Down the memory line

General banter about diving and why we love it.
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Jan K
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Re: Down the memory line

Postby Jan K » Wed Dec 15, 2010 11:12 pm

With Afrodite secured at the dock in Panama Yacht Club, we crated all the dive gear,
compressor and shipped it back to the states. For this group, the trip was over.
We did not find treasure, but we had great time. It is the memories which are the
real treasure. That nine people and a small dog got along on a small boat for two months
speaks for itself :grouphug:
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I crossed the Isthmus to the Pacific Ocean not aboard the boat, but on train.
It was time to return home and to earn some money again ... :pale:
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Survived sightseeing of Panama City, bought a ticket for 347 dollars to fly back
to Los Angeles .
It took two months to get here and one day to get back home. :)
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P.S. After my return to "normal" life, which took me eventually out of the country
again, I learned that Afrodite did not make it to California. She struck a reef in
Costa Rica during a storm. Fortunately, nobody got hurt, but the boat was a total loss.

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Jan K
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Re: Down the memory line

Postby Jan K » Wed Dec 15, 2010 10:12 am

As the voyage slowly winds down, we decided to make one more detour to check out
diving at the San Blas Islands in Panama. But first we clear in at the Canal Zone.
We drop anchor behind the breakwater, man from the Panama Canal Company pays
us a visit, paperwork filled out. He told us we don't need visa to go outside the Canal
Zone, Yellow fever is not bad here and we don't need shots, and it has been solid
overcast here for eight weeks.. Not a good news. We move Afrodite to Panama Yacht
Club and wait for the Customs there. Raining. After few days devoted to resupply,
work on the boat and then cast off for last leg of our trip.
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At El Porvenir island we clear in, get our passports stamped, the rule is Panamanian
flag has to be flown, fee for taking pictures - 25 cents per each person photographed.
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Well, the diving was OK, but since the weather was not as nice as we were hoping for,
almost constant overcast with frequent showers, very high humidity and mosquitoes
when the wind died down made the stay in the San Blas Islands less enjoyable.
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Also the gear started to show wear and tear. The inflatable needed more and more
patches, the strobe was misbehaving, it was time to wrap this trip up.
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Jan K
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Re: Down the memory line

Postby Jan K » Tue Dec 14, 2010 10:36 am

dwashbur wrote:Of all the phrases I have heard or read in my lifetime, or expect to hear or write, I can honestly say "sick from eating a barracuda" was not among them. Priceless!

Thanks Dave. I learned about it from previous trips, the common wisdom is: ask the locals.
But obviously "local knowledge" did not work in the case of the Tarzan projectionist :eek:
Here is better explanation from Wikipedia:
Ciguatera is a foodborne illness caused by eating certain reef fishes whose flesh is contaminated with toxins originally produced by dinoflagellates such as Gambierdiscus toxicus which lives in tropical and subtropical waters. These dinoflagellates adhere to coral, algae and seaweed, where they are eaten by herbivorous fish who in turn are eaten by larger carnivorous fish. In this way the toxins move up the foodchain and bioaccumulate. Predator species near the top of the food chain in tropical and subtropical waters, such as barracudas, snapper, moray eels, parrotfishes, groupers, triggerfishes and amberjacks, are most likely to cause ciguatera poisoning, although many other species cause occasional outbreaks of toxicity. Ciguatoxin is very heat-resistant, so ciguatoxin-laden fish cannot be detoxified by conventional cooking.

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dwashbur
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Re: Down the memory line

Postby dwashbur » Tue Dec 14, 2010 10:08 am

Of all the phrases I have heard or read in my lifetime, or expect to hear or write, I can honestly say "sick from eating a barracuda" was not among them. Priceless!

Please keep this going, and please keep thinking about making it into a book. This is fantastic.
Dave

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Jan K
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Re: Down the memory line

Postby Jan K » Tue Dec 14, 2010 9:43 am

Another try to find riches on our way to Panama, terminus of Afrodite's voyage was also a sliver of dry
land, Serrana Bank. At least here we found some vegetation to resemble oasis. What we found was
lots of sand and few coral outcroppings.
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Our next stop was real island with palm trees and even a mountain of sorts. Interestingly,
we had to hire an agent to handle the paperwork with authorities as if we were a big
cargo ship. I guess, it provided just one more job on the island with so few outside visitors.
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There is little of modern entertainment accessible to the local population. Even we were
caught in the fever to see the widely advertised Tarzan movie. And we shared the disappointment
when the showing was postponed because the only person who knew how to operate the
movie projector was sick after eating a barracuda.
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To walk around the island on the only gravel road provides a glimpse into lives
of population connected to the outside world by occasional cargo supply ship and sporadic
flights of Grumman Goose. Husband and wife from Europe who settled here with the
dream to cater to cater to tourists temporarily seeking refuge from the hustle of modern
life only to discover that the tourists are not coming. And then are the majority of locals
who don't see the need to dig by hand down thirty feet to access drinking water like the
Dutch Inn people did. The drought is probably not that frequent and rain encatchment works
fine for most of the time.
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It is a nice place when the sun shines and the trade winds don't blow too strong.
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The nearby barrier reef shows a potential for some good diving, unfortunately the
weather conditions were not favorable for excursions out into the exposed waters
far away from land. Live boating was not in our program...
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Jan K
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Re: Down the memory line

Postby Jan K » Mon Dec 13, 2010 9:19 am

Leaving behind the great, but frequently dived waters of the Cayman Islands,
Afrodite heads for the mysterious spot in the Caribbean Sea - Bajo Nuevo Bank.
We did not have any inside info about what the diving there has to offer, but
it being on the route of Spanish galleons .
The Tierra Firme fleet, or galeones, made for Cartagena to take on South American
products. Some ships were sent to Portobello in Panama to pick up Peruvian silver,
while others went to the island of Margarita to collect pearls harvested from offshore
oyster beds. Once loading was completed, both fleets sailed for Havana, Cuba to
rendezvous for the journey back to Spain.
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Today we know so much more about shark behavior that we understand that humans
are not their source of protein, and that sharks are not the killers of the sea they
were portrayed to be. Divers now attend shark feeding session getting closeup pictures
without much concern for becoming food themselves.
Back in 1978, we still viewed sharks like unpredictable danger beasts. Yes, we
looked forward to see them, but there was always this nagging fear of them :eek:
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coach_izzy
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Re: Down the memory line

Postby coach_izzy » Sun Dec 12, 2010 4:24 pm

:notworthy: :notworthy: :notworthy:
Wow! You do have a gift my friend! Really having a blast following up.

:thankyouyellow:
Coach Izzy
Scuba Diving Fitness
"A fit diver is a safer diver and a better buddy"
In Pain?

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Jan K
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Re: Down the memory line

Postby Jan K » Sun Dec 12, 2010 9:50 am

And it was time to cast off the lines and sail away from the populous island and
head out in search of the less visited parts of the Caribbean. Sailing past wreck
stranded on reef, which is always a sobering sight for a seafaring guy, we turn
the bow towards Cayman Brac, little island off the tourist trade.
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As expected, diving is great, never far from our moored Afrodite. Somehow
I expected to see more big fish, but maybe it is all because of the skills of
local fishermen.
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Although this was not planned as a strictly diving venture, everybody took an
advantage of clear and warm waters, even the non divers among us got a short
lessons in scuba and enjoyed the underwater scene.
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Of course, land excursions were part of the course, no mosquitos tormenting us here.
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But the real attraction for me was diving ... :luv:
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Jan K
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Re: Down the memory line

Postby Jan K » Sat Dec 11, 2010 4:06 pm

Thanks Coach, glad that you enjoy this ..
I hardly unpacked my bags from trip to Hawaii when I got an offer I just could not
refuse. Warm water and chance to search for treasure in a company of old friends?
Off to the Caribbean ! :pirate: :luv:
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I joint the boat in the Cayman Islands, nine people on 58 foot sailboat - well little crowded,
but since we all knew each other - lets cast off onto adventure ! :grouphug:
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The visibility in the Caymans is as promised : fantastic. Of course my photos don't do
this place a justice.
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coach_izzy
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Re: Down the memory line

Postby coach_izzy » Fri Dec 10, 2010 7:49 pm

This material is coffee table worthy! Well produced, entertaining, AND informative, all the makings of a good book. This is the kind of book many divers would love to have in their travel bag for their in-flight reading, sure you do not want to publish it? Thanks so much for sharing Jan.
Coach Izzy
Scuba Diving Fitness
"A fit diver is a safer diver and a better buddy"
In Pain?

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Dashrynn
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Re: Down the memory line

Postby Dashrynn » Fri Dec 10, 2010 5:35 pm

Wow...never knew history could be so exciting!

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Jan K
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Re: Down the memory line

Postby Jan K » Fri Dec 10, 2010 11:21 am

It was great to meet with Pavel, my shipmate from the Christian Rose voyage, having
a local guide to Oahu was very nice. Camping on beaches, eating what we caught was
a nice change from the life aboard a boat.
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I noticed that while most divers from mainland, (being the more pasty looking ones) carried
underwater camera gear, vast majority of locals were armed with spearguns ..
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After our wives flew in from San Diego and joined us, we took a pleasant trip to
neighboring islands. Of course, diving was never far from my mind and finding wrecks on
the chart was very inviting. But I was disappointed, they were not what I envisioned. I was
much more impressed with the intricate underwater lava rock formations.
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We found that on the commercial side of boating, there was not much in Hawaii for us,
the locals were vary of outsiders and Aloha spirit did not extended to outside competition.
Eventually the boat was sold there ...

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Jan K
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Re: Down the memory line

Postby Jan K » Thu Dec 09, 2010 6:09 pm

Pez7378 wrote:Jan, If only you knew that you could have taken the train!

Thank you. Believe me, I know I am lucky. Many times I stop and wonder what IF....
None of this would happen if I got caught that night swimming through the invisible Iron Curtain...
It would not be possible without the help of people I met during my journey. With many of them,
it was only a brief moment of kindness exchanged by total strangers, some developed into
lifelong friendship which I treasure. So it is only fair, if I give something back. It might be only
their snapshot on page of this store, for even without naming them, I try to acknowledge that
they were and are important help along the trip I call my life. It is true to this day.
And now back on the train of memories ...

The submarine cables were moved back into their designated area, new cable laid, thousands
of pairs of wires spliced.
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It was hard work at times, the visibility was often very bad due too dredging in the vicinity,
I want to pay tribute to my fellow diver friends. Nobody got hurt, considering that this job went on
and off for almost two years, I think that is great accomplishment. :supz:
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And to keep the show going, here is another boat trip, this time to Honolulu, Hawaii.
Not an epic voyage by any stretch of imagination.
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Pez7378
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Re: Down the memory line

Postby Pez7378 » Wed Dec 08, 2010 11:29 pm

Jan,

You could have ended up living on a number of tropical islands. You could have stayed in the San Diego area. You could have kept this wonderful story to yourself, believing that none of us would have been interested in the "ramblings of an old man". I was suddenly struck with how lucky we all are, to have you here with us to share your story.

We all knew you were a special kind of person, but many of us had no idea what an amazing life you've lived, until now!

Thank you Jan, for sharing your well documented adventures with us. Thank you for the amazing illustrations and photographs. You may not realize it, but your story is filled with adventures and experiences that many of us only dream about! Except for the first part, but even that's exciting, daring and adventurous. If only you knew that you could have taken the train!

I can't wait to read more!

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Jan K
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Re: Down the memory line

Postby Jan K » Wed Dec 08, 2010 9:33 pm

I appreciate your input guys, maybe something will come out of all this. After all this is just the start
and lets see what develops. I am putting these pages together as I go, maybe a muse will visit me
and help me :smt024
Now back to the story line..
The Hydro Products introduction of the RCV -150 turned to be a more then just a day trip
out to the deep water to show the customer how great it is. It being the prototype, it
had lot of problems and the engineers worked on it day after day. Meanwhile we had to
continue on the submarine cables too, so another boats were brought in to help out. It
just happened that two identical fishing boats in local shipyard were tied up with a problem.
My boss is a genius, he figured out what was wrong and got good deal on them. With
some modification they became dive boats :)
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The shakedown cruise went smoothly, we even brought back tasty lobsters to please our wives :luv:
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Few days later, the RCV-150 testing came to a screeching end. When the video from the
vehicle went blank and the cage was winched back to the surface, the very expensive vehicle
was gone. The unit was equipped with all kinds of locating gizmos, it was designed to come
to the surface automatically. It did not. Hydro Products hired helicopter which flew over the
area and lowered sonar, hoping to pick up the signal from the vehicle, Coast Guard made
some effort, then a fish spotter in airplane took over to cover broader area in case the currents
took the vehicle away. I took to the air with the "Bumble Bee" and we flew for hours, all the
way down to Mexico, but did not find it... Who knows what happened :dontknow:
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dwashbur
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Re: Down the memory line

Postby dwashbur » Wed Dec 08, 2010 9:36 am

Dashrynn wrote:Jan I would be interested in a hardbook style book.

Agreed!
Dave

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Dashrynn
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Re: Down the memory line

Postby Dashrynn » Wed Dec 08, 2010 1:58 am

Jan I would be interested in a hardbook style book.

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Gill Envy
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Re: Down the memory line

Postby Gill Envy » Tue Dec 07, 2010 4:01 pm

Jan K wrote:Bob, I appreciate your comment, but I am afraid this is all "water under the bridge". I am happy to
share it with like-minded people, but how many of us are there?


Last count I heard, years ago, was 2-300,000 in WA state alone. Seriously, your writing style could pick you up more than just a few kindle/ipad buyers at the least, and it's much cheaper to publish digitally. to my knowledge there actually isn't a lot of this kind of stuff around.

on the other hand, we are grateful none the less.

Kind Regards,
G
Gill Envy

...because we weren't born with gills!

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Jan K
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Re: Down the memory line

Postby Jan K » Tue Dec 07, 2010 3:55 pm

It was not long before my friend Nick built another sailboat.
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I am sorry to say, this one didn't sail any better to the wind then the Christian Rose did.
We did make it to Catalina, we spent New Year's Day at Isthmus, but it was one of the
wet winters and our short vacation did not turn out as nice as we were hoping.
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My underwater photography was still nothing to write home about. I brought along my wetsuit,
mask, snorkel and fins, so my exploration around the Isthmus was limited to the shallows only.
Image

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Jan K
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Re: Down the memory line

Postby Jan K » Sun Dec 05, 2010 10:31 pm

Since the Hydro Products' RCV 225 was only capable to look and could not execute any task,
the company came up with RCV 150, which had a manipulator arm with cutoff wheel. But
it was also much more complex machine and we spent many days at dock while their engineers
tried to fix the many problems which developed every time we took it into real deep water.
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When the vehicle first appeared aboard the Egabrag, it was all pretty with stickers and painted up,
as testing continued, they did not even bother to put the cowling back, as the "tweaking" never
really stopped...
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There was another company in the neighborhood and they approached the design differently.
Everything was accessible and they did not use a cage to house the vehicle. Their choose to
call theirs the ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle) and that acronym is used to this day for ALL
the unmanned submersible vehicles. We took their Scorpio to Catalina. And it worked !
No wonder that they are still in business while Hydro Products are not...
Image

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Jan K
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Re: Down the memory line

Postby Jan K » Sat Dec 04, 2010 6:43 pm

John Rawlings wrote:Hey!!!! I have that book! :rawlings:
The Edabrag is on pages 250 and 251!!!!!


I got copy given to me by the co-author, Sylvia Earle aboard the Egabrag III nine years after we did the
RCV tests. But that is another story ....
Image

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John Rawlings
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Re: Down the memory line

Postby John Rawlings » Sat Dec 04, 2010 5:41 pm

Hey!!!! I have that book! :rawlings:

The Egabrag is on pages 250 and 251!!!!!
“Don’t pick a fight with an old man. If he is too old to fight, he’ll just kill you.”

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http://www.advanceddivermagazine.com
http://johnrawlings.smugmug.com/

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Jan K
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Re: Down the memory line

Postby Jan K » Sat Dec 04, 2010 4:29 pm

Having crane aboard a self propelled vessel opened doors to other jobs. In the late
seventies, San Diego area was home to two companies engaged in manufacturing
remotely operated vehicles. Designed to work in depth, once the units were built,
it was necessary to test them in operating depths and prove such to the customers.
And that is where the Egabrag came in. We sailed out of San Diego Bay to deep
waters where the demonstration could take place.
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The system was designed so it could be transported also via aircraft.
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And the Egabrag even made it into a book published by the National Geographic Society :)
Image

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Jan K
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Re: Down the memory line

Postby Jan K » Sat Dec 04, 2010 7:53 am

Thank you John, I made the right decision then, she puts up with my shenanigans to this day :luv:
Bob, I appreciate your comment, but I am afraid this is all "water under the bridge". I am happy to
share it with like-minded people, but how many of us are there?
And now back to the Egabrag. Not only work. Although we lived aboard, and spent sooo much
time in these close quarters, on days off, we still enjoyed the little ship, sailing off to nearby
Catalina Island, our favored goof-off place. I wish I was more into underwater photography then
instead of abalone and lobster hunting ...Not much to show for this diver thread...
Image
In those days the buffaloes roamed freely across the Isthmus, now days, they are fenced off from
the general public.
Image

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Grateful Diver
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Re: Down the memory line

Postby Grateful Diver » Thu Dec 02, 2010 7:56 am

This has been the most interesting book I've read in years ... Jan, you really do need a publisher ...

... Bob (Grateful Diver)
Threats and ultimatums are never the best answer. Public humiliation via Photoshop is always better - airsix

Come visit me at http://www.nwgratefuldiver.com/


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