Review Category : Contributors

Study: Hip fractures less likely after cataract surgery

By Dr. Mark S. Siegel

After practicing ophthalmology for nearly 15 years and performing thousands of cataract surgeries, I’ve recognized additional benefits beyond better vision and spectacle independence: patients improve their ability to ambulate; cognitive function and mood are improved in patients with dementia and depression; and overall quality of life improves.

When older people have cataract surgery to improve their vision, they also lower their risk of falling and breaking a hip, according to a national study. People in their 80s and those who have serious illnesses such as heart disease are most likely to benefit — the research shows that these patients had about 30 percent fewer hip fractures in the year after they had cataract surgery. The study, published in the August edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association, compared the rate of hip fractures in more than 400,000 Medicare patients who had cataract surgery with a matched group of patients who did not have their cataracts removed.

Older people are more likely to fall and break their hips or other bones, and recovering from such injuries is often difficult for them. Earlier studies have found that vision loss is a key reason for seniors’ higher risk of falling. When cataracts and other aging eye problems decrease older people’s visual sharpness and depth perception, they also lose the ability to maintain balance, stability and mobility.

People should never be regarded as “too old” to have their cataracts removed. Other studies show that after cataract surgery, older people tend to sleep better, be less depressed, and lead more active, enjoyable lives.

Overall, the greatest decrease in hip fracture risk was seen in patients aged 80 to 84 who had cataract surgery. Another notable group was patients with severe cataracts, for whom risk was reduced by 23 percent. Although U.S. health statistics show that women are more susceptible to hip fractures than men, this study found no significant gender-linked differences in fracture risk.

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It requires some intelligence to operate a Smart TV

By Lee Scott

Upon our arrival in South Carolina, we discovered that one of our television sets had cracked in transit. This was a perfect excuse for my husband to run out and buy a Smart TV. We didn’t realize that it requires some intelligence to operate a Smart TV.

At home, we opened the box and removed the unit,  the set-up guide and the user manual. Imagine our surprise when the first direction on the set-up guide was titled “Unpack — Taking the TV out of the box.” Right away we knew we were in trouble since we had failed to remove it correctly and most likely voided the limited warranty.

There was also a note at the end of the set up guide that said, “Scan this QR code with your smart phone to see helpful videos.” We burst out laughing since we don’t scan QR codes nor did we realize that those little barcodes were called QR codes.

Thumbing through the 34-page user manual, we discovered we had bought a unit that featured a Smart Hub, a multi-purpose entertainment and family center.  We thought we had just purchased a TV set. After all the precautions and features were read, we finally got to the page titled “Turning On and Controlling the TV.” Oh no! Another remote control. Every electronic now has its own unique device.  The remote control for my cable service provider has the volume on the left and the channel changer on the right. The new Smart TV remote is completely opposite.

It occurred to me during this process that I have lived through the television evolution. The first television I recall as a girl was a huge box that had two knobs. One knob was the on/off switch and also adjusted the volume, and the other knob was for switching to one of the three channels available — NBC, CBS and ABC. The TV set contained an assortment of tubes in the back and the television repair man, with his large box of tubes,  would come to our home to fix it when needed. It was all very technical. We have certainly come a long way.

Fortunately for us, the user guide did provide the Tech Support number so we could get some help. After we finally got the TV operating with the help from  Bob, our technician, my husband informed him there had been one thing missing from the box. They left out the TV repair man.

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A few hacks for your dog

By Tracie Korol

I love life hacks. You know, those “why didn’t I think of that!” things that provide clever solutions to mundane problems. My current faves are using a can opener to breach dreaded clamshell packaging in lieu of inviting a paring knife wound; stretching a rubber band across the top of a paint can to use as a brush wiper; and the one in play right now, a key ring threaded through the tongue of my pants zipper, looped around the button until I stop being too lazy to replace the zipper that won’t stay up.

Dogs have hacks, too! Here are a few that might make your life, and your dog’s life, easier:

1. Attach a carabiner (a metal clip that allows rock climbers to link together ropes and harnesses) to your dog’s leash or collar. Carabiners come in handy: If you need to secure your dog to any stationary object; if you need to connect multiple leashes to walk all your dogs at once; if you need to attach your leash to a belt loop to free up your hands.  And, you can attach your keys to your dog if you’re going for a run together.

2. If your dog is a manic food gobbler (and you have one of those breeds prone to bloat), feed your pet on a rimmed cookie sheet. He’ll be forced to slow down if he wants to hoover up every last morsel. Some hacks for this problem suggest placing rocks or balls in the food bowl so as to force a dog to eat around the obstacles.  Good idea, though I have dog friends smart enough to simply remove the ball, shoot the owner a “seriously?” look and continue sucking down food, and also dog friends not so smart as to eat the rocks, too.

3. Use a squeegee to remove dog hair from carpet before vacuuming.   Or, if you want to see how ineffective your vacuum is, use the squeegee after vacuuming. It’s amazing how much dog hair you’ll skim off the rugs. A damp rubber glove is useful for removing hair from furniture.

4. Don’t put your pet’s name on his ID tag. When your dog responds to his name, it only makes it easier for the thief.  Also, if you’re the only one who knows his name, it will make it easier to prove you’re the rightful owner upon recovery. A phone number on the tag is sufficient when your dog is already microchipped.

5. If your dog gets loose, do not chase him. To him, it looks like you’re coming along on his walkabout.  Yippee! Rather, lie down and pretend you’re hurt. Yelp, whimper. They’ll come back to make sure you’re all right. If that fails, run the opposite direction while making happy “come play with me” sounds.  They’ll want to get in on the game.

6. If you have a puppy or lifetime devoted chewer, wipe down exposed cords with eucalyptus oil, Vicks or Mentholatum. Dogs dislike how it smells and even more, how it tastes.  Some hacks suggest using Bitter Apple spray but I’ve found dogs tend to think of that as a condiment.

7.  If you like animal movies but are devastated if an animal is hurt, left alone with the zombies or contracts a terminal illness, go online and check the website for a quick heads-up.  Saves a lot of heartache.

8. Always, always reward your dog. Every time your dog does something correctly, a simple “Good dog!” is enough for your Best Friend to know that he IS your best friend.

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An anniversary shout out to the love of my life

By Pamela Brownstein

This week, in the throes of my deadlines — which for me falls on Tuesday evenings, meaning I probably haven’t showered since the weekend and have gotten very little sleep in the past two days and still have one long night ahead of me and, even though I work from home, nothing has been done in terms of doing the laundry or picking up after the kids or feeding the pets — as I sit hunched over my computer in my “office” (which is actually just a messy desk in the corner of our dining room) my husband, Daniel, who had only been home for about 10 minutes after a day at work and picking up our two kids from daycare and is still dressed in his suit and tie, asks me if I would call him A: The love of my life; B: My baby daddy; or C: Some guy I share a house with.

I laughed and replied, “I guess all three.”

Then I asked him, “Would you call me A: Your fun, sexy wife; B: Your baby mama; or C: Some crazy lady who sits in front of a computer all day and night.” He laughed too, and right before he went outside to walk the dog, he added, “You forgot ‘Love of my life.’”

I was glad he left and couldn’t see me start to cry a little because that was the best, sweetest thing he could have said, and it reminded me how special he is and how lucky I feel to have him in my life.

Happy fifth anniversary, babe. Looks like we made it.

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Singing in the car

By Lee Scott

A new friend of mine stopped me the other day and said she had seen me driving down the highway.

“You sure looked like you were having a good time,” she said.

Evidently she had spotted me as I was singing. I explained that I was enjoying some of my old friends; there was Sonny and Cher, “I Got You Babe”; and Simon and Garfunkel, “A Bridge Over Troubled Water”; and my old Motown buddies, The Supremes, with “Love child”; and Marvin Gaye, “Heard It Through the Grapevine.” Of course, when I drive through Beaufort, I enjoy listening to any of the songs from the movie “The Big Chill.”

There is so much joy in listening to radio stations like 104.9 and hearing many of the old songs from the 60s and 70s. It amazes me the amount of songs that I recognize from over the years — and especially when I actually know the lyrics. Oh, there are always those songs where you hum many of the lines, but you can always jump in on the chorus.

Recently I read that there are several reasons why we remember the lyrics to old songs. The obvious reason is because we listened to one song over and over again; there is nothing like repetition to get us to learn words. How many of us had 45 rpm records where the record player just kept playing the same song over and over again?

Then there is the emotional attachment to songs, an experience when a particular song is playing. It is one of the reasons why so many couples say, “They are playing our song.”

One year when my daughter was 13 years old, I dragged her to a Harry Belafonte concert. She told me how bored she was going to be but when Harry Belafonte started to sing, she realized that she knew all the songs.  There was “Michael Row the Boat Ashore” and the “Banana Boat Song (Day-Oh)”. The audience sang along to all of his songs and my 13 year old was right with them. She had forgotten about all those 8 track tapes I played in my old Pinto station wagon.

So if you do happen to see me driving in my car and it looks like I am having a good time, remember: “Girls Just Want To Have Fun”!

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With coconut oil, no more fishy burps!

By Tracie Korol

Major media has encouraged us to add fish oil to our diets and, more recently, to the diets of our Best Friends. These Omega-3 long chain (LCTs) fatty acids help dogs with osteoarthritis, improving mobility and reducing inflammation, and can reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. Every store has a section devoted to fish oil. My question: where is it all coming from? To be effective, fish oil should come from North Atlantic cold-water fish. What with sustainability and over-fishing in the media forefront, it might be time to change up the oil situation.

The newest, and perhaps, more reliable nutritionally loaded oil is something you’re probably been avoiding for years — either that, or you think it’s a hair care product. Yep, we’re talking about coconut oil. Coconut oil consists of more than 90% saturated fats, with traces of few unsaturated fatty acids. Most of the saturated fats in coconut oil are Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs), the main component being lauric acid, followed by capric acid, caprylic acid, myristic acid and palmitic. The benefit of lauric acid is that it has antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal properties. Capric and caprylic acid have similar properties and are best known for their anti-fungal effects. So, if you have an itchy, smelly dog and nothing from the vet is working for more than 10 days, this might be a good addition to the snack bar.

Also, these MCTs are metabolized quickly providing an immediate source of fuel and energy.  Coconut oil can enhance athletic performance and aid weight loss. It can also help balance the thyroid, helping overweight dogs lose weight and helping sedentary dogs feel energetic.

As an important ingredient in America’s processed foods for most of the 20th century, coconut oil is one of the world’s few saturated-fat vegetable oils. That designation alone gave it a terrible reputation and by the 1990’s it had all but disappeared from our food supply. Unfortunately, the vegetable oils that replaced it (corn, rapeseed) caused more harm than coconut oil ever did and consequently, coconut oil is enjoying a revival.

The one you want to get to know is the unrefined “virgin” oil that is made from fresh coconuts. (The other, usually labeled RDB-Refined, Bleached, Deodorized-is made from copra or dried coconut meat and then treated with chlorine and hexane to remove impurities. It is inexpensive, bland and odorless, usually labeled as a skin or hair care product.) You’ll most likely find the virgin, organic oil in a glass jar at a health food store or in the better oils section of the grocery.   Depending on the temperature, coconut oil will be solid or liquid. Below 75 degrees it is solid and white; above that, it is a transparent liquid. And, it doesn’t have to be refrigerated.  If you do, be prepared to chip it out of the jar.

While there have been no clinical trials on the effects of coconut oil in a dog’s diet, anecdotal evidence is impressive. Many reports involve beneficial results with itchy skin, cuts, wounds and ear problems. Dogs with flea allergies, contact dermatitis and/or dull coats typically stop scratching after coconut oil is added to their food.  An added benefit, I noticed, was with a smelly dog friend of mine, Ramone.  You know the kind of dog I mean — the one that smells like damp carpet all the time. Bathing Ramone was a waste of time and you had to change your clothes and wash your hands immediately after playing with him.  Ramone’s owner began to routinely dribble coconut oil onto Ramone’s chow. In less than a month Ramone and his owner enjoyed a stink-free life and Ramone could receive the daily body rubs he deserved.

The best way to give coconut oil is in small amounts throughout the day — a dab here and there, depending on the dog’s weight. I will “butter” a dog cookie with a scrape through a designated dog jar of coconut oil for a special treat in addition to stirring a spoonful into a meal.  Most dogs are happy to eat a gob from a teaspoon.

Of course, as with anything new, you’ll want to start small. Introduce a little coconut oil gradually a little at a time in divided doses — 1/4 tsp for a tiny dog up to a teaspoonful for a big dog.  Because coconut oil kills harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites, yeasts and fungi, the burden of removing dead organisms may trigger symptoms of detoxification. Headaches, fatigue, diarrhea and flu-like symptoms are common in humans who consume too much too fast and the same can happen with dogs.

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‘I want to buy losers’

I cringe every time I read an article by a value investor that says something like, “You should buy stocks that are on sale, just like you buy (pick your consumer item) on sale.”  In the financial markets that can be dangerous.

Hall Sumner

Hall Sumner

In a great essay titled, “I Want to Buy Losers,” the late Clay Allen of Market Dynamics discusses the problems with this analogy. (You’ve got to read the whole essay to really appreciate it.)

Many investors buy stocks the way many consumers buy paper towels or any other staple. They are attracted to a sale and loss leaders are a proven method for a retailer to increase the traffic in their store. The value of the item is well known and a sale price gets the attention of potential buyers.

Mr. Allen explains brilliantly and succinctly why this analogy is bunk: “But stocks are not like paper towels. Paper towels can be used to satisfy a need and this is what gives the item its value to the consumer.  What gives a stock its value?  A stock cannot be used to satisfy a need or accomplish a task.  The value of a stock is derived from the financial performance of  the company, either actual or expected.  The fact that the stock is down in price is usually a sure sign that the financial performance of the company is declining.

“…if the value of the stock was constant, then buying bargain stocks would be the correct way to invest in stocks. But stock values are constantly changing as business conditions change for the company and the expectations of investors change.”

All in all, it seems to me that relative strength often more closely reflects what the expectations of investors are — and the expectations are what counts.  Let’s face it: strong stocks are usually strong because business conditions or fundamentals are good, and weak stocks are usually weak for a reason.

This article was written by Dorsey, Wright and Associates, Inc., and provided by Wells Fargo Advisors and Hall Sumner, CFP®, Financial Advisor in Beaufort, SC, 211 Scott Street, (843) 524-1114. Wells Fargo Advisors did not assist in the preparation of this article, and its accuracy and completeness are not guaranteed.  Any third-party posts, reviews or comments associated with this listing are not endorsed by Wells Fargo Advisors and do not necessarily represent the views of Hall Sumner or Wells Fargo Advisors and have not been reviewed by the Firm for completeness or accuracy. Investments in securities and insurance products are: NOT FDIC-INSURED/NOT BANK-GUARANTEED/MAY LOSE VALUE. Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC, Member SIPC, is a registered broker-dealer and a separate non-bank affiliate of Wells Fargo & Company.

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A dry pair of boots

By Cherimie Crane Weatherford

It occurred to me recently that some of life’s most important interactions are often found tucked sweetly in the layers of the most nonessential of relationship. Solace can be found in accidental acquaintance and comfort in casual conference. Small towns master the nonessential relationships if only by sheer logistics. It is impossible not to become familiar with those traveling the same path, the same route and often the same

Cherimie Crane Weatherford

Cherimie Crane Weatherford

grocery schedule. It can be a simple nod, a passing smile, an empathetic glance from a not-so-strange stranger that gives way to a sense of familiarity, peace and comfort. Words become unnecessary as the foundation of the accidental acquaintance is freedom from obligation. Just as a weathered landmark signals lessened distance homeward bound, nonessential relationships become signals of their own.

Having the morning awareness of a blind rabbit, it is stunning that I notice a young lady walking almost daily. Often rushing from one task to another, I barely notice date or time. This young lady always caught my eye for no discernible reason. Daily our paths intertwine providing a certain flow to my all-too-rushed schedule. Occasionally, my mind wanders from to-do list lethargy to imagining her point of focus. Eyes straight ahead and purposeful gait, rhythmic pace, obviously she meant business.

By chance and convenience, last week I headed to my little boutique to make certain the world of women’s clothing was turning as it should when the morning sky opened and saturated all God’s creatures great and small. One of those downpours where one can’t help but feel as though Mother Nature is making a point. Fortunately, I found entry prior to falling prey to an impressive soak and unimpressive hair do. Turning on lights and doing all those things rote, I heard a knock.

Standing amidst Mother Nature’s hissy fit was the young lady I often see walking the busy street. Her focus familiar, her stature recognizable and her clothing soaked to the core. Unlocking my door and barely having a chance to speak, she quickly announced her intentions to purchase a new pair of shoes and pants. The clothing she had on was so drenched that it left a puddle at my door.

All things Southern kicked in and I quickly offered her towels. She explained that she was heading to school when the bottom fell out and just needed to get something dry to wear as she had classes the entire day. It hit me. All those days that I was complaining about this or that, rushing through my nonessential tasks from the comfort of my air-conditioned car, she was walking to school. The hottest of hot days, the rainy days, the days that my biggest complaint was a seemingly long traffic light. She was walking to school, not just one block, not even five. She walks down busy Boundary Street to attend University of South Carolina Beaufort. It is no short distance.

Often described as hard-nosed, frequently referred to as difficult and never being accused of being a socialite, my bark can sometimes be worse than my bite. (Unless you take my coffee, then my bite is horrendous.) There is something about a determined woman that awakens all that is good. She made her way to the counter to pay for a new pair of shoes and a dry pair of jeans. No Ma’am, I said. Not today. She tried once more to pay, saying she didn’t mean to get anything for free. I saw an entire generation in her and wondered if her Mom would ever find out about this. How proud must she be of such a determined, prideful young lady.

Day in and day out, I hear (and even speak) excuse after excuse about not marching forth toward a goal. Complaints that should never be are as customary as true grit is rare. This young lady walks to school everyday, never stopping to ask for a ride, never swaying her gaze. Head up, eyes forward. How small I felt in her presence.

I gave her a brand new pair of boots and a wonderful pair of jeans. After a short conversation, she thanked me and headed for the door. Somehow I looked at her and saw everything I wanted to be, much that I already am, and what I want for my daughter. It matters less where she had been but more where she was going. Her determination and refusal to let even Mother Nature slow her direction is rare and inspirational. My request to her was simple. I asked her to go out and change the world, knowing full well, she already has. She walks to school, further than most walk in a week, and she does so with a smile.

Maybe those nonessential relationships aren’t so nonessential after all.

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For someone new to town, navigating can be tricky

By Lee Scott

It’s easy to spot tourists on the road — out of state plates, driving slow to read signs, or driving the wrong way down one-way streets. Yet, I have to defend those poor tourists because, as a new person in the area, I am somewhat of a tourist still becoming familiar with my surroundings. It can be tricky navigating and driving around an area that has so many bridges, islands and changing street names.

I have a map and my GPS. I depend on my talking “cheater” a lot. “Turn right here!” she demands of me — only to be followed by the words, “When possible, make a U-turn” because I missed the right turn. And when I ask a local about a place I need to go, they always respond with phrases like, “Take a left where the new Publix is being built.” Huh? I didn’t know there was an old Publix.

There are the street names to remember. People who have lived here a long time forget that Sea Island Parkway becomes Carteret Street and then Boundary Street and then Trask Parkway. They know it as Route 21 (which is technically U.S. Highway 21). Of course, there is the southern Route 21 and the Business 21. I have found myself on Parris Island because I have followed the wrong 21.

Of course, there are the bridges. One must know the timing of the Richard V. Woods Memorial Bridge that connects downtown Beaufort to Lady’s Island because it is a swing bridge. You may want to stay away if you are close to the hour or half hour (unless it is pouring rain) in which case you are probably OK. If you decide to avoid downtown, you can take the J.E. McTeer Bridge which takes you to Ribaut (pronounced Re-bow, I have been told, I’m still learning) Road. But some locals don’t know the names of the bridges either. They just give you a landmark. “The one on your way to the Bi-Lo.” Which Bi-Lo, you ask?

There are also numerous islands and bridges for tourists and newcomers to navigate. I spoke to a man at church the other day who lives across the creek from me. He said, “It would take me about 10 minutes to get to your place by boat and about 40 minutes by car.” He wasn’t kidding. When I started to look at the islands and the bridges, the car route was definitely the long way to go.

Then there is also the weekend rental turnover traffic. Since we live in a destination community with beautiful beaches, cute historical towns and recreational sports, the influx of tourists is incredible. I have now learned to time my trips either early or later in the day to avoid the backups along Sea Island Parkway.

So be careful of the tourists and the new locals. And I promise to learn to drive the area without my GPS shouting  “recalculating.”

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Be proactive with probiotics

By Tracie Korol

As any dog owner can attest, dogs are not too discriminating about what they eat.  Select garbage, poo of the wild, domestic poo from the cat box, road-toad jerky — they’re all yummy going in. Not so delightful on the way out.  We can move with lightning speed to try to extract the offending item from clenched jaws OR we can prepare our pets in a more proactive way. A good probiotic for dogs is an easy way to ward off an onslaught of bad bacteria by boosting existing good bacteria. In fact, gastrointestinal disorders are the second most common health issues for dogs after skin conditions.

All dogs (and people, too) can benefit from probiotics.  They aid digestion and modulate the immune system by producing short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). These helpers inhibit the growth and activity of harmful bacteria, such as E. coli, Salmonella, and Clostridium perfringens, as well as providing other benefits to the intestines. Probiotics help prevent urinary tract infections, and can even reduce allergic reactions by decreasing intestinal permeability and controlling inflammation.

Given probiotics for pets is a new industry, it can be confusing when investigating the best for your Best Friend. When choosing a commercial dog probiotic, consider the following criteria:

• The list of ingredients should identify the specific bacterial species and also indicate the strain. Species with specific strains known to benefit dogs include Enterococcus faecium (strain SF68) and Bacillus coagulans. Bifidobacterium animalis (strain AHC7) has been shown to reduce the time for acute diarrhea to resolve in dogs. Certain strains of Lactobacillus acidophilus improve frequency and quality of stools in sensitive dogs. Lactobacillus rhamnosus strain GG (LGG) is my favorite go-to (no pun intended) for any digestive upset.  Probiotic products may contain one or several strains.

• The label should guarantee the number of CFU in millions or billions per gram. Colony-forming units (CFU) is an estimate of viable bacterial or fungal numbers that the manufacturer guarantees will exist in their product.

• The product packaging or manufacturer’s website should have a customer service number so you can contact the manufacturer with any questions.

• The probiotic should have a “best before” or expiration date. Storage time and conditions (i.e., excessive heat or cold) can reduce the viability of some bacterial strains. It is best practice to store your probiotics in a refrigerator.

Alternately, you can go the grocery store route. Following a round of antibiotics, savvy dog owners have long used tablespoonfuls of yogurt to readjust the bacteria in their dog’s intestines. (Antibiotics kill everything, the good and the bad.) Kefir, a souped up super cousin of yogurt, is easy to make if you’re so inclined or it’s available in the dairy cases of local groceries. Kefir is a cultured, enzyme-rich liquid food filled with friendly micro-organisms that help balance an “inner ecosystem”.

Kefir contains loads of minerals and essential amino acids.  Among them, tryptophan, an essential amino acid, is well-known for its relaxing effect on the nervous system. It may help a high drive or highly anxious dog chill.

Kefir also contains calcium and magnesium both of which are critical for a healthy nervous system. It is rich in vitamins B12, B1 and vitamin K, promoting healthy looking skin, boosting energy and promoting longevity.  For daily maintenance, kefir is excellent at rebalancing intestinal bacteria, boosting immunity and correcting the occasional trash-hound loose stool. If you have multiple dogs, renewable kefir is the most affordable solution.  And, it comes in flavors. I find blueberry is the most favored among my dog friends.

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