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Re: Hearing Loss from Piano
chasingrainbows #2951554 02/25/20 07:25 PM
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Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
Charles, how are your personal hearing amplifiers working for hearing conversation in noisy environments?


The first test will be tonight, when the choir stops singing and the director announces softly "Now, let's go to the mumble-mumble". That's the situation where half the choir asks the other half:

. . . "What did she say?"

This weekend I'll be at a conference, listening to speakers under varying conditions. The "noisy restaurant" test (which is extremely demanding) will be on March 23. Perhaps I'll get into a noisy restaurant sooner. I'll report back.

A problem with any "hearing aid" is that everything sounds "un-natural" -- the car makes weird creaks, footsteps sound like cracking whips -- because high frequencies are boosted, and you've forgotten what "full-range hearing" sounds like. So there's a long "acclimatization period" -- maybe a month. And there's always a temptation to take them out, and go back to "normal".


. Charles
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Re: Hearing Loss from Piano
Charles Cohen #2951666 02/26/20 01:16 AM
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Originally Posted by Charles Cohen
Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
Charles, how are your personal hearing amplifiers working for hearing conversation in noisy environments?


The first test will be tonight, when the choir stops singing and the director announces softly "Now, let's go to the mumble-mumble". That's the situation where half the choir asks the other half:

. . . "What did she say?"



The director mumbles _much_ less, when I have hearing devices in my ears.<g> They distort a bit, with a strong singer behind me, but it's all in really high frequencies, and doesn't bother me much. Tuning and dynamics hardly changes at all (or I'm compensating for them).

First test, successful.


. Charles
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Re: Hearing Loss from Piano
chasingrainbows #2951807 02/26/20 10:48 AM
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Charles, am I right to assume that these hearing devices you are trying out are not prescribed by an audiologist (and very pricey) hearing aids? And that the distortion you refer to are not for prescribed hearing aids? I would hate to spend thousands of dollars to end up not wearing them b/c of distortions of sound.


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Re: Hearing Loss from Piano
chasingrainbows #2951842 02/26/20 12:45 PM
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ChasingRainbows
You might want to check with an audiologist at Costco. The prices are much lower and the hearing aids, based on what I have been told, work well for musicians.


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Re: Hearing Loss from Piano
chasingrainbows #2951944 02/26/20 05:43 PM
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Thanks, dogperson. I have heard that. I just wonder how knowledgeable their audiologists are.


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Re: Hearing Loss from Piano
Charles Cohen #2951947 02/26/20 05:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Charles Cohen
FWIW --

There are inexpensive Etymotic earplugs available (model ER20-XS) -- not 'custom fit' but with a choice of earpieces -- with a 20-dB reduction across a wide frequency range:

https://www.amazon.com/Etymotic-High-Fidelity-Earplugs-Standard-Packaging/dp/B00RM6Q9XW

I just started using them, and find them comfortable and just right for listening to loud music, riding on the subway, and so on. They even work for a djembe class (and that is _loud_). They're less "colored" than my old Hearo "Musician's Earplugs".

I looked at my audiologist's report. My hearing curve is flat up to 1000 Hz, and then looks like a ski hill -- it's down 30 dB at 4 kHz.

. . . It's classic "age-related high frequency hearing loss".

I notice that my speech comprehension is getting worse, especially in high-noise environments. I'm experimenting with a pair of "personal hearing amplifiers", They're not cheap, until you compare them with audiologist-dispensed hearing aids:

https://www.soundworldsolutions.com/product/hearing-aid-hd75/

I just wore them for a performance (I played darbukka, mostly) and their high-frequency boost changed the sound of the drum, but I didn't notice distortion in other instruments.

Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
. . .


. . .


Thank you! I'll have to check those out, if the HD75's aren't good enough.




Charles, my Right ear is flat until 3000, then dives down to 50 dB. The Left ear is flat until 1000, then dives to 80. Very disconcerting.


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Re: Hearing Loss from Piano
chasingrainbows #2952047 02/27/20 01:58 AM
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Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
Charles, am I right to assume that these hearing devices you are trying out are not prescribed by an audiologist (and very pricey) hearing aids? And that the distortion you refer to are not for prescribed hearing aids? I would hate to spend thousands of dollars to end up not wearing them b/c of distortions of sound.


Yes -- they are "over-the-counter", and classified as "personal sound amplifiers", not "hearing aids". I would expect that prescribed hearing aids would be better. (I don't know for sure, because specs are available only to audiologists!)

There's at least one study that shows that non-prescription, OTC "hearing amplifiers" are roughly as useful as prescribed "hearing aids", for people with mild-to-moderate hearing loss. That's what I have.

From your description, your hearing loss may be worse than that. For serious hearing loss, the OTC devices didn't work so well, and prescribed and custom-fitted hearing aids worked better.

I have also heard that Costco is the lowest-cost supplier of prescribed hearing aids.

Quote
. . .
Charles, my Right ear is flat until 3000, then dives down to 50 dB. The Left ear is flat until 1000, then dives to 80. Very disconcerting.


I don't know enough to comment on the left ear. But your right ear might still have pretty good speech comprehension. My wife's audiologist said that's all that most audiologists consider important. If you have problems beyond limited frequency response, I think going the audiologist route, with custom-adjusted hearing aids, might be your best bet.

PS -- I'm having an interesting time, trying to reverse-engineer the pair I have. I know how they sound, and how they respond to adjustments, and I'm trying to figure out the underlying audio processing. The first thing they do is give you an automated hearing test, and the next thing is to find out how much amplification is possible, before feedback. Very interesting devices . . . <g>

Last edited by Charles Cohen; 02/27/20 02:07 AM.

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Re: Hearing Loss from Piano
chasingrainbows #2952067 02/27/20 03:45 AM
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Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
Thanks, dogperson. I have heard that. I just wonder how knowledgeable their audiologists are.


I don’t believe there is any way to draw a universal conclusion, just as there is no way to make a generalization of any provider. In one little town, for musicians, the Costco audiologist did a great job. Get some references and try some different audiologists.


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
"I never dreamt with my own two hands I could touch the sky" - Sappho

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Re: Hearing Loss from Piano
LarryK #2952882 02/29/20 10:11 AM
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Larry I went through an audiologist. they take a mold of your ear canal and the attenuators are little buttons you pop in and out. Perfect, discreet and the quality of what you hear is great. Again I played in bands for many years but use them all the time, even to mow the lawn which I use the solid plug insert for stuff like that.

Re: Hearing Loss from Piano
chasingrainbows #2952894 02/29/20 10:56 AM
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spartan, those are earplugs, correct?


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Re: Hearing Loss from Piano
spartan928 #2952898 02/29/20 11:21 AM
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Originally Posted by spartan928
Larry I went through an audiologist. they take a mold of your ear canal and the attenuators are little buttons you pop in and out. Perfect, discreet and the quality of what you hear is great. Again I played in bands for many years but use them all the time, even to mow the lawn which I use the solid plug insert for stuff like that.


I went to an audiologist and got a solid pair of silicon ear plugs when I was working weekends building furniture in a cabinet maker’s shop. I would wear them under ear muffs for additional protection. I didn’t like the custom ear plugs because I needed lubricant to get them into my ears. Do you have this problem?

Last edited by LarryK; 02/29/20 11:22 AM.
Re: Hearing Loss from Piano
chasingrainbows #2952920 02/29/20 12:51 PM
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I was just measuring 93dbA playing fairly loudly on my grand piano with the lid down in a well treated room. It is easy to get above 100dbA with the lid open.

To get this into perspective in the UK it is now mandatory for employers to provide hearing protection for levels of 85db, and the maximum upper exposure limit is 87db. These are the legal limits.

So just playing normally in a well treated room is already well above the maximum safe level, 4 times the maximum level in fact!

Research shows that with regular exposure over 90db the majority of people will develop significant hearing impairement.

Added to this many people play on headphones, which are notoriously bad for hearing (as it is very hard to guage safe sound levels). 50 million Americans have tinnitus!

That is not to say the piano is the worst instrument. Violins are bad. Sitting in front of the trumpets is very bad. Playing with a drummer is (usually) bad. Even going to the cinema is bad these days.

Protect your hearing with earplugs, the expensive moulded ones are worth the investment imo.

Re: Hearing Loss from Piano
chasingrainbows #2952945 02/29/20 01:40 PM
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Coincidentally, I just noticed that we have two different thread on Pianist Corner and Piano Teachers forum with exactly the same title: "Hearing Loss from Piano" started by two different members.

chasingrainbows, you might want to take a look at this thread on Pianist Corner too.


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Re: Hearing Loss from Piano
chasingrainbows #2952982 02/29/20 03:48 PM
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The only occasion when I ever had tinnitus was when I attended a jazz gig in Ronnie Scott's, London many years ago (with friends who took me there). I'd never been to a jazz club before, and I couldn't believe how loud the trio was - apparently, all the instruments were amplified to the hilt, yet the poor piano player (playing on a small acoustic grand) could barely be heard above his drummer.

After some ten minutes, I couldn't stand it any more and left. No-one in the audience was wearing any ear protection that I could see, and my friends obviously had no problems with the din, despite almost shouting at each other to 'chat' above the music. My tinnitus lasted well over 24 hours.......

(I did visit another jazz club a few years ago, this time in Poland, where the performers were only discreetly amplified. I had no problems staying there for dinner with my companions, and didn't have to use my earplugs, which I bought specially for the occasion. smirk )

I should add that I've never been to a disco (well, apart from popping my head in for a few seconds to check that I wasn't welcome cool), nor to any other amplified concert, except for a few outdoor operas in a park, and one on a cruise ship in which I was playing on an amplified acoustic grand (- though with the dead acoustic in the ship's theatre, I wasn't deafened by my own fff whistle). And I've not been to a cinema since Amadeus (- I watch movies on my home TV and in planes).

I've also never listened to music with earphones/headphones where there is a lot of ambient noise, except through noise-cancelling headphones/earphones (in aircraft especially) - which I also use on public transport etc, even when not listening to music.

As a kid, I played on uprights in practice rooms (in high school and university) and never had issues with excessive loudness. Of course, my home piano is a digital, on which I set the volume (via headphones) to be equivalent to that of an acoustic grand in a concert hall, from the perspective of the performer.

And my hearing is a lot better than that of most people of my age - and even those much younger than me.......(I can hear high frequencies that they can't). In fact, I know that many young people have hearing loss due to voluntarily exposing themselves to loud music on a regular basis..........


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Hearing Loss from Piano
Tyrone Slothrop #2953415 03/01/20 10:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
Coincidentally, I just noticed that we have two different thread on Pianist Corner and Piano Teachers forum with exactly the same title: "Hearing Loss from Piano" started by two different members.

chasingrainbows, you might want to take a look at this thread on Pianist Corner too.


Thanks! i will.


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Re: Hearing Loss from Piano
chasingrainbows #2953418 03/01/20 10:08 PM
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Bennevis, I have done all those things you have not. Been to extremely louder concerts (Stones, Bowie, Madonna), played on grands in small practice rooms, wore headphones in my Walkman while running for many years, with volume turned way up. And of course, back in the club days, I don't think I was ever in a club where you didn't shout to be heard. I guess i'm lucky i can hear at all. smile


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Re: Hearing Loss from Piano
chasingrainbows #2953598 03/02/20 12:57 PM
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Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
Bennevis, I have done all those things you have not. Been to extremely louder concerts (Stones, Bowie, Madonna), played on grands in small practice rooms, wore headphones in my Walkman while running for many years, with volume turned way up. And of course, back in the club days, I don't think I was ever in a club where you didn't shout to be heard. I guess i'm lucky i can hear at all. smile

I guess that I'm fortunate that I was born with an obstinate and individualistic nature such that even from a young age, I never went with the crowd if I didn't want to, or didn't enjoy, what they did; and didn't care if others thought me odd (which I am whistle).

Thus, I never went to any parties or any other noisy gatherings with pumpin' loud music (if I did go to one and it wasn't what I expected, I'd leave without a second thought), and I don't care for most jazz or pop or rock (I definitely don't care for the noisy electronic kind like Madonna's and her ilk) and never had any wish to see people prancing around on the stage about a mile away with their voices "enhanced' by auto-tune as well as amplified, with people shouting around me, so my hearing is preserved. (Though I did attend one of the annual outdoor Sommernachtskonzert at Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna, and it was truly magical - but though a few people were waltzing on the lawn during the J.Strauss encore, the performers on the stage - the Wiener Philharmoniker - certainly weren't prancing around or discarding their clothes or destroying their Stradivari like rockers........ wink )

However, there have been a few occasions where I played a piano which sounded too loud and piercing in the room, and had to stop if there was no way to dampen the sound down and I had no ear protection with me. A few weeks ago, I played on an upright in a tiny practice room - hardly any bigger than the piano itself, and certainly no room to swing a cat (not that I'd want to swing a cat, as I love felines), and its tone was so piercing, brittle and loud in the confines of that tiny room that I had to engage the 'practice pedal' to continue playing. I can certainly imagine that I'd develop tinnitus if I kept playing it without the pedal. Yet when I got to switch to the 7-foot grand next door an hour later - in a much bigger room - the sound was perfectly acceptable because its tone was mellow and the acoustic was airy, and I was able to play it with the whole range of dynamics it could muster.

I suspect that people with hearing damage would find that upright's tone in that room to be perfectly fine, because they wouldn't be able to hear all the piercingly bright overtones........


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Hearing Loss from Piano
chasingrainbows #2953696 03/02/20 06:18 PM
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Most professional classical musicians develop some kind of noise related hearing loss (in addition to the age-related hearing almost everyone will get), and classical musicians actually get more hearing loss than rock musicians, due to the longer practice hours in classical music.

So definitely bring some ear plugs with you (just foam ear plugs) and put them in if you believe the noise at a concert or rehearsal is too loud, or above about 90-100db.

Foam ear plugs usually attenuate the sound down by around 20db, bringing it to very safe levels.

That said, most people get age-related hearing loss, and that is partly genetic, and inevitable even if you sit in a quiet room your whole life, and had never become a musician.

Last edited by 3am_stargazing; 03/02/20 06:25 PM.

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Re: Hearing Loss from Piano
chasingrainbows #2954659 03/06/20 12:55 AM
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The big takeaway is that hearing which is still with us, can be protected. Hearing that has been lost, cannot be brought back.

It is a noisy world. Airplanes, trains, motor vehicles. Ambulances, fire trucks, garbage trucks. Persons who scream conversationally. Riding noisy subways. Dogs (sometimes our own) with noisy barks. Music in the car, turned up loudly enough to be heard over the road noise. Vacuum cleaners, leaf blowers, hair dryers, televisions cranked up loud enough to hear what the actors are saying (at least, we can activate closed captioning). All the blame is not on piano music; we throw our hearing away on so many worthless experiences.

My piano tech likes the Etymotic (that's got to be spelled wrong) earplugs. I have found that it pays me to have the ordinary foam earplugs in my pocket at all times, especially when I go out into the world. Bottle of 100 from Walgreens, five or six bucks; I've had this one at least a year. Label says it knocks off 32 db, but I say that depends on how you have them inserted. The sealed-type contractors' headphones distort piano music too much for me. My open-back circumauricular headphones allow too much sound from outside to be very effective attenuators. Closed-back phones might serve; I haven't tried them.

That heightened sensitivity to loud noise is called presbyacusis. It's protective, seen from one perspective, and a really bad nuisance, seen from another. One factor which is not as well known, is the role of medications in hearing loss. Quite a few have this unwanted side effect, and the more of them that are taken in combination, the worse the effect. "Physicians' Desk Reference" has a pretty comprehensive list. Any library, pharmacy, or doctor's office will have it.

As for the piano. I've found that the way it's positioned in the room makes the most difference. One-third down the longest wall for the tail, angled out at 45 degrees with the open top firing in the longest direction available. Moving it the merest few inches can make all the difference. Once it is as good as you can get it, go with it; I am not above threatening persons in my house if they move it. I have dog couches and mats under mine, and I have found that having one under the pedal lyre that comes out far enough in front for the bench to keep two legs on it, takes care of significant reflection, and cools down the sound. As for the doors and windows. Call me peculiar. I like one window open (50% less reflection) and the blinds down on both, but open so sound coming their way is reflected 45 degrees into the upper airs. Inner front door open about a foot (reflections again), and the glass door closed.

Call it what you want, I find it works. You will have to find or create your own piano heaven, and I wish you all the good of it. If your hearing is still enough there that it bothers you, count yourself lucky--- it can be a great deal worse, and a great deal more problematic. Be a friend to your own ears. I am grateful that this thread has been taken up; it's a subject that really can't be called to our attention too often, when we consider what is at stake.

It is fine and well to consider Beethoven, both his genius and his suffering. "I will hear in Heaven," he said, but he got there when he was only 56. Most of us are going to be managing the protection of our hearing for quite a few years longer. He is saying to us, silently, over the centuries: be good to yourself; guard your hearing; it is too precious to a musician to be treated carelessly. No, no quotation marks, but I can hear it pretty clearly.


Clef

Re: Hearing Loss from Piano
Jeff Clef #2954665 03/06/20 02:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Jeff Clef
The big takeaway is that hearing which is still with us, can be protected. Hearing that has been lost, cannot be brought back.

It is a noisy world. Airplanes, trains, motor vehicles. Ambulances, fire trucks, garbage trucks. Persons who scream conversationally. Riding noisy subways. Dogs (sometimes our own) with noisy barks. Music in the car, turned up loudly enough to be heard over the road noise. Vacuum cleaners, leaf blowers, hair dryers, televisions cranked up loud enough to hear what the actors are saying (at least, we can activate closed captioning). All the blame is not on piano music; we throw our hearing away on so many worthless experiences.

My piano tech likes the Etymotic (that's got to be spelled wrong) earplugs. I have found that it pays me to have the ordinary foam earplugs in my pocket at all times, especially when I go out into the world. Bottle of 100 from Walgreens, five or six bucks; I've had this one at least a year. Label says it knocks off 32 db, but I say that depends on how you have them inserted. The sealed-type contractors' headphones distort piano music too much for me. My open-back circumauricular headphones allow too much sound from outside to be very effective attenuators. Closed-back phones might serve; I haven't tried them.

That heightened sensitivity to loud noise is called presbyacusis. It's protective, seen from one perspective, and a really bad nuisance, seen from another. One factor which is not as well known, is the role of medications in hearing loss. Quite a few have this unwanted side effect, and the more of them that are taken in combination, the worse the effect. "Physicians' Desk Reference" has a pretty comprehensive list. Any library, pharmacy, or doctor's office will have it.

As for the piano. I've found that the way it's positioned in the room makes the most difference. One-third down the longest wall for the tail, angled out at 45 degrees with the open top firing in the longest direction available. Moving it the merest few inches can make all the difference. Once it is as good as you can get it, go with it; I am not above threatening persons in my house if they move it. I have dog couches and mats under mine, and I have found that having one under the pedal lyre that comes out far enough in front for the bench to keep two legs on it, takes care of significant reflection, and cools down the sound. As for the doors and windows. Call me peculiar. I like one window open (50% less reflection) and the blinds down on both, but open so sound coming their way is reflected 45 degrees into the upper airs. Inner front door open about a foot (reflections again), and the glass door closed.

Call it what you want, I find it works. You will have to find or create your own piano heaven, and I wish you all the good of it. If your hearing is still enough there that it bothers you, count yourself lucky--- it can be a great deal worse, and a great deal more problematic. Be a friend to your own ears. I am grateful that this thread has been taken up; it's a subject that really can't be called to our attention too often, when we consider what is at stake.

It is fine and well to consider Beethoven, both his genius and his suffering. "I will hear in Heaven," he said, but he got there when he was only 56. Most of us are going to be managing the protection of our hearing for quite a few years longer. He is saying to us, silently, over the centuries: be good to yourself; guard your hearing; it is too precious to a musician to be treated carelessly. No, no quotation marks, but I can hear it pretty clearly.


You nailed the spelling of Etymotic! Bravo.

I use these foam earplugs from Flents:

Flents Quiet Time Ear Plugs (50 Pair) NRR 33 https://www.amazon.com/dp/B001F5VDVE/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_jiFyEb3FK1BX7

People seem to like the softness of these earplugs. Living in New York City, I’ve slept with earplugs for decades. Our new apartment uptown is so much quieter than our old apartment in midtown but noise can still wake me.

I’ve always been sensitive to loud noise. Thanks for the word. I spent ten years studying the violin. After all that time, my teacher brought me to a rehearsal of Mahler 5 with his community orchestra. I sat with my head six inches from the timpani. When the percussionist hit that thing, I wanted to kill him. I played in one rehearsal and never went back.

My Apple Watch monitors my noise exposure and alerts me when I’m being subjected to loud noise. I wish I’d had that watch for my entire life.

If I’m ever at an amplified concert, which is rare these days, I wear 20dB cut plugs from Etymotic:

https://www.etymotic.com/consumer/hearing-protection/er20xs-uf.html

Poor Beethoven. I hope I keep my hearing for many more years.

Last edited by LarryK; 03/06/20 02:03 AM.
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