Journalism alumnus shares stories of adventure and inspiration in his latest book

Posted on: February 8, 2017

51AHBfJ+4+L._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_Some people wait their entire lives to do the things they said they always wanted to try – like fly a plane, canoe through the Everglades, or ride in a hot air balloon. Michigan State University journalism alumnus Chuck Werle (‘58) wants to help people check off goals on their bucket list and encourage them to add new ones they’d never thought about before.

In between life as an award-winning public relations professional, Werle made the time to travel. He’s visited all 50 states and 11 countries, where he shared unique experiences with family and friends, and even attended local events, like the World Chicken Plucking Championship in Spring Hill, Fla.

In 2015, the seasoned traveler released his book A Lifetime in Reverse: What’s on YOUR bucket list?  Werle said his goal is to inspire people to think about their bucket list in a new way by inviting people to read about a few of his adventures, including some he took with his wife and sons.

The book is divided into two parts: “Mine” and “Yours.”

“The first part of the book is all about my experiences over 30-some years, and then the second part of the book is briefer,” said Werle.

The second part lists 70 events or experiences that a person could have done, and can still do, in their life. The list includes five different categories – personal, humor, adventure travel, career/occupation, sports and hobbies – with goals like stage a surprise party, donate blood and more.

Werle’s inspiration for the book came from the well-known film “The Bucket List” starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. Released in 2008, the movie tells the story of two dying men who set out to accomplish the things they never got around to doing before they were diagnosed with cancer.

“It was all about, from their standpoint, (the) crazy things that they wanted to do that were really dangerous and they just had a great time, so they just kept adding to the list, so to speak,” said Werle. “I thought for years about that and I said, ‘You know, it’s a shame they only wanted to do all that stuff down the road instead of all the things that might have happened to them during their lifetime’.”

The more he thought about it, the more his thoughts gelled into a book idea. Werle submitted a pitch to Amazon Create Space and was offered a deal. One year later, the book was complete.

Today, Werle lives in North Carolina, where he’s been for the last 17 years. He helps other authors and writers by editing and promoting their work. He is also writing his third nonfiction book, this one is about crisis communication – his area of specialty in the field of public relations. In fact, the last time Werle visited East Lansing, he had been invited to speak to public relations and journalism students about his work in crisis communication.

Are you trying to find the motivation to take chances and seize extraordinary opportunities? Check out Werle’s book and more on his website.

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ComArtSci graduate spices up her career with book on Amsterdam restaurants

Posted on: August 11, 2016

Jessica Lipowski graduated from MSU in 2010, majoring in journalism from ComArtSci. She made the ultimate post-grad decision by moving to Amsterdam. Through the ups and downs of adjusting, she found her place in the city, enthralled with the charm of Amsterdam culture, the Dutch language, and the 180 nationalities that call the city home.

In May 2016, Lipowski released Flavors of Life, a book exploring the lives and stories of restaurant owners in Amsterdam. Since its publication, her book has been picked up by a few bookstores in Amsterdam and received exceptionally positive reviews.Front Cover (1)

Lipowki’s inspiration for Flavors of Life came from her curiosity about what really goes into making a restaurant, particularly in Amsterdam. When she read restaurant reviews and articles, she often noticed one element missing: the owner, the person who created it all. Her book seeks to answer and explore questions about the owner, the menu, and the motivation for opening a restaurant.

Lipowski conducted in-person interviews with the restaurant owners, later transcribing them as a basis for writing. After rounds of editing, the end product was in clear sight. Lipowski admits her greatest challenge was her lack of experience in tackling such a big project.

“Doing the project on my own initiative, I relied on my network - both personal and professional - for help, advice, and insight,” she said.

Lipowski reflected on her time at MSU, saying she wouldn’t be where she is today without MSU or ComArtSci’s School of Journalism. She admits that her ability to create the book was all made possible because of what she learned in college.

“My time at MSU prepared me to succeed in the ‘real world’,” she says.

Lipowski says her ComArtSci education was made unique by professors who were often there to listen and provide motivation. She said Howard Bossen inspired her to aim high in life, Jane Briggs-Bunting showed her the value of hard work, and Geri Zeldes opened her eyes to the documentary world. She added that Bonnie Bucqueroux introduced her to the world of multimedia, as well as ignited a passion to dig deeper and find the story.

“The entire process of writing a book is a culmination of my studies, work experience, and own dedication and passion,” said Lipowski.

Author Bio - SquareThe new author looks forward knowing that writing will always be a part of her life, no matter her location or status. Her passion for writing gravitates toward telling people’s stories, or as Lipowski says, “human-interest pieces.”

Although she has no formal plans for any upcoming books, Lipowski says she is passionate about food, culture, and travel and imagines those themes will continue to pop-up in her writing.

Her advice to those aspiring to someday write a book is to write. “Although it’s simple, it’s the first step. Just do it; a book doesn’t write itself,” Lipowski said.

By Lily Clark


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Young Alum Lands Page Position for NBCUniversal in L.A.

Posted on: July 27, 2016

Many ComArtSci alumni can say they landed their dream job, but only a select few can say they did it while also graduating a year early. Eva Nienhouse ‘16 had the vision and the drive to make her dreams come true, and is now enjoying her new role as a Page for NBCUniversal in L.A.

New Opportunities Across the Country
FullSizeRenderNienhouse graduated from MSU in 2016, majoring in journalism with a minor in public relations from ComArtSci. After NBCUniversal campus recruiters visited MSU in the fall of 2015, Nienhouse jumped on the opportunity to be a part of their prestigious Page program, successfully making it through their three stage application process. In June, she moved across the country to start her new life as a California native.

As a Page, many of her assignments have been focused on helping out with the experiences at the Talent Lab, a part of NBCUniversal that delivers talent experiences aiming to define, transform, and strengthen culture and customs of NBCU. She has even gone through golf cart training so she can give tours of the NBCUniversal lot. Her regularly changing work opportunities allow her to learn and do something new every day.

“I feel lucky to have the role I do right now at the Talent Lab,” she said. “We are truly brand ambassadors; we represent the company and could be the first faces those new to the company see.”

NBCUni’s constant stream of activities make for irreplaceable opportunities for Pages. Along with preparing for the upcoming NBCU Press Tour, the Pages worked screenings for the movies “Pets” and “Jason Bourne”.

Where Growth Met Opportunity
Nienhouse reflected on her time at MSU saying, “I feel so lucky to have gone to school at Michigan State; I certainly wouldn't be here if it weren't for the opportunities I had, both inside the classroom and outside, too.”

Her education from ComArtSci was beneficial to her in many ways, but specifically because she was able to grow as a writer in journalism and public relations. She said, “I believe that writing has the incredible power to connect people and build relationships.”

Nienhouse expressed her gratitude to two of her biggest influences at MSU, Geri Alumit Zeldes and Amy Haimerl.  “[Zeldes] taught me so much about what it means to be a journalist; she truly led by example, showing me that human connection and compassion is what drives a story,” said Neinhouse. Haimerl played her part by giving Nienhouse creative freedom for story topics, while also teaching her how to be a more polished and purposeful writer. Both professors’ influences helped mold Nienhouse into the intelligent, hard worker she has become.

Throughout her years at MSU, Neinhouse shared some of her biggest lessons,  “making and building relationships with others is what helps you grow personally and professionally. I meet and talk with new people every day; being kind, helpful and genuine is powerful and so valuable.”

Building Her Future
As a Page, Nienhouse feels very privileged to have met and made connections with so many people.


NBCUniversal lot, courthouse from Back to the Future

“They know so much about a lot different  areas of the entertainment business and NBCUni, from marketing to production and beyond!” she said.

Nienhouse is looking to further explore her career options. Interested in topics from marketing to publicity, she is sure she’ll find a place where she can best use her skills.



By Lily Clark

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Journalism Grad Pursuing Career in Storytelling, Human Rights

Posted on: April 25, 2016

journalism graduate Irum IbrahimBy Kelsey Block

Recent journalism graduate Irum Ibrahim has always had a passion for storytelling. She began her college career studying business at Oakland University, but she soon switched to Michigan State to pursue journalism.

"I always knew I loved it, so I was fighting against myself," she said.

As a student, Ibrahim worked at The State News and The Red Cedar Log. During the summer of 2015, she also worked as an editorial intern for Hour Media's DBusiness Magazine. She wrote and edited stories that were published online as well as in the daily newsletter.

Ibrahim's most memorable day on the job was the day HGTV's "Rehab Addict" star Nicole Curtis visited Detroit to give a tour of a mansion she was remodeling.

"It was hands-on type of work. I was able to ask questions alongside the Detroit News and Free Press and Channel 4," she said.

She first heard of the opportunity with DBusiness through an email sent by journalism professor LA Dickerson.

"I had just finished the State News and a documentary, so this was the next thing," Ibrahim said. "I wanted to dabble with all sorts of journalism. I had done print and video and this would be magazine."

Ibrahim received the Susan B. Goldman Journalism Internship Award in connection with her time at DBusiness.

"I don't know how hard it would have been without that because my internship was unpaid and because I was taking classes, I didn't have any other income," she said. "It was really helpful to have that scholarship."

Now working full time, Ibrahim offered some advice for ComArtSci students: build as many connections as possible.

"Talk to your professors every opportunity you get. Go to office hours whenever you have a relevant question," she said. "Make sure you know what you want so you can have a narrow vision when you're looking for career opportunities. It will be easier to find something you appreciate and enjoy that will help you in the future with your career goals."

For Ibrahim, those goals include traveling and writing about human rights. She currently works as a communications and outreach coordinator for Muslim Family Services in Detroit and as a blogger for The Huffington Post.

"What I'm doing right now is helping me get where I ultimately want to be, which is working in the human rights area of journalism," she said.

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Alumnus Hired as Network Correspondent for NBC News

Posted on: April 13, 2016

Journalism alumnus Steve Patterson is a shining example of what you can achieve when you set your sights high. After only eight years in the business, Patterson recently was hired as an NBC News Correspondent.

“It means everything to me,” said Patterson, who graduated from MSU in 2008 and began working for NBC News in January at the Los Angeles bureau. “This is the culmination of everything I’ve been working toward. I’m where I want to be at this point in my life, and it feels really good.”


Patterson was raised on watching NBC News. It was his early window to the world.

“It’s (like) the kid mimicking Michael Jordan every Sunday and growing up to play for the Bulls,” he said.

But Patterson isn’t resting on his laurels.

“My ultimate goal is to be the person Americans turn to when the world turns another page,” he said. “I want to expose the truth and hold the powerful accountable. I want to challenge conventional wisdom and give voice to reason. I'm just starting to live my goal.”

Although he never saw himself becoming a journalist, Patterson always knew he wanted to write. Luckily for him, writing is the backbone of everything in journalism.

“Without writing, there is no story,” he said. “Without writing, there is nothing.”

As an MSU student, Patterson was in Broadcast Journalism Instructor Bob Gould’s first ever Focal Point class, a student produced newscast class.

“Bob is an incredible mentor and was an invaluable resource for me as a young journalist,” said Patterson, who also had attended the same high school as Gould – North Farmington High School in metro Detroit. “I'll easily say he's directly responsible for my interest and respect for storytelling...something that's impacted my life in a big way. He shaped the way I interface with journalism and it's given me the spark to see and deliver stories in a different way. I'm forever grateful to him.”

Gould helped Patterson obtain his first reporting job at WZZM in Grand Rapids, Mich.

“I was so impressed with his potential,” Gould said. “I recommended him for a job in a market that doesn’t usually hire beginners.”

But hire him, WZZM did. Patterson later went on to KSDK in St. Louis, Mo., and finally CBS-3 Philadelphia, where he covered high profiles stories such as the 2015 Amtrak train derailment in Philadelphia and fatal car crash that injured comedian Tracy Morgan.

Patterson’s talent was recognized early in his career as he was nominated for a Michigan Emmy for newswriting in 2011 after only his second year of working professionally. “That’s virtually unheard of,” Gould said.

However, Patterson’s journey has not always been smooth sailing.

“When you move up quickly, growing pains are even more pronounced,” he said. “This job is ‘challenges’ personified.”

Patterson said there is adversity on every story, through every interaction, every day for as long as you do it.

“It’s incredibly difficult, harshly critical, and brutally honest, often without much reward,” he said.

But to him, overcoming these challenges is what has made him so successful.

“I love it to my very bones,” he said, “and without the challenge, it wouldn’t be anywhere near as fun.”

by Rachel Tang, public relations account executive & journalism senior

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Journalism Alumnus Reflects on Journalism Program and College Experience

Posted on: April 5, 2016

landeskogReporter for ESPN and journalism alum Craig Custance has been in sports reporting for over 10 years. “I have no idea what I’d be doing otherwise,” he said.

Custance said that studying journalism at Michigan State at the time was outstanding; “the best part for me, was being able to learn from a staff that had real world experience and was able to share it in a very relatable way.” He said he was very inspired by the faculty, “the wide range of influences was invaluable to me as I began to shape my career.”

“One of the advantages Michigan State has is a prominent athletic department so I was able to learn sports journalism on a fairly big stage,” said Custance, “you’re covering Big Ten athletics and there are news outlets looking for help doing all aspects of it.”

His first paid job as a journalism student came from ESPN. Custance said that he just had to hold the camera cords on the sideline of a football game, but “was able to make contacts I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise.” Covering all the different sports at Michigan State across all media platforms was invaluable preparation.

“The Michigan State family is a tight one and I don’t go a week without running into another MSU grad,” said Custance, “there’s a natural inclination among Spartans to want to try and help one another succeed that I’m not sure exist at other colleges.”

Even one of his first job offers (from USA Today), came because of a Michigan State connection. “The friendships I made while at Michigan State are still people in the industry I remain in contact with,” he said.

His circle of friends while attending Michigan State includes professionals in Fox Sports, the Free Press, and even Yahoo! “It was a great group,” Custance said, “half of them lived on the same floor with me as a sophomore, I’m proud of their success.”

Custance has helped students as an alumnus in different ways. He was one of the panelists who spoke to students in Detroit last fall and was also at the annual Spartan Sports Journalism Classic. “Inevitably, I end up enjoying the process as much as the students. The Classic is an incredible networking event where I still learn new things about the business from other MSU grads,” he said, “there’s value in attending, not just for students, but those of us in the business.”

He noted that the landscape for journalism students now is vastly different from the one he studied in. “There’s a platform now for anybody to gain viewership if they’re talented and motivated,” he said, “for me to get something I wrote read by the public, it had to be printed in a magazine or newspaper.”

Now students can create something, promote it on social; media without any connection to a media company. “It’s an incredible opportunity,” Custance said.

By Rachel Tang, Public Relations Account Executive & Journalism Senior

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Alumna Leads Iowa Caucus Coverage for Des Moines Register

Posted on: February 1, 2016

Photo by Bryon Houlgrave/The Des Moines Register

Every four years, the Iowa Caucus thrusts a seemingly quiet state into the national spotlight. As the Politics Content Strategist for The Des Moines Register, the largest newspaper in Iowa, Journalism alumna Annah Backstrom has a front row seat to one of the most anticipated events of the presidential election.

“I consider it really a great honor to be in the position I am in,” she said. “The Register has a very proud history of political coverage in Iowa, and when I was offered this position, I couldn’t have been more excited.”

When Backstrom first started at the Register, three and a half years ago, she worked on the digital team as the Breaking News Editor, but knew she eventually wanted to be part of the political coverage and was promoted to Politics Content Strategist in November 2014.

As the Politics Content Strategist, Backstrom directs the Register’s politics and education teams. She manages the higher education reporter, state house and government reporters, the fact check reporter and has helped organize the Iowa Caucus coverage.

“I have been directing our caucus coverage team since December 2014, which is usually between 12 and 15 reporters who are assigned to individual candidates,” she said. “I edit almost all of their work, and I direct them and help to decide which events we cover and who will be there on what day.”

The Iowa Caucus, which takes place this year on Feb. 1, is the first major electoral event of the nominating process for President of the United States. It is where the first votes are cast during a presidential election.

During the months and weeks leading up to the 2016 Iowa Caucus, Backstrom and the staff at The Register worked overtime to cover their news beats and kept up with the surge of political news and events.

“There are some days that it’s very difficult, but I like to be busy and I like to be part of something that is important,” Backstrom said. “I know when this is all over, there is a very real possibility that I will have met the next president of the United States, which regardless of what you do, or who you are, is cool.”

Backstrom has had the opportunity to speak with almost every presidential candidate, and is continuously working to make sure The Register has the most up-to-date and accurate information to give Iowans going to caucus.

While pursuing her degree from Michigan State, she worked as a part time News Clerk for the Muskegon Chronicle. She later went on to be the Assistant Editor at the Herald and News, a small paper in Klamath Falls, Oregon, where she worked for five years before joining The Des Moines Register.

“I came from a small paper in southern Oregon, and the work that I did there put me in a position to be successful at a larger paper,” she said. “I have been given opportunities at this point in my career that I never thought I would have. It is an honor and a privilege to do what I do everyday.”

by Victoria Bowles, ComArtSci Editorial Assistant, Journalism major

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Journalism Alumna Keynote Speaker at MSU Commencement

Posted on: December 10, 2015

Susan GoldbergMSU School of Journalism alumna Susan Goldberg, the first woman to serve as Editor in Chief of National Geographic magazine, will be the keynote speaker at one of MSU’s fall undergraduate commencement ceremonies where she will also receive an honorary doctorate of humanities.

Goldberg will speak at the 2 p.m. ceremony on Saturday, Dec. 19, at the Jack Breslin Student Events Center. She will address undergraduates from the colleges of Communication Arts and Sciences, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Engineering, Natural Science and Nursing, as well as Lyman Briggs College.

Goldberg also will speak with graduating seniors from the School of Journalism and their families during a private event at the Communication Arts and Sciences Building on Friday, Dec. 18.

Goldberg started working at National Geographic in January 2014 as the Executive Editor for News and Features. In April that same year, she was promoted to Editor in Chief of the magazine. She is the magazine’s 10th editor since it first published in October 1888.

Under her leadership, in 2015 National Geographic magazine won two National Magazine Awards and the George Polk Award for Magazine Reporting.

Just last month, Goldberg received another promotion. She now adds Editorial Director for National Geographic Partners to her title. She still continues her Editor in Chief duties, but also is responsible for all of the publishing activities including digital journalism, magazines, books, maps, children and family, travel and adventure.

As president of the American Society of News Editors and as a member of the board of The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, Goldberg is a leader in the field of journalism.

While serving as Executive Editor of Bloomberg News in Washington, Goldberg was voted one of Washington’s 11 most influential women in the media by Washingtonian magazine. Previously, Goldberg was Editor of The Cleveland Plain Dealer and the San Jose Mercury News - and held a variety of other roles for newspapers, including USA Today, the Detroit Free Press and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

In March, she received the Exceptional Woman in Publishing Award from Exceptional Women in Publishing.

Goldberg is a member of the College of Communication Arts and Sciences Alumni Board of Directors and established the Susan Goldberg Scholarship within the college.

She will share her story and will give advice and encouragement to the class of 2015 during her commencement address.

The advanced degree ceremony will be held on Friday, Dec. 18, at 3:30 p.m. MSU College of Osteopathic Medicine alumna Patricia LoRusso, Professor of Medicine and Associate Director of Innovative Medicine at Yale Cancer Center, will address graduates. She also will receive an honorary doctorate of science.

Also at that ceremony, College of Engineering alumnus Charlie Bachman, a world-renowned computer scientist, will receive an honorary doctorate of engineering.

The College of Communication Arts and Sciences congratulates all graduates. For more information, see the Commencement website.

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J-School Alum Covers Global Fisheries from Alaska

Posted on: October 13, 2015

Margie Bauman mainWhen Margie Bauman placed an ad in Editor and Publisher that read “J-grad, female, will go anywhere,” her degree in Journalism from Michigan State University landed her 15 job offers.

That was in 1964, when she decided the best of those offers was to become the society, entertainment and religion editor at The Anchorage Times in Alaska.

She spent a year at The Anchorage Times before realizing she needed more experience working with seasoned journalists from broader backgrounds. She returned to her home state of New Jersey, landing jobs with organizations like The Associated Press and CBS News. But Bauman missed Alaska and returned in 1971. She worked for the Anchorage Daily News (now Alaska Dispatch News), the Alaska Native Press (The Tundra Times), various weeklies and also produced freelance work.

Now, Bauman is the Alaska bureau chief for Fisherman’s News in Seattle and the fisheries reporter for The Cordova Times in Cordova, Alaska, on Prince William Sound.

She works from her home office, covering most stories by phone and hundreds of miles from the publications for which she works. She has never actually been to Cordova. On occasion, she will fly out to report on really interesting stories, like the annual fisheries conference at Kodiak Island, but she mostly works in south-central Alaska.

Speaking to MSU J-School Students

Bauman recently returned to MSU during homecoming week to meet with Knight Center for Environmental Journalism students interested in journalism careers similar to her own.

She advised students to figure out how best to sell themselves and to do anything they can to start getting published.

“Look around at what you’re really interested in writing,” she said.

Cultivating a lot of sources also is important.

“People think I know a lot about fisheries. No — I just know the people who do,” said Bauman, adding that she has 60 pages of contacts she can refer to on her computer.

When asked if she fishes often, her response was immediate: “No — I eat fish.”

Bauman said her favorite part of her job is having the authority to speak with a variety of people about all kinds of scientific discoveries and disasters and then informing others what they should know about them.

It’s a role for which she was well-prepared.

“I thought the J-School was terrific when I was a student there,” Bauman said. “But now it is light years ahead of what it was then.”

Written by Colleen Otte, student at MSU’s Knight Center for Environmental Journalism who also reports for the center’s Great Lakes Echo

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MSU J-School Transforms Career Path for West Point Grad

Posted on: July 31, 2015

Steve Naru mainSteve Naru grew up believing he would spend his career in the military. His great uncle had been to West Point. His favorite teachers in his hometown of Edmore, Mich., had been in the service. So when it came time to pick a college, Naru applied to just one place, ready to take a familiar path.

Naru entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point to become a combat arms officer shortly after graduating high school in 1975. His first stop was officer basic training in Fort Bliss, Texas. His second was a five-year stint in the 8th Infantry Division in Germany. He earned his bachelor of science in civil engineering from West Point, and a master's in international relations from the University of Southern California. Then, just as he was deciding what to do next, he received a call that changed the course of his career.

"West Point asked if I wanted to be public affairs officer," said Naru, now head of U.S. media relations and managing director of U.S. corporate and financial practice for Burson-Marsteller in New York. "I thought that sounded good, so I started looking at colleges to pursue a non-combat specialty."

Naru picked the journalism program at Michigan State University. He started full-time in 1984 and graduated in just 11 months with his master's – all while serving as an active duty army officer. While the experience was intense, Naru said he received tremendous support from faculty, particularly from the late Mary Gardner: a retired colonel from the Marine Corps Reserve and the J-School's first woman tenure-stream faculty member.

"She understood the military and what my experience was like," Naru said. "She told me what to expect from MSU, and what journalism and PR were all about. She had lots of life lessons, and she took me under her wing and taught me."

Naru went on to serve as the media relations officer at West Point for four years. He said MSU more than prepared him for duties that involved creating up to 200 publications a year, speaking to the press, and briefing parents and candidates about West Point. He took his first civilian PR job in 1989 at New York's Burson-Marsteller, and later worked in leadership roles for several large PR, educational and communications companies, including FleishmanHillard, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Reuters.

In December 2014, Naru returned to Burson-Marsteller. In the course of 25 years, he's created and implemented media relations programs for leading brands including household names like AT&T, Hyatt, The New York Times Company, Sprint, Perrier, Coca Cola, Panasonic, the U.S. Postal Service and the U.S. Army.

"Everywhere I've worked has been a wonderful place and given me different types of client experience," Naru says. "It's been a rewarding career. I've met a lot of great people. I can't imagine having more fun, and I am in no hurry to retire."

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