DISCUSSION: Define the term 'Unwanted'

mmqchdygg(Z5NH)January 11, 2007

A frank question here on what you deem as 'unwanted.'

Does your definition of "unwanted" include the word "junk?"

Do you see the "Unwanted" swaps as a dumping ground, or should the terms of the swap define the word more clearly to avoid 'junk swaps?'

("Junk" being defined as something of no value to you, that if an 'unwanted' RR didn't surface, it would (or should) be tossed in the trash.)

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Junk in Swaps shouldn't be a problem as the junk goes to a central place and the hostess can (or should) take care of it. People are too embarrassed to send their junk on a swap because at least one person knows exactly who sent it.

Junk in a Round Robin, though, is a huge problem because the junk goes from person to person and no one knows precisely which items came from whom.

Participants must pay the postage on sending that junk on to the next person, which has really been a problem for me.

I am totally off round robins for this reason, whether they include a little "gift" of junk of not. There is no accountability.


    Bookmark   January 11, 2007 at 5:22PM
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Well, I'm going to go out on another limb here and give my opinion...

If an item is unwanted, a person should really assess the item carefully, and decide if it's something they would like to see in a RR box. If it isn't, they shouldn't consider putting it in.
If they have something that is 'questionable'...there is always the option to either 'announce' what you have to the group before you toss it in to see if there's any interest, or there are places like freecycle and your closest roadside curb to offload those items as 'Free for the taking.'

If it's broken- that should be an obvious: Don't put it in.
If it's used- Nope.
HBA & Grocery items: Only if New. Grocery items only if SEALED.
A plastic poinsettia garland from 1968 (or similarly outdated item)- To the curb with it.
HEAVY USED DUSTY Candles that you think 'stink' and you don't use them: Why bother paying the shipping to get rid of it??? If you think it's icky, the odds are that many other players will, too, and won't want to pay to send it on, either.

Everyone's definition of awful is different...and even though there may be a 'gray' area of questionable items, there is definitely a BLACK & WHITE between totally acceptable, and totally NOT...

I've heard it said that "if you have to ask, you already know the answer."

In the case of RRs, if you have to 'question' if you should put something in or not, opt for the latter.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2007 at 9:24AM
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Are you talking about seeds or only other items?

    Bookmark   January 12, 2007 at 9:41AM
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earthlydelights(6 pushing 7)

i find it very unfair to the hostess that starts these type robins because she gets screwed when putting in some decent stuff and all the comes back is crap. i've been involved in a few of these robins and have vowed never to do it again.

when you are swapping one on one, you are accountable. when a box goes around, no one knows who is putting what in it.

a few times i wanted to start this type of box, but i've learned my lesson after having been in on some of them close to the end of the line. what a waste of my postage.

like they say though, one man's junk is another man's treasure. however, i'm of the opinion that if it's dusty, broken or ready for the trash, why insult all the players and put it in a box after taking out some nice things?


    Bookmark   January 12, 2007 at 10:40AM
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I'm really glad you brought this up, being a complete newbie to robins, i hopped on a robin I thought was seeds and as the thread began to roll I began to wonder what it was all about so I posted to the thread asking "whats in the robin" ,not one single person answered me. When it got here I was shocked at the trash that was in there, so I took out 1 broken item and 2 other very heavy bulky items and replaced them with 3 small very nice things, I repacked the robin into a flat rate box just so I would wouldnt have to pay the shipping!! I thru away the items I took out so I got nothing out of it :-( What a disappointment!!
I will be super careful what robins I do participate in the future, I guess I have a different standard of what is worth shipping!! Just my 2 cents worth

    Bookmark   January 12, 2007 at 5:17PM
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I suppose that it would help to be very specific about the kind of "unwanted" items you want the Robin to be about. So far, my craft supply robin is doing well...at least no one has emailed to complain about it. But I also included the stipulation that everybody state what they take and what they put in. I think that my robin is little bit of a safer bet because a lot of crafters buy things that they think they will need or things they find on clearance and think they can use only to go back and realize that those supplies haven't been touched in 6 months or so. So why not spread the wealth. But I can understand where it would be frustrating to maybe get back almost empty bottles of paint, but so far my ladies are sticking to the rules.

As far as any other kind of "unwanted" swap, I think that hostess' need to be very specific before risking their time, effort, and the players' and their postage. I think Wendey and Maryanne were involved (both at the end of the line unfortunately) in a robin that turned out disastrously and I know that the hostess of this one was crushed when she got back what pretty much amounted to garbage.

I also think that if you don't have the integrity to keep up the standards expected in a round robin, then you shouldn't be signing up in the first place. As a hostess, I do keep tabs on those who cause problems in the robins, most especially those that could have made the problems easily avoidable with a little extra effort on their part. That way I can hopefully make my future robins more secure.

So case in point and in agreement with Mmqchdygg - If you, yourself, would throw the item away or kick it to the curb, then DON'T put it in the box!!!


    Bookmark   January 12, 2007 at 6:13PM
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How about swaps that are supposed to be about seeds only, when you sign up then become huge crap exchanges? If people sign up for a seed swap please send only seeds, heavier unwanted items smash the seeds and therefore defeat the original purpose of the swap. I am sure we all have dollar stores in our areas exchanging stuff made in China cross country doesnt make sense to me. I understand people need to fill out a one to one exchange package, that is different. The earlier statement about accountability is right on.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2007 at 6:59PM
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farmerbell(6b TN)

I participated in one round robin last year where all seeds were sent to one person and that person in turn sent back the same number of packets to each participant, trying to fill wants. I know that hostess can only send out what has been sent in, but in my one round robin I got back about 30 packets of black oil sunflower seeds wrapped in newspaper, the kind of seeds that I feed my birds! That was the end of my participation in round robins. I will stick to individual seed swaps where both parties know what is being sent.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2007 at 11:26PM
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weeds105(z5 IL)

Boy am I glad I saw this post. I am totally shocked that people include junk in the round robins. How terrible. How much does postage usually run for one of these? I would hate to have to spend money to mail someone trash. I think I'll just stick to trading.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2007 at 1:06AM
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I am so glad someone started this. Normally, I don't like to complain but.... I was recently involved in a unwanted RR and was really put off. I spent a great deal on postage for a box that I neither took anything out of or put anything in. If it was possible I would have dumped the entire box in the garbage. Junk is junk and it belongs in the trash.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2007 at 6:10AM
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scouttiegirl(z5 -ny)

I'm glad someone started this thread as well. I will never participate in a round robin again. I do participate in the group seed exchanges where you send in an amount and get that amount back. Even on those I only do so if I know the hostess or host. On occasion I will do the person to person exchange,but only after seeing who else is signed on. I have gotten the most wonderful boxes from some girls, but there are those few that sign on for all the robins and then ruin it for everyone by sending junk. I have the best luck with the assigned person exchanges. I have only been disappointed once a long time back on one of those types. Like I said though I even wait on those to see who has signed on also. I do keep track of those who may have not neccessarily burned me but someone else. I am now very careful as to what I sign on to, but never ever again to the robins that go person to person and back to the hostess/host.
I just don't get why some people even bother sending some items that they do. To me it is insulting after carefully selecting items to send out only to receive a box not even worth sending on to the next. I also in the past have had to take items out of a robin to throw away and then put some good items in so the next person will not be disappointed.
Don't get me wrong, not all robins are like this. Just seems like more and more of those types of robins are. I will still continue to join them, but like I said only after I see who else has signed on, and only the person to person swaps or mass seed swaps.
From reading others post, I can see I am not alone in this. Also just wanted to let all you girls know I have never had problems with any of you when in a robin, and you guys are the types of members I look for when I do sign on for a one.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2007 at 8:52AM
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My experience (first and for now..only) with a 'box' Robin was pretty bad. While I didn't find anything worthwhile to take out, I felt bad for the person who was after me. You know why?


Even though none of the items had been mine, the next person was going to get a total box of junk.
Since it was my first one, I didn't think to take out some of the broken/heavy/not-worth-anyone's-time-or-postage items and send a lighter box on. I simply added a couple of nicer items, and sent it on, with a post to the thread of what I put in for the next person so they'd at least know that it wasn't me that sent them a box of trash.

I think it's a good idea to 'take inventory' at each stop. It holds people accountable. If you're participating fairly in Robins, then there's no reason to have a problem with this type of rule on a Robin.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2007 at 12:16PM
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I totally agree! Inventory is essential in ANY kind of item swap, probably in seed swaps too. I probably should have mandated the state what you take and what you add rule for the Name That Seed Robin, but didn't and it has had some speed bumps from people who either didn't care, didn't know, or didn't pay attention to the rules. But thanks to a caring few, they have been fairly ironed out.

Inventory status helps keep everything under control....and the next person in line will know if you lied....and will probably notify the hostess of the transgression. As hostess, it is our job to figure out what works best for the Robins as far as rules and security....and it can be difficult especially since once the Robin is out of our hands, we have very little actual control over it. But mandating the specific rules for each different robin can help provide success and enjoyment for everybody.

And if you sign up for a robin, PLEASE be responsible enough to respect and obey the rules that are mandated by your host/hostess...they have been put there for a reason. Failure to follow the rules screws up the game for everybody in line behind you.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2007 at 5:30PM
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I was also in a Robin for the first time and at the end of a long line of people. When it finally came I was shocked. I added as many nice seeds as I could but I will be very hesitant to join another robin again. The postage was quite high for the box because of the very questionable "gifts" that were in it. I think I will just stick to seeds if I join one again.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2007 at 8:04PM
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fairydancer(z5 NY)

Netta's "Named Seed" round robin was my first and last round robin. No offense to Netta....she was very organized and so sweet - even sending each participate handmade gifts individually. Unfortunately, I was in the middle of the robin, and by the time it got to me, more than half of the seeds were unnamed, and the rest were veggies. I don't grow veggies, so it was really a waste for me. I still put in over 30 packs of different and named seeds, because like others have said, I felt so badly for the next people getting the robin. Now I've traded with Netta before, and I know she has great seeds and started each Robin off with 50 different packs of named seeds. I'm wondering just who has the nerve to clean the package out of those great seeds and put crap in? I would be so embarrassed!

I did do one swap in the fall, and am currently doing two others, and hopefully these experiences will be better because I do have a lot of fun trading.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2007 at 9:20PM
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laurelin(z5a/4b Upstate NY)

This is a good cautionary/trader beware thread. My first swap was with Netta - a great experience, well organized, and I had a really nice partner to swap with. I'm currently in a RR, again organized by Netta, and I think this one will turn out well too. But I've been cautious about getting involved in Robins in general before, because of the "what if I get a box full of stuff I can't/won't use or can't/shouldn't pass on to the next person" question. I like Netta's "post what you take and what you put in" method, and her clearly stated rules up front, which keeps us all publicly accountable (and adds to the fun in the long run).


    Bookmark   January 14, 2007 at 8:23AM
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I am currently sorting over 3000 seeds for a seed swap I am hosting. I am checking each player's envelope and doing my best to see that I am not sending back the same kinds of seeds they sent in, and checking their wants, and checking for duplicates - and that is consuming a huge amount of time. I am NOT going to list all the seeds that are going in their packets! On my final pass, double and triple checking lists, I will ask myself, "If I were this player, would I be happy to receive this package?" The answer, of course, will have to be yes before it leaves here - then I will send it out and hope for the best.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2007 at 9:27AM
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I would gladly join any robin that Netta organizes, because she very specific about it and will hold you accountable, she is class all the way.
I've only been involved with a couple of robins and however it is fun I will be much more cautious with future robins.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2007 at 9:34AM
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earthlydelights(6 pushing 7)

in defense of hostesses, there are other hostesses that are class acts and put these types opf boxes together for the fun and enjoyment of other garden web members. you can't discount or dismiss those hostesses. it's some of the players that set a pattern and ruin everyone else's fun. and not all of these robins are trashed.

this doesn't just happen in the pass box robins, as a matter of fact, i had an experience in a one on one that made me wonder about the sender's mental capacity. i don't see her as involved in the robin forum much, but i know i would bow out of a swap if i was partnered with her again.

it's not fair to discount the hostess.

my additional two cents!

    Bookmark   January 14, 2007 at 11:51AM
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I just re-read the whole thread, didnt see anything trashing a hostess. In fact I take this to be in support of hostesses. I compare the crap issue to littering. One person litters, and pretty soon the whole roadway is covered in trash. Beth/Kodiak recently did a RR where she had a small notebook each person wrote in as the robin passed, I thought that was a good idea. Some robins are just for 8@!^% and giggles, you know its prolly a goofy bunch of stuff but thats o.k. When you have your head set for some particular items specified in the swap and get crap, its different.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2007 at 12:20PM
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shimla(5 Upstate, NY)

I think if people lower their expectations of a round robin and also agree to doctor up the box at each stop then you can have a really nice robin. I have gotten a couple of dog boxes in the past but for the most part have enjoyed all of them. If you're fussy and particular about what goes into your garden then you should avoid the regular robins at all costs. I winter sow and I have a large yard so they work for me. With the exception of those couple of boxes I have always found enough seeds to make the three-four dollars in postage worth it. It's just plain fun to get a box of seeds to pick through, that alone is worth the few dollars to me! I love some of the 'unwanted' seeds. I would never go buy a pack of snapdragons, but lo and behold, there they are for me in that box!

I usually try to fix the box up before sending it on. If there are 5 packs of mixed morning glories, I might combine them into one (I don't grow MG's) and put in 4 of my own packets so the number doesn't decrease. Unwanted is a matter of opinion. I think MG's are junk. However, people grow them and love them! If someone put in a huge packet of something really nice, I'll trade out for it and then put half the packet back in because I don't need 50 seeds of something. Everyone grows common stuff in their yards (hence the term common) so it goes without saying they are going to end up in the box. Newbies play and most of their initial seeds come from donations from us! I used to think Shasta Daisy's were the bomb (sorry fellow robineers)!

It's not the responsibility of the hostess to keep the box nice the whole trip. It's hard to just fill an initial box to send out. Everyone should help out and also be a bit more tolerant if you get the box from a newbie. If you have extra 'wanted' seeds, what's the harm in tossing them into the box?

I have beautiful flowers but it's a round robin garden, lol. I have to avoid the named variety exchanges. Sorry to read you got a dog box fairydancer!

A long time ago, I signed up for a robin and was the first to receive it. It turned out to be a gift and seed robin. The gifts were dirty junk laying around the host's house for years. (Same for the seeds in the box)! They don't work for me, people have different tastes. Some of them are expensive to mail around. I think if they were a little more specific and included a price range on the items they might work better. Perhaps a 'homemade trinkets' box with personalized items might be nice rather than shipping dollar store items around the country. If I was a hostess, I wouldn't feel comfortable mailing a box with 10 items valued at $20.00 an item.

I've only joined in a couple of group swaps. I was really delighted when I opened one package because it was filled with all sorts of things I'd never heard of. Come to find out, it's because every single packet was for zone 7 and warmer! I would have rather just packed and sent my package of seeds to a newbie and only paid the postage one way. Now, I'm more careful about the swaps I sign up for. It's my responsibility to make sure the hostess will be able to fit my needs, too, so I'm not so disappointed.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2007 at 1:03PM
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I have been in a couple of RRs here & elsewhere and the first thing I look for is organization and clarity on the part of the HOSTESS. If she can't take the time to make sure her post for an RR is neat, spelled correctly and organized, then I don't think her RR will be much different.

Tina & Netta have both organized fabulous RRs, and I have seen from other posts there are plenty more great hostesses.
Don't think I'll sign on for any more RRs that have over 15-20 people though. I'd rather do several smaller RRs and more of them. ;) Especially if I know or have traded with the other smaller group members.

I was a bit disapointed on the Named RR, but I was pretty far down the line & realize "most" of the people putting in seeds THOUGHT they were adding named, when all they had were the common names for seeds.
Such as Shasta Daisy, when the actual cultivars would be "Alaska", "Becky" etc. I took out 30 packs of various seeds, as I know I can trade them individually with others even as un-named and replaced them with named. This was mainly just a misunderstanding & lack of research on their part. I felt really bad for Netta though, as I know she went to so much trouble and EXPENSE to obtain the seeds she sent to each of us with our snail mails.

I have been part of some of those other RRs - & I agree - we all have dollar stores, so why would you add something like that to an RR??? Or something broken??

The included notebook on RRs to track everything is a great idea!

    Bookmark   January 14, 2007 at 1:06PM
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I've read all the posts and have a few things to add. I'm glad this subject came up.
What's really UNFAIR is when the Hostess adds close to 30 nice items in a swap box, wraps the items carefully in tissue paper, pays the postage to start the swap... and receives a box that has 6 or 7 items in it. Possibly 2 nice items in the box, the rest junky. Yes, yunk! Stuff that I would NEVER add to a swap box.
Swaps take a great deal of time to coordinate and maintain.
Checking the swap daily answering questions, checking USPS tracking numbers, and emailing those who keep the box longer than expected. It's a hassle, and yes, lots of work. Why do I do it? For the fun! My biggest mistake was not asking what each person took/added. I now see that. If you go by trust, forget it, you'll get a box back with undesirable items. I've seen it all! In the two boxes I received back, dirty soap (with stuff stuck on it), broken things, half used lotions, stuff from the 70's! Or possibly 80's from someone's wall, including all the dust!
Being the hostess wasn't fun, it would of been easier to just take a chance and sign up for someone else's swap.

Will I do it again? Hmm? Not sure. I know I would do it differently and ask for each to post what was taken/added.
More work.. but holding people accountable for what's taken/added helps keep people honest.


    Bookmark   January 14, 2007 at 2:40PM
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earthlydelights(6 pushing 7)

Posted by giverny4me 8NWFL (My Page) on Sun, Jan 14, 07 at 12:20 -- I just re-read the whole thread, didnt see anything trashing a hostess

i assume that was directed at my comment. if you re-read both of my responses, you will see that i am in total support of hostesses. my last comment was certainly in support of ALL hostesses, not just one. i give them all the credit in the world, especially since they are ultimately taking the chance. i've only hosted a few swaps in the last few years, and it is a heck of a lot of work. i give kudos to those that take this on.

to be honest with you when i had received a box in this type of swap, i had to contain myself coming on line to actually post a picture of what was in the box and to ask where it came from. instead, i noted something ambiguous and/or sarcastic and then discussed it with the hostess. it pained me to waste the $8.00+ on that one, and just return it with all the crap in it. some people, and they know who they are and i think some of us know who they are as well, should really be ashamed of themselves.

to reiterate, no hostess is being trashed.


    Bookmark   January 14, 2007 at 5:00PM
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caroleella(6 SE MA)

I think it's just because you worded it "In defense of hostesses," which could be read as a response to a previous post which was not supportive of hostesses, and they were simply pointing out that everything said towards hostesses has been very positive.

And the feedback from people about how some of these turn out certainly scares me away from RRs. I can't believe people put in broken things! And RRs aside, why would you hold onto broken things anyway?

    Bookmark   January 14, 2007 at 6:53PM
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beth_b_kodiak(zone 5a)

Interesting topic here and very timely.
I had not participated in RRs for about 4 years due to getting ones full of junk that cost more to mail than it was worth. Including gifts intended for the hostess that were passed on and on and cost postage on each step of the way.
I'll probably never do another one with "gifts" in it as we have all seen they tend to be mostly junk by the time the box has made a few stops.
The round robbins for seeds used to be very strict about what you took out and what you put back being something comparable. For example, marigolds for zinnias, fine.
Shasta daisy for streptocarpus..... NEVER.
If you were new and not sure you could contact the hostess and ask if it was an OK trade. There was a list of what the box started with and each person recorded what they took and what they put back. In fact, if you were really new you might just get offered some free SASBE seeds rather than getting into the robbin and not having anything appropriate to swap.
Also, I don't think Spike would have permitted the swaps of unwanted boxes or even the craft swaps as he twice killed my Garden Magazine RRs. Garden related yes, but not plants or seeds.
Oh well, things change and we learn as we go along.
I enjoy swappping and I love looking at the different seeds and deciding what to swap. So, as long as the RR's are for seeds only I'll probably continue in a couple each year.
thanks for posting this Tina, it's saomething we needed to discuss.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2007 at 7:21PM
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romando(9b/10a , sunset 17)

Okay, now I'm just steaming. Who in the world put in broken things and crap? I think I've only ever been in one round robin (hosted by bigred, called winter blues or something like that), but I HAVE been in numerous group swaps (where we all send in to one host who separates everything & fills wishes). Does anybody wanna fill me in?

Amanda 'romando'

    Bookmark   January 14, 2007 at 7:32PM
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Drippy, thats called integrity!! :-D

The hostesses aren't going to go through all this work to send trash around, I believe the robins are as good or bad as the paticipants make them and that comes down to integrity.
The golden rule applies here, give in the standard of what you would be delighted to receive.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2007 at 11:01AM
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Caroleela: yes. Thank you.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2007 at 12:29PM
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klickitat(zone 7b GA)

I've avoided this thread for a while and now see what people are posting and understand where they're coming from. Right now I'm in a seed RR and am at the end of the list. From what it sounds like there won't be much of a selection to choose from. I'll just wait and see if this is the case and then determine just how much I'll put back in.

As for some another RR I'm in, I've been at the bottom of the list both rounds and am considering dropping out due to the results of the first round.

That being said, I always try to add in gifts that I feel are useful, new, and fun. I go so far as to buy seeds so that I have a decent selection to offer the next few who receive them. I'm still new, but am building up my seed collections in hopes of a positive RR in the future.

In the meantime, I'll continue on with my one-on-one swaps within the group I've joined and wait and see on other ones.

It would be nice if people were more concientious and honest with what they send out. Listing items as they arrive and posting what you plan on sending out should be helpful in keeping every participant upfront.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2007 at 8:52PM
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