Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Looking Back

Thought for the day: I think I did pretty well, considering I started out with nothing but a bunch of blank paper.  [Steve Martin]

It's that time again. Time for the regular monthly session of the Insecure Writer's Support Group, which was created by that amazing ninja writer Alex Cavanaugh, and now boasts an ever-growing membership of writers from all over the world. Some are still in the beginning stages, and others are well-established, but one thing we all have in common is the sneaking suspicion that we're frauds and our talent is non-existent. (i.e. We're a tad insecure.) Within the sheltering arms of this group, writers have the freedom to air their shared insecurities, lament their difficulties, and cheer for each writer's successes. It's all about the support, baby. All about the support.

To see what other writers are complaining and cheering about this month, you can find a list of this month's participants and links to their posts right... here.

[image courtesy of Morguefile]
So what kind of support do I need this month? Oh, I dunno. A teensy little parade would be nice. Maybe some polite applause. An exhilarating display of fireworks... oh, and don't forget the ones that look like smiley faces. I really like them.

So what's the big deal? Book One of my Blast Rites trilogy, tentatively titled Explosive Beginnings, has been read and re-read, (by me) edited and re-edited, (also by me) and is finally in the hands of a fantabulous group of Beta readers.Woo-HOO!  For a sloooooooow writer like me, that calls for some kinda celebration. (I believe I'll have another cuppa tea!) Some months ago, I whined about how my ungrateful characters, who wouldn't even exist if it weren't for me, doggone it, had essentially taken over the plot and run with it. Turns out... I think the ingrates were right, but it remains to be seen what my Beta readers think. It was pretty darned inconsiderate of me to reach this step at this time of year, when everyone's busy with their Holiday preparations, so I was really surprised by how quickly they all agreed to read my manuscript. Their support is humbling, and I appreciate them... most of whom are members of IWSG... so much. (Not that I'm trying to sway their opinion, or anything...) Okay. Celebration's over. Time to start Book Two, right?

A couple questions for all of you smarties. First, one of the characters in my book drops quite a few F-bombs, but with his backstory, it's amazing he doesn't drop even more of them. Question: Does this kind of language turn you off in a book?

This first book of the trilogy begins at Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Maryland, in 1956. That was... and is... an active Army base. Question: Do you think it's okay to keep the actual name, or should I change it?

Okay, let's move on to this month's question.


As you look back on 2017, with all its successes/failures, if you could backtrack, what would you do differently?

 All in all, I'm satisfied to have nearly made it through another year. Taking inventory on the writing front, I'm thrilled with the progress with Book One, I thoroughly enjoyed editing for a couple other writers, and I got a real kick out of writing a submission for the next IWSG anthology. Even if the judges decide it smells worse than a junior high school student's gym locker, I'm okay with that, because it was liberating to write something so utterly different from what I usually write. It was FUN!

If I could backtrack and change anything, it'd be to laugh more often, love more freely, and spend more time with friends, because in the end, no matter how important writing may be to me, those other things are considerably more important.

                  How about you? Is there something from 2017 you'd like to... edit?


  Yep... moving on. Time to look forward to trying not to mess up the new year too badly.
                                    Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

67 comments:

  1. I am sure your book will be magnificent, f-bombs or no. They don't disturb me, it's not supposed to be a prayer book! I had good times and bad time in 2017, but in spite of problems, and a decline in health, it's been a good year for me. Hugs, Valerie

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    1. Thanks for the vote of confidence. :)

      I'm glad 2017 was a good year for you. Here's hoping the new year will be even better.

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  2. Woo Hoo and happy dances.
    I am soooooo looking forward to reading your next book.
    Firetrucks (the word which starts with F and ends in UCK my nephew tells me) don't bother me unless they are put in to shock me. Some characters use them naturally, and some situations call for them.

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    1. Thank you, I am soooo looking forward to you reading it, too. Warning: it's a LOT different from my first book.

      I agree with your assessment of the f-bombs. It's only used one time for the shock value, and that's by a character who NEVER cusses. (Um... until THEN...)

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  3. Well done! :)

    Regarding bad language/cursing in books - I don't mind it if it fits the story, the characters, etc. That being said, there is a line - don't ask me where it is, I just know it when I read it :) - and too much can make me put the book down.

    Love the "plot twist" pic at the end!

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    1. Thanks! :)

      Too much bad language will make me put a book down, too. A constant barrage of cursing for the sake of cursing is a definite turn-off.

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  4. We are so used to f- bombs today, I probably wouldn’t notice. Besides knowing you through Blogger, you wouldn’t use them unless it was necessary to make a point.

    Congratulations on finishing your book. I wish you much success and satisfaction on what you have accomplished.

    If I could change anything about my year, I would have spent more time being happy. Sadness overtook me and I wasted precious time that I can’t get back.

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    1. Yeah, you're right about us getting kinda used to them... the word used to make me positively cringe. I HATED it and was very offended when someone said it. Now, it's more likely to make me laugh...

      Thanks. Frankly, the "success" part mostly lies in the completion. It's not about the money. (Good thing!)

      I know what you mean. I started the year semi-paralyzed creatively, because I let the state of politics bring me down.

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  5. Congrats on getting book 1 done, or at least in beta readers hands. That is close to done, right? haha too bad no parade comes due though.

    As for the F bomb, I used it in one book a bunch and no one cared. Why? Because it made sense. The character was a douchebag. If it makes sense and isn't for shock value then F bomb away.

    Only think that has ever turned me off is when every single character says it or other foul crap all the time.

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    1. Yeah, no parade. (sigh) Heck, if a parade were held every time YOU finished a book, those poor marchers would never get a break...

      Thanks. Good clarification. It definitely makes sense for my character... just one... to use "colorful" language.

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  6. It's always nice to look back and see what we need to do differently. I like your thoughts to laugh more often, love more freely, and spend more time with friends. We should never lose sight of the things that really matter in life.

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    1. For sure. Reminding ourselves of the things that really matter helps us keep things in perspective.

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  7. Naughty language doesn't turn me off as long as it fits with the characters and plot.

    Well done on getting your manuscript out to beta readers. Mine is out being betaed (is that a word?) right now too. Many of the folks who volunteered to help are from IWSG. Isn't this such a great group of supportive and encouraging folks?

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    1. Good. Thanks for your input re the bad language.

      YES, the IWSG folks are tremendously supportive and helpful. We give each other wings. :)

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  8. Congrats on getting your book ready to share with others. That's always a great feeling, isn't it?

    As for the army base, I guess it depends on how big and well known it is. And how well you know it. If it's so big that tens of thousands pass through it and any specific storyline you set there could get lost in the crowd, and if you know the place well enough to write convincingly, then you are probably safe. The dangers are that someone will pick up on any little mistakes if you try to write about a real place, so you need to know your stuff.

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    1. Thanks. Yeah, it does feel pretty darned good. (I hope I still feel good after I hear back from the Betas!)

      Thanks for you input on the base. I appreciate it.

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  9. congrats, fireworks, champagne, and a loud Damn F*@*ing Great.
    I don't mind f-bombs if it fits. I was never bothered by Sopranos - the language flowed. So, that's my input. In regards to Aberdeen - if it is key keep the name - otherwise I'd probably change it just to avoid any ramifications down the road in this crazy world.
    Keep up the good work and enjoy a good blend of writing, family, friends, and fun. I know you'll keep laughing. Cheers!

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    1. Woo HOO! Thank you... thankyouverymuch. :)

      Yes, the f-bombs fit.

      I'm still cogitating the name change. Very little actually happens on the base, since the main character is pretty much kicked out of the Army in the first chapter, but because it's a proving grounds and is located in the geographical area of the main story, I used the name mostly for the benefit of my Maryland readers. (Hometown fans are the best!)

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  10. I don't mind a bit of cursing in a book or an occasional f-bomb, but excessively using the f word in a sentence really does make me close the cover and move on to something else, I'm not a prude as they say but I was raised that the f word was one to not use in front of the women in your life (wife, mom, grandma) or your children, and when I read I'd really be embarrassed if someone looked over my shoulder and saw that word in the book I am reading.

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    1. Super! I appreciate your input. You are a true Southern gentleman, dear sir.

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  11. LOL at your ingrate characters. Mine like to change things up on me, too, during the plotting stage...and like yours, they tend to be right, no matter how much I fight those changes at first! XD

    As for f-bombs, they don't bother me, but I have come across people who can't stand that sort of thing. It's impossible to please everybody, so at the end of the day, I think you should do what feels most natural for this story and its characters.

    Not sure about that army base name. My paranoid self would create a fictional name, to be on the safe side, but many writers have no problem using real locales in their stories, so...yeah. I'm no help, LOL.

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    1. Well, they ARE ingrates, the little buggers. I did fairly in-depth analyses of them before I started writing, but do they pay any attention to me, their benevolent creator? No-o-o-o...

      Yeah, you're right. Some people may have a problem with ANY bad language, but on the other hand, my character Archie would be big-time miffed at me if I don't let him be himself. (As he created himself, I should say...)

      HA. Sounds like you're right beside me on that fence. :)

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  12. Hooray! I'm so happy to read this. I know this will be an excellent book. And trilogy!
    I'm throwing a parade for you right now. :)

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  13. This is very exciting news. Congrats! You have a ton of positive momentum going on right now. Awesome!

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    1. Thanks! Positive momentum. Yeah, I like the sound of that... as long as it doesn't mean my momentum is increasing because I'm going downhill. HA!

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  14. I think we should be authentic to the character, so if he curses, he curses. And I'm no lawyer, but I think it is okay to use the name of an actual base. *shrugs* Best of luck with writing book two! :)

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    1. Thank you. That makes sense. The dude curses, so what can I do...? HA

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    2. Exactly! You don't want him cursing every other word because that loses its effectiveness, but to hinder him from cursing every so often when he most likely would could make him not ring true to the reader.

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    3. Thanks. I appreciate your insight. :)

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  15. A f-----g ton of f------g congratulations for finally getting your f-----g book to your f-----g Beta readers!!

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    1. HA! Did I ever tell you how much I like you? :)

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  16. I don't mind if a character drops a few f-bombs. I know my characters do. ;) I use the name of real places all the time. Like in Tsunami Crimes, for instance. For a WIP, I'm using the names of real Coast Guard bases, so I think it's fine.

    I have some sparklers. I'll light one in your honor and dance around my backyard. :)

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    1. Cool. Thanks for your input. I appreciate it.

      HA! Thanks so much. Such a fun image... :)

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  17. Hi, Susan! Yell "Plot Twist!" I love it! My life has had a number of plot twists this year ~ That sounds so much better than rough patches. Congratulations on your writing success. I don't mind a few f-bombs if they fit the character. Heck, I've been known to drop an occasional one in my real life. As for the army base, I tend to use real locations in my writing, so if you're comfortable with it, I'd say go ahead. Happy holidays!

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    1. Hi-ya! Yeah, I think we all have to deal with a number of plot twists, whether we want to or not. Perhaps we're no more in control of our "story" than our characters are. (Um, except for mine, that is... they totally took over!)

      Happy holidays to you, too!

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  18. This calls for a parade and fireworks! Plus hot dogs. And balloons for mom. (MST3K joke.)
    I can overlook a few f-bombs, although I don't put them in my own books so they can gain as wide an audience as possible. I guess it all depends on the genre. As for the base, I'd keep the real name. Maybe you could do a signing there some day?

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    1. Not too likely to have a signing at that particular base. We used to go there when we visited family in Maryland, because our younger son loved the ordinance museum there. The last time my hubby and I were up there, the museum was gone, the security had been ramped way up, and the general public was not welcome. At all.

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  19. There's quite a lot I'd like to edit from 2017, instead I'll learn from my mistakes and try to make 2018 better.
    "Does this kind of language turn you off..."
    Maybe, if it is overdone and the story might read just as well without it. Usually if it truly fits the character my eyes will just learn to skip over the word. In a movie though, where I have to hear the word, I'm more likely to turn it off and watch something else.

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    1. That's a healthy attitude. No matter how much we might want to change the past, we can't, so we might as well learn something from it and move on.

      I get that. I HAVE stopped reading books or turned off a movie with too much foul language, which is why I'm struggling with it. There's no doubt in my mind that this particular character would curse. I reckon it's up to me to make sure it isn't overdone.

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  20. P.S. Congratulations. I hope the book does well when published.

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  21. You're obviously ending this year with a gloriously Big Bang, Susan - with the completion of your book and the beginning of an exciting trilogy. I luv the trilogy title "Blast Rites" and also "Explosive Beginnings".

    As for your questions:
    I think you should keep the real name of Aberdeen Proving Grounds, which lends authenticity.

    I generally don't like F-Bombs in books, but we certainly live in a different age than Jane Austen - and F-Bombs also lend authenticity. Saying "Aw shucks" would be ridiculous.
    ALSO
    I have to admit that I drop quite a few F-Bombs here around the house - - which is why my cats have begun wearing earplugs....

    Soooo, what would I have done differently in 2017??
    I'd like to actually have been DOING a lot of things instead of just sitting back and thinking about them (like writing, etc.) Any effort is better than nothing at all.

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    1. Thanks. I'm glad you like the titles. Now, if the content only lives up to them... :)

      Good points. Authenticity matters. And no way Archie would say "Aw, shucks." (I do make him say, "I don't give a flying fandango" quite a few times, though...)

      Thinking is far better than not thinking, and it is always the best place to start. Happy birthday, cowboy! (Almost...)

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  22. Sounds like you have had a productive year! Good for you!I'm not great on F-bombs...but can manage when it's written like this: "What the F--"

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    1. Alluding to a particular curse word rather than actually saying it is one possible go-around.

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  23. If it needs an F, it gets an F! (Word, not mark!) I keep my blog swear free, and pretty much everything on social media because my students are watching, and I like to be 'family friendly.' In real life, or in art, however, no language is banned where it is integral to the situation/story.
    It's a good thing to do something different too. I'm finally giving Pearl a whirl and liking it so far - the characters in particular. So your new inventions running wild should be fine :-)

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    1. Yeah, I think maybe it DOES need those Fs. I'll just make sure there aren't too MANY of them.

      I'm glad to hear you and Pearl are finally getting acquainted. I think creating characters is one of my favorite parts of writing, even if they don't always follow the path I've set out for them. :)

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  24. Congratulations on Book One! (Happy dance!)

    Chuckling, because I've been trying realllly hard this year to cure myself of using the "F" word. At my workplace, every other word that comes out of my GM and AGM's mouth ... you get it. Nevertheless, not a great habit to have fallen into. But to your point? I think certain characters' authenticity depends on it. Who wants a 'bad guy' who speaks like an acolyte?

    To your second question? Like the man sang, "Regrets, I've got a few; but then again, too few to mention."

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    1. Thanks! (Happy dancing here, too.)

      The more exposed we are to hearing the F-word as a part of everyday language, the easier it is for the word to sneak into our vocabulary, as well. When I'm around friends and family who use the word as often as your GM and AGM do, I find myself using it from time to time, too. As much as I used to HATE the word, I never thought I'd become this accustomed to it. Then again, it depends on how the word is USED. I still hate it when it's deliberately used as a vulgarity, but in some circumstances, it's more funny than offensive.

      Yeah... "doing it your way" is the way to go. :)

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  25. I'm with Jon on keeping "Aberdeen Proving Grounds" but as for F-bombs, I'm in accord with you. An F-bombless book denotes dignity and restraint --in both antagonist and protagonist-- unless you're referring to the word, "feckless", meaning weak or lacking initiative. In short, without feck. No matter, I will conduct a little parade while politely applauding, "an exhilarating display of fireworks" or just light my pipe(...and don't forget the ...smiley faces") and, yes, I shall smile.

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    1. Cool. Sounds like most like the idea of keeping the base's name as is. I managed to keep "Hot Flashes" F-bombless, and believe me, George reeeeally wanted to drop a few. This time around, Archie's character just wouldn't be the same without it.

      Yes, just lighting your pipe and smiling is perfect. You could maybe blow a smoke ring or two in my honor. :)

      Speaking of which, happy birthday, dude! I hope you have a wondrous day to begin a wondrous year. :)

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  26. Congratulations on finishing! That's fantastic! If it fits with the situation, I don't mind the f-bomb. As long as nothing libelous is written about the base, I'd leave the name the same, but I think it would be OK either way.

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    1. Thanks! And thanks for your input, too. I really appreciate it.

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  27. Hooray on book 1! Fine with the F bombs in this day and age. Change the base name. If I could change anything, I would've made myself a bit happier along the way so I didn't get so damn depressed. But we survived, and still abide, and I'm so glad to read your post. x

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    1. Here's to a new year in which we're all happier, kiddo. (Guess we'll have to stop watching the news, eh?) :)

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  28. There's plenty I would like to edit but then, it wouldn't be 2017 at all. :-) I guess I'll have to live with those "moments" and move on. After all, it was all a plot twist. :-)

    Greetings from London.

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    1. Yes, exactly! Lots of plot twists... we just have to be flexible to go with them. :)

      Greeting back atcha.

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  29. You're celebrating with another cup of tea? Isn't that a bit...hm...mild??? Shouldn't you celebrate with something with a double-digit number and a percentage sign on the bottle?

    Keep the name Aberdeen Proving Ground. It won't matter to people who don't know about it, and it will spark familiarity among those people who know it, lived near there (like your friends), or used to ship household goods for service members there (like me).

    As far a F-bombs - keep those, too. People use them in real life, and you want your characters to be real, right? Won't bother me at all.

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    1. Oh no, it isn't mild at all... I prefer my tea on the strong side. :) (I'll reach for the beverage with a percentage sign on its bottle IF the Betas give me thumbs up on the book.)

      Oh, cool. It's neat that you're familiar with the base. It looks a lot different now than it did when we first went there, but I like your reasoning for keeping the name.

      Thanks. It's good to know that most of you would be okay with some well-placed F-bombs. (I just have to convince MYSELF!)

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  30. Hi Susan - I use the F-word, yet don't like reading it ... but when I say it it's with a smile a laugh ... because it's just something **** ridiculous ... so as so many others have said - in moderation. If the Aberdeen base has changed so much ...I guess it won't matter to much ... but so well done on getting the first part out and on to beta readers - excellent help here at the IWSG ... cheers Hilary

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    1. Hi-ya, Hilary. You do? Huh. And here I was picturing you the perfect British lady... :) I know what you mean about the smile and laugh, though. That's my style, too. (Plus, I pronounce the word as though it had two Os... makes me sound Irish.)

      Thank you. You're oh-so-right about the help within IWSG.

      Cheers back atcha.

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  31. I've seen the F-word a lot. I'm not crazy about reading it, because I tend to be conservative, but you have to be the one to make the decision about it. If the character's personality requires that type of language, then go ahead and use it.

    I like your priorities about laughing more and loving!

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    1. Thanks for you input. I do appreciate it.

      The older I get, the more clear-cut priorities become. ;)

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  32. Language doesn't bother me as long as it's not gratuitous. If it's character-driven, or natural in dialogue I barely notice.

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    1. Thanks. I think yours is the most pragmatic way to look at it. We may not like the language some people use, but some people STILL use it.

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