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Author Topic: Peeling Away the Layers - The Truth Revealed  (Read 7694 times)
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ally
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« on: May 01, 2007, 09:35:03 AM »

As many of you know from following this recall for weeks, days & nights on end, the layers are finally peeling away to reveal the ugly, nasty, dirty secrets prompting so many to demand answers.  Beginning with a grass roots movement among our own, pet owners understandably incensed over the FDA's weeks on end "official" count of only 16 confirmed deaths from tainted pet food, we are now finally witnessing the unfolding of information and news coverage bringing the facts to light.  Let's hope this trend gathers speed & momentum, spurring undeniably needed action and vital change.

NOTE:  This topic is to keep track of the events that began in the past 48 hours and ongoing as they unfold.  Feel free to add on, make clarifications, share links getting buried in the blog comments, etc.  PLEASE keep to known facts and ON TOPIC only. If you want to discuss pet food suggestions, Oprah or whatnot, there are other topics to to visit.  Here, we are keeping a concise listing of unfolding events for those needing this information at their finger tips, be it a lawsuit, personal understanding, sharing with other pet owners, whatever.  This is vastly important - let's strive not to cloud the issues & facts, 'k?  Thanks in advance for your understanding.  Now on to the subject at hand....

First up - the infamous now you see it, now you don't, oops! - now it's back again NYT article originally run on IHT breaking the news that Filler in animal feed is open secret in China.  The crux of this story reveals itself in this portion of the article:

Quote
For years, producers of animal feed all over China have secretly supplemented their feed with the substance, called melamine, a cheap additive that looks likeprotein in tests, even though it does not provide any nutritional benefits, according to melamine scrap traders and agricultural workers here....[snip]...Many companies buy melamine scrap to make animal feed....said Ji Denghui, general manager of the Fujian Sanming Dinghui Chemical Company, which sells melamine. "I don't know if there's a regulation on it. Probably not. No law or regulation says 'don't do it,' so everyone's doing it."

Whoa.  So if everybody's doing it, that must make it acceptable, right?!! That's a relevation, innit? You'd have to be catatonic not to wonder just who all were in on this not so little dirty secret.

Two more handy news articles of note to keep in your arsenol of revealing tid-bits & goodies:
Chinese pet-food makers unfazed over melamine
Spiked wheat happening as early as 1975

The plot thickens. 

Moving on......

Late Monday evening on 4/30/07, one of our own uncovers the FDA site FINALLY acknowledging that probably more than 16 deaths may have occurred
along with a very serious ALERT dated 4/27/07 listing an expanded hold on imports:
 
Quote
TYPE OF ALERT: Detention Without Physical Examination (Countrywide)
PRODUCTS DETAINED: Wheat Gluten, Rice Gluten, Rice Protein, Rice Protein Concentrate, Corn Gluten, Corn Gluten Meal, Corn By-Products, Soy Protein, Soy Gluten, Proteins (includes amino acids and protein hydrosylates), Mung Bean Protein
PROBLEM:  Poisonous or Deleterious Substance, Unfit For Food, Unsafe Food Additive

Interesting to note:  the food stuffs listed could be found in both human AND pet food.

Yegods.  Think maybe all our yammering on the blogs & forums, not to mention the post card blitz campaign & devouring of blog trolls  just might  have begun getting through to the PTB that we are not buying into the so-called "official" crap?     Boojah! Score 1 HUGE point for our pets!

But it continues....

Thanks to roving commentator KatieKat, an article from the Cattle Network, dated 4/30/07, reports 38 poultry farms in Indiana fed toxic pet food:

Quote
At this time, the investigation indicates that approximately 30 broiler poultry farms and eight breeder poultry farms in Indiana received contaminated feed in early February and fed it to poultry within days of receiving it.

This dates back to early February?  How long has this been known?  What else besides the quarantined 6,000 hogs (also fed tainted pet food) have we not been told may already be in various food supplies? The mind boggles.  Remember kiddies, per the above article, this was a voluntary recall since the FDA & USDA believe:

Quote
...the likelihood of illness after eating chicken fed the contaminated product is very low.

Okaaay.  I'll leave it to each of you to make your own choices regarding the above.  Sure, we can't be paranoid about everything but where does one draw the line in deciding what's safe and not safe to feed not only ourselves, but our pets?  It's not like our pets can handle this on their own, ne?

Then lo and behold, today, 5/1/07, the FDA issues a release Announces New Food Protection Position.  Dr. David Acheson steps up to the plate and takes the job.  May the force be with him.  He's got some serious shoes to fill and I suspect he'll need more than a vat of kitty valium in getting him through the days ahead.

I'll end this here for now as I need to step away for a bit, but two more interesting reads of note (in case you missed them) to keep in your tool box of bookmarks....

Check out Goldy's wild read at the Daily Kos "Salvaged" pet food: it's a cow eat cow world.  This part made me echo Goldy's "Yuck":

Quote
according to a brochure provided by the Pet Food Institute, the same ruminant cannibalism prohibition holds true here.  Sorta.  In the U.S., salvage and distressed pet food may be repurposed for livestock feed, but must be labeled "Do Not Feed to Cattle or Other Ruminants" if it contains any mammalian protein at all.  That is, any mammalian protein except:

    * Milk products.
    * Gelatin.
    * Blood and blood products.
    * Pure pork or horse protein.
    * And inspected meat products of any type which have been cooked and offered for human food (such as "plate scrapings") and further heat processed for animal feed.

Yuck.  Who knew that in the U.S. your unfinished burger could make its way into cattle feed via salvage dog feed, and then back onto your plate in the form of another burger?  That type of dedication to recycling I can do without.

Another Daily Kos regular, one many of you will recognize from the Pet Connection, is Christie Keith's DK Diary.  Just go read it. Put it on your daily recall surf list, register at the Daily Kos and please recommend it to keep it at the top of their list of must reads.
I hope this gathered info helps.  I'm sure there's more.  Keep spreading the word, sleuthing out evidence & add on to this topic.  Please keep replies pertinent and try to avoid chit-chat.  The entire idea E. Hamilton had for this forum was to keep to the facts.  It's truly frightening how many pet owners (and yes, even vets) aren't fully tuned in.  Point them to this forum.  Clue them in.  Drag them kicking & screaming if you have to.  This is far too important to be lost in the shuffle or missed.  REMEMBER:  There's a pet too many waiting for their life to be saved for you not to do so.

One last thing - if anyone has the time, drive and insanity to do so, it would be most excellent if some one created a "Timeline" topic here.  There are a few scattered here and there, but it would be extremely useful to have one here.  There's no denying it would be a bugger to create and upkeep, but perhaps once sketched in, others can help with updates.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2007, 01:36:44 PM by ally » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: May 01, 2007, 09:56:02 AM »

Thanks to Klondike, am adding the Seattle Times article, dated 5/1/07:
Chinese defend using melamine in animal feed

Feel free to add on gang.
We need to keep this info together for ease of reference.

Thanks!
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ally
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« Reply #2 on: May 01, 2007, 10:07:13 AM »

Forgot one that's related. It provides a glimpse into the view from one pet food manufacturer that has clearly garnered a response from the bloggers:
Wysong:  Internet Claims and Rebuttals

This may be Wysong's truth but it doesn't seem to be shared by many.
Just go read it.  It's beyond absurd.
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ally
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« Reply #3 on: May 01, 2007, 10:35:40 AM »

AVMA release dated 5/1/07:
Melamine and Cyanuric Acid Interaction May Play Part in Illness and Death from Recalled Pet Food

I realize the story isn't new, just found it interesting to now see an official release posted on the AVMA's site dated for today.
Interesting snippet from the above release:

Quote
As the recalls continue, the AVMA reminds pet owners and veterinarians that over 98 percent of pet foods are still deemed safe and haven't been recalled. The FDA is currently testing 100 percent of wheat gluten, rice protein concentrate, corn gluten, corn meal, soy protein, and rice bran being imported from China for these contaminants. The most recent pet food recalls have been undertaken proactively, due to association with involved ingredients and suppliers rather than as the result of complaints that animals that have consumed the food and become ill.

So the AVMA is saying "over 98% of pet foods are still deemed safe"? 
Uh......hrmmm......thanks for playing.  I'm not buying it.
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ally
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« Reply #4 on: May 01, 2007, 10:43:29 AM »

Speaking of time lines, the Post Chronicle has an article out today including a time line of the unfolding events.  Although it's dated 5/1/07, seems they stop their info at 4/30/07.
Dontcha just love the part about being "Pet Food Recall Summary 36"?!  I can only take a stab at how many more recall updates are to come...
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ally
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« Reply #5 on: May 01, 2007, 01:25:14 PM »

Consumer Affairs - May 1, 2007:
Melamine Shows Up In Chicken Feed

Why am I not surprised:

Quote
Farmers are routinely compensated by the federal government when they destroy contaminated or infected livestock. Pet owners whose animals die receive nothing.

« Last Edit: May 01, 2007, 01:57:57 PM by ally » Logged

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« Reply #6 on: May 02, 2007, 08:15:48 AM »

Yesterday, Christie Keith once again liveblogged the latest FDA press conference without havinng her wrists fall off.  Honestly, I don't know how she manages let alone keeps sane. Same goes for Gina at PC and Ben here.  Perhaps Christie expressed the vastness of this recall best: "...do you ever feel like this story has eaten your life?"

Anyhoo, yesterday's FDA conference didn't tell us anything new per se.  Why are we not surprised?  Except to wrankle more than a few human eaters while inferring the following re: quarantined poultry & pork:

During the conference they discussed the newest recall buzz phrase, "the dilution effect", giving the following example as liveblogged at the PC today:
"Dilution effect - hog feed is only made up of a small amt of contaminated pet food. Melamine is excreted in hog urine, not known to bioaccumulate in the animal. Even if it were in the muscle tissue, pork is not consumed as a large part of the diet, unlike pets who eat a steady diet of one thing."

Moving on to poultry:
"Said contaminated wheat gluten used as a portion of chicken feed in some farms in Indiana. (The hogs were rice protein concentrate.) Same thing - dilution effect. Estimate 5 percent. Investigators have found a number of broiler and breeder farms in Indiana who rec’d the contaminated feed. The meat from the broilers has been consumed. Breeders who are still there are on voluntary hold.

They do not believe there is a threat of human illness from consuming poultry who were fed very small amounts of contaminated pet food. Poultry is a small part of most people’s diets. Situation similar to hogs.....Not initiating recall because poultry and pork are such a small part of most people’s diets. "

The bold part above understandably bunched a few chicken eater's knickers today in blog comment land.  Especially when a few commenters tried doing the math of how the FDA achieved this "insight" on calcuating their official percentages of how only minimal percentages of humans may, if at all, be affected.

Present for this round, were the following representing the FDA:

Captain David Elder, USPHS
Director, Office of Enforcement
Office of Regulatory Affairs, FDA

David Acheson, MD (the new guy - poor soul)
Chief Medical Officer
Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, FDA

Kenneth Petersen, DVM, MPH
Assistant Administrator for Field Operations
Food Safety and Inspection Service, USDA

As the press conference progressed, each time a reporter pressed the FDA for numbers, answers or *gasp* even names (ie: which chicken manufacturers in Indiana were affected - kind of an important piece of info dontcha know), the usual evasive manuevers ensued:

Quote
CNN: But how many people have consumed the chicken?
Response: We haven’t found any evidence consumption is unsafe....[snip]....Given consumption factors, its’ not a feature of their current investigation, to find out how many people ate the chicken.

So here we're told they haven't found (thus far) any evidence consuming chicken is unsafe.  How about proof it IS safe, eh?  Ever think of it from that perspective Mr. FDA?  But hey - as they said in the conference, it's currently "not a feature of their current investigation".  Gee, I'm feeling safe beyond measure here, anyone else?  After all, it would be downright unAmerican should you not believe 100% without question what the FDA tells you, right?

Interesting to note the similarity in FDA answers.....evasiveness....whenever pressed by the press:

Quote
Bill Smith, office of enforcement evaluation: Still doing fact finding. Don’t know.
Question: How long will that take?
Smith: Working closely with FDA. Don’t want to guess at a timeframe.
Question: Any other states you’re looking at?
Smith: Ongoing investigation.
Atchison:  We had food safety issues recently linked to products we did not consider high risk.
WSJ: How are you rethinking it?
Atchison: Not yet.
David Goldstein: Who were the farms supplying poultry to?
Atchison: Not able to do that. Ongoing active investigation.
Karen Roebuck: ...why do you have to slaughter the pigs, if they’re safe enough that you’re not recalling the ones that were already slaughtered?
Response: Not going to get into the numbers.

So pretty much the only new thing we learned is that per the FDA, poultry and pork are a small part of most people’s diets.  Alriiiighty then.  Hrmm......then just what IS that meat protein most of us have been consuming?  Cripes........and I used to think Spam™ was scary......?

Hey - here's an idea....

The next time the FDA has a public press conference, sing-a-long, whatever, one of reporter should have some tainted chicken (or pork or PET food) on hand. Toss in a fine linen napkin, fine china, silverware and request one of the main FDA mucky-mucks eats the food on the spot.

No problem, right? It’s all safe…..

Though it's refreshing to see CNN's article dated 5/2/07 sees things a tad differently:

Quote
Human food supply may be at risk
"We see the pet food recall as a warning sign for the government that they need to do more to protect the food supply," said Caroline Smith DeWaal of the Center for Science in the Public Interest. "It could easily happen to an ingredient used in human food as well."


(above emphasis mine)


Late last night, as all good night owls prowling the sites do, I caught an interesting tid-bit shared by Kim of the Pet Food Tracker siting a bizarre bit of info while visiting the Pet Connection.  She noticed that USA Today changed the title of their article on the FDA BS today three different times (!):

"FDA title #1: Risk from tainted feed low"
"FDA #2: Feed no human threat"
"FDA #3 million chickens ate melamine, but risk to humans minimal”? 

What is THAT all about?!

Between the now you see it, now you don't of various news articles and pet food manufacturer's web pages (Wysong), one has to wonder just what exactly IS going on behind the scenes.  It's beyond weird & as Kim so eruditely pointed out, infuriating to say the least.  Definitely not the best PR tactic to build trust & quality assurance among your public.  As frequent blog commenter "Steve" called it - I swear it's like watching a bad re-make of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" unfold.  Things get more surreal with each passing day.

At least today's other CNN article is still intact, calling it like it is:  FDA: Contaminated feed could affect farms nationwide.  One snippet quotes the National Chicken Council (NCC) explaining a new one:  the "cupcake cooling effect":

Quote
Occasionally, pet food manufacturers sell material left over from the molding process to animal feed manufacturers and that's how the contaminated pet food got into poultry feed, according to Richard Lobb, spokesman for the National Chicken Council, the trade group that represents U.S. poultry producers, marketers and processors.

"It's like cooking cupcakes -- you get some of the dough on the pan, you scrape it off and throw it away. What they're saying is that somebody bought that material and it got mixed in corn and soybean that gets manufactured in poultry feed," he said.

'Course the NCC also wants to remind everyone of the FDA's latest recall catch phrase "the dilution effect" in an all now too familiar puppet-like response:

Quote
"The dilution factor is enormous. You have a relatively small amount of pet food byproducts used," in poultry feed manufacturing, Lobb said.
In fact, "it's a safe and wholesome product to use," he added.

Right-O.  Dash out right now to your nearest grocery store, snap up some chicken and you too can be a human test study in proving the FDA right that anything tainted is safe.  Just like many pets who lost their lives discovered while being involuntary test cases.  But hey - it's wholesome right?

*insert buzzer sound here*

No thanks, FDA.
I think I'll pass on this one.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2007, 12:22:53 PM by ally » Logged

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« Reply #7 on: May 02, 2007, 08:53:26 AM »

Another excellent article posted today, 5/2/07, from the Washingotn Post Crisis Over Pet Food Extracting Healthy Cost:

Quote
While the Food and Drug Administration pursues what is sure to be a long investigation into how pet food became contaminated with an ingredient for making plastics, and while Congress begins the months-long process of haggling over food-safety amendments, pet food companies, their suppliers and their customers do not have the luxury of waiting.

They have to cope with the crisis immediately, and for most, that is already proving expensive.


The article further expands on the heart of the matter:  loss of trust in commercial commerce:

Quote
...a commodity American buyers have extended to China in return for significant cost savings but, in retrospect, with little testing and documentation to back it up.


Steve Stern, ChemNutra's spokesman has his say:

Quote
"we ordered food-grade gluten and the invoice said 'food grade,' but what we got was feed grade."
Food-grade gluten must be at least 75 percent protein, a level that the gluten ChemNutra bought from China did not contain. It tested that high, though, because it was spiked with the chemical melamine, which gives falsely elevated protein readings. Given the Chinese supplier's food-grade assurances, and a certificate saying the company was complying with U.S. regulations, ChemNutra had no reason to worry, Stern said.

Check out the entire article.
It's worth the read.
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« Reply #8 on: May 02, 2007, 09:23:40 AM »

Forgot to add today's IHT article by David Barboza (fast becoming one of my fav roving reporters):
U.S. agency investigating tainted pet food says Chinese firm dodged inspection.

Just enough to wet your appetite:

Quote
A Chinese company accused of selling contaminated wheat gluten to pet food suppliers in the United States failed to disclose to China's export authorities that it was shipping food or feed to the United States, thereby avoiding having its goods inspected, according to U.S. regulators......[snip].....The details of the case, some of which were disclosed Friday in a circular released by the Food and Drug Administration in the United States, are just the latest clues that Chinese feed suppliers may have been intentionally disguising the contents of their goods.

Gina at Pet Connection just blogged this article.  I suggest heading over.  Gina's spin as well as certain comments there are always worth a visit.
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« Reply #9 on: May 02, 2007, 11:04:36 AM »

Ally, I think it's important that you bring out the cyanuric acid plus melamine equal crystals that blocked kidney function.  What has been dropped in the FDA conferences and media to a large extent is the cyanuric acid component.  (We've been told since Day 1 that melamine is relatively harmless, thus people sit back and don't listen any more.)  The harmless melamine is what we're supposed to accept as truth.  The cyanuric acid aspect is being glossed over.  The crystals in urine and kidneys were found to be 70% cyanuric acid.

There are two paragraphs in the 05/02 CNN article that should be pasted to your accounting:

Inspectors found melamine in the tainted products, but not at levels that would normally kill. But researchers now say that it may have mixed with another compound -- cyanuric acid -- to produce crystals that may have been deadly.

"What we've done is experiments that show if you take cat urine and you add melamine to it and cyanuric acid, the crystals will form in the cat urine in a test tube as we're watching them, so it happens within a matter of hours," said Alan Wildeman, vice president of Canada's University of Guelph, which is renowned for its veterinary research center.
...
Crystals blocked the tubes leading from the kidneys to the bladder in one cat operated on recently at the Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital inside the ASPCA's New York headquarters, according to Dr. Louise Murray, the group's director of medicine.

JMTC.
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If you ate today, thank a farmer, hopefully a small, local farmer.

Remember the thousands & thousands of pets that died to give US a wake-up call about the safety of ALL food and products.
ally
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« Reply #10 on: May 02, 2007, 11:14:55 AM »

THANK YOU purringfur!  Finally - someone else is adding pertinent info! 

I can't take credit for the original idea by E. Hamilton to create topics keeping on point, but this is exactly what the initial premise of starting certain thread in the Making A Difference forum was.  As well as to keep important links together rather than buried in the blog comments.  My note in my original post of this thread wasn't to deter people from adding on, but rather to keep things as much on topic & without thread drift as possible.  Perhaps some folks missed E. Hamilton's suggestions regarding this approach.

Really appreciate your post, purringfur.  Please continue with any other important info you feel warranted.  Or anyone else who may be lurking around.  I never meant to maintain this topic all by my lonesome.  This recall is far too big for anyone to take on by themselves.
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« Reply #11 on: May 02, 2007, 12:13:25 PM »

Sounds like good PR and Wysong is covering their butt.

 
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« Reply #12 on: May 02, 2007, 12:16:46 PM »

More from today's headlines.....Momma said there’d be days like this

Love BJ Darnell's spin on the FDA & USDA:

Quote
"At the time of their review, Lisa Shames, acting director of Natural Resources and Environment at the Government Accountability Office, noted these agencies did not know how promptly and completely companies were carrying out recalls, did not promptly verify that recalls had reached all segments of the distribution chain, and used procedures that may not have been effective to alert consumers to the recall."

In regards to the now known fact that the FDA & USDA can issue food recalls but they are only voluntary by law:

Quote
"Ms. Shames in her testimony before the subcommittee reiterated a call by the GAO for legislation granting the USDA and the FDA similar recall authority to that of other government agencies. The Consumer Product Safety Commission, for example, can fine a company almost $2 million if it does not inform the commission immediately about an unsafe product."

Inneresting, ne?  Why doesn't the FDA have this same capability or at the very least, something similar?


Then BJ addressess the culpability of the pet food companies themselves:

Quote
Now the nation’s hogs are at risk. Livestock feed that may have been contaminated with melamine was sent to hog farms in North Carolina, South Carolina, California, New York, Utah and possibly Ohio. Seems some pet food companies were selling pulled pet food to the hog food manufacturers. What won’t they do to recover part of their losses?

The queasiness this brings my stomach makes me feel sick enough to say I'm not sure I want to know how far the pet food companies would go.
But the being the responsible pet parent I am, I know I'd be remiss if I did not.

« Last Edit: May 02, 2007, 01:58:52 PM by ally » Logged

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purringfur
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« Reply #13 on: May 02, 2007, 12:25:00 PM »

It might be nice if you could just add the material people post to your first piece of text -- just continue to add & insert.  That way, people who want updates can just read your (what will become) very long first piece and will not have to sort through separate additions.  JMTC.  Thanks for doing this.

Do we have a timeline topic here?  I know someone here or at PC has one that is quite complete.
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Buy local.  Buy organic.
If you ate today, thank a farmer, hopefully a small, local farmer.

Remember the thousands & thousands of pets that died to give US a wake-up call about the safety of ALL food and products.
ally
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« Reply #14 on: May 02, 2007, 12:41:07 PM »

Do we have a timeline topic here?  I know someone here or at PC has one that is quite complete.
No, but I wish we did.  I suggested someone take it on in my first post above.  It would be a bugger of an endeavor tho.  Sure hope someone considers it (hint: STEVE) since I think it would handy to have one here.  STEVE seems to come up with some great links & I love STEVE'S (hint) warped sense of humor.

Yanno, originally I thought I'd add on to the first post as you just suggested.  I decided not to for a few reasons.  I may not always be around to maintain this topic (work, life, ya-da ya-da) and also felt it might make it harder to see what portions were new.  I think separate posts keeps newer links & info more noticable.  Plus, someone like you can add on with your own thoughts which IMO, keeps things more interesting. Who wants to listen to me yammer on for days on end, LOL?

But thanks purringfur for saying thanks.  That made my day.
btw - you don't think STEVE will think I'm stalking him do you?

p.s:  of course you too could attempt the time line, purringfur, iffin you're so inclined. ;-]
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