Title:
Portable Pitching Rubber
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A pitching rubber having a pad and a plurality of angled spikes connected to the pad and extending downwardly from the bottom surface of the pad for insertion into a surface, including artificial turf, carpeting and matting, so as to provide a stationary and portable pitching rubber for use both indoors and outdoors. Methods of making and using the portable pitching rubber of the present invention are also described.



Inventors:
Massaro, William (Havertown, PA, US)
Application Number:
12/111318
Publication Date:
10/29/2009
Filing Date:
04/29/2008
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
29/525.01, 473/415
International Classes:
A63B71/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
ARYANPOUR, MITRA
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
CAESAR RIVISE, PC (Philadelphia, PA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed:

1. A portable pitching rubber adapted to be firmly but removably mounted to an: underlying surface, comprising: a pad having two longitudinal and two transverse sides for use in training and sporting exercises; and a plurality of spikes extending downwardly at an angle from a bottom surface of the pad and adapted to be removably received by the surface.

2. The portable pitching rubber of claim 1, wherein a portion of each spike of the plurality of spikes is imbedded in the pad.

3. The portable pitching rubber of claim 1, wherein the plurality of spikes are spaced along the two longitudinal sides of the pad.

4. The portable pitching rubber of claim 3, wherein additional spikes are spaced along the two transverse sides of the pad.

5. The portable pitching rubber of claim 1, wherein the angle of the spikes is in a direction toward an outer edge of the bottom surface of the pad and away from a center point of the bottom surface of the pad.

6. The portable pitching rubber of claim 1, further comprising a plurality of angled ports below the bottom surface of the pad.

7. The portable pitching rubber of claim 6, wherein a portion of the spikes are threaded for connecting the spikes to the ports.

8. The portable pitching rubber of claim 6, wherein the plurality of angled ports pass completely through the pad.

9. The portable pitching rubber of claim 8, further comprising studs extending through the entire thickness of the pad for housing the spikes wherein the studs are contained within the plurality of angled ports.

10. The portable pitching rubber of claim 1, wherein the spikes are selected from the group consisting of nails, screws and tacks.

11. The portable pitching rubber of claim 1, wherein the spikes are made of metal.

12. The portable pitching rubber of claim 1, wherein the removably received portion of the spikes is about ½ to ¾ inches in length.

13. The portable pitching rubber of claim 1, wherein the spikes protrude the bottom surface of the pad at about ½ to ¾ inches from an outer edge of the bottom surface.

14. A method of making a portable pitching rubber, comprising the steps of: (a) forming a piece of material to a desired size and shape to make a pad; (b) attaching a plurality of spikes to the pad such that the spikes extend downwardly at an angle from a bottom surface of the pad and are adapted to be removably received by an underlying surface.

15. The method of claim 14, wherein said attaching step comprises screwing the plurality of spikes into ports located below the bottom surface of the pad.

16. The method of claim 14, wherein said attaching step comprises screwing the plurality of spikes into studs connected to angled ports located below the bottom surface of the pad and extending through the entire thickness of the pad until a bottom portion of the spikes protrudes beyond the bottom surface of the pad.

17. A method of using a portable pitching rubber, the rubber comprising a pad and a plurality of spikes attached to the pad, comprising the steps of: (a) placing the pitching rubber on a surface with the spikes contacting the surface; and (b) applying pressure to a top surface of the pad until the pitching rubber is removably secured to the surface, wherein said surface is an artificial material.

18. The method claim 17, wherein the artificial material is selected from a group consisting of artificial turf, carpeting and matting materials.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to athletic equipment and more specifically to a portable pitching rubber for training and sporting activities, such as softball, baseball and other sports, which can be stationarily mounted to a variety of surfaces, including artificial or synthetic surfaces such as artificial turf, carpeting and matting materials, but can be easily moved from place to place without damaging the surfaces or any underlying substrates.

Certain indoor and outdoor training and sporting exercises require the use of a designated area for a person to deliver (e.g., pitch, throw, kick) a ball or other similar object to another person. For example, pitching mounds are a traditional part of the games of baseball, and a pitching rubber is typically mounted at generally the center portion of the pitching mound. Similarly, softball utilizes a pitching circle in which a pitching rubber is typically mounted at generally the center portion of the circle. Traditionally, pitching rubbers have been designed to be stationarily mounted to a surface so that a pitcher can push off the rubber when throwing the ball to a batter. If appropriately designed and used, these devices can also promote the development of proper pitching fundamentals.

The pitching rubber is typically made of a hard rubber material of elongated rectangular shape, and in accordance with the rules of the games, the pitcher must be in contact with the pitching rubber while throwing, e.g., a baseball or softball. While U.S. Pat. No. 4,561,653 of Wright describes some differences between baseball and softball as they relate to pitching technique and pitching mounds, pitching rubbers in both sports are typically similar in size, shape and material. In both baseball and softball, pitching rubbers are subjected to a high degree of force, notwithstanding that the forces in the two sports are somewhat different due to differences in pitching motion (i.e., wind-up). As a result, a pitching rubber must be secured to, for example, a pitching mound or some other surface in order to prevent the rubber from moving during each pitch sequence.

Traditionally, pitching rubbers used for playing baseball outdoors have been secured to pitching mounds by driving relatively large, metal posts or spikes attached to the underside of the rubber a sufficient distance into the ground which forms the pitching mound. As a result, such pitching rubbers are typically not easily removed from the ground and doing so often requires the use of tools to force the posts out of ground. Such rubbers also cannot be used effectively indoors without providing a sufficient amount of ground material (e.g., soil, sand, dirt) so that the posts can be hammered into the material to secure the rubber.

Several pitching rubbers have been patented including, for example, the pitching rubber described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,188,357 of Barnum. However, this pitching rubber has flanges secured at each end of the rubber for receiving a post. As is the case with other known pitching rubbers having posts or large spikes, the post of the Barnum pitching rubber must be driven or pounded into the ground to secure the pitching rubber in place and be pried out of the ground to remove and relocate the rubber.

Similarly, Bartoli also describes pitching rubbers in U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,769,745, 5,827,140 and 5,919,103. However, the Bartoli pitching rubbers include a metal plate secured to the rubber surface, a post extending from the plate for inserting into a ground anchor, and a pair of spikes also extending from the plate to prevent movement of the outer edges of the pitching rubber. Also, a principal feature of the Bartoli pitching rubbers is the provision of having a stationary mounting portion and a removable portion such that the pitching rubber assembly can be mounted at various pitching distances to accommodate different game requirements.

While athletes, including baseball and softball pitchers, often train indoors, the use of traditional outdoor pitching rubbers is often impossible and, at best, difficult and inconvenient. Many known pitching rubbers cannot be mounted or otherwise attached to most indoor surfaces, including artificial or synthetic surfaces. While it may be possible to remove the metal posts from traditional pitching rubbers in order to use them inside, doing so requires using some attaching means (e.g., tape, glue, etc.) so that the rubber does not move during pitch deliveries. While doing so could be considered marginally effective, this type of training can lead to problems, including injuries to athletes and the development of poor pitching technique, as pitching rubbers which are not adequately secured to a surface have a tendency to shift or move. While U.S. Patent Application Publication No. 2003/0181269 A1 of Griffin describes a portable pitching rubber for indoor use, the rubber comprises a plurality of suction devices for securing the rubber to hard, smooth surfaces, such as hardwood, concrete and tile flooring. The pitching rubber of Griffin is ineffective when the suction devices are unable to secure the rubber to an underlying surface, including surfaces which are not hard and/or smooth, such that the rubber is prevented from moving or slipping during a pitch sequence.

Thus, there remains a need for an improved portable pitching rubber which can be mounted stationarily to a variety of surfaces for practicing by and training of athletes in sports, especially baseball and softball pitchers.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A primary objective of the present invention is to provide a removable and portable, pitching rubber which can be firmly but removably mounted to a variety of surfaces, including artificial or synthetic surfaces, but can be easily moved from place to place without damaging the surfaces or any underlying substrates.

Another object of the present invention is to provide a removable and portable, pitching rubber which can be stationarily mounted to artificial turf, carpeting and matting materials, but can be easily moved from place to place without damaging these mounting materials or any underlying substrates.

Still another objective of the present invention is to provide a removable and portable, indoor pitching rubber which performs in a manner nearly identical to traditional outdoor pitching rubbers and thereby provides the user with a safe and effective means for training year round.

A further objective of the present invention is to provide a removable and portable pitching rubber which is durable and easily adaptable for use on various types of indoor surfaces or flooring materials.

Still a further object of the present invention is to provide a portable pitching rubber that enables athletes to develop a proper pitching technique.

For all of the reasons indicated above, there has been a continued need to provide a portable pitching rubber which can be stationarily but removably mounted to a variety of surfaces. A principal feature of the present invention is the provision of a pitching rubber which can be firmly and stationarily mounted to an artificial or synthetic surface during use but be easily removed following play without damaging the surface. The pitching rubber of the present invention includes spikes which form part of the rubber and which extend downwardly at an angle and are received by an underlying surface.

The general method for making the pitching rubber of the present invention includes the steps of forming rubber or other similar types of material into the shape of a rectangular pad, for example, by cutting or molding a piece of rubber material to a desired size and shape to form the pad and attaching spikes to the pad. The spikes can be attached to the pad either during the process of forming the pad or after the pad has been formed. For example, if the material is molded to form a pad, then the spikes can be an integral part of the molding process such that, when the process is complete, the spikes are partially integrally contained in or partially integrally connected to the pad. Alternatively, if the spikes are not integral to the pad at the time the pad is manufactured, then the spikes can be later attached to the pad. These and other embodiments of the present invention are further described below. Once the spikes are attached to the pad, the pitching rubber can be placed in contact with a surface, such as artificial turf, carpeting or matting, and, if necessary or desired, pressure can be applied to the top surface of the pitching rubber to secure the rubber to the surface.

Further advantages of the present invention will become apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art upon reading and understanding the following detailed description of the preferred embodiments.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS

The accompanying drawings, which are incorporated into and form a part of the specification, schematically illustrate exemplary embodiments of the invention and, together with the general description given above and the detailed description of the preferred embodiments given below, serve to explain the principles of the invention.

FIG. 1 is a bottom, side view of an embodiment of the pitching rubber of the present invention showing a pad and the placement of angled spikes along the lengths of the pad.

FIG. 2a is a bottom, side view of another embodiment of the pitching rubber of the present invention showing a pad having ports for the placement of angled spikes.

FIG. 2b is a side view of one of the individual spikes of the present invention for attachment to the ports of FIG. 2a.

FIG. 3a is a top, side view of yet another embodiment of the pitching rubber of the present invention showing a pad with through ports for the placement of studs and angled spikes.

FIG. 3b is a side view of a stud-spike assembly for placement in the ports of FIG. 3a.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides several embodiments of pitching rubbers that may be used for certain training and sporting activities or exercises related to softball, baseball and other sports-related activities without slipping during use. With reference to FIGS. 1, 2a, 2b, 3a and 3b, three exemplary embodiments are shown and discussed herein. The first embodiment (FIG. 1) is directed to a pitching rubber comprising a pad and a plurality of angled spikes integrally connected to the pad whereas the second embodiment (FIGS. 2a and 2b) is directed to a pitching rubber comprising a pad and a plurality of angled spikes wherein the spikes can easily be added and removed from the pad. The third embodiment (FIGS. 3a and 3b) is directed to a pitching rubber comprising a pad, studs and spikes wherein again the spikes can easily be added and removed from the pad. All three embodiments are made and used by the methods discussed below.

As described in U.S. Patent Application Publication No. 2003/0181269 A1 of Griffin, the pad portion of a pitching rubber is typically composed of a solid rubber, plastic or polymer material and is white in color. Pitching rubbers currently available in the market are available in different sizes. For example, pitching rubbers used by Major League Baseball® are 24 inches long and 6 inches wide while other pitching rubbers are smaller in size (e.g., 18 inches long and 4 inches wide). Thicknesses of known pitching rubbers also vary; however, as described in Griffin, a thickness range of about ¾ inch to 1 inch (0.65 cm to 2.54 cm) is common.

As shown in FIG. 1, a pitching rubber 10 embodiment of the present invention comprises a pad 12 having a top surface 14, a bottom surface 16, two longitudinal side surfaces 18, two transverse side surfaces 20, and a plurality of angled spikes 22 located on the bottom surface 16 side of the pad 12. In the exemplary embodiment of FIG. 1, the plurality of angled spikes 22 are integrally and permanently connected to the pad 12 such that the relatively sharp end of the spikes 22 protrude at an angle from the bottom surface 16 of the pad 12.

Still referring to FIG. 1, each spike 22 is spaced a distance from each other spike 22 along the two longitudinal side surfaces 18 of the bottom surface 16 of the pad 12. It has been found that about seven spikes 22 along each longitudinal side surface 18 of the bottom surface 16 of the pad 12 (a total of 14 spikes) are sufficient to stationarily mount the pad 12 to an artificial or synthetic surface (not shown). However, it will be understood by those of ordinary skill in the art that an additional number of spikes 22 can be used to mount the pad 12 to various surfaces. For example, spikes 22 can be placed along the two transverse side surfaces 20 of the bottom surface 16 of the pad 12. Similarly, a person of ordinary skill in the art will also realize that it may be possible to use less spikes 22 depending on several variables, including the type and length of the spikes 22 as well as the types of surfaces the spikes 22 are in contact with once the pitching rubber 10 is in use.

The spikes 22 can be made of several different types of materials, including various metals, high strength plastics, ceramics and the like; however, preferably, the spikes 22 are made of a strong metal alloy material such as steel. The shape and size of the spikes 22 can also vary and can include, for example, various shape and size nails, screws and tacks. As already alluded to, the optimum number of spikes 22 penetrating the bottom surface 16 of the pad 12 will depend on several factors including the location, angle, length, shape and size of the spikes 22 exposed above the bottom surface 16 of the pad 12. Preferably, each spike 22 is located about ½ to ¾ inches from the outer edge of the bottom surface 16 of the pad 12. It is also preferred that the length of the spike exposed above the bottom surface 16 of the pad 12 is also about ½ to ¾ inches.

As shown in FIG. 1, it is further preferred that the spikes 22 are angled at about 45 degrees from the bottom surface 16 in a direction toward the outer edge of the bottom surface 16 of the pad 12 such that the exposed end or tip of the spikes 22 approach but do not reach the same plane as the two longitudinal side surfaces 18 and two transverse side surfaces 20 of the pad 12. It has been found that this preferred location, angle and length of the spikes 22 are sufficient to stationarily mount the pad 12 to several different surfaces, including artificial surfaces such as artificial turf, during indoor use of the pitching rubber 10. However, the present invention is not intended to be limited to this preferred location, angle and length of the spikes 22, and those of ordinary skill in the art will appreciate that other locations, angles and lengths of the spikes 22 can be used effectively to stationarily mount the pitching rubber 10 to an underlying surface.

As also shown in FIG. 1 and discussed above, the spikes 22 may be integrally connected to the rubber 10 such that the spikes 22 are intended to be a permanent part of the pitching rubber 10. Alternatively, spikes may be individually attached to the underside of a pitching rubber such that they can be easily removed from the pitching rubber, if desired. Thus, in the second embodiment of the invention (FIGS. 2a and 2b), the pitching rubber 30 has many of the same features of the pitching rubber 10 of the first embodiment (FIG. 1). However, unlike the pitching rubber 10 of the first embodiment, the pitching rubber 30 of the second embodiment further includes ports 32 for receiving spikes 34 on the bottom side of the pad 36 as shown in FIG. 2a and FIG. 2b. As with the first embodiment described above, the spikes 34 are intended to protrude at an angle once connected or attached to the pad 36. As a result, the ports 32 are at an angle in relation to the bottom surface of the pad 36 such that when the spikes 34 are connected or attached to the pad 36, the spikes 34 are angled at preferably about 45 degrees from the bottom surface of the pad 36 in a direction toward the outer edge of the bottom surface of the pad 36 such that the exposed end or tip of the spikes 34 approach but do not reach the same plane as the two longitudinal side surfaces and two transverse side surfaces of the pad 36.

Referring to FIG. 2a, the ports 32 can simply be threaded openings in a bottom portion of the pad 36 capable of receiving a threaded portion 38 of the spike 34. Alternatively, the ports 32 can be any threaded connecting means which are imbedded in the bottom portion of the pad 36 and which are capable of connecting or attaching the spikes 34 to the pad 36 of the pitching rubber 30. For example, the ports 32 can be nuts or studs (not shown) used for a nut-and-bolt assembly such that the nuts are embedded into the pad 36 of the pitching rubber 30. The ports 32 and spikes 34 can be made of any of the various materials previous described for making the spikes 22. The spikes 34 are intended to differ from the spikes 22 in the first embodiment only in that they have a treaded portion 38 toward a top, blunt end 40 of the spikes 34 as shown in FIG. 2b. The ports 32 and spikes 34 are such that the top end 40 of the spikes 34 is capable of being easily screwed into the ports 32 thereby attaching the spikes 34 to the pad 36 of the pitching rubber 30.

As described above with respect to the first embodiment of the invention, preferably, each spike 34 of the second embodiment shown in FIGS. 2a and 2b is located about ½ to ¾ inches from the outer edge of the bottom surface of the pad 36. It is also preferred that the length of the spike exposed above the bottom surface of the pad 36 is also about ½ to ¼ inches. It is further preferred that the spikes 34 are angled at about 45 degrees from the bottom surface in a direction toward the outer edge of the bottom surface of the pad 36 such that the exposed end or tip of the spikes 34 approach but do not reach the same plane as the two longitudinal side surfaces and two transverse side surfaces of the pad 36. Since the spikes 34 are to be connected or attached to the ports 32, it follows that the ports 32 are also preferably at an angle which is about 45 degrees from the bottom surface of the pad 36.

Still referring to the second embodiment of the invention, the ports 32 can be formed into the pad 36 by any method known or yet to be discovered. For example, a portion of the pad 36 can be removed by drilling in a manner that allows the treaded portion 38 of the spikes 34 to be screwed into the drilled portion (port 32) of the pad 36. Alternatively, a nut or similar treaded object can be placed or embedded in the portions where the pad 36 has been removed thereby forming ports 32 for a nut-and-bolt assembly whereby the spikes 34 are screwed into the ports 32. A person of ordinary skill in the art will appreciate that other methods and objects can be used to create the ports 32 in the pad 36.

The third embodiment of the present invention is shown in FIGS. 3a and 3b. Similar to the embodiments already described, the third embodiment is directed to a pitching rubber 50 comprising a pad 52 and a plurality of angled spikes 60. Also, similar to the second embodiment (FIGS. 2a and 2b), the pitching rubber 50 further comprises ports 54. The ports 54, unlike the ports 32 of the second embodiment, extend through the entire thickness of the pad 52 such that the ports 54 are exposed both on a top surface 56 and a bottom surface 58. In addition, the third embodiment includes studs 70 in which the spikes 60 are connected or attached. As shown in FIG. 3a, a plurality of ports 54 are found along the lengths and sides of the pad 52. The spikes 60 can be easily placed or screwed in or removed from the studs 70 as necessary or desired. The ports 54, like the ports 32 of the second embodiment, are at an angle in relation to the bottom surface 58 of the pad 52 such that when the spikes 60 are connected or attached to the pad 52, the spikes 60 are angled at preferably about 45 degrees from the bottom surface 58 of the pad 52 in a direction toward the outer edge of the bottom surface 58 of the pad 52 such that the exposed end or tip of the spikes 64 approach but do not reach the same plane as the two longitudinal side surfaces and two transverse side surfaces of the pad 52.

As shown in FIG. 3a, the studs 70 are inserted into the ports 54 of the pad 52. As shown in FIG. 3b, the spikes 60 are partially threaded 62 along their outside perimeter whereas the studs 70 are threaded along their inside perimeter 72 such that the spikes 60 can be connected or attached to the studs 70 by screwing the spikes 60 into the studs 70 thereby connecting or attaching the spikes 60 to the pad 52 of the pitching rubber 50. The spikes 60 are connected or attached to the studs 70 such that a bottom portion 64 of the spikes 60 protrudes beyond the bottom surface 58 of the pad 52. If desired, the top surface 66 of the spikes 60 can be partially indented (not shown), similar to the indentation found on the heads of screws, such that the spikes 60 can be screwed into the studs 70 with a tool such as a screwdriver.

Several methods can be used for making the portable pitching rubber of the present invention. The pads 12, 36, 52 of the present invention can be manufactured by traditional methods for making pitching rubber pads including molding or cutting the pads 12, 36, 52 to a desired shape. The spikes 22, 34, 60 can be made by the same or similar methods of making nails, screws and the like, including machining the spikes 22, 34, 60 to a variety of specifications as described above, as desired, and as understood by a person of ordinary skill in the art. Referring to the first embodiment (FIG. 1), the spikes 22 can simply be screws that are attached to the pad 12 by screwing the screws into the top surface 14 of the pad 12 until a portion of the screws is exposed on the bottom surface 16 of the pad 12. Similarly, the spikes 22 can be nails that are attached to the pad 12 by hammering the nails into the top surface 14 of the pad 12 until a portion of the nails is exposed on the bottom surface 16 of the pad 12. Also, the spikes 36 of the second embodiment (FIG. 2b) can be similar to spikes used on the bottom of golf shoes wherein the spikes 36 can be easily added or removed, if desired, from the ports 32 of the pad 36. Further, the spikes 60 and studs 70 of the third embodiment (FIGS. 3b and 3c) of the invention can be the same as or similar to a screw-stud assembly used in housing construction and the like including, for example, the use of screws and anchors to secure the screws in drywall or wall board materials. As a result, it becomes clear that existing pitching rubbers can be altered to include the spikes 22, 34, 60 of the present invention in order to arrive at a pitching rubber 10, 30, 50 having angled spikes 22, 34, 60 in accordance with the present invention.

There are several methods of using the present invention because of its portability and versatility. The pitching rubbers of the present invention can be used both indoors and outdoors on a variety of different surfaces. For example, in order to use the pitching rubber 10 of the embodiment shown in FIG. 1, a user simply needs to place the pitching rubber 10 on a surface such as artificial turf at a desired location. In order to use the pitching rubber 30 of the embodiment shown in FIGS. 2a and 2b, a user needs to first connect or attach a sufficient number of spikes 34 to the ports 32 prior to placing the pitching rubber 30 on a surface at a desired location. Alternatively, a user may choose to use the pitching rubber 30 without connecting the spikes 34 to the ports 32 albeit that such a use of the pitching rubber 30 is limited as it will likely shift and not be secure during use (e.g., pitching). As for the third embodiment of the present invention (FIGS. 3a and 3b), the spikes 60 and studs 70 are preferably first incorporated into the pad 52 prior to using the pitching rubber 50.

In order to ensure that the spikes 22, 34, 60 are in sufficient contact with an underlying surface such that the pitching rubbers 10, 30, 50 are stationarily mounted to the surface, it is preferred, although not necessarily required, that the user place a sufficient amount of weight or pressure on the pitching rubbers 10, 30, 50 after placing them in a desired location so that the spikes 22, 34, 60 are adequately contained in the surface. For example, if desired, the pitching rubber 10, 30, 50 can be placed on artificial turf and a user can walk on the pitching rubber 10, 30, 50 to ensure that the spikes 22, 34, 60 are forced further into the artificial turf thereby ensuring that the pitching rubber is stationarily mounted. It will be appreciated that stepping on the pitching rubber 10, 30, 50 is usually done as a matter of course during use of the pitching rubber 10, 30, 50. When finished using the pitching rubber 10, 30, 50, the user simply needs to lift and remove the pad 12, 36, 52 from the underlying surface thereby disengaging the spikes 22, 34, 60 from the surface.

Various types of artificial turf can be used effectively including AstroTurf®. Similarly, various types of carpeting and matting materials can also be used effectively with the pitching rubber of the present invention. However, the surfaces on which the pitching rubber of the present invention can be used effectively is not limited to artificial turf, carpeting or matting material but rather includes any surface that will allow the spikes to be at least partially imbedded in at least a portion of the surface thereby securing the pitching rubber to the underlying surface and be removed from the surface without significantly damaging either the surface or the pitching rubber, including the spikes.

While the above description contains much specificity, this should not be construed as limiting the scope of the present invention, but rather as exemplification of certain preferred embodiments. Numerous other variations of the present invention are possible, and the description herein is not intended to mention all of the possible equivalent forms or ramifications of this invention. Thus, it will be understood and appreciated by those of ordinary skill in the art that various changes may be made to the present invention without departing from the scope and spirit of the invention.





 
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