April, 1951, My Great-Grandmother’s Journal

4 generations

Just skimming through the first two weeks of April in my great-grandmother’s journal for 1951-

She paid the last installment on her annual church dues, 25.00 (I was astonished- I have never been a member of a church that required dues, is this still a thing?)

She had an ‘x-ray treatment’ for her hand.  (I don’t know why)

She paid some bills, one dollar for electricity on what was then a weekend house (the Rattery), paid 2.34 for water, 4.53 for the phone, and 37 dollars and change for the taxes on the house. The utilities are shockingly low, except for the phone, but I am not sure they were due monthly. She pays another dollar just a couple weeks later for the electricity, so perhaps these bills were due twice a month?

She spent 22 dollars for screens, underwear, and a black petticoat.

She went to Chicago for a conference of some sort (‘wonderful program’), had another x-ray treatment and paid 20 dollars for her two week bill with the doctor, and paid half of her other taxes (102 dollars and change).

Her grandson Philip (my mother’s second youngest cousin) was baptized.  My recently widowed great-grandmother wondered ‘if dad was with us,’ and also wondered about the Philip the baby was named after.  She had dinner with two of her four children (one of her children lived in New Jersey and I think the eldest was in Wyoming by then). She said it was good to have half her family all together and she had much to be thankful for.

Fun fact about the family- two of her children were married to a sibling pair.  The son who lived near Chicago (baby Philip’s father) married a gal from New Jersey, and when her brother came to visit, he fell in love with his brother-in-law’s little sister (and vice versa).  So when the New Jersey in-laws came out for a visit, they took my great-grandmother back to Jersey with them so she could visit her daughter and son in law.  They drove, and stayed in some ‘lovely cabins’ on the way.  They also went the funeral for Ruth. Great-grandmother said she felt sorry for the four children, ‘especially Judy and the youngest boy.’

They arrived late and she stayed with her daughter’s in-laws that night- “Betty was so upset that I wasn’t going to come. Guess I was needed more than I realized.”

Betty had a new baby, and already two or three older boys. Once Great-Grandmother arrived, other than two or three short, once or two sentence entries noting that the boys had grown, the baby was a darling, she had her birthday with Betty’s family (she shares a birthday with her great-great-grand-daughter, Jenny), and the darling baby was christened James at the M.E. church, my great-grandmother had no entries for about ten days- very out of character for her. Those boys must have kept her hopping.

On April 22nd she wrote that they took a long drive around New Jersey and saw lovely homes and all the cherry blossoms at Newark Park were in full bloom.

Her son back home paid her health insurance dues for her (39.50), and she finally headed home. She said she hated to leave, but she knew she was needed at home as well. She said the two week absence had marked such a change in the babies at home- the little baby was so fat, and his big sister had a ‘whole new list of words at the end of her tongue.’

Nothing profound, but every time I read her entries I am taken back to the nursing home she was in when I was a small girl.  I have a picture in my mind of visiting with her over the top of the rails on her bed. I remember feeling a sense of awe, shyness, and strangeness when we visited. Who was this kindly but mysterious being?  She seemed removed from me and all I knew by a chasm fathoms deep and miles wide.

Reading her journal entries makes me feel closer to her than I ever did standing on a chair on the side of her bed, just short of five decades ago.

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Cubed Radish Kimchi- Kkakdugi (깍두기)

The color is a little bit off because of the lighting, but yes, this 깍두기 should be redder than it is. It will be more red tomorrow:

Kkakdugi (깍두기- cubed radish kimchi) close up


In spite of the lack of red color and the error I made in seasoning, I had a piece of this 깍두기 minutes after it was mixed and it still made my tongue very, very happy.

Kkakdugi 깍두기

My son made the 깍두기 following my directions, based on the recipe here.

The 깍두기 is good, but it will be better next time. Unfortunately, I did not have four pounds of radishes, I only had 3 pounds. When I did the math to adjust the recipe I didn’t figure right on the salt or the red pepper, so there’s a touch too much salt, and much too little red pepper. But after looking at the pictures above and chewing a still very delicious fresh piece of 깍두기, I had him add some Sriracha sauce to the jar and that should be exactly the missing taste it needed.

I like this fresh, I like it lightly fermented, and I love it minced, fried, and mixed in with Kimchijeon
(김치전).  I am ridiculously excited, and don’t know why it took so long to get this made.

Well, besides our nightmarish January, February, and March, I mean.

I have 3 pounds of freshly made 깍두기 on my counter, and I feel like a queen.  And I have included the word 깍두기 in this post more than half a dozen times just because I could, and that makes me happy, too.

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At the Creek

Saturday we went to the creek. It was 80 degrees outside. Today, there was at least an inch of snow on the ground.

I prefer Saturday.

nature study 3 kids

piggy back 2 piggy back new son-in-law

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In Nevada

If you haven’t already, watch this video.

And read this about inside sources warning that the Feds are planning a raid on the Bundy home:

Not only is the BLM not actually backing off of Cliven Bundy, Sheriff Richard Mack of the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association has revealed stunning information: on Ben Swann’s radio program, Mack said that he has received intelligence from multiple, credible sources inside the BLM and the Las Vegas Metro that there is “no question” that the federal government is planning a raid on the Bundy home and the homes of their children who live on the property.

According to Mack, the so-called retreat was nothing more than theatrics. “It was a ploy to get people to back off, to get people out of the way. They weren’t expecting us to get this amount of people here. They were surprised by the numbers and so they wanted a way to get us out of here. This was a ploy to get us out of here and then they’re going after the Bundys.”  Mack said that when he was at the Bundy ranch on Saturday there were an estimated 600 to 800 protesters present when federal agents were releasing the cattle.

Read more: http://benswann.com/exclusive-sources-inside-the-blm-and-las-vegas-metro-say-feds-are-planning-a-raid-on-bundy-home/#ixzz2yyuYdxjn

Follow @BenSwann_ on Twitter



The U.S. federal government owns and manages more than one-fourth of the nation’s acreage. The bulk of it rests in the West. In fact, more than half of the West is federally owned. Yet the acts that enabled states to be a part of the nation promised transfer of public domain title.” – See more at: http://perc.org/blog/wealth-land#sthash.qR0PfuPM.dpuf


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GMO Foods Possibly Linked to Rise in Gluten Disorders

I have been kind of on the fence about GMO foods.  Well…

If I am given a choice between GMO and non-GMO, I choose non- unless there’s a huge price savings.  But I haven’t gone out of my way to look for non-Gmo foods the same way I will go out of my way for raw milk, whole milk yogurt, seaweed, good miso, or kimchi, and I will pay more for most of these things as well.

I would rather not see our crops reduced to monocultures dependent on the goodwill and functions of a couple of corporations who put a patent on all the seeds from those monocultural crops. But I don’t write letters to my representatives or blog much about it.

I have viewed with skepticism the claim that scientific research had been done and had conclusively proven there was absolutely no difference between a GMO food and its natural equivalent.  That’s ridiculous, since we also know that we don’t actually know all there is to know about plants, seeds, foods, and nutrition.  But I only look at the headlines of the GMO articles I see posted, I haven’t taken the time to read most of them.  Not the way I do read every link I find about vaccines (yes, pro and con), breastmilk, homebirth, and G-Dragon (oh, wait, sorry.  Don’t know how the K-Pop culture reference slipped in there).

But I haven’t expended much energy on the topic.

But this was interesting, and worth further research and consideration:


In soy, corn, cotton (oil), canola (oil), sugar from sugar beets, zucchini, yellow squash, Hawaiian papaya, and alfalfa, “Bt-toxin, glyphosate, and other components of GMOs, are linked to five conditions that may either initiate or exacerbate gluten-related disorders,” according to Smith.


It’s the BT-toxin in genetically modified foods which kills insects by “puncturing holes in their cells.” The toxin is present in ‘every kernel’ of Bt-corn and survives human digestion, with a 2012 study confirming that it punctures holes in human cells as well.


The GMO-related damage was linked to five different areas: Intestinal permeability, imbalanced gut bacteria, immune activation and allergic response, impaired digestion, and damage to the intestinal wall.


The IRT release also indicated that glyphosate, a weed killer sold under the brand name ‘Roundup’ was also found to have a negative effect on intestinal bacteria. GMO crops contain high levels of the toxin at harvest.


“Even with minimal exposure, glyphosate can significantly reduce the population of beneficial gut bacteria and promote the overgrowth of harmful strains,” the report found.

Read more at the link.


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Your Doctor Is Not a Nutrition Expert

I have a friend with a tube fed baby.  The baby has been fed with formula, I think some breastmilk when Mama can get it.  Baby is now past the age doctors generally recommend formula continue.

So Mama did some research (she has a degree in the field of nutrition as well, but more importantly, she is smart and able to understand what she reads), and created a meal plan for him that she can puree in a vitamix.  At their regular meeting with the GI specialist (gastroenterologist, a doctor who specializes in stomach, esophagus, etc), my friend told the GI what she was going to do.

The expert, and I use that term scornfully, objected:

“I’m going to advise against it because those vitamins and minerals are already in his formula… I mean they make it that way for a reason…
…. I mean there’s all these myths about breast milk being better for babies, and I just don’t see how it’s any better than formula, I mean really… and the convenience..” 

“You really need to just keep him on the formula and think about maybe talking to a nutrition expert before you start researching this blenderized stuff… seriously, it will be incredibly time consuming and it’s really not what’s best for your child.”

I’m pretty sure my friend’s eyes bugged out of her head so far they nearly fell on the floor.  She explained a few things, and concluded with:

“I am a nutrition expert, I’m his mother, we are starting this diet.”

But here’s the thing that worries her ( and me).  This specialist works at a large, renowned children’s hospital.  She deals with tube fed babies and children on a regular basis.  How many other mothers has she given this wretched, totally unscientific advice to?  And how many of them listened to her because she’s the doctor, after all.?

Don’t go all emotional about the breastmilk vs formula issues here.  That’s a distraction.  Three of our seven were formula fed, two because I didn’t get them until they were well beyond breastfeeding age, one because my milk dried due to my own ignorance, a deathly ill child, and a lack of an adequate support system.  Our second grandson had to be on formula when he spent his first 41 days in the NICU, and on a couple occasions after he came home (tube-fed as well).

While I do wish it were otherwise, none of that negates the fact that breastmilk actually is healthier than formula, they are not the same, and formula is merely artificial baby milk.  They cannot duplicate everything that is in breastmilk and distill it into formula because they still don’t even know everything that is in breastmilk or what it does.  Breastmilk also changes with the age of your baby and even when your baby is sick- something formula cannot do.  It’s just incredibly, fantastically, gob-smackingly ignorant and ill informed for a medical doctor to claim they are the same, or that formula is ‘made that way for a reason.’

Formula has corn syrup in it, for the love of all that is crunchy. I have to wonder if she has ever even read the ingredients on a can of formula (she has no children, by choice, this doctor) yet, she felt qualified to state, as an expert opinion, that formula was just the same as breastmilk.  This hubris based upon absolutely nothing at all other than a degree in a completely unrelated field and no reading at all in the field of nutrition is regrettably common.

My friend shared this in a discussion with a few other crunchy mamas, and one of them told us about a microbiology professor who also works for the CDC who recently advised a class of students that formula is the equivalent of breastmilk.

The Striderling’s doctors all told his mother that it was no big deal to give him formula instead of breastmilk- and then we learned a year later that what he actually had included a genetic mutation that would have made formula fatal.   I’ve mentioned it before, but their totally wrong diagnosis was a diagnosis that was actual malpractice, since the information they needed for a correct diagnosis was actually in his very first blood test when he was just a day or two old.  When they found out they were wrong, they went back and looked- and there it was.

Science done right is always right, but scientists do not always do it right and they are very, very far from always being right themselves.

We need to lose this cult of the expert.  It doesn’t do the so-called experts any good either. If more parents had challenged Dr. GI on her bizarre insistence (bordering on a religious claim) that they “make formula that way for a reason,” and therefore, it must be as good as if not better than breastmilk, then she might have been challenged to do some additional reading and studying on her own and she would have, one hopes forlornly, learned something.

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Scientific Ideas Ready For Retirement: The Mouse Model

walter crane mouse

Professor of medicine and director of the MDS Centre, Columbia University, New York

An obvious truth that is either being ignored or going unaddressed in cancer research is that mouse models do not mimic human disease well and are essentially worthless for drug development. We cured acute leukaemia in mice in 1977 with drugs that we are still using in exactly the same dose and duration today in humans with dreadful results. Imagine the artificiality of taking human tumour cells, growing them in lab dishes, then transferring them to mice whose immune systems have been compromised so they cannot reject the implanted tumours, and then exposing these “xenografts” to drugs whose killing efficiency and toxicity profiles will then be applied to treat human cancers. The pitfalls of such an entirely synthesized non-natural model system have also plagued other disciplines.

A recent scientific paper showed that all 150 drugs tested at the cost of billions of dollars in human trials of sepsis failed because the drugs had been developed using mice. Unfortunately, what looks like sepsis in mice turned out to be very different than what sepsis is in humans.

You must read the rest. I find the reasons for continuing the mouse model research particularly telling:

Robert Weinberg of the Whitehead Institute at MIT [Massachusetts Institute of Technology] has provided the best answer. He was quoted in the press, noting: “[There are] two reasons. First, there’s no other model with which to replace that poor mouse. Second, the FDA [the US Food and Drugs Administration] has created inertia because it continues to recognise these models as the gold standard for predicting the utility of drugs.”

There is a third reason related more to the frailties of human nature. Too many eminent laboratories and illustrious researchers have devoted entire lives to studying malignant diseases in mouse models and they are the ones reviewing one another’s grants and deciding where the NIH money [US government medical research funding] gets spent. They are not prepared to accept that mouse models are basically valueless for most of cancer therapeutics.

Raza focuses on cancer research because that is her field, and on mice because they are most often used in her field. One suspects much of what she says is applicable to other diseases and other lab animals as well.

One problem with lab mice is that they are bred and raised as couch potatoes:

“I began to realize that the ‘control’ animals used for research studies throughout the world are couch potatoes,” he tells me. It’s been shown that mice living under standard laboratory conditions eat more and grow bigger than their country cousins. At the National Institute on Aging, as at every major research center, the animals are grouped in plastic cages the size of large shoeboxes, topped with a wire lid and a food hopper that’s never empty of pellets. This form of husbandry, known as ad libitum feeding, is cheap and convenient since animal technicians need only check the hoppers from time to time to make sure they haven’t run dry. Without toys or exercise wheels to distract them, the mice are left with nothing to do but eat and sleep—and then eat some more.

That such a lifestyle would make rodents unhealthy, and thus of limited use for research, may seem obvious, but the problem appears to be so flagrant and widespread that few scientists bother to consider it. Ad libitum feeding and lack of exercise are industry-standard for the massive rodent-breeding factories that ship out millions of lab mice and rats every year and fuel a $1.1-billion global business in living reagents for medical research. When Mattson made that point in Atlanta, and suggested that the control animals used in labs were sedentary and overweight as a rule, several in the audience gasped. His implication was clear: The basic tool of biomedicine—and its workhorse in the production of new drugs and other treatments—had been transformed into a shoddy, industrial product. Researchers in the United States and abroad were drawing the bulk of their conclusions about the nature of human disease—and about Nature itself—from an organism that’s as divorced from its natural state as feedlot cattle or oven-stuffer chickens.

Think about the implications of this for every single piece of labrat tested science you thought was proven. (One report from 2008 found that lab rats and lab mice account for 4/5 of all animals used in animal testing in the EU that year):

Standard lab rats and lab mice are insulin-resistant, hypertensive, and short-lived, he and his co-authors explained. Having unlimited access to food makes the animals prone to cancer, type-2 diabetes, and renal failure; it alters their gene expression in substantial ways; and it leads to cognitive decline. And there’s reason to believe that ragged and rundown rodents will respond differently—abnormally, even—to experimental drugs.


That’s the drawback of the modern lab mouse. It’s cheap, efficient, and highly standardized—all of which qualities have made it the favorite tool of large-scale biomedical research. But as Mattson points out, there’s a danger to taking so much of our knowledge straight from the animal assembly line. The inbred, factory-farmed rodents in use today—raised by the millions in germ-free barrier rooms, overfed and understimulated and in some cases pumped through with antibiotics—may be placing unseen constraints on what we know and learn.

“This is important for scientists,” says Mattson, “but they don’t think about it at all.”

They don’t think about it at all. But, science! That’s almost a direct quote from somebody who was trying to convince me about something or other- the what is neither here nor there. The point is that yes, science is great, it’s lovely, I love it (really, I do), but it’s also done by scientists, who are human and not demigods.

Raza (quoted at the top of the post) works with cancer. Clifton E. Barry, III, is the government’s top researcher on Tuberculosis, and he’s noted problems with the mouse model as well.

The process of drug discovery has been carried out in the same way for decades. You start by testing a new compound in a Petri dish, to find out whether it can slow the growth of a particular bacterium in culture. That gives you the smallest dose that has an effect, known as the minimum inhibitory concentration, or “MIC”—the first M. Then you move to a living animal: Does the compound have any effect on the course of disease in a lab mouse? If so, you’ve cleared the second M, and you’re ready to test the compound in the third M, man. Each step leads to the next: No drug can be tested in man until it’s been shown to work in mice, and no drug is tested in mice until it’s been shown to have a reasonable effect in the dish. “The bad part of that,” says Barry, “is that no part of it is predictive:” A new compound that succeeds in the dish might flunk out in the mouse, and something that can cure tuberculosis in a mouse could wash out in people.


The fact that nothing gets to humans today without first passing the mouse test, says Barry, “has cost us a new generation of medicines.”

He doesn’t say so, but Raza alluded to it- this obviously means the converse is true- drugs that did pass the mouse text have made it to humans- and then failed.

Back to tuberculosis:

Indeed, there’s been no real breakthrough in treating tuberculosis—no major pharmaceutical discoveries—since the early 1970s. The first antibiotic to have any success against the tuberculosis mycobacterium, the first that could penetrate its waxy coating, was discovered (and tested in guinea pigs) in the early 1940s. The best vaccine we have was first used in humans in 1921. (It works pretty well against severe childhood forms of the disease, but less so otherwise[emph. mine- dhm].) And the closest thing we have to a miracle cure—the multidrug cocktail that doesn’t work against every strain and requires a six-month course of treatment with severe side effects—was finalized during the Nixon administration. Since then, almost every new idea for how to treat TB has come from experiments on lab mice. These have given us enough new data to drown the infected in a tsunami of graphs and tables, to bury them in animal carcasses. Yet we’ve made little progress—OK, no progress at all—in treating the human disease. Tuberculosis causes more than 2 million deaths every year, and we’re using the same medicines we had in 1972.

One major problem with the mouse model—and the source of its spotty track record in the clinic—is well-known among those in the field: The form of TB that mice happen to get isn’t all that much like our own.

Emphasis mine, again.

Why? Basically, we keep doing this because we started doing it in the first place. Because we started doing it in the first place, government grants, government contracts, and industries worked together to create a situation that feeds back into itself, requiring that we continue to do things this way:

The feedback loop began more than 60 years ago, when federal investment in biomedicine was growing at an exponential rate. To eradicate the last vestiges of infectious disease, win the war on cancer, and otherwise mobilize the nation’s resources for an industrial revolution in science, the government needed a more streamlined research model—a lab animal, or a set of lab animals, that could be standardized and mass-produced in centralized facilities, and distributed across the country for use in all kinds of experiments. An efficient use of federal research funds demanded an efficient organism for research.

In part because of their size and breeding capacity, and in part because they’d been used in laboratories since the turn of the century, the rat and mouse were selected for this role. As major research grants began to flow from Washington in the 1950s and 1960s, private rodent breeders picked up huge contracts with government-funded labs.

A few researchers are moving to other animals for research, but it’s hard, it’s expensive (the article says it’s almost like changing your religion), and it’s difficult to convince other scientists that it’s necessary.

It’s not clear how one might prove, in a satisfying and scientific way, that any given lab animal is better than another. We can’t go back and spend the last 50 years studying monkeys instead of mice, and then count how many new drugs came as a result. The history of biomedicine runs in one direction only: There are no statistics to compare; it’s an experiment that can’t be repeated.

One last quote, but you really should read both articles (the first is short, the second quite long):

Assembly-line rats and mice have become the standard vehicles of basic research and preclinical testing across the spectrum of disease. It’s a one-size-fits-all approach to science. What if that one size were way too big?

Think about how this information applies to other topics as well.

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What is Art?

Fascinating read here.  


“Duchamp also popularized the tradition of the transgressive that has made so much “advanced” contemporary art a tired exercise in dreary but predictable histrionics. In 1917, Duchamp shocked the more decorous precincts of the art world with Fountain, a urinal signed “R. Mutt” and presented as a sculpture. It takes a lot more than a plumbing fixture to shock the jaded palettes of today’s beautiful people. But behind every beaker of bodily fluid you see in an art museum, behind all the pathetic outré exhibitionism of anti-bourgeois bourgeois animus masquerading as art, you can discern the sinister rictus of Marcel Duchamp.

To a large extent, the art world today represents the institutionalization of Duchamp’s early-twentieth-century pranks. The great irony is that Duchamp intended not to extend the boundaries of art but to short-circuit the entire project of aesthetic delectation. “I threw the bottle rack and the urinal into to their faces as a challenge,” he noted contemptuously, “and now they admire them for their aesthetic beauty.” Duchamp had the courage of his contempt. He gave up on art entirely and devoted himself to chess.”


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Why We Read Good Books

book and candleFrom the forward of The Lifetime Reading Plan, by Clifton Fadiman

“The books here discussed may take you fifty years to finish. …they are intended to occupy an important part of a whole life, no matter what your present age may be.  Many of them happen to be more entertaining than the latest best-seller.  Still, it is not on the entertainment level that they are most prifitably read.  What they offer is of larger dimensions.  It is rather like what is offered by loving and marrying, having and rearing children, carving out a career, creating a home. They can be a major experience, a source of continuous internal growth.  Hence the word lifetime.  These authors are life companions. Once part of you, they work in and on and with you until you die. They should not be read in a hurry, any more than friends are made in a hurry.  This list is not something to be ‘got through.’ it is a mine of such richness of assay as to last a lifetime….

The Plan is designed to help us avoid mental bankruptcy…. to fill our minds… with what some of the greatest writers of our Western tradition have thought, felt, and imagined.  Even after we have shared these thoughts, feelings, and images, we will still have much to learn; all of us die uneducated.

We will have disenthralled ourselves from the merely contemporary….

We will know how we got the ideas by which, unconsciously, we live….

Just as important, living in an age  which to its cost has abandoned the concept of the hero, we will have acquired models of  high thought and feeling….

I do not wish to claim too much for The Lifetime Reading Plan

It is not magic. It does not automatically make you or me an educated man or woman. …. It will not make you happy– such claims are advance by the manufacturers of toothpastes, motorcars, and deodorants, not by Plato, Dickens, and Hemingway.  It will simply help to change your interior life into something a little more interesting….

…it’s easy enough to say that they enlarge you, but rather difficult to prove it in advance.  Perhaps a better metaphor is that they act like a developing fluid on film.  That is, they bring into consciousness what you didn’t know you knew.  Eve more than tools of self-enhancement, they are tools of self-discovery. this notion is not mine. You will find it in Plato…. Socrates called himself a midwife of ideas.  A great book is often such a midwife….”

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En nuestra escuela hay muchos discípulos. Carlos, Enrique y Pablo son discípulos. Ana, María y Elvira son discípulas. Juan es diligente. Carlos no es muy diligente. Algunas veces está muy perezoso. Elvira es más diligente que Juan. ¿Quién es más diligente, el discípulo o la discípula? Juan está atento y es obediente. Carlos está desatento y es desobediente. No escucha atentamente. Cuando el maestro habla y explica Carlos no escucha. Él no aprende nada. En muchas escuelas hay discípulos y discípulas. En algunas escuelas hay sólo discípulos y en otras escuelas hay sólo discípulas.

The Project Gutenberg EBook of A First Spanish Reader
by Erwin W. Roessler and Alfred Remy
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