My credentials for writing an academic paper on renovating existing housing for residents with a mobility disability

This is a photograph of the house where I lived when I lost the ability to walk.

42-kimberlyresized

The year was 1995. I was 48 years old. I lived with my wife and two daughters–Joanna age 9 and Amelia age 4– in Durham, N.C.  I was working as a technical writer  for Northern Telecom. Northern Telecom manufactured large telephone switches. My job was to explain to companies how to operate sophisticated software located on a switch.

Across the road from my office (at nearby Research Triangle Park) was a research facility encircled by a jogging track. I regularly jogged on the track. During a six-week period in 1995, I went from being able to jog on the track to being unable to walk at all. Indeed I became unable to stand without holding or leaning on to an object such as a wall, a desk, a chair, a bed….

During this period when my mobility was getting rapidly worse, I spent a lot of time going from doctor to doctor to find out what was wrong. My insurance required I begin the quest at my primary care physician’s office. My physician referred me to a neurologist for tests. The neurologist referred me to the Neurological Clinic at Duke University. The head of the clinic suggested I speak to an oncologist.

I had been treated with high doses of radiation administered by a linear accelerator. Radiation was the treatment recommended because I had been diagnosed as having Hodgkin’s disease, a cancer of the lymphatic system. I was treated in 1976. When a tumor reappeared in 1989, I was treated with radiation again. I was surprised to discover my mobility problem was a consequence of radiation treatment. My radiologist in 1989  told me before beginning treatment the likely side effects. However, paraplegia was not one of the side effects listed. Nor, had my primary care physician associated my mobility problem with my cancer treatment.

The head of the oncology clinic at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill determined  my mobility problems were  a consequence of radiation burning my spine. The oncologist compared the radiation burn to that of a small fire getting larger. At some point; namely, 1995, he explained, the fire had become sufficiently large as to destroy my mobility.

The oncologist prescribed large doses of a steroid drug. He said the drug probably would not work. However, “You have nothing to lose by trying.” The steroids did not work. In fact, the drug had considerable nasty side effects. It was during the period that I was on steroids that I fell in my house and dislocated my right shoulder.

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Raison d’etre for this post.

I am co-authoring a technical report entitled, “Renovating existing housing to provide residents with mobility disabilities the opportunity to live independently.” When completed, the report will be published as a technical paper on the website of the Pennsylvania Housing Research Center.

For  purposes of comparison, an already published report is entitled, “Impact of Building Codes on Exterior Plaster Assemblies in Pennsylvania.” If you have time, take a look:

 http://www.phrc.psu.edu/assets/docs/Publications/PHRC%20Final%20Stucco%20Report.pdf

Even a cursory glance makes clear this report follows the rules for academic publications. Citations are required for statements of fact.  The appropriate generic style manual regarding how to make citations is the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA). The APA style manual is the one most helpful to faculty, postgraduates, and graduate students at Penn State’s Department of Architectural Engineering . The APA manual is  (easily modified to comply with the modest variations contained in engineering manuals especially when using Zotero)  for such academic publications as:

While planning the PHRC report, I asked  Dr. Ali Memari, Director of the Pennsylvania Research Center and my co-author, the rules for citing my observations on renovation strategy and priorities based on my 21 years experience as a paraplegic.

Specifically, after re-reading a portion of the report I had written, I realized statements of fact required citation. Given “fact” (as I used it) was based on my knowledge and experience, I was concerned academic scholarship required an authority to confirm it.

Dr. Memari replied no citation is required because I am an expert. Of course, “Renovating existing housing to provide residents with mobility disabilities the opportunity to live independently”  does require citations regarding matters of fact NOT based on my expertise.

I have been incorporating citations from such sources as:

The more I looked at the citations I am incorporating, the more I realized that it could be useful to cite myself. In the past 21 years since I became a paraplegic, I have been published widely on the subject of renovating housing for the disabled and elderly.

Here are three examples:

  • For e-architect.co. UK,  a website receiving nearly one million hits a day from the global building community see: “Zaha Hadid’s Miami compared to my life in rural “Rust Belt” Pennsylvania.” This is one of the columns I have been publishing on disability issues for the past four years. In the discussion of “Rust Belt” PA, I discuss Blueroof Technology’s research cottage in McKeesport. At Blueroof, Penn State Engineering Professor Robert Walters designed housing for low-income disabled residents. He inserted sensors at factory-constructed housing which instantly notify caregivers if a resident falls in the shower
  • For Seeking Alpha–a site focused on financial and investment advice–see“Marketing Opportunities As A Consequence Of ‘Baby Room’ Retirement”
  • For the publication of the home medical equipment industry, see HME News: “Put on your 3-D glasses.” The article discusses Dr. John Messner’s Immersive Construction (ICon)Lab  at Penn State. The emphasis is on designing health-related projects, including the ability to transform existing housing so it is accessible to the mobility disabled.

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Regarding “Renovating existing housing to provide residents with mobility disabilities the opportunity to live independently” the report  explains that the ideal client for the architect, general contractor, or specialized subcontractor (e.g., the person installing the ramp to enter and exit the residence) is the person who has become disabled. Ideally, she or he should be directing the architect or general contractor or other provider of renovation.

Academic publications describe a house renovated by the person residing in it as “experienced-based design.” Individual preferences do matter. For example, my kitchen does not have any cabinet doors. Anyone entering my kitchen can see at a glance I have several cans of tomato soup. I do not care if you know I have tomato soup. Some people do care. This may not seem a significant design concern. However even seemingly insignificant concerns can matter.

When I became a paraplegic suddenly without warning, I was too overwhelmed to make design decisions. Also, my physicians had prescribed medication that impaired my judgement. In essence, my caregivers were making design decisions while I was otherwise distracted. Design decisions [even no action is a design decision] are most productive when made by a caregiver who has my preferences in mind when telling the architect how to proceed.

Today’s post begins a series designed to document my expertise as a paraplegic. My intention is to provide supplemental (and presumably helpful) detail to readers of the PHRC report I am co-authoring . There are a variety of instances where explaining how I developed my expertise can be useful. Today, I think it useful to describe my state of mind which led to my dislocating my shoulder.

I plan future posts targeted to the report to provide supplemental information on such subjects as:

  • The telecommunications concept of “transparency” as it relates to disability access. Accessibility is most effective when access is so designed that the person with a disability is not continually reminded that he or she is disabled. The chapter on getting to the second floor presents this concept most clearly. Getting into an elevator or a lift is far preferable than taking a stair lift. A stair lift requires one transfer from a mobility device to stair lift. Then, at the top of the stairs, for mobility, transfer to another mobility device is required. Worthy of note is in the past 10 years, elevators have become considerably less expensive. At the same time, manufacturers have developed technology to make it easier to install an elevator throughout a residence, rather than require it be attached to a shaft.
Photograph taken March 13, 2016 showing permanent damage to my right shoulder. Had my residence been renovated appropriately to accomodate my mobility disability, I would not have experienced 21 years of pain and lack of use. Alicia J. Spence, my physical therapist at Phoenix Rehab, State College, PA says that failure to stretch this shoulder on a regular basis could result in the loss of my ability to dress myself. Photograph by John Harris
Photograph taken March 13, 2016 showing permanent damage to my right shoulder. Had my residence been renovated appropriately to accommodate my mobility disability, I would not have experienced 21 years of pain and lack of use. Alicia J. Spence, my physical therapist at Phoenix Rehab, State College, PA says that failure to stretch this shoulder on a regular basis could result in the loss of my ability to dress myself. Photograph by John Harris

The Focus is on experience-based design

I devote considerable space in this post on the consequences of falling the importance of its prevention. Yet, the focus here is on who should be instructing the architect et al. In my case, the unexpected and overwhelming catastrophe that resulted in my becoming a paraplegic made me incapable of dealing with an architect, general contractor, or other specialist. Ideally, since I would have benefited, my inability to act on my behalf was unfortunate. My daughters were too young. My wife understandably was overwhelmed. At question was not merely guard rails in the shower, for example. At question was whether I would be able to work to pay the mortgage, to hold on to the house, to support our children. Catastrophe it certainly was.

Twenty-one years later, I look back at the situation and realize that there were indeed caregivers willing to help if only we knew how to ask. Caregivers are in the difficult situation of trying to understand how to offer help. Families are similarly in the difficult situation of knowing how to accept help. The PHRC report I am co-authoring will  provide advice to caregivers and families.  Fortunately the report will benefit from my experience when one caregiver did emerge who was instrumental in my getting beyond the role of victim.

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Addendum

On December 12, 2006, I described the experience of dislocating my shoulder for WPSU radio.

Toe_hold_WPSU

Go here to listen: http://legacy.wpsu.org/radio/single_entry/LL-1756/

Or, read the transcript

Toe-Hold on Penn State

For most of my life, my toes worked perfectly well. Then, around the age of 48, they gave up their natural function. I went from “occasional jogger” to someone who could not walk across a room. Eventually, my doctors figured out why. I had been treated for cancer, and the radiation had destroyed nerves in my spine.

On a winter day in 1995, fueled by enthusiasm for a brilliant biography of Martin Luther King, Jr.,  I just HAD to read a passage to my wife.  I dashed from the bedroom toward the kitchen—forgetting that my dashing days were over. My toes curled under my right foot and I fell and rolled, dislocating my shoulder. The pain was rapid and intense.

That was at my house at Durham, North Carolina. Now, some 12 years later, I am at Penn State as a graduate student in Rehabilitation Counseling. In the interim, I have come to preach the gospel of assistive technology. This is technology that would have prevented me from dislocating my shoulder.

Here in the graduate dormitories on the western frontier of the Penn State campus, I  can drive my scooter out of my apartment and through the front doors of the apartment complex (which have an electric key providing both access and security). I can cross the bridge over Atherton, a busy street, go to the library and then to the grocery store on Allen Street where I fill my book bag with groceries. I can do all this, and I can go 25 miles before I have to recharge my scooter.

Since my disability began, I have never had this kind of accessibility that Penn State makes possible. Twelve years ago, if I had had equivalent access for an environment with dangerous roads and few sidewalks; namely, if I had

  • a scooter
  • a ramp for my house
  • a wheel chair lift for my car

maybe I would have been able to work productively. Instead, my energy levels and my jobs seemed to fizzle out at the same time.

In the 12 years since my disability began, the three following positive factors have combined to increase opportunity and dignity for the physically disabled:

  • Greater availability of assistive technology
  • Improved environmental design
  • More effective enforcement and compliance with the Americans with Disability Act (ADA), which, among other things [i.e. The Rehabilitation Act of 1973]  provides the standards for the ramps, street cuts, and sidewalks I use when I scoot around Penn State

When I receive my degree, I am scheduled to work as a counselor for the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR). At OVR, I will be finding jobs for the mobility, visual, and hearing disabled and for those with other disabilities. For technology to be effective, its use must be combined with the proper environment.

My job training as an OVR counselor begins here at Penn State. A high priority for me is to help the Office of Physical Plant make Penn State’s travel routes for wheelchairs, powerchairs, and scooters safer and easier to use. Just because access at Penn State is good does not mean that it is good enough. Unfortunately, I can cite too many instances where sidewalks end without warning (with a sharp drop for stairs), where there is an absence of helpful signs at entranceways, where street cuts are impassable because the cement is so high or so badly poured.

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References used in this post

1.

Use ZOTERO to manage dissertation citations–Beta

This manual contains:

  • Why Zotero is so useful for writing a dissertation
  • How to install Zotero
  • How to collect websites, pdf files, and an interface for adding books to a bibliography
  • How to organize by adding a collection at the Zotero Library interface screen
  • How to cite references
  • How to share citations and references;namely, how to insert the material into the Word document you are using to write your dissertation
  • How to select the right style manual when Zotero offers over 500 options
  • Ongoing discussion of related observations–provided in the form of notes marked as such. An item marked Note may distract the reader from the central focus of this user guide. Nonetheless, I hope each Note provides information you find useful.
  • Zotero also helps navigate in the Cloud.

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Eccentric Zotero user guide–Beta version

Why Zotero is so useful for writing a dissertation

I have not been able to find documentation which teaches me how to use Zotero. Zotero is an effective but complicate tool that removes the grunt work– notably citations and bibliographies-involved with writing a dissertation.

I am writing this manual to help me master Zotero for a technical paper I am completing.  I am trying to master Zotero because it will help me complete my technical report. My experience using software to automate dissertation writing; primarily dissertation, but also other academic writing such as articles for the Journal of Electrical Engineering or technical reports for Dr. Ali Memari’s Penn State’s Housing Research Center.

Several years ago, I worked with Dr. Somali Kumar on her dissertation entitled:

EXPERIENCE-BASED DESIGN REVIEW OF HEALTHCARE FACILITIES USING INTERACTIVE VIRTUAL PROTOTYPES 

Professor John Messner first introduced me to Zotero.

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This guide is directed specifically to graduate students at Penn State’s Department of Architectural Engineer. This is my effort to help you learn quickly, this program for automating citations and inserting them into your documents can make your life much easier.

Zotero is the oldest and most popular software for relieving graduate students from the most tedious part of their work. Several graduate students who used  End Note for bibliography and were unhappy at the experience. Joche Astro J. Gayles, who recently received her doctorate from Penn States’ Department of Home Development & Family Standards (HDFP), said that she “. The best example of Zotero’s virtue is its ability to insert citations according to style manuals. Worth noting: Case in point:

At the Zotero home page library, I chose an item and inserted it into the style manual for the American Psychological Association, the style manual I recommend for graduate students at Penn State's Department of Architectural Engineering

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Penn State libraries resources for mastering Zotero

Here is a quick example of the resources the library provides

At the Penn State Libraries home page, enter "Zotero" at the library' s CAT search engine.
At the Penn State Libraries home page, enter “Zotero” at the library’ s CAT search engine.

Seek and you shall find

Thursday morning (11/4/2015), I will be meeting with Angela Davis. Angela is the Department of Architectural Engineering's library liaison. I will report back on Friday at the seminar.
Tip:  Angela is the Department of Architectural Engineering’s library liaison. Make an appointment with Angela. She can help you with Zotero. She can also help  you by suggesting data bases and helping navigate them. Making an appointment with Angela is an excellent investment for helping complete your dissertation.

[email protected]

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“As an academic writer, I always prided myself on my technical savvy. Until recently, I believed that I had developed a sophisticated system of bookmarks, email messages to myself, word documents, and the like to save useful references, citations, and other resources that I felt were essential to my clinical and academic productivity. In my system, I would manually save portable document format (PDF) files by manually typing in the title of the article, the journal it was published in, and the year of publication. However, I recently discovered a freely available computer software called Zotero that has made my life easier and my so-called “sophisticated” system obsolete.”

–Zotero: Reviewed by Thomas E. Vanhecke, MD

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2479046/?tool=pmcentrez

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Angela’s Davis’ email with link to Zotero tutorials

Hello Joel,

Thanks for the question you asked via the Ask A Librarian system. I wanted to introduce myself as the librarian specialist for Architectural Engineering.

I would be more than happy to assist you in using the library. And would love to meet with you and discuss the ways that the library could help you, but I have found that these work best if you have a specific research project you are would like assistance with. I am also available for help via email or phone, for any questions you may have. Please contact me in whichever way is most comfortable for you.

If you would like a basic overview of how to navigate library resources, the Online Tutorials page is an excellent starting place. These are geared towards undergraduates but they provide the basics that everyone can use.

Please let me know how I could be of assistance to you and I look forward to working with you in the future,

~Angela

Angela R Davis
Engineering Liaison Librarian | Engineering Library
328 Hammond, University Park, PA 16802
[email protected] | (814)865-7005 |
https://twitter.com/EngineeringLib

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A sneak peak at how select the right style manual

At the Zotero home page library, I chose an item and inserted it into the style manual for the American Psychological Association, the style manual I recommend for graduate students at Penn State’s Department of Architectural Engineering.

http://search.proquest.com.ezaccess.libraries.psu.edu/docview/221000464?pq-origsite=summon&accountid=13158

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Be there or be square

MyZoteroSeminar

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Note: Confession makes good pedagogy. For simplicity, I use the word “dissertation” as shorthand for a range of academic publications including articles for the Journal of Architectural Engineering. My confession refers to the technical report I am completing (having procrastinated ) for publication for the Pennsylvania Housing Research Center (PHRC).

Using Zotero will help me complete my project. By extension I hope these step-by-step instructions for using Zotero will help speed completion of your dissertation.] Zotero can also help you navigate The Cloud.

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Your home in Zotero is this interface screen that appears immediately after login

Zotero historically was designed as an extension working within Firefox. Now there is a standalone version as well as Zotero residing within other browsers such as Chrome and IE.
Zotero historically was designed as an extension working within Firefox. Now there is a standalone version as well as Zotero residing within other browsers such as Chrome and IE.

Zotero has four applications

  • Collecting articles, web pages, books, and other references
  • Organizing, reading, and making notes of the collected material
  • Citing the collected material in one’s own writing.
  • Sharing, as in inserting Zotero citations into your dissertation when you are writing it using Microsoft Word.

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You can access Zotero from web browsers and Windows, Apple, and Unix operating systems; hence this cautionary slogan

E pluribus unum–From many one

Great seal of the United States showing the Latin motto translated: From many one
Great seal of the United States showing the Latin motto translated: From many one

As with the motto on the Great Seal of the United States, there are many ways to get to the Zotero interface. These methods include, but are not limited to:

  • Add-on to the Firefox browser
  • Add-on (plug-in [query: documentation uses add-ons and plug-ins interchangeably; is this correct?]) for Chrome and other browsers
  • Standalones for Unix, GNU/Linux and Mac OS
  • Available features include the ability–while writing your dissertation–to download citations into Microsoft Word

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What to do when you reach the basic Zotero interface, Basic level.

What matters most–that is what makes your life easiest–is not the multiple options, but rather what to do when you reach the basic Zotero interface, here at log-in, now twice in this posting to increase your familiarity with your essential home screen:

Zotero historically was designed as an extension working within Firefox. Now there is a standalone version as well as Zotero residing within other browsers such as Chrome and IE.

Application 1: COLLECTING

Collecting video

[vimeo]https://vimeo.com/14188877[/vimeo]

Six methods for incorporating material into your Zotero library

Getting_stuff

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To simplify, arbitrarily I have chosen to provide examples from Zotero standalone downloaded onto Windows 7 and linked to Chrome. This involved:

  1. From Chrome, I keyed in Zotero at the Google prompt which directed me to this download page.
This screen shot shows I had already established a Zotero account. I originally established this account in a bye-gone era when one could obtain Zotero as an add-on to Firefox. Before downloading standalone from Chrome, I had logged into Zotero's home page. If you do not have a Zotero account you can establish one and log in either before or after the download.
This screen shot shows I had already established a Zotero account. I originally established this account in a bye-gone era when one could obtain Zotero as an add-on to Firefox. Before downloading standalone from Chrome, I had logged into Zotero’s home page. If you do not have a Zotero account you can establish one and log in either before or after the download.

2. Zotero standalone shortcut on my messy desktop

Zotero shortcut on my messy desktop. Advice: A messy desktop is a bad idea. Messy slows down performance and hinders organization. Do as I advise; not, as I do.
Zotero shortcut on my messy desktop. Advice: A messy desktop is a bad idea. Messy slows down performance and hinders organization. Do as I advise; not, as I do.

3. Clicking on the shortcut brings you here

Clicking on Zotero shortcut bring me here. That is because I already logged in at the Zotero home page navigating to the library. Otherwise, one reaches the homepage where one must log in. {Are my details too detailed?}
Clicking on Zotero shortcut bring me here. That is because I had already logged in at the Zotero home page navigating to the library. Otherwise, one reaches the homepage where one must log in. {Are my details too detailed?}

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Using the Zotero connector to collect websites, books, articles, pdf files, and what have you

Zotero’s explanation of how the connector collects

https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/zotero-connector/ekhagklcjbdpajgpjgmbionohlpdbjgc?hl=en

zotero_connector

Capturing tools

Zotero has three basic capturing tools.

  • URL with Zotero login

zoteroCaptureurl

  • Left mouse clip providing menu item “Add to Zotero”
  • Manual insert books etc. into Zotero’s home page
Explicit.
Explicit.

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Application 2: ORGANIZING

The first step in organizing is to add a collection to the Zotero library.

Collections are often compared to Itunes playlists. Suggestion: Incorporate as many projects as one can--career and personal. That way one becomes more fluent in using Zotero.
Collections are often compared to Itunes playlists. Suggestion: Incorporate as many projects as one can–career and personal. That way one becomes more fluent in using Zotero.

AddingASubcollection

Application 3: CITING

At the Zotero home page library, I chose an item and inserted it into the style manual for the American Psychological Association, the style manual I recommend for graduate students at Penn State's Department of Architectural Engineering
At the Zotero home page library, I chose an item and inserted it into the style manual for the American Psychological Association, the style manual I recommend for graduate students at Penn State’s Department of Architectural Engineering

Application 4: SHARING

See Zotero documentation of sharing

https://www.zotero.org/support/word_processor_plugin_changelog

zoteroWord

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More sharing

“Citations and bibliographies generated by the word processor plugins might appear in a different style (font, font-size, etc) than the surrounding text. The appearance of the generated text can be changed by changing the default style. E.g. in LibreOffice, open the styles manager in ‘Format’ > ‘Styles and Formatting‘ or by hitting F12. Right click on Default, select ‘Modify‘, and make the desired changes to this style.”

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It always helps (I find) to put work into a larger perspective

That way, I do not become overwhelming by the seriousness of my efforts. As you labor away at the process of receiving a doctorate, you might find comfort in the legendary William James‘ 1903  classic critique of the process in which you are currently engaged: The Ph.D. Octopus.

“Some years ago, we had at our Harvard Graduate School a very brilliant student of Philosophy, who…received an appointment to teach English Literature at a sister-institution of learning. The governors of this institution, however, had no sooner communicated the appointment than they made the awful discovery that they had enrolled upon their staff a person who was unprovided with the Ph.D. degree…

“His appointment had thus been made under a misunderstanding. He was not the proper man; and there was nothing to do but inform him of the fact… [O]ur Subject, being a man of spirit, took up the challenge… grinding his psychology, logic, and history of philosophy up again, so as to pass our formidable ordeals. When the thesis came to be read by our committee, we could not pass it. Brilliancy and originality by themselves won’t save a thesis for the doctorate….”

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Idiosyncratic footnote section

My preference for footnotes does not diminish the reality that in the Engineering and sciences academic departments footnotes are banned.

Final note

Benny Goodman’s clarinet (and of course vocals by Miss Peggy Lee influenced the writing of this post. I am sentimental about the clarinet. Salvatore, my grandfather, played in the clarinet at the orchestra of a silent movie, when my grandmother fell in love with him.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JqD0WiqtTSg

From the album Peggy Lee & Benny Goodman “The Complete Recordings 1941-1947”

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This post is copyrighted © 2016 by Joel Solkoff. All rights reserved.