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Author Topic: Antartica The Global Warming  (Read 31379 times)
NikosR
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« on: August 27, 2007, 07:23:14 AM »
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I have not seen the book so I cannot tell if the photography depicted is implied as photojournalistic or artistic work (if a clear distinction between the two can exist).

But if it is the later, surely an artist can present his vision of the scene in front of him in whatever way he deems appropriate. If 'beautification' is a valid form of expressing one's vision, surely the opposite should hold true as well.

Or not?

PS. I take Michael's word that the picture mood is indeed due to heavy image manipulation and not due to choice of time, season or lighting conditions. My comment above would have been the same even if Michael's observations were not  accurate.
« Last Edit: August 27, 2007, 11:41:48 AM by NikosR » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: August 27, 2007, 08:54:49 AM »
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I, too, haven't seen the book (so I can offer an unbiased comment    ).

From Michael's report, it seems that the "message" of the book is essentially, "this is a beautiful place in danger of being destroyed by global warming." If that's the case, it would seem counterproductive to choose a visual style that shows Antarctica as ugly.

Am I the only potential reader who is less likely to be persuaded to want to preserve an ugly place than a beautiful one?

I'm sure glad I've seen some of the grand images by Michael, Jeff, and the others so I have at least a smidgeon of an idea just how stunning Antarctica is.
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« Reply #2 on: August 27, 2007, 09:20:17 AM »
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I, too, haven't seen the book (so I can offer an unbiased comment    ).

From Michael's report, it seems that the "message" of the book is essentially, "this is a beautiful place in danger of being destroyed by global warming." If that's the case, it would seem counterproductive to choose a visual style that shows Antarctica as ugly.

Am I the only potential reader who is less likely to be persuaded to want to preserve an ugly place than a beautiful one?

I'm sure glad I've seen some of the grand images by Michael, Jeff, and the others so I have at least a smidgeon of an idea just how stunning Antarctica is.
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Huh?

Based on a few words and one picture how can anyone make such a comment?

I personally find the cover image to be rather nice. Would I be bummed if I went to AA and saw the scene differently than this cover? Hell no! Just look at Ansel's work for a similar treatment. Clearing Storm is a prime example: a straight print is dull and with no life. Frankly, after viewing many of the online images from the most recentt LL AA trip I found many to be dull and with no life. There was one photographer (I would have to dig back to find his collection of images) that moved me. Most others did not.

I will trust the general assessment that the book is political and that the images have been "tweeked", not necessarily for that sake, but most likely for an artistic view point. Fine. I like the one image that I have seen. Sorry that it doesn't fit the reviewer's vision of AA.

Ken Gehle
« Last Edit: August 27, 2007, 12:07:13 PM by gehle » Logged
Rob C
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« Reply #3 on: August 27, 2007, 10:55:02 AM »
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It is bloody hot; I´ve just come back from sitting on a hotel terrace at the edge of the sea talking to a chap who I last saw when I lived in Scotland 27 years ago. Looking out at the bay we could see an aquatic carpark of a zillion ski boats and sailing craft. The smog from summer tourism and its human causes hung like a death shroud over the whole scene: the dreaded Cokin tabac filter for real.

Do the few remaining bits of Earth that have been safe from man for so long really need to be visited now? I have no answer to that - only a gut reaction that smacks of the no good will come from it syndrome... hope I´m wrong but I fear the worst.

Rob C
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svein-frode
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« Reply #4 on: August 27, 2007, 11:03:55 AM »
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The cover photograph doesn't look more manipulated than most landscape photographs since the days of Velvia and Polarizer filters. To a large degree most of the American nature photography I see online and in print these days looks heavily Photoshoped.

As for Antarctica showing the decline of the human race and its relationship to the biosphere, I wish Michael could see the symbolism of his "expeditions" down there... What a monument of human decadence.
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Svein-Frode, Arctic Norway

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« Reply #5 on: August 27, 2007, 12:33:16 PM »
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If "Antarctica – The Global Warning" were, strictly speaking, a coffee table book of landscape photographs of Antarctica, I would agree with Micheal's critique. But it isn't, and it makes no pretense of being that--even the title says as much. It's a polemic on the dangers of global warming that uses manipulated photographs to create the impression of a grim and bleak environment and instill fear and outrage in the reader. On that level I would argue that it succeeds very well. This is not a feel-good book of pretty pictures. It's purpose is not to have the reader appreciate the beauty of Antarctica. This is a piece of environmentalist propaganda, produced to "preach to the choir" of like-minded individuals so that they might find justification to feel even more incensed than they already are. Whether you agree or disagree with the point it is trying to make is another matter entirely, but do not mistake this for a traditional artsy book of landscapes.


Quote
I have not seen the book so I cannot tell if the photography depicted is implied as photojournalistic or artistic work (if a clear distinction between the two can exist).

But if it is the later, surely an artist can present his vision of the scene in front of him in whatever way he deems appropriate. If 'beautification' is a valid form of expressing one's vision, surely the opposite should hold true as well.

Or not?

PS. I take Michael's word that the picture mood is indeed due to heavy image manipulation and not due to choice of time, season or lighting conditions. My comment above would have been the same even if Michael's observations were not  accurate.
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cymline
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« Reply #6 on: August 27, 2007, 02:23:04 PM »
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If the book was just presented as art for arts sake, then manipulation of the photographs would not be much of a concern for most. That is part of art.
  However, when you make a presentation that says in effect "look at these photographs and see what a huge problem we have here" then you are in some sense acting as a bit of a reporter and have a responsibility to present things as they are. If the problem is a huge as some say it is, reality and facts should be enough to make the point.
  I think the problem with photography in relation to global warming is that while you can show some glaciers melting over time with photographs, you can't show or prove man is the cause and you can't show that the temp warming by a few degrees is a bad thing. I can show photographs of the remains of plants and animals that have been frozen in the far north for many thousands of years. They show the earth was much warmer at one time than it is now. And, that temps have fluctuated in the past much faster that they are now. Long before man was here. I photograph in places like Yosemite that were carved by glaciers. Those glaciers melted long before the first car was driven or the first factory let out smoke. In the White mountains of California the treeline was much higher thousands of years ago than it is now. The only way this is possible is if it was much warmer back then. Again, before man spewed out co2 into the atmosphere. Not conclusions but simple facts. Those photographs from the far north, Yosemite and the White mountains cannot show you why the earth was warmer at one time or why it got colder. And, those photographs cannot tell you that the earth is better off warmer or colder. All those photographs can show is at one time the earth was much warmer than it is now (pre man) and was much colder than it is now (pre man).
   If you are trying to make a statement about a situation you think is real, I am dubious of the argument if you have to embellish the facts and not let reality stand on its own. If you are trying to tell me something is real, then show me that reality. I am always open to, and appreciate that.
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michael
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« Reply #7 on: August 27, 2007, 04:53:37 PM »
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The cover photograph doesn't look more manipulated than most landscape photographs since the days of Velvia and Polarizer filters. To a large degree most of the American nature photography I see online and in print these days looks heavily Photoshoped.

As for Antarctica showing the decline of the human race and its relationship to the biosphere, I wish Michael could see the symbolism of his "expeditions" down there... What a monument of human decadence.
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What has to be appreciated (and obviously isn't) is that Antarctica is about the size of the United States. With the exception of a few scientific stations and a few hundred transient people the continent of devoid of humans. The expedition and tourist ships cruise along the coast and land a couple of times a day at specified locations that have been agreed upon by international treaty. Before disembarking boots are washed in an antiseptic bath so as not to contaminate the flora and fauna. Landings are limited to about 2 hours, so there is no human waste left behind, not even urine. Expedition staff have an extremely strong environmental consciousness, and indeed most of them are scientists and researchers trying to earn some additional money and return to the continent any way they can.

My experience is that without exception the people that go on these trips have a highly developed sense of responsibility and appreciation for the environment. A great many are members of The Nature Conservancy and The Sierra Club, as I am.

I also know that quite a number of photographers who have come on my trips follow up with doing slide shows, presentations to schools and clubs, helping people understand the fragile ecology and importance of Antarctica.

So "svein". I don't know who put a pickle up your butt, but your phrase "
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What a monument of human decadence.
is simply wrong headed, not to mention obnoxious.
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #8 on: August 27, 2007, 07:16:46 PM »
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Any idea when the images in the book were shot?

I happen to visit regularly some alpine areas in Japan and could make these places look just about any way I want. They are just so different from one season to another, even from one week to the next, or from one day to the next.

Did the guy visit Antartica several times?

There is no way I can comment on the actual motivation of the photographer obviously, but isn't there a possibility that:

1. Antartica really looked like that when he was there,
2. He finds it more beautiful darkish?

I would personnally find the cover image to be at least as beautiful and moving as  many of the nice photographs taken during the LL expeditions that were posted on the web.

Just my 2 cent.

Regards,
Bernard
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A few images online here!
paulbk
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« Reply #9 on: August 27, 2007, 08:29:40 PM »
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my 2 cents.....

I’m sure Michael's interpretation is right, the principal purpose of the book is to make a political statement through art. Not the first time, nor the last. If art is anything, it’s to express a point of view. Be it, there-are-no-words beauty of a landscape or the soul-wrenching horror of war.

However, I’m surprised at the level of indignation at what amounts to a marketing ploy* by the photographer/publisher, albeit heart felt.

*Marketing Ploy: The photographer and publisher are trying to market an idea: “The polar regions of the planet are in trouble, and your neighborhood is next.”
« Last Edit: August 27, 2007, 09:17:34 PM by paulbk » Logged

paul b. kramarchyk
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« Reply #10 on: August 28, 2007, 12:18:23 AM »
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seems to me if he did it for political or any reason other than an art rendition,, and that is accepted, you would also be accepting the manipulation of other journalism photogrpahers that are manipulated such as the photogrpaher who manipulated the war photographs in lebanon to make the explosions look bigger than they were.....since he is trying to make a political point, that would be journalism in my view and non manipulated documentation should be presented.  

just my pov
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Ray
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« Reply #11 on: August 28, 2007, 01:02:10 AM »
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I tend to agree with Michael here that a distinction has to be made between artistic honesty and artistic dishonesty. Deliberate spin in order to conform with a political agenda is plain dishonest.

I'm sure we've all had the experience of taking a shot of a scene that inspired us or moved us in some way, only to find later that the normally processed image just lacks whatever it was that motivated us to take the shot. So we try hard to manipulate the image, increase the saturation, darken the sky, whatever, in an attempt to get the image to express the mood we originally felt.

Is it likely that Sebastian Copeland, the author of these photos, felt a mood of despair and desolation when taking all the shots displayed in this book? If he did, then I suppose it is fair and honest for him to 'smash the quarter tones', as Michael describes it, in order to recreate this mood of despair which he possibly saw in every scene, but unlikely.

In a sense, to broaden the discussion, we only have ourselves to blame. As a species, we seem unable, generally, to take a course of action simply because it's right, because the facts support it, because it's the sensible thing to do. We need to be cajoled and frightened before we will make any radical change to our behaviour or lifestyle. So it is with global warming. (No need to mention Iraq here, so I won't).

There is definitely a political spin in full force in many parts of the world with regard to the causes of global warming. The only certain thing is that the warming is taking place. Greenland is gradually becoming a place as warm and hospitable as it was in the days of the Vikings. I believe some farmers are getting bumper potato crops there.

Whether or not any attempt on our part to reduce greenhouse gasses will be sufficient to reverse the trend is far from clear. The previous warming which peaked in the Middle Ages was obviously not caused by man-made greenhouse gasses, but if it had been, one can't help wondering if the following 'Little Ice Age' would have taken place.
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Schewe
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« Reply #12 on: August 28, 2007, 01:36:00 AM »
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Well, he's Orlando Bloom's cousin (who went with him on the shoot) which may explain all the "excitement" surrounding the book (and the hype). He (Sebastian Copeland ) has just been named "Best Photographer of the Year" in the book catagory of the International Photography Awards (and the book isn't even out yet).

He has aYouTube video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a0IQ6o7MHWw where he talks about the trip (not so much about the book itself).

I saw the vid and he saw the same sorts of scenes we saw the last two trips (at least the vid looked about the same). But, I suspect he needs a tutorial on Camera Raw or Lightroom (hopefully is WAS shooting raw) and needs to learn how to soft proof. I would not at all be surprised that the book repro sucks...blues are a REAL hard color to repro in CMYK...and if he didn't know what he was doing making the seps, well, you saw the cover...

:~)
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paulbk
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« Reply #13 on: August 28, 2007, 06:42:32 AM »
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Art with a political statement is not journalism. Nor should the artist feel any obligation to depict a scene with an objective eye. Do the words artistic license ring a bell? Pablo Picasso’s “Guernica,” which hangs in the United Nations building, is one famous example.

After looking at YouTube, I think the photos would be more interesting if he opened up the shadows. The photos look flat to me.
« Last Edit: August 28, 2007, 06:46:17 AM by paulbk » Logged

paul b. kramarchyk
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Rob C
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« Reply #14 on: August 28, 2007, 07:03:06 AM »
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Historical information about the earlier causes of global warming are interesting, but not really any justification for ignoring today´s evidence.

Look, I drive a car too, it´s 1800cc and allows me to speed over the limit of 120kph in Spain or 130kph in France, for as long as there is gas in the tank. Why does anybody need more than two litres of engine, pray tell?

Ego, my man, effin ego!

Rob C
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Ray
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« Reply #15 on: August 28, 2007, 08:00:40 AM »
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Historicasl information about the earlier causes of global warming are interesting, but not really any justification for ignoring today´s evidence.

Look, I drive a car too, it´s 1800cc and allows me to speed over the limit of 120kph in Spain or 130kph in France, for as long as there is gas in the tank. Why does anybody need more than two litres of engine, pray tell?

Ego, my man, effin ego!

Rob C
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Rob,
It's not so much a matter of ignoring the evidence but correctly identifying the causes of the change. The climate is always in a state of change, gradually getting either warmer or colder, drier or wetter.

We appear to be into a phase of gradual warming which probably would have happened without the industrial revolution, but which has probably been augmented by additional man-made carbon dioxide. However, there seems to be some uncertainty as to the precise effect of the additional greenhouse gasses that we produce. Some experts think that solar activity has a more significant effect on climate than anything we do and that far more carbon dioxide is produced by volcanos and earthquakes than our factories and cars produce.

Nevertheless, even though there's no complete consensus of opinion on such matters, it would seem to be irresponsible to do nothing.

Interestingly, Professor James Lovelock who's had many years of experience working on this problem, now thinks we've already passed the point of no return. The trend is firmly in place. It's politically impossible for us to stop contributing to the quantity of greenhouse gasses already in the atmosphere. Tinkering around the edges will solve nothing and we cannot expect China and India to stop improving their living standards. They all want 2 litre cars just like you.

If we'd used our uranium resources 30 years ago to produce more atomic energy and spent vastly more funds researching atomic fusion power, which is essentially limitless, then we might have stood a chance. As it is, I think we might have blown it.

If you're smart, you'll emigrate to Greenland. That's a large continent that seems to have a promising future   .
« Last Edit: August 28, 2007, 08:14:20 AM by Ray » Logged
Ray
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« Reply #16 on: August 28, 2007, 08:07:08 AM »
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I saw the vid and he saw the same sorts of scenes we saw the last two trips (at least the vid looked about the same). But, I suspect he needs a tutorial on Camera Raw or Lightroom (hopefully is WAS shooting raw) and needs to learn how to soft proof. I would not at all be surprised that the book repro sucks...blues are a REAL hard color to repro in CMYK...and if he didn't know what he was doing making the seps, well, you saw the cover...
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So what you're saying, Jeff, is that these photos from Sebastian Copeland might not be a result of a political spin to exaggerate the effects of global warming, but just lousy processing and printing   .
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Rob C
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« Reply #17 on: August 28, 2007, 09:22:41 AM »
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Ray

Greenland: the new fronier. No, it´ll be the new Australia, the perfect place for dumping our prison overspill.

The mystical East sure is mystical. On the one hand, we have the millions working in sweatshops for a dollar a month so´s we can buy clothes that fall apart BEFORE the first wash yet, oddly, the other hand is raised to expose the same millions about to invest in their first 4x4s. India, where the city streets are full of the homeless and women live in cribs, ŕ la New Orleans of the jazz age, with no greater purpose in life but to service the tourists and the one-anna richer local males we also have this great, suddenly affluent population with Jaguars on their minds.

If you want to find dubious reporting and tub-thumping of the most cynical kind, then how about casting a glance at our western apologists first, at our ´stars´of stage and screen and loudspeaker, the same idiots that snort their new-found wealth and early health into oblivion. I refrain from including politicians, because with them, the tiltle already defines the animal.

I was interested to read in The Sunday Times this weekend the views of a North Vietnam soldier thanking Mz Fonda for her efforts on behalf of the North; they sussed out that with the weakness of self-doubt in the West, all they had to do was hang on in there a while longer and victory would be there on a plate. How true!  Funny thing, history: Mercedes owns Chrysler, the UK car industry is rusting on the block and if you can´t buy the right BMW you look at the Lexus.

A slight meander from global warming, perhaps, but seismic changes in world balance nonetheless. Volcanoes we can do little about and I´m told that eruptions of those as well as the fallout from crashing meteors in the Gulf of Mexico helped us into one of our earlier acts of climate imbalance. This may or may not be true and the weather might indeed be cyclical and for ever beyond our control, but there is nothing but good sense in doing our best to eliminate our own contributions.

As the saying goes: when you find yourself trying to clamber out of a hole, the first thing you should do is stop digging.

Rob C
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tomfid
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« Reply #18 on: August 28, 2007, 10:02:13 AM »
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So "svein". I don't know who put a pickle up your butt, but your phrase "What a monument of human decadence"  is simply wrong headed, not to mention obnoxious.

Obnoxious, maybe - one man's spiritual journey is another man's decadence - but not entirely wrongheaded. I'm sure everyone involved exercises the utmost care for the local environment, but that doesn't change the fact that the 13,000 miles of flying plus ship operations emits several tons of CO2 per person, contributing to global warming impacts on Antarctica (and everywhere else) that will ultimately dwarf whatever harm weeds and waste might do. One can hope that photography will contribute to awareness that helps to mitigate the problem, but I don't see how one can venture there without at least considering the darkly ironic "it became necessary to destroy the village in order to save it" aspect.

To put that into perspective, the 5200 pounds of CO2 emitted by a flight from Chicago to Ushuaia is roughly comparable to the difference between switching from a Chevy Suburban to a Subaru Outback, or from the Subaru to a Prius. It's also roughly equal to the per capita emissions of China, and twice that of India. You could probably buy carbon offsets for the trip for under $100, and the high end of estimates of damage to global welfare from that much CO2 is under $1000.
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Lisa Nikodym
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« Reply #19 on: August 28, 2007, 10:46:17 AM »
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Tomfid & svein-frode, are you trying to make the point that travel is bad for the environment and is therefore wrong, and that all right-thinking people should spend their lives sitting at home and never leave their village?  I hope not, because travel is one of my greatest joys in life and I would hate to have to give it up because some people think it's bad and "decadent".

Besides, without travel, I wouldn't have interesting things to photograph (I know that's not true of all people, who may be happy to photography their kids and their back yard, but it's true for me), so I wouldn't even be here participating in this forum.

Lisa
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