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Author Topic: 4 Elements query to Marc Denny  (Read 6009 times)
SkinnyDevil
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« on: November 29, 2007, 01:41:57 PM »

Mr. Denny, this is a direct copy of the communique':

You mentioned in a newsletter from earlier this year (and in the article "The Days Before a Fight"):

"....Many martial arts discuss how there are different mindsets/qualities with which one can defend/fight. Often the names are a bit poetic; Fire, Water, Wind, Rock, Earth, etc. but the point is made that the more realized the fighter is, the better his ability to fluidly shift between them...."

I wonder to which system(s) you referred?

Musashi's "Book of 5 Rings" aside, I am only aware of Hayes' "Go-Dai" that delineates things in this manner directly, and one of the schools of Tai-Chi who use something similar though indirectly.

Any chance you could expound on this when you have a few minutes?

Thanx!
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David M. McLean
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SkinnyDevil
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« Reply #1 on: December 07, 2007, 12:17:28 PM »

A quick follow-up:

In DLO (interview section) you, Crafty, mention Inosanto teaching specific techniques (I'm paraphrasing) "...connected to certain emotions...", and also referenced Gabe's point about making decisions in advance. Is this a part of the models in question above, or an alternative to those models?
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David M. McLean
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Maxx
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« Reply #2 on: December 10, 2007, 09:06:17 PM »

 huh
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #3 on: December 11, 2007, 03:07:15 AM »

Sorry I'm taking time getting to this , , , embarassed
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Tony Torre
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« Reply #4 on: December 12, 2007, 02:16:29 PM »

Crafty,

Cmmmooon, you're killing me grin  I'm actually very curios about this subject too!

Thanks,
Tony Torre
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TomFurman
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« Reply #5 on: December 12, 2007, 04:46:19 PM »

The Elements, I think can relate to Chakras. This would be a question for Guru Cliff, or Professor Ron Chapel who are really versed in the pressure points/Chakra's/Elements. Not much of this is taught anymore.

Tony, Give Santiago Dobles a call since I think he has this down on paper relative to Silat, Yoga, and Tantra.

--Tom Furman
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maija
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« Reply #6 on: December 12, 2007, 08:22:00 PM »

Hsing-I, one of the so called Chinese internal arts uses 5 Elements, also present in Chinese medical theory, to differentiate "energies" or spirit /  flavors of motion.
Hsing-I systems have: Metal, Water, Wood, Fire and Earth. Depending in which combination the elements are used, causes either a constructive cycle, or a destructive cycle. E.g. The energy of Wood feeds Fire energy, but the energy of Water destroys Fire energy. The ideas in the system help to evaluate the best tactics to overcome different adversaries.
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It will seem difficult at first, but everything is difficult at first.
Miyamoto Musashi.
Tony Torre
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« Reply #7 on: December 13, 2007, 11:15:53 AM »

Thanks Tom,

I've actually spoken to Santi in depth on the subject.

Maija,

I think the Chinese 5 element theory is subtly diffrent than the four element found in Ninjitsu and interestingly Silat.  The Chinese element theory I believe comes from Chinese medicine where the 4 element theory possibly came from India and is seen in Ayurvedic medicine.

Interestingly the 4 element theory is also seen in many western occult practices including alchemy.  Some sources point to the ancient Romans as the ones who brought it from India.  Some schools of thought have added a fifth element commonly refered to as ether.  I once read this was added by Aristotle.

Thanks for the input folks!

Thanks Again,
Tony Torre
Miami Arnis Group
www.miamiarnisgroup.com
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maija
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« Reply #8 on: December 13, 2007, 07:28:18 PM »

Tony,
Cool stuff!
Interestingly, if the 5 elements of Hsing-I are arranged pictorially, there are 4 at the cardinal points (NSE&W) and the 5th, Earth, is in the center as it contains all the others ...
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It will seem difficult at first, but everything is difficult at first.
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Tony Torre
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« Reply #9 on: December 14, 2007, 12:05:18 PM »

Maija,

Very interesting indeed.  I have some friends involved in the Chinese internal arts I'll pick their brains also.  My biggest question is how it relates to FMA.  I heard of various FMA styles using both element theories.  It doesn't seem like such a stretch considering that at several points in history the Filipines where part of a greater Hindu empire and also the large Chinese population in that region. 

Thanks For the Input,
Tony Torre
Miami Arnis Group
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #10 on: December 14, 2007, 01:10:38 PM »



For those who missed it at http://dogbrothers.com/article_info.php?articles_id=7

here is the piece upon which Skinny Devil's question is based:

=================================

The Days Before A Fight by Guro Crafty
 
 
The days before the fight are always a powerful crucible. I have a non-martial art teacher who when someone seeks to leave a situation that makes them uncomfortable says, "Whatever you do, keep on being here in this moment." I may not have the quote exactly right, but I hope I have the gist of it.

Scientist Konrad Lorenz's book "Behind the Mirror" addresses the evolutionary biology of consciousness. There is a passage in the book wherein he describes how a cat at play will seamlessly string together unrelated behaviors/movements from stalking prey, fighting a rival, bluffing a predator, courtship, killing prey etc. He then points out that the instant that the cat is stressed (e.g. the appearance of a rival) this ability disappears.

Many martial arts discuss how there are different mindsets/qualities with which one can defend/fight. Often the names are a bit poetic; Fire, Water, Wind, Rock, Earth, etc. but the point is made that the more realized the fighter is, the better his ability to fluidly shift between them. In the intense adrenal state of a fight, this can be a very good trick to actually do, yet as Lorenz's point about the cat makes clear, the state of Play is the state where this happens best. ("What Is Play?" in evolutionary biological terms is an interesting question in its own right.) Thus, the best fight is where the fight is play. Thus in Dog Brothers Martial Arts we say

"Do not have a Way as you Play. Fight the Way you Play. Let your Fight be Play" (c)

The Learning that takes place in the adrenal state is some of the deepest and highest that there is. (The adrenal state of course can be triggered by many things, not only immediate physical danger; criticism by loved ones, humiliation, etc etc.) The greater the adrenal state, the profounder the Learning. The greater the state of Play, the better the result. The more that one can move in both directions simultaneously, the better. "The greater the dichotomy, the profounder the transformation. Higher consciousness through harder contact." (c)

Woof!
Guro Crafty
 
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unstpabl1
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« Reply #11 on: December 21, 2007, 10:22:13 PM »

I apologize for jumping in on this thread as I don't post here much. My expirience with the elements comes believe it or not from an acting technique I sometimes get to teach. It took me years to get a solid understanding as  the so called mystical elements were frowned upon and rarely discussed. Michael Chekhov was marked for liquidation in Russia because of this so called mystical bent.

One of the reasons I started looking into m/a's was to understand these concepts better. No real luck. My understanding comes from having to use them and teach them. I don't know if this will answer the OP question, but it should point you in a direction to form your own corelations between arts/systems

Remember the purpose of all systems,arts , and religions is to unifiy Mind, Body and Spirit. When I look at those 3 words, a trilogy if you will, I can easily corelate them to other trilogies. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit come to mind as well as Thought, Word And Deed. Much esoteric thought leaks over to other systems and terminology changes and confusion ensues. Either way, we're looking for unification in any performance situation

Michael defined the "Scale of Movement" for actors. Molding being the first one. This equates to Earth. Simply put, your movement molds or sculpts thru the space around you. This is a will center. By working with this visualization you start to awaken strength and power. If you play with differnt images of Earth like sand or granite, the spirit of the doing is different. It is usually rooted in the legs and below the waist. I figure the Kali equivalent would be Powerr shots

The next would be flowing and would equate to H2O. Utilizing this =Element, your movements become  graceful. Finese. You develope this by imagining the space around filled with water, see yourself flowing to the target. Playing with this you'll develope that feeling of ease all great performers and athletes seem to display doing the most difficult things. In truth its more of a feeling center

Fire and Lightness and Ease to us are 2 Energies all performers must bring to the table. Though L&E is not a particular element it can be related to H2o. It is an energy that needs to be developed and is needed in even the most powerful moments. Fighters throw the most devesrtating strikes with such Ease. Tiger Woods hits the longest shots with ease not struggle.

Fire equates to many things anger, passsion. It can warm or destroy. it can be hard or soft

This is a pretty extensive subject. I gave you ideas on how you can work with the Elements in your W/O, by using visualization and moving as if were moving thru Earth or Water Etc. If you play with it you will find yourself awakening the spirit of them in you. you will make your own corelations between your art and my craft, but trust that it there and is universal

Hope that Helps and I didn't intrude smiley

Mike
« Last Edit: December 22, 2007, 12:50:21 PM by unstpabl1 » Logged
SkinnyDevil
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« Reply #12 on: December 24, 2007, 10:07:55 AM »

Mike, thanx for your very detailed reply. Odd you should mention Chekov - my brother works in theater and has been speaking to me about the Chekov angle in relation to Hayes' Go-Dia model mentioned above (Hayes, as an aside, has a degree in theater, so it is possible that he fused the Chekov & Japanese approaches for his model).

I plan on re-reading your response several times so that I can properly understand it before I ask additional questions of you, if you don;t mind. I need time to properly consider what you've said.

Thanx again...and have a great holiday season.
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David M. McLean
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unstpabl1
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« Reply #13 on: December 24, 2007, 11:30:22 AM »

No problem. Glad you found it of help. Its hard online, but I'm trying to show you what I do and move it into martial arts. If I was doing a molding, flowing or flying exercise, it would look like Tai chi. In fact a lot of times before I do a seminar, i do my work, people always think I'm doing tai Chi. For us its also abstract, which is hard to discuss, because its expiriential.

What we're doing is using the imagination and incorporating the images. What the exercises end up being is physio-psychological, because you can't do one without affecting the other, so you might as well make them work together. Our movements are abstract,improvised...no structure. A martial artist would have a structure. I played with this idea after reading the post. You might want to try this as an experiment

Imagine the space around you filled with mud. Start with simple combos. See and feel your strikes, molding or sculting thru the mud, with a begining, middle and end. Sustain that end for a second and move on to another and so on.. Remember mud is thick, so  its hard to get thru. Make sure your whole body molds thru, knees , waist etc. Try it with sand, granite,diamond. But only use nnecessary muscular tension. Then start moving in a more natural way, but trying to sustain the feelings that were awaken during the exercise and radiate it to your targets. i DON'T LIKE TO SAY WHAT YOU SHOULD FEEL grin But if you get a sense of strength and power, your on the right track. Also when I played with it, I noticed that my tech was better. Then try Flowing the same way. Notice any differences and what they bring to the party. Oh yeah its real common to think your doing it wrong. Just simply tell yourself My strikes and body are molding thru the space around me. Awakening and revitalizing all the muscles of my body
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #14 on: January 01, 2008, 05:13:42 PM »

Woof All:

I'm thinking that the various contributions to the thread have fleshed out the point I was trying to make.  Yes there are variations between the various approaches (you too Unstoppable smiley ) that reference these things, but my intention in the piece in question was to underline the commonalities (and yes the particular example I used came from Steven Hayes).

TAC,
CD

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SkinnyDevil
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« Reply #15 on: January 03, 2008, 03:47:43 PM »

Mike,

Earth and water are obvious in your experiment, but what of wind/air and fire? My brother breifly mentioned "radiating" out from center when he was in for the holidays, but it was hard to follow up due to the crowd of family & friends in my house (hahaha!). So, how do you visualize and physically participate with fire or with air?

Marc,

I was reading Joseph Campbell's "Masks of God: Primitive Mythology" and on page 40 he quotes Konrad Lorenz (regarding the human capacity for Play):

“Every study undertaken by Man was the genuine outcome of curiosity, a kind of game. All the data of natural science, which are responsible for Man’s domination of the world, originated in activities that were indulged in exclusively for the sake of amusement. When Benjamin Franklin drew sparks from the tail of his kite he was thinking as little of the lightning conductor as Hertz, when he investigated electrical waves, was thinking of radio transmission. Anyone who has experienced in his own person how easily the inquisitiveness of a child at play can grow into the life work of a naturalist will never doubt the fundamental similarity of games and study. The inquisitive child disappears entirely from the wholly animal nature of the mature chimpanzee. But the child is far from being buried in the man, as Nietzsche thinks. On the contrary, it rules him absolutely.” (Konrad Lorenz)

Campbell follows with "Animals are without speech - and one reason, surely, is heir inability to play with sounds. They are without art - and the reason, again, is their inability to play with forms..." and goes on to express ideas about self-creating sign stimuli - something you are no doubt familiar with in inducing the adrenal state within the context of fight/play. I thought it exceptionally interesting that Campbell immediately quotes poet A.E. Housman, who says, "Poetry seems to me more physical than intellectual.". 'Nuff said on that for now.

But Crafty the ninja? Somehow I thought Hayes had fallen out of favor LONG ago with most people. (Just razzin' you, man.)

Tony
,

Thanx for the Aristotle reference. He actually had quite a bit to say on the matter, as did most cultures as they segued from magical to critical thinking modes. I didn't mention them because Crafty's mention was pertaining to martial arts, but I think it's good that you placed the discussion in a wider context.

I actually wrote an essay about the Hayes model in response to, well, the backlash against him as his popularity wained. While Hayes certainly has habits and mannerisms that make him an easy target, I find his model superior to the way ninpo/ninjutsu has been taught since everyone started trekking to Japan (say, 1990 until present). Understanding the possibility that some may find this annoying or even angering, I must say I prefer Hayes' model to the traditional (or, some would say, Hatsumi model) because to my mind, it is the difference between teaching "moving history" (& the importation of culture) as opposed to providing a pragmatic model for conflict resolution that can be used regardless of a practitioners MA style (and, for that matter, whether one trains in combative arts or not). All that is in the essay, which I should probably revise and post on my site.

My thanx to everyone who threw in their ideas. I should also probably apologize on the off-chance that anyone here actually studies ninjutsu (anytime I've mentioned this stuff in nin-centric circles, someone gets pissed off), except that I don't see any reason why someone should be angered by such a view. Perhaps if someone is, they can calmly and articulately express where I've gone astray?

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maija
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« Reply #16 on: January 06, 2008, 10:53:40 AM »

Just thought I'd add this, though it veers from the 4 elements to Hsing-I 's (also written Xing Yi) 5 elements and 12 animals. Still, the idea is the same, just one way of separating 'flavors' of intent and fighting method.
Here is a clip of my teacher Luo De Xiu demonstrating the attitudes associated with "chicken/rooster".

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pddfqUx0v80
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #17 on: January 06, 2008, 11:06:06 AM »

Skinny Devil:

Please feel free to share that essay here or post a URL to it.

CD
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unstpabl1
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« Reply #18 on: January 08, 2008, 02:03:12 AM »

Mike,

Earth and water are obvious in your experiment, but what of wind/air and fire? My brother breifly mentioned "radiating" out from center when he was in for the holidays, but it was hard to follow up due to the crowd of family & friends in my house (hahaha!). So, how do you visualize and physically participate with fire or with air?




As Marc pointed out its about looking for the common ground. For me and what I do there is a lot of overlapping, but subtle differences. I look at acting as if I have a Batman belt on, then play with the tools.

Radiation works on a few different levels. The first is that it makes us Charismatic, but we also take what we feel and radiate it out to the audience or into an attack. you've been the Reciever when you picked up the vibes of the asshole accross the bar staring at you. He Radiated his bad intent to you. You feel it on a physical level many times before you see it, but you always feel it.

I think Tai Chi does it similar to me. i start with seeing a Sun Center in my Chest, then expand it , then radiate it to all parts of my body, then radiate out. Then explore different Qualities such as anger or warmth, etc. The Excercises are in the book To The Actor. They are user friendly. Then use you imagination  and incorporate to what your doing.


Air Is the Flying excercise and they can be  slow or quick, scattered or lucid

Fire for me is one of the 2 main energies an actor must always bring to the stage. The other is Lightness and Ease or A Feeling of Ease. All great Athletes do the hardest things with Ease and only as much tension as necessary

Fire is easier to incorporate to fighting because we naturally assume Rage as a component. But Fire can be the passion for what your doing. Their is a  big emotional range to Fire from a spark to Psychotic Rage. visualizing a Fire is easy. You can visualize it outside your body or in and becoming a part of you


This is my feeling or myopinion but we seem to do things better with strong images. Many have strong Images of their god, but no one has seen god. So man personified it in different ways over the ages. If you were raised Christian here, you were taught the words god and devil. God meaning Good. Devil meaning Evil. One letter changes the meaning but also creates a symbol that makes it easier for our minds to wrap around the concepts. Then paintings were drawn to complete the Telesmatic Image for us. The use of the elements seem to serve the same purpose. The stronger the symbol, the stronger the image, the stronger the result. So we're basically calling up an image to create feelings for the purpose of some intended result. as Maiji points out its a way of seperating intent and method

I also think as humans we like dogma or better yet we tend to complicate things. If you went to work out one day and said to yourself I'm going to focus on strength and power for a bit, then later decided to focus on Flowing and then later worked on moving with a Feeling Of Ease. You would be developing the qualities that The Mystical Occult Elements were meant to develope And eventually they would become a natural part of your game

I hope this helps and doesn't lead you astray. In the end strive to keep it simple. Much dogma surrounds what were originally simple concepts. I think thats kinda the idea Marc has of DBMA. Cut thru to whats useful, its easy to get blinded by the bells and whistles

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Karsk
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« Reply #19 on: January 08, 2008, 12:37:02 PM »

The last poster said "This is my feeling or my opinion but we seem to do things better with strong images. "


The way that the word theory is used in martial arts is a lot like the way theory is used in psychology.  In physical sciences, the meaning of the term is similar but on the other end of a gradient. 

Theory: a plausible or scientifically acceptable general principle or a body of principles offered to explain phenomenon.

On the one end, sometimes theories are sets of powerful images and ideas that allow people to talk, to connect, and to grasp concepts.  At this end of the spectrum the emphasis I think is on the image as a means of communicating something that is otherwise impossible to communicate.   In psychology, for example, there are tons of "theories" of how to help people and each one has a theoretical construct/image.  Psychoanalytic theory uses images of ones past as a vehicle to delve into the mind. Jungian theory uses archetypal images to do the same thing.  Behavioral (Skinner's) psychology on the other hand, relies on a theory of conditioning and minimizes the role of the unconscious to a much more mechanistic view of how things work.  Theories like these are just fine because they perform a function...that of communicating.   Am i REALLY all screwed up because my mother didn't like me?  Am I REALLY screwed up because my warrior is suppressed?  Who knows?  Who cares?  All that matters is that a person can take the imagery provided and understand themselves better within that context.  Is it a "true theory" in that it is actually what is happening?  How can you know that?  How do you prove that?  Does it matter?

In truth proving it or not is not the point. These theories are an image language that allow us to relate to ourselves and to others. Underneath it all something real happens....what that is is actually a mystery.  So we come up with ideas and images about how the world works...if the ideas help us to do what we need to do to survive, if it helps us to survive repeatedly, and if it doesn't contradict what we already know to be true we tend to trust the theory more.  But blind trust...thinking that this is what is actually happening absolutely positively...ummm, no.

This is an aside but mainstream science theory  is not all that different from these. I am talking about real scientific inquiry and the discovery of the theories and beliefs of how the world works.  A physical theory such as "the atomic theory" is just an image as well.  The difference in science is that science endeavors to "unify" all that we know so that it is all consistent within itself.  This "coherence" means that nothing contradicts.  When contradictions occur that pan out to be real (tested by repeatability and trying in a bunch of ways to test the idea and finding no contradictions) the unified "world view" changes to include that new idea. 


You said: "Cut thru to whats useful, its easy to get blinded by the bells and whistles".

I agree.  The "Truth" is out there somewhere whether it is nebulous or unattainable or whatever.  If theories and images are useful as a means to communicate about things we know to be true but cannot otherwise articulate thats great.  At the end of the day connecting back to reality through repeatability of results and through coherence is what increases the odds of survival.   The rest is a mystery that we try to talk about because (in my case anyways) it turns me on to think how cool the universe is.

in the spirit of sharing,

Karsk

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SkinnyDevil
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« Reply #20 on: November 10, 2009, 09:21:13 AM »

My apologies. I was supposed to post the link to the essay I wrote years ago on this topic, but failed to do so.

We've switched servers over here at Skinny Devil Music Lab and have lost a lot of material. The original is on the old HD that we're currently mopping. With luck, I should have all the old essays (and music) soon, and will re-post them to the site...then include the link &/or text here for consideration & critique.

Apologies again for dropping the ball.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #21 on: November 10, 2009, 10:39:52 PM »

No worries.  Thanks for picking up the ball up now.
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