Another Lesson

The following was written by John Testa, my friend and long-time pitcher of my Sunday morning softball team:

Jim writes:

When playing baseball or softball, after hitting the ball, put your head down and run as fast as you can to first base. If you lope, complain, and pity yourself, there’s a good chance that you’ll break your fucking leg sliding into home. And it’ll be your fault.

Well the improbable and impossible happened on Sunday August 20,2005. Our Braden Chiropractic softball team was playing the Dead Sox in a best 2 out of 3 winner take all for the C division championship. As always, we have a pretty set line-up with 10 guys which is the requirement to play a game that will give you the best opportunity to win although you can get by with 8 guys.

The day started out well as we won the first game 19-10. In the second game we switched a couple of positions so that if we are pressed into a third game, we won t have tired, ass dragging players out there.

As the first game was ending, who should show up but the author of this website, Mr. McCormick - fresh off of the shattered leg which he has been gaining your sympathies over. It was a bit of a surprise for us to see Jim out and about without crutches and moving along pretty well.

We got to talking prior to the second game and where I knew that I was going to have to be the catcher. Usually I pitch, but the last couple of seasons I have been alternating with Doctor Bill Braden who has a desire to be me. Make no mistake about it, I am the better pitcher! As a catcher, I can get the ball back to the pitcher without making the pitcher work to catch the ball. Believe me, I have been there and done that with having a slew of catchers over the years that have a mental block about throwing the ball back to the pitcher.

I field the catching position pretty well but my problem is tagging someone out at the plate as I am a defensive liability in that respect and don t wish to end up in the same position as Jim did with bone fragments emanating from my leg and ankle. (hehe).

Jim said to me on the side that he would catch the second game if I didn t want to. I just laughed and said, Are you crazy?

Jim said: I think I could do it !

I thought about it and asked our captian/leader, Joe, if this was a plausible idea. Joe pointed at home plate and said to me, Go there. I told Jim this and we both shared a laugh.

This is where the story gets interesting and where Jim has been so humble in not sharing the rest of the story. Maybe because he did not want the Wife-beast to find out what happened next. Anyway, there was a controversial call at second base in the top of the third inning whereby our batter was called out because in the umpire s judgement, our baserunner (even though he was standing on the base) interfered with the shortstop who was trying to catch a pop fly. Our bench voiced it s displeasure with the ump s call and our Joe picked up a bat and threw it at the backstop. Unfortunately Joe missed the backstop and hit the umpires crate and smashed it into pieces. He was immediately ejected from the game which left us one player short.

Well guess who came to the rescue?! That s right - Jim stepped up and got his wish to catch as I moved to right field. It was improbable and impossible. I didn t think he would be able to sustain pressure to his leg but he hung in like a trooper and we won the game and the championship no thanks to Joe.

Jim had been saying all along that he would defy his doctor and his therapists and that he would play before the season was out. I still can t believe he got away with it.

(EDITOR s NOTE: Jim also got one hit in two chances.)

Another lesson to be learned here:

Go ahead and put your body and limbs on the line and forget about your family and job because there is nothing like the thrill of sport and winning. Winning is everything.

28 August, 2005 posted in Tell Me a Story | Comments (1)


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I said, Son, sometimes you have to think outside of the box.

He, eight-years-old, said, What box?

27 August, 2005 posted in Mouths of Babes | Comments (2)


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Chris is Crazy

Chris. His name was Chris.

My boss hired him and I adopted him as one of my employees. We made customized wheelchairs. He was a shop-boy doing everything from sweeping to light mechanical work.

He was a big kid. Tall. Big head. Big arms. Big legs.

Chris was a bit, ummm, terched . Loony. Crazy. Really, he was. I had to let him out early three days a week to go to his shrink or social worker or whoever she was. I wasn t going to really press him on where he was going.

Chris once told me, I d kill my father, if my mother didn t love him so much. I believed him.

Chris tormented the other employees. We were all intimidated by him. He d go off on a crazy tirade, diatribe, or soliloquy and the shop would become as quiet as a grave yard. No one wanted to be the object of his psychosis

Jim, you have to do something. You have to get rid of him.

I m not firing him. I have a baby daughter at home. She needs me.

On one occasion he had Jack, a small retired guy whose main job was wheelchair maintenance, pinned in a corner telling him about his dad. Chris had a screwdriver cluched in his hand. His knuckles were white.

Jack was very close to death.

Jim, do something. You re the boss.

Jack lived his life. I m just going to watch.

Seriously, Jack s in trouble. Do something.

Jack really was in trouble. Moving slowly, I got to Chris s side. He was lost in a world only he would understand. Jack, bless him, just kept his head down and continued working on the motor of a powerchair. He feigned obliviousness. It was his only defense.

I grabbed Chris s arm and I said the only thing I could think of - a line from an obscure Lenny Bruce skit - Don t you move, you Psychotic.

Chris snapped out of his nutty trance, grabbed my head under his arm, and put me in a head lock.

Oh-my-god, he s going to kill Jim, someone said. I swallowed hard.

Whatchoo say? Chris asked.

I said, Leave Jack alone. He s old. You re scaring him. Jack just kept tinkering.

Chris s grip tightened on my neck. Tell my daughter that Daddy loves her, I whispered.

And then suddenly Chris s hold, while still tight, changed slightly. He began kissing my head. I love this guy! I really love him, he announced. And then kissed me some more.

I wasn t going to die.

He let go of the head lock, put my face in his hands, and pulled it close to his. Nose-to-nose, I put my hands on his cheeks too. Leave people alone, Chris. We like you. We all like you. But you scare the hell out of us. Okay?

I love you.


Okay. I ll leave people alone.

He didn t really leave people alone anymore. But we were pretty sure he wasn t going to kill any of us. Besides we hired Woolly Bear shortly after that incident. Woolly was a big, red-headed, lovable giant of a kid. I was certain he could have taken Chris out with one swipe of his paw if Chris stepped out of line.

Chris didn t last a year with us. Last I saw him he was making submarine sandwiches at a local sub shop. I went in from time to time for lunch.

He always made me a free sandwich.

I really did like Chris.

25 August, 2005 posted in Tell Me a Story | Comments (3)


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Karate Master

This funny video sent to me by my friend from half way around the world.

24 August, 2005 posted in Internet Stuff


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Them s the Breaks

There is a lesson at the end of this. Stick with the story, there might be something here you can tell you kids or grandkids.

Ten weeks ago while playing softball, I hit a high fly ball to the outfield. A lazy fly ball to the left fielder, I thought.

Disgusted, I half walked toward first base. I didn t look at the ball after that. I didn t even drop the bat. Easy out. Until

Run! Run!, my teammates implored from the bench.

Half way to first I looked up. The left fielder had his back turned and was running full speed. The ball was still in the air. I d hit it over his head.

I finally started running.

There was no fence on this field, so when the ball landed it just kept rolling. When I rounded second base, the outfielder was finally throwing the ball in.

No outs, I thought while running. Anthony s up next. If I stop at third, he ll get me in. He always does. I stopped on third base and the ball was still in the outfield. A stand-up triple. Had I been running hard from the start, it would ve been a stand-up homer.

Anthony has hit behind me for ten years. I have a sense for his hitting. He was going to hit the ball toward right field, away from me. Hopefully he ll hit a fly ball and I ll be able to walk in from home. But if he hits a grounder, I ll still be able to leg it out and score from third before the first baseman can get it to the catcher.

I was right, but with devestating results.

Anthony, indeed, hit the ball to the right side. A grounder to the second baseman. The ball was fielded cleanly and the second baseman threw the ball to first. I took off toward home as I d done many, many times before.

I knew the first baseman was going to throw the ball home to try to get me out. As I approached the plate, the catcher shifted toward third base and reached his glove toward me, head level. The ball was screaming toward my bean!

I dropped and made a late slide.

My right leg got tangled under my body and folded under my weight. My fibula burst into four or five pieces just above the ankle. The ankle dislocated. My tibia cracked.

I was startled by the sound of it. A crisp clap. SNAP! Some of my teammates on the bench heard it. The umpire heard it.

Safe, he called. It s broken, he announced.

Before the dust had even cleared I was crying, Call 911! Call 911! And then I just held my hands over my face and said, Oh. Shit. Oh. Shit. Oh. Shit. It hurt. A lot. (Though not as much as having a surgeon cut into your scrotum without the benefit of anesthesia. Trust me, I know.)

Later I asked my friend, Unky Rich, Did I maintain any dignity?

None what-so-ever.

I didn t think so.

I laid on home plate. My friends hovered over me like ephemeral beings of light. They had form, but I couldn t see them. Some had voices, but I couldn t hear them. One rolled up a shirt and put it under my head. Someone else gave me water. An ambulance was called.

Eventually, the pain subsided (endorphins are our friends) and I was able to call my wife. If you were planning on coming to the game, you can forget about it. Instead, I ll meet you in the emergency room. I snapped my leg in half.

The paramedics came and I was whisked off to the hospital.

No lights? No sirens? I asked.

No lights. No sirens. People drive screwy when they see the lights or hear us coming.

Yeh. I probably wouldn t want to be in an ambulance racing to the hospital with all the bells, whistles, and lights chiming. I d rather this.

They hit a bump. I whinced in pain.

The paramedic put his hand on my arm and asked, Did we hurt you?

No. I m pretty sure it was that funky slide into home, I said.

They brought me pretty quickly through the emergency room. My wife was there. Unky Rich showed up soon after.

The doctor advised me that I needed surgery. I had no choice.

I was supposed to stay overnight. I conned him into sending me home.

I had surgery the next day.

But I promised a lesson and here it is:

When playing baseball or softball, after hitting the ball, put your head down and run as fast as you can to first base. If you lope, complain, and pity yourself, there s a good chance that you ll break your fucking leg sliding into home. And it ll be your fault.

23 August, 2005 posted in Tell Me a Story | Comments (2)


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By the Side of the Road

Woah. That s a really big dog .

Just checking out the pop-up image thingie on this new CMS.

15 August, 2005 posted in JimAgination (Pictures and Such)


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The Sixth Sense

Where most of us learned about the five senses in school, I learned about the six. And I m not talking about extra-sensory perception (ESP). I m talking about a sixth sense that we all have but seldom, if ever, think about. A sense that we probably use more than any other one sense.

The neglected sense.

If you walk, especially in the dark, you need this sense. Touch your nose or scratch an itch and you use this sense. Catch a ball, swing a stick, dance with your partner and well hell, you could barely eat a sandwich if didn t have this sense.

I m talking about the sense of proprioception .

Proprioception is the sense of knowing where your body is in space. It s a feeling. It s the sensitivity mechanism in your nervous system that uses specialized sensory receptors in the joints, muscles, and connective tissues (and skin) to automatically do such things as keep your balance, throw, catch, grab, scratch, reach, and a myriad other things.

Without proprioceptive awareness, walking wouldn t be automatic; close your eyes and you d fall down.

One of the goals of my physical therapy is to regain the proprioceptive sense in my right ankle. Eight weeks in a cast has taken its toll in that area.

A few simple tests were all my therapist needed to confirm his suspicions. Jim, he said. Point your toes to the ceiling and try to stand on your heels.

I could barely do it. He made a mark on the paper on his clipboard.

Right. Now do the same thing with your eyes closed.

Complete and absolute failure. It was barely an effort. More notes.

Uh-hu. Okay now Jim, stand on your left leg (that s the leg that didn t break). Good, good, good. Now stand on your right leg. Good, now bend your knee.

I fell over. He made another notation.

Stand on your left leg and close your eyes. Great! Now stand on your right leg again and close your eyes.

I immediately lost my balance again. More writing.

Proprioception is closely allied with balance. It is especially so when you have no visual cues to assist you and you have to rely solely those special sensory receptors inside your body to tell your muscles and joints what to do to keep you upright.

We re going to work mostly on getting your strength and proprioception back. We have a lot of tricks and games we ll play to get you back where you were. We might even have you playing softball again before the season s over.

Fall softball leagues start later this month.

12 August, 2005 posted in Tell Me a Story | Comments (1)


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Timeline of Recovery, Part I

Eight weeks and two days ago, paramedics carried me off home plate. I broke my ankle playing softball. A comminuted fibular fracture with assorted torn ankle ligaments was diagnosed. (A comminuted fracture is a bone broken in a number of pieces . In my case, five pieces. The bone in question is my fibula. The smaller bone of my lower leg. Behind the tibia.)

Dr. Kuhn in the emergency room advised to stay in the hospital overnight, I protested. He demured, put me in a cast, and sent home.

Eight weeks and one day ago, Dr. Joe Tauro opened my leg and used seven screws to secure a plate to my fibula. (The link is to his website.Go visit. You can see a photograph of the guy screwed around inside me. Screwed around get it? Oh, nevermind. On with the story.)

This time I was given the option to stay overnight. If I wanted hospital-regulated pain control (mmmm Demerol) I could stay. I didn t. Late that evening, I went home.

Eight weeks ago, I started working. Initially, I worked from my bed. Notebook computer on my lap and telephone headset secured to my ear. I said some odd things to my employees while under the influence of narcotics (mmm Oxycontin).

Seven weeks and four days ago, the Wife-Beast and I were waiting for Dr. Tauro in his casting room. He came in and said, Okay, take your clothes off. I didn t, of course.

While Dr. Tauro was cutting off my post-op cast, the Wife-Beast noticed I was in pain and asked, Do you want me to hold your hand?

Aww, isn t that cute, Dr. Tauro mocked.

She was talking to you, I replied.

That s alright, when I came in I was talking to her.


(For the record, Dr. Tauro and I go back a bit. He has rebuilt both of Unky Rich s knees and has performed arthroscopic surgery to the Wife-Beast s knees twice. He s got a good sense of humor. And he gives as well as takes.)

Dr. Tauro removed the post-op cast, assessed my leg, and applied a new cast. I would stay in that one for the next four weeks. That month I walked with crutches and never put that foot on the ground. Navigating my home s 14 stairs was harrowing; showering normally, impossible; peeing standing up, an adventure in balance.

Seven weeks and one day ago, I returned to my office. The Wife-Beast drove me to and picked me up from work everyday.

Things pretty much went that way for the next three weeks. You know, other than waking up in the middle of the night swearing that I heard people outside, going out in my underwear, and threatening the ether with a crutch. The Wife-Beast said I was stoned on painkillers. Maybe I was, who knows?

Four weeks and one day ago, Dr. Tauro cut off my black fiberglass cast. (They use a reciprocating saw, you know. It ll cut the hard stuff of the cast but only tickle the soft-stuff of your flesh.) He x-rayed the leg, announced all was well, and gave me a prescription to get a walking cast. Take this to an orthotist, he said and left me and my right leg dangling there. Just dangling there.

I was ill. But I took it as a good sign - I had healed enough to make it, sans any protective devices, to the orthotist s office across the street. The orthotist put me in a removable walking cast called an AirCast.

Dr. Tauro told me to start putting weight on my leg until it could tolerate my full weight. He said it would take one to two weeks for me to walk without crutches. It ll hurt, but there s no rush. Take your time.

Three weeks and five days ago, I put the crutches in the corner for good. Oh, my foot and ankle hurt like hell but, dammit, I was walking. Really walking.

Three weeks ago, in a frustrated frenzy, I sat in my truck, took off my walking cast, and drove to work. The Wife-Beast and others protested. I didn t care.

I got to work with no problems and have been driving myself to work every day since.

Two weeks and two days ago I took a tentative shower, standing up.
Shortly thereafter, I began walking from the couch to the bathroom without my walking cast. (I d been peeing standing up with great precision for the better part of a week.) I started making other short trips within the house without the cast too.

Four days ago, I stopped wearing my walking cast in the house altogether. Opting only to wear it to work and trips to stores and the like.

Two days ago, I drove to the liquor store and limped, sans cast, into said liquor store and bought a twelve-pack of Yeungling Black-and-Tan.

One day ago, I hung curtain rods in the living room. Without the cast.

Today, I saw Dr. Tauro again. Confessed my sins of reducing the walking cast s wear-time. I expected the worst. I d been the object of the wrath of an orthopedic surgeon 25 years ago when Dr. Seltzer discovered that I d modified a splint on my right hand so that I could continue to play golf. Do I have to put a cast on you again?! What the hell is wrong with you, son?!

Oh. Boy.

Tauro simply smiled and said, Excellent!

He took another x-ray. Said it looked good. Told me to stop wearing the walking cast. Didn t order any other ankle stablizing orthotics. And sent me on my way.

Tomorrow I start physical therapy.

Six weeks hence, I return to Dr. Tauro.


By the way, Dr. Tauro said that a few at bats before the end of the softball season is NOT out of the question. Ha!

09 August, 2005 posted in Tell Me a Story | Comments (6)


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Dreamy Shrooms

In lieu of real content, today I bring you to photographs I took last year at my Dad s house. It was a hot and humid morning and when I stepped outside with the camera, the lens fogged up. Instead of cursing and trying to clean it up, I used the moisture as a filter.

Here are a couple of the results:

Shroom I
Shroom I

Shroom II

Maybe I ll write something worth reading when I get back from my orthopedic visit. Today I get to find out if I can wean myself off my AirCast and start physical therapy.

It s been eight weeks and a day since I had surgery to repair/reconstruct my broken right ankle. Four weeks since I ve been in the walking cast. Three weeks since I ve actually been walking. One week since I ve been cheating and walking occasionally without it. Shhhh Don t tell Dr. Tauro!

09 August, 2005 posted in JimAgination (Pictures and Such) | Comments (0)


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More Bullshit

I don t know if you caught this, but last week the conservative political columnist Robert Novak stomped off the set of a CNN show. He was debating Democratic political strategist James Carville when Carville suggested that Novak s gotta show these right-wingers that he s got backbone (and the) Wall Street Journal editorial page (that he s) tough.

Novak responded by saying, plain as day, Well, I think that s bullshit, and I hate that. And then he took off his microphone and left the stage.

You can watch it here: Media Matters, Pressure Getting to Novak?

Now I ve heard a lot of people who have feigned being shocked, others think Novak should be censured or fired, others think he s finally flipped his noodle.

Me? I think that Robert Novak should end every interview for the rest of his career by standing, exclaiming This is bullshit! , and leaving the set.

I d watch ever show he goes on, especially if he does it at different times. Never letting on when he s finally going to snap.

That d be great.


Late Entry:
Robert Novak has been suspended by CNN .

I guess CNN doesn t know what it takes to get some of us to watch anymore.

07 August, 2005 posted in In the News | Comments (4)


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Happy Birthday, Noah

A Friend

05 August, 2005 posted in Miscellany


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I m a Different Horse

I think I m the company geek. At least I m the first person who is called with anything geek related. Today I was asked if I could do a termination of fiber optic cable.

I didn t know if I could, so I researched it (which means I did a Google search). The following is my email response to the party who asked if I could complete said project:

I’ve never done nor seen anyone do a “termination of fiber optic cable,” but I’m an adventurous young (okay, not-so-young) lad who is willing to take on something new. So I did an internet search on how one would go about it. I didn’t get past this quote from the first paragraph of the first site I visited:
Manufacturers have come up with over 80 styles of connectors and about a dozen ways to install them. There are two types of splices and many ways of implementing the splice Different connectors and splice termination procedures are used for singlemode and multimode connectors, so make sure you know what the fiber will be before you specify connectors or splices!

I’m out. I can’t do it. Find a different horse to ride.

This answer wasn t quite what was anticipated. The VP asked if I d look into a little further. I ve just called our networking people and, in the end, I think I m going to learn how to splice fiber optic cable.

Not bad for a Director of Therapy Operations, eh?

05 August, 2005 posted in Tell Me a Story | Comments (2)


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Long Necker


04 August, 2005 posted in JimAgination (Pictures and Such) | Comments (1)


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22 Years and Counting

I guess I should wish my wife Happy Birthday but Ray already did . And I hate weblog memes. ( Click the above link to see a photograph of the birthday girl and learn what her gift was.)

Why the title 22 Years and Counting ? Because I met my wife twenty-two years ago. For some reason, every time she has a birthday, I count our years together.

She met me when she was 18.

02 August, 2005 posted in Family Business | Comments (3)


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Not Buying a New Truck

Yesterday I looked into buying a 1999 Chevy S-10 four-wheel-drive pickup. The thing only had 22,000 miles on it and must ve been owned by a little old man who only drove leaves to the landfill in the fall. My current knock-about, a 1997 Ford Ranger, has 105,000 miles under its hood and is looking a little peaked. I heard about the S-10 and went to have a look.

It was a nice truck. Four doors. Short bed. Automatic everything (my Ranger is manual everything). And the price was good. But we couldn t come to terms with what my truck was worth (I don’t want to sell it privately), so the deal fell through.

All-in-all I spent two, maybe three hours, over two trips at the car dealer. Wasted time, right? I don t think so.

You see, in those few hours, my one-year-old son saw some big balloons (hung from the showroom s ceiling) and he LOVES balloons. He kept pointing and saying, B-boon! B-boon! He reached for them hopefully a few times, but could never touch them. Even so, he was very happy.

When we came back the second time, the Wife-Beast and I brought our eight-year-old boy. This was during the interminable paperwork through dancing with the manager phase and all the apologizing for taking so long from the salesman. But we didn t care.

The wife-beast and I were enjoying some alone-time with the eight-year-old. It s seldom just the three of us. I taught him some of the nuances to three-ball juggling (like a good eight-year-old, he had some balls in his pockets); we played endless games of hangman (including one game where the wife-beast didn’t miss a letter and I got one answer with only one letter on the board); and taught the young boy how to play the family version of 20 Questions.

All-in-all we had a lot of fun.

And we cleaned out the inside of my old pickup to boot!

02 August, 2005 posted in Tell Me a Story | Comments (3)


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Up and Running

As you can see, just by being here, JimFormation is up and running again. Only don t thank me; Mr. van der Woning crawled under the hood, grease all over him, and fixed my Camaro.

I m please to announce that this website allows comments again. Ray and I have made it particularly difficult for spammers and hacks to loose their Dogs of Hell into my comments section. Sadly this has made ie moderately difficult for you, Constant Reader, to leave comments too, but I m hoping you don t mind the inconvenience. I do enjoy the comments you leave.

The only real hoop you need to jump through to leave a comment here is to sign up (and sign in) at TypeKey . TypeKey is simply an internet key that allows you to unlock the door of adding comments to this (and many other) website(s). According to the people at TypeKey, their system stops comment spam cold. I believe them.

From them:

Why did you create the TypeKey service?
We talked to a lot of webloggers who had been bombarded by spam comments, trolling comments and comment attacks. They d turned off comments on their weblogs not only because of spammers but also because they felt that their weblogs (with these abusive comments) were becoming a territory beyond their control. These users wanted to stop spammers from using their weblogs to peddle their garbage, and wanted to create an environment that fostered positive communication.

Then we started to think about how the whole process of commenting could be improved. In terms of our own tools, we knew that we had to offer better comment management. For weblogging as a whole, we realized that measures needed to be put in place to add accountability to weblog comments.

Most of the email we received about comment spam and trolling expressed the frustration of not being able to control one s own space on the web. They wanted to enable conversations but didn t want to feel like off-topic discussions or attacks could simply exist in their space.

So, then another goal emerged: What sort of experience would it take for someone who has never allowed comments to suddenly turn comments on?

It was then we started to readdress the idea of comment registration.

That pretty much nailed my frustration. And that frustration coupled with a busy lifestyle made me say Screw it to publishing on the web.

And then good old DaddyRay offered his services. The JimFormation comment system is now a veritable electronic Fort Knox equipped with all the latest wizbang gizmos to make your visit safe from the probes of hoodlums begging Google to place their Viagra, penis enlargement devices, and poker rooms ever higher in their page rankings.

nuff said.

I ll see you tomorrow.

01 August, 2005 posted in Miscellany | Comments (1)


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A Late Nite Test

So, now that it s past midnight in Eastern Time Zone Land, let s test a new month, shall we?

01 August, 2005 posted in Miscellany | Comments (4)


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