STOPPPPPPP!  Good God, what ever happened to fair pricing.  Things are just plain out of control.  I know all about inflation, capitalism and the Great American Way  (Corporate Way). The goal is to make as big a buck as possible even if it’s way more than your product or service is worth!

Like many my age, my survival depends on my Social Security check.  Our meager retirement savings is there to help with the periodic big bills like taxes and insurance and, God forbid, a medical catastrophe. And as our savings are depleted, unlike when we were working, they are not replenished BECAUSE WE DON’T EARN A SALARY ANYMORE!  What the hell is so hard to understand about that economic theory???  

Through no fault of mine, my body is aging.  It’s been functioning reasonably well up until now. But after running nonstop for over 76 years, some parts are wearing out and I just can’t run over to the auto store and buy new ones and have them installed.  But holy crap, that’s what I just did, sort of. 

I have a few vacancies in my mouth—teeth that gave up the struggle over the past few years.  I guess they didn’t want to be included in the autopsy so they either fell out or had to be yanked so I’d stop waking up the neighbors with my screams.   After they left I began smiling less, mainly because I looked like an old geezer with a bunch of holes in my mouth.  Hell, I AM an old geezer but that doesn’t mean I want to look like one.  So off I go to the dentist because one of my molars is aching and I sense this will lead to another vacant lot opening on my lower right.  Before he can do anything to help save my tooth, I have to go to another dentist to have root canal.  Wow! The golden years just keep getting more and more exciting.

I won’t mention—but then yes I will, even the painter came in twice what I wanted to pay to have the kitchen painted. Twice!  And he wouldn’t haggle.  I used to do my own painting but nowadays I can’t be climbing up and down a ladder since I’ve become a “fall risk.”  I know that’s what I am because every time I visit one of my doctors or have a test done at the hospital around the corner they put a yellow band around my wrist. That’s the international symbol for “timmmmber!” But I digress.

I’ll cut to the chase and just sum things up:  root canal + two crowns = $3000.  No, dental insurance doesn’t factor in anymore and implants are out of the question.  And, oh yeah, I didn’t ask the dentist to check out the other tooth on the back left that’s developed an attention-seeking attitude.  I figured that’d be another two grand and given this is the month when my car insurance is up for renewal and one of my home owners association payments is due…well, you know how it goes.  But think of it—THREE THOUSAND DOLLARS for dental work that used to run in the hundreds at the most.

So where am I going with all this?  Certainly not to the Mercedes dealer. Nope. Instead, me and the little lady are hunkered down in the hall closet with pillows all around us.  She’s knitting baby blankets and I’m weaving potholders.  These we’ll sell at next week’s arts and crafts fair at the church down the street.  Because we are senior citizens we get a free chocolate pudding for dessert at the potluck dinner that follows.  Ca-Ching!                                                                


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I once smoked when I was younger, back when it was cool and no one worried about what all those polluted puffs were doing to your lungs. It took me quite a few attempts to give it up but I finally did.  I had my last cigarette on February 28, 1976 in Sligo Creek Park in Silver Spring, Maryland.  Yeah, I know, that’s a bit much, but so was my addiction.

I have one more addition, although many of you might think I exaggerate.  Having gone through smoking, I honestly believe my appetite for ice cream is as real as any addiction one might have. The few times I try to ease up on my I.C. intake, I go through the same kinds of withdrawal symptoms any hardcore addict suffers while trying to quit whatever.  I get nervous, anxious, impatience, quarrelsome, irritable and all the other negatives that go with kicking a habit.  My brain becomes obsessed with thoughts of mint chocolate chip, mocha fudge and Chunky Monkey.  Eventually, I give in and wind up stocking up with a few half gallons and all is well with the world once more…to hell with my fat stomach.

My passion for ice cream is so strong that I realize I need to control it any way I can.  That’s why I keep most of my “supply” in a box freezer we have in the garage.  This provides some restriction in that I have to “make a trip” to the garage.  If the ice cream is in the fridge in the kitchen, well that makes a quick walk-by spooning way too convenient.   Sometimes I think my entire life revolves around ice cream. I anticipate when the last carton is near empty and will make sure a new one is there in time to replace it.  Flavors? Brands? Sure I have my favorites, but if I am desperate…well, I may even settle for sherbert.     

Now I know there are thousands, if not millions, of suffering ice cream addicts just like me.  This has stirred my need to pay it forward. If other addicts can join associations and sign up for clubs or enroll in boot camps and other initiatives in attempts to control their habit, then why shouldn’t ice cream addicts do likewise?  I’ve been thinking about forming an informal association of sorts.  We could have regular meetings for group therapy; we could develop a step program aimed at walking us back to a normal, moderate consumption of ice cream; we could exchange low fat ice cream recipes…the ideas are endless.  I’ve even developed a prototype logo and membership card. Waddayuhthink?

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I was thinking about my father today.  He would have been 105 years old this week, had he miraculously figured out how to achieve that goal.  There was a time I thought he could do just about anything, which reminds me…

When I had been driving for only a few months, I wanted to get behind the wheel every chance I could get.  I think all 16-year-olds are that way when they first get their driver’s license.  Even though it was only around the block, I nagged my father to let me wash the car just about every other day.  We lived in a row house with a basement and a garage.  The garage was in the back of the house.  The back alley ran the whole length of the block. That’s it in the picture, looking pretty much as it did in the 1950’s.  There was a steep ramp from the top of the alley down into each garage. The ramp was about the length of a car.  Here is where everyone hung their laundry out to dry on clothes lines that ran from poles at the top of the ramp down to the garage wall. Most everyone kept the poles up permanently.  They were inserted into metal sockets cemented into the ground. 

Now, here’s is where things get tricky.  Assuming I talked my father into letting me wash the car, I would have to drive the car from the front of the house, around the block and up the alley to the ramp that descended into our garage.  At the top of the ramp, one on each side, were the clothes poles.  Now, since cars do not turn on 90 degree angles and there was no forgiveness from the poles if you tried, it took an accomplished driver to manipulate a car from the alley, between the poles and down the ramp.  While I had accomplished this task a good number of times, I am sure my father was thinking that eventually I would miscalculate the turn and wind up putting a dent in the side of the car. Isn’t it curious how fathers can actually predict these kinds of things happening?  Well, I don’t have to tell you how difficult it was to have to go into the house and tell my father I didn’t quite make it past the pole and I put dent in the side of the passenger door.

My father softly muttered, “Jesus Christ” and headed off to the basement and out the back door to inspect the damage, with me not far behind.  My father never yelled and cursed when he was really angry.  No, he’d maintain a quiet demeaner that screamed much louder.  I figured he’d appropriately express himself when he saw the big inward pucker in the car door.  As it turned out, he squatted down, inspected the damage and then quietly told me to go back into the house and get the toilet plunger.

Honest, I have never witnessed a true miracle firsthand, except that day when my father rammed a toilet plunder into the center of the dent I had put in the side door of the car and then proceeded to pull a mighty pull until the plunger unsucked itself from the surface of the door, fully pulling out the dent with it. The door looked perfect.  It was confirmed at that very moment: my father was the smartest man in the world.  My jaw remained slammed against the cement between my feet as he handed me the plunger and told me to put it back in the bathroom.  Then he went back inside to watch whatever it was on TV that I had interrupted.  It was probably a popular show at the time called …wait for it… ”Father Knows Best.”


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It has been a while since I have lazy’d up and spent time in my thinking chair on the back patio. Sports was the topic that came to mind this time. As I have confessed before, I am not a big sports fan, at least in terms of how I define BIG sports.  To be a big sports fan you have to follow and worship big sports:  football, baseball, basketball, ice hockey and soccer—all of these. Now don’t start adding onto my list.  These are the big sports, as far as I am concerned. There are plenty of others, (yeah, I know, I hear you shouting Nascar) but they are not worthy of the same bigness.  Big sports clearly achieve a very specific list of accomplishments:  They breed individual big-star athletes within a team environment.   They are mass appeal and attract a big fanatical fan base.  They generate big amounts of revenue. Okay, good.  Now we are on the same big page. 

I follow two of the big sports, baseball and football, but on a limited basis. The only baseball team I follow is the Chicago Cubs and the only football team is the Miami Dolphins.  Now, since I have recently moved I may well add or switch to two other teams: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Tampa Bay Rays. And, oh yeah, being a grad, I’ll watch Penn State football when the game is on TV.

In my former life as a radio producer/program director, I spent a number of Sundays producing the radio network broadcasts for both the Miami Dolphins and the Washington Redskins, now called the Washington Football Team. This experience actually taught me more about the nature of football players than it did about the game itself.  Nonetheless, I grew to like the game better than any other.

When you live year-round in South Florida one thing you lose is your sense of timing.  There are no clear-cut boundaries between the seasons.  To the point, there is little awareness of spring and fall.  There are no radical changes in temperature. Leaves do no fall leaving trees with bare limbs. Rested flowers don’t suddenly awaken and burst into colorful blooms. Pumpkin patches are few and far between.  But wait!  There are two indicators of the seasonal changes, at least for me.  There’s baseball in the spring and football in the fall.   

Hence, the proverbial crack of the bat and the quarterback’s hut-hut welcome us Floridians into spring and fall respectively. I favor the fall.  I used to like wearing that first sweater on a chilly day or looking as spiffy as I could in a three-piece suit.  Then too, fall signals the holiday season is just around the corner.  And, of course, what’s not to like about the food and family gatherings that fall brings to our tables.  It is a great time of the year.  And that’s what I’ve been thinking about as I sit in my thinking chair on the back patio. As I grow older I find these are the kinds of things that warrant more appreciation than the materials we seek and the impressions we feel we much make.  Yep, I am indeed … ready for some football!


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(Note: It is acknowledged Rubbermaid is a registered trademark, not indicated as such within this posting only because of technical restrictions of the format)

Hi, Captain Consumer here!  I just declared  myself a superhero and adopted that name. I got unusually good reaction to a posting I did a few months back.  Actually, I’ve discussed the issue a few times previously.  It has to do with consumer product packaging. I was born with a gene that makes me supersensitive to the pictures on packaging that do not accurately depict the product inside.  Last time it was crab cakes, this time it’s not the illustration itself that has me upset, but the deceptive design of the packaging and obscure disclosure.0.

Okay, what started today’s rampage?  Rubbermaid. Yep, Rubbermaid, a company whose products I’ve always purchased with absolutely no hesitation. They make all kinds of quality household goods from outdoor sheds to picnic coolers, to big and small trash cans, to a gazillion boxes and containers.  Oh, did I say containers?  You’ve seen the ones for food storage that all the supermarkets sell.  You know, the ones with the bright red lids. I’ll bet at least half of America’s refrigerators, at this very moment, have at least one Rubbermaid container filled with some kind of leftover sitting on a shelf inside.  And what do you do when you discover you don’t have the right size container or some of the lids mysteriously no longer fit any of the bottoms?  You buy more Rubbermaid containers.  Of course you do. 

And so, today I got some new Rubbermaid.  I bought two of the super big ones because I never have a large enough container when I make chocolate chip cookies.  Then I got a 3-pack of small containers for things like leftover veggies.  And now we’ve come to the main event!  This package appeared as it always has (see second picture beIow). There were three food storage containers stacked together as usual, but when I pulled them out of the cardboard sleeve , guess what?  They consisted of one container of the size I expected, and two SMALLER ones stacked inside the larger one.   That’s the three of them pictured below.

Of course, Rubbermaid will tell me they weren’t being deceptive since it is clearly disclosed on front of the sleeve that the containers vary in size.  Hence the next picture.

Now, you tell me, if you have been buying Rubbermaid food storage containers for several years and they’ve always been packaged the same way and the containers in each package have always been the same size…well, you get my point. 

Oh God, all I can here is my father oft-quoting Sir Walter Scott: “Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.”  Why is it so hard for some companies to simply be truthful when their economy calls for a product price change?  I rather pay another honest dime or two than have their marketing experts sit around their board room contriving ways to make obscure changes, thinking I’m too stupid to notice.  Is that too much of a stretch for Rubbermaid?  Shouldn’t be …think of their name.


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I was reluctant to begin this posting with the overused line, “When I was a young boy…” but I am at a loss for what to say otherwise. See, today I got to thinking about some random things out of my past, so tough it up and get ready…and, yes, that’s me in the picture…when I was a young boy.

When I was a young boy…Every drug store (now called pharmacies) had a soda fountain.  For six cents I could get a fresh made chocolate soda with a straw.  The person behind the counter (usually a high school kid who was referred to as a “soda jerk”) would grab a glass and pump a few squirts of chocolate syrup into it from a dispenser. Then, he’d put it under a spout and pull a lever to fill the glass with seltzer water. While the glass was filling he’d be whipping it all in a frenzy until the glass was full with a frothy chocolate head on top.  I must have consumed thousands of these when I was a young boy.

When I was a young boy…While I sipped away at my chocolate soda I could, if I wanted to spend an additional penny, lift the metal lid off a round glass container that rested atop every fountain counter in every drug store and help myself to a pretzel rod.  Yeah, I just reached in with my well-traveled dirty hands like everyone else and pulled out one of the unwrapped pretzel rods.  Mind you, these rods were nothing like the ones you buy today that are in a cellophane bag at the supermarket.  No way.  When I was a young boy the pretzel rods were longer and at least 2-to-3 times thicker.

When I was a young boy…At the very same fountain where I sipped my chocolate sodas and munched on pretzel rods, was where, every once in a while, my folks would spring for some ice cream.  Back then you could always get fresh ice cream like today: scooped from five-gallon cardboard tubs kept in freezer compartments behind the counter.  Except for cones, ice cream was sold “loose,” not packaged like today. You would tell the jerk what flavor and how much you wanted and he’d scoop your order into a paper tray, slap a piece of wax paper tissue over it, shove it in a brown paper bag and off you’d go, getting home as fast as you could.

When I was a young boyThere were no 7-11’s, Circle K’s or WaWa’s or anything called a convenience store.”  Nope, instead we had “luncheonettes.” These sold a conglomerate of limited essential goods–food and household products and fresh sliced cold cuts.  You could also sit in one of the small booths in the back and order a sandwich or a piece of pie with coffee.  This is where I was sent to get a loaf of bread or anything else we unexpectedly ran out of.  There was always a huge array of candy bars in front of the cash register.  And like the pretzel rods, these were much larger than the same ones today–and a LOT cheaper. This is where I stole my first and only piece of candy (a penny block of double-bubble) that left me scarred with guilt up until this very moment at which I am now confessing the crime committed.

When I was a young boy…Memories like these were abundant. Like just about everything in one’s time, there are events, and occurrences, and people that are no longer a part of your life.  Memories are all that’s left you.  I hope you have, or are, compiling your own collection.


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Recently, I’ve  gone back over some of the books I’ve written in an attempt to fix some little things that have bothered me about each. It may be a typo or misspelling that somehow got past the proof reader (that would be me), or I just want to change a word here or there.  After I finish tidying up my last book, titled AGAIN, I plan to officially retire from the book writing endeavor and move on to researching my ancestry, before I’m a part of it.

I have dabbled in the family history before, but I never really devoted the time and effort it needs.  My niece Zoe has championed the cause rather extensively, at least on my mother’s side of the family.  But it’s my father’s ancestors who remain elusive.  I hope to change that despite the fact that I often felt my dad wasn’t eager for a background check.  He never talked about his family and the only relatives I ever met were my grandparents and his half-sister’s family.  But they were all “current” while anyone beyond them never entered the conversation. They weren’t even mentioned in any of the gabfests around the big round table in my Aunt’s kitchen when we occasionally consumed several bushel baskets of hard shell Maryland crabs. These had been harvested earlier off the dock in her backyard. Anyway, I intend to hunt them down, the ancestors, not the crabs. 

I will most likely begin my project with learning as much as I can about my grandfather.  That’s him looking quite dapper while holding up a pole somewhere in Baltimore.  I remember him reasonably well.  He died when I was in my early twenties but he remains today very much in my thoughts. That’s because he holds the family record for living the longest—it’s either 82 or 84. I have to check it because I am determined to break that record.  I have, so far, surpassed everyone in my immediate family but I still have another 5-plus years to go before I break my grandfather’s benchmark.

By the way, my father once warned that anyone who researched his family would find only horse thieves and little else.  Which reminds me, I do have a picture of my dad when he was about 3-4 years old … sitting on a pony.


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Back in the late 1960’s, there was much to do about a media guru named Marshall McLuhan.  He birthed the phrase, the medium is the message.  If anything, it provided a new essay topic for college professors to assign their students.  McLuhan was referring to television more than anything else. Last week I was discussing the nicknames we give to specific generations.  I mentioned that I was assigned to a group of people called the Silent Generation.  Before me was the Greatest Generation and following me are the Baby Boomers. No wonder my peers and I were silent.  Nothing really definitive happened on our watch…except maybe television.  We should have been called the Television Generation.  McLuhan may have liked that. Here’s my case …

Based on the personal observation of a six-year-old (me), television didn’t arrive on the scene until the early 1950’s.  Sure, the technology was established before then, but as a mass medium, TV’s birth years began in the early ‘50’s.  I know, I was there.  There were few televisions in my post-war, middle class neighborhood.  But, once a new TV was unboxed and plugged in, well, that family had “arrived.” Then too, many of their neighbors arrived shortly thereafter to join the crowd in their living room that came by for a first-time looksee. 

Televisions, in the beginning, didn’t look anything like the huge wide-screen, high-definition monsters that we hang on our walls today.  Our first television had a screen about the size of a basketball and, of course, the picture was black and white.  Within ten years just about everything we did would revolve around the television.  What was on the television dictated when we ate, when we ran errands and when I did my homework.  As the TV screen grew, so did its intrusion into my life and everyone else’s.

There were only three channels initially, one for each of the three national networks: NBC, ABC and CBS.  True, larger markets may have had an additional independent or public channel, but they would have no impact until years later.  In the meantime, the nightly television schedule ruled.  I could instantly recite the evening program schedules of all three channels, Monday through Sunday. This was especially true in the 1960’s when evening television really “found itself.” These were the years that TV began understanding the sales potential of regularly scheduled weekly programming that was entertaining and brought back the same gigantic audience every week.  

Television went through phases when specific genre would overwhelm the programming.  There were fads like detective shows, comedy/variety, quiz shows and certainly not least were the westerns or the eventual evolution of sports.  Advertisers, meanwhile, grabbed hold of the new medium and quickly learned how to tremendously influence what we ate, brushed our teeth with, washed our clothes in, the kind of car we drove and the brand of cigarettes we smoked. 

Along with programming, the technology advanced as well.  In the late ’60’s the introduction of color television started the cycle all over again of keeping up with your neighbor.  Later, large flatscreens would do the same. So, it seems television had its discovery, growth, and most imfluential years during the span of my lifetime. Hence, I suggest replacing the Silent Generation with the Television Generation.  I rest my case.

What’s next?  For me, and I would guess for many others, it is not TV, at least as we know it.  Instead, it’s the cell phone, the laptop, the tablet and the smart watch.  The trend is well underway. These are the new toys we are spending our money on and our time with.  As they say, “times change.”  Indeed.  Last night I tried to remember the last time I turned on the TV with the intent of watching something … anything.  Couldn’t do it.  What was once the dominant medium in my life has become pretty much inconsequential. There is however, one remaining element that is common to all the current media: they all have a screen of some sort and that’s where people’s eyes and minds go when they need to communicate or be entertained, educated or enlightened. Dare I suggest this latest group of folks will become the Watchful Generation?                      


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I don’t know what got me started on this—well, actually I do.  It was YouTube, but hold that thought for a paragraph or two.

I do a lot of looking back lately.  I suppose that is natural when you reach the final years of your life. Oh, don’t get me wrong—I hope to be around a while yet. There is a line in a song called Bookends, by Simon and Garfunkel that wraps up one’s existence rather nicely:  “Preserve your memories, they’re all that’s left you.” 

So I have lots of memories, both good and bad, but mostly in between those two ends.  This is probably the normal course we all take.  We experience highs and lows, but between them are the day-to-day events and happenings we treat as routine.  But I have learned this is not necessarily correct. 

My mother used to say, “Things that matter little, matter much.”   Likewise, things routine may be routinely unique. They are the building blocks of one’s life. Our attitude may be routine, but it is the foundation of our character.  Our character may be routine, but it is the formative element of our personality.  One thing builds upon another, constructing the colossal structure called “me!”  “Me,” as you well know, is complex and one “me” is never duplicated; no two “me’s” are ever alike. And this leads off to where I am going.  Count on me to never take the direct route.

I often get snagged into watching amateur videos on YouTube.  This Internet site is one of the truly beneficial media today.  There isn’t a topic you can’t find on YouTube, whether it’s an instructional video on how to replace the ice maker in your refrigerator, or the brakes on your car, or a bountiful menu of human interactions.  The latter present an endless stream of life’s happenings among all us “me’s.” These include personal videos of things like soldiers coming home unexpectedly and surprising their loved ones … or guys planning out and playing out their marriage proposals to their unsuspecting significant others … or the same couples a little later on announcing “we’re pregnant!” to their elated parents.  It’s all there—the tears, the smiles, the wide eyes … you know, all the routine stuff.

What surfaces from many of these recorded events running on YouTube, at least for me as I look back, are the special emotions and feelings that life assigns only to the young in love.  You can see it in their body language, how they look at each other and the things they say.  This special stage in one’s life features all kinds of unique feelings never to be duplicated again.  Sure, love can carry through endless years of a relationship, but it never again spins the inner sparkle that whirls around two young people who have newly discovered a friendship for each other that goes beyond–well, let’s just say beyond routine. There really are no words to describe it.  This feeling, however, is a memory that will be left, should you choose to preserve it.


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Pain, I’ve been told, is a good thing.  It is the body’s way of informing you that something is wrong. Well, I have gotten the message and it’s been painfully clear.

One late night in April of 2020, I fell asleep while sitting in my desk chair.  This was not unusual. I was probably busy doing something at the computer, maybe even writing a posting for this blog. I really don’t remember.  Anyway, being the restless sleeper that I am, I apparently changed the position of the chair from facing the desk to facing the empty floor behind me.  Still nothing unusual here, except that my weight must have shifted forward.  When this happens while the chair is facing the desk, as it often has, I usually wake up after I have fallen forward and planted my face in the keyboard.  Luckily, the letters rarely suffer any damage, nor I.  This time, however, the desk wasn’t there to break my fall—the hardwood floor was.  I awoke a nanosecond before I landed on my cheekbone.  When I came to my senses, most of them were gone.  I could not feel or move anything below my neck.  It was, needless to say, a horrifying experience.  Fortunately, it was not permanent.

To make a long, arduous story short, I am back on my feet, although walking with a cane, still in therapy and gulping down two loads of colorful pills every day.  While I have made tremendous progress recovering from my fall, there remains one constant: pain.  

I have a history of tolerating a high level of pain even to the extent that my dentist has volunteered to take a shot of Novocain in sympathy while I let him drill away at me teeth without any.  But this year’s been different.  It’s not so much the level of pain.  It’s the fact that it never goes away.  Among my many medical issues symptomatic of my age and surgeries, something is always hurting.  After a while, I admit, it wears you down. 

Mornings are especially challenging. Muscles and joints grow stiff while the body sleeps and they resist attempts to move when it’s time to get up. But looking on the bright side, opening my eyes in the morning and knowing I’ve been granted another day, well that gives me incentive to get bending.

The challenge of chronic pain is to learn to live with it.  Some people pop a lot of pain pills to get through the day.  Many of these folks become addicted, only adding to their suffering.   Others look to holistic alternatives for relief.  Some experiment, as I did with medical marijuana (no, it didn’t work for me). Still others trudge on, hoping some day the pain will simply go away.  I am in this latter group too.  I take an occasional pain pill but I am careful not to rely on them for everyday relief, which they don’t always provide anyway.

I sympathize with people who suffer with chronic pain.  It has the capability of taking all joy out of life and leaves you not only physically hurting, but emotionally exhausted.  Having experienced almost total paralysis, albeit for a short time, I look at my battle with pain as a much more manageable challenge.  I often think of the old joke about the guy who keeps banging his head with a hammer. He’s asked why and answers, “because it feels so good when I stop.”


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