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Dec. 23rd, 2013

Do you believe in Santa Claus?

The Holiday season is in full swing and like Thanksgiving it’s a time to give thanks and think back on the past year. There’s been lots of drama throughout the world this year which if you look back closely you’ll find that happens almost every year. The over commercialism of Christmas continues and there is also the continued trend to try to de-Christianize the holiday. Those are all worthy blog topics in themselves but this time around I am posing the question. Do you believe in Santa Claus?

You see I ask this question because for me the answer is: Of course I believe in Santa Claus. Santa Clause and all his iterations has been around for somewhere between 1600 and 2000 years. The first St. Nick of course was named after a Greek Bishop from the 4th century who had a reputation for secret gift-giving, such as putting coins in the shoes of those who left them out for him. (Wikipedia) This figure was also melded out with the Odin mythos and the giving of gifts during the Winter Solstice. His image and attributes have morphed and adapted to the “current” culture whenever “current” was current. The present ability of technology to allow for instant communication and access to great amounts of information has been the bane and the boon for the legend of Santa Claus.

It allows for more questions as children and people question the validity of the figure whether he is myth or legend. On the other hand the images and intent have spread all over the world, even to cultures that would normally have nothing to do with what was originally a Christian icon. Santa Claus may be the most recognized figure on earth. (Yes even more than Jesus and LeBron James.)

BUT, is he real? Of course he is. Santa has long broken out of the confines of just Christmas as a Christian holiday. There IS a reason for the season but the figure of Santa has grown beyond that. He’s come to represent the Spirit of Christmas. When you see those volunteers ringing bells out on the sidewalk they represent that spirit. Do you think that’s fun? People standing out in the cold or wind or weather waving a bell to get people to part with their hard earned money to help those in need. Maybe not always fun, but satisfying. That’s part of the Spirit of Christmas. When a house burns down and a family is made homeless and their Christmas ruined and people step in to help and make things good. Or, when a community center or pantry is robbed by holiday Grinches and then suddenly the community erupts and donations pour in, presents are donated and replaced. Or those people who make the dinners for the families in need. That’s the spirit of Christmas. These things happen every year. It isn’t about what you get for Christmas but what you give, Santa represents that.

The look on kids’ faces when they tear opens their gifts on Christmas morning? The millions of letters processed by the world’s mail every year to SANTA: NORTH POLE. NORAD’s annual tracking of the sleigh. It’s all the Spirit of Christmas and that spirit is represented by Santa Claus. It doesn’t matter if it’s Santa Claus or Kris Kringel, Papa Noel, Sinterklaas, Grandfather Frost or Black Peter or the dozens of other names he’s represented with all over the world. It doesn’t matter if he’s black or white (or even green for our alien friends among us who believe) he still is Santa Claus.

When you are alone or desolated during the holidays. When you you’ve been driven down to the brink and someone gives you something simple like a little ornament. When you’re watching that umpteenth Christmas movie on the Hallmark Channel and it gets to the end and even though you’ve seen it a million times the tears come anyway. That’s the Christmas Spirit. Santa represents that.

So do I believe? I think it’s obvious, I raised my daughter Cassie who at 19 still believes and my grandsons get the same treatment. The real question is do you believe?
the-great-santa-claus-

Sep. 22nd, 2012

We're Back! (Yes I know it's about time.)

It’s time, time to reactivate the blog. The blogosphere calls. In the coming weeks I will be doing some book reviews and hosting some blog tours for other writers. I may do a few interviews also. I will also be blogging some about writing, authors and the world in general. It’s election time and although I try to keep my opinions out of the political arena I still might have a few comments to make. There’s also what’s current and hot in the writing world. I’m going to be posting some resources for writers too, so we can all get ahead. My blog has been reflective of my writing efforts of late, which is to say quiet. That’s changing, and I expect that reflectivness to continue activity wise.

Oct. 20th, 2010

J.S. Chancellor & Son of Ereubus; Guardians of Legend Trilogy, Book One Release Tour

Journal Entry #8
It is my honor and pleasure to welcome my friend Author J.S. Chancellor who is stopping by for a visit from her busy blog book release tour. J.S. is a veteran Fantasy Author who's new upcoming book is Son of Ereubus; Guardians of Legend Trilogy, Book One is being released on November 1st 2010.



J.S. Chancellor, whose personal motto is, “woe is the writer who mounts their merit on the masses,” started writing stories when she was still in grade school, and finished her first fantasy novella at the age of 14. She drafted chapter one of the Guardians of Legend trilogy when she was a freshman in high school, sitting on a stool in front of a piano bench, in her parents’ den. It wasn’t until she was 25 when a resident at the apartment complex where she worked lovingly made a casual remark about her procrastination that her passion for fantasy fiction took center stage. Since then she’s focused all of her efforts on writing, to include leaving her full time job in September 2009 and actively maintaining a blog dedicated to the art of crafting fiction. you can find it at:(www.welcometotheasylum.net). You can find her there, or her official website, www.jschancellor.com. She currently resides in Georgia with her husband and two beloved dogs.

When did you realize you wanted to be an author?

The moment that I realized that all of the stories I’d been making up in my head could be written down is the moment when I realized that I wanted to be an author. My earliest memory of writing is going to a reception hosted for every student at our school who was nominated for the Young Georgia Writer’s Award. I didn’t realize I’d won in my age division (first grade, I believe) until I got home and my mother asked me if I was proud of myself.

What do you love most about fantasy books?

Classic escapism. They’re better than any drug or drink. I love the ability to build a story around anything my mind can conceive. The limitations that are present in nearly every other genre (save sci-fi of course) aren’t there.

What can you tell me about your style of writing?
I’m an elemental writer, pure and simple. I learned long ago to say what I mean, exactly how I mean it. The worlds, the stories I’m guiding you through are intricate enough on their own that it doesn’t feel natural to write about them with complex prose. I want you, as a reader, to remember the story — not how it was told.

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
Speaking of odd hours. I write best after the rest of the world has gone to sleep … so from about midnight to five in the morning.

What inspired you to write the Guardians of Legend trilogy?
My ideas usually come from dreams and Guardians was no exception. I was eleven when I first saw the sword that is depicted on the cover of Son of Ereubus. That dream eventually became a specific scene in chapter two of the book. Then, when I was fourteen, I saw chapter one and even wrote down a rough, rough, ROUGH draft of both chapters one and two. I also drew a picture of a Dragee and yes, I still have all of it.

How long did it take you to write the Guardians of Legend trilogy?
I wrote the first draft in a little under a year. I wrote it as one really big book and didn’t break it up until after I’d finished.

Are you working on a sequel or any other books?
Yes and yes. Guardians of Legend is the first trilogy (it can stand on its own) in a series of three. However, I have several single-volume fantasies that I’m polishing right now for possible publication in between my larger works.

What advice could you give to other authors wanting to start out?
Have fun. No, really, I mean this. Enjoy your time as an unpublished author. Revel in
writing only for yourself. All of it changes when you begin to involve other people in
your work; publishers, editors, reviewers, readers … it’s a good thing, I don’t mean to put you off from accomplishing your goals. But, don’t take for granted where you’re at now. Those earlier experiences are what shape you later on. Think of this time as your foundation. You’ll only build on it from here, but it will never be unimportant or wasted
time.

Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
As I mentioned earlier, as trite as this sounds, dreams. I’ll see a scene first — a touch of a hand, a glimpse of a face, the feel of some world beneath my feet and by the time I wake up it has either claimed its place as a story-in-waiting, or not.

What do you think makes a good story?
I can only answer this for myself, since “good” is subjective. But, ironically what I quantify as a good read isn’t in the genre I typically write in at all — it’s horror. I love to read horror, but dark fantasy is as close as I’ll ever come to penning it. Reading it though, I want to follow a story that has me on the edge of my seat, horrified, with a little bit of romantic tension thrown in for good measure (however slight). It has to appeal to all of my senses. I read a lot of Christopher Pike and R.L. Stine as a child and never got over the need to eat books like that for dinner — all in one sitting. Love them!

So Remember: The Title: Son of Ereubus; Guardians of Legend Trilogy, Book One Author: J.S. Chancellor Publishing Date: November 1, 2010 Reading level: Adult Paperback: 310 pages Publisher: Rhemalda Publishing Language: English ISBN-13: 978-09827437-4-4

THANKS FOR STOPPING BY J.S.!

Aug. 29th, 2010

Tips and Solutions against Cyberstalkers & Lurkers.

Journal Entry #7
First Things First: A service announcement related to Stalking.

PLEASE NOTE! Facebook Launched “Facebook Places” yesterday. People can
find out where you are when you are logged in without your control. It gives the actual address and map location of where you are as you use Facebook.
TO UNDO: Go to Account,  Account Settings  Notifications  Scroll down near the bottom to Places and uncheck the two boxes there.
We will now return to our previously scheduled Blog.

So, what can you do about Stalkers, Lurkers and Critics? TAKE PRECAUTIONS! Here are a few.

1. First, you need not panic or worry overmuch. Don’t induce stress in yourself over this. I know that is hard.

2. Check The Security Settings ALL of them. I know this can be tedious but you need to really determine what you want people to know about you.

3. Get A Handle On Your Friends: Figure out who you really want on your personal pages. How lazy have you been about accepting friend requests? Maybe, you need to go through your friends and see how well you know and trust each one.

4. Only Add People That You Know: or have at least checked out. Do you really want this person on your friends list? Vette them, check out their bio, look at their wall. Would you be worried about any of these post on your wall? Ask them questions. sometimes the most simple solution is communication. The irony is, that’s why we’re on Social Networking sites to begin with. Communication.

5. Verify those who say you know them: What about when people pretend to be your friends? Make sure you know they are who they say they are. Give them the third degree. If they are offended just because you’re trying to be safe, that’s not your problem. Explain it to them, if they balk then maybe you should too. Ask them something only they would know. Send a few messages back and forth to make sure you’re both on the same page. Don’t give them any info during this process. You gain the info. It’s like writing, the information is supposed to flow back to your page not the other way around.

6. Be Careful About Long Lost Friends: On your list of friends you have everything from that chick that you signed a book for 10 years ago, to someone you might have had a class in college with, all the way to your closest relative that you eat breakfast with every day. Did you really meet them at that Con last month? See # 4 & #5

If these precautions don’t work determine whether you feel there is a problem or not. If there is a problem, determine its severity. Then consult the list of following sites. These sites are interesting in and of themselves but can provide powerful information as a resource. I can’t dispense all the info that is out there but I can point the way.

ON THE SUBJECT

Social Networking Sites: A Bonanza for Stalkers?
http://www.ncvc.org/src/main.aspx?dbID=DB_SocialNetworkingSites932

Redefining Facebook: Social Networking or Cyber Stalking?
http://social-networking-tagging.suite101.com/article.cfm/facebook

Can Cyber Stalkers Harass People on Facebook?
http://ezinearticles.com/?Can-Cyber-Stalkers-Harass-People-on-Facebook?&id=4590615

Internet Dating, Cyber Stalking and Social Sites like Hubpages
http://hubpages.com/hub/Internet-Dating-Cyber-Stalking-and-About-Hubpages

TECHNICAL INFO BY THE EXPERTS

CYBER CRIME: (This is a great resource website)
http://www.angelfire.com/wizard/cheech0/cyberstalkers.html

Cyber Stalking - A Detailed Look Inside the Behaviors of Cyber Criminals:
http://www.bukisa.com/articles/147295_cyber-stalking-a-detailed-look-inside-the-behaviors-of-cyber-criminals#ixzz0y1Pb1gBs

Privacy Rights Clearinghouse: Fact Sheet 14: Are You Being Stalked?
http://www.privacyrights.org/fs/fs14-stk.htm


TIPS ON HOW TO DEAL WITH THE PROBLEM

How to Deal with a Cyber Stalker
http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/507857/how_to_deal_with_a_cyber_stalker.html

Some tips to prevent the most common cyber crime – cyber stalking
This is a great article from a blogger in India
http://nitawriter.wordpress.com/2007/01/31/cyber-stalking/

The internet can make our private lives public but most people don’t care
http://nitawriter.wordpress.com/2008/05/05/internet-making-our-private-lives-public/

Dealing with online stalkers
http://www.a1articles.com/article_1350185_81.html

How To Protect Yourself From The Facebook Stalkers Out There
http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/protect-facebook-stalkers/

10 Solid Tips to Safeguard Your Facebook Privacy
http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/the-complete-guide-to-facebook-privacy/

THESE ARE TOOLS THAT CAN BE USED AGAINST YOU. USE THEM AGAINST YOURSELF TO DETERMINE HOW GOOD YOUR SECURITY REALLY IS.
The results will be interesting to say the least.

6 Most Powerful Search Engines for Social Networks
http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/6-powerful-search-engines-social-networks/

Search for People's Profiles on Social Sites
http://snitch.name/

And Finally, if your teen needs Education over and above these other sites.

For Your Teens: Smokescreen game guides teenagers through dangers of social networking.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2010/mar/21/smokescreen-privacy-social-networking

Stalking and Lurking on Social Network Sites - Part 2

Journal Entry #6

The more passive ones are the ‘lurkers’. Some of these are harmless I’m sure you’ve noticed them; they’re not really friends even after weeks or months of trying. They show up in your every thread to toss a compliment, tell you your new profile picture is Fabulous, (They’d know, they commented on each and every one of your others) Tell you how cute your kids are, comment on how much alike you are and so on. Some of these will be stalkers, most probably not. Some really, want to get to know you and don’t know how. Some are just creeps. It’s hard to tell which from which, but it doesn’t really matter, it only takes one to mess things up for you. You have to be on guard against all of them.

Then there are the critics. They’re sort of the opposite of the admirers. Either you or they friended each other for some reason. Whatever the reason, we know why they are there now. It’s to educate you with their opinions and to tell you what you are wrong about. Whether it is political/religious views, favorite movies or books, or the silly things you do in your life, these people have an opinion on why you’re wrong and what you should do about it.

Most of the lurkers, stalkers and critics obviously do not read the whole profile you posted. Or maybe they just seemed to gloss over the parts they don’t appreciate like, oh, the married part or a single woman whose primary interest is girls or In a relationship, Even if they do, they conveniently ignore it because we all know As soon as they get to know you, they will fall into your arms FOREVER! To those creeps, remember, there’s nowhere you can go that the FBI can’t follow.
To the people who keep running into these people or whose friends do. Take action! It’s up to you to deal with them. The best way on FB, My Space and others is to Unfriend or Block them. Treat embarrassing posts like those that you would loud embarrassing statements at work or among friends. If it’s from people you know, or even kind of know you might blow it off or send a private message. If you don’t know them at all or you’re not particularly fond of them don’t worry about being the nice one, give them one warning in private or get rid of them entirely.

NEXT: What precautions you can take and what solutions you can develop for this problem, including my source sites where you can read up more on the subject than I can put here.

Stalking and Lurking on Social Network Sites

“Facebook is a stalker's paradise. It provides users with the unique ability to chart the dramas, relationships, beliefs, interests, travels and traumas of their old flames, future loves, friends and enemies alike.” Tara Sena-Becker 2007

Lately, I’ve seen a certain amount of behavior that could be interpreted as Cyber stalking. In most cases, these people are just ‘lurking’. This has happened among my own FB friends, not one, not two, but several friends and all recently. As with most Facebook ‘friends’ you have a varying degree of relationships from close relatives and best friends down to people with the same interests that you don’t really know at all.

I use Facebook as a means or networking because I’m a part-time writer. The vast majority of my ‘friends’ are writers and other members of the publishing industry. Most of them too, use FB as a means of networking with their peers and marketing to everyone. They make announcements to their ‘peeps’, talk about their writing and the industry in general. Some of course just use it to blow off steam or talk to their friends. As writers gain stature, they will add fan pages because of the 5000 friends limit on your personal page. Fan pages are great because you can have a lot more followers and you can use it exclusively to announce events, marketing, perform polls, and generally keep your fans appraised to what going on in your career.
Journal Entry #5

The problem with putting out too much on your personal page is you get admirers. They are not necessarily admirers of your work, just admirers of you. Sometimes people really want to get to know you and that’s fine to a point. There’s nothing wrong with talking up people on FB, it is a social networking site after all. When someone interests you enough to become better friends with you make those steps. It’s your choice. There is something wrong with people who don’t give you that option, who make fools of themselves and you by ridiculous comments and antics on your page. The ones who declare their love/like/infatuation on your pages for the entire world (and your peers) to see. It’s no different from declaring in a loud voice in your work place “HEY I THINK THIS PERSON IS THE BOM AND I’M GOING TO MAKE THEM MINE!” There is a certain amount of callousness, self-absorption and cowardice in this attitude. Callousness: Because obviously they don’t really care how other people react to their statements on someone else’s wall. Self-absorption: Because it isn’t about you at all, really it’s about them and their wants. Cowardice: Because the majority of these stalkers wouldn’t be caught dead doing the same thing in real life. Not, when they can hide in faceless ignominy behind the masque of the internet.
These are some the worse of the group and if you see this start developing cut them out like a cancer as fast as you can.

NEXT: THE LURKERS

Aug. 19th, 2010

Snark Hunting

Journal Entry #4
Snarks were hunted out in the Middle Ages, and thought to be extinct.. They were considered to be purveyors of bad luck and companions to sorcerers and demons. Hunters would track down Snark dens and kill the cubs, eventually reducing the population to perceived extinction levels. Snark cubs makes a funny chirping sound when they are young and dens and hunters would creep about in areas where wild snarks had been sighted in the spring, listening for the pups.These hunts were exceedingly dangerous because a Snark defending an area that its cubs are in, or for a bonded owner, will attack any life form or unlife form on sight and is
relentless in destroying or driving away its perceived enemies. Snark hunts were not a hobby to be done alone or even in small groups or even taken lightly. Killing them with a weapon is the only way to stop them before they kill you in these situations.

As far as legends go as always there is an element to truth to them. Snarks were used as the companions for sorcerers and wizards and other purveyors of magic or for people in contention with such. The Church raised snarks at one time until the legends grew to great for them to keep and eliminated the practice as it became politically expedient to do so. The reason it was such a popular companion and guard animal at the time was the little fin on its back. That little fin was like an all purpose sensor pod. They could detect extra planar entities and even spirits that had manifested in an area. Any planar disturbance, occult action, use of magic, gate, infernal or undead manifestation were all detectable by a Snark. Not only that but adult Snarks could use their own extraplanar abilities to attack these entities. There other natural advantage was that their 'here' DNA combined with their 'extra planar' DNA were particularly resistant to magic of any kind. So a high velocity armor piercing bullet is more effective then some minor godlings’ cosmic thunderbolt. That would probably just piss it off before it chewed its’ hand off.

Snarks are particularly fond of soap for some reason and can be lured through their use. Smiling at a Snark will freeze it in place for a short time, as it considers all shows of teeth as a challenge.
But, if armed with soap, you can distract it long enough to escape. Carroll must have had little sympathy for Snarks when he used that line in his famous poem:

They sought it with thimbles, they sought it with care;
(Metal coverings to protect the fingers)

They pursued it with forks and hope;
(Pitchforks. One of the most effective means of piercing its dense hide)

They threatened its life with a railway-share;
(a sharpened, cold iron, spike.)

They charmed it with smiles and soap.
(Already explained)

Occasionally a Snark will go feral or insane and immediately become a menace to the community it is in. Then, they are evil, cruel, wasteful creatures who go on long killing sprees until they are destroyed. Then, they only use their 'travel' abilities in combat making them all that more difficult to stop. Instances of this happening are extremely \rare and thought that it may be a perversion by some extraplanar creature of power. Such Snarks are called Boojums. Thus bringing forth the term "Boo" to terrorize children.

Snarks

Journal Entry #3
Well, we have been having a discussion on Snarks and I find it amazing the amount of misinformation that is out there. So, since I have a shiny new blog I thought I'd do a little two part primer on the subject.

The REAL snarks are something like a cross between Half-life and Carroll. Carroll probably saw the real thing or had it described to him. They are small to medium sized predators of multi-planar origins that were lured or brought here sometime several centuries or longer ago. They are born very red in color and hairless. As they get older their skin grows harder and darker. Very old Snarks will be almost black and have thick chitinous skin. Snarks life spans measure in decades. They mate for life and its the same when they bond with a human. Those relationships are not mutually exclusive. In the wild they can be short tempered or irritable especially when in heat. Tamed Snarks are very excitable, like to play and are mischief makers.

Snarks sort of look like a cross between a hairless otter and a hairless wolverine with a small fin upon their back not far behind the head. Females develop a diaphanous fringe of soft skin almost like feathers in their pre-mating stage and they also have slightly longer teeth. Males have more developed 'sensory spikes' almost like whiskers and have longer claws.

In the wild they are mysterious or unknown and by some considered possibly non-existent. When they do manifest it is in an unclear or inconsistent manner; they are difficult to confirm or track down, almost like hunting a snipe. The reason for this as they get older they begin to manifest extraplanar travel abilities, and use these to 'travel'. Where, it is not known but possibly not in the here or now. This ability, starts sporadically at a young age and develops with greater control and perhaps range as they grow older. So, it is literally impossible to contain or hold an adult Snark as it will simply 'poof' out of your cage or holding area and be somewhere else. You could tranquilize one for awhile, but when it eventually came to its senses, it would be gone. They can thrive in almost any eco-system but prefer dry temperate terrain. They are largely unaffected by temperature except in the extremes. They can swim albeit poorly, and long immersions in water will soften their protective skin. They are effective hunters both on the ground and in the trees. They can climb like a fisher cat and are adept at digging prey out of the ground like a badger or wolverine. Another similarity to the wolverine is their seeming lack of fear in taking on prey or predators much larger than them.

Aug. 17th, 2010

The Gen Con Writing Panels - Impressions from 2010

Journal Entry #2
The majority of Gen Con's writing panels are hosted by the Writers' Symposium.

Their own blog states: "The Writers' Symposium is made up of 20 professional writers and editors. We come together, usually at the Gen Con Game Fair, to run seminars and give critiques of writing samples. Our mission is to "Help Writers Write." Read this blog for tips on improving your writing and getting published. They also have a very good quarterly Writers' Symposium Ezine. Their wonderful and informative blog can be found at http://writerssymposium.blogspot.com/
I use their site for useful information and attend their panels every year.

This year I was signed up for 23 panels and 3 workshops. I made 20 of the panels and all 3 workshops. (Burnout begins to set in, believe me.) The majority were topic oriented like Men Writing Women, Women Writing Men, The Protagonist, The Antagonist, Horror - Techniques of Terror, The Pros & Cons of the Small & Large Press and Medieval Cooking. They are usually good and always informational.

This year there was a new undercurrent discussed that I hadn't really noticed as much before. The Digital Visual Age, Building Your Online Reputation, Digital Support, Writing Success in the Post-Paper Era, Podcasting: An Introduction, Humor in Podcasting, Podcasting: Content and Distribution, Podcasting: Gear and Gadgets.

I didn't attend all these but I did go to about half of them. I'm not ready for podcasting yet but they started seminars on them a couple years earlier. The thrust of some of the new ones are this: We are entering the Digital Age and you'd better be ready for it. Having a presence on Social Networking sites, Twitter and a Blog are now serious marketing tools. Websites are no longer optional; they are expected. Some writers launch one for every book. Be ready to put a storefront on your website. Why? E-Book sales.

E-Books. That was a big deal. Talked about in many panels not related to the ones I listed above. They comprised $200 million in sales over the last 12 months. Strategies for marketing them, how to make your own, and the software involved. The difference in money for paperback novels vs. E-books. The effects it’s having on the Big House publishers, strategies for issuing short story and background e-books to bridge the gaps between print books running in a series. Care in contracts with traditional publishers trying to snatch longer right to e-books that are coming into prominence.

These were the panels and workshops that made the biggest impression on me at Gen Con this year.

Brian Pettera

Resistant to change? Me?

Journal Entry #1 - Welcome to my journey.
It's somewhat funny. Not two weeks ago at Gen Con, when attending a panel on Building an Online Reputation I was silly enough to state: "Oh, I'm sure I won't be blogging in the near future, what would I have to say?" Now it's less than two weeks later and I'm launching my blog on Live Journal.

Why? Well when I got back and posted all my effusive comments about the writing panels at Gen Con, a FB friend and a writer that normally attends Gen Con posted a comment: "I'm so jealous! Any highlights you'd like to share with us writers who couldn't attend the panels?" Hmmm, that's when I realized the Facebook really wasn't a good venue for that. If I had a blog, I guess it would have been a lot easier. So, not one who subscribes to being resistant to change here I am.

Therefore, I'm going to blog about my writing journey. Good and bad, long time coming, here's seeing you down the road.

Brian Pettera