Friday, January 15, 2016

11/22/63 Alternate Ending

I recently read the book 11/22/63 and found it extraordinary. It's rare that I find fiction that is as enthralling as this was, so much so that I went back and reread most of it within a week. That being said, the ending left me cold. As a result, I went back and created my own ending. While I may not have the experience with prose that King does, I gave it my best shot. I combined a lot of his prose and mannerisms and  interspersed it with original text to move the story forward quickly. It still maintains ambiguity, but I've not always been a fan of bittersweet endings - I prefer ambiguously happy. I hope you enjoy it! (red text is mine, black is King's)

I opened my eyes. The stink of the dirty abandoned restroom had been replaced by the stink of a textile mill operating full bore in a year when the Environmental Protection Agency did not exist. There was cracked cement under my feet instead of peeling linoleum. To my left were the big metal bins filled with fabric remnants and covered with burlap. To my right was the drying shed. It was eleven fifty-eight on the morning of September ninth, 1958.
Harry Dunning was once more a little boy. Carolyn Poulin was in period five at LHS, perhaps listening to the teacher, perhaps daydreaming about some boy or how she would go hunting with her father in a couple of months. Sadie Dunhill, not yet married to Mr. Have Broom Will Travel, was living in Georgia. Lee Harvey Oswald was in the South China Sea with his Marine unit. And John F. Kennedy was the junior senator from Massachusetts, dreaming presidential dreams. I was back.
I didn’t walk to the chain this time, but instead stood there for what felt like an eternity as I rehearsed what I was going to do. I had plenty of time here in 1958, but only a few hours in 2011 before Al’s death would padlock the diner and eliminate access to the rabbit hole forever. I stepped back into the rabbit hole, going slowly up the steps. With each passing step, I felt the atmosphere change, with the loud shat-HOOSH shat-HOOSH of the weaving flats fading away. I bumped my head against the ceiling of Al’s pantry. As I stepped out of the pantry, I looked around Al’s Diner. It looked like my 2011 again, as much as any 2011 could be mine any more. Spending 5 years of your life in a different era will have that effect. As I exited the diner, I checked Al’s Town Wall of Celebrity.  Hanging on the wall was the picture of Harry Dunning and I holding Harry’s diploma, with his tie slightly askew.
I knew my time was short, so I raced back to my house, tripping over Elmore in the process. I never had a cat in the Land of Ago and forgot that I had one here in the Land of Ahead. It was still just midnight, giving me 6 hours to prepare for my final trip back to 1958.
I got on the net—my heart beating so hard it sent dots flashing across my field of vision—and called up the Dallas Morning News website. After punching in my credit card number (a process that took several retries because of my shaking fingers), I was able to access the archives. The story about an unknown assailant taking a shot at Edwin Walker was there on April 11 of 1963, but nothing about Sadie on April 12. Nothing the following week, or the week after that. I kept hunting. I found the story I was looking for in the issue for April 30.
By Ernie Calvert (JODIE)
67-year-old Deacon “Deke” Simmons and Denholm Consolidated School District Principal Ellen Dockerty arrived too late on Sunday night to save Sadie Dunhill from being seriously hurt, but things could have been much worse for the popular 30-year-old school librarian.
According to Douglas Reems, the Jodie town constable, “If Deke and Ellie hadn’t arrived when they did, Miss Dunhill almost certainly would have been killed.”
The two educators had come with a tuna casserole and a bread pudding. Neither wanted to talk about their heroic intervention. Simmons would only say, “I wish we’d gotten there sooner.”
According to Constable Reems, Simmons overpowered the much younger John Clayton, of Savannah, Georgia, after Miss Dockerty threw the casserole at him, distracting him. Simmons wrestled away a small revolver. Clayton then produced the knife with which he had cut his ex-wife’s face and used it to slash his own throat. Simmons and Miss Dockerty tried to stop the bleeding to no avail. Clayton was pronounced dead at the scene.
Miss Dockerty told Constable Reems that Clayton may have been stalking his ex-wife for months. The staff at Denholm Consolidated had been alerted that Miss Dunhill’s ex-husband might be dangerous, and Miss Dunhill herself had provided a photograph of Clayton, but Principal Dockerty said he had disguised his appearance.
Miss Dunhill was transported by ambulance to Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, where her condition is listed as fair.
Though I was never a crying man, I fought back tears. If Sadie had died in Clayton’s attack, I couldn’t go back to save her. Because she survived, I can return. I forced myself back to the task at hand.
Sadie was alive.
Alive, alive, alive.
I spent the rest of the night finding ways to make my last trip to the Land of Ago safe. No more bookies, no more betting. I needed safe, reliable money that would last for as long as I had. While Al never bothered with the stock market, it was the best way for a man from the future to turn the small amount of money he had into a fortune. It had the added benefit of letting me avoid the Fratis, Eduardo Gutierrez, and Greenville Avenue for the rest of my life.
In order for me to feel good about staying in the Land of Ago, I had to know what was caused by me and what wasn’t. Because the past works to protect itself, I felt confident that I would know if I were causing too many problems. On my last trip, the bigger the change I made, the more that the past fought it. It never fought my time with Sadie, so I felt confident I wouldn’t make too many ripples.
Nevertheless, from my conversation with Zach Lang and the alternate future Harry, the primary way you can tell seemed to be earthquakes. I searched out the main earthquakes between 1958 and now – from Alaska in 1964 to Japan in 2011 – and wrote them down. If the earth started to deviate from its course, I could always come back to the rabbit hole and return to now. Scratch that…I only have until 1990 when Al moves his restaurant down from Auburn. Once it moves on top of the bubble, it probably becomes a one-way trip.
The last thing I needed was enough knowledge of the early 1960s to convince Sadie that I was a time traveler. There will come a time where Sadie will want to remove the broom between us and I can’t allow the Rolling Stones to pop out of my mouth again and ruin everything. The timing will have to be right, and the only way she will think I’m not a mental patient is if I can prove what will happen.
Once I had everything I needed, I turned off my computer and headed to Al’s Restaurant. It was 5:45 in the morning. Time enough for me to go back to 1958 and live life with Sadie. As I walked into Al’s pantry for the last time, all I could think was that she might not want to have anything to do with me. We’re no longer going to be thirty-five and twenty-eight; this time I’d be forty and I look even older. But I believe in love, you know; love is a uniquely portable magic. I don’t think it’s in the stars, but I do believe that blood calls to blood and mind calls to mind and heart to heart.
I opened my eyes after my feet hit cracked cement. It was once again eleven fifty-eight on the morning of September ninth, 1958.
I walked to the chain and ducked under it. On the other side I stood perfectly still for a moment, rehearsing what I was going to do. Then I walked to the end of the drying shed. Around the corner, leaning against it, was the Green Card Man. Only Zack Lang’s card was no longer green. It had turned a muddy chartreuse shade, halfway between green and yellow. His out-of-season overcoat was dusty, and his formerly snappy fedora had a battered, somehow defeated look. His cheeks, previously clean-shaven, were now stubbled . . . and some of that stubble was white. His eyes were bloodshot. He wasn’t on the booze yet—at least I couldn’t smell any—but I thought he might be soon. The greenfront was, after all, within his small circle of operation, and holding all those time-strings in your head has to hurt. Multiple pasts were bad enough, but when you added multiple futures? Anyone would turn to drink, if drink were available. I had spent an hour in 2011. Maybe a little more. How long had it been for him? I didn’t know. I didn’t want to know.
“Thank God,” he said . . . just as he had before. But when he once more reached to take my hand in both of his, I drew back. His nails were now long and black with dirt. The fingers shook. They were the hands—and the coat, and the hat, and the card in the brim of the hat—of a wino-in-waiting.
“You have to go back,” he said.
“I know that’s what you want me to do.”
“Want has nothing to do with it. You have to go back one last time. If all is well, you’ll come out in the diner. Soon it will be taken away, and when that happens, the bubble that has caused all this madness will burst. It’s a miracle that it’s stayed as long as it has. You have to close the circle.”
He reached for me again. This time I did more than draw back; I turned and ran for the parking lot. He sprinted after me. Because of my bad knee, it was closer than it would have been otherwise. I could hear him right behind me as I passed the Plymouth Fury that was the double of the car I’d seen and dismissed one night in the courtyard of the Candlewood Bungalows. Then I was at the intersection of Main and the Old Lewiston Road. On the other side, the eternal rockabilly rebel stood with one boot cocked against the siding of the Fruit.
I ran across the train tracks, afraid that my bad leg would betray me on the cinders, but Lang was the one who stumbled and fell. I heard him cry out—a desperate, lonely caw—and felt an instant of pity for him. Hard duty, the man had. But I didn’t let pity slow me down. The imperatives of love are cruel.
The Lewiston Express bus was coming. I lurched across the intersection and the bus driver blared his horn at me. I thought of another bus, crowded with people who were going to see the president. And the president’s lady, of course, the one in the pink suit. Roses laid between them on the seat. Not yellow but red.
“Jimla, come back!”
That was right. I was the Jimla after all, the monster in Rosette Templeton’s bad dream. I limped past the Kennebec Fruit, well ahead of the Chartreuse Card Man now. This was a race I was going to win. I was Jake Epping, high school teacher; I was George Amberson, aspiring novelist; I was the Jimla, who was endangering the whole world with every step he took.
Yet I ran on.
I thought of Sadie, tall and cool and beautiful, and I ran on. Sadie who was accident-prone and was going to stumble over a bad man named John Clayton. On him she would bruise more than her shins. The world well lost for love—was that Dryden or Pope?
I stopped by Titus Chevron, panting. Across the street, the beatnik proprietor of the Jolly White Elephant was smoking his pipe and watching me. The Chartreuse Card Man stood at the mouth of the alley behind the Kennebec Fruit. It was apparently as far as he could go in that direction.
He held out his hands to me, which was bad. Then he fell on his knees and clasped his hands in front of him, which was ever so much worse. “Please don’t do this! You must know the cost!”
I knew it and still hurried on. A telephone booth stood at the intersection just beyond St. Joseph’s Church. I shut myself inside it, consulted the phone book, and dropped a dime.
When the cab came, the driver was smoking Luckies and his radio was tuned to WJAB.
History repeats itself.
I spent a few days in the Tamarack Motor Lodge, Unit 7 before I made my way back to Lisbon Falls. I bought my Ford Sunliner from Bill Titus for $300 and made my way to Greenwich, Connecticut. I arrived on October 1.
In Derry, the Dunning kids are looking forward to Halloween and already planning their costumes. Ellen, that little red-haired kut-up kutie, plans to go as Princess Summerfall Winterspring. She’ll never get the chance. If I went to Derry today, I could kill Frank Dunning and save her Halloween, but I won’t. And I won’t go to Durham to save Carolyn Poulin from Andy Cullum’s errant shot.
There is only one thing that I have to do, and that is to make my way to Jodie and to Sadie.
After getting my degree from the United College of Oklahoma, I was able to get on as a substitute at Greenwich High, even though the school year had already started. I used my spare time to go back and forth to New York City and build my stock portfolio. It grew slowly at first, but within the first 6 months I had more than enough to make my broker jealous and make my way south to Sarasota.
I’m going to jump forward in the narrative again. You’ve heard the story already. I substituted a year in Sarasota, leaving at the end of the school year. Fortunately I didn’t have to leave town in the middle of the night this time to avoid being char-broiled in my rental house.
I made my way to Jodie via Dallas, arriving on the same day as I did five years ago. I passed the billboard proclaiming that the Denholm Lions have JIM POWER at the corner of Highway 77 and Route 109.
One day this billboard would scream a reminder that I am still a visitor here who should be in the Land of Ahead.
I stopped at Al’s Diner to have a Prongburger and discuss Catcher in the Rye with Miz Mimi and Deke.
Sure, there were things that I did slightly differently. I never made another bet, but I made sure to get vaccination records and build a better history for myself. I didn’t know if it would get me past Ellie’s review at the end of my first year teaching, but I figured that having it beats not having it.
I ended up back at Parkway Memorial Hospital during my first year in Jodie to get a vasectomy. I knew from my memories of the Chartreuse Card Man that if I had any hope of making this work, I had to minimize the ripples I created as much as possible.
Unfortunately for both Sadie and me that meant not having any kids.
While I was there, I also had them clean up the lingering mess in my knee. It wasn’t as good as it would have been in 2011, but that couldn’t be helped. I hoped that it would be enough to dance the Hellzapoppin at Sadie Hawkins in a few years.
I became a substitute at Denholm Consolidated High School in the English department, and I even rewrote The Murder Place.  I finished it this time, but it was an exercise in keeping busy. I still directed Of Mice and Men and changed Mike Coslaw’s future, but some things were meant to be.
At the end of the year Miz Mimi and Deke Simmons made plans to marry and retire to Mexico. As before, I was standing by the bandstand watching Doug Sahm, beer in my hand, when history repeated itself.
“George? Come here and meet someone, would you?” I turned. Mimi was coming down the slope of the lawn with Sadie in tow.
My mind flashed forward (or was it backwards?).
I saw Sadie dancing the Madison, color high in her cheeks, laughing.
Sadie telling me to lick her mouth again.
Sadie asking if I’d like to come in and have poundcake.
One man and one woman. Is that too much to ask?
I don’t know, I don’t know.
But I know I have to try.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Are You Ready for Some Hash Browns?

I know that most of the Western world has had hash browns before, but how many have had good ones?  I mean the kind that you'd pack on 30 pounds or so just to keep shoveling in your mouth.  What are the keys to these hash browns?
1. They've got to be crispy.  Soggy hash browns are the worst.  You know that they're just as unhealthy for you as the crispy ones, but somehow something got in the way and as a result you're eating strings with a texture that is approximately that of dog slobber.  They're just horrendous, and not at all worth the calories
2. They've got to be seasoned.  If you have to put ketchup on them to get them in your mouth, they've done them wrong.  They should have enough flavor that your mouth screams out for more, just like a great steak.
3. When in doubt, add fat.  My dad made killer hash browns (still does), and what made them even better?  Cheese.  Heck, add bacon while you're at it.  Bacon makes everything better.

So how can you guarantee great hash browns every time?  Not only that, but to also get them about as healthily as you can with potatoes, cheese, and meat?  Thanks to the good folks at Foodbeast, now we know.

Step 1: Preheat waffle iron.
Step 2: Instead of using the stuff that they sell as "hash browns" in the store, microwave until warm and then smash up tater tots.
Step 3: Toss those tots on the scorching waffle iron
Step 4: Season All - enough to give it some nice flavor, you want to see it.
Step 5: Smash that iron down, give it at least 2 waffle cycles or until at your level of crispy heaven
Step 6: Top with cheese and/or bacon.  You can either give it another grilling or let it melt on top
Step 7: Try not to eat it all in the first minute out of the waffler.

This uses no oil!  How about that!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Dragon's Keep

One of the great things that my wife and I get to do is travel around the world.  On our most recent trip, we spent a few nights in Krakow, Poland at the Sheraton on the riverfront and got to have this be our skyline.  One of the interesting stories about the castle is that it had its own dragon for a long time - you could even go down into the dragon's cave or buy a dragon souvenir.  It likely came from the Vistula River getting into the caves and starting a reaction that let off steam.  Nevertheless, it was a fun story!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Don't Get Insurance from Liberty Mutual

I know, I know...posts like this are a dime a dozen. Some go viral, some languish, and some sit in the middle. Nevertheless, I want to hopefully save someone some degree of pain and suffering from having to go through what I have so far.  Thus, my story begins...

May 30, 2012: I was driving along a residential road between my work and home and stopped at a 4 way stop.  I went through the intersection and was T-boned by a driver who didn't see the other stop sign and hit me at about 20 MPH.  He was driving a Ford F-250 and pulling an 8000 lb cement mixer behind his truck.  I calculated later that I was hit with 32 tons of force.  It did the damage you see above.
The police came, took statements, and left.  I called my insurance to report the accident and then called his to do the same, as the claim would go through his.  He was ticketed, he ran the stop, so it's pretty cut and dried as to who would be responsible.  They took my statement and asked me to call the other driver (their customer) to have him give his statement.  It was at this time I had my first contact with Liberty Mutual.  Their initial point of contact was Ashley, and he was very pleasant.

June 1, 2012: I called Liberty Mutual back as I hadn't heard from them.  I dialed Ashley's extension, got voice mail like I expected, then hit 0 as instructed to talk to another team member.  40 minutes later, I finally talked to a live person.  They said they would cover 100% at that time and had me authorize getting my car moved from the tow lot to Larry H Miller Collision in Orem.  They also set me up with a rental car from Enterprise after I requested it.  Based on my later conversations with them, if I hadn't said anything, I doubt I would have seen one.
I also sent the following tweet before they answered:
I've been on hold w/@libertymutual for 40 minutes now. I wonder if I'll ever get to a person.
Fortunately their social media person was on the ball and helped me to the best of her ability.

June 5, 2012: I called Liberty Mutual again as I hadn't heard any details of what would happen with my car yet.  They said they hadn't heard from the adjustor yet, but would get back with me when they did.

June 6, 2012: The car was totaled.  They called me this time, and I talked with Ashley again.  He said that he was finished with the claim and now it would go to their total loss department
I went to Larry Miller Collision, where the estimator told me that the damages were $14,500, which was just over Liberty Mutual's 75% threshold, so I should expect around $20,000 plus tax and title for my car.

June 8, 2012: I called and found out who my total loss representative was and to see the status of my claim.  I was told she would be back in touch with me.  They said they would cover the accident 100%.

June 12, 2012: I finally heard from Andrea Jesse about the valuation on my total loss claim.  Her estimate, based on a call to a car lot called Autosource?  $15,668.  That was the total amount, with taxes and title built in.  I told her that that was way too low based on my research, and asked for her email address to send her the documentation on that.  Below is my email to her:

Thank you for chatting with me earlier today.  Here is the research that I have done with screenshots and other documentation as needed:

Here are the sites that I’ve checked with regards to my vehicle.  It was in outstanding condition and had low mileage, and you can see that reflected in the Kelley Blue Book, NADA, and Edmunds quotes for replacement value via a dealer.  As is expected, based on the different people these 3 guides are targeted at (KBB as a dealer’s sticker price down to Edmunds as the actual cost that a consumer should pay if they’re a good negotiator), there is some variation.  As such, I would propose that as there are no direct comparables in the market, we should base valuation here. 
KBB: $21,413
NADA: $19,600
Edmunds: $18,479
Average cost of a 2006 Infiniti G35x with my options: $19,830

From that we can then calculate the sales tax.  The sales tax for Murray, UT (where our local Infiniti dealer is) is 6.85% per the Utah State Tax Tables:
Before we can get that though, we have to look at the cost of additional items on the car.  I have enclosed also a copy of the contract of sale of my G35 from Tim Dahle Infiniti.  The dealer documentary service fee is $398.50.  License and registration is $205.50.  In addition, I bought an extended warrantee that took the stock Infiniti 4 year/60,000 mile warrantee and added a 3 year/40,000 mile term to the end.  This should also be factored in on a prorated basis.  That puts us at a $2195 extension prorated over 3 years at just over $60/month.  I had 15 months left at the time of the accident, thus $2195/36*15=$914.58  That puts us here:

Average cost of a 2006 Infiniti G35x with my options: $19,830
Remainder of the warrantee: $914.58
Dealer Documentary Service Fee: $398.50
License and registration: $205.50
Utah State Sales Tax: $1462.38

This is in line with what your estimator at Larry H Miller Collision told me when I went in to collect personal effects from the car.  He told me damages were at $14,750, which put it right at the 75% threshold where he indicated a total would occur…which puts his valuation for the vehicle at $19,666.67 ($14750/.75).  Where your estimator using your program told me that, I believe that that’s a fair indication of what we should be looking at.

I have also attached the closest possible comparables, one from a private seller who you would expect to be lower than a dealer, and the other from a dealer.  Because my car had lower miles than either of these, and because I bought my car new from an authorized Infiniti dealer, I propose the dealer value as that is where I will be going to replace my car.  Therefore, using the dealer valuation, plus transfer fee as a base is the minimum necessary for me to leave this transaction feeling good about things.  
Carmax Infiniti G35x: $18,748
Transfer fee from Oak Lawn, IL to South Jordan, UT: $699
Remainder of the warrantee on my car: $914.58
Dealer Documentary Service Fee: $149.00
License and registration: $205.50
Utah State Sales Tax (South Jordan, UT): $1294.76

This leaves us with a narrow range of possibilities – essentially between $22-23K.  I know that your job is to secure the lowest cost for Liberty Mutual in regards to this payout.  My job is to cover the cost of a replacement vehicle that is comparable to mine.  Thus, I would propose the following: we split the difference at $22,500.00.  I honestly will not accept anything lower than $22,000.  I feel that the estimate you gave me earlier today was not honest, and I have talked with a former insurance General Adjuster and with an uncle who is a used car dealer and both said that this was a very low offer.  I don’t feel that I am being unreasonable, considering that this is the actual cost to replace my car, that I was – through no fault of my own – hit by one of your members, that this was my dream car, purchased brand new with 8 miles on the odometer (enough for it to be tested and driven on/off of a boat and car carriers), that I have no chance of doing that again, as the vehicle is no longer in production, and with several factors not considered in my above valuation (tires I bought 6 months ago for $550 and an iPhone integration kit that cost $185 for the product + install).
Therefore, at this point it is my opinion that it is most advantageous to Liberty Mutual and its associated stakeholders to accept this valuation – by continuing to dispute and fight it, it prolongs the cost of the rental car, it costs time and money in the form of your salary and that of your associates, and if it were to drag out long enough, it would take additional time billable at $200/hour or so from your corporate attorneys.  In addition, the longer the time it takes to resolve and the more that you all try to dicker over a very reasonable Replacement Cost Value, the more frustrated I get – which isn’t good for future business, especially in our social media driven world.  As a result of these factors, I feel that it would be better instead to come to a quick agreement that minimizes the cost associated on both our sides.

Thanks for your time,

June 14, 2012: I heard back from Andrea Jesse.  She said that the quotes I had sent her were lower than what she had offered, but nonetheless, she talked with her manager, Mike Curtis, and they were willing to generously offer $18107 for my car.  I said I didn't see how that was possible as the quotes I sent were higher than what she said, when she said those 2 magic words: "trade-in value." I asked her why they were offering trade-in when I should get the Replacement Cost Value of the vehicle.  I'm not trading in my car, I wasn't planning on doing so for a long time.  Therefore, you're giving me $4000 less in value because you're not valuing it on the Replacement Cost.  She said to contact my insurance company.  I told her that I would and that I wouldn't accept her offer.
I got a message from Mike Curtis saying that he heard I was dissatisfied with their offer and asked me to call back.  I did, and left a voicemail.

Here's where we're at now.  If I'm wrong, let me know here, but I can't see any problems in my logic.  Does anyone else see this differently? Right now, I'd love to see this spread far and wide because I don't want this to happen to anyone else - but I'm willing to change that opinion if I'm mistaken and shouldn't be frustrated about it.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Utah GOP Convention in a Few Pictures

I went to the Utah Republican Party Convention on Saturday to help out a few candidates with their campaigns, but I made sure to get some photos while I was there.  All were taken with an Nikon D700 at 3200 ISO.
Ben Franklin - inventor of the cell phone*
Orrin Hatch vs Dan Liljenquist - the primary battle begins!

I guess Sandstrom thought if it works for Salisbury Homes and Little Caesar's Pizza, it must work for him too!
The image is a bit blurry, but his mom told him to smile for the photo after this.  He clearly wasn't the happiest camper in the world!

*Note: I know Ben Franklin didn't invent the cell phone.

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Utah Republican Party Convention by Beau Sorensen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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Friday, April 20, 2012

Jolly Old Fellow

One of the areas of photography that I'm really working on is getting good portraits.  My kids are part of what's driving it - my daughter is a poser extraordinaire, but my sons are no good at it, so I have to be good at capturing it.  This is an image of my grandfather that I took at a restaurant with surprisingly good lighting.
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Jolly Old Fellow by Beau Sorensen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at

Monday, April 16, 2012

The St George Temple

Rachelle has told me I ought to start posting some of my photos on the blog since it doesn't get as much use anymore as a "stuff to say" outlet.  This is an image from just a few days ago when we were in St George.  The temple there has been around since 1877 and they somehow manage to keep it extremely white.  I don't know how with the copious red dust, but they do it!

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St George Temple at Dusk by Beau Sorensen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at