Archive for December, 2014

Thai Days: Bruce Kekule and his black panther.

December 31, 2014

Hugh Paxton’s Blog has a great deal of sympathy with Bruce on this one. Here he is. In Thailand. In a forest. And there! In front of him! Is a panther, a black leopard (or as he , rather boringly but accurately, describes it a “melanistic” cat).

What a moment!

And what happens?

His bloody camera stops working.

Bruce, if you haven’t met him before on this blog is one of the Kingdom’s finest and most intrepid wildlife and nature photographers. He’s a Vietnam vet and instead of going barmy and suffering various post traumatic things has photographed animals and places that boggle belief.
My heart goes out to him. A black panther! Or a melanistic leopard – quite frankly who gives a damn! – the point is that there it was!

And his kit let him down.

A classic case of the one that got away!

Photography is like that.

An absolute bastard!

Unless it suddenly works! And then how very very wonderful it is!

Cheers from Bangkok!

Hugh! And over to Bruce!

Sweet Home Louisiana: Pics of Kimmie’s office party

December 23, 2014

Sweet Home Louisiana! So glad that there is a white man out there who has rhythm! And can spell it! This post is just a bit of pointless fun that has made me happy. Hope it does the same for you. I enjoy seeing people having fun. And I’m glad my brother has rythym – and can spell it rght.

Hugh, Bangkok

From Charles Paxton
Sent: Tuesday, December 23, 2014 8:05 AM
To: Hugh Paxton: Pics of Kimmie’s office party

Here are some pics from the office party! Some white men do have rhythm!

Love from us XXXXXX

Charles Paxton

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Thai Days: Robin and the shark fins.

December 22, 2014

Hugh Paxton’s Blog posted this last night but then noticed that the story hauled a whole lot of family messages in its wake. They actually made for more interesting reading than my post but there was the issue of privacy. So, with great reluctance, I pulled the post and decided to delete all the Paxton family email exchanges then post it again without Danny Harry’s Christmas quiz (if you caught the original post the answer wasn’t earwig and if you thought it was you won’t win a prize of chewing gum but life’s like that, full of tricks, traps and dreadful disappointments). Here’s Robin and the Shark Fins. Minus Danny Harry’s Christmas quiz and all the cheerful, rather incoherent Paxton family email exchanges. Incidentally if you did rashly respond to Danny Harry’s quiz (rather helpfully sent with the advisory that the correct answer was (A) not (D – earwig) you wouldn’t have received your prize of chewing gum. DH is one heck of a quiz master but is a bit too young to actually buy chewing gum. I’m not even sure he has mastered his bicycle. But his heart is in the right place. If I was designing a quiz I would most definitely include an earwig option. I only have four nephews and each of them has an abundance of talents. I’m amazed that my sister hasn’t throttled them. And I’m amazed that Robin wasn’t throttled last night. This is what happened:



We live in a world of people who really want things to be right but don’t kick sufficient heads to make that dream a reality. This is not the case always and some of my most respected friends are risking their lives and sanity making things right on a daily basis.

Here’s a little bit of encouragement for the can do guys and gals out there saving the world!

Robin. My nephew. Aged nine. Currently my guest in Bangkok.

Robin amazed me! We walked past a shark fin restaurant and I began muttering about that being eco-slaughter and I was being grumpy and ineffectual. We then saw its sister restaurant (both the same enterprise) and it had basking shark fins in its window display. I simply can’t stand that. It’s criminal. I decided to stop talking and complaining to indifferent thin air and stepped inside to cause trouble and blimey! Robin was not just beside me but ahead of me. There was a brief pause. The manager, a sleazy slick gangster in a penguin suit initially thought I was a customer and gave me a greasy grin and a menu. Robin, informed him that killing sharks and selling fins was bad. I thought “Robin! What a surprise!”

It is unfair but previously I had thought Robin was a bit frail. Not a wimp, nothing like that, but a small boy. I told the manager “This is a protest!” and hoped he wouldn’t pull a gun or order thugs.

Robin stood his ground. I had no inhibitions about smashing the shark slaughterer in the face but that would have been stupid and (shamefully) I was sober and lacked that reckless edge that comes with five pints of lager and a packet of cheese and onion crisps. I wasn’t a coward. But I wasn’t quite sure how to take things further.

Rather gratefully I realized I was obsolete. The manager and I looked at each other. And we hated each other. But neither of us knew what to do.

Robin had the floor.

He was relentless, obstinate, calm and resolute and repeated his message. This made the protest utterly confusing. I had precipitated it by grumbling getting angry but Robin had actually made my ineffectual grumbling a protest!

Staff came went and fled, the manager kept looking at me for help. That wasn’t why I was there. The manager kept looking at Robin. The boy stared everybody down. I wanted to hug him. How spontaneous! How brave! How totally magnificent. But also how out of the blue!

The manager scarpered to collect his wits and wonder why everything was thoroughly unpredictable. I had a look at Robin and he was my kind of eco-warrior! The bravest boy I’ve seen, and, this really appealed to me, without mercy.

That restaurant was profiting from killing sharks. And Robin was having none of it.

The manager came back. I returned to “This is a protest” mode hoping to disconcert the dwindling opposition. And Robin continued his condemnations. I had a look at them both. Robin. Small. Tough. Lecturing. I had a look at the restaurant. There were some customers leaving. The manager reared up and tried to appear terrifying. Robin was dauntless.

I was encouraged by his spirit and said in rather a dull voice “This is a protest.”

What happened next was very funny. The manager launched a counter attack.

He said, with a sneer, “I don’t know you.”

This might be a hurtful insult and a terrible thing to hear if you are Chinese. And if you take that sort of thing to heart.

I don’t. Robin didn’t.

“I know you,” I said. “You are scum.”

“I don’t know you!” said the manager again and he ran away and there was an unfortunate sound. I think he fell down stairs.

I looked at Robin and thought how well he’d managed the affair. I hadn’t planned a protest but Robin had listened to me complaining and had clearly decided to sort this evil out. Instead of writing petitions or wandering around the Chinese embassy with a guitar he stormed the shop. Obviously I surged in to support him but if I’d done it my way there would have been a mess. Or just a silly argument. Something ineffectual. And it wouldn’t have utterly disrupted two of the most exclusive shark fin restaurants in Bangkok. The boy has style! All he did was shout at them and show no fear. And give em a damn good talking to!

“I don’t know you.”

Maybe. Maybe not. But that man will never forget Robin. And neither will the restaurants.

Gives me hope! The kid’s a contender!


Anilbalan: New post Nine Ghosts for Christmas

December 21, 2014

Hugh Paxton’s Blog has been WAITING for this one! Tenterhooks. Restlessness. Will he? Won’t he?

Anilbalan and his GhostCities Blog has enriched my life. It has made me a happy Hugh Paxton. The man has an extremely refined sense of what makes a good ghost story, or a story that invites the curious. There is not, and never has been, a post thrown out to the world by Anilbalan that has made me yawn, doze off or have a dull morning.

Christmas is upon us. I know that involves listening to carols sung by Americans, crowds of shoppers listening to those carols in shopping centres, and dear Gawd! Slade singing Here it is Merry Christmas!

Everybody’s having fun!

We have just returned from Chatuckak market laden down with strange seed pods, and far, far worse.

We have a bottle of sherry, a cake that might or might not explode if a naked flame approaches it. We have a tree and, thanks to Anilbalan we have the essential ingredient! The Christmas Ghost Story!

A very merry Christmas to all of you. Don’t forget the ghost story!

From: Ghost Cities []
Sent: Sunday, December 21, 2014 9:00 AM
Subject: [New post] Nine Ghosts for Christmas

anilbalan posted: "If you’re looking for a ghost story to elicit a pleasurable shudder this Christmas, then you could do far worse than read the work of that oft-overlooked Edwardian scribe of the supernatural, Richard Henry Malden. His book of short stories Nine Ghosts (19"

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New post on Ghost Cities

Nine Ghosts for Christmas

by anilbalan

If you’re looking for a ghost story to elicit a pleasurable shudder this Christmas, then you could do far worse than read the work of that oft-overlooked Edwardian scribe of the supernatural, Richard Henry Malden. His book of short stories Nine Ghosts (1942) was compiled over many years and issued as a tribute to his long friendship with the writer M R James, who had of course been one of the most celebrated authors in this particular genre. One of the most appealing features of R H Malden’s ghost stories is that we are always conscious of the presence of Malden the narrator. We may be sure that it is Malden and not some fictional persona because of the brief and entertaining, if not always actually necessary, fragments of his own experience that are mentioned in his ghostly tales. This is also most likely a natural result of the fact that the tales were written to be read aloud – Malden was among those present at the auspicious first readings of the ghost stories of M R James at the celebrated meetings of the Chitchat Society at King’s College, Cambridge and remained forever affected by the experience. As Malden notes in his introduction to Nine Ghosts, "It was my good fortune to know Dr James for more than thirty years".

Read more of this post

anilbalan | December 21, 2014 at 2:00 am | Tags: Nine Ghosts, R H Malden | Categories: Horror, Short Story, Supernatural fiction, Writer | URL:

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Thai Days: Junta Times – Eat, Drink, and be Merry!

December 20, 2014

Hugh Paxton’s Blog is accustomed to living under a military state, a junta, a bunch of guys in uniform and foreign journalists get rather excited when they are sent to Bangkok on assignment. These predominantly female journos look tough, forceful, ask thrusting questions and they stay in five star hotels and get answers from people in uniform that they ignore.

It’s a charade.

CNN, BBC, they swan in looking for a story that isn’t.

Everything’s fine. Everybody’s happy apart from a few Red Shirt agitators, second rate artists and malcontents paid to cause trouble by their master, Tax Sin, the former Thai leader, now in exile and wanted here for corruption and, should a journo actually do something more than a sound bite, lots of bad behaviour. Mass murder springs to mind. But that evil man remains in safety in foreign parts. Mainly Gulf States. But Thaksin pops up here and there and in his heyday owned Manchester City FC.

He isn’t a man of the people, although he portrays himself as such. He has a lot of cash and he uses it with as much success as Manchester City FC.

The stupid old thing has had his day and his money cannot reverse his defeat. Now is the time of the generals. And with them comes a sense of honesty and social discipline.

Every junta attracts purists. And some of them lack the common touch. Or common sense. The Committee for National Alcohol Beverage Control suggested a law banning the sales of anything containing alcohol during the New Year holiday and the adored Songkran water festival. This idea, while nobly meant, was about as popular as installing a condom vending machine in the Vatican.

1. Utterly impossible to enforce.
2. Silly. If you want a drink you can get one. Anywhere. In under ten minutes.
3.Commercially destructive. Honest restaurants abide by the laws and wince at the prospect of nobody drinking anything.
4.Silly. Sorry. I said that already.
5. And rejected.

Cheer up! You will be allowed to pop a cork and sing that stupid Scottish song to welcome the New Year in!

Just to ensure that nobody loses face there are some restrictions on booze. You can’t buy it in government buildings (I was unaware that government-owned properties were selling Mekong whisky but if they are, or were, they’ve got snap out of the habit!) bus stations, train stations, piers.



December 12, 2014

Hugh Paxton's Blog

Hugh Paxton’s Blog has been to Rehoboth and Leonie has it about right. Just another reason to visit Namibia!

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Media Release: WWF will not participate in Don Sahong dam consultation, citing failed process

December 11, 2014

Hugh Paxton’s Blog thinks that this dam project stinks. Has done from day one. Dam the Mekong, damn the people, damn the environment, and damn common sense. How many more stupid, costly, extraordinarily disastrous and fundamentally redundant dams do we need? None.

WWF has finally lost patience with pretense and malpractise and has, rightly in my opinion, stopped dignifying the farcical meetings of rice bowl politicians and Lao lice. A country is about to kill itself and maim a major world river to provide power for fairy lights in Bangkok. And gather money for a few fatties who have lots already and don’t know what to do with it.

A pathetic performance. Read on. And weep!

Hugh in Bangkok.

From: Poston, Lee []
Sent: Thursday, December 11, 2014 4:03 PM
Subject: Media Release: WWF will not participate in Don Sahong dam consultation, citing failed process

Media Release

WWF will not participate in Don Sahong dam consultation, citing failed process

Conservation Group says Lao dam will proceed regardless of meeting outcome, threatening livelihoods and Irrawaddy dolphins

Bangkok, Dec. 11, 2014 – WWF will not participate in the Mekong River Commission’s (MRC) regional public consultation on Dec. 12 in the Lao PDR due to a failed process that has ignored evidence of the dam’s potentially serious impacts on Cambodian communities, food security and critically endangered Irrawaddy dolphin populations.

The 260 megawatt Don Sahong dam is one of 12 hydropower projects currently being planned for the lower stretches of the Mekong River. It will be built by Malaysia’s Mega First Corporation Berhad (MFCB) about one kilometer from the Lao-Cambodian border in Champassak Province, Lao PDR. The dam will block the Hou Sahong channel, the only channel available for dry-season fish migrations on the Mekong River, putting the world’s largest inland fishery at risk.

The dam builders intend to excavate millions of tons of rock using explosives, creating strong sound waves that could potentially kill dolphins located only two miles away. These dolphins have highly sensitive hearing structures. In addition, increased boat traffic, changes in water quality and habitat degradation are likely if the project proceeds. In September more than a quarter million people signed a petition asking Mega First to suspend construction of the dam.

WWF is concerned that the Don Sahong dam will follow the precedent of another dam in Laos, the Xayaburi Hydropower Project. Currently, Xayaburi is the only Mekong mainstream dam that has entered into a Procedures for Notification, Prior Consultation and Agreement (PNCPA) process. In that instance, the four countries failed to reach consensus, yet the project is moving ahead rapidly against the advice of downstream countries that will be severely impacted.

“Given that there is no clear indication from the MRC of the scope and expected outcome of the consultation process, and that all indications point to the dam being constructed anyway, we see limited benefit to participating in this consultation,” said Teak Seng, WWF-Greater Mekong Conservation Director. “Doing so would place a seal of approval on a failed process that could prove disastrous to food security, livelihoods and one of the world’s last remaining populations of Irrawaddy dolphins.”

Two of the key arguments against the dam are:

·The mitigation measures that Mega First claims to have developed have not been tested nor proven to work. Critically, the fish bypass is simply mentioned but not justified by previous success cases or demonstrations that it can work in the context of the Don Sahong dam. This should be a requirement in the prior consultation;

· There is a lack of independent, science-based and trans-boundary social and environmental impact assessments (SEIA) for the Don Sahong dam. Currently, the only Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) was commissioned by Mega First. The mitigation measures in the report were assessed by three international fish passage experts at the request of NGOs. They concluded that the studies are not up to international standards, and that fish passage solutions have not been demonstrated;

WWF suggests the following actions to restore the credibility of the MRC processes:

· Agree that all Lower Mekong countries will follow the procedures of the 1995 Mekong Agreement, and strictly respect their implementation;

· Enforce immediate suspension of construction for the Don Sahong dam until all project documents and further assessments on impact studies have satisfied the concerns of all stakeholders, including MRC governments, civil society and local communities of the Lower Mekong region;

· Reach agreement between the MRC and member governments to clearly identify the objectives and criteria for PNPCA before the consultation begins;

· Conduct a separate, independent and trans-boundary EIA, with greater focus given to trans-boundary fisheries impacts and impact on dolphins in deep pools below the dam;

· Agree that the Prior Consultation process should not conclude until additional trans-boundary impact assessments are completed (including a “council study" from MRC and a "Delta Study” from the Government of Vietnam);

· Consider existing alternative options such as the Thako Water Diversion Project that has far lesser impact than the Don Sahong project and can yield about the same amount of electricity.

“The countries of the Mekong have a clear challenge ahead of them – restore the credibility of MRC processes and respect internationally accepted dam development standards, or leave the fate of the river in the hands of irresponsible corporates,” said Marc Goichot, WWF-Greater Mekong Sustainable Hydropower and River Basin Management Lead. “To ignore this risks irreversible damage to the region’s food security and the probable extinction of an entire population of river dolphins.”

For More Information, Please contact:

Lee Poston, Communications Director, WWF-Greater Mekong

Tel: +1 202 299 6442 Email: lee.poston

About WWF

WWF is one of the world’s largest and most respected independent conservation organizations, with over 5 million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries. WWF’s mission is to stop the degradation of the earth’s natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world’s biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption. Go to for more information.

A Big Thank You to the Taliban: You Have Destroyed Yourself With the Help of a School Girl

December 11, 2014

Hugh Paxton’s Blog thanks the Taliban gunman who shot the school girl in her head. He has advanced everything he hates in a way that a million petitions could have not achieved. He has thrust her message full face into the whole world. He has empowered millions of children, male and female, to seek and achieve an education. The girl he failed to kill is now the world’s youngest Nobel Laureate and is charismatic, eloquent, a crowd pleaser, has received standing ovations and plans to be a the prime minister of her native Pakistan. She is currently the most influential and listened to school girl in the world.

This wouldn’t have been possible if that Taliban gun man had decided that girls weren’t deserving of education and should stay at home as ignorant, slaves.

I like to think of him, with his horrid beard, habitual fleas, dust in his privates, AK cradled like a poisoned crutch, eating his stale bread and crusty lentils, his prayer mat and Koran to hand but no light to read it and a radio telling him that he has been the most successful disaster in Jihad history.

Hugh Paxton’s Blog finds it utterly delightful that hideous, violent intolerance has committed political and popular suicide while attempting murder. Militant Islam, learn from this! God is not on your side. And nobody else is either. A school girl will stop you.


December 11, 2014

What an idiot! Caught in Livingstone with ivory! Ben Simasiku was on a wanted list but clearly didn’t take it seriously. Now he’ll be deported to Botswana to face trial for other more serious ivory crimes. Ben is one of a large number of people who are on INTERPOL’s list of wildlife criminals and who are aren’t taking their wanted status seriously. Ben is starting to take it seriously. And hopefully will have many years ahead of him to take it even more seriously.

INTERPOL appreciates information from the public relating to environmental criminals of significance. Check the website for details.

INTERPOL are after professional nasties like Ben.

If you travel it is very likely that you will encounter individuals engaged in wildlife crime – selling stuffed sea turtles, corals, exotic pets or wood, shells, skins and so on. Don’t bother INTERPOL with this sort of thing. If you are concerned and something strikes you as unlawful take a discrete photo and inform the local police and/or domestic NGOs, the local press, letter to the Post Bag. There is always social media, too. Name, shame and inform.

You may not be a policeman, or an INTERPOL, but you have eyes, ears, and the power to prevent wrong doing. It takes a bit of guts and bravery, not a lot, mainly energy, but my feeling is that if lots of people make even a little effort we can make significant steps to eradicate the ongoing and destructive abuse of what we have and what we are about to lose if we do nothing.

Real bastards like Ben? INTERPOL!

But only serious information, ladies and gentlemen! Nothing frivolous!

Over to INTERPOL and let’s have a look at Ben. The scumbag. He is reaping what he has sowed. And it’s been a bloody harvest.

From: INTERPOL Environmental Security Sub-Directorate []
Sent: Wednesday, December 10, 2014 11:33 PM
Subject: Suspected illegal ivory trader targeted in INTERPOL operation arrested in Zambia

Dear Colleagues,
Please find below the latest press release issued by INTERPOL. Other language versions will be published on the INTERPOL website as they become available.
Best regards,

Bruce Kekule gives us tigers! Wildlife Photography in Thailand and Southeast Asia] WPB2D – Weekly Digest Email plus Hugh on tiger fraud!

December 10, 2014

Always makes my day to see a wild tiger. Perhaps because I don’t see them very often. Twice to be precise. Or once, to be strictly honest.

Bruce has pretty much caught the tiger look supreme with his latest photos. You can’t get much more tiger than this and that is the Hugh Paxton Blog verdict.

My best photo of a tiger was also from India in Nagahole. Exciting, but it was being hassled by a furious gaur (a gigantic wild Asian ox) and jabbered at by monkeys and barked at by deer in full alarm mode. It was an irked tiger and was stalking off in ill temper. My photo captured stripes, colour, a gaunt but powerful frame but mostly it captured the tiger’s flank and a bunch of vines that were in the way. National Geographic cover material it was not!

The second sighting wasn’t wild at all. It was fraudulent and childishly obvious. This was in a nearby government run national park. It stank from minute one. Huge bus loads of Indian tourists weighed down with silly, heavy ostentatious but obsolete cameras, jabbering children and half dead grannies clutching lunch boxes. We waited in a disorganized parking lot covered in discarded fruit skins and coconuts, paid lots of money at an impatient kiosk, were loaded into a rough tough safari vehicle and immediately upon entering the park encountered an elephant.

This struck me as rather suspicious. Wild elephants don’t normally hang around a park gate unless somebody’s feeding them. Obviously somebody was. There was sugar cane in evidence.

As the adventure progressed I checked the track for spoor. There wasn’t any. Our intrepid guide ordered the driver to turn back and try another route. Now there were spoor. Tiger spoor! Paw prints.

I’ve never seen a tiger with four left feet and this one seemed to have been hopping about erratically on all of its four left feet. There were human foot prints, too.

In the last twenty minutes somebody had clearly been punching pug marks into the mud and had brought along a watering can to make the soil more receptive. It hadn’t rained! And only this brief stretch was wet.

Presumably the pug an had a plaster of Paris mold on a stick.

Our wilderness adventure progressed.

Hours later my beloved wife woke me. A sighting? Well. Yes, sort of. Our guide, perched at the back of our all terrain vehicle was fast asleep. She had been sighting this for an hour and had finally had enough of this utter indifference.

“He’s snoring,” my wife said. She’s always right. She was right and he was snoring. Indiana Jones, our fearless guide and protector, tiger tracker, cobra wrestler, if the tyre has a puncture I’ll fix it no cause for concern madam, was snoring.

“Why have we stopped?” I yawned.

“The driver’s seen a tiger.”

“Has he fixed his costume? Zipped up his mask? If he’s still stumbling around looking for his tail and whiskers I’m going to go back to sleep. ”

“It’s real. But there’s something wrong with it. Why don’t you wake the guide up?”

We did.

“Tiger!” he shouted.

The great American showman Barnum said there’s one born every minute. He was referring to suckers, idiots who would empty their wallets. In fecund and increasingly overpopulated India there’s one born every nano-second. Everybody on the bus became excited, even the grannies rose from the semi-dead. Tiger!

There was a man-made clearing in the dry forest, a large one. Right in the middle, out of range of most cameras and cheap binoculars was a tiger. Lying down. At the far end of this unnatural expanse of openness was a line of jostling tour buses and they were being moved along by people pretending to be kind.

How do I know this?

Because exactly the same happened to us at the other end of the clearing. We were informed that this sighting was extremely rare and that the parks authorities didn’t want us to disturb it so we must move. We could get closer but it would be risky but the driver would try it if we didn’t mind the danger.

More driving. We ended up at the other end of the clearing, exactly where the other buses had been.

By strange coincidence on the far side of the clearing (where we had been) were all the buses that had been here, where we were now. No doubt they, too, had heard what we had heard and been told.

The tiger was still lying there. Dusk incoming. Photos impossible. But my wife has sharp eyes.

“It’s just tried to stand. It’s fallen over!”

“It’s drugged!”

It certainly was. That tiger had been knocked out, hauled into a position calculated to give Barnum’s viewers a glimpse but no real view, strategically located and then left in the hot sun without water (you can’t have a wild tiger with a water bowl) to enthrall the public.

The whole foul charade is a testament to gullibility, avarice, indifference to what constitutes a national park, and what really impresses me, is that a government entity can embark upon such a ludicrously inept fraud.

There is no point in me posting any of my tiger photos. The pug marks were sent to an expert who thought we were joking.

Let me leave you to Bruce and his tigers. Wild, un-drugged, alive.

Cheers from Bangkok!


From: Bruce []
Sent: Wednesday, December 10, 2014 1:01 AM
Subject: [Wildlife Photography in Thailand and Southeast Asia] WPB2D – Weekly Digest Email

Bruce Kekule has posted a new article,

Tiger, tiger burning bright…!

A visit to Ranthambhore and Bandhavgarh national parks and tiger reserves in India

Sultan the Great of Ranthambhore National Park and Tiger Reserve: My favorite shot as he was looking right at me.

Several months ago, I found someone on Facebook offering a ‘workshop tour’ to some of India’s most famous tiger reserves. At first I was […]

You may view the latest post at

If you’d like to join me on Facebook please follow the link below:

You received this e-mail because you asked to be notified when new updates are posted.

Best regards,

L. Bruce Kekule

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