Friday, June 20, 2008

Back With A Vengeance

So, today I got up and threw on my Shooter shirt. I got it a few weeks ago, but today is the first day I've worn it, and it's making me genuinely miss the boys over at Cobra Brigade. So, with them in mind today, I'm going to write a post. I don't have a reason for not writing for the last nine days, except that I just haven't felt like it. I won't make any promises, but I'm going to try to get over myself and just write as often as I used to.


Red Sox:

David Ortiz has been gone since May 31, and in that time, J.D. Drew has been playing out of his mind. In the month of June, he's hitting .441 with nine home runs and 21 RBI. Thanks in large part to those stats, the Sox are 12-5 without Ortiz's bat in the lineup, which bodes well for the team. Ortiz has had the cast removed from his left wrist, and he is now in a soft splint, presumably starting range of motion exercises. I haven't heard exactly when he'll be back, but all reports indicate that the cast being removed is a very positive sign, since it means Ortiz won't be needing season-ending surgery.

Curt Schilling, however, is another story. He will be having surgery, which will be season-ending, and could mean that he won't throw another pitch as a major leaguer. I've never been a huge Schilling fan, at least on a personal level. Obviously, he's a god as a pitcher, and I love him as a player, mostly because of his performance in the 2004 playoffs. But I regard him as a blowhard in any other situation. Now, I'm perfectly willing to admit that my issues with him are largely political. If he had campaigned for Kerry instead of Bush, maybe I'd be willing to give him some more slack when he runs his mouth. But he didn't, and so I'm not. But he'll always be revered in Boston, and I can accept that. If his career as a player is over, though, look out. Schilling is not capable of staying out of the spotlight for long. He may be coming soon to a Senate race near you.

Bartolo Colon is on the DL with back issues that occurred after his pathetic at-bat in Philadelphia. He might have considered stretching first. Or losing 50 pounds. Just a thought. Seriously, though, it's too bad, because until that start in Philadelphia, Colon was doing a nice job for this team.

Matsuzaka is coming off the DL this weekend to start against the Cardinals on Saturday. At the moment, that makes the Sox rotation Beckett, Matsuzaka, Lester, Wakefield and Masterson. That last name may be somewhat unfamiliar to you, but the kid has done a hell of a job in his short stint in the majors. In six starts, he has amassed a 4-1 record and a 3.00 ERA. You have to figure Colon will get his job back he comes off the DL, but Masterson has definitely been making a case for himself.

The Sox are coming off a road trip on which they went 4-2. Admittedly, three of those games were against Cincinnati, but the other three were against Philadelphia, which is not a bad team. Now it's time to go back home for some more interleague play, starting with the Cardinals.


Dodgers:

This is one heck of a frustrating team, let me tell you. They lost five in a row, then swept the hapless Reds in Cincinnati, but now they head home to take on the Indians and White Sox. This is quite a test for a team that just hasn't quite been able to figure it out this year.

Brad Penny and Hiroki Kuroda are both on the DL. That means the rotation is Kershaw, Park (who is starting in Kuroda's place on Saturday), Billingsley and Lowe and Stults, who started against the Reds on Thursday and did a great job. Kuroda is eligible to come off the DL on June 28, and the powers that be seem to think his injury is not that serious, and he should be ready to come back that day.

It's looking like Furcal may never come back this season. Well, not really, but it feels that way. The best news we've heard thus far is that he'll be back after the All-Star Break. I don't want the guy to be seriously injured, so I hope this time off will help. But he hasn't played since May 5, and going into yesterday he was still tied for first on the team in runs scored. That says a lot about what Furcal was doing before going down, but it says more about what the Dodgers as a team have been doing since he left.

On that note, how about hitting some home runs, Dodgers? Please? This team has hit 48 home runs, which is good for 29th in the league (remember that there are only 30 teams), and dead last in the National League. And they're near the bottom of the pack in most other offensive categories as well. There are a lot of factors involved in the offensive woes, but I love to blame Juan Pierre for most everything, so I'm going to. He shouldn't be batting leadoff, period. He has a .336 OBP, which has just been steadily declining for the last month. That puts him 104th in baseball. And he's the leadoff guy. I don't know exactly what number I expect from the leadoff guy, but it has to be more than that. When Furcal was at the top, his OBP was .448. Granted, that was likely to go down some as he continued to play, but his ability to get on base was obviously a big part of the Dodger offense. With the hole that is Juan Pierre at the top of the lineup, the Dodgers have no chance.

Now for something entirely different.

Coming off a short debate I had over at TUP, I feel the need to write a little something about homophobia. I've spent some time this week reading opinions about California gay marriage at CNN.com, so I have been sufficiently riled up, but I'll try to not go on a rant.

The bottom line is, it's just not okay to be a homophobe, and I don't care what the circumstances are. When you make jokes, calling some guy a "fag" because of some characteristic of his you don't like, you're implying that being gay is one of the worst possible things that person could be, and you're crossing a line. You know why? Because you may think
that you're just being funny, and you joke with all your friends all the time, so everything is okay. But there are people out there whose sole purpose in life is to be as hateful as possible to the gay members of this society, and those fools are using the same words you are. Don't believe me? Go to CNN.com and read the "iReport" section on gay marriage. Better yet, go here.

Go ahead and call me overly sensitive. Maybe I am, but maybe I also see that little gay jokes are only indicative of a society that thinks it's okay to demean and discriminate against an entire group of people. Perhaps if things were going differently in this country -- if the current president didn't believe that being gay is a sin, if anti-gay amendments to state constitutions weren't being voted on in every election -- then I could see just what exactly is so funny about saying that if you go to Wrigley Field, which is in a gay area of Chicago, you'll be forced to insert a butt plug. But you'll have to forgive me if I don't find it all that humorous, since I seem to be spending a great deal of time these days defending something the government wants to call a "lifestyle," but I just call my life.

It's almost laughable to refer to my reaction over at Tremendous Upside Potential as "sensitive," now that I think about it. You tell me how I'm supposed to react when faced with discrimination on such a level, when I walk down the street in Las Vegas and someone yells "dyke!" out the window, even though I was doing literally nothing but walking next to another woman. When I hear people giggle and joke about being gay, all I hear is that woman yelling out her car, and all I see are the people of the Westboro Baptist Church picketing funerals with signs reading "God Hates Fags."

If I let the "innocent" jokes roll off me like they don't matter, that merely serves to perpetuate the idea that it's okay to treat people like they don't matter. Don't tell me to relax when you make those sorts of jokes, because the nature of this debate in this country means that I absolutely cannot relax. Do you think women were being "sensitive" when they were fighting for their right to vote? Would you have told Martin Luther King, Jr. to "relax" while he was marching in Selma, or being thrown in jail for his protesting? I doubt it. And if you don't think the issues are entirely similar, you're crazy.

Too many people are convinced that being anti-gay is acceptable, even if those same people would never do anything that would be considered racist or even sexist. For that reason, the only way for me to believe I have a chance to make a difference in this war is for me to fight every instance of homophobia that I see, even if people are convinced that they're just being funny. The stupid jokes (and there a lot of them in the sports and blogging worlds) can't be considered okay, because every battle counts, and I want to win.

Thanks to BobbyStompy, who wrote a nice comment on my last post.


COMMENTS:

AUTHOR: Ben
DATE: 06/20/2008 08:58:11 PM

Erin, nice post. I hope you find satisfaction.

I'd like to offer an observation. Not all bigots are of the same stripe, and I wonder if varying tactics based on type might yield good results. There seems to me to be three major types. 1) haters. Standing up for your rights against these fools should be strong and hard. It won't help, but is the right thing to do. These people won't go away until a new generation replaces them. 2) people our age (30's I assume) who use 'gay' and 'fag' off-handedly because the usage was common when we were growing up. This is a group that can certainly change, usually a few strong rebukes makes these people realize that the slang they have been using is offensive. 3) evangelicals, who use 'gay' as a code word. For example, dude is chatting with a new acquaintance. Acquaintance tells a tragic story, and evangelical responds, 'dude, that's gay'. This is code for 'man, thats too bad, and by the way, are you an evangelical, too?' Depending on how the person reacts, the evangelical has his answer. 'Yeah that is gay' vs. 'uhh huh'.

This is not my own theory. My bro works at a high school, and noted an increased use of the word 'gay' the last few years. He was wondering about this, in light of the generally tolerant nature of the modern campus. His observaion is that 'gay' has become a code word evangelicals use to feret out other evangelicals.

I bring this up, because if the idea is to effect change, I suspect a nuanced rebuke may be in order for this type of person. Evidently, these people are using the word, while offensive, for an off-target purpose. In this case, a strong backlash may only increase a predisposion for homophopia. However, a rebuke that emphasizes respect, equality, and rights might go farther with these types.

Anyway, I hadn't seen this observation discussed before and thought to get it out there. All the best with your efforts.
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AUTHOR: Rickhouse
DATE: 06/21/2008 12:56:25 AM

So after I woke up and saw all the nonsense that went on, I sent you an email. Not sure if you got it, but I sent it at 1 or 2ish Central time. I wrote an email to Brian saying "URGENT, WHAT'S ERIN'S EMAIL! and he actually called me on the phone to give it to me. Can you believe that? New York to Chicago. His wife is going to kill him.

I hope you understand that those were the views of one person, one of my friends, and not mine. Still I take responsibility because I posted it on my site. I should have read it more closely and edited or cut it. Beau's views are certainly not my own, and I want that to be clear. I already talked to him about it.

Of course you aren't being overly sensitive. It was a stupid joke by a friend that i should have cut. Sorry. It probably made my site look dumb and when I don't agree with the view point in the first place, it makes it even worse.
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AUTHOR: SoSG Orel
DATE: 06/21/2008 01:40:53 AM

Quite a post, Erin. Keep fighting the good fight.
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AUTHOR: Bruce Paine
DATE: 06/21/2008 01:47:48 AM

Awesome, I put my Shooter thong on for the occasion. It would fit a lot better if I didn't have...you know.

Your concerns about being gay in this country have been voiced before, and i will advise you now as I did then. Get gunned up. Outside of that I would offer this. As I recall, and I may be wrong because I only remember skimming over this in the paper and don't pay very close attention to CalifornIA, but the Cali Supreme Court has struck down the gay marriage ban which is good sign for you. As for the the everybody else, fuck em. I don't know much about TUP, but i believe Rickhouse is a youngish, single college kid and that the readers over there are much the same. I wouldn't expect much from young guys who fit that kind of description. The modern American male is very much a failure, he has not grown or matured or learned from history in an effort to avoid the mistakes of his past. He is a shadow of what could have been great. He was founded on solid principals but when given the choice of his path, he went the route of ease and comfort, forgoing the advancement of challenge. He, the American Male, is ignorant, crude, corrupt, lost, overly feminine, overly one-sided and poorly motivated. He is insecure because his father never taught him how to be a man. His father was a BabyBoomer and living a soft life bought with the blood of his father. He never stood a chance.

That said, I was surprised you chose that post to light up. Though I am glad you did it, because it was that kind of guy that was screaming and yelling at us being gay for each other when CB was jumping on Kelvin Sampson. Where is that guy now? How did that turn out? If being right about Kelvin Sampson means I am gay then the first thing I am going to do is find a guy that looks exactly like me because I am BEE-utiful. So I don't begrudge you jumping that fellers case, I was just surprised that the case you jumped was such an elementary one. He was just some Chicago dumbass spouting off about losing to the Cubs. I got my fill of that type when they infested Indiana University. I assure you, they are beneath you.

For my fourth paragraph, I would comment on the you feelings about voting for gay marriage. I would just say this, from my ultra Constitution point of view. We are a not a democracy, and were not designed to be. We are a republic of states. As such, those states (at least for the time being) are given their autonomy to make their own laws. If a state decides that they are going to ban gay marriage, it isn't really our business. States sanction marriage so it is state business. Your state allows it so you should be happy, other states don't allow it and since you don't live there, you should ignore that state. You are free to raise Hell with them if you want, and I encourage it, but it is poor form to ask for blanket allowance on a federal level. You may want it, but if you are yelling for it then it is just another issue where a bunch of uppity folk from CalifornIA are making laws everyone else has to live under. There are more states in the Union than New York and California and they get to make their own decisions. If they make the wrong one then it is their burden. You can completely avoid them if you like. You seem to be a enterprising and talented sort, I bet you can find work someplace that isn't Kansas. Homophobia is one of several cultural scourges humanity could do without, but you can't legislate social change.

For my fifth paragraph, I will expose a bit of myself that I didn't get into during the run of Cobra Brigade. In my little country school in my little country town I had many hobbies and activities. Outside of doing my chores on the farm, playing a little basketball, and shooting guns, I participated in my high school's performing arts department. For most little country schools, that isn't saying much, but our school was an exception. We had and exceptional choir and theater department. I don't want to talk about whether or not I was good or what sort of things I did, but I could easily say that it wouldn't bother me to sing a few songs in front of few thousand people because I have done it before and it wouldn't bother me to get up and deliver a monologue in front of a few thousand people because i have done it before. They don't do Friday lunch karaoke at The Great Wall on north Walnut in Bloomington anymore because Bruce Paine raped that machine. Those little Chinese waitresses never knew what hit em. Anyway, a big part of the department was a fellow by the name of David Wade. He was the director and choreographer for the theater dept. He is a heck of a guy and I was lucky to have him as one of the adults in my life as a young guy. He and his partner Stephen own a little cooking supply shop on the square in Bloomington. I was laying up a stone wall one day when I knocked off early and went to my French class. I grabbed the student newspaper and this is what I saw.
http://www.idsnews.com/news/story.aspx?id=32378&comview=1
I nearly crapped my pants. This kind of thing deserved an ass beating as far as I was concerned. So, having just arrived at class, I promptly left to go over to the store and see what was going on. It is an important place place in my life as all of the women in my life cook and all of their gifts are bought there. So I get over there and talk to Dave, and he tells me, "When I got here on Monday a six-year old girl told me Satan was going to ass rape me in Hell." Now that is some terrible stuff right there. I know these guys and they are good fellers. They live generous, quiet, creative lives and they are good to their friends and go to church and treat strangers nicely and the whole bit. They have never harmed anyone enough to deserve that kind of treatment. The only newspaper in Bloomington that covered the story was the student paper, the two dailies you have to pay for never said a word about it. I don't know why I told this story. Perspective maybe or because I don't write anything anymore and my fingers were anxious. I couldn't say. I will say this, though. I am a mind your own business kind of guy. That said, I guess one could claim that I am telling you that you shouldn't go around jumping these idiots for being homophobic. That isn't true, I am just asking you not to legislate it. Its the principal of the thing. I love confrontation and want you to cause as much as possible. But I think the real eightballs of the world that are homophobic to the degree of setting you off are beyond the salvation that you seem to hope for them. The only endgame left is to eliminate them or wait them out. Since you don't like the idea of brassing these yahoos, I think you may have to ignore them and be patient. Raise your kids different. Help your neighbors raise their kids different. Let the people around you know that fag, homo, and whatever are words you don't appreciate and natural selection will run its course. Before I go let me say this, I had never heard the term "bull dyke" until I was about 26, but when I did I was startled by it. I am as confused by the run of the mill butch girl as the next guy, but that particular term seems awful mean to me.

P.S. Yes, I sang in the choir and came out straight. I have a harem full of women who can attest to my stamina. Choir does not make you less of a man in bed.
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AUTHOR: Bruce Paine
DATE: 06/21/2008 01:54:13 AM

Post Script:

My comments about Chicagoans and college dudes were generalizations and not specific to Rickhouse. I have corresponded with him to a small degree via CB and he has never shown himself to be a marker of the kind of douchebag I was referring to.

Is "raping" a karaoke machine too insensitive for this thread? If it was I apologize. The same goes for "douchebags" and "eightballs"
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AUTHOR: karina
DATE: 06/21/2008 03:45:47 PM

Erin, as always you give insightful-very elaborated baseball info.
In the other side, i don't think you overreacted with the homophopic "boy" in the other blog. This kind of behavior has to be stopped at all levels, even if it is a random blog on the net or anti-gay protests in shops.

First of all, that guy didn't respect you when he replied to your post, that statement "get laid" is a very unrespectful remark. He called a sort of drink as "HIV", like suffering from such disease is a walk in the park (not to mention the fact lots of people still see HIV as a "gay" disease)
It always amazes me how homosexuality is an issue in the world today, specially when in Greece and Rome (the so- called cradles of western civilization) wasn't an issue at all.
We're all humans, being a girl who is attracted to girls, a boy who's attracted to boys, someone who is attracted to both or if you like wearing other gender's clothes, at the end of the road, those facts don't make anyone different: we ALL feel, act and react the same with our sexuality, regardless of our preferences.

Why the hate then? why insult someone for his/her sexuality?why the discrimination?
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AUTHOR: karina
DATE: 06/21/2008 03:46:27 PM

It's even worse for female homosexuals. For somewhat reason, there is much more acceptance for the male homosexual than his feminine counterpart. Lesbians are way more ridiculized: they often are used as cheap porn flags for heterosexual men, they are perceived as having the worst traits of a man and a woman together, their lack of feminity is already taken for granted and the mockery they are subjected to is way more cruel and hurtful.

As a woman, i found insulting we all, no matter if we're heterosexual, homosexual or bisexual are constantly scrutinized by the way we handle our sexuality. It's like whatever we do, it's automatically wrong (even when we do give life).

We have to stop this. With little actions like you have done, i do feel we can change this ignorant attitude.
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AUTHOR: karina
DATE: 06/21/2008 03:46:56 PM

About marriage, if everyone reacts the same way to his/her sexuality: why not can't everyone just get married , if they feel like it. More important: married people have lots of benefits that single people don't, so even if two people who love each other and share their lives under the same roof want to get married just to have access to better health insurance, protect their common properties and pay less taxes, let be it.

I saw something in the news this week that really moved me: the marriage of those lovely elderly ladies, who were living together for more than 50 years. It is inevitable all the prejudice these ladies had to silently take but they stuck together due to the love they felt for each other. You could tell they breathed affection for each other, you could see they were really an item. In spite of their age and the obvious health problems they face, they still got married so their love is legal. I bet most people live and die without knowing the pure love those ladies share.
So, let's support love and fight hate.
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AUTHOR: Bruce Paine
DATE: 06/22/2008 03:59:22 AM

In Greece and Rome homosexuality was an issue, and not very well looked upon. I don't say this to disagree. Rather, i expect it should be used as support to the greater theme of unacceptable persecution.

The tides of history often shift over generations to support this or that and this is a common theme that has suffered under those notions. Many characters in history are recorded as having homosexual relationships or as being homosexual, and I cannot say that they were or weren't. I can say that primary texts support the idea that it was often viewed as a luxury of fame and as a by-product of the close relationship between mentor and student or between two warriors driven closer by their shared experiences of battle. Achilles and Patroclus, Alexander and Haephestion, and Suetonius suggests that Julius Caesar may have had a homosexual relationship with Nicomedes, the king of Bithynia. These are some of the highlights. One thing that is unanimously shared by these men (Achilles, Alexander, Caesar and countless other heroes of the classical age) is that they were married to women and had children with them.

Acceptance is something of an issue as well. In primary sources that still exist, Roman men often accuse each other publicly of participating in homosexual acts as a method of attempting to focus scrutiny and ridicule on the masculinity of their opponent. A Roman man often had to fight off such accusations. Masculinity was certainly a concern in those days and the notion of homosexuality was certainly an affront to it. In Roman culture in particular it was acceptable for a Roman noble to only participate in such activities if he were the dominant (pitching) member of the relationship and he was open to tremendous shame if he was found to be the subservient partner.

Alexander was often ridiculed for his relationship with Haephestion as it was perceived as distracting him from his "duty" of producing a biological heir. Though none of these sources can be taken at 100% bonded truth. It can be legitimately held that the issue with homosexuality was alive and well and only accepted if its formative physical elements were kept behind closed doors and if the emotional element did not prevent him from performing his "manly duties" with a wife first, such as producing a male heir. The Greeks seem to accuse each other's societies as being made softer or unnecessarily decadent by the infusion of homosexuality. Alexander was unable to defeat the Spartans, and they were rather standoffish having little contact with the rest of Greece and not participating in the Greek traditions of formal education and literature (the Spartans did not write down their own history as a rule, they were literate but somehow decided not to do it). They were often the subject of smear campaigns when they would not participate in wars with the other city-states. A big part of those campaigns would be accusations that the mentoring habits of older men with younger Spartan boys was a pederastic relationship. It is entirely plausible that it existed, but there is almost no real proof. By design the Spartans educated their young men and women with mentors rather than with written texts so there was a close bond. What kind of relationship it was is almost entirely left to guess. It is claimed as a pederastic relationship by enemies of Sparta, so the information cannot be trusted because of the source.

In medieval history, and de facto Christian history, the sources for the views on homosexuality are more clear. It was pretty much ignored by the church until the church started becoming more politically active. When the church starts trying to codify marriage is the moment when its starts becoming an issue. It is difficult to nail that down but one excellent source is the history of Montaillou. Montaillou was a village in France and one of the last stops of the tour for the Inquisition in its reckless crusade against the Albigensian heresy. The reason it is such a great reference is because of the Inquisition being meticulous about its record keeping. They even have verbatim transcripts and such. A fella wrote a really nice microhistory of the inquisitorial period that is a watershed work for medieval historians. Anyway, the nutshell is that the locals in this small village generally regarded homosexuality as a bad thing because int eh small village a few people deciding to participate in exclusively homosexual relationships could seriously effect the viability of the village as a whole in future generations. One of the main perps in the eyes of the Inquisition was an Albigensian priest who is making the rounds and hooking up with everybody. One thing that it seems to indicate at this time homosexuality creates a practical fear in the village folk but is generally accepted in the cities as an eccentricity. Eventually the Catholic church would get that turned around too and eventually they habit of claiming that homosexuality was anti-Christian would become mainstream in the cities.

I suppose, after all that, my point is that histories great societies have viewed homosexuality as an issue and often a negative one. Greece and Rome seem to apply the notion that any sexuality, being it hetero or homo, is something of a choice and that a person can move back and forth. Labeling and social connotations seem to be more directly applied to the role one plays in the relationship, the dominance and power one can project in that role, and whether or not it impedes with the necessary social duties one was expected to carry out. It seems rather evident, though, that one was not pleasantly looked on if they participated exclusively in such a relationship. It should also be noted that very little information exists regarding lesbian relationships in this time-period as women were widely considered property and not worth recording in history. Ahh. The good old days.

In the early Christian days, we are exposed to the working class a little more and we get a better picture of the overall view of homosexuality. I am not much of a historian and cannot say at what point people came around to the idea that homosexuality is more than a preference or choice and something more like a state of being, but certainly it is supposed at the turn of the 14th century during the Montaillou Inquisition because of the practical fear that homosexuals may not feel the need to reproduce. I say this because they would not fear that if it was a simple preference or a dalliance but they would if the couple showed an emotional bond and desire for monogamy that overwhelmed the desire to procreate. Given that summation, it is my belief that people may have understood, though not stated, that homosexuality was more than just sexual preference. That could probably be considered a significant leap in academic circles, so don't tell anybody.

Anyway, all I am saying is that Homosexuals have had to put up with a lot of shit throughout history. That said, it is probably more of an outrage that it happens now because we have the opportunity to be so much more as a society. That the Greeks and Romans and medieval Europeans could not find a place in their minds to open up to this is one thing, but why can't modern American society? We ought to be able to see a little farther than that. What is the benefit of persecuting homosexuals? What burden does one displace by laying that sort of thing on someone else? I think there are enough of us around that we don't have to view homosexuality as a threat to our population. If it gets to be that close of thing, call Bruce Paine. I have spent my life waiting to be put out to stud.

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AUTHOR: Ben
DATE: 06/23/2008 11:53:23 PM

Erin,
I thought you might like to know that your post inspired me to contact my first boss, from about ten years ago, who was a positive influence on my life. He was the first openly gay person I knew and helped knock down preconceptions from my childhood. I hadn't talked to him in years, due to moving on to different companies. But your post reminded me that a kind word can help when persons face trials. So I wrote him an email to tell him what a positive influence he had had on my life. Perhaps your trials may become another persons good will. And maybe, that good will will find its way back to you.

BTW, I am a lurker and haven't commented here before, as you noticed. I follow many blogs, and several newsgroups, but comment only rarely. I suspect that you bloggers don't realize how much readership you really have, based solely on comment totals.
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AUTHOR: Erin
DATE: 06/24/2008 02:30:27 PM

Ben,

That's easily one of the nicest things I've ever read. Thanks for coming out of the shadows to tell me that. It really made my day. You can go back to lurking if you want. I don't mind, though so far I've liked everything you've had to say.
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