Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Black Death!

Bubonic Plague

You feel bad, really bad in fact. Within just a few days you have developed swollen lymph nodes under your arms, around your neck, and in your groin area; you have a severe headache a high fever and the chills; nausea, vomiting and stomach cramps are common; diarrhea is the rule of the day, you have noticed several broken blood vessels on your body, and to top all that off … you hardly have an appetite at all.

If you have the symptoms recited above you may just have a bad case of the flu but then on second thought, you could have the Bubonic Plague and if you do, you’re probably going to die in just a day or two.

Bubonic Plague is primarily transmitted through the bites of infected fleas, lice, or rodents. The bacteria that cause the disease are not typically spread through human-to-human contact.  The symptoms described above tend to develop within six days. If left untreated, the mortality rate for bubonic plague is 50 to 90 percent; it drops to 15 percent with early diagnosis and treatment.

The deadly disease known as The Bubonic Plague is generally believed to be the cause of the “Black Death” that swept through Europe in the middle of the 14th century and killed an estimated 75 million people, which was somewhere between 30-60% of the European population of the time. Most historians believe this disease was spread by flea bites.  This deadly plague returned at various times afterwards, killing more people as you would expect, but has not been seen in Europe (on a significant scale) since the 19th century.

Current medical scholars think it started in China, then travelled along the ‘Silk Road’ or trade route and reached Eastern Europe in about 1346. From there, it was probably carried by Oriental rat fleas living on the black rats that were regular passengers on merchant ships of the era. The plague then spread throughout Europe.

This plague killed so much of the working population of that era, wages rose and some historians have even determined this event was as a major turning point in regard to European economic development.  It took at least 150 years for Europe's depleted population to recover.

Roughly 10 to 20 people in the United States develop bubonic plague each year from flea or rodent bites -- primarily from infected prairie dogs -- in rural areas of the southwestern United States. Symptoms for the disease have a tendency to develop within six days. It’s well worth repeating that when left untreated, the mortality rate for bubonic plague is 50 to 90 percent; but it drops all the way down to 15 percent if early diagnosis and treatment are utilized.  Worldwide, there have been cases of small bubonic plague outbreaks in Asia, Africa, and South America.  The World Health Organization (WHO) reports statistics showing a total of 2,118 cases as recently as 2003 worldwide.

If a person develops the disease, early plague treatment offers the best chance for recovery. The good news: there is a vaccine or a cure for bubonic plague but the bad news: it is no longer commercially available in the United States.  Keep in mind that when untreated, the average human body is able to effectively fight off the plague bacteria and cure bubonic plague its self in 10 to 50 percent of recorded cases at least.  With those odds, why would anyone bother with a vaccine anyway?  This folks is a nasty disease; I wouldnot recommend reducing / fixing the current high un-employment rate by allowing this nasty boy to roam free!


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Rumors...Good or Bad?

Office Rumors

Beginning in the late 19th century, offices for conducting business first appeared in the United States. The railroad, the telegraph and then the telephone were invented allowing for instant remote communication thus promoting the office concept as we know it today.        

If you are of the “fortunate ones” who have the luxury of earning a living in a office environment, then you probably realize that more than just work related proceedings typically occur within that environment; more specifically, this “extra circular activity” is frequently: gossip, rumors, hearsay, scandals, flat out lies, etc. or occasionally just conversation about the weather.  This activity typically takes place in the “stockroom” while you’re gathering Office Supplies.   

But is rumor or gossip always a bad thing?  Read this, and then decide.

First, let’s get this out of the way, it’s not true that women are associated with gossiping more than men; that idea in fact is a misconception, as both sexes are involved in the behavior equally.  

When it comes to office-related issues though, men and women are apt to have a stake in the hearsay or rumor mill when the news directly affects the company or its employees.

There are, when utilized in a positive manner, “ought to’s” and ought “not to’s” that should be considered when it comes to taking part in that extra circular activity within the office environment:
1. The first is to give and receive it in small volumes.
2. Always be sure it is work related and not personal.
3. Avoid it if it is coming from an individual with zero credibility.  
4. When it involves a personal affair, you may listen, but take the high road and don’t pass it along.
5. Lastly, if you’re caught gossiping about something and asked about it by a friend, a co-worker or the boss, own up to it.

So, when used in a reasonable and responsible manner; may-be its not all bad?  After all, you, the employee, may wish to prepare your self or assist in preventing the fruition of; the rumor suggesting that: “a company shutdown is expected unless production improves this upcoming quarter”.

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Monday, June 27, 2011

Refurbished Ink / Toner?

Refurbished Cartridges: Ink & Toner

An Ink or Toner Cartridge can be described as a container of liquid or powder that is loaded into a device such as a printer. (I remember fountain pen re-fills as being a big hit) A cartridge that has been refilled for use in a printer is considered a refurbished Cartridge.

Most of the printer manufacturing companies will warn against using these refurbished cartridges. You see, they make most of their revenue from selling cartridges, not printers, so they do everything they can to try to encourage you to buy theirs alone, and not some refurbished cartridge coming from an “upstart” trying to duplicate there product.

Some manufacturing companies assert that by using a refurbished cartridge your warranty will be voided.  However, unless it is found that it somehow damaged the printer (which is highly unlikely) the Magnusson-Moss Warranty Act which was passed and signed into law in 1975, specifically prohibits a manufacturer from voiding your warranty simply for using another brand.

Poor print quality claims submitted by some manufactures are a bit more of a gray area. Yes, if you use poor quality cartridges (do a little research) this can happen but consider that if poor print quality occurs simply find another supplier, and this time make sure they’ve been around a while; and when you find a good supplier, stay with them.

There are several advantages associated with the use of refurbished ink cartridges. In addition to offering a cheaper substitute for new cartridges, refurbished cartridges are much more environmentally friendly, given that they are former new cartridges that have been refilled and are being used again instead of being sent to a land fill for disposal.

There are no physical differences between a new ink or toner cartridge and a refurbished cartridge; thus installing a refurbished cartridge requires the same procedures as that for installing a new one.

Regarding printers, many people use the terms toner and ink interchangeably but they're really two different things. Toner is a dry powder used in laser printers and ink is a liquid that is used mainly in inkjet printers. It is generally accepted that laser printers typically cost less to operate than inkjet printers but you can save on either of the two by using the less expensive refurbished cartridges that are available in today’s marketplace.

Fortunately, there are plenty of companies who sell refurbished toner & ink cartridges which generally cost anywhere from 25% to 50% less than the brand new version from the printer’s manufacturer.  So, why not start saving today?

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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Refurbished Computers, Yes Why Not?

Refurbished P C’s, Etcetera

Do you realize that there is an ongoing buying “rage” with regard to Desk Top Computers (PC’s), Laptop Computers, Computer Monitors, and Printers; all of which have been Refurbished.  This rage is quite simply the clamor resulting from the on-slough of thousands of seasoned and new P C buyers saving a large sum of money.   It is not uncommon for the buyer of refurbished products to save from 30 to 50 percent on computers and there related component parts such as the printer or the monitor.

We’re not talking used here, as used items often have older and potentially outdated internal parts that may be “on there last leg” so to speak.  Typically a refurbished computer will have an updated mother board for example, as opposed to an out dated one in the typical used unit.

Consider this analogy: You are shopping for a pre-owned car.  You have located two on the same car lot that appear identical and you’re going to pay cash.  Both are 5 years old and have the same price tag; however one of the two has a relatively “new” engine with less than 1000 documented miles of use but both cars have 75,000 miles showing on their odometer.   Rocket science is not required for choosing the right car, right?  Obviously you choose the car with the newer engine or in the alternative you could decide to buy new and thus increase your capital outlay requirements by 30 to 50 percent.

I have completed a good bit of research regarding price comparison of new and refurbished computers and there component parts (monitor, speakers, printer, etc.) all of which are necessary for creating a “system” to enhance a favorable use experience.   Keep in mind that manufacturers do not always include monitors, printers (often not even print cartridges if printers are included), speakers, and hardly ever printer cables required for connection to the base computer unit.  

You can buy a New Gateway FX6850 with 8 GB’s of memory, using a Windows 7 Operating System; add a HP Office Jet Printer; a 20 inch wide screen HP Monitor; a nice set of speakers; and a 6 foot printer cable, all of this is new, not refurbished.  This sells for a few pennies less than $1,135.00.

On the other hand, a Refurbished Gateway SX2801 with 6 GB’s of memory, also using a Windows 7 Operating System; a 20 inch HP monitor; a Kodak ESP3 color printer; the nice speakers referenced above; and the same 6 foot printer cable, now remember all of the components for creating this working system are Refurbished except the printer cable and the speakers … These two systems are similar indeed, with the exception of two things:
1.  The refurbished system has less memory capacity than the new system, 6 GB’s verses 8 … (who needs more than 1 GB?)
2.  The price for the refurbished system sells for $655.00 … that’s a savings of $480.00 or a 42% savings.

You could use that savings to purchase a system for someone else (a good friend or relative):
          Let’s say a Refurbished Dell desk Top GX620 ……….. $219.99
          (with 2 GB memory & an XP Professional Operating System)
Choose a 20” widescreen monitor with built in speakers.... 109.99
(we paid a penny short of $45.00 for those speakers listed above)
          The Kodak ESP3 color printer (with print cartridges) …...   41.99
          (we selected this brand because they usually have the cheapest cartridges)
          You’ll need that new printer cable…………………………   19.99 
TOTAL:                                                                                    $391.96

Gee’s, by taking this option (refurbished) you still have money left for dinner and a movie, plus you have two superb computer systems.

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AD or CE?

How can AD & BC = CE & BCE?

Each abbreviation above is a dating notation.    CE stands for Common Era or sometimes “Current Era”.  AD is an abbreviation for Anno Domini which is Latin and means the year of the Lord in the English language.  Both measure the number of years since the approximate birthday of Jesus Christ of Nazareth a little over two thousand years ago.  CE and AD have the same value. That is 1 CE = 1 AD, and 2011 CE = 2011 AD.  The Latin terms, ante vero incarnationis dominicae tempus (“the time before the Lord's true incarnation”), are equivalent to the English terms “before Christ” (BC).   The terms common / Current simply indicates that it is based on the most frequently used calendar system: the Gregorian calendar which was named for Pope Gregory XIII and instituted in 1582.

BCE stands for Before the common era.” BC means Before Christ”. Both measure the number of years before the approximate birthday of Jesus Christ.  Like AD and CE given years in BC and BCE have identical values.

The division between BC/BCE and AD/CE is not based on religious considerations as one might expect however, and though the AD & BC dating notations were established in 525, there appears to be no agreement on the origin of CE/BCE notations.

Yet another thing to keep in mind: there is no year “0” in terms of the modern calendar.    In other words 1 BC is followed by 1 AD.  The absence of a year 0 leads to some confusion but it also lends a certain amount of common sense.   When using this system, the year 10 is the tenth year of the calendar (not eleventh if zero was counted as a year). The year 11 is the first year of the second decade, and so on. In spite of this rule, years ending in 0, rather than 1, are commonly perceived as marking the beginning of a new decade, century, or millennium.   So the year 1900 is considered the first year if the 20th century and the year 2000 is considered the first year of the 21st century.  

Did you ever wonder if the early Romans for example, really counted there years backwards or not, during the BC Era?  Well the simple answer is NO.   The prevailing method (one of several) that the Romans used to recognize a year for dating purposes was to name it after the two consuls (the 2 chief magistrates who were elected annually to govern) who took office in a given year.  For  example if Bob and Bill  were elected as the two Roman Consuls in the year that Julius Caesar was assassinated, then that date would be recorded as occurring in year of Bob and Bill … not 44 BC… This particular system was abolished in 888 AD by Leo VI (some called him “the Wise”). He was an “East Roman” or Byzantium Emperor who replaced that dating system with an even more confusing system.  It should be noted here that the “BC, AD” dating system was actually developed as early as 525 by a Christian Monk named Dionysisus Exiguus who was often called “Dennis the Small” because they say he was very humble.    “Dennis” devised this dating system while computing the Easter Festival dates for the Church, but this system was not typically used until after the year 800; even after that, several other systems (including the one designed by Leo the Wise) were commonly used throughout Europe.  Most Roman citizens designated their years by naming the two consuls who held office for that year as is described above.   The early Romans also at times used the “Ab urbe condita” (AUC) dating system.  Which is Latin for: "from the founding of the City”, referencing of course the city of Rome.  When using this dating style the above referenced assignation of Julius Caesar is correctly written as: Martinus (March) 15, 710 AUC instead of March 15, 44 BC.

So now you know!

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Saturday, June 25, 2011

May Day / Mayday

Mayday! Mayday! Mayday!   Mayday is the emergency code word used internationally as a distress signal in radio communications. It derives from the French term, m'aider, meaning 'come help me'. It is used to signal a life-threatening emergency by many groups, such as aircraft pilots or policemen.  A Mayday call is always given three times in a row to prevent mistaking it for some similar-sounding phrase under noisy conditions, and to distinguish an actual Mayday call from a message about a Mayday call.  The use of the term originated sometime between the years of 1925-1930. 

May Day occurs on May 1  each calendar year and refers to several public holidays.      Recognized in many countries, May Day is one and the same as International Workers' Day, or Labor Day, a day for political demonstrations and celebrations planned by various groups or individuals.  Organized labor celebrations, conducted on May first honors the often difficult fights of previous years for establishing the length (eight hour) of the work day; such celebrations are commonplace through-out modern working societies.

The concept for a "workers holiday" began in Australia in 1856; but the tribute of May Day as an International Workers' Day received its inspiration from the United States, (the U.S. Congress designated May 1 as Loyalty Day in 1958) due to the day's perceived misuse by the Soviet Union.  After all, during the cold war era, who can forget those long military parades, known as The May Day Parade in the former U.S.S.R. which gave it (the U.S.S.R) a chance to show its citizens, and the world for that matter, its military strength?              

Pagan Rituals are generally believed to be, in the historical sense at least, responsible for many modern holidays, including May Day.   It is by and large believed that the Celtic festival of Beltane and the Germanic festival of Walpurgis Night, each of which  were pagan festivals.   Both of these festivals were traditionally occasions that were popular and often rough celebrations that that ended up as being sources  for many of the current May Day festivals.

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Friday, June 24, 2011

What's A Blue Moon?

Once in a Blue Moon

The full moon that you saw on Nov. 21, 2010, looked like an ordinary full moon, but it was actually a bit unusual, in fact it was a “blue moon”.

Perhaps the most literal meaning of blue moon is when the moon (not necessarily a full moon) appears to a casual observer to be bluish in color, which is actually a rare event.  The effect may be caused by smoke or dust particles in the atmosphere, which may occur after very large forest fires for example.     Other causes of record include events such as: the eruption of Krakatoa in 1883, which caused the moon to appear blue for nearly two years.  Other less potent volcanoes have also turned the moon blue.   For example people saw blue moons after the eruption of Mt. St. Helens in 1980, and Mount Pinatubo in 1991.

There are generally two accepted definitions for a blue moon. The more recent definition (and the one I can keep track of) is when a full moon occurs twice in a given calendar month. The first of such full moons must appear at or near the beginning of the month so that the second full moon, the “blue one” will fall within the same month (the average span between two moons being 29.5 days).

The most resent and perhaps the most unusual “Calendar Blue Moon” occurred on New Year’s Eve, December 31, 2009; the next “New Year’s Eve” calendar occurrence of a Blue Moon will not be until 2028.  We will see a typical “Calendar Blue Moon” again on August 31, 2012 and again on July 31, 2015.   

The older definition / type (which is a little more complex to keep track of)  states that a blue moon is the third full moon in a season (such as summer or winter) that has four full moons instead of three.  The full moon which occurred on Nov. 21, 2010, was this type of blue moon; it was the third of four full moons between the fall equinox and the winter solstice.

Now that you know more about Blue Moon’s than the average “Joe”, perhaps the phrase "once in a blue moon" now has a more significant meaning.

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Do You Eat Much Paper?

Edible Rice Paper

Is Paper On The Lunch Menu?

Yes, paper is on the menu more often than you might think.  Edible rice paper for example, made from a flour ground from rice kernels and sometimes mixed with tapioca powder, is a product of Southeast Asia and China. It is used to roll vegetables into spring rolls and other dishes many of us eat regularly.

Not all “rice” paper however is made from rice:  What was commonly known as rice paper in Europe in the early 1900s came from Taiwan but was not made from rice during that era; it was made from the soft tissue of a small tree.  Regardless, rice paper made from rice and tapioca flour is appealing to the taste buds and is widely used today.

Another edible paper, “wafer paper” which is sometimes called rice paper is edible white paper; it is sometimes used when making cakes, candy or cookies etc.  The good news is that its sugar frees. This product is common in Holland and its ingredients include: potato starch, water, and vegetable oil, but this “rice paper” has a zero percentage of rice content.
Have you ever heard of “Slim Chips”?  Well, such things do exist, they are flavoured paper chips.  They contain 0 calories, and are the latest innovation from Icelandic designer Hafsteinn Juliusson.   These brightly coloured Slim Chips are designed, according to Juliusson, to provide you with tasty flavoured paper snacks of blueberry, peppermint and sweet potatoes; all the while ensuring there is absolutely no weight gain.   Instead of getting fat by eating other snacks you can now eat paper with different flavours. They say it’s like eating tasty air.  Who knew?

Try chewing on this: The next time you have to destroy a secret message by eating it, you should first make sure it tastes good! Right?   Just remember to use an edible ink-filled pen (such things are in today’s market place) and write on a piece of edible paper. Pass it to your fellow agent so after he or she reads the message they can then eat the evidence before it falls into enemy hands.  Wow that sounds almost as good as Slim Chips.  Such products are now available in all of the fashionable on-line spy stores.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Death To American Chestnut Trees!

Made from America Chestnut Wood?
Not Likely, Anymore!

Have you ever seen an American chestnut tree?  Probably not, if not you missed them by only a few decades. At one time, the American Chestnut Tree filled our eastern forests and supported a variety of life (human and otherwise).  However, a devastating fungus disease which became known as the “chestnut blight” was accidently introduced into the U S by the planting of an Asian chestnut tree (it was immune to the disease) in New York City near the beginning of the 20th century. By 1950 the chestnut blight had killed practically every mature American chestnut tree on the continent.

The American chestnut tree was a very reliable and productive tree, unaffected by seasonal frosts, it was the single most important food source for a wide variety of life forms, including humans, bears, elks, and birds.   Rural areas depended upon the annual nut harvest as a cash crop and for feeding livestock.   The tree typically bloomed in June or early July with a milky white blossom display that was often referred to as “summer snow” because of the carpet of flowering blossoms laden upon the mountain tops.

The chestnut lumber industry was a major sector of rural economies as well.  Chestnut wood is straight-grained and easily worked, lightweight and highly rot-resistant, making it ideal for fence posts, railroad ties, barn beams, and for constructing houses.  The bark was even used in leather tanneries. The American chestnut tree is therefore often called “the perfect tree”.

You can go to the last link listed below see the Native growing Range Map.  In times past, magnificent American chestnut trees dominated the forested hills and mountains over much of the eastern U. S.  Some grew up to 100 feet tall and had diameters exceeding 10 feet.

Occasionally a woodsman or a hiker may come upon a young chestnut tree growing in the wild of this variety.  The source is none other than the root system of an older tree that is no longer among us.  You see the blight only infected and killed that part of the tree that was above the surface of the ground, such anomalies don’t live long (10-15 years) though, so if you see one don’t get to excited about there “comeback”.

So far you’ve read a lot of bad news in regard to the American chestnut tree, so, the good news is, there is (after years of research) good promise for the development of an American chestnut tree that is immune to the dreadedchestnut blight. 

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Your Eyes Only


For most of us, there are five senses: sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch. Eyesight is generally believed to be the most developed sense in humans as opposed to bats for example,  which typically have superior hearing instead (see post script below) ; sight being followed closely by hearing in humans.  Eyes (just 2, teachers, do not have a third in back of head) are the organs of vision. They have a complex structure, to put it mildly, consisting of a transparent lens that focuses light on the retina plus a lot of other stuff. The eye is eventually connected to the brain through the optic nerve.  The brain then combines the input (all those visual images) of our eyes into a single three-dimensional representation.

There are many problems that may are considered a handicap regarding vision in general.  For this reason a good optometrist may be the most reasonable solution, in fact for me at least, a good optometrist is absolutely necessary.  

Color blindness is a common irregularity that occurs in humans that makes it difficult if not impossible for the individual to differentiate colors accurately.  Such a condition may not allow the “color blind” individual to distinguish the color red from green for one example.  A rather common fallacy regarding this condition is that color blindness can be corrected with contact lenses.  This is definitely not the case; however standard eye glasses (the ones with frames) and contact lenses can definitely correct near sightedness or far sightedness; each of which are common types of eyesight deficiencies which many of us experience.  

Aside from recognizing where to place the next foot forward, sight is undoubtedly a rather useful sense; those of us with it wonder how we could possibly manage without it.  You may for example, want to partake in the most recent works of art displayed by your favorite artisan; or take another look at the eve design of that new house your spouse wants to buy.

Too often, we are all perhaps guilty of neglecting the magnificent sense of sight.  We should all therefore make the wise investment of obtaining an annual eye exam from a favorite optometrist before we go blind!

Post Script:  
I  have always heard that bats had no eyes and therefore were sightless.  It turns out that bats are not really blind. This is actually a very common misconception which was pointed out to me just today by Dr. Radford, the optometry specialist; to learn more go to:

Monday, June 20, 2011

What Are UFOs Looking For?

Mysterious objects have been observed in our skies since the earliest days of recorded history. References to mysterious beings and flying objects are found in some of mankind’s most ancient texts.  Even the Bible makes reference to an object observed by the prophet Ezekiel when he described a "wheel within a wheel” as sited in the book of Ezekiel (chapter 1; verses 1-25) of the “Holy Bible”.

So, why are they here? And what do they want? … The answers can only be guessed at when given the opportunity…Here are a few of my guesses: May-be they’re looking for a good, dependable, reasonably priced Radio Controlled Flying machine; a classic Chess Set; or just a good Book. If so, each of these are an easy fix; just visit a good hobby shop for R C Flying Machines and other “Man Toys”; there are all kinds of stores for that special Chess Set; or check out the wide variety of Books at Amazon or Barnes & Noble for whatever you want to read.  

Modern UFO history begins with mysterious "airships" that have been observed in all parts of the world, going back to the early 1800's.   Flash back to the early part of July 1947, in a remote part of the Roswell, New Mexico desert, something crashed. It was believed by many to be an alien spacecraft, though the U.S. government has gone out of its way to explain this to be nothing more than a crashed weather balloon.

The 1950’s brought many UFO Sightings which were reported around the world. There were so many of these reports coming in from reliable witnesses that the Air Force embarked upon several investigations.  First it was "Project Sign", then "Project Grudge", and finally concluding with "Project Blue Book".  The latter, Project Blue Book" was officially closed down in 1969, and in doing so, the Air Force insisted that according to their investigations at least, nothing was “real” regarding UFOs. Almost all events / sightings (so said the Air Force) could be explained as swamp gas, weather balloons, or the planet Venus (among other things), but "Venus" it seams has an unusual practice of landing. For those events that did not fit into this category, well they were listed as "unknown".  Obviously, the UFO's or the occupancies there in, have not had the opportunity to read the Official Air Force report, stating that that they “don’t exist”; else why are they still here.  Public opinion, as you might expect, varies significantly as to what UFOs and their occupants are; where they come from; and what they are doing here in the first place.  

Perhaps they’re us in the form of Time Travelers who are simply researching / exploring the past or doing a thesis for a post graduate course.  After all, I think everyone knows that you can’t change the past without immense risk to changing the future; therefore very little contact can be made by these “time travelers” for fear of doing just that (changing the future).   Perhaps UFO sightings intensify when correctional measures are being attempted by these “time travelers.” So a ‘correction’ is often required for a previous contact situation that may in fact be altering their future.  Regardless, I am quite sure it’s complicated, surely a few activities however are not objectionable and will not disrupt the proper flow of time.

All of us can only guess at who or what you are; so grant us the simple courtesy of sending an e-mail soon to with the lowdown on what, at least on earth, you guy’s are up to.     

I vow to post that information upon this very blog site for free; forthwith! 

Look we're not all village idiots here; I know at least you and me have read this blog, even if no one else has. ... By the way I'll need verification on that e-mail ... I suppose a few solid gold bricks will serve that purpose nicely.

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