Saturday, December 31, 2011

Your choice...

I wrote this poem in 2002 but it continues to represent my feelings for the New Year... 


An optimist and pessimist await the New Year Hour
One with eager smile, one's expression sour.

The pessimist looks back and groans, "Time goes by so fast!"
The optimist looks back and grins, "More memories to last!"

The pessimist recalls the debts, the dollars thrown away.
The optimist recalls the gains, the values earned each day.

The pessimist sees struggles fought, times that trouble crossed.
The optimist sees each success and respects the cost.

The pessimist looks back and sighs, "I should have not done that."
The optimist: "How much I've learned..."  And gives himself a pat.

The pessimist says, "What a year!  I've never known such woe."
The optimist says, "What a year! ...Amazing how we grow."

One with eyes so used to seeing problems every day.
One with eyes so used to seeking out a better way.

An optimist and pessimist await the New Year Hour
One with eager smile, one's expression sour.

And when the midnight chime does ring both turn to look ahead
The optimist with hope and dreams, the pessimist with dread.

So pour a toast and raise a glass.  Take a drink until
Your glass reflects the year ahead:  Half empty or half full.

Monday, December 26, 2011

A new year = a new chance for successful sandhill crane nests

Roosting cranes prepare to spend the night on a tiny spit of land submerged beneath a thin sheet of water.

Simply Living

December 26, 2011
We haven't had a significant rain in weeks and because of that, the level of water in our lake has gradually decreased. Islands of peat and sand that are normally submerged have begun to appear.

I'm not the only one to notice. A pair of sandhill cranes has returned, flying in every evening to roost on one of the tiny spits of land surrounded by shallow water.

For years, the seasonal islands in our lake have been the preferred nesting spot for a pair of sandhill cranes. Like many birds, sandhill cranes return to the same nesting places annually. In our lake, their chosen spot is always an island, a minuscule land mass a short distance offshore.

It's a precarious choice.

If the weather cooperates and rainfall is limited, the lake level will continue to drop and the islands will stay visible and viable for nest building. However, if sudden downpours happen and precipitation increases, the water level will gradually rise. The islands (including any nests and eggs) will disappear beneath a blanket of waves.

The sandhill cranes don't seem to mind the insecurity of their nesting site. Instinct tells them to return to the spot where they've nested before so that's what they do. Even though previous nests have been lost when water levels rose, an inner voice commands and they dutifully follow.

Earlier this year I watched as the birds — most likely the same two frequenting the lake today — industriously built a tidy nest of sticks and reeds on spit of land a few feet off the northern shoreline. First one then two eggs appeared. The adult birds diligently guarded their nest but no amount of care or avian protection could prevent rain from falling. In April 2011, water levels rose steadily until one day the nest vanished, submerging the eggs in a watery grave.

Two sandhill crane eggs as seen a few days before they disappeared beneath rising water in our lake last April.

It surprises me that the birds don't remember. If they did, I would think they'd try harder to find a different spot to raise their young. As Ralph and I walked around the lake, we passed several large masses of peat and sand that had recently appeared. The two cranes, however, hadn't chosen one of those islands for their nightly roost. The only visible parts of the still-submerged isle they selected were a few reeds poking above the quiet water.

Change happens quickly.

If it doesn't rain for a few more days, more land will appear. If we have a dry winter and if the birds decide to stay and build a nest, the eggs they lay will have a good chance of surviving.

That's a lot of ifs.

Nature is nothing if not full of surprises. I find it surprising that the sandhill cranes have returned to the same place they have nested before and equally surprising that they've timed their arrival exactly when the water level is low enough for submerged islands to appear. But perhaps most surprising of all is the resurgence of hope their arrival triggers.

Despite past disappointments, I'm optimistic that this time around nest building will be successful for the sandhill cranes. I'm hopeful that any eggs they lay will live, and any chicks that are born will survive.

We're on the cusp of a new year. I can't think of a more appropriate time for a flush of irrational optimism.

The sandhill cranes act on instinct, but they're not the only ones listening to an inner voice.

My instinct tells me to be ever hopeful, to see things in a positive light and wish for the best. Like the birds attempting to nest in our lake, I'm not always successful but that doesn't stop me from hatching hopes anew.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Journaling...a noteworthy effort

An inexpensive monthly planner works well as a journal as long as you have a fine-tipped pen and small handwriting.
Simply Living
December 19, 2011

At the end of December, I enter reflection mode. I flip back through the pages of my journal to review annual goals and consider our accomplishments. Each turn of the page triggers memories. I remember the good times, the bad times and everything in between.

I've been our family's record keeper for more than four decades. During some of those years, my journaling efforts were sparse to nonexistent, but since 2000, I've been a diligent recorder of daily doings.

Each month, I post a family review on the computer, but every day I use good old-fashioned paper and pen to jot down the most important information. My journal is a monthly planner that looks like a thin book. Two pages span each month with small squares allotted for every day.

My writing is tiny. It has to be in order to fit even the most rudimentary reporting into the inch-by-inch blocks. A pen with a fine point is necessary, and when I have more to say than will fit, I turn the book sideways and write in the margins.

Record keeping is essential when you get to a certain age. Without a written log, I'd have no idea when we converted our youngest child's bedroom into a kitchen pantry, planted a stand of yin-yang bamboo across from my office window, bought a new-to-me car or did any of a number of small and large accomplishments.

Even when young, it's difficult to remember milestones. When my grandchildren were born, I encouraged their mothers, my two daughters, to keep journals.

"You think you'll remember when the babies first turned over, sat up or had their first belly laugh," I told them. "But you won't. Unless you write stuff like that down, you'll forget. You'll be too busy or too tired. That's just the way it is."

In addition to keeping track of day-to-day events, on the inside back page of my planner I keep a list of yearly goals. I learned years ago that one of the best ways to accomplish dreams is to spell them out, review them regularly and check each one off when completed. It's a simple but effective system. Ralph and I didn't accomplish all our goals for 2011, but a check-mark and date stands next to many.

Oddly enough, one of the most noteworthy of our 2011 accomplishments didn't take any effort by Ralph or me at all. It wasn't on our list of goals and it came about as a complete surprise — at least to us. In 2011, our number of grandchildren quadrupled, from one to four. Our daughter Jenny had twin girls in August, and just a few days ago, our oldest child, Amber, gave birth to her second child and first daughter.

December is, and perhaps always will be, a time for reflection. It's a heady feeling reviewing a year. As I leaf through the inked-in pages in my inexpensive planner, I'm amazed how a few words in a notebook can trigger a flood of memories. Like all years, 2011 was a mixture of positives and negatives. There were difficulties and frustrations, times of anxiety, worry and loss. Fortunately, there were also many days of gladness, unexpected wonders and unbridled joy.

It doesn't matter what form record keeping takes — an online blog, scribbles in a loose-leaf notebook or tiny printing in the blocks of a calendar. The important thing to remember is just that: to remember.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Vines are...divine!

Blue sky vine beautifies a chain link fence
Simply Living
December 12, 2011

I love vines.

I love their tenacity and reckless abandon. I love the way they march onward and upward despite minimal care and attention.

I find their variations in fragrance, color and delicate beauty appealing. I see vines growing in wild places or in other people's yards, and I want them. They captivate and entice me.

Fortunately, I'm learning to resist.

Vines have a way of taking over. It's in their nature. If you are prepared and willing to put the time and effort into reining them in, then cultivating vines is a worthy occupation. They can look lovely crawling over an arbor, trellis or pergola, and they work well at hiding an unattractive wall or object. Vines add beauty to a hanging basket and do a good job as a ground cover. However, if you are unable to regularly monitor and control their growth, a pretty little vine can turn into a pretty big problem.

I've made the mistake of planting vines and watching them grow out of control on numerous occasions. I've done it with wild morning glory, purple and white wisteria, passionflower, cypress vine and Dutchman's pipevine. In each case, what started as a snip — a tiny cutting gleaned from a larger plant — turned into a rambling monster over the course of a summer.

Part of the problem is that vines know no bounds. When you plant a broccoli seedling or an impatiens plant, it grows bigger and broader but never wanders. It stays put — a concept that doesn't mesh with the word "vine."

A vine's essence is to grow up, stretch out, sprawl sideways. It does whatever it can to extend its range as far away from the initial root as possible. Some vines do their climbing with help from tendrils, while others twine or use aerial rootlets. Whatever the method, the result is expansive growth far beyond where the plant was originally established.

Pruning is necessary to keep vines in check.

When it comes to vines, I also require a certain amount of restraint. I need to prune back my predilection to cultivate more vines than I have time or energy to control.

Recently, I've found myself coveting a blue sky vine that grows along the entry fence to a home on one of the back roads I frequent. Every time I drive by, I feel a yearning. I want that vine! Its flowers are such a beautiful shade of blue. It looks so pretty along the fence.

If I stopped and asked, I'm sure the homeowners wouldn't object to my taking a clipping, snipping off a little segment to plant at my own home. But if I got a clipping, what then? Once it was rooted, where would I place it? Would it grow out of control as so many other vines have done? Would it become a problem?

It probably would.

Before I add any new vines to the landscape, I need a plan, a place for them to grow and a means to control them when — not if — they start to grow out of bounds.

I have a solution, at least in my mind.

I envision a series of arbors in a long row. The arbors would form a tunnel that I could walk through and on each one, a different vine would climb and twine. The arbors would be separate so that the plants couldn't intermingle. Mowing the ground between them would keep them contained.

I love vines but I'm trying hard to resist the urge to add more to the landscape. Someday I might get a snip of that lovely blue sky vine but I've promised myself it won't be until all the necessary infrastructure is in place and I have the time and inclination to keep the vine in check.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Firespike adds festive touch to garden

A cloudless sulfur butterfly sips nectar from a firespike bloom

Simply Living
December 5, 2011

During December when brown leathery sycamore leaves are covering the ground and orange tangerines dangle from citrus trees like ornaments, the waxy red blooms of firespike add a festive glow to the garden.

Firespike, botanically known as Odontonema strictum, is an herbaceous perennial with foot-long spikes of showy flowers extending out of glossy foliage. Standing about 6 feet tall in shrubby clumps, this South American native is a wonderful addition to the landscape because it doubles both as an easy-to-grow bush and a wildlife magnet to butterflies and hummingbirds.

I can't remember when I first discovered the firespike plant or where my original cutting came from but this late-summer-through-winter bloomer has been adding color to my garden palette for years. Because it is so tall, firespike does best as a background plant where it can stretch upward without overshadowing shorter plants.

On several occasions, I've made the mistake of placing it in the wrong spot but I've managed to dig up and move plants without problems. That's because firespike is resilient. This drought-tolerant perennial will happily grow in sunny as well as shady locations and is easily propagated by divisions, cuttings or sometimes even by sticking a clipped off branch into the ground.

One has to wonder if a plant this easy to propagate is invasive. Fortunately, the answer is 'No.' Although it readily reseeds, sprouts don't emerge far from the mother plant so it doesn't spread out of control. New shoots merely increase the bush's girth.

Firespike's waxy red blooms, born in clusters along foot-long stems, make great cut flowers. They look especially nice in bouquets with Mexican sunflowers, another late-season blossom. I'm not alone in finding firespike attractive. Many species of butterflies like them as well. Cloudless sulfur butterflies are especially fond of this winter source of nectar. On a sunny day, several of the white-to-pale-yellow flutterers hover around a bush as if awaiting entry to a popular eatery.

Hummingbirds come to dine, too. Individual flowers have thin tubes with fluted rims that seem ready made to accommodate a hummingbird's bill. The blooms are also a brilliant candy-cane red, a color hummers find most attractive.

If you're thinking firespike sounds like the perfect plant, you're not far off. In addition to its tolerance of either shade or sunlight, firespike accepts a variety of soil conditions. It does well in sandy, loamy or even clay soil and doesn't suffer when pruned back during the growing season.

However, like most things that seem too good to be true, firespike has an imperfection: It can't tolerate cold. For the past three winters, freezing temperatures have killed back the top growth on every one of my bushes. Although the roots don't die and the plants rebound the next year, their sensitivity to cold leaves me, well, in the cold.

A single failing, however, can't spoil my enjoyment of this seasonal beauty. If firespike makes December a bit more festive and then fades away when freezing weather hits, so be it. Sometimes it's the tiny flaws that make us appreciate beauty, and the inevitable fade only makes the present more special.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Savor the moment

Watching the babies you once held in your own arms mirror that love to a new generation is one of life’s many pleasures. In picture:  (bottom row, from left) Brett Constantine holding Ella Constantine, Jenny Boas holding Maya Constantine (top row, from left) Amber Boas, Atom Fischler, Scott Fischler  

Simply Living
November 28, 2011

At the end of October, I celebrated my 60th birthday. I've made many discoveries in my lifetime, but perhaps the most relevant is that the older I get, the more precious time becomes. When I was younger, I often wished time away.

"I can't wait until summer," I'd say, or "I wish it were the weekend."

These days, I try not to do that. I've come to realize how precious and limited time is, so I try to savor the moment. Not only do I take time, I consciously make time to treasure everyday pleasures.

It's the little things that make my heart sing. When I wake up and see the morning mist on the lake, I smile. I consider the amber light that precedes dusk a gift. When I smell a flower, pick a bouquet or watch the erratic flight of a dragonfly, I'm enjoying nature, souvenirs of life that are always there if I only make an effort to look at them and see.

Not a day goes by without multiple reasons to be thankful. The very act of waking up is a gift in itself. When I'm feeling bad — if I'm sick or upset, weary or depressed — I try to consider how much worse things could be. I'm thankful for the good times. I'm grateful for a world filled with marvel and wonder, for the love and caring of family and friends.

My husband, children and grandchildren provide endless sources of bliss. Ralph's kindnesses and little gestures — the breakfast he prepares for us each morning, the way he runs his fingers through my hair when we're watching TV, his eagerness to spend time with me, his patience and consideration — make me feel loved and appreciated.

Some people think money and material items are important, but my fortune is in having such a caring partner. My husband and I share that richness by passing it along to future generations.

This past week centered on family. All four of our offspring were here, including my two daughters, who have children of their own. As I watched Amber with her 2-year-old son and Jenny with her 3-month-old twins, I was awed not only by the passage of time but also by the layers of love that exist in a family. Seeing your own children grow up is remarkable in itself, but even more amazing is watching the babies you once held in your own arms mirror that love to a new generation.

Sixty years is the equivalent of 21,900 days, and while 21,900 is a large number, I don't think it could ever be big enough to waste even one of those days on wishes of tomorrow. The present is a gift that's precious and special. Being present — being aware of what's happening in the moment — is perhaps the most valuable gift of all.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Knock-knock...who's there?

An Eastern Phoebe poses on a bamboo cane before attacking its reflection in the window

Simply Living
November 21, 2011

Several years ago, a rufous-sided towhee raged war against the window in my old office. Every day for weeks, the male bird relentlessly attacked the glass with his black, pointy beak.

A couple of years later, a red cardinal engaged in a similar battle. However, unlike the towhee, which focused his testosterone-triggered attention on one particular window, the cardinal made a broader territorial claim. His war involved any surface reflecting his image, including the side-view mirrors on my car.

This year, a new bird has taken up the cause. An Eastern phoebe, a sweet little bird in the flycatcher family, is determined to prove his prowess against the reflection he sees in my current office window.

The Eastern phoebe is a medium-size, brownish-gray bird with white-buff undersides, a black bill, a forked tail and a slightly oversized, darker gray head. One of the phoebe's distinguishing characteristics is the bobbing of its tail feathers up and down, often accompanied by the fluffing of its crown feathers.

Phoebes are wonderful birds to have around homes and gardens because they eat the insects most people find annoying. Ticks, spiders, flies, gnats, mosquitoes, moths, bees and wasps are among the delicacies phoebes enjoy. Bugs are usually caught on the wing, but the phoebe will occasionally pluck an insect off plants or, as I've recently observed, off a window screen.

Distinguishing between the two sexes by physical characteristics alone is difficult with phoebes. Males are slightly larger, and their plumage is somewhat darker, but both of those traits are hard to observe unless the birds are together — and phoebes rarely are. I saw two birds on one occasion, but the rest of the time, I've seen only one. From my observations of that solitary bug-catcher, I've concluded that the bird attacking my window is male — not by the way he looks but by his actions and voice.

Although female phoebes sing, their songs are brief and infrequent. The bird I've observed vocalizes continually. His habit is to perch upon a bamboo pole about three feet away from the window, bob his tail, make some noise, flutter a few inches up into the air, turn around and resettle on the pole, only to repeat the pattern. Intermittently, he attacks the window with his beak, sometimes latching on to the screen with his little claws, spreading his tail feathers and wildly flapping his wings.

The first time that happened, I got scared. I thought the bird was stuck, so I ran outside to help. I needn't have worried. Apparently, the whole body-to-the-window thing was part of his hormonally driven plan to thwart adversaries. As soon as the bird saw me, he easily detached himself from the screen and flew away. I guess the phoebe thought if he waged an all-out, full-body approach, he might succeed at scaring off his reflection. No such luck.

Male birds attack their reflections because of what scientists call "gonadal recrudescence." Testosterone surges during spring mating season and again in autumn. This hormonal flush causes some males to enter defense mode. They deal with any perceived threat to themselves or their mate through posturing, vocalizations and direct body contact.

Such noble but fruitless efforts … such winged flights of fancy.

As much as I love birds, I find the actions of these males baffling. Head-banging against glass seems a step backward on the evolutionary highway.

It's not as if birds are incapable of learning new behaviors. Over time, birds have learned to avoid poisonous or foul-tasting insects. They've learned not to frequent areas that would put them into direct contact with predators. There is even evidence that some birds have learned to avoid newly established and potentially harmful wind turbines. Yet, these flying bits of feather and bone can't overcome the urge to attack their reflection.

The little phoebe at my window is the latest in what will most likely be a stream of avian gladiators, willing to risk their all in defense of their families. Birds may be small — the phoebe weighs less than three quarters — but they are large in determination and devotion to a cause. I just wish their efforts were less painful.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Snakes make me feel safe

A black racer slithers across the lawn

Simply Living
November 14, 2011

I was about to enter the porch from outside when a long, black snake slithered by.

"The black racer's back!" I shouted to Ralph as I stepped back to let it pass. "It's heading toward that hole underneath the addition."

Ralph and I share our yard with a number of non-venomous snakes, and the black racer is one of our regulars. We have what I like to think of as a symbiotic relationship. In exchange for a yard filled with snake-friendly hiding places, these slithering cords of bone and scale keep the rodent population in check. It's a mutually beneficial arrangement.

Although many people would shudder at the thought of coexisting with snakes, I find it comforting. Snakes make me feel safe because, although I seldom see them, I know they are out there patrolling the ground around my house. I don't love mice, but snakes do. They love them to death — a good thing because the fewer mice there are to sneak into my house, the happier I am.

My affection for snakes is not new. I've felt this way since childhood, which is somewhat surprising since I grew up with a parent who abhorred snakes. My mother was so frightened by long, squirmy creatures that even an earthworm could trigger a trembling frenzy. Looking back, I can see how my mother's irrational fears might have prompted my own positive attitude. I like snakes in part because I know how misunderstood and underappreciated they can be.

Of the 50 snake species in Florida, only half a dozen are venomous, and two of the six (Southern copperhead and timber rattlesnake) are not even found in the central part of the state. Every year, venomous snakes bite about 8,000 people in the United States, but an average of only six people die from those bites. Nine times as many fatalities occur annually because of wasp, hornet or bee bites. The number of snake-related deaths is far too small to warrant such widespread paranoia.

Unfortunately, it doesn't matter how few dangerous snakes there are or how rarely snakebites result in death. Snakes remain one of the most maligned animals on the planet. All members of this beneficial species receive universal hatred and fear.

It's odd that creatures that do so much good are the subject of such loathing. Without snakes, mice and rat populations would get out of control, causing disease-carrying rodents to run rampant in yards, barnyards and houses. Fortunately, snakes don't let that happen. Unbeknownst to most humans, snakes go about their business of silently stalking and devouring prey. No dangerous poisons are necessary when snakes are on the job. No-pest control companies are involved or dollars exchanged. Snakes work for food and, luckily for us, the foods they prefer are the animals and insects we least want around our houses.

When I chanced upon a black racer as I was about to enter the porch, my reaction wasn't fright but delight. I hadn't seen the snake in a while, but the black racer was there all along. It was just doing what snakes do — furtively stalking sources of food and absorbing heat from the sun.

In a perfect world, people wouldn't react with irrational fear to animals that do more good than harm. They wouldn't go crazy at the sight of snakes. The vast majority of snakes in Florida present no threat to humans, yet people kill them indiscriminately. My yard is far from ideal, but when it comes to snakes, it is a perfect haven.

"I'm going to run inside to get the camera," I called to Ralph after I saw the snake. But by the time I returned, the black racer had disappeared into the hole. Fortunately for me (and for the snake!), there will be a next time.

Monday, November 7, 2011

An anhinga discovers Bare Lake

An anhinga spreads its wings wide to dry in the breeze

Simply Living
November 7, 2011

An anhinga has taken a liking to our lake. It arrives in the morning and spends the day either in the water fishing or perched nearby drying its wings.

Anhingas differ from most water birds in that they don't have oil glands to waterproof their feathers. Unlike ducks that can dive under water and return to the surface, the anhinga must air-dry its feathers after each submersion. The bird in our lake re-fluffs its feathers in various locations. Sometimes it sits atop the mid-lake platform, while other times it stands on a partly submerged log, on the uppermost canes of bamboo or even on the arms of a plastic chair on our beach.

"Come see this bird by the beach!" my husband called from the porch.

"It's an anhinga," I said when I joined him outside. "Or a cormorant — I'm not sure which."

Because the two birds look very much alike and have overlapping habitats, they are often mistaken for each other. Both are large, dark-colored water birds without oil glands that swim through the water with only their heads exposed and spend extended periods perched along waterways air-drying their broad, outstretched wings.

Although there are several noticeable differences between the two fish-eating predators, the easiest way to determine which bird is which is to focus on the neck and bill. If you are looking at a slender, long-necked bird with a straight, pointy beak, it's probably an anhinga. However, if the bird you see has a shorter neck with a curved, hooklike bill, it is most likely a cormorant. Cormorants also have a distinctive orange throat pouch as well as a stockier body and shorter tail feathers than anhingas.

Despite those differences, I still get confused. I've found the easiest way to distinguish between the two is to think of the anhinga's nickname, snakebird. Since the anhinga's neck is so long, it is sometimes mistaken for a snake.

Anhingas and cormorants share similar diets, but their methods of catching food differ. The cormorant uses its hook-shaped, serrated-edge beak to grasp slippery prey, while the anhinga impales its catch on its long, pointy bill. Once prey is caught, the cormorant will eat under water while the anhinga tends to devour its meal on land by tossing it into the air and swallowing it whole. Occasionally a fish will be so severely speared that the anhinga will have to ease it off its beak by rubbing against a hard object.

I haven't watched the anhinga in our lake devour any fish, but I have seen it dive off its perch in search of food. The main time I notice this 3-foot-tall water bird is when its 48-inch long wings are open to catch the breeze.

"It really seems to like that plastic chair," my husband said as we stood outside watching the bird watch us while it air-dried its wings.

"I thought it would mind us being so close but it doesn't seem scared," I said as we eased closer to get a better look.

The bird didn't have much choice but to wait patiently for us to go away. An anhinga with wet wings has difficulty flying. It can do little more than skip along the water's surface while madly flapping its wings.

"I'm glad it's here," I said, when we returned to the house. "I like looking out and seeing it on the perch. It's a weird- looking bird, especially with its wings outstretched, but also exotic."

Herons, ibises, wood storks, egrets, rails, grebes, ospreys, hawks, various ducks and the occasional eagle have all made their appearance on our lake at one time or another. Some are regulars while others come and go with the seasons. Whether the anhinga is an occasional visitor or takes up residency matters little. Every bird is a welcome addition.

I recently received an email from an Everglades National Park volunteer with some relevant information about anhingas.  Here's his email in full:

I recently read one of your 2011 articles on Anhingas, and felt an
irresistible urge to correct an error of fact. Anhingas do have
uropygial or preening oil glands. Their wing and tail feathers are
fully waterproofed contrary to Audubon and most other sources, even
reputable ones. Please see photos (1st one not mine) showing gland and
preening. Another way to prove this is to take a feather, dip it it
water, remove, perform a couple of Flitwickian swishes and slicks, and
you will be hard put to to wring even a small droplet of water.

I have had to suffer an education about blindly accepting "facts" from
authoritative sources on nature. As an Everglades National Park
volunteer whose job includes interpreting wildlife for visitors, I now
check everything with judicious observation and with experienced
colleagues. I preface what I say with "I have read that..." or "we
think that...." Only when I have verified something by observation and
concentrated research can I claim something is true. And even then, I
suspect that half of what I say is wrong.

Meant in a friendly way....

Chris Reiss