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Monday 06/09/2014
Father’s Day gift and travel guide

It is impossible to truly thank the people who most shaped your life, but Father’s Day is certainly an occasion to express appreciation for one of them, dad.

Getting a tie may be a cliche but it doesn’t have to be that way now thanks to the Esquire line available at Men’s Wearhouse as well as the limitless choices that can be found at ties.com.

You can’t go wrong with shirts from such well-known makers as Armani Exchange, American Eagle and J. Crew. Sears’ Outdoor Life brand makes shirts and pants that are very comfortable and durable at a fraction of the price of the aforementioned. Luchiano Visconti makes shirts for guys who aren’t afraid to wear bright colors and attention-grabbing designs as evidenced by their paisleys and stripes.

Lands End, Target, JC Penney, Burlington and Kohl’s (especially their Marc Anthony brand) sell coats and jackets in all sizes and weights for nearly every budget. If you can spend a bit more, the Mackage.com offers almost every leather jacket you can think of. The Danish designer Iris Von Arnim has a huge collection of cashmere sweaters and jackets.

Luxor Linens’ Egyptian cotton bathrobes are a great way to relax around the house after a bath or shower.

Men’s shoes have far more styles today than when I was growing up. Designer Steve Madden, who has long had a showroom and small factory in Sunnyside that made women’s footwear, has now entered the men’s footwear market. Dr. Scholl’s, which is synonymous for shoe inserts, is now making dress shoes for guys. Even Crocs, which is still best known for its plastic beach clog, has expanded into the leisure dress shoe industry. If you are looking for a stylish work shoe, Beckett-Simonon has the quality of Allen Edmunds but at a price roughly a third of the well-known New York retailer because their shoes are made in Poland and are sold only online.

Sunglasses are as much for fashion as to protect your eyes from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. Carrera and Ray-Ban are still the two big names in the industry with both Maui Jim and SHAUNS California rapidly gaining on them. You can’t go wrong with either Foster Grant or Polaroid if you are on a tighter budget.

Watches are the most popular form of jewelry for men and they run the gamut in price. These days men treat timepieces as fashion accessories as much as women do. The funny thing is that an inexpensive watch doesn’t look all that different from its pricier counterpart and tells the same time. A good case in point are watches made by Long Island City’s own Armitron and the Bedlam and Agent watch lines from House of Horology, which were created by Forest Hills High School alum Lawrence Leyderman. Dakota, Fossil, Paul Frank, and of course, Timex have plenty of attractive timepieces for well under $100.

If dad is a sports fan New Era will certainly have a T-shirt, jacket and cap of his favorite team. The hip T-shirt company Sportiqe makes terrific NBA apparel including a number of retro logos and styles. Old Navy and Sears are good places to go if you want to get a good deal on Major League Baseball apparel. Aeropostale does not have licensing agreements with any of the professional leagues but it does have one in place with the NCAA so it’s a good place to buy apparel that features the name of your father’s alma mater.

Athletic Recon doesn’t have licensing deals in place with the big sports leagues but it does make T-shirts, pants and windbreakers for those who are serious about working out.

Sports memorabilia has a special place in the hearts of many men. Steiner Sports is the undisputed leader in autographed collectibles from nearly every sport imaginable, while a smaller rival, Brigandi Coins & Collectibles, has a strong collection of New York Mets memorabilia.

Levi Strauss is to jeans what Kleenex is to tissues, a brand so dominant that it is almost synonymous with the product that they make. Levi’s, as they are better known, may make the most comfortable and durable jeans but the company has faced significant competition over the years. Taking on rivals along with a still tough economy has encouraged the San Francisco-based corporation to create budget lines as Signature and Denizen, which offer Levi’s quality but at Wrangler and Lee prices, and their lighter weight makes them a good summer purchase.

Staying fit is important for everyone but it’s particularly vital as one ages. Bicycle riding through Flushing Meadows Park is great exercise especially in warm weather as Schwinn, Cannondale, Xtracycyle and Mongoose all make high-quality bikes for all levels of cyclists.

Your father may not be in training for the New York City Marathon but a good brisk walk can do wonders for both one’s physical and mental health. Brooks Running, Asics, Avia, Reebok and Nike all make footwear that are lighter than the traditional sneaker making it easier to go longer distances. Spira Footwear’s Stinger II has metal springs in its heels which reduce the pressure on your foot when it strikes the ground.

My favorite summer exercise is walking on the beach. It is refreshing when the surf goes over your feet and the upper calf muscles get a good workout in the process. Crocs, Havaianas and Oka-B make footwear specifically for the beach.

Speaking of health, vitamins are a good Father’s Day “stocking stuffer.” Nearly everyone can benefit from a good multivitamin. If your father needs a little help in lowering his cholesterol Quality of Life’s CardioChol, Nature Made’s Cholest Off and CoQ10, as well as New Chapter’s Garlic Force all purport to help lower bad cholesterol.

Women’s products have long dominated the fragrance and skin care industries but men have chipped away at the market share. Contrary to popular belief, Mary Kay, Amway, Shiseido, Turo, ReVive, Organic Doctor and Avon now all make colognes, aftershaves, cleansers, and yes, anti-aging serums for men while Menaji, Jack Black and Anthony Logistics have always made products exclusively for guys. Another good choice is Dossage 8 for Men from former Jackson Heights resident Tara Durkin who set up her company in LA.

All men worry about their hair regardless of age and certainly more so as they get older. Paul Brown Hawaii, Baxter of California, Austin Kyle, Tigi B, Paul Mitchell and Recitals are salon-caliber shampoos. Grande Hair is a spray that purports to stimulate the follicles to give hair a fuller, thicker appearance. Grande also make a high- quality shampoo.

Managing facial hair is another thing guys obsess over. Gillette’s Fusion ProGlide with FlexBall Technology is that company’s start-of-the-art manual razor. If you want to see other high-tech shaving instruments from Gillette and other companies then log onto harrys.com.

Gadgets are always popular gifts. Hewlett-Packard’s ENVYx2 is a notebook that has a screen that can separate and become a tablet. Last year H-P introduced the Pocket Playlist, a whopping 32 GB flashdrive that can hold a countless amount of movies, other video and music. Samsung’s Galaxy Note 3 is a popular smartphone that can also double as a tablet. Amazon’s Kindle is still the most popular 7” tablet while the very budget-friendly Acer has recently developed the Iconia A1-830 8” Android tablet.

Of course you always need to keep your devices charged. Radio Shack has a small and flat rectangular charger that the company calls the Portable Power Bank. The Fort Worth-based company, which presented a very costly and humorous ad during the 2014 Super Bowl poking fun at its dated image, has come into the 21st century in another way by creating numerous HDMI cables that link laptop computers with flat screen televisions so that you can load Netflix and Amazon Prime offerings on your device and watch it as if you would a network television program.

The popularity of the chefs on Food Network and the Cooking Channel have made more men want to prepare their own meals. Kohl’s is selling a line of Bobby Flay woks, carving boards and skillets as well as a number of George Foreman indoor grills. For those who have outdoor space, Char-broil manufactures numerous portable, electric and charcoal grills.

While on the topic of food, let’s get to the world of spirits. A number of medical surveys have indicated that red wine is beneficial for cardiac health. I am partial to pinot noir that is produced in the Pacific Northwest from wineries as Benton-Lane and Willamette Valley. Argentina’s Terrazas de los Andes’ malbec and cabernet sauvignon are also full-bodied wines that are easy to sip since they do not have a bitter aftertaste.

Just as there are no shortage of good red wines, the selection of harder liquors is plentiful as well. Johnnie Walker is still the household name in whisky Macallan, Canadian Club, Glenfiddich, Balvenie, The Fat Trout and Grant’s Family Reserve are worthy competitors. Japan, which has long been known for great sake (TY KU is the leading brand here) is home to fine whisky brands as Yamazaki and Hamishu. And of course, let’s not sell America short. Jack Daniel’s is iconic but Russell’s Reserve Bourbon and American Alibi Whisky show that the USA can produce quality hard booze as well.

Rums and vodka are a little easier on the palate. Bacardi, Jose Cuervo, Don Julio, Herradura, Partida, and Milagro are the best known rums while Stolichnaya, Smirnoff, Ketel One, Georgi and Reyka are their vodka counterparts.

Aperitifs are the candy of the alcohol world. Baileys Irish Cream, Kahlua, Godiva Liquer, LeSutra Sparkling Liquer and Solerno Blood Orange Liquer are some of the popular choices.

Getting moving in the morning doesn’t get easier as you get older. If dad likes his coffee when the day starts, Black & Decker has a number of inexpensive coffee makers. If he likes his java with a little more pizzazz get him the De Longhi Lattisma Pro. Both Starbucks and Caffebene sell break-resistant coffee mugs.

While it’s not wise to encourage smoking, there is little harm if pop enjoys a cigar for special occasions. Macanudo, CAO, Cohiba and La Gloria Cubana (all made in the Dominican Republic) are top-notch brands.

Of course for dad to truly enjoy a good meal and/or occasional drink without guilt it is important that he get exercise. Local gyms such as the New York Sports Club, Crunch, New York Health & Racquet Club, and Equinox generally have Father’s Day membership promotions.

Golf is a great way to get exercise and fresh air although it can be a very frustrating game. Callaway Golf makes terrific clubs for the novice and for those on the PGA Tour. If dad has some old irons get him a jar of Colle (colleproducts.com) to restore their luster and prevent further tarnishing. If it has been awhile since dad worked on his game then send him out to the driving range at Alley Pond Park and the Pitch & Putt at Flushing Meadows Park.

Hitting the links after a lengthy layoff (after the miserable winter we endured that means nearly all golfers who weren’t in Florida or Arizona the first quarter of the year) may cause strain on a variety of muscles. A massage at the various spas around town such as the Red Door, the Marilyn Monroe Spa in the Times Square Grand Hyatt and Truman’s is a great way to improve blood circulation. A warning though. The old saying of “No pain, no gain” was probably derived from a masseuse. Log onto the spaweek.com website to learn about various discounts and promotions from spas in our area.

Amazon.com got its start selling books online and now you can buy almost anything on it. If dad is handy, Amazon sells both Stanley and DeWalt hand and power tools at discount prices.

There are millions of books out there but I bet that the family dictionary has probably seen better days with wrinkled pages and binding that is falling apart. Dad would probably appreciate a brand new dictionary from Merriam-Webster.

A lot of men are automobile enthusiasts. While only a select few in the world can afford to even think about buying a Rolls-Royce, the company used its display area at the recent New York International Auto Show to promote its leather tote bags with the Rolls symbol on them. An art-related gift idea would be to purchase framed covers of past issues of Car & Driver which is available on that magazine’s website.

If you need even more gift ideas there are a number of full-service and cable shopping websites such as amazon.com, ideeli.com, thefind.com, luvocracy.com, redenvelope.com, hsn.com and qvc.com.

A lot of dads are sports fans and it is always a lot of fun to see your favorite team on the road. San Diego is always a beautiful place to visit particularly in August when its balmy breezes are a welcome contrast from the New York heat and humidity.

The Mets will be visiting San Diego right after the All-Star Game break to play the Padres in one of the nicest ballparks you’ll ever set foot in, Petco Park. Queens’ own JetBlue has two flights a day between JFK and San Diego’s Lindbergh Airport.

There is no shortage of reasonably priced lodging in the San Diego area. The historic Grande Colonial, located in La Jolla Village, just celebrated its centennial. The hotel is located a block from the Pacific Ocean. The sunsets at La Jolla Cove are spectacular.

The Grand Hyatt La Jolla is located a couple of miles east of the Grande Colonial Hotel in the University Town Center section of San Diego which is reminiscent of Queens in many ways because of its neighborhood feel, numerous stores and restaurants and public transportation. The Grand Hyatt La Jolla has an Olympic-sized outdoor swimming pool and large Jacuzzi that certainly capture the spirit of Southern California.

The West Inn & Suites is a boutique hotel located just north of San Diego in the town of Carlsbad. The West Inn provides a lot of amenities including a complimentary local shuttle bus, hot buffet breakfast, and even milk and cookies before bedtime (ah, the kid in all of us!) for a very reasonable rate.

If you are looking to go just a little off the tourist beaten path in Southern California try the Lake Arrowhead Resort in the San Bernardino Mountains, which is renowned for some of the region’s best fishing.

Las Vegas has no shortage of hotels and that competition is great for travelers. The Cosmopolitan is one of the town’s hipper and more offbeat lodging properties while the Cromwell is Sin City’s first boutique hotel.

Summer is understandably the off-season in South Florida and the ritzy Turnberry Isle Resort located just north of Miami Beach in the town of Aventura offers heavily discounted packages that include lodging, food, and of course, a round of golf on its championship course. Two great golf resorts just up the road from Aventura on 1-95 in Palm Beach County are the PGA Resort in Palm Beach Gardens and the Seagate Resort in Delray Beach.

Miami may be hot and humid in the summer but there were times last July and August where it was more bearable there than here. One thing that is not in dispute is that it is off-season for some of the town’s toniest hotels such as the legendary Fontainebleau and South Beach properties as the Mayfair, Bentley, Gale and Sanctuary. Ask for a package that includes a spa treatment.

It wasn’t that long ago that downtown Miami was a scary and deserted place after 5 p.m. These days it is as modern and exciting as South Beach across Biscayne Bay. The Conrad Miami, a Hilton property, is offering a summer $100 rate promotion. The nearby Epic Hotel also has some great rates as well.

This is also the quiet season for Caribbean resorts and there are also bargains to be had. It should be noted that the sea breezes keep a lot of the islands from getting unbearably hot or overly humid.

The Sandals Resort in Jamaica has one of the best golf courses in the Caribbean and it is a lot easier getting a tee time now than in December.

Don’t worry if dad doesn’t hit the links. He can still enjoy the beaches and spas of the Sugar Beach Resort in St. Lucia, the Atlantis and Paradise Island Resort in Nassau, Bahamas, the Westin St. John Resort & Villas in the US Virgin Islands, or the Hyatt Regency Aruba.

You get a great bang for the buck in the Dominican Republic and the city of Punta Cana has become one of the world’s most popular resorts because of the number of terrific all inclusive resorts such as the Grand Palladium, Dreams and Secrets where nearly everything is included in your room rate.

It should be noted that JetBlue has service throughout the Caribbean.

The success of the Resorts World Casino at Aqueduct has forced nearby gaming casinos to be more competitive. The Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut gets in the biggest names in entertainment to perform in its arena and it has top-notch restaurants, a world-class spa and even professional sports, as it’s the home of the WNBA’s Connecticut Sun.

If you do go to Mohegan Sun try to set a day or two aside in nearby and beautiful Newport, Rhode Island, where you can see historic mansions, the first synagogue in the United States and the Tennis Hall of Fame. The Castle Hill Inn offers “learn to sail” packages in honor of Newport’s rich maritime history. The America’s Cup used to be held here every three years.

Atlantic City is synonymous with gambling but it has plenty of other activities to keep one busy. Walking its world-famous five-mile boardwalk is great exercise. Its newest hotel, the billion-dollar Revel, is located on the north end of the boardwalk and is meant to be a competitor to the chic Borgata located a mile away on the bay. My suggestion is to visit the Revel and enjoy a meal there but stay a couple of blocks south on the AC boardwalk at the Taj Mahal, where you’ll get far better value and feel more at home.

New York State’s Finger Lakes region can rival California’s Napa and Sonoma valleys when it comes to both quality wines and the number of wineries one can visit. The annual Finger Lakes Wine Festival will take place July 11-13 at one of the most famous motor sports racetracks in the world, Watkins Glen International.

There is of course plenty for pop to do here in New York City. With summer upon us a dinner cruise on either World Yacht or Spirit Cruises is a very enjoyable way to spend an evening. The warmer weather is also a great time to see the Big Apple’s various attractions. CityPASS and New York Pass allow you to see a lot of sites for one price but there are time restrictions.

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads!

Posted in Central, Eastern, North, Queenswide, South, Western, Blog on Monday, June 9, 2014 12:28 pm. Updated: 12:37 pm. | Tags: Levi Strauss , New York Mets , Crocs , Solerno Blood Orange Liquer , American Eagle , Armani Exchange , J. Crew , Kohl , Iris Von Arnim , Scholl , Steve Madden , Allen Edmunds , Polaroid , La Gloria Cubana , Paul Frank , Lawrence Leyderman , Nba , National Basketball Association , Major League Baseball , Old Navy , Aeropostale , The Ncaa , Brigandi Coins , Brooks Running , Amazon , Forest Hills High School , Reebok , Nike , Stinger , Avon , Mary Kay , Shiseido , Jack Black , Tara Durkin , Paul Mitchell , Austin Kyle , Paul Brown Hawaii , Gillette , Hewlett-packard , Smartphone , Android Tablet , Kindle , Android , Dominican Republic , Caribbean , Radio Shack , The 2014 Super Bowl , Netflix , Fort Worth , Hdmi , Cooking Channel , George Foreman , Willamette Valley , Andes , Los Andes , Argentina , Canadian Club , Japan , Jack Daniel , Jose Cuervo , Don Julio , Lesutra Sparkling Liquer , Godiva Liquer , Black Decker , Java , Starbucks , Cohiba , Macanudo , Crunch New York Health Racquet Club , New York Sports Club , Pga Tour , Callaway Golf , The Pga Tour , Marilyn Monroe Spa , Spaweek.com , Power Tools , Rolls-royce , Lindbergh Airport , Palm Beach , Grande Colonial Hotel , University Town Center , West Inn Suites , Carlsbad , Boutique Hotel , Levi , San Bernardino Mountains , Las Vegas , Miami Beach , Palm Beach County , Delray Beach , South Beach , Biscayne Bay , Epic Hotel , Bahamas , Us Virgin Islands , Punta Cana , Newport , Connecticut Sun , Castle Hill Inn , Atlantic City , Taj Mahal , Napa Valley , Sonoma Valley , Finger Lakes Comments (0)

Thursday 05/15/2014
Forest Hills vet is now in the ‘loop’

Dr. Greg Nelson, a veterinarian at Boulevard Animal Clinic in Forest Hills, recently received a portable countertop hearing loop on May 9, donated by Dr. Carol Letzter, director and owner of Harmony Hearing & Speech Center, located in Howard Beach. Letzter donated the hearing loop to the animal clinic as part of her participation in the Help Loop America Campaign.

Hearing loops provide a magnetic field in which an audio signal can be picked up by an individual’s hearing aid that contains a T-coil, or telecoil. Even when a person with a hearing loss is using a hearing device such as a hearing aid, the user may still encounter difficulty hearing in noisy environments or where the acoustics are poor, resulting in echoes and reverberation that make speech hard to understand. A hearing loop eliminates all background noise, allowing the person wearing a hearing device such as a hearing aid or cochlear implant to receive a signal that is clear and discrete.

Hearing loops may be portable, such as the one now being used at the animal clinic, or permanent, where an entire room is looped.

Boulevard Animal Clinic is the first veterinary practice in New York to offer individuals who have difficulty hearing a portable, wireless countertop hearing loop.

“It is very important for my clients’ owners to hear important health information about their pets and the hearing loop will ensure that they are hearing information that pertains to their pet’s care,” said Nelson, who is the doctor for Letzter’s cat Tori, the official mascot of Harmony.

“A hearing loop is the only assistive listening device which provides clear transmission of the speaker’s voice directly into the user’s hearing aid or cochlear implant, as long as the device has a T-coil,” Letzter explained. “A T-coil can be installed in a hearing aid very inexpensively or at no charge at all. It is the only simple component that provides universal advantages to any hearing aid regardless of the manufacturer.”

Letzter has donated similar loops to other businesses and institutions, including Cross Bay Diner and Cross Bay Chemists in Howard Beach and St. Helen Church.

Posted in South, Central, Blog on Thursday, May 15, 2014 10:30 am. Updated: 11:57 am. | Tags: Veterinarian Comments (0)

Crystal Windows & Doors: It’s a team

With some 300 employees in its Queens-based headquarters, no fewer than 16 product lines, each containing multiple styles, and $67 million worth of sales revenue in 2013, Crystal Window & Door Systems, Ltd. seems well on its way to living up to its corporate vision: “to become the premier manufacturer of windows, doors and associated products in North America.”

Located in Flushing for the past 24 years, including 14 at its current 215,000-square-foot site off the Whitestone Expressway, in the College Point Corporate Park, Crystal has even cracked Window & Door Magazine’s list of the largest manufacturers in North America, an annual designation based on sales volume.

“We were proud to be one of the top 100. Recently we rose to the top 40. Our eventual goal is to move up,” said Steven Yu, sales andmarketing manager.

According to Yu, the company’s success, even in economically difficult times, may be attributed to the fact that “we are one of the few manufacturers in the industry that offer residential and commercial products. We are very flexible at adapting to market needs and changes.”

Since last year, the company has added several new products, including a high-end aluminum window for upscale projects, which, Yu said, offers great aesthetics and clean sightlines: “The contour around the edge is clean and beautiful.”

The company also recently introduced high energy-efficiency commercial windows, he said.

Yu pointed out that, with the approach of summer, now is the ideal time to consider replacing old, drafty windows and doors in one’s home or business.

“Worn-out windows are the No. 1 source of wasted energy,” Yu said. “A new, air-tight window will keep you cool in summer and warm in winter. Homeowners will be able to save on their utility bills.”

Yu pointed out that new windows also promote better security and increase property value.

“You can redesign your house by incorporating window design,” he said.

The manager estimates that the plant produces close to 2,000 windows each day, offering plenty of job opportunities, most of which, according to Yu, are filled by area residents.

In hiring, the company looks for someone who “has a passion for what he does,” Yu said. “The way we build the company team is we treat everyone as part of our family. We promote team-building activities,” including BBQs in the park, annual banquets and even friendly table tennis competitions.

“Everyone needs to work as a team in order to fabricate a quality product,” he said.

Looking toward the future, Yu said the company is making “a never-ending effort to fulfill the corporate vision. We are continuing to improve our product to have higher energy efficiency and continue to supply a high-quality product to the industry.”

Yu is particularly proud that Crystal is an exclusive sponsor of the popular A&E real estate program, “Flipping Boston.”

In all, the company has four factories. Besides the one in Flushing, it has facilities in St. Louis, Chicago and Los Angeles.

The Queens location serves not only as a manufacturing center but also as a showroom for potential customers. Showroom hours are Monday-Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday, 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Crystal Window & Door Systems is located at 31-10 Whitestone Expressway in Flushing. For further information, visit crystalwindows.com or call (718) 961-7300.

Posted in North, Blog on Thursday, May 15, 2014 10:30 am. Updated: 11:57 am. Comments (0)

Monday 05/05/2014
Mother’s Day gift and travel guide

It is impossible to express one’s love for the woman who raised us and made us who we are today through one day of recognition and a gift. Nonetheless we should all put a little thought into a thank you even though mom will probably say that it’s not necessary.

Woodside native Jim McCann started what has become the most famous name in the floral industry, 1800Flowers, in 1971. Back then the idea of purchasing floral arrangements through a toll-free phone call was revolutionary. Over the years, McCann has expanded his business to include all kinds of gift baskets.

Harry & David’s is known for its sweet confection gift baskets but the company also has a fruit-of-the-month club where you can buy a membership for mom.

Jewelry can run the gamut in price and quality. Long Island jewelry designer Nancy Rosen has been working with Bravo’s “Housewives” franchise for years and her Housewives Jewelry website has numerous offerings. She combines style with a sense of humor with her OC Elegance Statement Necklace that contains Swarovski Crystals. Nancy dubs this admittedly over-the-top look as the perfect present for a mom “who wants to look as if she is dripping in jewelry.”

You can also try reasontobepretty.com for a range of apparel and accessories. Livewordly.com and AutismSpeaks.org enable you to give donations to charitable causes as you shop.

Jennifer Lopez, Kim Kardashian and Kate Young are celebrities who have lent their names and all claim that they were in on the design process to clothing and jewelry lines that are on sale at Kohl’s, Kmart and Target, respectively.

There are more options than ever for buying stylish jewelry pieces without breaking the bank. Matterial Fix (yes, there are 2 t’s), Freida Rothman, Lia Sophia, Forever Brilliant, Lulu Avenue, Jewel Be Mine and Liliro all offer pendants, earrings, and bracelets for every budget. Article 22 has an interesting twist on the old slogan, “Make love, not war” as they use the scrap from old military weapons for their jewelry.

If you are going to buy mom jewelry, be sure to pick up a can of Colle, (colleproducts.com), a cleaning mousse that keeps valuables from getting tarnished by age.

Watches are the most popular form of jewelry and the great news is that companies as Timex, Fossil, Dakota, and Long Island City’s own Armitron produce quality timepieces for under $75 that look as if they cost three times that amount. If you are willing to spend more to get a high-quality timepiece, the House of Horology (hohwatches.com), founded by Forest Hills High School alum Lawrence Leyderman (hohwatches.com), has watches that rival Rolex and Tag Heuer but have a price that is not even half of those respected high-end brands but are every bit as good.

Handbags are always popular. Olivia & Joy and Edie Parker both make fine clutches, satchels and totes. Vera Bradley is known for its lively cloth pocketbooks and weekend duffels. Very few of us can afford a Rolls-Royce but the legendary British company makes a number of accessories including sleek leather travel bags. Famed clothing designers Isaac Mizrachi and Jonathan Adler also make high-end tote bags.

Burlington is best known for selling clothing at discount prices but it also sells handbags and jewelry at reasonable prices.

There is no shortage of perfumes on the market but choosing the right one is not easy. Sephora, the renowned beauty products retailer, has a gift box that the company smartly calls “Favorites” that contains perfumes from Dolce & Gabbana and Versace. Former Jackson Heights resident Tara Durkan started a fragrance company in L.A., Dossage, and Dossage 8 for Her is a tongue-in-cheek tribute to Chanel No. 5. Lavanila and Soap & Paper are two other companies that have a wide array of fragrances.

For those who value celebrity product endorsements, Beyonce, who made the cover of the “TIME Magazine 100 Most Influential People” issue has created a perfume called RISE. Sephora is offering a Dreams Fragrance Sampler.

If you have money to burn on perfume, a 100 ml bottle of Bond No. 9 NYC perfume retails in the $500-$600 range.

There was a time when one might feel self-conscious using any kind of skin care product. Not anymore. These days folks of all ages are using anti-wrinkle cremes and anti-aging serums.

There is no shortage of quality producers of these products and that has led to competitive pricing in a very upscale industry. Avon’s Anew Clinical Infinite Lift Targeting Contouring Serum, Josie Maran Aragon Infinity Lip & Cheeky Creamy Oil, Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum, and Nude Skincare Essential Skin Radiance Kit are mouthfuls to say or write but they all correct a variety of dermatological problems. Dr. Brandt Skin Care products, founded by New York dermatologist Dr. Fredric Brandt, have a wide array of highly regarded moisturizers and facial cleansers.

In a similar vein, Korres White Grape Shower Gel and Espa Soothing Bath Oils help remove dead skin cells when you are showering.

For those who find comfort in the term “organic,” an Australian company, Nvey Eco, makes a full line of cosmetics free of any harmful chemicals.

BMR, Vbeaute, Clarins, Turo, Tilth Beauty, Deremelect, Glo Minerals, RejuveMD, Laura Mercier, Nyakio, ReVive, and Shiseido are also highly regarded companies that make quality dermatological products but they can be pricy.

Mineral Fusion is quietly rivaling Avon, Maybelline, and Estee Lauder as a full-service manufacturer of beauty products as it makes its own line of lipsticks, eye shadow, mascara, moisturizers, body lotions and shampoos — MineralFusion.com, beauty.com and luvocracy.com.

Hair products are a tricky purchase because nearly everyone is particular about what they want to use on or for their scalp. Conair, Drybar, and Rusk make hair dryer and curling irons that make hair look fuller as do shampoos as Grande Hair Nutra Peptide, Austin Kyle and Paul Brown.

Summer is coming and that means so is sandals season. Ocean Minded and Havaianas both make sandals that can be worn as part of everyday fashion as well as on the beach. The same can be said for those durable clogs made by Crocs or the stylish, durable as well as American-made spa shoes produced by Oka-B.

The arrival of warmer days means that the sun is out for more hours and that its rays are quite direct. Coola, Kiss My Face, Coppertone and Dr. Brandt all make sunscreens with high SPF counts that maximize skin protection.

Sunglasses are also a must to prevent damage ocular damage. Mom will surely love fashionable Carrera shades. Newcomers as Flutter, Shauns, ICU, Zeal, and Studio S (a private line for Sears department stores) also make fashionable eyewear at a fraction of the price of the bigger names in the optical industry.

Artwork makes for creative gifts. The MoMa Design Store sells prints, sculptures, and products such as dining ware and decorative clocks that can double as art. A new company called Grillie makes offbeat ornaments that can be attached to the grill of a car. Café Press is a company which can make mom a work of art by putting her likeness on T-shirts, mugs, tote bags, and even a Monopoly game board.

Cooking is a form of art to man y and if your mother loves to be in the kitchen, Sur La Table and Crate & Barrel have every type of cookware imaginable.

Staying in shape is important for everyone. US Polo Association, Everlast, and Ryka all make quality workout attire that is also very fashionable. Ryka is one of the few athletic shoe companies that makes running shoes and other types of sneakers exclusively for women.

Putting on a Luxor Linens Egyptian cotton bathrobe and relaxing after a shower is a perfect way to reward yourself for after a hard day.

If you still need more help in looking for a gift, by all means go to the websites of such online retailers as LXR & Company, Charming Charlie, Amazon, HSN, QVC, and Ideeli.

A lot of older mothers are technophobes and know little or nothing about things that a lot of us take for granted such as the internet and email. If you’re afraid that your mom would be intimidated by a desktop or laptop computer then start her off with an inexpensive tablet such as an Amazon Kindle Fire, Radio Shack Stealth Pro Android, or ones from Acer or Lenovo.

Every mother deserves pampering combined with a change of scenery. There are a number of spa resorts located within a three-hour drive of Queens. Nearby spa resorts are the Spa at Norwich Inn in Connecticut, and for those in a New York State of mind, the Emerson Spa near Woodstock and the Mohonk House in New Paltz.

The Hope Lake Lodge in the Finger Lakes town of Cortland has the Waterfalls Spa and it is located in the heart of New York State’s winery region. Nearly all of the wineries in the area are discounting their vino in May. Then again, if mom is a Jets fan it may pay to wait until late July or early August when the team returns to Cortland for training camp.

The success of the Resorts World Casino at Aqueduct has forced both of Connecticut’s casinos, Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun, to offer better entertainment, restaurants and spas as well as deals on hotel rooms. The same can be said for Atlantic City. While hipster types will want to flock to the Borgata or the Revel, my guess is that mom will feel more at home at the Trump Taj Mahal. The Taj may not have the bells and whistles of its newer rivals but it’s easier to navigate and has terrific amenities such as a rooftop indoor pool with an outdoor deck to catch rays on a warm day. And yes, it has a spa as well.

If you want to give mom a change of scenery a little farther away from these parts after Mother’s Day here are some ideas.

South Florida hotels are heading into their off-season. The Turnberry Isle in the Aventura section of Miami-Dade County and the nearby Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & Spa in Broward County both offer heavily discounted golf, spa, food and room packages compared with the December through early April peak season.

Of course when you think of South Florida you think about its gorgeous beaches. You couldn’t blame mom if she just wanted to relax on the sands of a luxury property. In the Palm Beach area, you can’t do better than the Eau Palm Beach, which is located in the town of Manalapan and was previously the Ritz-Carlton. If mom is a golfer or wants to learn the game, the PGA Resort in Palm Beach Gardens is the place to be. The PGA Resort is also known for its fine restaurants.

If mom wants to be treated like a queen in the heart of the Miami Beach action, she can choose between the Ritz-Carlton South Beach, the Loews Miami Beach Hotel, and without argument the most famous hotel name in Miami Beach history, the Fontainebleau.

An alternative to staying in the hustle-bustle of Miami Beach, but still having easy access to it, is to try any of the fairly new resorts located five miles north on Collins Avenue in the city of Sunny Isles Beach. Not only is it quieter but it has a neighborhood feel with supermarkets, local stores, restaurants, and public transportation similar to that of Queens. The Aqualina Resort is a top-of-the-line property in Sunny Isles.

Southern California is a great alternative to Florida and it’s generally not anywhere nearly as humid. The Hyatt Regency La Jolla and the 101-year-old Grande Colonial in the village of La Jolla are two of San Diego’s best hotels. The Grande Colonial offers breathtaking views of the sun setting over the Pacific.

Mothers will feel like movie stars if they stay at either of two of the Los Angeles area’s most fabled lodging properties, the Beverly Hills Hotel or the Hotel Bel Air.

You can’t enjoy the beach or pool without having quality swimwear. Jantzen and Nautica are great for basic bathing suits but if you want mom to feel like a celebrity at the resort, Marie France van Dame and Sophia Graydon both sell high-end resort apparel and sleepwear as well.

The tradewinds that grace the United States Virgin Islands serve as a buffer against summer heat and humidity. The Caneel Bay Rosewood Resort, the Rosewood Little Dix Bay Resort and the Westin St. John’s Resort offer pristine sandy beaches and the sparkling blue water of the Caribbean Sea.

If you want to get the best bang for your buck for a vacation for mom, you can’t go wrong the Grand Palladium Resorts in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. All meals and beverages are included in the price as is most of the other amenities. Vacations in the Dominican Republic are about half of the cost of neighboring Caribbean getaways. Just as it does with most warm weather spots in our hemisphere, Queens’ own JetBlue offers frequent service to Punta Cana from JFK.

Of course mom can have a lot of fun just staying in our area. The Spirit of New York which docks at Chelsea Piers may not be the Breakaway but its three-hour dinner cruise and cabaret entertainment has made it a popular venue for celebrations of all kinds. World Yacht, located four blocks west of Times Square at Pier 81, also has brunch and dinner cruises.

The Big Apple has no shortage of spas to help mom unwind. Red Door and Oasis Day Spas offer everything from facials to massages at their various New York area locations. The Waldorf-Astoria Towers has the highly regarded Guerlain Spa while a newcomer to Manhattan, the Hyatt Times Square, is home to the Marilyn Monroe Spa.

The warmer weather makes it easier to get around and enjoy New York’s many attractions such as taking a boat ride around town on the Circle Line, going to the Empire State Building Observatory, and visiting our world famous museums such as the Metropolitan, Modern Art (MoMA), Natural History and the Guggenheim. Both CityPASS and its chief competitor, New York Pass sell booklets/cards that will allow mom and a guest access to all of the aforementioned for a price far less than paying for each attraction individually. The trick is that you have a limited amount of time, anywhere from three to nine days, once you get started.

Happy Mother’s Day to all!

Posted in Queenswide, Blog on Monday, May 5, 2014 4:43 pm. Updated: 4:50 pm. | Tags: Tara Durkan , Nancy Rosen , Kohl , Kmart , Freida Rothman , Jewel Be Mine , Lia Sophia , Lawrence Leyderman , Edie Parker , Vera Bradley , Rolls-royce , Jim Mccann , Isaac Mizrachi , Jonathan Adler , Sephora , Drunk Elephant T.l.c. , Shiseido , Laura Mercier , Estee Lauder , Hair Products , Beauty Products , Paul Brown , Austin Kyle , Ocean Havaianas , Moma Design Store , Us Polo Association , Amazon , Lxr Company , Qvc , Hsn , Charming Charlie , Ideeli , Kindle , Emerson Spa , Norwich Inn , Waterfalls Spa , Hope Lake Lodge , Taj Mahal , Atlantic City , Turnberry Isle , Eau Palm Beach , Miami Beach , Miami-dade County , Ritz-carlton South Beach , Beverly Hills Hotel , Marie France Van Dame , Sophia Graydon , Guerlain Spa , Waldorf-astoria Towers , Marilyn Monroe Spa , Hyatt Times Square , Empire State Building Observatory , Guggenheim , New York Pass Comments (0)

Thursday 05/01/2014
For grade-A remodeling, AmeriPride Design Center

After retiring from the U.S. Navy’s Special Forces Deep Sea Diving Unit in 1997, Tyrone Salazar dove right into designing and installing kitchens and bathrooms. A friend invited him along on a contracting job and Salazar loved it right away. He worked in the field in various capacities for several years before taking his talents to Ozone Park and opening AmeriPride Design Center in 2010.

Like deep sea diving, design and construction work requires one who is dedicated and detail-oriented.

“It’s one of the hardest jobs in the Navy,” Salazar said, as 80 percent of the people who try out for it don’t pass the tests. “It’s very physically demanding.”

Customers know they can trust Salazar to renovate their homes with precision and care. He has been more than 300 feet under water, where it is pitch dark, sometimes for 5 to 6 hours at a time, to repair ships, remove explosives and even attach two-ton pieces of metal to submarines. He was also part of a search and rescue team.

When he got into home improvement, “I tried it out and loved it,” Salazar said. “A project starts off so basic and then changes into something in your head. The fantasy becomes reality.”

Salazar believes that contracting is not about how you start the job, it’s how you finish. “If you take someone’s hard earned money, you have to come through.”

AmeriPride specializes in kitchens and bathrooms, providing installations and designing, including three-dimensional renderings for floor plans and layouts. According to Salazar, most contractors outsource some of these tasks or fumble toward the end.

“Kitchens and bathrooms are where people feel comfortable, so it’s a very stressful process. I have to be there holding their hands,” Salazar said. “I have to be a good listener because I was hired to work for the customer and give them advice.”

AmeriPride carries a variety of styles to accommodate customers with traditional tastes and those who favor contemporary designs. Most of the pieces are manufactured in America, though some are imported from China and some tiles are from Spain and Italy. AmeriPride also offers a range of options, including custom-made cabinets — and all wood products are real, not particle board.

Traditional kitchens are more popular because many people are afraid to try contemporary styles, said Salazar, who described his own taste as “traditional eclectic.”

AmeriPride does business all over New York City and even completed entire kitchens and bathrooms from the ground up in houses that were decimated by Hurricane Sandy.

AmeriPride is located at 95-01 103rd Avenue in Ozone Park, in a building that was vacant for three years. The store hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays and by appointment only from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays. Salazar can be reached by phone at (718) 473-0906.

Posted in South, Blog on Thursday, May 1, 2014 10:30 am. Comments (0)

Treasure Island Storage has opened

Treasure Island Storage will hold its grand opening on Tuesday, May 6 at 78-02 Liberty Ave. in Ozone Park from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

There will be refreshments and prizes given away. It will also be an opportunity to meet the employees and learn about the new business.

James Coakley, the president of Treasure Island Storage, is excited about the new site. It is his 10th self-storage location in the New York-New Jersey area.

“We love the Ozone Park neighborhood and believe it to be a very strong, stable customer-service-based community,” Coakley said.

Treasure Island Storage offers a full array of storage solutions for commercial and residential customers.

The company also assists with the move-in process as well as packing customers’ prized possessions in the best way possible.

The Ozone Park location is an adaptive re-use of an older site that has been renovated with new state-of-the-art, climate-controlled storage units. Any valuables large or small can be stored in confidence to be kept safe and secure, Coakley said.

He added that it is not just the quality of the service they provide, but the manner in which they deliver it. That is what sets Treasure Island Storage apart from its competition.

“Our people, our employees live in these communities … We can provide a lot more ‘hand-holding,’ for lack of a better term, than most of these bigger companies … We take pride in being there when our customers need us,” Coakley added.

The Treasure Island Storage employees are there to help customers select the proper size units they need as well as how much help they would require.

“It really is a driven service, and I like to call it a service rather than a product,” Coakley said.

As a grand opening gesture, Treasure Island is offering a $25 Amazon gift card and first month free with a rental.

To reach the company, call (718) 395-2984 or email it at Tistorage.com.

Posted in South, Blog on Thursday, May 1, 2014 10:30 am. Updated: 11:40 am. Comments (0)

Thursday 04/24/2014
For healthy teeth and gums, see Dr. Rumack in Flushing

In a world where people seem to take better care of their cars than their teeth, you’re asking for trouble. Gum disease, gingivitis and tooth replacement are the many things you’ll have to endure if you aren’t taking care of your choppers. Finding the right dentist to help you with oral hygiene can be complicated as there are many to choose from. One doctor who stands out from the rest is Dr. Peter Rumack.

Rumack has been practicing dentistry for close to 35 years. His father, who was also a dentist, opened a practice on 141-16 Jewel Ave. in Flushing in 1953. Peter went from being an assistant to his father to taking over the practice when his father retired.

Rumack’s practice does everything from cleanings to implants, bonding, teeth whitening, among many other forms of cosmetic dentistry.

One aspect that he likes about his job is the ability to evolve in the continuously changing world of dentistry. “There’s always more to learn and expand your knowledge in dentistry,” he said.

Rumack keeps up to date on all the latest dental equipment and technology that includes but is not limited to Invisalign and using computer-guided imagery with implants.

Rumack isn’t a lone warrior in the fight for better oral hygiene. In addition to his personable staff, another member of his team is periodontist Dr. Victor Terranova. Terranova’s credentials include having a Ph. D. in molecular biology and having performed thousands of implant surgeries. With Terranova on staff, implant surgery is a much easier and smoother process. Having a periodontist on staff allows patients to consult with both men about the potential implants instead of having to go to an outside facility.

“We can consult with the patient and have a team approach to the more complicated situations,” Rumack said.

Rumack is more than just a dentist to his patients. He is also a friend. Some patients are second or third generation, having been seen by his father. He also imparts wisdom and advice to his patients. For one thing, he wants his patients to treat their mouth as a whole, rather than just part of it.

“It’s like a car. You wouldn’t buy just an engine. You buy the entire car,” he explained.

If you don’t take Rumack’s word for it, then you should read his reviews. On his website, he has a place where patients can put reviews. He has a total of 37 there, all of them five stars.

“I want people to expect a high degree of professionalism with diagnosing the mouth as a whole,” he said.

A special deal is available for new patients only. For $69, you get an exam, X-ray and cleaning.

You can visit. Rumack’s website for more information on his practice, at flushingimplantcosmeticdentist.com.

The office is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. To make an appointment, call (718) 268-2552. They will take walk-ins, but it is recommended you call to make an appointment.

Posted in North, Blog on Thursday, April 24, 2014 10:30 am. Comments (0)

Thursday 04/17/2014
At Better Medical, a focus on preventive treatments

Finding a specialist in the borough who deals with allergies and asthma can be a chore just because there are so many to choose from. The discerning patient will want the attention and care that comes with finding an experienced expert. To get the best, you need to look no farther than Better Medical Care in Bayside.

Since 2000, Dr. Warren Hsu has been treating and helping patients with all types of allergies, ranging from seasonal to environmental. He also provides flu shots and treats patients with asthma and other ailments with immunology. And beyond just treating those who are ill, he emphasizes preventive medicine whenever possible.

Patients are the top priority at Better Medical Care and are always given individualized care, each one treated as a person, not just a number.

“We are very patient-oriented,” said Lotus Hsu, the medical center’s co-owner, explaining, “We don’t double-book. We give complete attention. Patients want personal care. I think that’s what separates us from other people.”

Even though the office is open till 7 p.m., there was one time, Hsu recalled, when Better Medical had such an influx of patients that they stayed open to see every one of them, taking people as late as 10 p.m.

Patients have good things to say about the facility.

“The doctor is really concerned about my well-being and very friendly,” one online reviewer said. “Staff is very helpful and they accommodate you in case of emergency.”

“I love Dr. Hsu,” another said. “He is competent and professional. I go to him for all matters he will see me for.”

Dr. Hsu, who started out as a pharmacist and then returned to school to earn his medical degree, is not someone who will just push pills into a patient’s lap without thought.

“Many medical conditions you actually can treat without medicine,” he said. “We always emphasize prevention and nonmedicine treatment, such as exercise and dietary control.”

In cases where a patient’s symptoms can’t be reversed through nonmedicinal methods, he will use medicine as a “last stance.” He will also recommend alternative therapies “as long as they don’t hurt the patient.”

If you came to him, it doesn’t mean you’re going to get a bunch of pills,” Lotus Hsu said. “You’re going to get a good diagnosis, which is what people really need.”

If Dr. Hsu isn’t able to address a patient’s concerns, he will of course refer the patient to another doctor or health provider.

Though they ask patients to call ahead of time to make an appointment, Lotus says they will take on emergencies, such as asthma attacks, without one.

To make an appointment with Better Medical Care, call (718) 217-8600. Office hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. The office’s address is 212-15 Union Turnpike.

Posted in Queenswide, Blog, Health, Health fitness on Thursday, April 17, 2014 10:30 am. Updated: 2:41 pm. | Tags: Health Comments (0)

Thursday 03/20/2014
AJ’s Chemist expands to Ridgewood location

A new pharmacy, AJ’s Ridgewood Chemist, has opened in Ridgewood at 68-19 Fresh Pond Road, just diagonally across from the Peter Cardella Senior Center.

Normally this news would not cause much of a stir, but this pharmacy is different. This pharmacy is actually a second location for AJ’s Village Chemist in Middle Village and its “new” pharmacist is not so new. His name is Armand Baklajian and he has been serving the Glendale, Ridgewood and Middle Village communities for over 25 years!

Armand, a graduate of St. John’s University, speaks Romanian and Armenian and he decided to become pharmacist 30 years ago because he was passionate about becoming involved in a profession where he could help people. His goal is to assure all his customers that they will have no worries about their medication issues at AJ’s.

Now, as supervising pharmacist in his own new pharmacy, Armand has vowed to continue his record of excellence by providing top notch, caring and compassionate care to all his customers. The new pharmacy will provide numerous services to the public including filling prescriptions, medication consultations, fax service, free blood pressure checks, and document copying. They are offering all the name brand merchandise you trust including Solgar vitamins. And greeting cards are 50 percent off every day! In addition, AJ’s Ridgewood Chemist offers free pick up and delivery of all prescription orders so you never have to leave your home to pickup your meds when you are unwell.

Armand is issuing an invitation to all customers, new or old, to come in, say “Hello,” get a free blood pressure check and ask questions about their medications and he will be happy to assist them. Plus seniors get a 10 percent discount on health and beauty aids and there is a $5 discount on all transferred prescriptions!

For more information or to ask any questions about your medications, call Armand at (718) 456-4400. He will be happy to assist you.

Posted in Central, Blog on Thursday, March 20, 2014 10:30 am. Comments (1)

Thursday 02/06/2014
Velvet Effect Lasers: Your Valentine’s savior

What’s the secret to locking down that Valentine’s date? Be smooth.

This year, Velvet Effect Lasers is helping make that an easier goal by providing discount deals for love-struck clients. And with its successful track record of serving over 15,000 people and growing every day, it’s a sure pathway to achieve that silky smooth touch of the skin.

Until Feb. 14, the spa is offering 50 percent off any new area for laser hair removal treatment and $150 for 20 units of Botox (regularly priced at $200) for both new and existing clients.

Over the past four years, Velvet Effect Laser has been a leading cosmetics business in a highly innovative industry.

The key to its success lies in its founder, John Corona, who advocates for the confidence-boosting effect of having smooth skin and considers himself his best client as well.

“What I offer is because I like it. It works for me,” says Corona, who adds that he doesn’t hesitate to recommend his products to loved ones as well.

Corona’s successful business started with him testing out products on himself for everything from scar removal to hair reduction.

Now, with a dedicated staff of licensed laser techs utilizing five on-site lasers, he’s able to efficiently handle a high volume of clients who can safely choose the right laser for them depending on skin color.

A nurse practitioner and doctor are also available to oversee daily operations and to manage additional popular treatments and rejuvenating services including chemical peels, hair stimulation products for growth and facial fillers.

For those seeking to soften wrinkles and lines in their skin, Corona says he has seen a steady increase in highly satisfied clients using Botox over the years. He prides his staff in aiming for a “conservative and subtle” look when using the product and for always striving to inform clients about its proper usage.

For example, he will caution his clients about other offices that might utilize unethical practices for Botox injection. He warns them that when using it, some offices might either dilute their product or charge clients by the area to be worked on rather than the standardized practice of charging by the amount of units.

His clients, he says, “are guaranteed the constant strength of the product to be 100 percent to the manufacturer’s recommendations,” thus ensuring a duration of three to four months before any touch-ups are needed.

Those who use Botox or Juvederm can also participate in the Brilliant Distinctions rewards program. For each visit, points are awarded — use of Vivite gets you 40 points and a syringe of Juvederm gets you 200 points. For every 200 points, a client will receive $20 off their next visit.

Velvet Effect Lasers is located at 62-85 Woodhaven Blvd. in Rego Park and is open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. from Tuesday to Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. For more information, visit laservelvet.com or call (718) 505-2737.

Posted in South, Central, Blog on Thursday, February 6, 2014 10:30 am. Comments (0)

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