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Old 12-02-2011, 10:32 AM   #21
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He is in a unique position -- he achieved FI early and chose to walk away from a career that contained too many complexities to make it enjoyable. He chose to find work which provides intellectual stimulation, which is what was missing in his retired life.

One doesn't always have to earn a living to find that intellectual puzzle to solve. There are plenty of small non-profit organizations that desperately need brain power to solve their daily operational dilemmas. The trick is finding one where you fit.

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Old 12-02-2011, 11:18 AM   #22
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I admit I read the ERE blog only a couple of times (including the "how I made my own rake" post), but I did have fun imagining his life in a kind of sit-com way (especially after reading what his spouse posted, when I imagined her begging for a restaurant dinner just this once, and please please let her enjoy a glass of wine once in while, and the 55 degree limit on the furnace thermostat). He could pitch this "supersmart guy drops out" based on his blog to Hollywood--it would make a great movie, seriously.
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Old 12-02-2011, 11:19 AM   #23
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The truth is financial independence, not early retirement.
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Old 12-02-2011, 11:26 AM   #24
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The truth is financial independence, not early retirement.
I think the truth varies based on the individual. No lie...
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Old 12-02-2011, 12:18 PM   #25
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I admit I read the ERE blog only a couple of times (including the "how I made my own rake" post), but I did have fun imagining his life in a kind of sit-com way (especially after reading what his spouse posted, when I imagined her begging for a restaurant dinner just this once, and please please let her enjoy a glass of wine once in while, and the 55 degree limit on the furnace thermostat). He could pitch this "supersmart guy drops out" based on his blog to Hollywood--it would make a great movie, seriously.
Yep. His character's zany adventures and crazy conversations as he tries to cut expenses would make great tv as well.

A quant's salary can make up for a lot of that..."deprivation." Even if he only saves 50%, he would significantly improve his savings.
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Old 12-02-2011, 12:28 PM   #26
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A quant's salary can make up for a lot of that..."deprivation." Even if he only saves 50%, he would significantly improve his savings.
The biggest problem with "making the big bucks" in the business world is that you can almost never do it part time and on your own terms. So if the "big bucks" forced me into a 50+ hour nights and weekends, always-on-call and stressful-as-hell working life, if I were truly FI that would be a deal breaker for me, almost no matter what it would pay.
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Old 12-02-2011, 01:11 PM   #27
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I think he was undercapitalized.

My bet is that he was somewhat limited in what he could do with his relatively modest portfolio. He realized that making money by the fist full is pretty easy given his smarts and background. Someone approached him and dropped a lucrative job offer in his lap that would allow him to have multiples of his current net worth in short order AND provide him a challenge (to answer the question "whaddya do all day"). Seems like a perfectly logical and rational decision to take them up on the offer of employment. Sure, he was FI for how he was living, but is he (and his significant other(s) for the rest of his life) willing to live like that forever? Why not get extremely more wealthy by working at something challenging until it bores you once more.
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Old 12-02-2011, 05:59 PM   #28
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I too am suspicious of many blogs, especially those that have a book to sell too; they often justify their choices in interesting ways.
Hey hey hey!!

("Gosh, she called me 'interesting'!")

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I do give this guy a lot of credit for his "never mind" instead of just disappearing and closing down the site. Of course, since he used his real name on the blog and his book, it would have been difficult for him to disappear in this age of google stalking.
Millionaire Mommy, Alice Schroeder, John Greaney, Jane Gross, and a host of others. If you're not gonna blog then at least have the guts to blog that you're not gonna blog.

I wonder what the life cycle of a blogger is. Are we seeing a collapse of the financial-independence blogging fad, or have we just been around long enough to see the circle of life?

No, seriously, I want to read some links and data on the life cycle of a blogger so that I'm equipped to make an informed decision.

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... he might as well rake in a little cash while giving his brains a workout in a complex field ("quant trade/research").
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I think that Jacob is doing something that isn't all that surprising to me--becoming bored with retirement.
Sure, there are plenty of projects around the house, books to read, photos to organize, but at some point, the same people who are bright enough to want to get out of the rat race early are going to run out of things to do.
I think it is intellectually honest to call whatever they decide to do, for a paycheck or otherwise, "work", even if for some of our already retired folk around here, it is considered more to be a hobby.
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I just don't want to be bored, that's what I take away from all of this...
I think it confirms the dictum "gotta be responsible for your own entertainment". Especially if you think working for a hedge fund is "entertaining".

To me, the important criteria is why a paycheck is involved. If you need the paycheck to keep score of your own self-worth, then you have more problems than financial independence. If you can only find "value" in your life by going to work for someone else, then you have more problems than financial independence.

If you're donating all of the paycheck to charity (well, OK, what's left after paying taxes) then you're doing better. But when you start accepting someone else's paycheck, then you shift from "valued contributor" to "valued headcount". I would be shocked to see Jacob putting up with anything remotely resembling a workplace environment.

But that's just my opinion. Frankly, after more than nine years of whatever I do all day, I still run out of time before I run out of doing. And I'm falling further behind every year...

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As we've split hairs around here many times--are people who own rental property and keep it up really retired? How about those guys who spend 10 hour days renovating their homes (gee, Nords, I sure hope the painting ends soon! or doing something else that might be gainful, even if it isn't the single source of their income.
What, rental property's not passive income?!? Quick, someone tell the IRS!

If we knew back in August what we know now then we would have moved out. But nobody paints a room or an inside corner as good as we do, and we know when to satisfy our inner control freaks. We're almost done.

Home improvement is our money-losing hobby that will only be of value to our heir's step-up in basis. The only "gain" that we homeowners will see out of this is in our property taxes...

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I think he was undercapitalized.
Aha, finally someone points out that Jacob's not Joe Dominguez.

"Bored"?
"Wasn't making it and could no longer maintain the deception"?
"Ran out of money after the recession"?
"Frugality fatigue? Crossed the line into deprivation? Tired of cold-water showers"?

I was wondering if we were someday going to read Jacob's "We're starting a family!" post. Maybe someday we still will.
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Old 12-02-2011, 06:28 PM   #29
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He is in a unique position -- he achieved FI early and chose to walk away from a career that contained too many complexities to make it enjoyable. He chose to find work which provides intellectual stimulation, which is what was missing in his retired life.

One doesn't always have to earn a living to find that intellectual puzzle to solve. There are plenty of small non-profit organizations that desperately need brain power to solve their daily operational dilemmas. The trick is finding one where you fit.

-- Rita
Not just small non-profits -- big ones, too. The Gates Foundation probably could have put his skill set to very good use, for example. I heard somewhere recently (I think on NPR) that the Global Fund is starting to put quant type guys to work figuring out the best models for how to eradicate malaria -- using huge supercomputers and new programs to predict what the effects of different kinds of strategies will be in combination, etc. I guess I just find it rather disappointing that someone so obviously smart and capable who has definitely mastered the whole living below your means thing would choose to go back to work in finance rather than some other field where the application of his substantial skill set might actually make a real difference in the lives of more than just an elite subset of people. Well, whatever. He's obviously free to make whatever choices he wants and apply his talents to whatever he sees fit. So good luck with that.

Following up on NOrds post, I do feel like the whole financial blogging arena is bottoming out and we are seeing who will have long-term staying power. The only PF blogs I read regularly anymore are The Simple Dollar and Get Rich Slowly. Many of the ones I used to like have degenerated into "here's another great credit card offer" type things. Get Rich Slowly is the only one that I find really useful or interesting anymore. Trent seems to be burning out, largely due to decisions he has made about how to run his blog as a one man show. I expect he will either explicitly change focus to a more motivational/social psychology of finance type blog (which is where his heart seems to lie) or else drop it entirely. I don't see why he has this fanatical commitment to the two posts a day thing. he is one who seems to have taken things to an extreme, and it isn't working very well. JD Roth, on the other hand, has made some great choices and really seems to be embodying the YMOYL philosophy. He has brought on other writers (not all great, but at least they offer different perspectives) and is spending less time on the blog himself while pursuing interests he has (fitness and travel, primarily), which also enrich the posts he does continue to make. Seems like a generally nice guy and I think a lot of people (me included) are pleased to see him succeed and experiment with his blog and the lifestyle it allows him to live. I think his model is one that will lead to long-term success. Trent's one-man-shop approach is likely to lead to burnout and eventual collapse.

Ultimately I think the people who are doing best with blogging are those who have a strong personality/point of view that they are not afraid to express, and who use the blog more as a platform/promotion for other types of work they do rather than as a money-making enterprise in and of itself. Ramit Sethi and Pam Slim are good examples of this. The blog is really just the core of their PR strategy for their training, coaching and speaking businesses, not the be all and end all of their business.
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Old 12-02-2011, 06:37 PM   #30
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Hey hey hey!!

("Gosh, she called me 'interesting'!")
(a) you are interesting and (b) we all know you're giving all your profits away from your book and blog, so present company excluded .

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Aha, finally someone points out that Jacob's not Joe Dominguez.

"Bored"?
"Wasn't making it and could no longer maintain the deception"?
"Ran out of money after the recession"?
"Frugality fatigue? Crossed the line into deprivation? Tired of cold-water showers"?

I was wondering if we were someday going to read Jacob's "We're starting a family!" post. Maybe someday we still will.
No, I want to see it in a movie!!! I like my imaginary comedy of him convincing spouse to go along with the ERE plan and then whoops! pulling out the (freecycle) rug from under her just as she gets on board by taking a megabucks job--now it'll be her turn to try to convince him (and the baby, of course--I'm seeing twins) that money isn't everything.
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Old 12-02-2011, 07:19 PM   #31
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The biggest problem with "making the big bucks" in the business world is that you can almost never do it part time and on your own terms. So if the "big bucks" forced me into a 50+ hour nights and weekends, always-on-call and stressful-as-hell working life, if I were truly FI that would be a deal breaker for me, almost no matter what it would pay.
Yup, yup, and yup.
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Old 12-02-2011, 07:23 PM   #32
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No, I want to see it in a movie!!! I like my imaginary comedy of him convincing spouse to go along with the ERE plan and then whoops! pulling out the (freecycle) rug from under her just as she gets on board by taking a megabucks job--now it'll be her turn to try to convince him (and the baby, of course--I'm seeing twins) that money isn't everything.
Just popped into my head. Can't say for sure that it's related. The recurrent ER ending theme movie.

Lost in America (1985) - IMDb
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Old 12-02-2011, 07:53 PM   #33
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The biggest problem with "making the big bucks" in the business world is that you can almost never do it part time and on your own terms. So if the "big bucks" forced me into a 50+ hour nights and weekends, always-on-call and stressful-as-hell working life, if I were truly FI that would be a deal breaker for me, almost no matter what it would pay.

One must have their boundaries:great example. Makes me think WTH was I doing this past week at w*rk while FI.....

I do respect the decision made and the communication thereof. We all are "wired" a little different: who knows, he may make a come back.
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Old 12-02-2011, 08:03 PM   #34
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Nords, at the risk of making you harder to live with, you are awesome and right on as always.
Unfortunately, no one will ever match Joe Domininguez and his walk of the talk and maybe although we are all sad that his life was cut short, none of of would ever have the disappointment of seeing him go back to work on Wall Street.
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Old 12-02-2011, 10:38 PM   #35
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Nords, at the risk of making you harder to live with...
Spouse assures me that's not possible...

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Unfortunately, no one will ever match Joe Domininguez and his walk of the talk and maybe although we are all sad that his life was cut short, none of of would ever have the disappointment of seeing him go back to work on Wall Street.
I'm genuinely confused by the "I'm bored and need a challenge" attitude. I have no frame of reference to understand, let alone empathize. If I did then I could write about it.

Heck, if I'm not surfing then I'll spend five hours just reading things on the Internet and writing about them. Then I have a spreadsheet I want to work on. Then I need to post some ads to Craigslist. Then I have to clean up the kitchen and do some other chores. Then it's time for a nap. Then it's time to answer e-mails and blog comments. Ooh, let's tweak the blog. Then spouse and I find other things to do with our time.

Nine years of ER. There's plenty of chores that I don't want to do, like cleaning the crap off my desk and organizing the "Dad's care" files, but I'm not bored and I get them done eventually.

Life has actually quieted down a lot since spouse retired in 2008 and our teen left the nest in 2010. But I don't understand the "I'm bored, and my next challenge must be received from some external source" attitude.

Anyone got any analogies or website links or other helpful suggestions?
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Old 12-03-2011, 12:45 AM   #36
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Taking a quant job doesn't seem all that unsettling if he's always been interested in finance. Interesting work, gobs of money, and the change of pace might make it tolerable for a year or so, especially if he was given some latitude with work direction and time scheduling.

What Nords wrote though -- the "I've conquered ER and it's now boring. Where's the next challenge?" part is baffling. What does that mean? Is ER to be conquered? Is it another thing on the list to check off?

1) Get PhD;
2) Early retire before 35 on <$8,000/yr;
3) Get a job at a hedge fund;
4) ??

When mountain climbing, there are those who just want to bag a peak and, once done, want to move on to the next mountain. Others take what the mountain offers; they're there for the summit but they also like the views and camping in the snow.
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Old 12-03-2011, 08:37 AM   #37
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I'm genuinely confused by the "I'm bored and need a challenge" attitude. I have no frame of reference to understand, let alone empathize. If I did then I could write about it.
This is my biggest concern about deciding to ER upon reaching FI. My experience has been leisure pursuits are really fun as an escape to whatever challenges I am currently facing. When the challenges requiring expertise are gone from my life, I can't enjoy "relaxing" activities. I find them dull and pointless. My life seems meaningless and without direction.

Pursuit of a challenge makes me feel useful, especially if the output of my pursuit is valued by other people. Maslow caputures this at the peak of his needs hierarchy, as Esteem and Self-actualization. YMOYL calls this work and describes ways it can be valued other than dollars. Unfortunately (), my experience is that money is the glue that holds people together for work on significant, long term efforts that are truly interesting (ie those which enable development of and provide an outlet for expertise).

Within 5 years (at 35), I expect to be able to sustain my current standard of living with investments. A cushion beyond that would be nice, but I'd get by. More than anything, concern over loss of challenge has me considering work until at least 50. Development of expertise seems to enhance my understanding of the world, which in turn seems to enhance my life satisfaction. At times, I even find myself thinking that will compell me work forever. Certainly on my terms as I am increasingly FI, but work for life all the same.

FI is valuable independent of ER, so for now I continue to pursue a "high" paying job and save aggressively. It certainly raises a question though - If most jobs will meet my living expenses today, why not just take whatever job strikes my fancy, even it pays poorly? Work for life would mean I don't need much in the way of savings or income, after all.

So far my best answer has been that competition for high salaries creates barriers to entry, which in turn filter out the least capable and least driven individuals. This improves the quality of the peer group and toys that one gets to play with every day. Jacob, for instance, is going to be in a technically rich environment filled with pragmatic math and physics Phds - certainly not something he would find at the trailer park or martial arts dojo.
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Old 12-03-2011, 10:08 AM   #38
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HERE'S the litmus test: what will his spending be after starting w*rk again?

He always espoused the low expense (I think his yearly budget was something ridiculous like 7k/yr.. Maybe 12k), minimalist lifestyle. Lots of DIY (like the rake example given above), etc.

If he's quitting ERE for the challenge, he'll continue the same lifestyle, albeit with a larger portfolio.

If his yearly budget balloons, then it seems that he was living that way out of necessity (too small of a portfolio, as some here said), rather than an actual belief and lifestyle decisions.

Be interesting if he shares if his budget balloons up or not.
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Old 12-03-2011, 12:06 PM   #39
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I think "pimpmyretirement" captures my sentiments best.

Some points
1a) A quick calculation shows that I have 45 times my annual spending saved up. I haven't increased my spending so far even though technically I could have increased it by 30% safely already. My withdrawal rate is 2.22% To me what I've written about on ERE is a philosophy of life. The financial independence part is a something that's a consequence of the main goal which is to be frugal, autonomous, live self-sufficiently, and have a small environmental footprint. If those are your goals and you happen to make money on a job, you'll end up saving most of it incidentally. If you don't have these goals, sure, spending money is what life is about, but that's not the case for me. Changing this philosophy and turning into a modern consumer way of life would require somewhat of a brain transplant at this time.
1b) I totally agree that the litmus test would be whether my budget increases substantially. If that integrity breaks down, I'm clearly a hypocrite.
2a) Finance is interesting to me, it's been a hobby of mine for the past 5 years or so. Malaria is not. I have in fact spent about 2 years volunteering/co-founding a nonprofit. I didn't like what I saw. The whole field is fraught with "money raising" activities and politics. We could solve malaria right now if the political choice was made. But the choice is to focus on better TV screens, fun vacations, military engines, etc.
2b) Many see finance as a money-grubbing activity (thanks to you media :-P ). I see it as the informational system that guides the real world directing resources to who can use them best. Sometimes this process fails (e.g. the market crashes, CEOs award themselves millions of dollars while their companies tank). I want to "fix" the market---preventing crashes would be nice. To wit, the public sees the failures (e.g. a crash), they don't see the successes (the market was once again prevented from crashing) and so they're biased in their opinions.
2c) I somehow think that the fact that the work is in finance clouds a lot of opinions. Suppose I had spent my retirement building bird houses. Then the city offers me a chance to build an arboretum for them. This is a much more interesting/challenging project. It's a job, but I get free hands as long as my design works. I don't know about you, but I'm going to take it. Or suppose I played hockey on a city team (I actually did) and then somebody said... hey you look good, do you want to go to the nationals? We'll pay you a contract and you'd have to show up for training and play the games. Heck, I wouldn't have to think twice. Sure, it's a job but it's the Nationals!! (unfortunately, nobody did :-) ).
2d) This job offers plenty of autonomy. I can do what I want within reason as long as I'm productive. This will hopefully be in many ways like going back to year 3 of grad school where one is working on interesting stuff being surrounded by smart people. I tried the puttering around thing for 3 years, but that's just not how my personality works. I'm not content to spend the rest of my life enjoying the view from the mountain I climbed. I want to climb another. It's like the difference between cruising sailors who prefer to sit in the cockpit and sip daiquiris and racing sailors who like to pound waves. To the former the latter looks like misery. To the latter the former looks boring. It's just different personalities. IMPORTANTLY: This lack of mutual understanding does not prove that sailing is impossible.
3) Sure, lots of nonprofits need managers and proposal writers. I hate writing proposals and I hate managing. I know, because I already tried that.
4) I don't know about you, but I "like" money. I'm not going to say no to it even if I'm not going to spend it. Lots of you suggest donating to a favorite charity. For many of the reasons stated above, I unfortunately do not have a favorite charity. I've seen too much money sunk by administrative costs and focusing on short-run problems. This is indeed an unsolved problem for me: What to do with unnecessary money. Remember Buffett's comments before he finally gave it all to the Gates Foundation? He thought he could take care of the money better while he was alive and make a much bigger contribution if he grew it in the mean time than handing it out. For the reasons above, I think the same thing. I had an idea yesterday of using some of it to support bloggers who write valuable content on the internet practically for free. Maybe setting up a stipend or however it's going to work. A paid position as a "Blogger Fellow". I think the currently advertising based content writing on the internet is hugely broken.
5) Writing and selling books for profit is pretty much the stupidest use of one's time ranking near the bottom of money making activities in terms of time-efficiency. Those who write books for the purpose of making money are either extremely good (and rare) or they're idiots---sorry to use such a strong term, but I think it's accurate. (Pretty much the only way to do this is to be the publisher and have a portfolio of 50+ books. If you can crank out a new book, say a tech manual, every three months. You can make a living of this. In this case, you're extremely good. If you spend 2.5 years on a single book, that's a highly unprofitable use of your time.) The amount of time put in compared to the amount of money that comes out is disproportional and less than minimum wage. No, people write books because they have something to say and because they want people to read. This is also why authors promote their books. "Pleeeeeeease read my book." It's not a case of "Pleeeeeease give me $5 in royalties." There are much easier ways to make five bucks.
6) The principles I've written about on the blog certainly helped me live a better life. I know they're also helping others. They're generalized and thus fit lots of different situations. Some people, unfortunately, see me as some kind of "role-model" that needs to fit their personal conception of retirement lest it disprove the concept. This is simple-minded thinking. I'll use my financial freedom to solving big problems because that's what I like. Some will use their freedom to travel. Some will use it to watch sunsets and some will build birdhouses. It's that whole Maslow thing that someone mentioned. The whole idea is to get to the self-actualization state and focus on that with enough (financial independence) to avoid all the downsides. I believe I've found that (yes, I spent plenty of time during the interview finding out if I'm just "headcount" or not. Obviously, I'm not ).
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Old 12-03-2011, 12:22 PM   #40
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Excellent thoughts Jacob. Thanks for sharing, and glad to see you're still around. Cut and paste to relevant thread on ERE forums?
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