Later On

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Archive for December 30th, 2020

Why You Should Talk to Yourself in the Third Person

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Shayla Love writes in Vice:

According to the Bible, King Solomon, the Israelite king, was an incredibly wise man. People traveled far and wide just to ask for his advice, including two women who claimed to be the mother of the same baby. Solomon devised a clever way to solve the dispute.

Solomon’s wisdom, though, only applied to matters external to himself. His own life “was a shambles of bad decisions and uncontrolled passions,” wrote Wray Herbert in The Association for Psychological Science. “He kept hundreds of pagan wives and concubines, and also loved money and boasted of his riches. He neglected to instruct his only son, who grew up to be an incompetent tyrant. All these sins and misjudgments contributed to the eventual demise of the kingdom.”

This is referred to as Solomon’s Paradox. Whether the tales of Solomon are rooted in historical fact or not, they describe how we are often more wise when it comes to helping others than we are with ourselves. There’s something about the distance between yourself and another that provides the space to assess a situation more objectively, and control your emotions, rather than letting them cloud your thinking.

But there might be a remarkably simple way to access this kind of distance, and approach your own emotions, stress, and problems with a Solomon-esque distance: Talk to yourself in the third person.

Now, this suggestion might garner a certain gut reaction: that talking to yourself in the third person is strange at best, and annoying, narcissistic, or idiotic at worst. “Just think of Elmo in the children’s TV show Sesame Street, or the intensely irritating Jimmy in the sitcom Seinfeld—hardly models of sophisticated thinking,” wrote science journalist David Robson in The British Psychological Society Research Digest.

Yet decades of research now show that talking to yourself this way inside of your head—also called “distanced self-talk” can help foster psychological distance, a phenomenon that leads to better emotional regulation, self control, and even wisdom.

recent study in Clinical Psychological Science is the latest in a robust body of work from University of Michigan professor of psychology Ethan Kross, Bryn Mawr College assistant professor of psychology Ariana Orvell, and others. It cemented the findings that when people use words for themselves that they usually reserve for others—their name, and third- and second-person pronouns—they are better able to deal with negative emotions, even in emotionally intense situations, and even if they have a history of having a hard time managing their emotions.

Distanced self-talk also raises interesting questions about the ways that language influences our emotions, and highlights the importance of psychological distance overall—if you’re feeling overwhelmed, see if getting a little distance from yourself helps.

Humans have the ability for introspection, which helps us solve problems or plan for the future. But when bad things happen or intense negative emotions arise, this introspection can transform into its darker cousin: rumination. That’s when we end up incessantly turning over thoughts or are plunged into negative emotions, worrying ourselves in circles.

“Why does that happen?” Kross said. “And are there ways of making introspection work for us better?”

When we’re struggling with this kind of distress, we tend to zoom in, “almost to the exclusion of everything else. We lose the ability to take the big picture into account,” Kross said. Then, we might have a hard time coping with strong emotions, or finding ways to emotionally regulate. Emotional regulation, simply described, is the broad set of strategies that people use to change or modify what they’re feeling.

In those situations, being able to think about your experience from a more distanced perspective can be helpful. Psychological distance is a construct that’s been around for a long time, said Kevin Ochsner, Professor and Chair at the Department of Psychology at Columbia University.

There are many different strategies studied that create distance: You can picture a person or scene moving away from you, into the distance, like the opening lines in Star Wars. Even the act of physically leaning back has been shown to help more easily perform a difficult task.

“All those things will decrease the emotional punch,” Ochsner said.

Kross stumbled across talking to yourself in the third person about 10 years ago while exploring other distancing methods. By talking to yourself in the third person, or even second person (the pronoun “you”) he found that people bypassed a lot of the effort that’s usually put into trying to change your perspective to a more distanced one.

“The idea was—which continues to be fascinating to me—that we all have these tools that are baked into the structure of language that can serve this perspective shifting distancing function,” Kross said.

The official term for talking in the third person about yourself is illeism. Many people have an internal monologue that crops up, when we’re figuring out what to do, reflecting on the past, or guiding ourselves through day-to-day situations, but we frequently use the pronouns I, me, mine, and my.

In Kross and his colleagues’ work, they set out to see what would happen if they told people to modify that. In one study, they found that . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 December 2020 at 8:31 pm

U.S. Diet Guidelines Sidestep Scientific Advice to Cut Sugar and Alcohol

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I do not understand the bad faith that consistently seems to drive government decisions. I do understand it is the result of kowtowing to money and power, but I can’t understand why so many people act exactly as if they had no integrity].

Roni Caryn Rabin reports in the NY Times on how the government quite deliberately includes in its dietary guidelines advice that they know is bad and will harm the public, and they do that willingly. One doesn’t wish to be judgmental, but it’s hard to feel anything but contempt for such decisions and actions:

Rejecting the advice of its scientific advisers, the federal government has released new dietary recommendations that sound a familiar nutritional refrain, advising Americans to “make every bite count” but dismissing experts’ specific recommendations to set new low targets for consumption of sugar and alcoholic beverages.

The “Dietary Guidelines for Americans” are updated every five years, and the latest iteration arrived on Tuesday, 10 months into a pandemic that has posed a historic health threat to Americans. Confined to their homes, even many of those who have dodged the coronavirus itself are drinking more and gaining weight, a phenomenon often called “quarantine 15.”

The dietary guidelines have an impact on Americans’ eating habits, influencing food stamp policies and school lunch menus and indirectly affecting how food manufacturers formulate their products.

But the latest guidelines do not address the current pandemic nor, critics said, new scientific consensus about the need to adopt dietary patterns that reduce food insecurity and chronic diseases. Climate change does not figure in the advice, which does not address sustainability or greenhouse gas emissions, both intimately tied to modern food production.

A report issued by a scientific advisory committee last summer had recommended that the guidelines encourage Americans to make drastic cuts in their consumption of sugars added to drinks and foods to 6 percent of daily calories, from the currently recommended 10 percent.

Evidence suggests that added sugars, particularly those in sweetened beverages, may contribute to obesity and weight gain, which are linked to higher rates of chronic health conditions like heart disease and Type 2 diabetes, the scientific panel noted.

More than two-thirds of American adults are overweight or obese; obesity, diabetes and other related conditions also increase the risk of developing severe Covid-19 illness.

The scientific advisory group also called for limiting daily alcohol consumption to one drink a day for both men and women, citing a growing body of evidence that consuming higher amounts of alcohol is associated with an increased risk of death, compared with drinking lower amounts.

The new guidelines acknowledge that added sugars are nutritionally empty calories that can add extra pounds, and concede that emerging evidence links alcohol to certain cancers and some forms of cardiovascular disease — a retreat from the once popular notion that moderate drinking is beneficial to health.But officials at the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services rejected explicit caps on sugar and alcohol consumption.

Although “the preponderance of evidence supports limiting intakes of added sugars and alcoholic beverages to promote health and prevent disease,” the report said, “the evidence reviewed since the 2015-2020 edition does not substantiate quantitative changes at this time.”

The new guidelines concede that scientific research “suggests that even drinking within the recommended limits may increase the overall risk of death,” and that alcohol has been found to increase the risk for some cancers even at low levels of consumption.

But the recommendation from five years ago — one drink per day for women and two for men — remains in place.

The new guidelines do . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 December 2020 at 5:07 pm

“Those of Us Who Don’t Die Are Going to Quit”: A Crush of Patients, Dwindling Supplies and the Nurse Who Lost Hope

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J. David McSwane reports in ProPublica:

Nurse Kristen Cline was working a 12-hour shift in October at the Royal C. Johnson Veterans Memorial Hospital in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, when a code blue rang through the halls. A patient in an isolation room was dying of a coronavirus that had raged for eight months across the country before it made the state the brightest red dot in a nation of hot spots.

Cline knew she needed to protect herself before entering the room, where a second COVID-19 patient was trembling under the covers, sobbing. She reached for the crinkled and dirty N95 mask she had reused for days.

In her post-death report, Cline described how the patient fell victim to a hospital in chaos. The crash cart and breathing bag that should have been in the room were missing. The patient wasn’t tethered to monitors that could have alerted nurses sooner. He had cried out for help, but the duty nurse was busy with other patients, packed two to a room meant for one.

“He died scared and alone. It didn’t have to be that way. We failed him — not the staff, we did everything we could,” she said. “The system failed him.”

The system also failed her. Since the pandemic’s early weeks, Cline had complained that the Department of Veterans Affairs, which runs the nation’s largest hospital system, wasn’t doing enough to protect its front-line health care workers. She had filed complaints about inadequate personal protective equipment with the agency’s inspector general and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, but they had done nothing. Many months into a pandemic, they were still having to ration masks and being asked to reuse them for as many as five shifts.

From Cline’s perspective and that of other health care workers I spoke with from the VA hospital in Sioux Falls, the lack of masks was a symptom of larger failures at the agency overseeing the medical care of 9 million veterans. The hospitals lacked staff and scrounged to find gowns, medical supplies, ventilators — everything needed to battle COVID-19.

While every American hospital was stretched by the pandemic, the VA’s lack of an effective system for tracking and delivering supplies made it particularly vulnerable, according to a recent examination by the federal Government Accountability Office. When the pandemic hit, the agency relied on a few big contractors to supply everything from N95 masks to needles to isolation gowns. Those few big contractors fell victim to a global shortage of masks. And the VA had no reliable tracking system to tell officials what hospitals have, what they need or what was expired. At the Sioux Falls facility, things got so desperate, the supply chain for masks relied on a guy named Steve who gave them out one at time from a nearby warehouse, employees said.

As COVID-19 overwhelmed the antiquated system, VA leadership asked employees at more than 170 hospitals to enter inventory by hand into spreadsheets every day and did “not have insight” into how resources were being deployed, the report said. In other words, the local Best Buy or Walgreen’s had more efficient ways of managing inventory to get supplies to the right place.

The resulting scramble, which ProPublica has investigated over the past eight months, was a disorganized, poorly overseen effort to buy masks and other supplies from just about anyone who said they could deliver. Hoping to compensate for a disastrous lack of preparation, the VA awarded more than 100 contracts worth over $120 million to vendors with whom it had never done business.

The COVID-19 pandemic came at a tough moment for the agency, which was more than a year into a massive reorganization by the administration of President Donald Trump that left hundreds of jobs empty and sent the VA scrambling to hire contract positions to help with, among other things, procurement of supplies.

Kevin Lyons, an associate professor and supply chain expert at Rutgers Business School, said nothing the VA did before or during the pandemic showed it had a handle on its own purchase and delivery of supplies, let alone prepare for a global shortage. His research is exploring how the Trump administration’s purge of hundreds of VA staff members created a path to disaster.

VA Secretary Robert Wilkie had boasted about across-the-board staff cutbacks in November 2019, just weeks before the first confirmed U.S. COVID-19 case, noting that he had “relieved people as high as network directors to people at the other end of our employee chain.”

Lyons, an Air Force veteran, told me top VA officials have been able to claim all’s well — even as nurses and doctors describe continued shortages and rationing — because bureaucrats who awarded contracts did little or nothing to track how they worked out. He said the rapid-fire approval of contracts gave “the appearance that we’re doing something. But there was no connection between the nurses and the doctors who actually need it.”

“All they really care about is, you know, signing a contract, and then crossing your fingers and hoping that stuff comes,” Lyons said. “And that’s just not the way that supply chain is supposed to happen.” . .

Continue reading. There’s much more.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 December 2020 at 4:40 pm

Plato in Sicily: Philosophy in Practice

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Nick Romeo, a journalist and author who teaches philosophy for Erasmus Academy, and Ian Tewksbury, a Classics graduate student at Stanford University, write in Aeon:

In 388 BCE, Plato was nearly forty. He had lived through an oligarchic coup, a democratic restoration, and the execution of his beloved teacher Socrates by a jury of his fellow Athenians. In his youth, Plato seriously contemplated an entry into Athens’ turbulent politics, but he determined that his envisioned reforms of the city’s constitution and educational practices were vanishingly unlikely to be realised. He devoted himself instead to the pursuit of philosophy, but he retained a fundamental concern with politics, ultimately developing perhaps the most famous of all his formulations: that political justice and human happiness require kings to become philosophers or philosophers to become kings. As Plato approached the age of forty, he visited Megara, Egypt, Cyrene, southern Italy, and, most consequentially of all, the Greek-speaking city-state of Syracuse, on the island of Sicily.

In Syracuse, Plato met a powerful and philosophically-minded young man named Dion, the brother-in-law of Syracuse’s decadent and paranoid tyrant, Dionysius I. Dion would become a lifelong friend and correspondent. This connection brought Plato to the inner court of Syracuse’s politics, and it was here that he decided to test his theory that if kings could be made into philosophers – or philosophers into kings – then justice and happiness could flourish at last.

Syracuse had a reputation for venality and debauchery, and Plato’s conviction soon collided with the realities of political life in Sicily. The court at Syracuse was rife with suspicion, violence and hedonism. Obsessed with the idea of his own assassination, Dionysius I refused to allow his hair to be cut with a knife, instead having it singed with coal. He forced visitors – even his son Dionysius II and his brother Leptines – to prove that they were unarmed by having them stripped naked, inspected and made to change clothes. He slew a captain who’d had a dream of killing him, and he put to death a soldier who handed Leptines a javelin to sketch a map in the dust. This was an inauspicious candidate for the title of philosopher-king.

Plato’s efforts did not fare well. He angered Dionysius I with his philosophical critique of the lavish hedonism of Syracusan court life, arguing that, instead of orgies and wine, one needed justice and moderation to produce true happiness. However sumptuous the life of a tyrant might be, if it was dominated by insatiable grasping after sensual pleasures, he remained a slave to his passions. Plato further taught the tyrant the converse: a man enslaved to another could preserve happiness if he possessed a just and well-ordered soul. Plato’s first visit to Sicily ended in dark irony: Dionysius I sold the philosopher into slavery. He figured that if Plato’s belief were true, then his enslavement would be a matter of indifference since, in the words of the Greek biographer Plutarch, ‘he would, of course, take no harm of it, being the same just man as before; he would enjoy that happiness, though he lost his liberty.’

Fortunately, Plato was soon ransomed by friends. He returned to Athens to found the Academy, where he likely produced many of his greatest works, including The Republic and The Symposium. But his involvement in Sicilian politics continued. He returned to Syracuse twice, attempting on both later trips to influence the mind and character of Dionysius II at the urging of Dion.

These three episodes are generally omitted from our understanding of Plato’s philosophy or dismissed as the picaresque inventions of late biographers. However, this is a mistake that overlooks the philosophical importance of Plato’s Italian voyages. In fact, his three trips to Sicily reveal that true philosophical knowledge entails action; they show the immense power of friendship in Plato’s life and philosophy; and they suggest that Plato’s philosopher-king thesis is not false so much as incomplete.

These key events are cogently expressed in Plato’s often-overlooked Seventh Letter. The Seventh Letter has proved an enigma for scholars since at least the great German philologists of the 19th century. While the majority of scholars have accepted its authenticity, few have given its theory of political action a prominent place in the exegesis of Plato. In the past three decades, some scholars have even moved to write it out of the Platonic canon, with the most recent Oxford commentary terming it The PseudoPlatonic Seventh Letter (2015). Each age has its own Plato, and perhaps given the apolitical quietism of many academics, it makes sense that contemporary academics often neglect Plato’s discussion of political action. Nonetheless, most scholars – even those who wished it to be a forgery – have found the letter authentic, based on historical and stylistic evidence. If we return to the story of Plato’s Italian journeys, which Plato himself tells in The Seventh Letter, we’re able to resurrect the historical Plato who risked his life in order to unite philosophy and power.

While The Seventh Letter focuses on the story of Plato’s three voyages to Syracuse, it begins with a brief synopsis of his early life. Like most members of the Athenian elite, his first ambition was to enter politics and public life. In Plato’s 20s, however, Athens underwent a series of violent revolutions, culminating in the restoration of the democracy and the execution of his teacher Socrates in 399 BCE. ‘Whereas at first I had been full of zeal for public life,’ Plato wrote, ‘when I noted these changes and saw how unstable everything was, I became in the end quite dizzy.’ He decided that the time was too chaotic for meaningful action, but he didn’t abandon the desire to engage in political life. Instead, in his own words, he was ‘waiting for the right time’. He was also waiting for the right friends.

When Plato first arrived in Sicily, a trip that likely took more than a week by boat on the rough and dangerous Mediterranean, he immediately noticed the islanders’ extravagant way of life. He was struck by their ‘blissful life’, one ‘replete … with Italian feasts’, where ‘existence is spent in gorging food twice a day and never sleeping alone at night.’ No one can become wise, Plato believed, if he lives a life primarily focused on sensual pleasure. Status-oriented hedonism creates a society devoid of community, one in which the stability of temperance is sacrificed to the flux of competitive excess. Plato writes:

Nor could any State enjoy tranquility, no matter how good its laws when its men think they must spend their all on excesses, and be easygoing about everything except the drinking bouts and the pleasures of love that they pursue with professional zeal. These States are always changing into tyrannies, or oligarchies, or democracies, while the rulers in them will not even hear mention of a just and equitable constitution.

Though the Syracusan state was in disarray, Plato’s friend Dion offered him a unique opportunity to influence the Sicilian kings. Dion didn’t partake in the ‘blissful life’ of the court. Instead, according to Plato, he lived ‘his life in a different manner’, because he chose ‘virtue worthy of more devotion than pleasure and all other kinds of luxury’. While today we might not associate friendship with political philosophy, many ancient thinkers understood the intimate connection between the two. Plutarch, a subtle reader of Plato, expresses this link nicely:

[L]ove, zeal, and affection … which, though they seem more pliant than the stiff and hard bonds of severity, are nevertheless the strongest and most durable ties to sustain a lasting government.

Plato saw in Dion ‘a zeal and attentiveness I had never encountered in any young man’. The opportunity to extend these bonds to the summit of political power would present itself 20 years later, after Plato escaped slavery and Dionysius I had died.

Dionysius II, the elder tyrant’s son, also didn’t appear likely to become a philosopher king. Although Dion wanted his brother-in-law Dionysius I to give Dionysius II a liberal education, the older king’s fear of being deposed made him reluctant to comply. He worried that if his son received a sound moral education, conversing regularly with wise and reasonable teachers, he might overthrow him. So Dionysius I kept Dionysius II confined and uneducated. As he grew older, courtiers plied him with wine and women. Dionysius II once held a 90-day long drunken debauch, refusing to conduct any official business: ‘drinking, singing, dancing, and buffoonery reigned there without control,’ Plutarch wrote.

Nonetheless, Dion used all his influence to persuade the young king to invite Plato to Sicily and place himself under the guidance of the Athenian philosopher. Dionysius II began sending Plato letters urging him to visit, and Dion as well as various Pythagorean philosophers from southern Italy added their own pleas. But Plato was nearly 60 years old, and his last experience in Syracusan politics must have left him reluctant to test fate again. Not heeding these entreaties would have been an easy and understandable choice.

Dion wrote to Plato that this was  . . .

Continue reading. There’s more.

Later in the article:

He writes in The Seventh Letter:

I set out from home … dreading self-reproach most of all; lest I appear to myself only theory and no deed willingly undertaken … I cleared myself from reproach on the part of Philosophy, seeing that she would have been disgraced if I, through poorness of spirit and timidity, had incurred the shame of cowardice …

This reveals a conception of philosophy in which ‘theory’ is damaged by a lack of corresponding ‘deed’. The legitimacy of philosophy requires the conjunction of knowledge and action.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 December 2020 at 1:15 pm

Million-Dollar Dip recipe

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Written by LeisureGuy

30 December 2020 at 12:50 pm

Posted in Food, Recipes, Video

‘There’s No Place Like Home for The Holidays:’ Travel and COVID-19 Test Positivity Following Thanksgiving Weekend

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Click the chart to enlarge. Sunil Solomon writes on Facebook:

Hope everyone is enjoying the holidays! Two things that have troubled me about the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic are: (1) a lot of guidance is based on personal opinions or perspectives (i.e. not data driven); and (2) messaging has not been targeted at the general public and we often leave the lay man/woman to interpret scientific papers themselves, which can be very dangerous. And another major issue with a rapidly evolving pandemic is data becomes old very soon! This post is an attempt to address these.

DISCLOSURE: these data are from a survey we just completed less than 10 days ago and so it is not peer-reviewed. But it is data and not my personal insights into the meaning of life and Covid which have become all too common these days! These data (like most data) are not perfect. I would have traditionally waited for a peer-reviewed publication but by the time that is done, these data would be old and thousands more would have been infected over the holidays. If these data could prevent even one infection, I feel, this is way worth it!

We have also tried putting together a panel of Figures to try and communicate the message in a non-scientific way that could be correctly interpreted by anyone. It is our first take and so would appreciate any and all feedback on how to improve our scientific communication….also, if you like this, let us know what else with Covid is confusing and we will try and address that next 😉

WHAT DID THE DATA TELL US?

1.Public health officials in the US strongly advised against traveling and having gatherings with non-household members over Thanksgiving. Yet, about half the respondents surveyed across 10 US states had meals either outside their home or with non-household members.

2.People who had Thanksgiving with non-household members or at someone else’s house were more likely to have COVID-related symptoms, more likely to get a Covid test, and more likely to test positive.

3.People who went to someone else’s house for Thanksgiving were also more likely to engage in non-essential activities such as going to bars, restaurants, gyms, hair salons, etc. In fact, they reported over 30 non-essential activities in 14 days!!!!!

4.The more non-essential activities people took part in, the higher the likelihood of testing positive.

TAKE HOME MESSAGES:

1.There’s no place like home for the holidays. Stay home! Stay Safe!

2.If you are (like the most of us) experiencing pandemic fatigue, missing family (which can include dogs or any other animal) and tired of staying at home, GO OUT! But limit the number of activities. If you are missing your mother or your grandmother and want to see her, go see her….but do not stop at a bar to get a drink after you went to the gym and hair salon earlier in the day on your way to see her. You are placing yourself and her at risk! Fewer activities = lower risk for you (and your loved ones)! Remember “nothing is safe” and there is always a risk; but, going to multiple places multiple times multiplies this risk. You can reduce this even further by wearing a mask and keeping a distance from her and meeting her outdoors…all of or an many of the above as possible! Use your own judgment!!

I want to conclude with an analogy from HIV: harm reduction. For sexually active participants, we always message to reduce partners. We also always recommend using condoms especially with unknown partners. Replace partners with non-essential activities and condoms with masks/hand hygiene and I have the same advice for you for COVID. Think of venues you visit as sexual partners and since you have no control over who goes to these venues, think of them as unknown sexual partners. So, limit the number of venues and always wear a mask correctly (just like wearing a condom on your fingertips during sex doesn’t prevent HIV, masks on your neck don’t help with covid either) to minimize your (and your loved ones) risk of Covid.
If you like this post and think it makes sense, please share. Every infection averted gets us one step closer to getting back to normal (and going to the gym)!

You can follow us and give us feedback on instagram @pandemicpulse and twitter @pulsepandemic
For those of you who want the more detailed scientific version:

https://www.medrxiv.org/con…/10.1101/2020.12.22.20248719v1

For more information, see their website.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 December 2020 at 11:45 am

Creed’s Green Irish Tweed (a fine fragrance) and an Edwin Jagger razor (a fine razor)

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Today I was struck anew by the fougère fragrance of Creed’s Green Irish Tweed. No wonder it is so often imitated (in a plethora of “Green-Irish-Tweed-style” shaving soaps). The lather, with the little Vie-Long brush was excellent owing to a few sessions of studying process by making lather in a bowl. The consistency was exactly right and the fragrance was wonderful.

This Edwin Jagger razor seemed especially good this morning. It’s easy to understand why the Edwin Jagger line is so popular (and the head so imitated, with a plethora of clones). Three passes left my face perfectly smooth and comfortable, and a splash of GIT EDT finished gthe shave — and the sun is shining! (as you see).

Written by LeisureGuy

30 December 2020 at 11:25 am

Posted in Shaving

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