Mr. Collins - His Story

I have not done one of these personal stories for a long time.  In fact, it has been about six years since I did one.  The last one was Miss Taylor - Her Story.   They didn't get many reader hits and I discontinued doing them.  As I am in the winding down stage on this blog (more on that in a future post), I figure it is time to do one more, albeit a brief post.  The following is based on a gentleman I met one day when his car was broke down on a county road back in March of 2010.  I called a wrecker for him and waited with him at his car.  I felt sorry for Mr. Collins.  He was down on his luck and had little in the way of money.  He had no family living nearby and didn't know many people at the time.  So, I did something that most have found unfathomable, I paid for his wrecker service.  He needed a new alternator.  I paid half and he paid half to have it replaced.  He never forgot my kindness to him. 

I saw Mr. Collins occasionally at the local Lowe's in my area.  He would call me to check on me and I would call him.  He always told me, if there was anything he could do for me, he would do it.  He meant it also.  But, Mr. Collins did not have much in the material sense.  He was a kind, elderly man.  It was enough for me that he would just stay in touch to let me know how he was doing.  Mr. Collins would have me over on occasion to eat breakfast with him.  I enjoyed our talks in the early morning as we both were early birds.  This went on up until about the summer of 2012.  We just kind of drifted apart.  Our calls and contacts became more and more less frequent.  I had called Mr. Collins early this summer.  I went by his house to check on him.  His house was boarded up.  I assumed he just up and moved away.  But, I did not believe he would leave without at least saying goodbye.  It just didn't make sense.

I was checking my voice mail on my cell last Friday.  I had been taking a shower and missed three calls.  One was a sales pitch for aluminum siding for my house, one was from my brother wanting me to come eat dinner with him and another was from an attorney with whom I was not familiar.  He said I needed to call him over a legal matter.  Thinking I might be involved in a lawsuit, I immediately called.  I was put on hold for several minutes and was about to hang up when the lawyer came on and apologized for taking so long.  He first asked me if I knew Mr. Collins.  I told him I did, but had not heard from him for at least a year.  The lawyer informed me Mr. Collins had passed away from a stroke he had at a nursing home.  I had no idea he had been placed in a nursing home.  I was told Mr. Collins only had two surviving relatives and he left them some family heirlooms he wanted them to keep for him.  But, Mr. Collins had also left me something and I needed to come to his office to claim it. 

The lawyer said he couldn't tell me over the phone what it was I had been left by Mr. Collins.  I went to his office Saturday morning.  The lawyer said Mr. Collins had left me everything he had in his bank account, minus the attorney fee which this amazing attorney decided to waive in Mr. Collins honor.  I had been left $57.12.  $57.12 was all Mr. Collins had left to his name.  Now, I realize that doesn't sound like much to you.  But, it meant everything to Mr. Collins and to me.  It meant something to that lawyer as he became emotional at 9AM Saturday morning.  You see, while that was a small amount of money to most people, it was everything Mr. Collins had.  He gave all he had left in the world for a simple kindness I did for him years ago when he needed someone, anyone, to help him out. 

I walked out of that attorney's office shaken and a bit remorseful as I did not have a chance to say goodbye to Mr. Collins.  But, Mr. Collins did say goodbye to me.  On that check in the "For" section it said simply, "Thanks David."  He didn't have to say anything else.  I knew what he meant. A simple kindness doesn't cost you anything.  But, the rewards are immense.  I am so thankful that I stopped that day and helped a stranger who needed a kindly favor.  Mr. Collins, thank you sir, for being such a kindly human being. 


Gallbladder - The Full Story

I made a post about my near death experience with gallbladder surgery about 3 years ago.  But, it was not as in depth as what I posted on Hubpages of which I no longer post articles.  I thought it would be  a good time to post it here and delete it on HubPages.  You can read the other gallbladder post HERE.  As stated, I made that post here on David's Musings back in March of 2011.


Gall Bladder Pain

Incredible Pain

About 6 months ago, I noticed pain in the very pit of my stomach. This usually happened after a brisk workout on my treadmill. I don't do the ordinary treadmill workout. I use 10lb dumbbells in each hand (negating ability to hold onto the hand rails) and wear a 20lb vest. So, in my own mind, I was simply saying to myself that I had pulled a muscle. I was doing something not even doctors will do; I was diagnosing my pain. As the weeks went by, the pain would become more acute. I noticed the pain would startup after eating. I have acid reflux. So, I thought this was just a symptom that would go away after taking a couple of teaspoons of Carafate. Carafate would give temporary relief of the pain.

This pain would make itself known and then, inexplicably, it would go away for days, weeks even. But, in the depths of my alleged mind , I knew something was wrong. I just couldn't bring myself to admit what was wrong. Stomach cancer? I admit that thought crossed my mind. If it was hurting this bad, it was probably already too late for me. I still ignored the pain. As time marched on, I noticed the pain was starting to shift. The pain was shifting toward my right side. Oh, I still had pain in the pit of my stomach. The thought then occurred to me that I possibly had stomach ulcers. Yeah! That made sense to my addled mind . My father had a history of stomach ulcers. So, yes, that is what I have. I just simply have to watch what I eat and continue taking the Carafate when the pain became too much. The problem here is that I did get some relief from taking the Carafate. That reinforced my belief in my own diagnosis; stomach ulcers and/or acid reflux. It was a perfect storm brewing toward the inevitable conclusion.

On Friday night, September 25, 2010, I ate some Jello chocolate pudding. Almost before I finished eating, I started experiencing incredible pain in the pit of my stomach. The pain was coming in waves. I started having spasms. I have had back surgery. I have had hemorrhoid surgery. The latter of the two is still number one in pain. But, this pain I was having, on that particular Friday night, was in a category all by itself. Despite pleas from my sister to go to the emergency room, I toughed it out. After about four hours, the pain subsided. I thought I was in the clear. No more Jello chocolate pudding for me! I was incredibly stupid to think I was past the pain.

Two days later, on Monday, the pain came back. It wasn't as bad as it was on the Friday night mentioned above. But, it was now clear this pain wasn't going away. I was still diagnosing myself as having stomach ulcers that would simply go away. Again, Tuesday morning, the pain went away. But, this time, I decided to call my primary care physician (at long last ) and make an appointment. I was convinced this was either acid reflux or the sainted stomach ulcers. Tuesday night went pretty smooth. No real pain. Sure, there was some discomfort in my right side. But, it was nothing I couldn't handle at the time. Everything changed the next morning.

Wednesday morning, I awoke with the same horrific pain in my stomach. I was now sure (finally) this wasn't just stomach ulcers or acid reflux. As the morning wore on, I became violently sick. I started vomiting and nothing would come up. At about 11AM, I stood up to go to the bathroom. The next thing I know, paramedics are working on me in our hallway. I passed out and don't remember ever hitting the floor. I don't remember a lot of what happened over the next 10-15 minutes as the paramedics worked on me. I do remember someone saying "gall bladder. " The thought of my gall bladder being the problem never occurred to me one time. The next thing I remember was answering questions about my insurance in the emergency room as I lay withering in pain on the hard examining table. My nephew was there to assist in giving out all information. But, I honestly don't remember saying much. My nephew said my response to some of the questions were a step out of character for me. I'm normally an easy going guy. But, he said I was giving profane, sarcastic answers to questions about my health. I just don't remember any of it. I feel bad about it now. The nurse was just trying to do her job.

The next step I had to have an ultrasound and other tests to find out the problem. I do not remember any of it. I must have been really doped up by this time. As it turns out, I had a very swollen gall bladder that a surgeon told me later was within 24-36 hours of bursting. He also said it was swollen with gangrene . He told me if it had burst and spread the poisonous gangrene over my vital organs...it would have killed me. That was a very sobering moment for me. I didn't even know what to say to the doctor. My own stupidity, my own "diagnosis " nearly cost me my life. I would have had no one to blame but myself. Of course, I wouldn't have had time to blame myself since I would have been dead. You go your whole life thinking you are reasonably intelligent. You go on in life feeling that you take care of yourself. I felt that way simply because I do exercise very frequently. As I realize now, I took better care of my car and truck than I did my own body . That is a hard, bitter pill to swallow. It's something I am still having a difficult time coming to terms with right now.

I was kept doped up all Wednesday night. I was given drip that did something to my bladder to keep it from endangering my life. I have no idea what that was. It was a long, thought provoking night for me. I still thought how stupid i was for not going to the doctor sooner about the stomach pain. Early the next morning, I was prepped for surgery. This was about 6AM. At 9AM I was wheeled into the OR. Something different happened before I was given anesthesia. The surgeon prayed for me, along with nurses prior to "going under. " I believe in God. I just don't go to church any longer. So, with that done, the anesthesiologist asked me a question I will always remember; "Do you see purple clouds, David ?" I don't remember giving an answer. The next thing I recall, I am in recovery. I remember someone asking me if I woke up during surgery!!! I said, "Are you joking? No, of course not !"

I was in the hospital for four days. That is about two days longer than usual for this type of operation. I had problems with nausea and received untold number of antibiotics while laying down in the hospital bed contemplating my near death experience. Maybe I'm making too much of that. It did appear that all the doctors and even some nurses told me I was mighty close. I came close to death once before as a young man in the U.S. Navy (which I will share at a later date in another category). I have no reason to believe they were exaggerating my brush with death. Maybe they just wanted me to be scared enough to never trust my own instincts again when it comes to my health. But, it was a very unnerving experience for me. It is not an experience I want to go through again. If I ever have any kind of pain in the future...I will go straight to my primary care doctor.

Presently, I am still recovering ten days after my surgery. I am having some minor problem with being lightheaded. I am told this is normal after an operation. Regardless, I'm not going to just let this go by. I intend to see my primary care physician in the morning about this. The pain of the incisions is very acute when I first get up in the morning. But, as I move around during the day, the pain seems to dissipate quite a bit. I have Lortabs to take. But, as yet, I have not taken any. I really don't like taking pain medication if I can get by without it. The surgeon's assistant removed the clips and drain bottle (that...was horrible ) this past Friday. So, I'm slowly getting my health back.

Lesson from all this? It should be obvious by now. Never, never, never try to diagnose yourself. I thought I was smarter than this. I am not as smart as I thought I was, apparently. I have great insurance and, as a nurse told me "USE IT FROM NOW ON! " As I look back on this experience, I now believe it was more my disdain for hospitals (more so than anything else ) as being an inhibiting factor to get a professional medical opinion on my stomach pain. My disdain almost cost me my life at age 59. I want to live longer, maybe even a lot longer. The only way I will do that is to use what little common sense I have left at this age. People have often told me, "You have a lot of gall.... " My answer henceforth; "Not any longer."


Letters Home from the Greatest Generation - Part IV



Beginning of the End for Germany

To find out what this series is all about, please click HERE. This will put you at the first part of this series. All the information you need is there.

It has been three months since I published Part III. There are several reasons for that. First, the letters have deteriorated quite a bit over the decades since WWII ended. Combine that with the horrible penmanship of my late uncle and perhaps you can understand the arduous process I am going through in translating these letters to this site. If not for the help of a gentleman from a local university (a handwriting expert often employed by local law enforcement), I am not confident I would be able to understand what is being said in my late uncle's letters. Secondly, some of the letters are deeply personal and very graphic. My Uncle John was quite adept at describing everything he saw and did during WWII. Some things he says are contradictory. In some sections he feared going into Germany to finish off the Nazis. In other parts of letters, he talks about how much he looks forward to getting into Germany to kill as many Nazis as possible. I noticed that in most of his letters, he did not distinguish Nazis from the ordinary infantry German soldier. They were all Nazis to him.

Some of the letters are somewhat troubling to me. It will appear difficult to understand how 18-22 year old young men can be so violent, so vicious until you understand what they have all gone through since D-Day. Some of the things my uncle has described could be considered war crimes in today's world. In the letter below, you will read one such example. Please understand that a lot of what happened in the march toward Paris was considered acceptable. In this case, "The ends justified the means" in every sense of the word. It is certainly not on the level of what the Nazis were doing to their prisoners. But, I get the sense, from reading these letters, that some of our troops were out of control. This appeared to be with the implicit approval of the American commanders. But, regardless of how it was done, Hitler had to be stopped. There was quite simply no other choice.

In this letter below, you will see a different Uncle John from the one in Part I. He is becoming deeply suspicious of his sweetheart, Alice, and he is becoming much more cynical toward the war itself. Initially, Uncle John appeared patriotic, and prepared to see the war to the end. Now, he shows signs of the war wearing thin on his nerves. I find that understandable. You never know from one moment to the next if you are taking your last breath on earth in a war zone. Fighting has been hard all the way from the beach landing. It is taking it's toll on the troops. Little progress is taking place not quite a month after D-Day. The Germans are not ready to accept defeat in France.

As I stated in Part II, I am not going to make note of my uncle's spelling or grammar any longer. I tend to think that is a bit of an insult to a man who I consider the greatest hero in our family. He was a bitter, sarcastic, mean-spirited man after the war. But, I always remember what my grandmother told me, "This is not the Johnny I knew as my youngest son. This is someone else." With that thought in mind, I present to you the fourth installment of Letters Home from the Greatest Generation.

Cpl John S. Wxxxx
IV Division, Third Infantry, U.S. Army
Somewhere in France
July 01, 1944

sorry for so long a time I have not wrote you. I have been busy as you may have read in the newspaper here in France. Remember Mike Phillips that I told you about. He had his right arm blowed off in a village we have been fighting the nazis called Beleui or something of that nature. We lost 7 men in the fight to take this worthless dam village. The germans are not going to leave France peacefully, Alice. We found a family, a father, mother, 2 little girls and 1 baby boy about 3 months old that had been bayonetted by the germans. I hate the bastard germans. I wish we could just kill that entire country. This is the second time this censury that they have caused the entire world to get in a war. When they leave a village they try to kill every one in that dam village. Beleui had almost everyone kilt by the german nazi bastards. 

We have been fighting in this country for almost a month. but, we are only about 10 miles from the beach in which we landed. If this kind of fighting keeps on we may be here until 1950 or later. Our dam army air corp was suppose to be our hope. They have done nothing to help us. They even attacked there own troops about 5 miles from where I am writing this letter to you now. This whole thing is fubar. I do not think you know what that means. My mama told me you been going to the saturday night dances with Billy Fielder. I am over here fighting for you, my mama, my family and my country. This is how you remain fathful to me Alice? I wake up every day not knowing if it is my last day and you do this shit to me? Billy is a chicken and a war doger. He can not even pass the exam to get in the Army. His daddy is rich and got him out of this dam war. I am here getting my ass shot at every day I am here. You do me like this Alice? I want you to tell me what you are thinking. How can you do this? Mama ask me not to say any thang to you. But, I am mad! I may not rite you again. 

I am sick of this dam war. Let Hitler have this dam country. He can have it. I want to come home. I will even work on the farm again and never say a word about it to my daddy again. I am sick of this fighting every day. And now my girlfriend is betray me. This is my life. I hope I do get shot. Maybe you will feel bad about betray me, Alice. I do not care about myself now. I do not care about any one or any thing. Why am I even here if people that I think love me do me this way. The next dam nazi I kill I will spit in his face and tell him this is from Alice. How does that make you feel Alice? May be it makes you laugh. I am tired. I am tired of watching men get there head blown off and there brains blowed in my face. I sleep maybe 1 hour a day and then we go to fight nazi germans again. That is my life Alice. I wish I can die so I can just get it over wtih now. We fight and fight and we get no where. I can almost see the beech where so many boys are died from the landing. We have to get to Paris. But, I may not see it happen. I am so unhappy right now Alice. I think the lucky boys are now dead. They do not have to suffer like us. If this is what my life be like I want it to end. If we do not make it to Paris, we will have to go back to the ships. but, I am told we have no choice but to take paris.

Something I must say now. We had german preisoners of war. Some of our boys were sticking them with there bayonets and laughing at them. I told them to stop. But, the sargent told me to shut my dam mouth. He took off there wrist ties and told them they could leave. The germans boys were scared. But, they started walking off. And then they shot them. I throwed up Alice. This was wrong. Most of the boys were laughing, but some were crying about this. This is my life. This is what I see every day I am here. Be sure and tell Billy I said he is a coward. He should be here to. I might just shoot him if I make it home to Alabama. Have a good day Alice. I never have a good day.



Famous Quotes About Courage

I love quotes from famous people or even not so famous people.  I find them amusing, inspiring and thought provoking all at once.  I have made quotes about people on various people throughout the years on this old blog.  It's been a while since I did this.  So, I thought I would start out today with famous quotes about courage.  We live in perilous times.  I'm sure many generations have said that about their time also.  But, we live in a world with absolute savagery as we have witnessed by the latest terrorists in the Middle East, ISIS.  We must face this latest menace with the same, grit, determination and courage as our parents and grandparents did in WWII.  Our generation is facing Muslim fanatics who want to kill anyone who is not of their particular faith.  ISIS even kill other Muslims who do not subscribe to their warped belief.  So, why not have a few quotes to inspire us for this week?  Let's take a look at a few.

"I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear."--Nelson Mandela (This from a man who knew a thing or two about courage as he faced down apartheid in South Africa)
"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition:.~~Steve Jobs (I have always been a great admirer of Steve Jobs, a true visionary of the 20th and 21st centuries)

"One isn't necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential. Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can't be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest."~~Maya Angelou (One of the greatest poets and authors of all time in my opinion)
"Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy."~~Dale Carnegie (This quote is so true...the fear of failure inhibits many of us from accomplishing so much in life.  Inaction is the kryptonite of being successful)
"Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear."~~Mark Twain (One of my favorite authors, Mark Twain gives the absolute perfect definition of "courage" in the simplest of terms).
"God, give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the things which should be changed and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other."~~Reinold Neibuhr (One of my absolute favorite quotes and it shows how important courage is in distinguishing good from bad)

"You have to really be courageous about your instincts and your ideas. Otherwise you'll just knuckle under, and things that might have been memorable will be lost."~~Francis Ford Coppola (Indeed, if Mr. Coppola had not agreed to direct a movie he was warned not to, where would we have all those great quotes from The Godfather movies?)
"A great deal of talent is lost to the world for want of a little courage. Every day sends to their graves obscure men whose timidity prevented them from making a first effort."~~Sydney Smith (So very true in regard to those who were too afraid to try for lack of courage. Very sad when you think about it)


Reflections on 13th Anniversary of WTC Terrorist Attacks

Yesterday I watched all the specials commemorating the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Some are very hard to watch.  The specials that show people jumping to their death are the most difficult.  I can't imagine the horror these people must have endured on their way down to a certain and grisly death.  After watching that, I found myself filled with anger.  It is an anger that will never be quenched no matter how many terrorists die as a result.  Many people feel that way, I suppose.  There was no reason for the attack.  None.  I don't care how angry many in the Middle East feel about the USA.  There is never a reason to murder innocent men, women and children.  No excuse can be valid enough to justify the attacks.  For that reason alone, this country will never cease in its efforts to eradicate terrorism where ever it may be in the world. I have watched the towers fall down numerous times since yesterday.  I remember the absolute astonishment I felt when the South Tower fell on that fateful day of 9/11.  It seemed impossible they would fall.  I knew then thousands of people would die.  For many, it seemed as if it were the end of the world. 

There was one person who said, in one of those specials, that September 11th would just become another day of observance in much the say way Pearl Harbor Day is on December 7th.  That's probably a fairly safe assumption.  People move on with their lives.  They have to or go insane.  But, for the families that suffered a loss that day, the memories will fade only slightly.  The pain will last a lifetime.  I pray all the families of 9/11 are comforted and able to cope some 13 years later after this horrific tragedy. 


Famous Failures

"It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all.  In which case, you have failed by default." --JK Rowling

I think that is a very apt quote by the author of the Harry Potter fantasy series.  If you don't at least try at something, what is the purpose of your life?  The fear of failure inhibits many people, including yours truly.  There are things I wanted to try in life.  But, I was so fearful of failure, I just gave up.  So, my life has been a series of fear of failure.  There are some people born to achieve and others who fear to achieve.  I obviously fall in the latter category.  But, I did publish a novel, something that I was fearful of doing.  I can hang my hat on that one.  Still others try and try again until they do succeed.  There are many famous failures.  One of the most obvious is Abraham Lincoln.
In his youth he went to war a captain and returned a private (if you're not familiar with military ranks, just know that private is as low as it goes.) Lincoln didn't stop failing there, however. He started numerous failed businesses, went bankrupt twice and was defeated in 26 campaigns he made for public office. - See more at: http://www.creativitypost.com/psychology/famous_failures#sthash.IbrZXSw3.dpuf
In his youth he went to war a captain and returned a private (if you're not familiar with military ranks, just know that private is as low as it goes.) Lincoln didn't stop failing there, however. He started numerous failed businesses, went bankrupt twice and was defeated in 26 campaigns he made for public office. - See more at: http://www.creativitypost.com/psychology/famous_failures#sthash.IbrZXSw3.dpuf
In his youth he went to war a captain and returned a private (if you're not familiar with military ranks, just know that private is as low as it goes.) Lincoln didn't stop failing there, however. He started numerous failed businesses, went bankrupt twice and was defeated in 26 campaigns he made for public office. - See more at: http://www.creativitypost.com/psychology/famous_failures#sthash.IbrZXSw3.dpuf
 In his youth, he went to war with the rank of Captain.  He return with the rank of Private.  He started numerous businesses, went bankrupt twice, and was defeated in 26 political campaigns.  Obviously, the word "quit" was never a part of President Lincoln's character.  Let's take a look at a few more famous failures in history.

That quote above, by JK Rowling,  is prophetic  At one time she was penniless, suffered with bouts of depression, divorced and trying to raise a child all on her own.  She did all this while attending school and writing a novel.  JK Rowling went from welfare to become one of the richest women on earth. 

Walt Disney was once fired from his job at a newspaper because "...he lacked imagination and had no good ideas."  To prove that his firing was justified, Disney went and started several other businesses that ultimately failed.  He went bankrupt several times.  However, Walt Disney did not give up. He came up with a cartoon character that clicked.  It was none other than Mickey Mouse which paved the way for a vast entertainment empire known as Disney.

Soichiro Honda suffered a series of failures and bad luck.  He was turned down for a job with the Toyota Corporation as an engineer.  He remained jobless for a long time. While unemployed, he started making scooters at home and sold them.  This eventually blossomed into the giant Honda Corporation.  Think Toyota regrets not hiring him now?

Thomas Edison was told by his teachers he was too stupid to learn anything. Imagine how that made him feel.  He was fired from two jobs for not being productive enough.  He tried 1000 times to invent the first light bulb.  He had an assistant tell him he should just quit, give up.  Thomas Edison replied, "I have not failed once.  I have just tried 1000 things that don't work."

Stephen King.  That name invokes the macabre of writing like no other.  His first novel, Carrie, got 30 rejection notices. That's right, 30 rejection notices.  King finally gave up and threw it in the trash.  But, he had a wife who believed in him and took it out of the trash.  She urged him to resubmit it one more time.  The rest is history as he is now the author of hundreds of published books and having had some books turned into movies.  

Elvis Presley was once told he couldn't sing.  In fact, Elvis was told,
You ain’t goin’ nowhere, son. You ought to go back to drivin’ a truck.”  Needless to say, Elvis didn't take that person's advice.  He went on to become one of the great legends of music.   

When The Beatles were just starting out, Decca Recording Studios, which had recorded 15 of The Beatles songs, dropped them and told them they didn't like their sound.  "Guitar music is on the way out.  You have no future in this business." John, George, Paul and Ringo did not agree.  

These are just a few of the notables who failed at one time in life.  Some failed constantly.  But, they all had one thing in common, they refused to quit.  Their single-mindedness toward a goal enabled them to become successful in their chosen careers.

In his youth he went to war a captain and returned a private (if you're not familiar with military ranks, just know that private is as low as it goes.) Lincoln didn't stop failing there, however. He started numerous failed businesses, went bankrupt twice and was defeated in 26 campaigns he made for public office. - See more at: http://www.creativitypost.com/psychology/famous_failures#sthash.IbrZXSw3.dpuf

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