THE MOST UNRELIABLE

November 7, 2018


One of the things I like to do with my posts is deliver information you can use in your daily life. “Stuff” that just mike make a difference.  I certainly hope this one does.    Some of the information you will read is taken from Consumer Reports Magazine and Design News Daily Magazine.

Consumer Reports recently published information regarding the reliability of automobiles offered for sale in the United States.  They drew their conclusions from owner surveys of more than five hundred thousand (500,000) people. The surveys look at numerous problem areas including engine, transmission, suspension, cooling, electrical, climate, brakes, exhaust, paint, trim, noises, leaks, power equipment, and in-car electronics, among others.  We will highlight now those automobiles considered to be the most unreliable.  This list may surprise you as it did me.

I would say that if you are looking for new wheels you heed the information given by Consumer Magazine.  They accept no advertisements and generally conduct their research by interviewing consumers and actually testing the products they report on.

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Some information for this post is taken from the Concord Coalition

Business, corporate, government or individual fiscal year calendars and planners for the US fiscal year 2018 as defined by the US Federal Government, starting on October 1, 2017 and ending on September 30, 2018. The calendars cover a twelve-month period and are divided into four quarters. With that being the case, once again the clock begins ticking elevating our national debt.  As of 2 October 2018, at 0900 hours our national debt was about $21.5 trillion dollars.

As you can see, a trillion is a one with twelve (12) zeros behind it.  We have twenty-one of these to deal with.  The chart below was “shot” at sixteen (16) hundred hours (4:00 for you civilians) on 2 October 2018.  If that debt is allocated for each citizen and each taxpayer, the debt becomes $65,447 or $176,475 respectively. We all had better have a really really good year.

Right now, our debt is approximately ninety-four percent (%) of our gross domestic product (GDP).  In 2050 that debt is estimated to be one hundred and fifty percent (150%) our GDP, which is considered to be unsustainable.   The chart below will give you some idea as to how quickly our debt has risen.

Well, if misery loves company, we are not alone with issues of national debt.  The following chart give debt of the top twenty (20) countries with significant debt.  Not a pretty picture.

WHAT IS THE CURE FOR US NATIONAL DEBT?

Entitlement Programs – When social security was first enacted the life expectancy in the country was sixty-three (63) years old.  Today that life expectancy is in the late seventies (70’s).  If we’re to get our entitlement programs back into line, we should think about changing the eligibility age for social security and Medicare to at least the early seventies (70’s).

We should also change social security disability and loosen the eligibility for those who are over sixty-two (62) years old.  Those who can’t continue to do hard labor (construction) type of jobs would be eligible to collect earlier.  We would also have to make sure that medical insurance companies use community rating so those older Americans could get medical insurance at a “reasonable” price until they reached the age of eligibility for Medicare.

The Military – It makes no sense that the United States should spend more than the next ten countries combined for national defense.  We have significantly more firepower than we need and as a result we tend to trot this ability out to other parts of the world and work towards “nation building”.  It’s time that we go back to the levels of military spending we had under previous administrations and even make larger cuts.  We just can’t afford the size military we have and the interventionists policies that we’ve developed.  We really cannot protect the entire world endlessly.

Tax policy – It’s not only the rich.  We do need to change tax policy on the richest Americans.  They do need to pay more, but so does everyone else.  Right now, we have close to fifty percent (50%) of Americans not paying any income taxes.  This just isn’t fair.  If we’re all to participate in the good things that our country has to offer, then we all need to participate in paying a “fair” level of taxes to support those activities.  Everyone should have “skin in the game”.

Public workers compensation packages – Thirty years ago people went to work for the government knowing they were going to make less money, but their job security was going to be very strong.  Today according to John Mauldin, we have a situation where government workers are paid on average forth percent (40%) more than their private sector counterparts.  This is more than unsustainable.  There is no reason government workers should have this sort of bonus and it needs to be brought under control if we’re to reign in our government debt issues

CONCLUSIONS:

The above suggestions and possible solutions are only the tip of the ice burg.  The problem is: WE NEED TO DO SOMETHING and do it quickly—like this year, right now.

 

 

 

THE STATE OF CONFUSION

September 2, 2018


One of the most interesting new restaurants in Chattanooga is called The State of Confusion.  The history of its location will indicate how the name came about.

Fifteen months after the eclectic salvage outlet known as Estate of Confusion closed, the Main Street facility has opened as a unique, indoor and outdoor restaurant and bar known as State of Confusion.  The next two digital pictures will give you some idea as to what existed on that location prior to becoming Chattanooga’s newest eating facility.

The Estate of Confusion served as the location for art-related artifacts needed for photographers, sculptors and fabricators seeking something different.  In other words, it was a high-class junkyard.

The new facility at 301 East Main Street features made-from-scratch Latin American, New Orleans and low-country food, including Peruvian ceviche and wood-fire grilled meats and vegetables.  Their Peruvian ceviche menu is remarkably complete and with an extensive variety.  Approximately $2.5 million was spent to renovate and reactivate the former junk yard, which was owned by Greg Ross for nearly two decades of operation.

The new 330-seat restaurant includes indoor and patio seating in a variety of casual settings.  The design has retained the metal hangar, concrete buildings and foundations of the former salvage yard while adding locally made and unique bars, picnic tables and seating around wood-fired grills.  The outdoor terrace and indoor area are shown as follows:

(I want to apologize for the picture below.  I did not realize I had the bright light in the frame.)  You can get some idea as to the construction of the indoor eating area.  The owners made great effort in retaining the overall design, which explains the ceiling.

“State of Confusion is all about levity and fun with the highest quality, authentic food and fusion of flavors and dishes that you can’t get anywhere else,” said Allen Corey, CEO of Square One Holdings. “We traveled to Peru, the birthplace of ceviche, to understand ceviche; to New Orleans to craft the best muffuletta bread and bologna, and up and down the East Coast to curate the best seafood boils.”

The nearly 11,000-square-foot restaurant opened two weeks ago for lunch, dinner, brunch and special occasions and will offer both sit-down meals or just a place to hang out and sip ice-cold beer (served in ice buckets), cocktails or aguas frescas — a traditional chilled Spanish beverage of water and fruit.

Two bars with inside seating open to the outside terrace and face each other across the patio. State of Confusion will have its own sugar cane expeller to make its mojitos — a cocktail made from white rum, sugar cane juice, lime juice, soda water and mint.

At the front of the new restaurant in the former Main Street storefront, a small bar and takeout facility is being developed known as the Pump House. Sit-down dining will be in both the bigger building on the rear of the lot as well as outdoors in a giant patio, where the restaurant developers plan to put in Igloos in the winter for patio dining in colder weather.

To offer something new to the Chattanooga market (and also not available yet even in Atlanta or Nashville), the ownership decided to bring to the  Chattanooga market a seafood dish popular in the Pacific coastal regions of Latin America known as ceviche, which is considered a national dish in Peru. Ceviche is made from fresh raw fish cured in citrus juices, such as lemon or lime, and spiced with ají or chili peppers.  According to the owners, “This is something totally unique for our area and we think will be very popular.   “It’s light eating, very healthy and sophisticated and has a unique and great taste — if you do it right.” “We really had a crash course with some of the best ceviche chefs in Lima because we want to make sure we offer genuine, Peruvian-style ceviche here in Chattanooga,” Heckler said.

The new restaurant also plans to offer Argentina-style wood-grilled entrees, including house-ground burgers, steaks and seafood and its own unique Bologna. Most of the menu entrees will range in price from $9 to $10 for sandwiches up to $40 for the most expensive ceviche, steak and seafood items. Appetizers will start around $6.50.

To prepare other menu items, restaurant crews traveled to New Orleans and Miami to study menus and food and drink preparation styles and techniques.

“When we started out on this project we knew we wanted authentic cuisine so we traveled to Peru, New Orleans and Miami to be able to deliver these specific culinary items,” Walton said. “We also want to have the levity and the ultimate hang out place that is very casual to allow you to have this great made-from-scratch, unique food in a very fun atmosphere.”

State of Confusion is one of the biggest restaurants to open on the Southside and is among a half dozen eateries that have or will soon open in and around Main Street and the Choo Choo in the past couple of years.

My wife and I walked in about 5:30 P.M. on 31 August to give it a try.  It was already packed with a capital “P”.  Take a look at the experience.

Our waitress was Trystan who turned out to be extremely knowledgeable and very accommodating.  She had sampled all of the entrees and side dishes and came with great recommendation.

We decided to order from the “STARTERS” menu so we might sample multiple dishes. My wife, LOVES shell fish so she had the muscles.

I, on the other hand, really enjoy calamari.

One of the most interesting dishes is the “Monkey Bread” shown below.  It was fabulous. I can certainly recommend it to you when you visit.

CONCLUSIONS:

Reviews are important so let’s take a look at what others are saying. As I mentioned earlier, it’s only been open two weeks so the number of responses is, for the time being, somewhat limited although we loved it and definitely will go back.

I keep saying it’s about time you visit Chattanooga, Tennessee to put “some south in your mouth”.  You are going to love the dining experiences and the scenic experience.  To be a “river city” we offer a great deal. Come on down.


Space Exploration Technologies Corp., doing business as SpaceX, is a private American aerospace manufacturer and space transportation services company headquartered in Hawthorne, California. SpaceX has flown twenty-five (25) resupply missions to the International Space Station (ISS) under a partnership with NASA. As you all know, NASA no longer undertakes missions of this sort but relies upon private companies such as Space X for delivery of supplies and equipment to the ISS as well as launching satellite “dishes” for communications.

BACKGROUND: 

Entrepreneur Elon Musk, founded PayPal and Tesla Motors is the visionary who started the company Space Exploration Technologies.   In early 2002 Musk was seeking staff for the new company and approached rocket engineer Tom Mueller, now SpaceX’s CTO of Propulsion.  SpaceX was first headquartered in a seventy-five thousand (75,000) square foot warehouse in El Segundo, California. Musk decided SpaceX’s first rocket would be named Falcon 1, a nod to Star Wars’ Millennium Falcon. Musk planned Falcon 1’s first launch to occurring in November 2003, fifteen (15) months after the company started. When you think about the timing, you must admit this is phenomenal and extraordinary.   Now, the fact that is was an unmanned mission certainly cut the time due to no need for safety measures to protect the crew.  No redundant systems needed other than protecting the launch and cargo itself.

In January 2005 SpaceX bought a ten percent (10%) stake in Surrey Satellite Technology and by March 2006, Musk had invested US $100 million in the company.

On August 4, 2008 SpaceX accepted a further twenty ($20) million investment from Founders Fund.   In early 2012, approximately two-thirds of the company was owned by its founder Must with seventy  (70) million shares of stock estimated to be worth $875 million on private markets.  The value of SpaceX was estimated to be at $1.3 billion as of February 2012.   After the COTS 2+ flight in May 2012, the company private equity valuation nearly doubled to $2.4 billion.

SATELLITE LAUNCH:

The latest version of SpaceX’s workhorse Falcon 9 rocket lifted off for the second time on July 22, lighting up the skies over Florida’s Space Coast in a dazzling predawn launch.  The “Block 5” variant of the two-stage Falcon 9 blasted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 1:50 a.m. EDT (0550 GMT), successfully delivering to orbit a satellite for the Canadian communications company Telesat.     Less than nine (9) minutes after launch, the rocket’s first stage came back down to Earth, a with a successful landing aboard the SpaceX drone ship “Of Course I Still Love You” a few hundred miles off the Florida coast.  The Falcon 9 may be seen with the JPEG below.

The Block 5 is the newest, most powerful and most reusable version of the Falcon 9.  Musk said the Block 5 first stages are designed to fly at least ten (10) times with just inspections between landing and liftoff, and one hundred (100) times or more with some refurbishment involved.

Such extensive reuse is key to Musk’s quest to slash the cost of spaceflight, making Mars colonization and other bold exploration efforts economically feasible. To date, SpaceX has successfully landed more than two dozen Falcon 9 first stages and re-flown landed boosters on more than a dozen occasions.

The only previous Block 5 flight occurred this past May 2018 and also involved a new rocket configuration.  The satellite lofted is called Telstar 19V, is headed for geostationary orbit, about 22,250 miles (35,800 kilometers) above Earth. Telstar 19V, which was built by California-based company SSL, will provide broadband service to customers throughout the Americas and Atlantic Ocean region, according to a Telesat fact sheet.

The booster’s first stage, sporting redesigned landing legs, improved heat shield insulation, upgraded avionics and more powerful engines with crack-resistant turbine hardware, flipped around moments after falling away from the Falcon 9’s second stage and flew itself back to an on-target landing on an offshore drone-ship.

It was the 25th successful booster recovery overall for SpaceX and the fifth so far this year, the latest demonstration of SpaceX’s maturing ability to bring orbit-class rockets back to Earth to fly again in the company’s drive to dramatically lower launch costs.

CONCLUSION:

I think the fact that Musk has taken on this project is quite extortionary.  Rocket launches, in times past, have represented an amazing expenditure of capital with the first and second stages being lost forever.  The payload, generally the third stage, go on to accomplish the ultimate mission.  Stages one and two become space debris orbiting Earth and posing a great menace to other launches.  Being able to reuse any portion of stages one and two is a great cost-effective measure and quite frankly no one really though it could be accomplished.


There’s a little something for everyone at Magnolia Market at the Silos. Shopping, games, the garden and even a bite to eat. The Market itself is staged and set up with one goal in mind: to inspire you to own the space you’re in. We hope that you’ll come to visit and leave excited about your home. It’s with a grateful heart that I welcome you to magnolia.com. Chip and I run a few businesses here in Waco, Texas, but Magnolia Market holds a special place in my heart. This entire business idea was born completely out of a dream I didn’t know could ever come to life. It’s truly only because a fiercely faithful, brave and bold husband pushed me to pursue my dream that it ever came to be.

In 2003, we bought our “Little Shop on Bosque” and opened the first Magnolia Market. In that store, I developed and sharpened my design style and skills, grew as a business owner, and gained much needed confidence in Magnolia Market and myself.”

Those words were uttered Joanna Gains of Waco, Texas. Magnolia Market at the Silos is a thriving business with very upscale merchandise for the home.  Chip and Joanna are shown in the digital below.

While visiting our son, daughter-in-law and grandson in Dallas this past week, my wife, our third granddaughter (shown below) and I traveled to Waco to take a look at the “Silos”.  The trip from Dallas is a little over an hour and thirty minutes.  Not bad with great interstate roads.

You know you are here by the sign on the gift shop.

I think Chip and Joanna selected a perfect location for their facility.  The vacant silos give a very distinct appearance to the location and can be seen from several blocks away.

A very nice and usable map of the Silo District locates everything within the grounds.  Everything is within walking distance and no motorized vehicles are permitted on the grounds.  They would be absolutely unnecessary anyway.

The entrance way runs just to the left of the silos.  Their size and height relative to people visiting the facility shows how massive they actually are.

When taking a left turn after the silos, you see an open “game” area.  There are bins located to the left of the game area where balls, Frisbees, and other toys are located for the benefit of anyone wishing to spend time while the family is shopping.

If you visit Magnolia at the Silos you are interested in shopping, eating and visiting the newly opened bakery.

There is food and a great variety, BUT it all comes from food trucks located just behind the game area. There is a Magnolia Restaurant but that facility is off-site.  We did not visit the restaurant.

The next three digital photographs show the shopping area.  It is a huge area and the pictures really do not do the size justice.   The merchandise is top quality and not cheap.   No Walmart here.  You get what you pay for and people were lined up at the cash registers.  People were definitely buying.

I thought it was interesting that Chip had his own small space and I do mean small.  You get the picture from below.  The overwhelming number of items available for sale relate to decorating home interiors.

“We can’t wait to welcome you to Silos Baking Co., our on-site bakery filled with Joanna’s personal recipes and hand-picked favorites—like “The Silos Cookie”, “The Prize Pig” bacon and cheddar biscuit, and the “Nuts & Bolts” cupcake. We don’t want you to miss this little corner of the Silos—it’s definitely the sweetest!”

Once again, the words of Chip and Joanna.  The bakery is truly a must-see.  Be prepared to wait in line about twenty to thirty minutes.  The bakery goods are top quality, fresh, made that day and very well displayed.

My wife and our granddaughter indicate shopping was good.  Hopefully you can see the menu from the picture below.

CONCLUSIONS:

I think Magnolia at the Silos is a marvelous success story and a wonderful place to visit.  It’s truly a fun place.  You can spend all day or as much time as you wish.  Parking in their lot is ten dollars with the lot definitely in walking distance of the facility.

 

CENTRAL MARKET—DALLAS

July 14, 2018


When we visit our family in Dallas, Texas we ALWAYS make at least one stop at the Central Market on 5750 East Lovers Lane.  The digital below gives you some idea as to the size of the facility—its is HUGE.  Everything from soup to nuts, all fresh daily, with an amazing verity of choices for every want and need including ethnic.   In this case, a picture or pictures, are better than a thousand words so this post will be pictorial in nature.  I do not think you will regret the digital visit.  Here we go.

The outside is not very dramatic. Pretty much “plain Jane” as it were but wait until you see the inside.

No way we start shopping without taking our grandson.  As you can see, he is driving the bus.

VEGGIES:

If variety is the spice of life you are in “tall cotton” when you first visit the vegetable section. This is the very first area you come to when you enter.  The picture below does not do the area justice.  There are three additional long tables and one shorter table loaded with anything you might want or need including vegetables I have never heard of much less eaten.  The citizens of Dallas represent a very diverse culture so Central Market caters to those cultures.

FRUITS:

Same way with fruits. You name it—they have it.  Again, four tables of fruits neatly arranged and labeled to provide any customer with a superb selection.

FISH DEPARTMENT:

All fresh although there is a frozen fish section in coolers located within the department.


 

$26.99 per pound for lobster tails.  You might also notice the size of the bay scallops.  They are absolutely huge.

MEAT DEPARTMENT:

Two sixty (60) foot counters of meat for consideration.  If they don’t have it, you done need it.  There are even “exotic” meats such as ostrich, buffalo, snake, etc etc.

GRAINS:

This is one of the most intriguing displays in the store.  Each container carries a different consumable.  As you can see, there are well over fifty (50) to consider.  Again, Dallas is a diverse city and many shop here because they know they can find foods and ingredients common to their upbringing.

COFFEE:

The various coffees displayed cover the field and come from many many different countries.  You can buy the bean or grind in the store.

BREAD SELECTION:

To me, the most impressive section of the Central Market is the great variety of bread they offer.  ALL bread, including muffins and pastries are baked at the store on a daily basis.

CHEESES:

The second most-impressive displays are in the Cheese Department.  Again, if they don’t have it you don’t need it.

WINE:

With bread and cheese, you have to have wine and of course they do.  Take a look.

PASTERIES:

We may as well finish with dessert.  Take a look at the selection below.

CONCLUSIONS:

I obviously do not know if you ever travel to Dallas but if you do, here are several places you need to visit:

  • The Central Market
  • AT&T Stadium (Home of the Cowboys)
  • The George W. Bush Presidential Library
  • The Perot Museum of Natural History
  • The Dallas Arboretum
  • Pecan Lodge (Best brisket in Dallas)

Just a thought.

SOCIAL MEDIA

June 27, 2018


DEFINITION:

Social media is typically defined today as: – “Web sites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking” – OxfordDictionaries.

Now that we have cleared that up, let’s take a look at the very beginning of social media.

Six Degrees, according to several sources, was the first modern-day attempt of providing access to communication relative to the “marvelous world” of social media. (I have chosen to put marvelous world in quotes because I’m not too sure it’s that marvelous. There is an obvious downside.)  Six Degrees was launched in 1997 and definitely was the first modern social network. It allowed users to create a profile and to become friends with other users. While the site is no longer functional, at one time it was actually quite popular and had approximately a million members at its peak.

Other sources indicate that social media has been around for the better part of forty (40) years with Usenet appearing in 1979.  Usenet is the first recorded network that enabled users to post news to newsgroups.  Although these Usenets and similar bulletin boards heralded the launch of the first, albeit very rudimentary, social networks, social media never really took off until almost thirty (30) years later, following the roll out of Facebook in 2006. Usenet was not identified as “social media” so the exact term was not used at that time.

If we take a very quick look at Internet and Social Media usage, we find the following:

As you can see from above, social media is incredibly popular and in use hourly if not minute-by-minute.  It’s big in our society today across the world and where allowed.

If we look at the fifteen most popular sites we see the following:

With out a doubt, the gorilla in the room is Facebook.

Facebook statistics

  • Facebook adds 500,000 new users a day – that’s six new profiles a second – and just under a quarter (775) of adults in the US visit their account at least once a month
  • The average (mean) number of Facebook friends is 155
  • There are 60 million active small business pages (up from 40 million in 2015), 5 million of which pay for advertising
  • There are thought to be 270 million fake Facebook profiles (there were only81 million in 2015)
  • Facebook accounts for 1% of social logins made by consumers to sign into the apps and websites of publishers and brands.

It’s important we look at all social media sites so If we look at daily usage for the most popular web sites, we see the following:

BENEFITS:

  • Ability to connect to other people all over the world. One of the most obvious pros of using social networks is the ability to instantly reach people from anywhere. Use Facebook to stay in touch with your old high school friends who’ve relocated all over the country, get on Google Hangouts with relatives who live halfway around the world, or meet brand new people on Twitter from cities or regions you’ve never even heard of before.
  • Easy and instant communication. Now that we’re connected wherever we go, we don’t have to rely on our landlines, answering machines or snail mail to contact somebody. We can simply open up our laptops or pick up our smartphones and immediately start communicating with anyone on platforms like Twitter or one of the many social messaging apps
  • Real-time news and information discovery. Gone are the days of waiting around for the six o’clock news to come on TV or for the delivery boy to bring the newspaper in the morning. If you want to know what’s going on in the world, all you need to do is jump on social media. An added bonus is that you can customize your news and information discovery experiences by choosing to follow exactly what you want.
  • Great opportunities for business owners. Business owners and other types of professional organizations can connect with current customers, sell their products and expand their reach using social media. There are actually lots of entrepreneurs and businesses out there that thrive almost entirely on social networks and wouldn’t even be able to operate without it.
  • General fun and enjoyment. You have to admit that social networking is just plain fun sometimes. A lot of people turn to it when they catch a break at work or just want to relax at home. Since people are naturally social creatures, it’s often quite satisfying to see comments and likes show up on our own posts, and it’s convenient to be able to see exactly what our friends are up to without having to ask them directly.

DISADVANTAGES:

  • Information overwhelm. With so many people now on social media tweeting links and posting selfies and sharing YouTube videos, it sure can get pretty noisy. Becoming overwhelmed by too many Facebook friends to keep up with or too many Instagram photos to browse through isn’t all that uncommon. Over time, we tend to rack up a lot of friends and followers, and that can lead to lots of bloated news feeds with too much content we’re not all that interested in.
  • Privacy issues. With so much sharing going on, issues over privacy will always be a big concern. Whether it’s a question of social sites owning your content after it’s posted, becoming a target after sharing your geographical location online, or even getting in trouble at work after tweeting something inappropriate – sharing too much with the public can open up all sorts of problems that sometimes can’t ever be undone.
  • Social peer pressure and cyber bullying. For people struggling to fit in with their peers – especially teens and young adults – the pressure to do certain things or act a certain way can be even worse on social media than it is at school or any other offline setting. In some extreme cases, the overwhelming pressure to fit in with everyone posting on social media or becoming the target of a cyber-bullying attack can lead to serious stress, anxiety and even depression.
  • Online interaction substitution for offline interaction. Since people are now connected all the time and you can pull up a friend’s social profile with a click of your mouse or a tap of your smartphone, it’s a lot easier to use online interaction as a substitute for face-to-face interaction. Some people argue that social media actually promotes antisocial human behavior.
  • Distraction and procrastination. How often do you see someone look at their phone? People get distracted by all the social apps and news and messages they receive, leading to all sorts of problems like distracted driving or the lack of gaining someone’s full attention during a conversation. Browsing social media can also feed procrastination habits and become something people turn to in order to avoid certain tasks or responsibilities.
  • Sedentary lifestyle habits and sleep disruption. Lastly, since social networking is all done on some sort of computer or mobile device, it can sometimes promote too much sitting down in one spot for too long. Likewise, staring into the artificial light from a computer or phone screen at night can negatively affect your ability to get a proper night’s sleep. (Here’s how you can reduce that blue light, by the way.)

Social media is NOT going away any time soon.  Those who choose to use it will continue using it although there are definite privacy issues. The top five (5) issues discussed by users are as follows:

  • Account hacking and impersonation.
  • Stalking and harassment
  • Being compelled to turn over passwords
  • The very fine line between effective marketing and privacy intrusion
  • The privacy downside with location-based services

I think these issues are very important and certainly must be considered with using ANY social media platform.  Remember—someone is ALWAYS watching.

 

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