favorites and have been mine all my life. Just last evening I finished Treasure Island once again. Robert Louis Stevenson is quite a storyteller, I’m sure you’ll agree.

My singular purpose in this last reading was to refresh my memory of a minor character, a character I’ve identified with through the years, increasingly so as I’ve aged. His name is Abraham Gray. I don’t think the character Gray was an afterthought or a filler by Mr. Stevenson. After you read The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, I think you’ll agree with me.

Abraham Gray is an incidental character in Treasure Island, only mentioned a few times and except for one thing, quite forgettable. I’ll tell you in a minute what it is about the character Abraham Gray that is so important to me.

Far more important to Stevenson’s adventure than the character Gray, and perhaps the most colorful creation of all fictional literature, is the larger than life one legged pirate with the parrot on his shoulder, Long John Silver.

Silver comes alive as one reads. Long John Silver becomes so real it seems quite impossible Mr. Stevenson’s story is fiction. The adventure had to be true. It must have happened just as described. Long John Silver must have been real. There had to be a Long John Silver.

The only other characters in literature large enough to rival Long John Silver might be Ebenezer Scrooge and Don Quixote. What do you think?

The character I want to introduce to you is Abraham Gray. He shipped as a deck hand on the Hispaniola out of Bristol, England. On the outward treasure hunting voyage to the Caribbean, the young sailor had been persuaded to join the mutineers in their intention to overpower the captain, commandeer the ship and make off with the treasure. He decided to join the mutineers and have a life filled with wealth and pleasure. He made a poor decision, a poor decision indeed.

At a critical moment Captain Smollett, believing Gray to be a good man at the bottom, challenged the young seaman to leave the mutineers and rejoin the faithful crew. Captain Smollett gave Gray thirty seconds to make up his mind. In that moment Gray made the right decision, fought his way clear of the five mutinous sailors who tried to kill him and rejoined the captain and remaining loyal crew.

Later, and I won’t give away the story because I know you’re going to read it, Gray is found by Captain Smollett to be the only man among the loyal crew to have obeyed orders and be found standing true at his post in a moment of mortal crisis. Captain Smollett put Gray in the day’s log with commendation. Quite a turn around for a young man who had earlier made such a deplorable choice, isn’t it?

Over the years I’ve often thought about Gray. Like Gray, I’ve made plenty of mistakes in my life. To this day some of my past mistakes loom large and cast a long shadow. I have one intention before I leave. I want to be like Abraham Gray, a man who made bad decisions but who, when challenged by his captain, did what was right and at the end was faithfully found at his post when danger threatened.

I wish it wasn’t so but my guess is you’ll make some mistakes in your life. You’ll have friends who will persuade you to do things you shouldn’t when I and your parents aren’t around. When push comes to shove, I hope you are like Abraham Gray. I hope you make the right decision and in the end you’re found doing your duty, standing faithfully at your post.

One of these days you can come to my house and I’ll show you a shelf of ‘Some of the Right Books’. That’s a term used by C.S. Lewis in his Chronicles of Narnia to describe the kind of books both he and I and Mr. Stevenson would recommend. I hope you read every book on that shelf. You’ll do yourself a favor if you do. Start with Treasure Island.

Your grandfather,

Barney

xoxoxox

ps. Read, read, read. Your imagination is activated, becomes powerful and is enriched when you read. Reading will provide you with a plethora of images created inside of your own mind. Reading is cinema for the mind.

pps. I happened upon a reprint of Treasure Island produced by Digireads Publishing. The preface by the author and the endnotes make the unabridged text of Treasure Island perhaps the best read ever for me.

ppps. All my books are available on Amazon-Click Here.

pppps. If you want to receive, “Letters To My Grandchildren” in your email, click the icon that says ‘follow’.  Then type in your email address and every time I write a new blog it will come straight to you.

ppppps. I write a golf instructional blog.  I tell stories there. You might enjoy them.  If want to check it out CLICK HERE.

Copyright©2019 by Barney Beard.  All Rights Reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system without permission in writing from the author.

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Elimination, Food, Fuel and Poop…Letters to My Grandchildren…Barney Beard

Food and Fuel

 

My Dear Grandchildren,

Nutrition is important. If you were a machine with metal moving parts you would need lubrication, fuel and regular maintenance. If you were a computer, all you would need would be electricity.

I don’t want to let the air out of your tires or pull your plug, but you’re not a machine or a computer. You’re an organic unit and part of this earth we live upon. Your body is actually composed of a number of the elements found in the air and the rocks and soil under your feet.

You are composed of oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sulfur, sodium, chlorine, magnesium and a number of other trace elements all mixed up with water. You’re what is commonly called human.

I do want to warn you. You should avoid consuming the element lead at all costs. Lead, as you know, is quite heavy and will make you unpopular at work. As you get older and begin working, you’ll discover a certain number of the people you work with have somewhere in their past been careless about their diet. They have consumed large quantities of lead and it has settled in their behind requiring them to sit more often than most. I know this is true because I remember my grandfather talking about certain men who had a great deal of lead in their breeches. I can’t use his exact words. He used a more colorful vocabulary than what I’ve used here.

The truth is, you’re put together much like the animals of this world. In fact, you could call yourself an animal. We sometimes refer to a certain kind of football player as an animal but strictly speaking this is a misnomer. All football players along with the rest of us are animals. I’m sure your mother wouldn’t want you to think of yourself as an animal, but it’s true. You are not just an animal but a specific kind of animal.

You’re a warm-blooded animal as opposed to a cold-blooded animal like an alligator or a snake. We usually don’t call cold-blooded creatures animals. We call them reptiles. That’s what my friend’s uncle called his wife. I always wondered about that when I was a kid. He called her a reptile, but I don’t think he was using the word in a scientific way.

You’re not a reptile. You’re a warm-blooded animal with a number of internal organs, like a heart, liver, pancreas and kidneys. Because you’re warm-blooded, your body requires regular nutrition to maintain your body’s constant temperature of 98.6º Fahrenheit.

In order to maintain your life and your constant body temperature day and night, you require a constant supply of fuel. You require a certain kind of fuel.

Since you’re not a machine like an automobile, you don’t need gasoline. You’re not a steam engine either. You don’t need coal, wood or some other kind of combustible material to heat the water to 212º and produce live steam. You don’t run on household current or require batteries.

The fuel you need we call food. It’s interesting that since you are a creature of this earth, your food must be of this earth. The fuel you require must at one time have been living itself, just as you are living.

It would be great for your parents if you could live by eating rocks, sand and dirt. Those things are plentiful and cheap. Alas, the fuel you require must grow out of the earth. The fuel you must consume daily must have at one time been living and that requires a bit of work and forethought. Both Rome and green beans didn’t come about in one day.

As you know, you enjoy eating corn, beans, tomatoes, peas, cucumbers, squash, lettuce, spinach, apples, oranges, pears, watermelon, bananas, peaches, cantaloupe, brussels sprouts, grapes, cabbage, carrots, potatoes, rice and more. You also like bread, don’t you? Where would this world be without a peanut butter and jelly sandwich?

Bread is made from ground up grains, like wheat, barley, rye, oats, etcetera. Bread is good. Can you imagine a world without sandwiches?

Well, the interesting thing about us when we consume these fruits and vegetables and grains is that we put our fuel into our mouths. We put fuel food into our mouth because we need fuel to live. The fuel we put into our mouth keeps our bodies warm.

We grind the food fuel with our teeth. We don’t put the fuel in our ears or in the opening at the bottom end of our bodies. I’ll talk about the opening at the bottom of our bodies in a moment. We put our fuel in the top opening, our mouth. We grind our fuel with our teeth until it’s slushy and then we swallow the food we have ground up with our teeth.

After we swallow our food fuel it goes through a long tube inside our bodies, a very long tube indeed. We have names for different parts of that long tube.

Our food fuel goes in our mouth, that’s the first part of the long tube. Then we swallow through our throat and the squishy fuel goes down our esophagus. Everything about this process is down.

Occasionally food doesn’t go down and stay down. Sometimes food goes down and then later comes up. That is not usual, thank Goodness. When squishy food comes back up it’s unpleasant for you and everyone around you. We won’t talk about that now.

After our fuel goes down our esophagus it arrives in our stomach. Our stomach is the next part of that long tube. Your stomach is like a high-tech food processor. It turns the food you put into your mouth into a warm, thin soup.

When the fuel food in our stomach is all churned up with no big solid chunks, the thin, warm soup then continues through another very long tube, a tube so long it would stretch all the way across your living room and out the window if you were to take it out and have someone hold the other end.

While your warm soup is slowly going through your long tube, your body sucks important nutrients out of this warm, thin, brown soup. It puts those nutrients into your body and feeds your cells. The parts of the soup your body doesn’t need for energy travel all the way to the bottom end of your tube. You get rid of the fuel you don’t need by putting it in the toilet. You eliminate it. Now you know what that word means when you talk about your body, don’t you?

I don’t suggest you ever find out how long your tube is. The bottom part of your tube is connected on one end to your stomach and the other end is the exit on the backside of your bottom. That’s a long tube indeed. It goes back and forth, back and forth, back and forth inside of your tummy. If you’ve ever seen anyone take apart a car’s radiator, you’ll know how the bottom part of your tube winds around and around and takes up a great deal of space behind your belly button.

If you took your tube out and stretched it across the living room it would be quite difficult to get back in properly and besides, if you were to take it out you would have to do something with all that warm soup inside the tube. Besides the warm, brown soup, there would be a second problem.

If you took your long tube out of your body, the far end closest to your sitting down place would be stuffed with the residue of the food fuel you ate in the last day or two, the bits of food your body doesn’t need for fuel. The residue at the bottom end would have most of the liquid taken out and would be somewhat solid.

If you took your tube out of your body you would find the end of your tube just before it comes out of your body would be full of solid waste. We have a common, crude word for that waste, it’s called s***t, but I can’t say that word here or your mother wouldn’t let you read this.

As you know, when you go to the toilet to get rid of the solid waste that comes out of the end of your long tube, it doesn’t smell so good. In fact, it smell like,….well, I don’t know how else to say it. It smells like s***t.

Your mother might approve of the word poop but some mothers don’t even like that word. Most mothers would just prefer you say you have to go to the bathroom and leave it at that without any further explanation. I suggest you use whatever language approved by your mother.

And now you know why your father uses that word when something bad happens and he is a little angry. He can’t think of any word more disgusting.

Don’t worry. Your parents think you don’t know what that word means. I suggest you don’t use that word yourself. It’s a word only parents are allowed to use. There are lots of words like that, words only adults are allowed to use.

Well, the main reason I’m writing this letter is to let you know what you should eat to make your tube, soup and elimination easier and healthy.

The word elimination is the technical word for when you sit on the toilet and get rid of your solid waste, the waste that comes out the bottom end of your tube.

Your mother would probably laugh at you if you were to say, “Mom, I have to go eliminate.” What most people say is, “I have to go to the bathroom.” That’s the polite way we’re taught to refer to what we do when we have to get rid of the solid waste out of the bottom of our tube.

When you say you have to go to the bathroom everyone knows you’re not going to the bathroom to take a bath or a shower. Everyone knows you’re going to the bathroom because that’s where the toilet is in most houses unless you’re in England.

If you are in England the toilet would be in the WC. The WC is the water closet. Lots of people in England had the good idea of putting the toilet in a separate room from the bathtub and the shower.

If the toilet is in a separate room from the bathtub and the shower it means you don’t have to bang on the door screaming that you’re about to go in your pants while your deaf sister is in there putting on her makeup. You can easily understand the wisdom of the British idea, can’t you?

Well, if you will include in your diet lots of fruits and vegetables, you’ll have a much easier time with your warm soup and your solid waste and your elimination. The rule is, you’re better off if you eat real food and not food that’s in a can, box or frozen. Frozen food is cold and hard on your teeth.

Folks who eat a lot of processed food, food that has had the roughage take out, find it much more difficult when they go to the toilet or the WC.

Here is a little suggestion. Include wheat bran in your daily diet. Wheat bran is the husk of the wheat kernel. It has no nutritive value when you eat it and it passes entirely through your tube and comes out the other end. When you eat wheat bran, it swells up when it’s in the brown, warm soup and makes the solid part of your waste bigger and softer and easier for your tube to squeeze out the bottom end. You’ll spend a lot less time in the WC.

Trust me. It took me a long time to figure this out because no one wanted to talk to me about poop, pooping and how my energy, food tube worked.

From experience I can tell you that your life will be a great deal more pleasant if you eat lots and lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and nuts and avoid processed foods.

You might even want to have a few meals during the week that are entirely composed of fresh fruits, nuts, vegetables and such and occasionally skip a few meals that include other animals as part of the menu.

 

I love each of you dearly,

Your grandfather,

Barney

xoxoxoxo

Written by: Barney Beard for his grandchildren

All my books are available on Amazon-Click Here.

If you want to receive, “Letters To My Grandchildren” in your email, click the icon that says ‘follow’.  Then type in your email address and every time I write a new blog it will come straight to you.

I write a golf instructional blog.  I tell stories there. You might enjoy them.  If want to check it out CLICK HERE.

Copyright 2019 by Barney Beard.  All Rights Reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system without permission in writing from the author.©

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Complaining-Man…Letters to My Grandchildren…Barney Beard

Go-Cart Man

My Dear Grandchildren,

I was in a big retail store yesterday doing a little shopping. As I looked for the item I wanted, I pushed my big shopping cart down a long, narrow aisle. About halfway down the aisle a large man riding an in-store go-cart was asking an employee the location of an item. The two of them completely blocked traffic. I couldn’t get by but that wasn’t a problem. I waited and listened a few feet away. I wasn’t in a hurry.

The older, large man on the go-cart was complaining to the young employee that he couldn’t find the item he needed. He told her he had been buying his certain item in this store for ten years. In the past it was always in the same place. Today his item wasn’t where it was supposed to be.

It was inconceivable to go-cart man that the store would suddenly discontinue stocking the thing he wanted and needed. How could the store be so insensitive to his needs. Go-cart man complained. The young employee and I listened.

I heard the polite young lady inform go-cart man she had no idea where his item was located. Perhaps it had been moved or discontinued.

I couldn’t get past the two of them in the narrow aisle so I listened and waited a few feet away from go-cart man with both my hands on the handle of my shopping cart. Go-cart man was not happy and becoming increasingly more unhappy by the minute.

He continued complaining and the patient employee continued to listen. He informed the polite employee in no uncertain terms he was going to take his complaint to the manager.

The well trained employee was kind to go-cart man. She gave him her full attention and politely suggested he go to customer service. Perhaps his item was temporarily out of stock. Perhaps the item he wanted was now stocked in a different part of the store. If the item he wanted was discontinued perhaps customer service could explain why.  Perhaps, if it was discontinued, customer service would order the item specifically for go-cart man.

The employee was quite thorough and polite with her answers to his complaints. I noticed she never once interrupted the man while he was talking.

I felt sorry for the young, female employee who did everything short of giving go-cart man a massage and a kiss on the forehead. Go-cart man wasn’t happy with her explanation, advice, massage or kiss on the forehead. He didn’t have what he had come for and he would not be happy until he went home satisfied.

As I watched I imagined go-cart man as a little child with his mother in the grocery story. I could see little go-cart man demanding something and being denied by his mother. I could see little go-cart man lying down in the aisle at the grocery store screaming as he ‘pitched a fit’. Little go-cart man had become a grown-up but hadn’t changed much.

The polite young female employee finished her explanation to the unsatisfied go-cart man and went about her business. I now had room to pass complaining-man on his little four wheel go-cart and find the thing I was looking for.

As I passed go-cart man, he looked up at me and began to explain the unfairness of his situation.

He wanted to share his displeasure with someone, anyone. He chose me because I was the nearest someone.

It was obvious to go-cart man that anyone hearing his case would commiserate. Everyone and anyone would agree he had been most egregiously treated by the insensitive store,  a store that had inhumanly discontinued the item he so desperately needed. How could they be so callous?

He wanted me to share in his displeasure. He wanted me to know how dreadful it was that this store would dare to discontinue such an important item for his continued happiness. He needed affirmation. He needed affirmation now. If he had been in a rowboat, he would have asked me to get in and help him row.

I knew better than to stop and listen. I had no desire to help him row. I pushed my cart passed the stationary go-cart man without stopping. As I passed go-cart man I politely nodded my head towards him and continued walking. I didn’t dare stop. As I passed, he continued to complain to my back as if I had stopped to listen.   He continued to complain until I turned the corner. He wanted what he wanted. He continued to be unhappy.

I turned and came back down the next aisle looking for my item. As I went down the adjacent aisle, I could hear go-cart man on the other side presenting his case to a new victim.

I found my item, put it in my shopping cart and headed towards check-out. As I got to the end of the aisle I could hear go-cart man, now fifty feet behind me, continuing to complain to the poor soul who had stopped to listen.

I have noticed there have been quite a few occasions when I have behaved much like go-cart man to some innocent bank clerk, government employee or wait staff.

I am embarrassed to say there have been times when I have wanted everyone around me to acknowledge that I have been treated unfairly. I have had moments when I wanted the world to stop and make everything right with my life.

The truth is life isn’t like that. Hard as we try, we’re not going to have everything the way we want it.

There is something about getting older that lends itself to complaining. Perhaps when we get older we think we have the right to have everything go our way. Perhaps when we get older we think we have the right to lie down in the aisle at the grocery story and pitch our fit.

No, complaining isn’t the privilege of age.

Well, it ain’t so and it ain’t never goin’ to be so.

My advice? As you get older learn to enjoy the life you have. Learn to live within your means. Learn to take the good with the bad without complaining. You’ll never have everything you want and none of your friends and family will have everything they want.

If you get into the habit of complaining, you’ll end up like go-cart man and every time you state your case, the person you’re talking to will walk on by and you’ll find yourself alone.

I love you all and I promise not to complain if you come and see me.

Your grandfather,

Barney

xoxoxoxoxo

Written by: Barney Beard for his grandchildren

All my books are available on Amazon-Click Here.

If you want to receive, “Letters To My Grandchildren” in your email, click the icon that says ‘follow’.  Then type in your email address and every time I write a new blog it will come straight to you.

I write a golf instructional blog.  I tell stories there. You might enjoy them.  If want to check it out CLICK HERE.

Copyright 2019 by Barney Beard.  All Rights Reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system without permission in writing from the author.©

 

 

 

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