Dauntless

September 4, 2014

What does this word mean to me? I thought it meant that you were undaunted, nothing could stand in your way, stubborn to the point of delusion, head strong. Why do I even care what dauntless means? It’s not like the word weaves its way into a lot of everyday conversations. Well, I have mentioned in my blog before about coincidences in “Mario and Kate – What Does it all Mean?” and the appropriately named blog “Coincidence” that things will pop up over and over again in our lives for a reason. We need to listen to these echoes and reverberations of ideas and experiences and learn something from them.

The latest in a string of coincidences is the word Dauntless. I am a fan of science fiction and whether it be a movie or a book I will consume them both with equal ferocity. The latest audiobook I’m listening to is by Jack Campbell called The Lost Fleet: Dauntless, great story of a long retreat of a fleet of starships across several star systems (I know, I’m a huge sci-fi nerd). It chronicles the challenges of John ‘Black Jack’ Geary who had been frozen for 100 years in a escape pod, only to be awakened to lead a changed and young Alliance fleet against a persistent and dangerous foe. His ship is called the Dauntless.

The other coincidence was the movie Divergent, which I watched last night, I heard the book was better. As many of you already know, the story is about a post-apocalyptic Chicago in which there are 5 factions. The main character Tris navigates life in this future windy city and the faction she ultimately ends up choosing is Dauntless, the faction of protecters and soldiers.

It was interesting that The Lost Fleet:Dauntless was about an old man challenging a young regime and Divergent was about a young woman challenging an old regime.

After seeing this word a couple times in the last couple of days I decided to look up the meaning of the word. The official dictionary.com definition is:

daunt·less
ˈdôntlis,ˈdänt-/
  • showing fearlessness and determination.
    “dauntless bravery”

Pretty close to what I thought, so what did it mean in context of my life, why was I seeing this over and over again? My family and I then got challenged for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge from my brother. In 24 hours I had to donate, dump ice on my head, shoot, edit publish and nominate. Well I got it done and realized that in the face of fear and tight deadlines you can get stuff done. You can see my Ice bucket challenge here.

I then realized dauntless wasn’t me shooting a video in 24 hours or dumping a bucket of ice on my head. It also wasn’t me helping those that are less fortunate than us in health, wealth or even happiness. It then hit me that the people living with a terminal disease or without a home are the fearless ones. Living day to day with pain and challenges that would buckle me at the knees. I whine incessantly if I have a headache or my coffee is not quite hot enough or my favourite television show is a clip show. I am the poster child for first world problems. I have nothing to complain about. I am healthy and happy and although I am not rich I do have enough to make a difference in someone else’s life that doesn’t have what I do. Imagine if you knew your body was shutting down on you, you would play football, jump on a trampoline, climb a mountain. You would live everyday to the fullest, or at least try.

So I’ve vowed to be a little more dauntless and a little less daunted. Jump a little higher, sing a little louder, work a little harder. I am only getting older and for the sake of those who can’t, I will try harder and maybe in the process help them out too.

Fore_Fearless

Years ago I wrote a blog about wanting to go to New York, you can read it here. I said I wanted to go within the year. Well, 2 years, 8 months and 16 days later, I landed in New York City. My recurring dream of travelling to New York was finally achieved.

I remember one trip I went on with my in-laws to Mexico. We were at the end of the trip and we asked everyone what their favourite part of the trip was. Everyone gave their answers and then my father-in-law said “The bus ride to the resort.” I looked at him like he had farted out of his mouth. Out of all the things we had done, that was your favourite?!? He went on to explain that it was the anticipation of arriving, the excitement of a new place. I never fully understood this until I arrived in New York.

Having dreamt about New York over the past 20 years, riding in that cab to our hotel was a surreal, exhilarating and amazing dream come to life. In the distance you could see the Empire state, World Trade One, the Chrysler building, all looming in the distance like old friends I’d never met. Then we went through the Midtown Tunnel and pop out the other side into the forest of concrete and glass, a bee hive of humanity and noise that is a constant no matter what time of day or night.

First things first, I love the energy and the dynamic way the city operates. Things always seem to be broken, scaffolding is everywhere, but life happens around it, and works better than most places I’ve been. People move through the streets like fish or a flock of birds, no one ever seems to bump into each other, unless you’re a tourist, we always seem to get in the way. Crosswalk lights are suggestions, no one waits for them. Tourists wait on the corner, New Yorkers step out onto the street, wait for the car to miss them by inches and cross between cars going so fast they would flip you like Brad Pitt in Meet Joe Black. But after a day or so you get into the flow, you become part of the herd, you start to move like a New Yorker.

The food, wow. You can go anywhere at anytime. Pizza at 2am, Thai food at noon, beers for breakfast. Whatever you like. Not only does the city never sleep, it is such a rich mix of cultures and so densely packed, that you could sell food around the clock. Some highlights were: Cheesecake at Benash, Thai food with three dollar Singhas while people watching in Hells Kitchen, Philly Cheesesteak at Shortys, Croquets at a Belgian Bar and drunken late night, New York style pizza.

Sites and scenes. There are too many to list but I can give you a brief breakdown, we saw everything and nothing. We were going the whole time we were there. Sun up to sun down and we saw all of the things we wanted to and more, but missed so many things. There is so much to do there, you could never fit it all into one week. Below is my tweet by day breakdown of the trip.

Click on the image for a larger version

Click on the image for a larger version

But the most important part of the trip was who I went with. My wife, it was her that arranged for me to go, by getting the flights arranged (thanks Kristel) and organizing spending money for the trip for my birthday. I then returned the favour and shared my dream with her by bringing her along. I couldn’t imagine going with anyone else. She has been my best friend, my anchor to reality and responsibility and the love of my life, I would take her anywhere.

So if you have a dream, some place you’d like to go, or something you’d like to do, just make it happen. Don’t plan for 10 years from now, make it happen now. With a little help from your loved ones, by either emotional support, little nudges, big nudges, steering you in the right direction or just believing you can achieve it, you can do anything. Make your New York happen. I did.

Confluence

March 20, 2014

What is it about confidence, that you get it after you need it. The same reason that in the heat of the moment you can’t speak and find the perfect comeback as they walk around the corner, or after an interview you come up with the perfect answer that would have assured you got the job. Sometimes I wish life would move in slow motion so I would have the time to aim carefully and achieve all my goals. Unfortunately, life doesn’t work that way. We keep rolling along like a carnival ride on rails, shooting the targets as we go, we can never get them all, but choose the targets that are important to us. Family, food, work, whatever helps us survive. But if we are lucky and have time we aim higher. We shoot for the target worth more points, we reach for the brass ring and extend ourselves past our comfort zone. This makes us stronger, fulfills us personally and expands our sphere of influence. I am in the crux of trying to do that now. It has been a learning experience and helped me see my creative process for what it is. Also that if you want to do something, do it. Don’t talk about it, do it. Let me explain.

My brother and I are in the writing phase of a new short film project. If you would like to see some of our other work you can go to www.bloodbrosproductions.com. We have been preparing for this by honing our skills, writing, brainstorming, acquiring equipment and software. I am in the process of writing the first draft but as independent film makers there is a challenge in what the content is. It has to be cheap to shoot, it has to be filmed locally (we can’t travel to Paris or the moon), it should be light on SFX if any, it can’t be too long and of course it has to be good. So what I have written has felt like goldilocks and the three bears, this ones too long, this ones too expensive, this one sucks. I am not complaining by any means, this experience has helped me to become a better writer and collaborator and once I realized what makes me happy, I realized what makes others happy. Let me explain, again.

Everyone has their favourite movie or movies, for me it’s Baraka, Return of the Jedi, Avatar…the list goes on. This is what we tell our friends at a party, but what about that story or book or film that reached through the medium and spoke only to you, that made a deeper connection with you. It’s that secret movie you love, that when it comes up in conversation you light up and get excited, because someone else had that same experience. We feel connected, and that is the whole point isn’t it? For reference one of mine is Always, directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Richard Dreyfuss. It’s just corny enough, just sad enough, and just relatable enough that I connected with it. And that is what I realized I have to do. Connect with people. But how can I connect with people in a short film? What do I need to do? Let me explain one final time and wrap this whole thing up.

Why did I name this blog confluence? Confluence is the junction of two rivers of approximately equal width. I see my brother and I as the rivers and this short film I have to pen as the convergence of our talents (me a writer and my brother a talented director and editor). I need to write this well, so we can combine our talents. Like I said before I did write some stuff but it was either to ambitious for a short film or didn’t quite hit the mark, it didn’t feel like us. I went back to the drawing board or writing desk, whatever, you get the analogy, and looked at what I liked, and what worked in the past. Insightful, innocent, dark, scary, playful, whimsical…it could be any of those, or none of those, it only had to be one thing. Honest. This is something my brother told me early on in writing this blog, be honest, write from who you are, use your own voice, see the post here. I am kind of thick headed and you sometimes need to tell me things more than once, so going forward I need to be honest. No fancy coats of paint, or clever multiple narratives, just honesty. I know you’ve been patient brother, I’m working on it. These rivers need to come together.

In doing some research I came across a short film by Spike Jonze, seriously one of the best directors working right now. Until we have our film done, enjoy this one, an honest and compelling film.

What the Hell?!?

January 21, 2014

2013 came and went. And like a slippery new born baby, 2014 slid into existence in our minds and on our calendars. It started like any year since I was eighteen, with a hangover and a promise to do better, to exercise more and to be a kinder person.

Well…within a week I have fallen down on every level of this commitment, drank way too much, made excuses not to exercise and basically been a dick to a lot of people close to me. You know who you are and I apologize. So I thought maybe I need my old friend the rant to get me back on track, lay down some bitchy blog on the net and cleanse my soul of any misgivings I may have in my real life. A digital confessional if you will, a blank face I can yell at without feeling like a jerk. So I started to go over what I could write about, what books I have read, what movies I have watched, what quotes have I gleaned knowledge from. Well as I started to dig I was a little disturbed, there was a pattern that I didn’t even see evolving and now that I’m aware of it I’m a little freaked out.

Hell, the Devil, Satan, Inferno. What the Hell? Right?

You see it started when I downloaded Chuck Palahniuk’s audiobook called “Damned” which chronicles the adventures of a thirteen year old girl in hell. I love Chuck, so not having read this book yet it was a no brainer to download. Then my wife suggested I read Dan Brown’s Inferno, again a puzzle filled romp leaning heavily on Dante’s Inferno references and history. More hellish connections. I watched Hellbound, a documentary on Netflix, saw a couple of episodes of Futurama where the devil was a prominent character. I then bought the sequel to Damned called Doomed, so I am set with even more fire and brimstone for a while. I know it doesn’t sound like much but after three novels and hours of television viewing about the Underworld it starts to become a sign. See my blog about the Crisitunity and the rule of threes.

Is this a hint to straighten up and fly right? Learn more about the devil to understand the big guy better or just be evil and screw the rest of humanity? I don’t know but I think the world works in mysterious ways and if you don’t stop and pay attention you may miss something that the collective consciousness or even someone you know is trying to tell you. Even just reflecting on the events of the last few weeks since the new year, I realize I have lost my way already. It’s a slippery slope and at the bottom is that little devil licking his lips, waiting to put another notch on his proverbial soul belt. So grab the controls, pull hard on that stick (wait, maybe that’s one of the reasons I got here in the first place) and straighten up, there is a long year ahead, let’s pull out of this tail spin and keep some promises. Good luck!

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Oh Brother 2!

October 16, 2013

My brother is at it again, I’ll explain in a bit! My brother in the past had taken my blog, reformatted it in Indesign, designed it up, resourced all of the pictures and published me a one-off book, a collection of all my writings if you will. It was too cool. If you are new to the blog check out this post. It is a blog about a blog, within a blog. Inception style.

Well, my brother has gone and completed another project which blew my mind. What could be better than the blog book? Well, probably nothing, but this was for the both of us and it kicked ass. It is the launch of the Blood Brothers website. www.bloodbrosproductions.com.

My brother and I have a video production company called Blood Brothers productions, you can see the evolution of our logo design in Anatomy of a logo. We have recently decided to move forward with the creative side of Blood Brothers, making movies, making our movies. This has been exhilarating and terrifying, but all in all, fun and fulfilling. Once the creative juices start flowing it is hard to stop them and with the completion of the website it is now inevitable that we create fun, thought provoking and kick ass content.

So if you would like to support us go to our facebook page at the link here, like us, and then head over to the website www.bloodbrosproductions.com and see what we have been up to lately, there are more projects in the works so keep checking back. We’ll make you proud.

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Familiar Strangeness

October 15, 2013

Have you ever been driving in your neighbourhood, hanging around your building, grabbed your coffee at your usual place and seen someone that you’ve seen a thousand times before. Someone that you recognize, someone who you call the fat guy with the comb-over or the cute girl with the red hair. You are aware of them, you see them all the time, but you don’t know them at all. These people are called familiar strangers. My familiar stranger is a skinny girl that walks everywhere in my neighbourhood. I see her at least three times a week walking in the neighbourhood. If you asked me her name I couldn’t tell you. If you asked me where she lived I still couldn’t tell you, but if anything happened to her I would be upset, maybe even shed a tear or two. She is a complete stranger but part of my experience of my life and my community. Sometimes I will make up a history for her just driving along. Maybe she is graduating high school, getting ready to go to college, she walks everywhere because she wants to do her part to save the planet, but it pisses some of her friends off because it takes her forever to get anywhere. Why do I care? Strange that I care about strangers. Maybe as humans we need to compartmentalize everything, put it in its own box, label it and store it away like a busy bird collecting colourful ribbons for its nest.

I realized I have other things in my life that parallel this familiar strangeness. Like my connection to historical events or places. I just recently went to visit my parents in the city I grew up in. Seeing my old elementary school brings back memories I haven’t had in decades, the look and the feel tend to be off now though. Familiar but strange. I remember it different. Has my brain evolved or was it always like that? Do we remember what we want to remember? I watched a great TED talk on this subject about memories and how they can be planted, changed or just plain forgotten, you can see it here.

Even cleaning up under my stairs this past week opened my eyes to my clouded memory. I found pictures and journals I’ve forgotten about for over ten years. The people in them look so different, strange to me. That guy used to have hair, that guy is dead, I don’t even know who that girl is! It is funny when you get older what you tend to remember and what you tend to forget. I guess there is only so much that can be stuffed into our little brains and what can’t be remembered is made up, usually to the benefit of us feeling better about ourselves.

Familiar or Strange, remembered or forgotten we will make it up anyways. So be nice to me because you may be the nicest person in the world, but to me you’re an asshole. Hey, that’s how I remember it, deal with it.

So if you see that familiar stranger, tell them about this blog post as an ice breaker, find out their name, you never know, you’re probably their familiar stranger too.

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We Will Fix You

June 27, 2013

So, a lot has happened in the last little while. My middle of the prairies city named Calgary, has flooded and had a train derail on a weakened bridge with petroleum tankers on it liable to explode if not handled correctly. All within a week. It’s not hell or high water, it’s hell and high-water…bah dum bum. But all kidding aside the city has been through a lot, but the community has banded together and helped each other out. Here is an example of who and what we Calgarians are all about. The other day they had a call for volunteers to muster at the local football stadium to help with clean up. They asked for seven hundred people, seven THOUSAND showed up. We are just good people I guess, and being Canadian we would probably have being nice hard wired into our DNA. It makes you feel good that you know people are looking out for you, watching your back, especially in your own community. It makes you feel part of something bigger. Not bigger scary, bigger warm and fuzzy. You get the picture.

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Hockey for Homes logo, if you are in the Calgary area and would like to play in the tournament go to the Hockey for Homes Facebook page.

I haven’t cleaned up or went door to door to let people know that help was on the way, or even put myself in harms way, what are you kidding? And ruin my new kakis? I’m a lover not a fighter. I give with my brain and designed a logo for a charity Ball Hockey tournament being held this weekend called Hockey for Homes. It’s not much but if it gets them more sponsors or more exposure to help even just one more family, then I would consider that a victory. I will give again when I can, but in the meantime I defer to all of the people better than me in heart and mind that are out there right now in the knee high water doing what they do best…helping out.

So to all of the volunteers and first responders, thank you. And to you families in High River and other areas still evacuated from your homes, we are doing our best, whether it’s raise money, clean up or let people know where to go to help, we’ve got your back.

If you would like to help out, please follow this link here.

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Tick, Tick, Tick…

April 15, 2013

I wrote this post a few months ago, I wasn’t sure if I should post it. I don’t think it would have made a difference either way, it just felt too soon, too raw, people needed to process before I put my two cents in. So here it is.

What makes us fit to live in todays society? What qualifications does it take to be part of the human race. A spec of decency? Love for our fellow man? Respect? Obviously it takes none of these. You need more certification to sell hot dogs than you do to be part of the human race.

I know I’m not making much sense but there has been a few incidents in the last couple of years that have shaken my trust in humanity. People treating people with a total lack of respect. We all know what happened at Sandy Hook. My heart goes out to all the parents and loved ones of the victims. Being the parent of a 7 year old girl, it terrifies me that something like this can happen. I don’t know what the shooters mental history was, and frankly, I don’t care. The less I have to read about this piece of garbage the better. But to take out your rage on innocent people is cowardly and repulsive, to take it out on children is pure evil. This happened the day before my birthday, it really put into perspective what it is that is important to me. That I am around to celebrate another year alive with my family is a gift in itself.

How many people do we have walking around like this? These ticking time bombs. Just in this last year there have been multiple incidents with guns. People are worried about terrorists? If this isn’t terrorism I don’t know what is? The lack of control in owning, firing and carrying a gun in America is pretty scary. I work with a women who is working in one of our American offices, she has been living in the States all her life. She is a sweet, kind lady with a warm smile and always has something nice to say. It was a little weird when she said she owned a gun, and said it with a casualness that implied it was like owning a cell phone. No problem. But she explained it was about protection. I do agree that if I was in that situation I would probably do the same, protect myself and my family. But the solution is to not be in that situation in the first place. I would never feel safe. I understand people love America, I do as well, but if the decision was between access to the biggest malls and fast food chains or the safety of my family, guess which one I’m gonna pick.

Like I said before, my birthday was the day after the Sandy Hook incident. My friend as a birthday gift invited me to a shooting range that he is a member of, to shoot at some targets, his treat. At first I was a little weirded out, especially after the recent events. But I thought it wasn’t the guns that kill people it is the decision of the person holding that gun to do a terrible act. And in that statement, I believe, is the solution to helping curb the destructive nature of this downward spiral.

Education is the answer, we need to teach people how to respect each other, how to see each other as human beings. Some of the talk in recent days has been about banning toy guns, seriously, what is that going to do? Or violent video games. It’s neither of these. It’s explaining the rules of being respectful. Bring your kids up right, teach them the difference between right and wrong. Simple as that.

Tom Lennon (Reno 911 and writer of countless screenplays) said that in New York if you cut in line someone will hand you your teeth. Self policing, we need to let someone know if they are being assholes, do not let these jerks get away with anything. When I was a kid I would never tell an adult off, now I see it all the time. People don’t want to get involved, they keep to themselves, we’ve blocked ourselves off from everyone with screens (TV, computer, phone, tablet). That’s not the whole problem but it is part of the problem, less face to screen, more face to face. I am guilty of this myself, “Sorry honey, Daddy is watching the game.” Not cool, I need to show by example that she is more important, and that people are more important. I’ll do my best and that’s all I can ask of you, because if we all make an effort maybe we won’t have to watch innocent people go through this again, or go through it ourselves. Teach, love, listen. It’s that simple.

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Chimborazo

April 14, 2013

Recharging my battery, taking a break, call it what you will, lately instead of writing I’ve been consuming ideas. I have been reading, listening, hunting and exploring the recesses of interesting things the last little while. I have come across a massive amount of fascinating facts and interesting tid bits. Like the farthest point from the center of the earth isn’t the tip of Mt. Everest, but a place called Mount Chimborazo, bet you didn’t know that huh? But more on Chimborazo later.

Filling my bucket, this is a concept I got from my daughter, if you are filling someones bucket you are making them feel good, giving compliments or just being nice to them. Dipping someones bucket is making them feel bad, bullying or being a jerk to them. I have had my share of my daughter saying to me in a stern voice “Daddy, your dipping my bucket.” Not that I’m mean to her, dipping her bucket is saying she has to go to bed. I know what your thinking, shouldn’t it be tipping my bucket? That’s what I thought, but you try arguing with a 7 year old. So I have been taking my time, and filling my bucket, in my case making myself feel better by learning. Reading, listening, watching…filling my brain bucket.

One great thing about working for a technology company is you get exposed to a lot of different disciplines. In the short 9 months I’ve been at my new job I have been exposed to programming languages, user experience design, video editing, high level branding, project management and a lot more. I’m not trying to give you a laundry list of what I do during the day, just give you an idea of what is filling my brain. With my renewed interest in TED talks, podcasts, documentaries, books and a new game I found called Chimborazo (ah, there it is again) I have been stuffing my brain like a fat kid at Chucky Cheese. I feel like the alien in the old 50’s sci-fi movies with the huge throbbing brain. Not that I’m any smarter, I just have an arsenal of cocktail conversations, trivia question answers and blog topics.

You see I was slowly running out of stuff to write about in my blog and every time I would come across something interesting I would have to make a note and write it down. But the fun isn’t in the one interesting fact, it’s how all of those facts come together, how you start to see parallels and connections and how things begin to have a intellectual harmony to them. That is why you should always be learning, fill your bucket, your brain, your heart. Shine light into things, not shadows. Always keep growing, always strive for change. Because if you don’t make the change, the change will make you.

Chimborazo, so what is this? Well the idea is from a TED talk I watched called Rives: Reinventing the Encyclopaedia Game. What you have to do is go onto wikipedia or google or whatever, and read an article, any article, choose whatever you want, then read it until you learn something you don’t know, something your dad doesn’t even know. Then click on a link in the article and keep on going until you come full circle, idea wise (you’ll get a better understanding after you watch the TED talk). Intellectual harmony in action. You never know where it is going to take you and you’re learning in the process, it’s a win, win.

So set some time aside and play this new game, fill your bucket and learn something new. Chimborazo everyone!!

Oduya Like Hockey?

February 25, 2013

Hockey is back on and I have no opinion about the lock out. I am just happy they are back playing again. An interesting story, my bachelor party was on the night of game six of the Stanley cup finals in 2004. The Calgary Flames (my team), and the Tampa Bay Lightning were in battle for the Stanley Cup that night and I have to admit it was one of the best parties I’ve ever been thrown. The Flames had scored the go ahead goal late in the third period (see the goal in all time controversial goals/non goals here, it’s number 4.) After review it was disallowed and Tampa Bay went on to win in overtime and later game seven to win their first ever Stanley Cup. It was heart breaking. The next year there was no hockey, the whole season was missed because of the lockout, it was like a one, two punch to my fandom. First my team is cheated out of the Stanley Cup, then I have to take a season off. Those were dark times, but I bounced back.

The game I love is back on the air again and I am proud to say I’m a bigger fan then ever! I even ordered my game synced goal light from Budweiser.

So in keeping with the great things I like about the game I have included a list of hockey players names that my wife giggles at when she watches games with me, I’ve also added a few of my own I find funny. To see why you too should be a hockey fan, check out my blog, 7 Reasons You Should be a Hockey Fan. Have fun and watch a game, you never know, you might just become a fan yourself.

Here is the list of last names, some I think are great names for hockey players (Blood is good one and Quick is a goalie) and other names just unfortunate (TooToo, but he is one of the toughest guys playing and Stoner, just too funny). Anyway each one is clickable so you can see they are real players playing in the league right now. A couple not on the list that are no longer playing in the NHL that I found too great to leave off the list (Finger and Satan). Enjoy!

BANG, BEAGLE, BLOOD, BUT, BYFUGLIEN, CHIMERA, CHIPCHURA
CLITSOME, CLUTTERBUCK, CRABB, FAST, FIDDLER, FLICK
GAYDUCHENKO, GOC, GOGGIN, GOGOL, GROT, HAMRLIK, HORCOFF
HUDLER, KLINKHAMMER, LAMB, MAROON, MEGAN, METHOT
NIGRO, ODUYA, OTT, OWUYA, PANIK, PARDY, PAYNE, PHANEUF, PITLICK
POTI, POWE, PRINCE, PRONGER, QUICK, REASONER, ROACH, SEAMAN
SKILLE, SPOONER, STONER, TATAR, THANG, TOOTOO, UMBERGER
VALENTINE, YIP.

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