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Robert and Jamaica

My brother-in-law’s eyes glisten, when he describes the ocean views in every direction, from the family’s hilltop home in Jamaica. At every window, you can feel the ocean breeze. Even on the hottest, most humid days.

When Hurricane Andrew struck the Caribbean in August of 1992, the television news media showed shots of that house, being ravaged by the winds and rain. Small sections of the roof being peeled off, and flung away. Closed window shutters being ripped from their hinges, then twirling and hurling through the air.

Miraculously, the huge white stucco house stood unscathed otherwise. Structurally sound. Most of the interior had been left undamaged, except for marred walls. A few pieces of wood furniture were scratched and water damaged. A few dozen earthen floor tiles loosened.

Repairs took time, and cost a small fortune. Most construction materials had to be imported from the mainland. The United States, primarily.

The lost roof sections and window panes were replaced first. Destroyed wood window shutters were replaced. As necessary, interior surfaces and living spaces were repaired and refinished. Uprooted landscaping was replaced.

In 2014, the entire property was restored to its original appearance. Certain “upgrades” were added that featured construction materials and techniques designed to withstand major disaster wind currents, rain, and flooding.

1. A new roof was put on the house and adjacent building. Roof tresses were stapled and tied down with special stabilizers.
2. All windows were replaced with units designed to withstand 250-mph storm winds and gusts.
3. All wood shutters were stripped, refinished and re-installed with solid steel hardware.
4. The exterior surfaces were pressure-washed, with a special compound, then repaired and prepped. An extreme environmental exposure primer sealer was sprayed on. Then, three coats of tropical-formulated paint were brushed, rolled, and sprayed on. Note: Products were heavy-duty. Manufacturer: Sherwin-Williams.
5. All interior painted surfaces were stripped, filled and sanded. Then, three coats of off-white stucco paint were applied, using brushes, rollers and spray systems. Manufacturer: Glidden’s.
6. All natural wood railings, wainscoting, and trims were repaired, filled and smooth-sanded. Then, two teak oil-treatments were applied. Manufacturer: MinWax.
7. The tile floors were cleaned with a mixture of natural elements, then re-grouted, and resealed.
8. The wood furniture and cabinetry were cleaned. Most received a teak oil-treatment.
9. Wood furniture and cabinetry with badly-abused surfaces were carefully wet-sanded. Then the pieces were painted with high-gloss indoor or outdoor latex.
10. Upholstered pieces were repaired and recovered.

The property remains in the family. Since 2007, the property and the resident owner receive visitors on rare occasions, and only at certain times of the year.
Still visible from every window, veranda and door is the ocean’s face. As peaceful, yet as changing and unpredictable, as the winds overhead.

The last month has been an ideal time to reflect on that home in Jamaica – and its very long recovery. Even with plenty of money, the owners have had to exercise immense patience during this reconstruction process.

And, as someone else’s in-law told me as Hurricane Maria threatened the islands last week, “Hurricanes are a part of island life, Bob. You take the major damage with the major joys.”

The man knew what he was talking about. At 71, he was still a life-long, and full-time, resident of St. Anne’s and Kingston. He’d ridden out many major storms in the past. And, even as he knew the Category 4-5 was ripping off shutters, uprooting 50-60 year old trees, and pouring rain into every crack, he smiled. Totally accepting and content.

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Natives bring island life into perspective for mainlanders.
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Best regards to both Roberts: the one back home in Jamaica, the other one wishing he were there.

Copyright 2017. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

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Disaster Recovery, Part I: Hotel/Facility Priorities Come First

The lady walked toward her vehicle in Home Depot’s parking lot. In one hand, she grasped two, 1-gallon cans of Glidden’s Interior Latex Paint. In the other, she held onto a 2-inch Purdy paintbrush, a 6-inch paint roller with cover and an orange combination paint tray and screen.

It was one day after Hurricane Irma, and the tornadoes that it had spawned, had whipped through Central Florida.

When a major disaster hits – eg. hurricane, tropical storm, tornado – painting should be one of the last things on your immediate agenda.

HOTEL/FACILITY PAINTER’S TOP TEN PRIORITIES

1. Help your chief engineer check out all systems that are under the department’s charge – eg. mechanical, electrical, plumbing.

2. As part of the engineering team: (a) assess each building’s condition, interior and exterior; (b) identify problem areas; (c) determine which problems to resolve a.s.a.p., and, (d) decide how to handle each of them promptly and safely.

3. As part of the engineering team, get the department back in shape, so that all of you can do the major recovery and repair tasks and projects as efficiently as possible.

4. As part of the engineering team, help implement the plan to (a) make repairs and (b) get everything up and running again in a timely, safe and cost-effective manner.

5. Assist groundspersons in clearing away all broken trees, limbs and branches and brush; also dismantled lumber, metal, piping; debris, garbage, etc. This includes clearing main traffic areas.

6. Help repair and replace all crucial lighting – especially front entrance, parking, walkways, corridors, lobby, public restrooms. Also repair main walkways, as soon as possible.

7. Assist other departments, as necessary, to get their areas up and running again.

8. Assist chief engineer in working with utility companies, outside contractors, repair services, etc. to get property systems and amenities, and business operations back in working order.

9. Between efforts to help others, start to get your paintshop back in shape. HINT: Try to unpack, then set up what you’ll need to use first.

10. When your chief engineer gives the go-ahead, concentrate your efforts on reorganizing the paintshop so that you can get back to your painting job.

By the way, it can be tempting to ignore the engineering department’s big job during this very disorganized and stressful time. You might be tempted to hide in your area. Do not do it!

This is one instance when painting will be lower on the list of everyone’s priorities.

At the top of every staff member’s and department’s disaster recovery list needs to be:

1. people
2. property
3. business
4. “neighborhood”

This is one time when, both now and later, you’ll be glad that you helped others first.

See: “Painting It: Disaster Recovery, Part 2: Paintshop Priorities.”
See: “Painting It: Disaster Recovery, Part 3: When Painting Is Not Enough.”

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Thank you for doing your best job every day. Thank you for visiting “Painting with Bob.”
Copyright 2017. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

Painter’s Hurricane Preparedness Tips, Part 5: Packing for Riding Out Storm

Usually, you can prepare for a hurricane or tropical storm – unlike many other major disasters such as tornadoes or flash floods.

So, there are few reasons, or excuses, for getting caught without any supplies needed to ride out the storm.

In fact, survivors of more than one major hurricane can tell you what to pack – and how. And, they will spare no expletives in describing persons that do not heed their voices of experience.

PACKING TIPS FROM SURVIVORS OF MULTIPLE HURRICANES

1. For each person, fill backpack or luggage piece with at least seven (7) days of essential clothing and health/hygiene aids.
Examples: shirts/tops, pants, socks, underwear, flat and sturdy walking shoes, hat, sunglasses; toothbrush, tube toothpaste/gel, collapsible cup, 2 facecloths, 2 hand towels; roll toilet paper, package moist wipes; also mini-First-Aid kit, skin crème; small flashlight/fresh batteries. See below for other items to consider packing.
TIP: Include packaged snacks, juice boxes/cans inside double zip-locked plastic bag.
2. Each person needs to keep his or her wallet/ handbag/fanny pack with them.
3. For each person, fill out personal information card: medical conditions, medication list, surgeries, health providers’ contact information, etc. Put in wallet/handbag/fanny pack. Make copy for small undergarment bag. See no. 4 below.
4. Each person should also secure small emergency pack to his or her undergarment. TIP: A small waterproof/double zip-lock bag works great. INSIDE: Some cash, car/truck keys; also photocopy of I.D. cards: driver’s license, Social Security, insurance, credit cards, bank/credit union, Medicare, Medicaid; personal info. card.
5. Keep cell phone/ mobile device plus charger close by, to use as soon as service reactivated.
6. Add to same backpacks or luggage: items that person will need to get on with life under disaster hit and recovery conditions.
7. Prepare for “worse case scenario.” Say your roof gets blown off; nearly everything gets sucked out of your closets, or water damaged beyond use. Or you lose your home.
8. Supply each person with “toteable” resting items: bed pillow/double-cased, small blanket.
9. Add to same backpacks or luggage: Prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medications. Put each person’s current and next month’s supply/containers in his or her luggage piece, Exception: For persons unable to take and manage their own medications, place their supply in your luggage.
10. Place excess, also not currently taken, medications into a waterproof container with tight-fitting lid. LABEL with permanent marker. Place container in the back of a closet in middle of your home.
11. Place remaining carryable essentials in heavy-duty trash bags, or plastic containers with lids. Carefully store in same middle closet used above. TIP: Heavier bags or large storage containers may fare better than smaller ones. Smaller things can easily turn into flying saucers.
12. Put together a “portable cupboard.” Fill plastic container with food staples and more snacks; napkins, foam/ plastic plates, cups, eating utensils; also hand can opener, etc.
13. Put together a sSafety kit.” Fill small waterproof container with small flashlights, batteries, chargers; candles, lighters; First-aid kit; skin, toiletry and hygiene items.

IMPORTANT TIP: Pack as if you know that you will be in a transient-mode for at least one week. When you need to run for your life is way too late to pack the stuff that you have to have to survive.

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Prepare ahead. Get ready.
Channel stress. Stay safe. Take in nature.
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Thanks for visiting “Painting with Bob.”
Copyright 2017. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

Painter’s Hurricane Preparedness Tips, Part 4: Creating a Makeshift Shelter

Sometimes, you don’t have the option to leave where you’re at, and go to a community shelter to ride out a major storm such as a hurricane.

If you’re at work, it’s your shift. You’ll need to stay put. You may need to put in two or three straight shifts, or more. Teammates may not be able to make it in to work. Also, you may need to stay longer to help secure the property so that others – eg. hotel guests – will be safe.

If you’re at the home of a friend or relative, you may need to stay and help secure the place in case the storm hits there. You may need to take responsibility for their welfare and safety.

If you’re at home, you may or may not be able to vacate, and go to a shelter.

So, how do you create a makeshift shelter wherever you’re at? How do you protect yourself, and possibly others for whom you may be responsible? The following tips are based on preparing a temporary shelter in your home. But, they can be applied almost anywhere.

1. Be realistic. Your time and resources are probably limited. Don’t tackle more than you can handle.
2. Select a spot that will offer you the most protection. HINT: Windowless room or space in middle of structure, preferably first floor, sustaining wall. Examples: Closet, bathroom, small bedroom, pantry.
3. Remove everything from the space that might take wing in the big wind.
Examples: Bath scale, hamper, decorative hangings, cups/glasses, furniture.
4. Empty the room so that you can maximize the space. Put smaller items in heavy-duty trash bags. Securely tie shut. Place outside of your “shelter” area.
5. Move large pieces outside of area’s entry. TIP: Use them to help form a barricade around your shelter space. Examples: Oak chest, upholstered chair, table.
6. Inside “shelter” space, select the SPOT where you will actually sit it out.
7.Over that SPOT, lay large, heavy-duty trash bags. On top, place 1 or 2 large comforters. Add for each person: 1 zip-out sleeping bag or 2 blankets, 1 bed pillow/ double-cased, 2 bedsheets. Add: flashlights with fresh batteries, also 2 bottled waters per person.
8. If “shelter” space is a bathroom, set closed 1-to-5 gallon containers of water close to toilet for flushing. TIP: At least 10 gallons. You don’t know how long you will be in this space. Supply with toilet paper, moist wipes, handy-wipes, hand sanitizer; bottled waters.
9. If “shelter” space is NOT a bathroom, turn nearby spot/corner into a lavatory area. “Equip” with one or two, 5-gallon buckets or a large, heavy storage container – all with tight-fitting lids. “Supply” with package toilet paper, pack moist wipes, cylinder handy-wipes, heavy-duty trash bag, tall kitchen garbage bag; bottled waters (for drinking).
10. Fill a small plastic storage container with toiletry and hygiene aids. Secure lid. Place next to spot where you will sit. Suggested items: 2-3 packs moist wipes, First-Aid kit, 2 rolls toilet paper, 1 roll paper towels, 1 tube toothpaste, 1 toothbrush per person, 1 small or medium sized bottle mouthwash.
11. Put foods and healthy snacks that do not need preparation or cooling into another container. Close with tight lid. Place this container near “shelter” spot. Include: can opener, pack of foam or plastic plates or bowls, cups; plastic eating utensils (forks, spoons, knives); roll of paper towels.
12. Within easy reach, set large cooler/insulated container. Last minute, place freeze packs plus foods that need to stay cold. TIP: Limit items, their size and quantity to prevent spoilage, and possible poisoning. Suggested: Foods you can eat or drink from their disposable containers.
13. Within easy reach, set 1 or more cases of bottled water.
14. Within easy reach, place plastic container with “time fillers” inside. Examples: ballpoint pens, box crayolas/colored markers; puzzle booklets, activity books, “finger” puzzles (eg. Rubic Cube, Eboi); box playing cards, small game, 2 notebooks, small all-band radio/fresh batteries; extra packages of batteries, 2-3 paperback books, devotional book, your smaller Bible.

IMPORTANT TIP: Try to set up this entire area so it’s relatively safe and comfortable, also easy to keep clean, hygienic and dry.

See: Painter’s Hurricane Preparedness Tips, Part 5: Packing for Riding Out Storm.

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Any potential major disaster needs to be respected, and taken seriously.
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Thanks for visiting “Painting with Bob.”
Copyright 2017. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

Painter’s Hurricane Preparedness, Part 3: In the Paintshop

Many of the following tips make sense when preparing for any natural disaster.

 

IMPORTANT PAPERWORK, COMPUTERS, PERIPHERALS, ETC.

 

  1. SECURE all flash drives, software packages, important papers, logs, supply/inventory lists, guidebooks and manuals, etc. in weatherproof metal box. Store in chief engineer’s private storage unit on the property, or in main office of hotel or facility.
  2. Carefully place all computers, cords, hard drives, and other peripherals into their original boxes if you have them, or equally sturdy storage boxes. Also put them in your boss’s storage.

 

PAINTSHOP MATERIALS, SUPPLIES, TOOLS, EQUIPMENT

 

  1. Clear off all open surfaces such as workbenches, countertops, tables, etc.
  2. Clear off the floor. Remove everything from all traffic areas – real, potential, emergency.
  3. Move smaller objects such as supplies and manual hand tools into sturdy cabinets and closets.
  4. Place paintbrushes into their wrappers, or clean newspaper pages. Place on end in clean, dry, plastic 5-gallon paint buckets. Secure lids. TIP: With permanent black marker, print BRUSHES on lid and several spots around bucket. Store upright in closet or large cabinet that locks.
  5. Place roller covers into their plastic wraps, bubble wrap, or soft shipping paper. Place in clean 5-gallon plastic bucket(s). Secure lids. Label bucket. Store in same closet or cabinet as brushes.
  6. Carefully wrap spray guns in clean, heavier fabric, soft vinyl, foam sheets, or bubble wrap. Tie twine or smaller rope around to secure. Place guns, boxes of tips, repair parts, etc. in 5-gallon bucket. Secure lid. TIP: Use permanent black marker to label “SPRAY GUNS” several places.
  7. Tightly close, then move all containers of paint and finishing products, wallcoverings, etc. into closets with secure door locks. TIP: Cram everything into the corners. Neatness helps later.
  8. Wrap power hand tools with attached electrical cords in heavy ply plastic or bubble wrap. TIP: I like to use doubled-up zip-lock freezer bags. Place tools together in smaller tool box with lid, heavy box or crate. Place in waterproof cabinet or closet with secure door locks.
  9. Place all electrical cords, connectors, plugs, etc. in deep drawers. Run rope or heavy twine through drawer handles and around knobs. Inter-tie off with nautical knot.
  10. Place sharp objects, tools, etc. into thick cardboard boxes, or wooden crates. Secure inside a cabinet or closet that locks tightly.
  11. Turn over tables and movable benches. Push against the inside walls of workshop.
  12. Put chairs, stools, etc. into a closet. OR, jam them under any of the built-in workbenches.
  13. After you’ve moved the smaller items into cabinets and closets, place all shorter ladders, multi-purpose stools, carts, wheelbarrels, etc. inside the same closets. TIP: I like to set them on their sides, then tightly PUSH them against the rest of the stored supplies, tools, equipment.
  14. Roll your heaviest equipment such as compressors into whatever closet still has room.
  15. Turn your heaviest, largest ladders on their ends. Tightly push them against the turned over tables and movable benches already hugging the inside walls of the workshop. TIP: Rex in Miami lays the ladders flat, one long end pushed against an inner wall. Then he “wheels” his heaviest, portable equipment between ladder rungs. Last, he ties the pieces of equipment to each other using heavy rope. “In Katrina, the guys helped me move concrete blocks onto the ladder rungs. Nothing budged.”

 

 

BOTTOM LINE: First protect lives. Second protect valuables. Third, if there’s any time left, protect whatever else really matters, most essential things first.

 

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Major disasters swoop in, then leave.

People and pets are meant to stick around longer.

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Stay alert, smart and safe. Thanks for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

Copyright 2017. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

Painter’s Hurricane Preparedness, Part 2: “The Dirty Side of the Storm”

The dirty side of a Category 3, 4 or 5 hurricane is where your local meteorologists wish you weren’t going to be.

 

1. What is it?

A. Area behind the hurricane’s eye, or core.

B. Area where the worst after-effects will be felt.

C. Area where the extent of the worst effects are so unpredictable and dangerous.

 

2. What are the qualifications for an area to be named “the dirty side?”

A. Area has wider and longer bands of severe weather elements – eg. reaching far from core.

B. Area has very forceful bands of sustaining severe elements – eg. whipping wind gusts.

C. Area has deeper bands that can cause other severe conditions – eg. return tornado funnels.

 

3. What severe problems will you see?

A. Worst, most viscous winds.

B. Tornado funnels that keep rotating, lifting up, and dropping to the ground again.

C. Torrential, beating rains.

D. No visibility

 

4. How can you avoid these problems?

A. Stay out of the hurricane’s path. Evacuate in time.

B. Heed the warnings. Obey the laws and curfews put into effect.

C. Stay out of the area until emergency operations say it’s safe to return.

D. If you can’t leave, promptly secure the space in which you will be taking cover.

 

5. What if you can’t leave?

A. Find the most secure inside-walled, windowless place to hide – eg. closet, room, hallway.

B. Put only what you need to survive for at least five days in that space.

C. Get into that space way before the core/eye approaches.

D. Do not leave that space until the hurricane has completely left.

E. WARNING: Lulls are common; they don’t mean the hurricane has left, the danger is over.

 

By the way, I heard two national network meteorologists state that, when the cone or eye shrinks, the surrounding bands will trigger the worst effects.

 

CLOSING THOUGHT: The “dirty side” of any natural disaster forces us to act, to prioritize, and to accept that we humans are not who holds the real power.

 

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Respect any natural disaster that comes your way;

it’s there to teach you, and I, something!

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I hope that you, and those you care about, are safe. Thanks for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

Copyright 2017. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved

Painter’s Hurricane Preparedness Tips, Part 1: Be Advised, Be Aware

The people along the east-southeast coastline of Texas are still in shock. Unable to begun their recovery from Category 4 Hurricane Harvey’s direct hit less than two weeks ago. Unable to calculate their devastating losses.

 

Floridians, on the other hand, just went into their shock-mode on Monday, September 11. (Yes, exactly sixteen years after that September 11.)  Hurricane Irma had hit Florida.

 

One week earlier – Tuesday, September 5, everyone in all 73-76 counties had been put on high alert by Governor Rick Scott. The National Hurricane Center in Miami had rated Hurricane Irma a Category 4-5. It would arrive in Florida some time between September 8 and 10.

 

MOVING FORWARD…

 

It did not matter which coast the hurricane hit. The state is narrow enough, and Irma’s diameter and circumference were massive enough that, peripherally, it would paralyze a large part of the state.

 

Between September 8 and 10-11, Hurricane Irma hit every coast of Florida. And, it has paralyzed every county in Florida.

 

Until the hurricane actually hit The Keys, my sister in Southeast Broward County sat in Irma’s direct path. I was concerned, but not worried.

 

Before the hurricane reached Puerto Rico, Donna went into high gear. She activated a system that she developed in 1992, as Andrew approached. She is a veteran preparer for and survivor of Category 3, 4, and 5 hurricanes.

 

A lot of people were counting on her to jump right in. She’s responsible for a lot of stores and a lot of workers, and to some extent, the welfare of the workers’ families. She’s answerable to the leaders of an international corporation that had just lost a lot of stores in Southeast Texas.

 

When it comes to major hurricanes, I tend to listen to my sister more than anyone else. I knew that her advice would come in handy. Hurricane Irma was described as much bigger, much more dangerous than even Andrew had been.

 

A week ago, I had four big hurricanes under my belt. Until September 9, only the peripherals of hurricane number five – Irma – were supposed to skirt the Orlando area.

 

I was finishing this blog

 

REFLECTING ON AND RELATING TO TROPICAL STORMS

 

I was working at Seralago Hotel and Suites, Kissimmee, when two severe tropical storms caused cyclone-like whip-lashing winds, torrential rains and hundreds of land-hugging tornadoes.

 

Between August 19 and 21 of 2008, Tropical Storm Fay repeatedly plummeted the area. On June 23 and 24, 2012, Tropical Storm Debby pounced on the area with vengeance.

 

At the hotel, we took the threat of every potential Florida-bound hurricane and every tropical storm very seriously. Our two top priorities were (1) our guests and staff and (2) the structural areas being used for shelter.

 

The storms in both 2008 and 2012 left behind extensive wind and rain damage to the exteriors of buildings and around the grounds. It caused heavy water damage to many guest rooms; the main lobby, kitchen and food court, and public restrooms; and conference center. Also, it damaged both indoor and outdoor recreation areas including both swimming pools and the gazebo. It ravaged our beautiful gardens, nature sanctuary, and walkways. It uprooted flowering shrubs, bushes, trees, and vines indigenous to Florida Tropics – and the Caribbean.

 

Every person and pet on the property made it fine.

 

Everyone there helped it come out better than worse. Management, especially department directors and supervisors, pulled together. They led the staff of over 100 in disaster preparedness, survival and recovery that saved many lives, and the property. They followed a plan, somewhat similar to the one that my sister created.

 

Major hurricanes – major disasters – deserve our full attention from preparation-to-recovery. They warrant our participation. They require our joint commitment to see things through.

 

“This is going to be a very long haul,” said a long-time resident of Lake Jackson, right after Hurricane Harvey plummeted Southeast Texas. An old classmate of my mother, the man choked as he talked on a mobile phone. He and his wife were returning early from their summer home in New Mexico.

 

SEE THESE FOLLOW-UP POSTS:

 

Painter’s Hurricane Preparedness, Part 2: “THE DIRTY SIDE OF THE STORM”

 

Painter’s Hurricane Preparedness, Part 3: In the Paintshop

 

Painter’s Hurricane Preparedness, Part 4: Creating a Make-Shift Shelter

 

Painter’s Hurricane Preparedness, Part 5: Packing for Riding Out Storm

 

Painter’s Hurricane Preparedness, Part 6: Securing Inside of Your Home

 

 THE BOTTOM LINE: First protect lives, Second protect valuables. Third, if there’s any time left, protect whatever else really matters, most essential things first.

 

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Major disasters swoop in, then leave. People and pets are meant to stick around awhile.

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Stay alert, smart and safe. Thanks for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

Copyright 2017. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

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