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War of the Minds

An Internet Contest

Thanks to Mary Robinson Crews for listing this site on the Contests on the WWW page. Our Burma Shave Jingle of the Week contest and War of the Minds are listed there.

Thanks to NetSurfer Digest for reviewing War of the Minds in Issue 04.34.

We find that War of the Minds was the subject of Internet News - Charles Bowen's daily radio program - on December 23, 1998.

Thanks to Sympatico Netlife - Canada's Home Internet Magazine for the link in the Nov./Dec. 1999 issue.

For trivia questions about computers see Trivial Net!

Here is another interesting quiz.

Visitors to this page may be interested in a Sample Test for a Kentucky Teacher's Job
According to the Lexington Herald-Leader
To become a teacher in Kentucky, college graduates must take three tests, which gauge their basic knowledge, and other tests on specific subjects, and they often have to get only about 40 percent of the questions correct to pass.
See how well you do on the 22 sample questions.

If you are a repeat visitor to our web site, we would appreciate it if you would look at our new feedback page and answer our questionnaire.


After eight years of War of the Minds and over eight hundred questions and, in most cases, very interesting answers, I am going to suspend the contest for a while because I need to catch up on other work and to rejuvenate my thought processes and, I hope, find time to overhaul and update the entire web site.

We have had sixteen battles in WOM with ten different winners. Thousands of people have visited the web pages and many have participated and/or sent emails. We certainly appreciate the interest and the ensuing correspondence and friendships established.

Please keep checking the site at least every couple of weeks until I decide to resume the questions. In the meantime please review the archives of questions and answers. I think almost anyone can find a few answers that will intrigue them enough that they will do further study on the subject and find much of interest. We think that the variety of information here is enough to stimulate the thought processes of intelligent web surfers and thereby to enhance their quality of life. At least we hope this is the case.

Also we appreciate any emails you send concerning either the WOM pages or individual questions and answers found here.

We have a winner of War XVI

Jeff Johnson has accumulated 1080 points.

Choose from below:

Rules of War

The War of the Minds consists of a number of battles. Each battle is made up of four questions, each on a different subject. The war is won by the first player to get 1000 points or the first player to get 320 points ahead of his nearest competitor at the end of a battle. If more than one player has more than 1000 points at the end of a battle the winner will be the player with the highest number of points.

Points are accumulated by answering questions. Questions are posted usually on the 1st and 16th of the month between 1100 and 1700 hours GMT. (That's 6 am and 12 noon EST.)

Contestants will get credit for all correct answers received before 1700 hours GMT the following day and the answers will be placed on the internet after that time.

If a question is still unanswered by that time the credit will go to the first correct answer received.

Answers must be sent to oldky@kyphilom.com. Players are limited to one answer per question. A player can answer any number of questions in the battle from one to four.

If a second answer to a question already answered incorrectly is sent by the same player in the same battle, the second answer will be disqualified.

Note: If a new battle is begun without all the questions on the previous battle being answered points will continue to be awarded for correct answers in previous battles.

Points are awarded as follows:

Note: Someone has suggested that we include the occupation and home of participants in War of the Minds to make our participants more personal. So we are requesting, not requiring, this information with any answers you send us. Thank you.
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The Philosophy of War of the Minds

        "...if there is an underlying oneness of all things, 
        it does not matter where we begin, whether with stars, or 
        laws of supply and demand, or frogs, or Napoleon Bonaparte.  
        One measures a circle beginning anywhere." 
                                                Charles Fort
I started War of the Minds to make this web site more interactive, to increase traffic, and to add some interesting reading to the site. It and the Poetry page have become the most popular pages for people first visiting this web site. War of the Minds now (August 1997) has between 30 and 40 visitors each day seven days a week. Of course, like all web site visitors, many of these are just what I call one click surfers attracted by one or two words in a search engine. They look at the top of the page and find its not what they expected and click the "back" button and gone. However, several are long time repeat visitors and on line friends who enjoy coming back to answer the new questions or just to read questions and answers. Others just happen upon the page and get interested in reading some of the extensive random information here.

I started the Burma Shave Contest about the same time as WOM and, at first, it was the more popular. Over time, however, as the archives of questions and answers has grown BS has receded in popularity and WOM has grown.

War of the Minds is structured around four questions on four different subjects. The subjects were picked because they are subjects I claim to know something about; Forestry, Computers, and Philosophy and Science as well as a fourth subject which may be history, literature, culture, sports, math, agriculture, or anything else that seems interesting at the moment. You are unlikely to find questions here about celebrities and "Super Models" although nothing is "off limits".

Although the questions vary in difficulty, I hope none could be answered off the top of their head by more than one in ten (maybe 100) of people picked at random on the street. Do I always know the answers off the top of my head? No. I do in about 50% of the questions. For the rest, I too, do research.

Why are there four questions? Because fewer would not make the contest as interesting or require as much diversity of knowledge (or research) and more would take too much of my time.

Why two weeks between battles? Well, at first I thought it might take that long to get answers (it actually only takes about two days), and then because I didn't want to devote the time to make it less than that. It's not longer than that because I want to give people a reason to return often before they forget all about this humble effort.

The sliding scale of points is based on the idea that, due to the diversity of the questions, one person is unlikely to be able to answer more than two from his own knowledge without time consuming research. I admit that I underestimated the power of the Internet for speed of research. As a result I have to be fairly careful to avoid including easy to find "key words" in the questions. For instance rather than asking "Who invented the cotton gin?" or "Who was Eli Whitney?" I would ask something like "Born in ____, he revolutionized southern agriculture and the southern economy and had a profound impact on slavery?" Of course the second advantage in asking the question this way is that it forces history to be, not just a dry recitation of facts, but a thought process about the implications of people and events. I apologize to my readers in that I do not take enough time with WOM to enhance the quality of all the questions in this way.

Although short answers are fine and are often sufficient, we tend here toward more involved writing with a little more information and even subjective thoughts on the subject and we like the occasional link to a related web site. In many cases the questions are thought (by me at least) to be representative of a whole area of study of the particular subject. For example, a question on the "Gaia hypothesis" as philosophy could lead one to think about the history of thought about the relationship between man and nature and how this philosophy has evolved. A question about Abner Doubleday could lead to thoughts and comments about the history of baseball while a question about Yogi Berra or Casey Stengel could lead to thoughts about the philosophy of sports or about humor or about language.

This whole rambling, boring, nonsensical essay was inspired by a discussion between myself and one of our regulars here about whether WOM does indeed have any standards. If it does, I guess this is them.

As with all pages on this web site your comments are welcome and will be added to this page if it seems they would be of interest to our visitors.

Thank you for your interest.
Duane Bristow

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Current Battle

War XVI - battle 11
1. Forestry
What family is this?
see Answer
2. Computers
What do you know about my computer system from the contents of my /etc/fstab file below?
/dev/hdb5 / ext3 defaults,noatime 1 1
/dev/hdb2 swap swap sw,pri=1 0 0
none /proc proc defaults 0 0
none /proc/bus/usb usbfs defaults 0 0
none /dev/pts devpts mode=0622 0 0
/dev/hdb10 /home ext3 defaults,noatime 1 2
/dev/cdrom              /mnt/cdrom              udf,iso9660 noauto,owner,kudzu,ro 0 0
/dev/cdrom1             /mnt/cdrom1             udf,iso9660 noauto,owner,kudzu,ro 0 0
/dev/floppy             /mnt/floppy             auto    noauto,owner,kudzu 0 0
# Dynamic entries
/dev/hda1 /mnt/hda1 vfat noauto,users,exec,umask=000 0 0
/dev/hda5 /mnt/hda5 ext3 noauto,users,exec 0 0
/dev/hda6 swap swap sw,pri=1 0 0
/dev/hda7 /mnt/hda7 ext3 noauto,users,exec 0 0
/dev/hdb6 /mnt/hdb6 ext3 noauto,users,exec 0 0
/dev/hdb7 /mnt/hdb7 ext3 noauto,users,exec 0 0
/dev/hdb8 /mnt/hdb8 ext3 noauto,users,exec 0 0
/dev/hdb9 /mnt/hdb9 ext3 noauto,users,exec 0 0
/dev/zip                /mnt/zip                auto    users,exec,sync    0 0

see Answer
3. Philosophy and Science
Where is this?

(click on picture for a clearer picture 737k)

see Answer
4. Culture
According to the song lyrics, if I am "standing at the corner of 12th street and Vine", I am in what city for what purpose?
see Answer
Please send answers to: oldky@kyphilom.com.
Points on this battle were won as follows:
1. Forestry
The family Fagaceae is often called "the oak family", but it includes a fair amount of diversity beyond oaks (Quercus), such as chestnuts (Castanea), beech (Fagus), chinkapin (Chrysophylla) and Lithocarpus, "evergreen oaks" with a few scattered species in China/Japan and the US Pacific coast.

2. Computers
fstab stands for File System TABle. It is where the system admin tells the operating system what file systems are available to it.
The fields, in order are <device> <mountpoint> <filesystemtype> <options> <dump> <fsckorder>.
In summary, in the case of the fstab file shown, you have many hard disks (here notated with "hd"), 2 cdrom drives, a floppy drive, and a zip drive. The first entries before the "dynamic" section are done at boot and the dynamic entries are Linux partitions.
For a line by line:
/dev/hdb5 / ext3 defaults,noatime 1 1
This has a hard disk mounted to the root directory with a Linux filesystem. It 
has default options (rw,suid,dev,exec,auto,nouser,async) with "no-update of 
file access timestamps" (noatime). Next to last is the backup flag (here is 
indicates 1/day), and last is the file system check utility flag (here a 

/dev/hdb2 swap swap sw,pri=1 0 0
This is a swap disk, with a priority of 1., Not backed up or checked.  
User/group ID set and write permission (sw) 

none /proc proc defaults 0 0
Linux pseudo-process filesystem (kernel uses it to provide system status), 
given all default values. Not checked/backed up. 

none /proc/bus/usb usbfs defaults 0 0
USB filesystem, given all defaults. Not checked/backed up.

none /dev/pts devpts mode=0622 0 0
This is where pseudo-terminals (PTYs) are implemented.  Mode indicates mesg 
permissions (rw-w-w). Not checked/backed up. 

/dev/hdb10 /home ext3 defaults,noatime 1 2
Linux filesystem, generally the "home" directory/space for users. As above, 
gets all default options, has no access timestamp updates, is backed up 
however, and is fsck'ed on the second pass. 

/dev/cdrom /mnt/cdrom udf,iso9660 noauto,owner,kudzu,ro 0 0
/dev/cdrom1 /mnt/cdrom1 udf,iso9660 noauto,owner,kudzu,ro 0 0
2 CD Rom drives, with Univeral Data Format (udf) and ISO 9660 filesystems, 
both owned by user kudzu, and read-only. Not checked/backed up. 

/dev/floppy /mnt/floppy             auto    noauto,owner,kudzu 0 0
Floppy drive, owned by kudzu, will no automatically mount, but can be if 
directed via "mount". Not checked/backed up. 

# Dynamic entries
/dev/hda1 /mnt/hda1 vfat noauto,users,exec,umask=000 0 0
/dev/hda5 /mnt/hda5 ext3 noauto,users,exec 0 0
/dev/hda6 swap swap sw,pri=1 0 0
/dev/hda7 /mnt/hda7 ext3 noauto,users,exec 0 0
/dev/hdb6 /mnt/hdb6 ext3 noauto,users,exec 0 0
/dev/hdb7 /mnt/hdb7 ext3 noauto,users,exec 0 0
/dev/hdb8 /mnt/hdb8 ext3 noauto,users,exec 0 0
/dev/hdb9 /mnt/hdb9 ext3 noauto,users,exec 0 0
/dev/zip                /mnt/zip                auto    users,exec,sync    0 0
Here, the noauto on the following specifies that they are not automatically mounted. The list includes several Linux filesystems (ext3) and MS longfilename FAT (vfat), along with a swap. Excepting the swap, all users can access them (users), and can run binaries (exec) For the vfat, the file creation mask (umask) allows full rwx access for all users when files are created (000). For the zip drive the I/O is synchronous (sync) and automatically mounted (auto). None are checked/backed up.

The fstab [File System TABle] tells the OS about the file systems 
available, and their location. In this case, I see - a floppy, whise file 
system isn't specified, since data was often stored in software-specific file 
systems rahter than accessed via the OS [Remember C/PM?] - two "CD-ROM" 
drives, possibly a CD-writer and a DVD, using UDF and ISO9660 - two physical 
IDE (or ATA) HDDs (hda and hdb) divided into several partitions, - support for 
removable drives [Zip and USB) and devpts (pseudoterminals or PTYs). - 
mounting proc allows the system to use pseudofiles to convey system 

Most of the HDD partitions are formatted in ext3, a journaling file system 
that allows for faster, reliable recovery and integrity checking after 
improper system shutdowns (power outages, crashes, etc.). I note that only hdb 
5 and 10 are set for backup and fsck (file checking) 

The first primary partition on physical hard drive A (hda1) is in VFAT, 
compatible with Microsoft FATxx file systems with 'long filename support', 
suggesting that this system is a multiboot system, with at least one MS 
operating system (Win95 or later). There are no NTFS or DOS partitions. 

The "missing partitions" (gaps in the numbering sequence; e.g. 3 and 4) may be 
partitions with other OSs installed on them - or not: different "distros" or 
"flavors" of Linux use different default conventions to number partitions. 
Traditionally, each physical drive was numbered separately, so you'd number up 
from hda1, and then start over with hdb1, but this system seems to use one 
number sequence across all its IDE drives: /hda1 through /hdb10, with no 
number being repeated, regardless of host drive.) There are as many possible 
reasons for a gap in the numbering as the system architects imagination 

The noauto option on most of these partitions requires "manual" mounting 
anyway (though this may be done by programs or batch files, after the OS is 
booted). The owner and user options specify which accounts can mount these 
drives. "user" also implies several other options by default (noexec, nosuid, 
nodev). Nouser (not seen here) sometimes confuses people: it only allows a 
file system to be mounted by the root (superuser) account. 

OS partitions are often made mutually unavailable by default. Data can be 
shared between multiple OSs via a mutually compatible partition, but allowing 
OSs free access to each other's "guts" can be an invitation for disaster. You 
can mount such partitions manually or boot from a recovery floppy or CD, if 
you ever want to (e.g.) use one OS to repair another, 

The CDROMs use UDF and ISO9660. The file system of the floppy drive isn't 
specified, beause data disks sometimes use software specific formats. Remote 
filesystems (on other machines) can also be mounted (attached 'virtually') via 
NFS [Network File System] in the /fstab, but I don't see that here. 

3. Philosophy and Science
This is the southern tip of Manhattan, "downtown" New York City (which actually comprises 5 boroughs).

The World Trade Center towers stood in the shaded area to the right of the "domed" buildings of the World Financial Center on the west (Hudson River) side. (I was one of the many thousands of commuters who passed through the World Trade Center in our daily commute. I also had the privilege of seeing Manhattan -- and a lot else -- from Windows on the World.)

Note: I believe that the "stepped" building at the bottom of the picture is the building where I first worked in Manhattan, back in 1973, 1 New York Plaza. It was opposite the Staten Island Ferry terminal.

Manhattan, NYC, south of Canal Street (Tribeca and the financial district). The photo includes the former World Trade Center, and therefore was taken before the "9/11" terrorist attack. I've quickly labelled some visible landmarks, but they make this area look much more boring than it is (at least on weekdays - when I used to go there, the financial district was a ghost town on Sundays, and Tribeca/Soho were remarkably like moderately large towns, if you ignored the buildings and aimlessly swarming tourists.)
4. Culture
The title of the song seems to sum up the answers to this question:
Kansas City. And to provide the reason why, here are some further lyrics:
"Going to Kansas City, Kansas City here I come
They got some crazy lil' women there and I'm gonna get me one "
The most popular version, in MMHO, would have to be Fats Domino's.
Today, that street corner no longer exists - the popular Jazz/Blues area is now 18th street.

You'd be in Kansas City to partake of (variously) the "crazy way of lovin", "crazy little women", "crazy little fellas", "turquoise retro oven", etc. depending on whose version you prefer. It's one of those songs everyone seems to have covered at some time [but if that last guy isn't remodelling his kitchen, he needs to work on his enunciation]

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Last Battle

War XVI - battle 10
1. Forestry
What are these?
see Answer
2. Computers
Add two to this list.
see Answer
3. Philosophy and Science
Where is this?

(click on picture for a clearer picture 227k)

see Answer
4. History
From Ledo to Kunming by way of Shindbwiyang, Myitkyina, and Mong-Yu. What and when?
see Answer
Please send answers to: oldky@kyphilom.com.
Points on this battle were won as follows:
1. Forestry
These are all members of the Rosaceae family (and can coincidentally all be found in the Washington D.C. area).

Sorbus is not, as some believe, the deification of the star of TV's Hercules and Andromeda, but is a genus that includes whitebeams and mountain ashes.

Crataegus is the genus of hawthorns.

Malus includes the apple and crab apple trees. It is also a word that gives me (and anyone who ever seriously studied Latin) fits, because it can mean so many things. Bad word! Bad! No Apple for you! ['bad' and 'apple tree' are among the Latin meanings of 'malus']. As a schoolboy, I recall a poem that read, in its entirety: "Malo / malo / malo / malo" and could be translated as (among other things) "I would rather be / in an apple tree / than a naughty boy/ in adversity." All that from one word. Oh my aching head.

Prunus includes almonds, apricots, cherries, nectarines, plums, peaches -- but not prunes. Perhaps the name is a plaintive plea: "Prune us!" Yet, I never do.

Pyrus includes the pears.
2. Computers
These are all distributions of Linux, and there are many more available. Mandrake and Red Hat are two additional versions.

Since I have to name two (out of many) I'd pick CERN Linux (a RedHat variant optimized for cluster computing and power users), because I love CERN (I lived in Basel for a while. Admittedly, I'm not entirely enamored of Geneva; I often joked it should be given back to the French) and EvilEntity, one of several Audio and video production oriented distributions I'm looking into for the next generation of my HTPC (Home Theater PC - a single inexpensive computer that serves the functions of a wall full of expensive gear, with performance that few prosumer units can match: digital audio, standard TV, DVD, DVR, HDTV, ATSC recording, A/V editing and processing, upscaling to a 12-ft digital projector, and many other functions,

A more extensive and informative list of distributions, with links, can be found here
3. Philosophy and Science
This is an overview of Washington, D.C., centering over the National Mall area.

The city is Washington DC,The map is rotated "upside down" relative to the traditional cartographic orientation, so North is "down" and East is to the left. Among the distinctive landmarks visible in the smaller picture are the Washington Monument (and its shadow) near the center, the Lincoln Memorial (near the center of the right edge, on the Potomac River), the Jefferson Memorial (near top center, on the Tidal Pool), The White House (near bottom center), and The Mall (extending past the center of the left margin) which is surrounded by many government offices and buildings of the Smithsonian Institution; and finally, and the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the infamous Watergate Hotel in the lower right corner. I've attached a copy of the larger version , with a few more key landmarks labeled, but it would be impossible to label them all (try as I might, I couldn't label the Einstein Memorial, where I often used to hang out between meetings in DC; it's in a wooded grove in front of the department of Agriculture building, and easy to overlook even if you standing at sidewalkis leading in. It's not an insignificant monument, however, and I personally think it's worth the search. It's laden with clever details)

Here's a puzzle for the reader: Deduce the rough date and time this picture was taken. Extra credit if you can deduce the approximate year as well.

Soumen sent a copy of the photo labeled for the reader.
4. History
This refers to Stilwell Rd., named for General Joseph Stillwell, Chief of Staff to Allied Forces in the China-Burma-India theatre. It was started in December of 1942 and completed in approximately May of 1945, and was built by US Army engineers. It ran from Ledo in Assam, India and connected to Burma Rd. which led to Kunming, China. For a complete discussion, see

This would be Stilwell's Road (originally called the Ledo Road), constructed by the Americans in WWII.

The famous Burma Road, built by the Chinese (1938) during the Sino-Japanese war ran from a railhead at Lashio, Burma, to Kunming, China, and was a key trade, supply, and troop transport route. However, it was partly blocked by Japanese occupied territory in 1942. The Ledo Road was meant to bypass the the Japanese occupation zone, restoring supply routes to the Chinese stronghold of Kunming, and, from there, cities as far as Chunking and beyond.

Ledo was one of the railheads of the Bengal-Assam Railway, in the strongly held and loyal British colony of India. Pn todays maps, it's the far eastern tip of India, near the junction of China and Burma - a "peninsula" of India beyond the bottleneck "isthmus" (if you will) between Bhutan and Bangladesh, It might seem primitive by western standards, it is actually one of the major reasons why India fought to keep that landlocked "outstretched hand to the east".

The Ledo Road was not just a road, but a rather complex transport system, which included oil pipelines, etc. This supply chain was an impressive engineering achievement that (among other hallmarks) ranged over a thousand miles of distance, and almost two miles of altitude.

Its importance might seem minimal, since it wasn't completed until 1945, and was only used by the military in the last 10 months of the war, mostly after Germany had already fallen, but "the war in the Pacific" was not entirely naval, despite the impression left by most current books and movies -- and the long term sociopolitical effects of the Road on Sino American relations; later conflicts in China, India and Burma; and patterns of political/commercial development in those three nations -and beyond- are almost impossible to tabulate. Though the Burma and Ledo Roads have fallen into disrepair in places, their routes are still seen in the pearl necklace of historic landmarks and cities.that remain, even if they now conduct commerce by water, train or air instead.

Indeed, in recent years, there was much discussion among the governors of border regions on reviving the road to boost commercial development, but the Myanmar (Burma) government finally nixed the idea in January. This is a shame, because the idea may have been viable viable. The road never really died, but lived an underground life in the past few decades as a transport route for smuggling and opium transport from the "Golden Triangle". Revitalizing it might help reduce such smuggling, tame lawless regions, and return the route to legal use. Some have suggested that this may have been partly why it was rejected; the government has cited "rebel activity" as a major reason, but many wonder if none of the revenues from illicit trade finds its way into the coffers of officials.

You can read more about Stilwell's Road here.

Pictures of the road itself can be found here.

A first-hand account (with painting made at the time) can be found here

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Winners of Previous Wars

  1. Anne Lurie - email: ALURIE@nc.rr.com - Retired in Raleigh, North Carolina; likes birdwatching, genealogy, research, and surfing the Internet! - 730 points. - 21 battles.
  2. Soumen Nandy - email: snandy@nandy.com - 660 points. - 15 battles.
  3. Soumen Nandy - email: snandy@nandy.com - 520 points. - 5 battles.
  4. Marino Jaen - email: marino@sinfo.net - 500 points. - 14 battles.
  5. Russell Flowers - email: rflowers@flashmail.com - 700 points. - 18 battles.
  6. Michael A. Bayne - Computer Systems Engineer, Department of Computer Science, University of Virginia - 700 points. - 19 battles.
  7. Drew Smith - Instructor, School of Library and Information Science, University of South Florida, Tampa - 700 points. - 9 battles
  8. Drew Smith - Instructor, School of Library and Information Science, University of South Florida, Tampa - 1020 points. - 14 battles.
  9. Nicholas A Godlewski - aeronautical engineering student at WPI (Worcester Polytechnic Institute). - 1140 points. - 18 battles.
  10. Zaheer Jhetam - Manager: Logistics and Quality - South Africa - 500 points - 9 battles.
  11. Alexis Darrasse - A young Greek studying Applied Mathematics in Paris, France - 460 points - 9 battles.
  12. Alexis Darrasse - A young Greek studying Applied Mathematics in Paris, France - 780 points - 8 battles.
  13. Alexis Darrasse - A young Greek studying Applied Mathematics in Paris, France - 1120 points - 11 battles.
  14. Soumen Nandy - 320 points - 2 battles.
  15. Soumen Nandy - 640 points - 12 battles.
  16. Jeff Johnson - Milford, NH - 1080 points - 11 battles.

Standings in the War - XVI


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Last revised May 16, 2004.

URL: http://www.kyphilom.com/duane/warmind.html

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Duane Bristow (oldky@kyphilom.com)

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All contents copyright (C) 2004, Duane Bristow. All rights reserved.