Stomp! Kuwait – DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME

Results may vary!

(Warning: May Contain Spoilers!)
What do a banana peel, a matchbox and a plastic bag have in common?
In case you have not heard, on the radio or through social media, Eventmania, as is expected of them given their current track record of putting Kuwait on the entertainment map, dazzled the people of Kuwait by bringing them the spectacular theatrical show known as Stomp, percussionists with an attitude and imagination, to our local ice-skating rink!

The performance is unique in that it provides melody and tunes from common items that we see and pass by every day not once ever stopping to consider their potential for musical performance. It is a perfect blend of synchronization, improvisation and above all imagination. Stomp transcends all linguistic barriers as audiences are transfixed with the movements and melodies with little interruptions of verbal communication, save the occasional grunt as passed down from our neanderthal ancestors.

The show transcends what anyone would imagine when going to a “musical”. To the keen observer, Stomp is not merely a musical performance; it is a theatrical piece complete with a jester and cleverly placed innuendo that will leave many squealing in delight as to having “gotten it”.

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At a casual glance, the performers appear to be your every-day average Tom, Dick, Harry & Henrietta, ranging in size and grace from the agile-yet-obese, the scrawny and the limber to the chiseled physique that may have just gone a few rounds with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in a wrestling ring. It is their command of their bodies and instruments that bewitches you, as anything placed between their fingers is instantly transformed into a musical instrument. Anything, including but not limited to the aforementioned banana peel, matchbox and plastic bag.

One would think that running two shows a night for 5 nights would bring an element of monotony into the acts. That could not be farther from the truth; with a total of 12 performers, 8 take to the stage per show. Each show is quite different than the other, with improv involving the spectators that is sure to leave you clapping like a performing seal at sea world. Stomp never grows stale, as is evident by the fire in the eyes of the performers as they effortlessly execute what undoubtedly has taken them many years of endless practice to perfect. The show is synchronized with the precision of an army drill sergeant, as every twist and turn finds the performers coming face-to-face with each other, landing their poles, broom sticks, trash can lids, basketballs and paint pails in harmonious synchonicity together.

As the lights dimmed and the performers began to, as their name suggests, stomp their way into our hearts, I found myself wondering initially whether they were stomp-syncing, as my then frail senses were not ready for what was about to occur. Throughout the performance, you will find yourself constantly straining your neck in a feeble to attempt to discern “where did that sound come from?” as your senses are bombarded from left, right, above and below. The transitions between sets were flawless, the lights syncing perfectly with the show (save for the annoying green “EXIT” sign near the entrance, far from the stage yet still an eye-sore).

Stomp engulfs you in that it starts off slowly, gaining momentum into a climactic euphoria of sights and sounds that has the audience spell bound and tapping their feet (not just the people in the front row who had to do this regularly to prevent their feet from freezing as a result of the ice below!) and once again bringing the audience down to a rolling stop.

Stomp with Ayman and Shrouk

We have it on good authority that half the profits taken home by the performers are spent on Aspirin and ear-plugs!

After the production is over you will find yourself overwhelmed with a feeling of euphoric bliss, like all the parts of the puzzle that is life have fallen together into a brilliant masterpiece and that you are part of it. You will find yourself snapping your fingers and tapping your feet, desperate to get your hands on anything so that the world can hear your latent inner-talent of making music from garbage. You will rush to get your hands on a basketball, a newspaper, a discarded plastic bottle or even a shopping cart at the supermarket to begin your musical journey.

Please don’t.

Thank you Eventmania for continuing to rise to the challenge and bring a taste of global culture to our desert oasis.

For more info (link)

#Kuwait no longer a Paradise for Expats

Long, long ago, in a classroom far, far away (Salmiya) there stood a teacher who attempted to explain to his students why expats (such as himself and themselves) choose to relocate to the Desert Oasis known as Kuwait.

“It is for 3 letter word ending with X, and it is NOT the first thing you think of!”

With these pearls of wisdom, we are continuously reminded of why we are (correction, were) happy here as expats – TAX free income. Now granted some countries’ residents  are required to pay tax if they earn a certain amount per year, however for the rest of the working stiffs, our incomes remain tax free.

Sadly, however, our incomes are no longer that safe:

Rent is Rising, rising, rising…

ExplodingThermometer

One of the first lessons we learn in Business School is that price is downward inflexible, meaning the age-old adage of “what comes up must come down” is incorrect when it comes to $$.

As stated in the Arab Times (link) in an article eloquently titled “Hell Of Rent Irons Hits Both Expats, Citizen”:

As per recent statistics, there are about 405 buildings, 3,407 villas, 5 palaces, 435 houses, 899 chalets and 2,206 traditional houses that are vacant and can meet the current demand.

the irrationality in charging KD 350 rent for a small apartment with one bedroom and a living room and KD 1,000 for a house in a residential area. The landlords explained that the increase in rents is due to the high cost of building materials.

 tenants stressed the lack of proper justification for increasing the rents without any increase in their salaries, revealing that they spend more than half of their salaries to pay the monthly rents.

“Paying the monthly rents has become a nightmare for the breadwinners, irrespective of whether they are Kuwaiti citizens or expatriates. If this problem of increasing rents continues, expatriates may have to go back to their motherland with their families, and citizens may have to start living in tents”.

The tenants expressed their shock about landlords charging almost KD 500 for apartments with two or three bedrooms and a living room in Hawally, Jabriya, Salmiya and Salwa.

They urged the concerned authorities to intervene in this matter and put an end to this phenomenon before expatriates are forced to take the decision of either leaving the country with their families or sending only their families to their country, which however will transform Kuwait into a country of bachelors.

Taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society. – Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

However, exorbitant rents only serve to line the pockets of corporate fat-cats.

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The main problem is not merely that he rents are high, it is that the spaces offered are not reflective of the amount being requested. Growing up in Kuwait in the 1990’s, spaces were lavish and rents were relatively low, with a 2-bedroom apartment going for 100KD a month. Granted the AC was split units and not central, but that did not matter as the rent went hand in hand with the salaries at the time.

In addition, the increase in rent does not go hand-in-hand with an increase in salary, meaning your salary grows at a much slower rate than the expenses around you:

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One of the major increases in rent happened when rent allowance for citizens was increased (link) causing building owners to retrospectively increase their rents to accommodate the increased spending power of citizens.  As you can see, it is a vicious circle – due to the law of scarcity in Economics materials today cost more than they did last year as they are finite resources. The government decides to increase rent allowance for citizens, and the market decides to also increase their prices (downsides of Capitalism and consumer-driven demand).

Expats do not get rent allowance. The price increase is unilateral on all. 35-50% of salaries is going on a monthly basis for the necessity of shelter.

Can you imagine what Kuwait would look like if the breadwinners decide to send their families back home and move in with their friends, turning Kuwait (as stated above) into a giant Bachelor pad?

Warning, NSFW:

Honor amongst Bloggers (thank you #KuwaitUp2Date)

bang bang

Back in Sept 2011, I wrote a post entitled “Original Content Blogging Initiative” (link), discontent with the lack of proper content in the blogosphere of Kuwait. Several bloggers (especially the ones posting advertisements) had begun simply posting one-liners and images as well as videos in order to remain relevant.

Once or twice bloggers in the past had gotten into heated arguments over “content stealing” whereby one blogger rips off the work of another blogger (i.e. plagiarism) without mentioning the original source of the information.

Now, that is wrong on every level; to copy-paste content verbatim and sell it off as your own.

Yesterday however, we received proof that there is still decency in Kuwait amongst bloggers.

Those of you that check “KuwaitUp2Date” will notice that they posted this article yesterday:

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Now, at first glance, everything appears fine. The article is rightfully linked to its author (myself) (link). However, not everything is as it appears.

You see, Mybloogle is not hosting ads, all clicks I get to view on Google Analytics are strictly for my own gratification as a blogger in Kuwait. It is nice to see the occasional comment ON THE BLOG (as opposed to a reply on Twitter or comment on Facebook). What happened yesterday was that my content was copied (without my permission) word-for-word to KuwaitUp2Date’s blog, meaning the reader would have no need to click the link to read the loquacious article posted on Kuwait’s growing traffic problem from the eyes of an expat. The “clicks” and reads would flow to KU2D, which has advertisements.

Now I took offence to this and messaged the author at 11PM requesting them to either post only an excerpt of the article and say the rest can be found on Mybloogle (so I can see how many readers actually read it) or to remove the post. They agreed to the latter.

Besides Mybloogle & Q8FootSoldiers (link to like the FB page if you have not already), I exercise my creative writing hobby as a freelancer for Bazaar Magazine, having written several articles for them over the past few years (link to most of my published works there). You will notice none of the articles I ever wrote for Bazaar Magazine ended up on my blog – not that they told me not to (or maybe they did and I was not paying attention) however it seems to right thing to do as a matter of exclusivity.

Many thanks to KU2D for being so understanding and quick to action in removing the post.

Going forward, Mybloogle has disabled the copy-paste function in order to maintain the exclusivity of its author’s content.

We stick to our resolve to always provide people with a good, interesting read to break the monotony of the internet, provided you read it at Mybloogle.com! :)

The Real Reason behind Kuwait’s #Traffic Problem

“You cannot stop progress”.

With those simple words we are able to look at Kuwait’s ever growing traffic problem with renewed vision, gaining a better understanding of the elements responsible for making the early morning work commute comparable to running a marathon through a sea of konafa; inexplicably difficult and definitely time consuming.

Kuwait is having a serious traffic problem every morning, afternoon, and evening when students, parents and employees are all in their cars heading to their converging destinations. However, the cause of this deadlock is not the oversupply of drivers licences or the presence of motor vehicles on the streets. That is a sign of progress. Kuwait is expanding, metamorphosing into the next stage of industrial utopia, attracting more foreign investment which entails higher populations of both locals and expats. The car companies have to sell, the salesmen must meet their monthly targets. Blaming the traffic solely on expats and licences distracts from the true cause of the traffic.

There are several factors, such as the following:

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Traffic cops are deployed at certain times to high traffic areas such as major roundabouts, exits and school areas in order to ensure smooth flow of traffic. However, no such assistance is evident, with police-men simply waving cars to pass.

It is extremely imperative to regulate traffic at roundabouts as they end up causing a backlog due to the overabundance of choice from every angle. Three lanes of vehicles spew out from every angle, each wanting to go in a different direction, 3X3X3X3 = 71 possibilities at every roundabout. And with no conductor to handle the flow, chaos ensues, with cars honking and cutting in front of others as others refuse to allow anyone to pass in front of them.

The experiment undertaken at the roundabouts on route 80 proved to be useful; major roundabouts are outfitted with traffic signals to help regulate the flow to an extent. Yes, traffic is still a congested, however it flows smoothly with little interference required.

Surprisingly, both major traffic reasons can be given examples in Hawally, where the sudden emergence of several schools at every major entry/exit point from the area causes a traffic jam that leads to spending 30 minutes to traverse a distance of only 2 or 3KM every day. The first reason as mentioned above is the traffic police-men’s lack of hands on traffic handling. The second reason is as follows:

Traffic lights. The intersection at Beirut & Tunis St. for example followed by the intersection of Beirut & Qotaiba St. (parallel to route 40 motorway).

The sequence with which the traffic lights open and close causes a huge delay in traffic as the majority are heading in One Direction, out of Hawally. Anyone caught on the front line of a traffic light can quickly discern how movement should be.

In the absence of order, chaos ensues. People have proven countless times that without a regulating authority, all forms of misdemeanors will transpire. If the law is not constantly surveying and correcting peoples behavior, rules will be discarded and the melee of early morning deadlock will be further exacerbated until we reach the epic traffic jam levels of China:

China Traffic

The Month of Much Exercise in Kuwait

The chilling breeze of the Winter months is finally upon us! We shall soon discard the fluorescent shorts and tank tops in favor of long sleeved thermals and beanies.

Next month Kuwait will host two running events; the 642 Marathon (link) with distances of 5, 10, 21 & 42KM. In its first year as a new race in Kuwait, we have high hopes for our first ever Marathon in the streets! The second time-honored and traditional event is of course none other than the FSRI RunQ8 (link), a 10K run that is all about charity.

If you have not registered for these awesome events, do so NOW!

Also, be sure to join the Q8FootSoldiers for our bi-weekly training sessions for the upcoming races! The timetable is:

Tuesdays @ 8PM at Mishref Track.

Fridays @ 7AM at Marina Crescent, by the fountain near pizza express.

For those that wonder, “Why so early?!” on a Friday, it is simple:

“When you run in the morning, you gain time. It’s like stretching 24 hours into 25. You may need to sleep less and get up earlier, but if you can get by that, running early seems to expand the day.” – Fred Lebow.

Like our Page on Facebook (link) and get started on your running resolution NOW!

See you there.

the-more-i-run

 

The Great Travel Curse of 2014 @KuwaitAirways

“At the baggage carousel, I waited patiently for my bag. little did I realize, the wait would be long and arduous.”

Yet again, the universe continues to throw signs my way that 2014 is definitely not my favorite traveling year.

I blame it all on Wordweb, the free dictionary program I have installed since my university days. It always asked, “how many times have you traveled this year?” and I always lied, for anything more than once instantly closes the app and asks you to pay for it.

WordWeb_1

It all started with the plane taking off as scheduled from Cairo and the captain informing us that we would be landing 40 minutes earlier than expected. Ofcourse you never arrive early when going TO your vacation, only when coming back. No matte, I digress.

As it was foretold, so did it unfold. We landed ahead of schedule and I was sure thankful for it. Little did I realize I should not count my chicken before they hatch.

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side thought: I have been flying for decades, and I can honestly say that the following NEVER happened to me before. However, that statement has grown to encompass much fewer things this year than ever before, as I have crossed off 5 “NEVER happened before”s from my list.

At the baggage carousel, I waited patiently for my bag. little did I realize, the wait would be long and arduous.

What appeared to be my bag came around, however, as frequent flyers usually do, I checked for the name on the tags, after failing to find my own, I put the bag back on the carousel, amused at how on the first trip I chose to use that specific new piece of luggage I got as a replacement for my previous bag that was destroyed by an airline earlier this year (Thank you Gulf Air…), I happen to be on a flight with a passenger bearing the exact same one.

The minutes dredged on, and I silently lamented my terrible luck at losing the precious gift of the plane landing ahead of schedule as I waited for my luggage. It was then that an airline worked called the last piece of luggage delivery. Sure enough, my bag’s doppelganger stared blankly at me from the unclaimed luggage area. I instantly knew what had transpired; the hapless nitwit owner of the doppelganger had absent-mindedly grabbed my bag and left with it thinking it was his. I found this strangely amusing as I had just been silently ridiculing the folks that kept looking frantically at their luggage tags in hand and the ones on the actual pieces of luggage, wondering how on earth can you forget what your bag looks like?

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I left the impostor bag and went straight for the Kuwait Airways counter on the far right side of the airport, where I was given a chance to shine in my chosen profession, the only silver lining to this cloud over my 2014 travel.

As always is the case, we are elated to be presented with situations where we get a chance to put our professions to practical use in real-life situations, much like a doctor thrills at hearing the line “is there a doctor in the house?!”, I pounced forth with my knowledge of policy and procedure in audit to assess the situation, make my observation and deliver a recommendation.

2011-11-28-doctorate

I told the employee that someone had taken my luggage by mistake, and that their bag looked exactly like mine. Please run the tags on the bag in your system, determine the passenger name, pull up their contact details and call them. And much like an auditee usually responds when being told what to do, their initial reaction was to protest and say “they sometimes put the number of the travel agent”. I insisted he do as I said. He asked me to bring the bag in question, which I was more than happy to do.

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Sure enough, there was not only one but two mobile numbers entered for the passenger. Unfortunately, both were switched off. I made a mental note of one of them and quickly dialed it on my phone so that I can call them myself should the need arise.

After several attempts and no answer, I was asked to file a claim and wait for them to get back to me.

Fortunately, the employee decided to call one last time, and sure enough, the last time was the charm, as the phone was finally switched on! It took several minutes for them to try to explain to the passenger what had happened, at which point I jumped in and requested the phone, knowing that a language barrier was preventing the full understanding.

Luckily, he had yet to leave the airport, and I was told to meet him outside and exchange luggages. Of course I refused to walk out with his bag, not knowing what was in it. KA sent a porter with me.

I was delayed for over an hour, however it was good the story ended happily.

The thing I hate the most is that I was returning with my wedding album, and I had it placed on top of my luggage as I am always selected for “random testing” and wished to try out the theory of “I’m a newly wed, I am not threatening!”.

Maybe next time.

Suffice to say, I will not travel anymore in 2014. This year is cursed.

Kuwait Airport to shut down @PearlLoungeKWI @KuwaitAirways

Given that every passenger that travels through an airport pays a “tax” to said airport, which should be used for maintenance etc. then what happened in Kuwait International Airport last thursday was a gross miscarriage of maintenance and a failure to foresee the most obvious of scenarios.

Last thursday as everyone knows was the beginning of “the long weekend”, 9 days of vacation due to the Eid holidays. Naturally, all those who were able to, local and expat, decided to take the opportunity to travel abroad.

149,000 people traveled on thursday i.e. almost 5% of Kuwait’s population. And what naturally ensued was a terrible delay of unspeakable proportions.

Firstly, the line to get to the check in counters at Kuwait Airport stretched OUTSIDE the airport! Grossly mismanaged, with out a single person available to keep order.

Secondly, the maintenance we were referring to above was obviously NOT being done as the conveyor belt belong to the Kuwait Airways terminal broke down, causing a further backlog in accepting passengers, which eventually caused my flight, KU543 heading to Cairo, to be delayed by 4 HOURS!

Third, The Pearl Lounge Kuwait, packed to the brim and completely unhelpful in sending people to their “gates” despite the flight schedule not posting any updates on the flight.

Flight KU543 had no information posted such as proceed to gate, final boarding, last call. No information was updated on this flight. Not a single line. Up to the time they hoarded us onto the bus, the gate was still reading for the previous flight that was meant to depart at 8:50PM, our flight was meant to depart at 9:30PM. We climbed into the plane at 10:30PM, the flight took off at 1AM. Instead of arriving in Cairo at 11:30PM we arrived at 2:30AM, with several people who had further travel to their cities (i.e. Mansoura) from Cairo were exponentially delayed.

Kuwait Airport should be shut down and fixed, especially the conveyor belt belonging to Kuwait Airways, which could not handle the stress and broke down, causing the greatest delay in that people who were in line were forced to wait for it to be fixed, and the plane could not take off without them as the airline would be liable to compensate them.

I seriously hope the airport gets its act together.

 

Can Turkish Coffee predict the Future?

Mystics and madmen have long since concluded that Turkish coffee has awesome, awe-inspiring powers.

Not only can it turn mindless zombies into productive employees, it can also predict the future!

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I have gathered scientific evidence to prove this theory:

in 2007 I got my first job (Dec 2006 to be exact) in Shuwaikh area, where I was introduced to the wonders of the office kitchen! Free flowing rivers of tea, coffee and water to your hearts content! But I wanted more. So in March of 2008 I left for greener pastures in Kuwait City area.

Sadly, Turkish coffee was no longer available in that new office.

By January of 2010 I had made my third career transition and progression back to Shuwaikh area, and lo and behold! Turkish coffee returned once more! A pattern had developed, and so the future was easily determined.

My next move would be to Kuwait City, and Turkish coffee would not be available sadly.

As predicted, so to did it happen! For in 2013 I once again made my return to Kuwait City, albeit briefly! For I found they served Turkish coffee, and immediately recognized this ominous warning with a sense of foreboding, knowing I had to return to Shuwaikh in order to write this error!

And I did, and the prophecy continued, technically. For here unlike all other places, all office drinks came at a price, and hence were not free as previously established.

Fastforward to today, and once again, I am back in Kuwait City, with a free brew of Miraculous Turkish Coffee in my hand.

That, is one drink to which my professional progression is forever tied!

 

@BungeeKW is Back!

come one, come all, jump from 300 Feet and prepare to enthrall!

This weekend challenge yourself and do something daring!

for more information, please check below:

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 بمناسبة #عيد #الاضحى # المبارك ،،،
تدعوكم شركة فينيكس العالمية للمشاركة في المهرجان الترفيهي الفريد من نوعه

Why it pays to complain to Companies (even in #Kuwait!)

A lot of people will tell you, complaining gets you no where.

Companies have and continue to wrong customers since the beginning of time.

Most companies manage to get away with it because the customer fails in their civil duty to report such wrong doings and accepts the status quo as inevitable.

I am here to tell you that this is complete and utter poppy-cock.

David vs Goliath

For just as David slew Goliath, so to can you slay the demon that is corporate identity. For we have been empowered with a very awe-striking weapon – our gabs and the internet.

Picture if you will the following scenario 40 or so years ago; a customer buys a plane ticket and is unable to use it, the terms and conditions read non-refundable. In order to complain, said customer would have to give up their precious time to stand in line and file a formal complaint, wasting pain-staking hours in a queue that leads to no-where.

The never ending queue

The never ending queue

Not any more, and never again!

The internet has provided us with a very fast and direct way to target our complaints; emails!

The following are a few  ACTUAL scenarios that occurred to me (personally):

1) I was travelling back home to survive my then-fiance (now loving wife) for new years, at the luggage carousel I saw what appeared to be my luggage however it was horribly misshapen, with metallic wires protruding from where the frame should be. I called up customer service and after being given the loop around demanded the email of the regional manager (which the employee provided, albeit incorrectly at first). They informed me I should have spoken to someone at the airport itself, however since I didn’t, and still made a lot of noise about it, they agreed to pay me for the broken luggage (and commandeer it as well).

Case closed. Match, set & Point. 1:0

2) Same airline as above, through no fault of my own (ok maybe it was PARTIALLY my fault) I arrived at the airport counter 5 minutes after closing, literally 5 minutes and was denied boarding. Made noise, no response yet.

Case ongoing. Probable lost cause. 1:1

3) New airline; purchased ticket to go to neighboring GCC country on their 5-star airline. At check-in, I am informed that my job title as per my residency does not permit me visa-on-arrival (my title happened to be in the middle of two accepted titles, one above and one below- they accepted sales manager and sales associate, I was designated as sales executive at the time even though I had nothing to do with sales but that is another tale for another time), so I was asked to leave. I sent an email to them, and their initial response was “read terms and conditions”, “non-refundable”, “sorry” and quote-unqoute tough luck. They would only refund me the tax amount which was less than 10% of the ticket price. Of course I kept at it, refusing to give up, email after email after email until finally, they relented! And I was given a credit of the EXACT amount I paid to use during a years time to fly.

Case closed. Match, set and point! 2:1

Qatar Airways

4) I purchased ANOTHER TICKET (this has DEFINITELY not been my favorite year for flying!) and mistakenly mixed up the arrival and departure airports through a famous booking agent in Dubai. I booked the ticket during Ramadan at 10PM and subsequently sent an email requesting to cancel it at 9AM (i.e. 11 hours later). Their response, we will deduct two fees; our cancellation fee (which was equivalent to 25% of the ticket price) as well as the airline cancellation fee (20% of ticket price) leaving me with a measly 55% of the ticket price. Again they cited terms and conditions, but I hit them with best practices as the world famous online booking agent (EXPEDIA!) allow for free cancellation within 24 hours of booking. The emails dragged along, and I spoke to one “manager” on the phone who refused to entertain my request (George something-or-other from some EU country, if you are reading this, IN YOUR FACE!) however, finally, as a “gesture of goodwill” and most likely to shut me up, I was allowed to waive their cancellation fee and receive a good chunk of my money back.

Tripsta

 

Case closed. Match, set and point! 3:1!!

So yes, online complaints DO receive proper attention (with a proven success record of 75%).

What have you got to lose? Exercise your right to speak and rise up against the corporate Machine!

A quick Google search will pinpoint which emails to correspond to, and from there just keep hitting back.

Every policy has an exception.

Learn that.

Of course if all else fails make a blog post and slam the non-responders (within the proper confines of the law and not being derogatory in any way!)

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August 2011 ( View complete archive page )

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