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DEDICATION This thesis is dedicated to my parents, James Earl and Jean; my wife, Kristi; and my children, Amelia and R.J., who collectively have shaped the best aspects of my past, present and future. iv ACKNOWLEDGMENTS For all the forbearance shown and assistance provided, special thanks are owed to my thesis committee, Paul Ashdown, Edward Caudill and Dwight L. Teeter Jr.; Associate Deanfatcat:nfg4dinq6jdhffvtcwcv4o7h2a