eplaya and you

All things outside of Burning Man.

Postby Chai Guy » Thu Oct 16, 2003 7:28 pm

Again, I think it is critical to bring up something...this board at the moment is run by volunteers. VOLUNTEERS.


Damn! Doesn't Bmorg pay anybody to do anything around here?

Rangers=Volunteers
Gate=Volunteers
DPW=Volunteers (Don't worry, if you forget, they will REMIND you)
Cafe Barristas=Volunteers
Greeters=Volunteers
Eplaya Web Team=Volunteers


Errrr... Who am I forgetting?
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Postby aforceforgood » Fri Oct 17, 2003 12:41 am

Technopatra, I'm sorry I missed you, and sorryer (sorrier?) still if you feel unappreciated- that was never my intention, and I suspect, never the intention of others asking for changes to this board.

technopatra wrote:Ok, I am really getting to love you, but if you think that a month & a half is enough to time to get anything done immediately after the event, yer sac may be a wee bit tight.


Agreed. Like I said, I know you're volunteers and I never expected immediate solutions, it's just that we didn't hear anything being done to fix the problems we perceived as being responsible for the dearth of posts and absence of the most entertaining contributors.

technopatra wrote:If you are indeed following the Features & Bugs threads, you will see that Spanky, Emily or I at the very least acknowledged most of the posts, and in the cases where we were able, immediately made requested changes. In some cases we didn't have to because another eplayan came up with a solution.


I was somewhat chagrined when I saw that just today you'd posted a progress update over in the Features & Bugs threads, but then I realized it pretty perfectly illustrated what some of us have been saying about all the partitioning- that it makes this place more difficult to navigate. The old bbs's method of the most popular threads floating on top while others slowly or quickly sank to the bottom was ingenious in it's simplicity. Why should I have to check in 2 or more places to find things when there's a better method readily available?

Putting all these discussions in a bunch of little boxes hinders cross-pollination and the likelyhood we will come across interesting or topical stuff. The old BBS had what, 5 divisions? It's like when you move and you have zillions of boxes to go through. It takes energy and time, and eventually you tire of it. This is what's happening now. Especially to those on dial-up.

I've still yet to hear a good explanation of why that method was abandoned in favor of this one, which IMO, was reinventing the wheel- which is fine if your wheel is WAY better than the old one to make the learning curve worthwhile, but I don't see how this method is superior. How is it superior?

technopatra wrote:And I wanted to see if anyone holds themselves accountable for their own negative postings, or those posts effect on the overall experience. I am more than pleased with the thoughfulness of the ensuing discussion.
...
Are you going to keep repeating yourself and using the design (which I heartily agree is flawed, no question) as the only handy excuse for your continued negativity to each other?


I assume you're referring to flames, not complaints about the format/usability, which is not negativity, it's an information stream. You're (and when I say you, I'm referring to the entire decision making team designing this webspace) really not getting it if you think those who've complained about things on this board just like complaining. Being in the desert is hard enough without complainers (which we are not). We were initially very polite about this board, and I believe gave it much benefit of the doubt while pointing out things we thought should be changed to make it better. The fact that the predictions that were made early on in "the new BBS look" are now coming true should be clueing someone in that maybe we have a point? That thread is very much worth rereading.

And let me just say again thanks. It's a difficult thing to try and make suggestions while trying not to make you feel like we're dismissing your dedication and the work you've done. Please forgive us if we've not always been as gentle as we could have been. We do appreciate it, we really do, we just see the eplaya dying and want to help save it. Tempers get frayed when opinions differ on what course of action to take to resolve a crisis situation, and especially when we feel like we're not being heard, or are being dismissed. All of our "bitching" is really an attempt to help.

Have a great weekend or however long you're gonna be there!
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Postby Bob » Fri Oct 17, 2003 3:23 am

re: newbie (first-time event attendee) stats

<pre>Year Pop.* Change Newbies**<br>2003 30500 5% 47%<br>2002 28979 13%<br>2001 25659 1% 39%***<br>2000 25400 10% 50%<br>1999 23000 53% 57%<br>1998 15000 50% 69%<br>1997 10000 25%<br>1996 8000 100%<br>1995 4000 100%<br>1994 2000 100%<br>1993 1000 67%<br>1992 600 140%<br>1991 250 -69%<br>1990 800 167%<br>1989 300 50%<br>1988 200 150%<br>1987 80 300%<br>1986 20 100%<br><br>* http://www.burningman.com/whatisburning ... eline.html<br>** http://www.dcn.davis.ca.us/~mos/<br> http://www.blueberryjoe.com/statistics/<br>*** unconfirmed</pre>

Accurate?

Heck, I just found it on the Internet.

My guess is that newbies are 300% more likely to answer surveys.
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Postby Booker » Fri Oct 17, 2003 8:02 am

I wonder if ticket records could resolve the issue around proportions of newbies over the years, if it's really important enough to investigate.

Nice post(s) Technopatra. Mebbe watch that negativity, though. That whole "round juicy ass" thing might be perceived to ramp up the grumpiness quotient, ya know. Seriously, though, I think you're strikin' the right tone here. You're clearly sincere and trying hard to listen, but that's no reason you should take any excessive shit. You're walkin' a tough line with a good bit of style.

I want to add a couple more general observations, then I'm gonna check outta this thread and wait to see what happens:

1. We hear repeatedly lately about the time when the event will no longer be happening or needed, and all the action will be going on within loosely affiliated regional groups and events. If that migration away from the center happens, or as it happens, mebbe it makes sense that this board and other info sources from the mothership would become more general, with broader but less deep coverage. That's what I see happening with the rigid categorization and emphasis on graphics over text on this eplaya. And maybe it's just part of the evolution, creating niches for regional communication tools that would support the more flexible, less templated, deeper, more community-determined interactions that we all loved from the dear departed bbs.

2. We've also heard about a desire by the PTBs (thanks, Tom!) to refocus the board on things Burning Man and reduce the "drift" into off-playa topics. But you know, that's not what happens on the playa each year. The installations & camps there are expressions of all kinds of ideas that people feel strongly enough about to make something. Some of it is themey, but most comes from the lives of the makers. The topic for most of the stuff in Black Rock City is decidedly NOT Burning Man.

I think that's needed in the eplaya, as well. If Burning Man discussions are supposed to be only or mainly ABOUT Burning Man, it's going to create an internally focused, self-referrent conversation that's separated from outside context. The idea of that makes me itch a little. In fact, it looks to me like a process of packaging, labeling, defining (dare I say commodifying?) the experience. These discussions need to be open to the stuff that people are thinking and feeling; the board and the event itself are just contexts for expressing those things.

(Fuggit. The ascii art sig. ain't working. Oh, well.)
Last edited by Booker on Fri Oct 17, 2003 4:38 pm, edited 6 times in total.
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Postby herself » Fri Oct 17, 2003 9:17 am

<blockquote> I've still yet to hear a good explanation of why that method was abandoned in favor of this one, which IMO, was reinventing the wheel </blockquote>
affg, the old software required licensing, the cost of which I think we can assume was not trivial. Moving to the php open-source software ultimately saves everybody money. I don't disagree w their decision to do that.

On the altplaya, the subject of burning man is one out of 21 different subject areas in which people can categorize their posts. I don't expect the altplaya to retain a burning man focus, or maybe it will, I don't know. I don't see why the two spaces shouldn't be able to coexist as they serve a slightly different constituency. I don't think the dioxine list competes much w the jack rabbit speaks.

Another question I asked early on is, if we had retained the web crossing software, which many of us thought (not me) was critical to the success of the old eplaya, would we all be comfortable knowing that a % of every single ticket sale went toward supporting our discussions of whether cursive handwriting should be taught to children any more? Do you think the average burner wants to subsidize that discussion? And if not, then does Larry want to subsidize it? I think that's the question facing the LLC on this issue.

hh

Ps. am now realizing a second question for the LLC: are they comfortable telling every burner that a % of their ticket went to support Vanity Promotion as demonstrated so ably by several among us here.
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Postby Ivy » Fri Oct 17, 2003 9:34 am

are they comfortable telling every burner that a % of their ticket went to support Vanity Promotion as demonstrated so ably by several among us here.


But isn't that what the whole event's about, anyway? "Self" expression?
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Postby madmatt » Fri Oct 17, 2003 9:40 am

"But isn't that what the whole event's about, anyway? "Self" expression?"

Indeed. The ticket would be poster sized if they had everything on there that your money might be used for.

Maybe it would serve everyone better, or be more convincing to the "where does my ticket money go, it shouldn't go to pay for software to run the eplaya cause only 10% of burners use it" nitpickers, if the ticket text was shorter.

My ticket, in my eyes, simply says, "Your $150 (yup, got it early) will pay for your eventual airlifting out of Burning Man to the nearest hospital."

Cheap at twice the price, and a license to burn even harder.
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Postby III » Fri Oct 17, 2003 10:09 am

>will pay for your eventual airlifting

err, no. you still have to pay for that yourself.
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Postby Guest » Fri Oct 17, 2003 11:56 am

aforceforgood wrote:I was somewhat chagrined when I saw that just today you'd posted a progress update over in the Features & Bugs threads, but then I realized it pretty perfectly illustrated what some of us have been saying about all the partitioning- that it makes this place more difficult to navigate.


I thought maybe I'd found a way around this by running a search with no search terms to see if I could get the gargantuan list of all topics, then look for the ones I wanted without having to remember which subdivision they were in.

Didn't work, the search brought no results, but maybe it's an idea worth considering.

Also made me think it would be cool if we could change the sort order to alphabetical or by date the topic was posted so we would have alternative ways to scroll through the topics.
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Postby stuart » Fri Oct 17, 2003 12:14 pm

my round juicy ass


cites?

.jpg
.mpg
.dxf
.ma
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Postby aforceforgood » Fri Oct 17, 2003 12:49 pm

herself wrote:<blockquote> I've still yet to hear a good explanation of why that method was abandoned in favor of this one, which IMO, was reinventing the wheel </blockquote>

affg, the old software required licensing, the cost of which I think we can assume was not trivial. Moving to the php open-source software ultimately saves everybody money. I don't disagree w their decision to do that


Thanks for that explanation, but that wasn't really what I was asking about- the web team is the one that decided on the folder method of segmenting up everything into a bunch of boxes that restricts information flow.

They could have created 1 folder for everything, or they could have created one million, (to take this argument to it's logical conclusion in order to show why less folders are better) with each person's post ending up in it's own folder, and therefore creating another layer to click through to get to any content. Also means more time waiting for that layer to display, even for people like me on cable. God help those on dialup.

More organized? It could be argued yes. I can see how this would appeal to the mindset of a person coding this wild and wooly place.

More efficient? My opinion (among others) is no, and I've yet to hear why the folder system (with so many folders) is necessary or more efficient. And I think we've seen that it isn't.

Brilliant idea Abeer, pity it didn't work. Maybe the web team knows a way for us to do this? It would be interesting to see people in effect voting via what method they use to cruise this forum with...

Oh, and Technopatra, I'm not offended by your juicy round ass. I think you're doing a great job of holding the frustration you must surely feel at having to listen to all the "here's what's wrong with this board..." comments. And I for one am able to not take personally people's irritation and emotional venting.

Hope you're having a nice vacation.
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Postby precipitate » Fri Oct 17, 2003 1:19 pm

> More efficient? My opinion (among others) is no, and I've yet to hear
> why the folder system (with so many folders) is necessary or more
> efficient. And I think we've seen that it isn't.

Well, it really depends on what you're after. If you want an organized
database of information to help people at the event (tips, theme camp
announcements, etc.) then more folders is better. A place for everything,
and everything in its place.

If you want to foster communication within the community on a broad
range of topics, fewer folders is better.

I think it's pretty obvious that the org's vision for the eplaya was the
former rather than the latter. But that's not what happened.
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Agh

Postby TawnyGnosis » Fri Oct 17, 2003 1:52 pm

I'm frustrated by the intense amount of unneccesary folders as well in fact. In the old version everything was so condensed and simple that I didn't have to wade through so much information to engage in the boards. Also, the amount of stupid threads posted for the no reason has increased exponentially. This isn't exactly a problem of the e-playa board designers but an influx of people who arent accustomed to the way the boards have been moderated in the past.

The smiley faces are annoying and pointless, why can't we express our thoughts with thoughtful prose instead of AOL mass consumer-ish happy faces? I don't need my e-playa to be cute, I really don't.

Maybe I'm just repeating myself here, but it looks like I won't be wasting my time on the e-playa anymore.
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Re: Agh

Postby DE FACTO » Fri Oct 17, 2003 2:13 pm

tempest wrote:The smiley faces are annoying and pointless, why can't we express our thoughts with thoughtful prose instead of AOL mass consumer-ish happy faces? I don't need my e-playa to be cute, I really don't.

Maybe I'm just repeating myself here, but it looks like I won't be wasting my time on the e-playa anymore.


just my take on it.

the smiley faces are there to make writing faster. after all we are working on computers and the purpose of working with computers is to make life more efficiant. the smiley takes one click which is faster than "lol " which is 3 keystrokes and so on.

i think there is just a big missunderstanding between some that are writers and those that are not, just as the missunderstanding occurs with users and admins sometimes.

keep comming back and do what you do. i'm sure there are others here that feel your pain and will make you feel better by helping come up with a better or compromised solution.

i know i'm doing my best by adding my 2 cents.
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Postby Lydia Love » Fri Oct 17, 2003 2:35 pm

the smiley faces are there to make writing faster. after all we are working on computers and the purpose of working with computers is to make life more efficiant. the smiley takes one click which is faster than "lol " which is 3 keystrokes and so on.


Faster. Not better, not clearer, not more interesting or more entertaining. Faster. In this case we *aren't* on computers for efficiency - we're on for some sort of communication. What kind of conversation varies from person to person, of course.

I myself am looking for conversation. Sometimes it is quick and snappy one-liners and sometimes for an in-depth consideration of a topic. And I'm here to learn more about the individuals that make up the community of burningman. IMO the smilies are a distraction from that - they are too much a short-hand. I don't learn anything about the poster from them... except maybe they are too lazy to even type "lol".

I'm learning to ignore them. But not like them.
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Postby DE FACTO » Fri Oct 17, 2003 2:43 pm

Lydia Love wrote:
the smiley faces are there to make writing faster. after all we are working on computers and the purpose of working with computers is to make life more efficiant. the smiley takes one click which is faster than "lol " which is 3 keystrokes and so on.


Faster. Not better, not clearer, not more interesting or more entertaining. Faster. In this case we *aren't* on computers for efficiency - we're on for some sort of communication. What kind of conversation varies from person to person, of course.

I myself am looking for conversation.


i understand that. but some, like myself are not awsome typists such as yourself. if i spend too much time concentrating on my typing i have a tendency to drift and forget what my original point was.

ok i have a short attention span.
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Postby Bob » Fri Oct 17, 2003 3:31 pm

re: smileys, again

In my experience, smileys are avoided and often actively discouraged in forums that stress intelligent conversation, clear writing, avoidance of nicey-nicey trivialities, and a conscious effort to maintain the forum as a widely-accessible, searchable resource for the subjects of interest.

With regard to the eplaya, I don't operate under the fantasy that everybody shares the same standards for posting. Type up whatever you want. The rest of us are free to factor in the smileys or whatever as we wish.

My arguments here are that presenting the smileys in the post-a-reply screen, while they seem to have been approved with the thought that it would make the eplaya look more friendly, in my own mind puts a de facto trivial spin on the posting process. They seem to have been included as an off-the-shelf package of kitschy art that in no way resembles the graphic-art standards I have come to expect of Burning Man, and that along with the overly-large CSS script they add up to a significant portion of the bandwidth necessary to access and participate in the board via dial-up.

If a priority is to make the board seem friendly, and at the same time encourage thoughtful discourse and valuable contributions rather than chatty streams of small-talk, I'd suggest not force-feeding trivial chat-room crap over the wires as the default option. They could at least be hidden in a scrolling list alongside the Font colour [sic] box.
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Postby technopatra » Wed Oct 22, 2003 2:45 am

Hey y'all, I'm backf rom NY. What a fab town. It was weird - everybody i met was sweet as pie...confirms mytheory that the laid-back rep on my native west coast is a bunch of hooey...we're just cooler about facial piercings and colored hair.

anyhoo, back on topic-

Lydia Love wrote:
which are healthy but definitely not love-fests.


I hope it's not your expectation that you'll get a love-fest overall. This particular thread has seemed to me to be largely well reasoned and respectful. That's about the best you'll ever get out of an internet BBS.


I agree with your assessment of the thread, and while I don't want all threads to be lvoe-fests...I think it would be cool if some of them were. I've got no particular problem, personally, with vanity threads since they seem to bolster folks when they need it. So tho they may bug some, I can't see taking them down.
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netiquette 101

Postby technopatra » Wed Oct 22, 2003 2:51 am

OK reading over this over thread, I agree that a lot of the problems we're having could be prevented to a large extent by posting a Netiquette FAQ as suggested by others. I know folks have expressed the basics elsewhere, so here's a starter list I've gather direct from y'all-

1) Lurk awhile - read the existing conversation and learn how folks relate to one another before jumping in.

2) No trolling - only start threads about topics which you are willing & able to discuss and maintain. (this brings up a good side point - if you start a thread, should you ro should you not feel a sense of "ownership" that is, follow it, try to keep it on topic, and maintain an active dialogue?)

3) Remember that these are public forums - you are inviting response form everyone ehen you post. If you want to have a conversation with one person, PM or email them.

This is obviously incomplete...so what else do you want US to tell the newbies so YOU don't have to?
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Postby JezebelinHell » Wed Oct 22, 2003 3:16 am

Note to newbies: We're all a bunch of caustic bastards.
"The future is a whore, she promises herself to everyone."
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Postby aforceforgood » Wed Oct 22, 2003 3:24 am

JezebelinHell wrote:Note to newbies: We're all a bunch of caustic bastards.


More illuminatively;

BM culture is also radically self-reliant, and thus people can get a little pissy and more likely to haul out the flamethrower if you ask dumb questions (that they've answered a bunch of times- hint; try the search function in addition to google) without trying to at least make a cursory effort at finding the answer yourself.
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Postby alice » Wed Oct 22, 2003 3:33 am

and we're a lot nicer, calmer, and yes, shy as hell, irl.
bitch all you want - it won't change nothin.
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Postby JezebelinHell » Wed Oct 22, 2003 3:37 am

Things not to ask:

"Where do I go to buy drugs at Burning Man?"

"What should I bring to trade?"

"How many naked girls will I see?"

"How much are tickets?"

"When do tickets go onsale?"

"How do I use the emoticons?"
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Postby technopatra » Wed Oct 22, 2003 4:20 am

JezebelinHell wrote:Things not to ask:

"Where do I go to buy drugs at Burning Man?"
"What should I bring to trade?"
"How many naked girls will I see?"
"How much are tickets?"
"When do tickets go onsale?"
"How do I use the emoticons?"


hahahaha. It's funny cuz it's true!

(btw- the reason the Tickets folder doesn't allow posting is cuz that's where we were planning on posting announcements from the ticketing team. But perhaps we don't need that info there as it already goes out in the JRS and is posted on the website in the announcements there.)

But to more seriously satisfy the points in your and Force's comments, adding a list of basic questions that are answered in the Survival Guide, What Is Burning Man, & Preparation sections of the website with their urls would be good, too, as well as some cautionary language around trying to do stupid shit like finding drugs to buy.
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Postby III » Wed Oct 22, 2003 8:34 am

>a lot of the problems we're having could be prevented

i'm not so sure. alice and digiman and configur8tor have all had those things explained to them directly, and they haven't responded. putting it in a faq where you hope someone will only help those who want to play nice. those who come in like a bull in a china shop won['t catch a clue.

what would be more productive, i think, is providing a filtering mechanism so that individuals can restrict what they are exposed to. i know that user plonking is the most commonly requested, but i think thread selection would be preferable.

right now, everyone is in one big room, and it's impossible to develop an environment where people can follow their own groove without bumping into someone else. allowing people to find a way to divy that up would help a lot.

there's a pretty decent discussion started on this in th ecommunity thread on the 3playa
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Postby Badger » Wed Oct 22, 2003 9:09 am

Agreed.

Perhaps the #1 annoyance in my experiences here have been the innumerable threads generated based on some one liner popped off. Digiman is certainly the prime example as well as others who are currently on the board.

With some of our busier little e-Playa friends generating up to 10 new threads a week that comes out to 520 threads generated on this board by a single person in the course of a year. With just three buttheads doing this we're talking in excess of 1500 threads most of which may get one or two responses. Seen through the eyes of a newcomer wading here say, two weeks prior to the event, that's a hell of a lot of posts to wade through to try to find information or a connection with people.
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Postby Alpha » Wed Oct 22, 2003 9:31 am

Badger wrote:With just three buttheads doing this we're talking in excess of 1500 threads most of which may get one or two responses. Seen through the eyes of a newcomer wading here say, two weeks prior to the event, that's a hell of a lot of posts to wade through to try to find information or a connection with people.


Maybe we need a mechanism to expire / remove threads that have been idle for a long time?
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Postby Badger » Wed Oct 22, 2003 9:40 am

That's kind of tough. The old e-playa was rife with such threads that often seemed forgotten after running their course. After laying dormant for months they'd often start up with a riot of input and discussion. Those that did often enough seemed to have had some saliency unlike the current inventory though.
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Postby SHARPER » Wed Oct 22, 2003 10:10 am

What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
Find what lies within you, be creative in how you share it with others.
Do not think of me as gone, I am with you still in each new dawn.
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Postby blyslv » Wed Oct 22, 2003 10:31 am

I think partly what we are seeing here is a few indivduals with an almost bottomless need for attention. Hopefully that will peter out as they come to realize that their drug of choice is no longer working well.

One of my greatest fears on these boards is starting a thread that no one wants to post to. For that reason it is rare for me to start a thread.
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