27 AUG 64 – 49 years ago…

26 Aug
Today, August 27th, marks 49 years since leaving the Army.  Three great years — I would say the most interesting 3-year span of my life. I enjoyed the military (should have stayed in), traveled all over Europe, played about 400 “gigs” as a cymbal player and piano player in the band (from small groups to big band) and I met Sylvia, which was my most significant meeting of the last 73 years.
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In those days they were drafting young guys and were sending them to South Korea from our area. I did not want to go to Korea, so as soon as my student deferment expired I enlisted rather than waiting to be drafted. Also in those days, if you signed up you could choose your “theater” — a general location. So I signed up for three years in the European Theater and was sent to the 3rd Armored Division in Frankfurt, West Germany. A year later I transferred to the 24th Infantry Division Band in Augsburg, West Germany.
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August 27th, 1964 — the end of a very special era. August 28th, 1964 – the beginning of 49 fantastic years. My future looks good — I look forward to every day and I try to make the best of every day, although some days are not so hot. But, hot or not, they are days that I am here… that in itself is a major blessing (considering two heart attacks, triple bypass surgery and three stents).  Yes, God is good and Jesus is fantastic…!
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JB-augsburg-1964-for site
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Playing piano with the band in Augsburg – 1964
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what’s next…?

18 Jun

Yesterday was the 17th and it was on May 17th that I paid a visit to the Del Mar Lifeguard station. They hooked me up to a machine and said “you’re having a heart attack”… then off to La Jolla Memorial Trauma center to see Dr. Harrington. So, now it’s a month later and I’m almost done with the customary four to six-week recovery process. I’ve changed my eating habits and have lost some weight. I’m just getting started with the exercise program. I’ll continue with bike riding and walking at the beach. Plus some work with weights and the rope work.

I spent some time in the dentist office yesterday — http://www.ltsmiles.com

Got a very thorough cleaning and Dr. McDonald told me that I have some significant problems, so I’ll have to find some money somewhere to get these problems fixed (or maybe go to Mexico).  Yes, I seem to be fighting health problems on several fronts these days. But, I guess that’s normal for most people in their 70s. I had a physical the other day and, other than this artery problem, my general health is quite good — I was happy with the report.  But, I’m kind of depressed over this dental thing — some major work needs to be done.

Anyhow… what’s next?  Steve and I are working on this sign business. He’s building a new website and we’re getting ready to do some marketing.  I’m working on the jazz piano instruction business. I have several videos done, both my albums converted to MP3s and a copyist writing my exercises out for me — they’ll be available as pdf’s on the new site.  And, I’m about half done with a new book entitled “55 Tips for the Jazz Piano Player.”  That will be an ebook available on the site plus I’ll get hard copies printed for promotional activities.

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Sylvia’s leaving for Turkey in the morning. First stop will be in Maryland and then the travellers will leave from New York on Friday night. It’s a ten-day trip to KalKan, a popular resort on the southern coast.

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Holiday destination: Kalkan, Turkey

Holiday destination: Kalkan, Turkey

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She’s very excited about going because, among other things, she would like to see where the Apostle Paul was born and some of the famous Biblical cities related to Paul’s travels.

Then while she’s gone Steve and I are going to be working on some projects around the house. The first one will be to put some vinyl flooring in the back bedroom using a product I’ve never seen before – http://www.homedepot.com/p/TrafficMaster-6-in-x-36-in-Country-Pine-Resilient-Vinyl-Plank-Flooring-24-sq-ft-case-33114/100594661#.UcFQLPm1Hvc

It’s easy to install and will give that room a much-needed visual lift.

Pauline and Nicole will be here on July 17th, so we are getting things cleaned up and organized for her. I have a tendency to let things slide a little, so when Pauline is coming, I’m motivated to get projects done that have been sitting around waiting for some attention. I only oil squeaky wheels and that’s not a good way to approach maintenance.  Oh well… at least I’m still here… that’s something.

All for now…

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brez

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The new program…

1 Jun

After twelve years of no prescription drugs, I’m going to have to change my ways.  My mother took Rx drugs most of her life for one thing or another and she did not have a happy life.  Maybe she needed them… I don’t know for sure. On the other hand, my dad kept away from all drugs. He believed in exercise, good food and self-discipline.  So, having observed both lifestyles I chose the one that appeared to be the most beneficial.  He had a heart attack at 79 (brought on by CAD) and then he took some meds until his second heart attack at 81.  After that one he lived for ten days, but between the old arteries and the old heart he gave up the ghost and took off for the wild blue yonder.

In the meantime, I’m going to take the meds, continue on with my exercise program (which I will post later next week), and move off in a slightly different diet direction.  Been eatin too many simple carbs and too much animal fat.  But, thanks to Allison, the dietitian I met at La Jolla Memorial, I have a very good eating plan.  According to the tests I’m borderline diabetic, mostly due to my simple carb-centric diet.  So, she gave me an eating plan that includes complex carbs, protein, fruit and vegetables. Actually, all I have to do is to eat like Sylvia does and I’ll have the perfect diet. So, between Allison and Sylvia I’ll have an eating approach that will yield many more years of good health.

It was two weeks ago yesterday that I had the sudden lifestyle change at Del Mar Beach. I’m still tired and I move quite slowly (even slower than normal — Sylvia’s mom used to say that I had two speeds… “slow and dead stop”).  I only move quickly when it’s absolutely necessary or when I’ve had a good dose of caffeine. I’m definitely not the Type A personality, so that Type A-heart attack concept didn’t apply to me … http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Type_A_and_Type_B_personality_theory

So, the new program will be similar to the old one except that I will add all these meds and I’ll alter my diet somewhat to include more fruit and vegetables and cut way back on animal fat sources.

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Steve has been back for almost a year, or maybe it’s already a year. Don’t remember exactly.  He has settled in well and has a nice routine.  We run the sign business together and he spends a lot of time on his music.  His band has rehearsals every week, so that’s a good sign.

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Proposed book cover for new book coming out this summer

Proposed book cover for new book coming out this summer

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I’m still working on the online jazz piano instruction business.  I have nine videos completed  – shot by Alexis Grenier – http://www.alexisgrenier.com/

– fourteen MP3 tracks from the two albums I recorded in 1961 and 1963 and several pdf’s of my basic jazz exercises.  The book above will be the tool I’ll use to advertise the business.  In order to get this done, once and for all, I’ve hired a coach to keep me on the ball until this gets done — he’s here in San Diego – Brian Traichel –http://www.linkedin.com/in/briantraichel

I tend to be a little on the lazy side, so with Brian’s guidance and encouragement I’ll be making some money by the end of the summer.

Later this month Sylvia will be off to Turkey with our daughter Angela, her husband Majid and her husband’s parents. They own a villa in Kalkan in the central area of Turkey on the coast – http://www.kalkanturkey.com/about_kalkan.htm

She’s excited about going for several reasons, one of which will be to see some of the places where Paul the Apostle spent some time — he was born in Tarsus – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tarsus,_Mersin

Then in mid-July Pauline and Nicole will be visiting with us for five weeks.  Nicole just had her fifth birthday last month. Pauline has lived in London for about twelve years and worked for Ernst & Young  — http://ukexperiencedhire.ey.com/office-locations/london.aspx

In May of 2006 she married Englishman Peter Snasdell – a gem of a guy. She’s currently a full-time mom for Nicole and a full-time wife for Peter — we’re thankful to Peter for making this possible.  Those early years are critical to later development and, if at all possible, I think it’s very important for mom’s to attend to their child (children) full-time.

In September I expect to take the trip back east that I had to cancel due to this heart attack.  I was going to spend two weeks back there visiting with Johnny and family in Brooklyn, and also to Maryland to visit with Angie and family and to see their new house. They’re still in Ellicott City, but they moved into a new development.  Also I was going to attend two Barry Harris workshops to get some new piano playing ideas and to hang out with Barry…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZL1DwGNF6PQ

So, now that trip has been moved back to mid-September.  I should be in good shape by then — fully recovered and ready to roll.

My “adopted” daughter, Liz McAvoy, has encouraged me to continue writing these blog entries. She’s a writer and a teacher in the Bay area — a very talented young lady.  We’ve known her for many many years, going back to Johnny’s high school days in the mid-80s (they were dating each other at that point). Also, she’s the niece of Sylvia’s good friend Karen McAvoy — we’ve known Karen since the early 80s (or perhaps before that — can’t remember). Karen’s daughter Phyllis and Pauline did Irish dancing together — they studied with the Donna Means School of Irish Dancing – http://www.donnameansirishdance.com/

Those were some fun days — I really enjoyed that stretch of time — attending the competitions and enjoying the music. Anyhow, due to Liz’s encouragement I’ll make a good effort to continue with these blog entries.

So, that’s it for now…

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brez

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Heart attack number two…

30 May

I guess it had to happen. After twelve years a blockage developed in the vein they put in to bypass the original blockage.  Veins don’t hold up as well as arteries. So, while walking at the beach at Del Mar on Friday, May 17th, I had that familiar feeling that I had in January of 2001. I got to the main 17th Street life guard station and asked for some nitro glycerine.  Within a few minutes the medics arrived, did a test and said I was having a heart attack.  A few minutes later and I was on the way to La Jolla Memorial Hospital. Then within another short time Dr. Harrington was at work to find the problem. He found it and inserted a stent to open the blockage.  While looking around he found another artery that needed attention, so on Monday the 20th, he put two more stents into the artery that needed some help. Then Tuesday evening I left for home.

lifeguard station

The Del Mar Lifeguard Headquarters at 17th Street and the beach.

This is where I went for help – they were fast and efficient. I just happened to be at the right place at the right time — the story of my life.  For some reason, and I have no idea why, God has blessed my life above and beyond what would be considered “normal.”  I don’t know what will happen in the future, but up until now, at age 73, I have been on the receiving end of more blessings than most people.  I see people around me with all kinds of problems and tragedies to deal with and I repeat the familiar phrase to myself… “There but for the grace of God go I.”

When I look back over the years, I have great memories – being raised in the Palisades in the 50s was storybook — an ideal environment. Attended four years of college — joined the Army at 21 — traveled all over Europe while in the Army;  met Sylvia in Germany when we were both 23. We’ve enjoyed 50 years together, so far. I don’t want to bore you with details, but I’m one extremely blessed guy. Of course, I’ve faced many problems over the years, but nothing like I see around me. What did I do to deserve such a charmed life?  I don’t know — it’s a mystery.

John C. Harrington, MD - Interventional Cardiologist at La Jolla Memorial Hospital.

John C. Harrington, MD – Interventional Cardiologist at La Jolla Memorial Hospital.

Here’s a photo of my new hero. Not only did he fix me up with the stents in the right places, he went into great detail about the various aspects of what he did and what I can expect in the future. The doctor I had in 2001 didn’t spend any time with me.  I’m not a drug guy — I don’t like to take pills, but Dr. Harrington convinced me to take six pills a day to assist the arteries and the heart as it ages.  He said if I take the meds, I won’t have another heart attack.  That’s music to my ears, so now I’m a convert and I’m a happy pill-taker.

I’ll sign off for now and I’ll report in sometime next month with an update. He said it would take four to six weeks for the heart to get past the trauma of the attack. So, I’ll gradually get back to exercise and continue on with the good eating habits.

All for now

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Brez

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Steve’s first album

19 Jan

Steve has recorded his first album and his older brother John is working on distribution.

A little history:  Steve is our youngest – born in October of 1977, Stephen Austin Bresnik was born right here in Escondido. We call him Steve. He started playing the guitar about twenty-five years ago. He also played the drums and the bass.  He was not academically comfortable, so he didn’t do well in academic subjects. He marched to a different drummer and is a true artist. Music is his first love and if you love to do something, you’ll become very good at it.  He’s very good at making music.

In keeping with the Escondido theme, he recorded this album at a recording studio right here in the old section of Escondido. He booked five days and spent eight to nine hours a day producing his art.  His high-school buddy Adam Hammill was his technical advisor. He has a degree in recording arts from the University of Southern California and he knows his stuff. So, between Steve’s music and Adam’s technical skills you will hear some first class rock and roll, unless it’s called something else these days.  I have a hard time defining the various musical genres.  Mine was easy… 50s style jazz piano. But, I’m not exactly sure what style Steve is playing.

At any rate — as you know, I’ve been playing a contemporary style of piano music since 1955 and I worked with professionals in the music business for nine years. And, I’ve been listening to music with a critical ear for about sixty years. So, I fancy myself a bit of an expert regarding the degree of professional skill required to produce good musical selections.  After listening to Steve’s album a few times, I would say that it is at a very high level of musicality… in other words… it’s fantastic.

Steve wrote the music, wrote the lyrics, did the arranging, sang, played the various guitar voices and played the bass lines. That’s a lot of stuff for one guy to do well. The fact that he does it well suggests to me that he is destined for success in the music business. The old saying “after twenty years of hard work, he became an overnight success” may apply to Steve — I think it will.

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Steve and Adam in the recording studio - December 28, 2012

Steve (left) and Adam in the recording studio – December 28, 2012

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For his live performance work he has put together a group of musicians who live here in town. Adam on drums, Tom Henry on bass and Chris Miller on guitar. Steve will also play guitar and sing.

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John, Steve and Adam checking out the retro guitar amp

John, Steve and Adam checking out the retro guitar amp

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This evening the live band performed at a friend’s home in Moreno Valley – that’s about an hour north of here. This will be their first performance in a public setting and I expect the first of many. Adam has some good connections; Johnny (in Brooklyn) has connections and I have a few. So, between the three of us, we hope to see EARDRUM GLUTTONY become a working band. A video guy took footage of their performance this evening, so a video will be forthcoming on YouTube.

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Steve and John having a good laugh...

Steve and John having a good laugh…

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So, where’s the music?  Here it is:  http://www.eardrumgluttony.com. The site was designed and produced by brother John – photos taken by Steve’s cousin Sandra Smullen. Steve is going to use the stage name “Steve Austin” which is a great name and also happens to be his middle name.

So, as Steve Lawrence sang to Eydie Gorme many years ago… “This could be the start of something big”….  yes, it could be.

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"... what up next...?"

I think I’ll change that to a Gm7-5

All for now…

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brez

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From “new” kitchen to new car…

30 Dec

Here’s something NOT to do in the month of December as we approach the Christmas holiday — paint the kitchen cabinets. What a bloody mess… every drawer and cabinet emptied out — all the drawers out and all the cabinet doors off. We are covering a fairly dark lacquered stain with white. Water-based paint doesn’t want to cover lacquer so the whole thing had to be de-greased, sanded and then two coats of white primer applied. Then the semi-gloss finish coat.  We’re about three-quarters done. Finish painting tomorrow and then re-assemble everything on Saturday. Then, once again, peace and quiet at the Bresnik household, although we’ll be busy next week getting the house cleaned up for the kids coming next weekend.

What not to do in December...

What not to do in December…

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Angela and family will be arriving from Ellicott City, Maryland on the 23rd and Johnny and family will be coming in from Brooklyn on the 24th… a full house, once again.  We moved to this house when Angie was seven and Johnny was eleven. So, this is familiar territory for them.

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Today is Dec 29th — just want to update things before we head into the new year. Yes, believe it or not, the kitchen got done. I still have a few things to  finish up with – for instance I’ll be taking the hinges off, stripping the paint, spraying with clear and putting them back in place. Painting hinges doesn’t really work.  At any rate here are a couple photos of the finished job:

Sylvia at work in the "new" kitchen - Dec 2012

Sylvia at work in the “new” kitchen – Dec 2012

the other side...

the other side…

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We got this kitchen done about a week before the kids arrived, so it was not a last minute panic thing.

Angie and family arrived from Ellicott City, Maryland last Sunday. Then Johnny and family arrived from Brooklyn last Monday, Christmas Eve.  Then on Christmas Day — BIG Christmas dinner … Sylvia and I and four of our five kids; all their kids; Sylvia’s niece Sandra and her partner Cathi, plus two of Sylvia’s hiking buddies and their son. And, to add to the excitement (or confusion) we also had Bella’s (daughter of John and Mai) toy fox terrier running around the place.  Sylvia put a great meal together and our son Rob carved the turkey. A good time was had by all.

The most substantial and surprising gift was a brand new 2012 Honda Fit given to Sylvia by our daughter Angela and her very generous husband Majid.  He is one of those rare guys who does it all — great father, great husband and super-great son-in-law.  He’s also a fitness enthusiast and works as an MD near Ellicott City, Maryland.  Very impressive guy.

Here’s a photo of Sylvia on her way to town the day after she got the keys to her new car…

Sylvia taking off with her NEW car... exciting...

Sylvia taking off with her NEW car… exciting…

This is a very significant event in that it frees Sylvia from any transportation concerns for at least the next ten years — Majid bought a maintenance contract that will cover any and all repairs for many years (can’t remember how many at the moment).  So, that’s a big load off her mind.  She’s going to loan me her VW for now — I need something to drive and it’s still a great car.

Johnny took off from Montgomery Field in San Diego this afternoon for a short one-hour flight around San Diego. He’s been a licensed pilot for just a few months. We’re happy for him because there’s nothing like finding something you love to do and then having the time and money to do it.

Steve has been in the recording studio all week – he booked five 10-hour days with a local studio – http://inthechaos.com/. He writes his own material, sings, plays guitar and bass and hired a professional drummer for this album. Tomorrow is the final day to do the fine tuning of all the work he has done this week. I’ll help him produce a promo package and then he’ll have the potential to get into the music business. As the old song goes “This Could be the Start of Something Big”… it could be.

That’s about it for this year — 2012 — about ready to bite the dust. It was a good year… thanks be to God, no major problems.

I’m curious to see what unfolds next year — I think there will be some traveling for starters. And, I think Steve’s music career will get under way.  Pauline and her daughter Nicole will be visiting for five weeks beginning in July. Perhaps Sylvia and I will do some car camping at some point now that we have dependable transportation. I think my online piano teaching business will get off the ground.  Yes, I’m expecting another interesting year ahead. My motto for year will be “New Routine in 2013.”

Part of the “new routine” will be to use the excellent gift that Pauline and Peter gave me: the “Indian Clubs” — http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_clubs. In addition to the rope exercises I do, I’ll be adding this routine. That plus some bike riding and some work with kettlebells. Planning to get into good shape this year.

That’s it for now…

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brez

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Family update – as of the end of November…

30 Nov

I heard from my sister Nancy a couple weeks ago. She finally joined the 21st century and bought a laptop, which means she is now able to send and receive emails without going to the local library. She’s an excellent artist (to my eye anyway). Here’s a watercolor she did several years ago..

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Seascape – a view from Kapaa.

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My brother Rob (aka Bob) lives in Taos, New Mexico. He’s also an artist and captures his images with a camera, has some fun with the image in Photoshop and then prints on his very nice Epson printer.  He sells at outdoor shows:

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I have three cousins in the LA area and one in Boulder, Colorado.  Cousin Randy flew helicopters in the Viet Nam conflict and then flew for the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department until he retired a few years ago. His son also got into flying and ended up becoming an astronaut — he took off for the space station in late 2009. He’s stationed in Houston. He’s the guy on the right:

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Update for the Bresnik’s on Overlook in Escondido

Sylvia is taking a break (also known as a brake) this month. After a very busy year, she’s unwinding and relaxing a bit. Still swimming MWF, running, yoga and body pump on TuThSa and then the 50-mile bike ride on Sunday. But, no races, no mountain climbing — just the easy stuff.

We’ll have a full house at Christmas — Johnny and family will be here… coming in from Brooklyn, NY on the 24th for a week. Angie and family will be coming in from Ellicott City, MD on the 23rd.  Steve is currently living here and the Rob will be visiting (he’s in San Diego). This will be the first time since Christmas of 2006 to have so many of the kids visiting. Pauline won’t be able to make it (she’s in London).

Angie’s husband Majid accepted a good offer to work at a hospital in Annapolis. He worked at the U of M Hospital in Baltimore for many years, but came across an offer he couldn’t refuse. It’s a position doing work he enjoys and the money is good.  Also, Angie got one of those new Leaf’s — all electric… she loves it.

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Steve is working on material for a 5-selection album that he will record beginning December 26. The studio time has been reserved and he’s ready to go. He writes his own material – plays guitar and sings. He’ll also be playing the bass and drums — he’s easily the most talented musician in the family.

Rob is doing this computer thing in San Diego — mobile service. Goes to the customer’s location and solves computer problems.  Johnny is programming for a company in Manhattan. He just got his pilot’s license a few weeks ago — loves to fly. Now, instead of taking 4-5 hours to drive from Brooklyn to Ellicott City, he’ll just rent a plane and get there in about an hour.

Pauline has been in London for eleven years (or maybe 12 — can’t remember). She married an Englishman in May of 2006 and they have a 4-year-old daughter Nicole.  They live in Chislehurst, Kent.  She worked for Ernst Young for many years, but is now a full-time mom, which is nice for her and for Nicole. We’re happy for both our daughters — they don’t have to juggle a full-time job with motherhood and the marriage.  It’s very unusual these days to have that luxury.

Steve and I are working on a new sign business. He’s been doing this for about twenty years, so between the two of us, we’ll have this thing going full-steam in a matter of months. I have some good connections and Steve has the know-how to make the company relevant to the current times.  My way of operating is quite dated, so with Steve’s input and knowledge, we’ll do well.  I’m also working on getting my jazz piano lessons online — that’s another potentially successful business. I have over 60,000 views to my two  YouTube videos — that will help.

That’s it for now…

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brez