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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Some Things Never Change, Sweet Halloween


Halloween has changed so much since I was a kid. Back in the day there was no such thing as "Safe Houses", every house was considered safe. I remember trick or treating when the streets were full of kids going every which direction, with parents only escorting the tiniest of tots. We came home when our bags were filled and not a second before. Even as a kid, I always wanted to be a princess, a fairy, a bride... Pretty much anything
that included a crown and bling... That's not changed at all. Yesterday at 3:00 p.m., my office emailed everyone informing us we could dress up and there would be a prize for the best costume. I haven't done Halloween in years, so I was in a pickle if I wanted to dress up. I thought about
gluing some cotton onto a hat and coming as an airhead, but that just seemed so plain. My next option was to do what I did the last time I dressed up and come as Miss Understood. My son and his girlfriend came in handy for a quick trip to Walmart for ribbon, letters and flowers, and a
girl from work said she would lend me her crown. Right, like it's unbelievable that I don't already have my own :-) I pulled out a dress I bought last year because it was a really good buy, and my creation was complete (almost, except for the wand). This morning we had a video conference call with our office in Louisiana.
When the call came through, they were told to assemble everyone in the conference room for a big announcement. The LA office seemed uncertain as to what this announcement could be about, and you could hear the confusion and hesitation in her voice when she agreed to gather the troops and fire up the camera. There was the slightest sigh of relief when we appeared on camera and they were told they were the judges in
our costume contest (Whew! No pink slips today!) I have to give the LA office a hand. Everyone seem to take the process very serious as they muted us so we could not hear their discussions and in a very methodical way, worked out the voting on a board in the conference room with the camera aimed so we couldn't see. One
by one we introduced ourselves and who or what we were suppose to be. They debated, and voted and debated (I think they may have even graphed it out on the board in true engineer, geologist fashion) until finally they came back with a hung jury on places 2 and 3. The tie that they simply
couldn't seem to break was between the bag lady and the rodeo clown (applause, applause). And the first place winner was.... Miss Understood, shocked look, trembling hands to each side of my face, and fighting off the tears so my
mascara didn't smudge, and humble, oh so humble. No, seriously! I never win anything. It must have been the wave and a smidgen of pixie dust.

I know it looks like I'm taking an oath or something, but the wave was as much a part of the costume as the crown. I'm pretty certain it's that wave that sealed the deal.
Show me the money

I've Lost My Magic

Today (October 30th), at 3:00 p.m., I got an office email that says we are welcome to dress for Halloween tomorrow.  Sheesh! I got nothing... No costume ideas, zip, notta. Finally, I decided to pull out the tried and true, done it once, will do it again, old idea. I got everything ready, but it needed the final touch and I knew just the thing... My magic wand! I have/had a pink magic wand, with a heart shaped jewel at the end that would light up when you pushed a magic button and it would make the sound of pixie dust being flung through the air. I used it with my previous boss who tended to get "twitchy" at times, or on patients who came in with just  bad attitudes and needed a little pixie dust to lighten their mood. I would wave my wand at the intended recipient  and wall-laa, all was suppose to be better, brighter and happier.... It worked sometimes, but others (the most harden cases) it didn't always work.  I mean imagine standing behind your boss when he is in a very bad mood and waving a pink wand in his direction. When the sound of pixie dust settled, he still wasn't entirely happy, but I like
to think that he appreciated the effort I put into improving office moral, and I was always a little temped to get a pixie dust-like stun gun to use on the really bad days, probably a good thing I didn't. I really liked my Doc and mainly because he didn't twitch too bad when I attempted to de-twitch him. Anyway, I kept the wand by my desk and used it regularly. When I resigned from the position (no, I wasn't fired! Who would fire someone with a magic wand.... I mean really), I packed the wand and brought it home. It was way to special to let go of, so I tucked it away in some unknown nook or cranny until now... 8 years later when I really need it. I have searched this house from attic to basement, through every closet and drawer and my magic wand is no where to be found. I ask my husband as he lay reading if he had seen my magic wand and all I got was a blank stare. I asked my son, who gave me the identical stare as I rummaged through drawers and cabinets. I asked my son if he
ever misplaces anything and he just looked at me like I was speaking French, and said.... "No, not really." And that is why I don't ask people with OCD, important questions like "Where is my magic wand?" because I always get the same reply and it's intentionally thrown out there as a reminder that you are not as organized as them, which just makes me feel inferior.... "Isn't it where it should be?" and my response is always... "Not for people who don't have OCD. who live by the seat of their pants and go with the flow without uptight rigid standards that not everyone cares to follow." I'm sad, the wand cannot be found. It was special to me and I believe it was special to Doc. He received Christ into his life shortly before I resigned and the wand wasn't getting much use after that, but it was still a reminder that everyone needs a fluttering of pixie dust thrown their direction, if for no other reason but to remind them to lighten up and find the magic in living a stress free life. It wasn't until tonight that I realized I missed sprinkling the magic pixie dust on those having a rotten day. I have literally lost my mojo, the night before Halloween, I sit here mojoless with dust bunnies, but no pixie dust. I'm just going to have to wing it on the wand  and hope no one needs a good pixie dust smattering tomorrow cause I got nothing for them. I will be ordering one very soon to keep at my office.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Different Facets of Me

I had a friend ask me last night, why on earth I was doing another mud run. I totally understand her confusion, because I've always been very cautious, very timid about coloring outside the lines of life. For instance... and this is not an exaggeration (I almost wish it were). It wasn't until the last couple of years, that I dared to remove the tags on pillows that says.... "Do not remove under penalty of law". Somewhere in my tiny little brain,
I believed there were tag enforcers just waiting for me to rip those tags off my pillows and comforters. And trust me, if there were a real tag enforcer task force, Murphy would see to it that they came to my house first. One day when I was cleaning house, I stared at that evil little tag and thought to myself... "This is ridiculous! Why hesitate when it's all in your head!" So I ripped off the tag, plumped the pillow and felt like a new woman (I mean, it takes so little to appease me sometimes)...(and my husband would probably rebut that side note). I was raised to be a girlie girl from my head to my toes, and I love being a woman (I mean I LOVE IT). But deep inside of me is a tomboy just waiting to be loosed. Both of my parents family live in and around the Ada/Allen area in Oklahoma. We rarely saw my Dad's family, but when we did, I
 was dressed in lace, fufu and black or white patent shoes. It didn't bother me, because I didn't know any different. For some reason my mom thought I needed to be decked out to the nines to hob nob with my cousins who lived in the country. One summer, my mom went to California with my aunt, so dad took us to his family's house. There I stood in lace so stiff I couldn't put my arms to my side, ruffles on my socks, and my black patent shoes. My cousin wanted to take me to the crawdad hole and show me how country life was meant to be lived. My aunt scrounged around and found some jeans and an old shirt for me to wear. I can't remember what we did for shoes, but I'm guessing we did without them that day. My cousin and I spent the day fishing for crawdads and I was in tomboy heaven. When we came back in the house, the family was preparing to have a fish fry. I remember a sense of dread washing over me from knowing company was coming and here I looked like a mud rat in jeans and
a shirt.... Momma would not be pleased at all. I walked in the kitchen feeling like I desperately needed a bath, when my aunt clasps her hands on each side of her face and exclaimed.... "Oh, My!!! I have never seen you in anything but lacy dresses with bows or with a speak of dirt on you!! You sure look like you're having fun!" And you know, I was... I was totally having the time of my life getting down and dirty. Later when Momma found out that I had tomboy'd it up, she wasn't mad, in fact she felt a little bad for always insisting I be so prim, instead of just letting me have fun. I had a great childhood and I have wonderful parents, but from getting dirty, to ripping the tags off of my pillows, I have always lived within very defined boundaries. I married and had kids at a young age, and like a lot of women became a slave to the daily rituals and organized living of being a mom, without ever exploring parts of myself that I didn't even know existed. Some people call it a mid-life crisis. I call it being handed time and opportunity to explore the different facets of me and to live an abundant life free of fear.

John 10:10 I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

I Wait

In the truest sense of the word, fall has arrived. The change has been gradual, as if not to shock me with an explosion of color. Although the temperature outside belies the fact, a frost is on the way. Shortly, a chill will chase the last breath of summer away, all color will fade from the landscape and the gray of winter will invade my senses. The cycle of life.... Life, death, rebirth, Like the changing of the guard, time will bring a new leaf and life will begin again. Until then, I wait....

Monday, October 22, 2012

Escape Normal, Take a Trip to The Sanctuary

Having lived a somewhat sheltered life, I had never been to a haunted house until this weekend. As a teenager, my girlfriend and I would creep ourselves out with scary movies for fun.  But after a good friend of mine committed suicide,I decided life offered plenty of real life horrors and I no longer sought them out as entertainment. A friend of ours is working at The Sanctuary Haunted Warehouse in Oklahoma City, so we went with some friends to do what probably none of us have done since we were teenagers. The Sanctuary is a four story warehouse of up close and personal psychotic fun. They've taken your worst psycho thriller nightmares and brought them to life inside one of the amazing
Sick Boyz Suspension
warehouses that have become the trademark of Bricktown. They have made waiting in line entertaining and even a little nauseating. Who knew there were people willing to poke shark hooks through their skin so they could be suspended in air to swing like a pendulum (yeah, he's going to have a bad case of shoulder nipples when he gets done). Meanwhile more Sick Boyz stand beneath the hanging dude, and try to saw their faces off and breath fire at the crowd. And last but not least, a dude who allows those waiting in line to staple his forehead or shove a drill up his nose? Who says the weirdos only come out for the circus? As grown up as I sometimes appear, the asylum like atmosphere did manage a couple of squeals and one pretty healthy scream out of me. Aside from that, it had a major creep factor as I developed quite a following of psychotic patients.... Maybe they read my blog (Ha!). The setting is super cool, especially with my affection for old buildings. The sets weren't the typical cheesy Halloween decorations from Walmart, but artfully crafted life like gore. One scene in particular was a surgical scene which was so realistic I wanted to reach out and touch it. The actors took their creepy roles seriously and actually gave me the willies. The evening was a nice little escape from my mostly "normal"  existence. http://thesanctuaryokc.com/

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Serendipity, Smiles & Sweet 16

I met my best friend at a place I worked for several years. She is several years younger than me, but is quickly catching up. When we worked together she didn't have any children and I had only the two. I would come to work and describe to her the joys and sometimes mentally exhausting task motherhood. She particularly loved the stories I would tell about the highs and lows of having a daughter. She would laugh at my tales and say.... "Oh, Jaquetta, that is so funny." Well some of it wasn't so funny at the time. It just so happens she delivered her beautiful daughter on my youngest son's birthday.  That's the day I officially became Aunt JacJac, the closest I would ever be to being a real aunt. Everyone around us thought we had been planned for our kids to share the same birthday (as if we have that much power), but it was merely one of the odd happenstances of life. At  first she had the typical fantasies of motherhood... "I will not have dirty bottles laying around the house. My kids faces won't be dirty." I'd just smile knowing some of that stuff just falls by the wayside when the grand event actually happens and you're holding a feisty strong willed child in your arms. As her daughter grew, I was the one snickering at her tales of raising a daughter. Daughters are sugar and spice and everything nice, except when they're not. Daughters are the serendipity of  the home, making life interesting with their unique ability to be emotionally over the top at any given second. I'd like to say they grow out of it, but as I sit here in my mid-life splendor, I assure you that I can still turn on an emotional dime in a New York nanno second. ... It's a girl thing (we're all born a little bipolar). Yesterday my son turned 18, and her daughter turned 16. I stopped by her house on the way home to give her a gift and to wish her Happy Sweet 16. As always the house was abustle with family. I made my way over to Grandmother who I hadn't seen in forever (dang she looked good). When I turned around, a vision of loveliness stood in front of me with hair perfectly coiffed, lipstick a deep shade of red, and with the whole smokey eye thing totally going on. Aunt JacJac's little girl was growing up and she was beautiful. I've always thought she looked just like her Daddy, but yesterday she was the spittin image of her mother who is an exact replica of an angle (I'm not even kidding). My heart did a little back flip as I gave her a bear hug and a half. Her mom asked me if I'd like to make a speech to her and her boyfriend before I left the house.... "Yes! Be sweet. Keep everything tucked in and zipped up. No gyrating until you have a marriage gyrating licence,  and of course have a ton of fun." I'm so proud of the woman she is growing into. I'm proud of her mother who constantly frets about being a good mother and if she's doing right. She is a great mother as is evidence by her great kids. I'm especially blessed to have the opportunity to see her grow up. Yes, raising girls may not always be serendipity and smiles, but the results are always worth it. Happy Sweet 16 Alicia. May you continue to evolve into everything God created you to be.... A blessing to everyone who comes in contact with you. I love you high as the sky and my best wishes for you are more numerous than the grains of sand on all the beaches of earth.  Love, Aunt JacJac

Friday, October 19, 2012

Freudian Skip

I frantically worked on a report due the 24th of each month Wednesday. It seemed the clock always goes a little faster when I'm in a crunch. I said something to a co-worker who quizzically wondered what the rush was since it wasn't due until next week. Well, duh! I've been a week ahead all week long. I reflected on my week to try to figure out what had thrown my Mojo off (I mean it takes so little these days), then it dawned on me that psychologically I'm trying to skip this week, just pretend it's not happening and move right on to the week of the 22nd. Why? My baby boy turns 18 this week. My little bundle of joy, the legitimate quiet one, Daddy's mini-me, has reached the milestone age of 18. Although each of our kids were planned events, there is a gap between the first two and the baby. As a friend once explained to me, it's almost like having two different families. Sometimes I feel bad that he didn't have the chaos of fighting for himself in the food chain of sibling rivalry, because it's almost as if he were an only child. He was a sweet addition to our family and immediately he became center stage for my mom and dad who had moved to Duncan shortly before he was born. It was a precious experience to watch them have the opportunity to be a part of his daily life. He will go down as the easiest baby of all time (there really should be a category for that in the Guinness Book of World Records) . His name was chosen because of the Biblical characters positive outlook on life and his fierce determination to claim God's promise. These are traits I pray will be the guiding standard as he grows into adulthood. The memories of when I rocked him gently and sang sweet lullabies as he slept in my arms, seem like tiny specks of dust that float on the sunbeams of my heart. Those memories will light up my heart forever, just has he lights up my life. I cherish every precious thing that makes him uniquely Caleb. Therefore, it makes perfect sense that I would avoid the inevitable and try to give this week a Freudian skip. Happy Birthday Caleb, my sweet little one.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A Brand New Class

"The sun did not shine. It was too wet to play. So we sat in the house all that cold cold wet day."
Not!!! 

I know...  Why don't we go outside, run around, swim in pond muck, climb wooden walls, maybe jump over some logs and crawl under wire??? Yeah, let's do that! So that is exactly what we did, in sort of a Dr. Seuss, "Cat in the Hat" , kind of way. First of all, let me clarify that I never intended to "run" the mud run. My entire goal was just to make it over the wet wet finish line, all in one piece as opposed to.... hmm, not finishing the race at all, being carried off the course in a little golf cart, or ending up in several broken pieces. Of course, Murphy's Law showed up to ensure the day was cold, windy
and dreary, but he was kind enough to hold the drizzle until I finished the race.  The first feat was a steep, smoke covered
hill and thought to myself.... "You know this could be dangerous." After that,came push ups,a rope thingamajig, crossing a waist deep creek, and then came what I dreaded the most... A wall/rope climb. Let me just say this... I have flimsy arms. Yes, they are flimsy and I know they are, but I just hate arm workouts. I tried and tried, but just couldn't get over that dang wall. There were more scaling of walls, climbing and crawling and of course the pond. It was oh so cold and almost impossible to pull myself out of and onto the platform in the middle. I made it over the platform and back into the water and headed for the shore. I crawled to shore where the mud sucked me into itself and didn't want to let me go. To be honest, the mud was warm and cozy compared to the pond and the thought of just laying there in the mud until someone came to cart me home
was starting to sound pretty good. Finally I managed to hoist myself to a standing a position and detach my feet from the muck with both my shoes intact, but my contacts not so much. One contact lay on my cheek. I brushed it off and continued the race like a one eyed bandit. As I  ran, crawled, climbed, pushed and pulled, I looked behind me to a military guy who was doing his first mud race. "Dude, your face it totally purple!" In a wheezy voice he assured me he was doing fine. The three of us (my husband, the military guy and myself) soldiered on to the mud mountain/water slide finish line. Climbing the mountain of mud was EXACTLY like swimming in glue. With a helping hand from the ex-military guy, I made it to the top and hurled myself head first down the slip-n-slide to the muddy pool of water beneath. Just 20 more steps and my goal would be
reached, but the mud was like walking on ice. Again the military guy reached out a hand and steadying ourselves we staggered across the finish line battered, bruised,and totally exhausted. My Bionic Man, with his brand new hips, finished the race in true Patterson form, several seconds ahead of me and without ever skipping a beat. Have you ever seen those pictures of people crossing the finish line with a big smile on their face.... Yeah, that was not me. I didn't do it pretty and I didn't do it fast, but by gosh I did it without even breaking a nail!!! I think I'll suggest they add a new class for next years race. It might give me a chance to win something other than last place.

Under 30 yr. class ....
Over 50 yr. class...
Don't break a nail or smear the lip gloss class...




Thursday, October 4, 2012

Tidbits

http://www.brainline.org/content/2011/07/lost-found-what-brain-injury-survivors-want-you-to-know.htmlshare

I couldn't have said it better myself. It is so easy for me to become verbally overwhelmed these days. It seems like there are words, words, words being spoken by everyone and sometimes I just can't take it all in or sort it all out... I feel overwhelmed. If you add sights, sounds, and smells altogether, like at the State Fair, it doesn't take me long to shut down. On the way home from the fair (1.5 hr drive), I didn't speak, and I really didn't want to be spoken to because my brain was DONE. Brain Fatigue haunts me less and less, but it's still there. At times, I actually feel verbally accosted. When I am approached by someone with a sudden onslaught of words, it literally makes my brain hurt (not in a physical way). If I'm in a silent mode and someone begins a rapid conversation, my brain becomes stunned, like being aroused from a deep sleep. Silence is golden for me now... I crave silence and if you know me very well at all, you know this is unlike me, I am, or was a very social person. I know for a fact that at times I have come across as rude, aloof, or as the article says, that I am uninterested, but I'm really not trying to be. My immediate tendency is to retreat... As quickly as possible. My brain can only process so much at one time. This article explains it perfectly! BrainLine.org offers the tidbits that let me know that I'm not crazy... It is all in my head... Literally. I've highlighted what I struggle with the most. Any yes, in case you think I'm beating a dead horse to death, I'm really not. I don't seek your sympathy or attention, I seek understanding, for me and those I love and for others who struggle with a TBI. I have developed an amazing ability to hide my struggles and have become a gifted actress at portraying the one I once was, the one I remember myself to have been... Which is also exhausting. I try not to talk about it much, because I don't want the changes to define me, but it is important for people to know there is much more to a TBI or head injury than meets the eye. I am blessed beyond belief that I am here today, blogging my struggles so others will understand. TBI recovery is a dark, twisty, lonely road, but it is a road I am happy to be traveling because the alternative was more real than I like to think.


I need a lot more rest than I used to. I’m not being lazy. I get physical fatigue as well as a “brain fatigue.” It is very difficult and tiring for my brain to think, process, and organize. Fatigue makes it even harder to think.
My stamina fluctuates, even though I may look good or “all better” on the outside. Cognition is a fragile function for a brain injury survivor. Some days are better than others. Pushing too hard usually leads to setbacks, sometimes to illness.
Brain injury rehabilitation takes a very long time; it is usually measured in years. It continues long after formal rehabilitation has ended. Please resist expecting me to be who I was, even though I look better.
I am not being difficult if I resist social situations. Crowds, confusion, and loud sounds quickly overload my brain, it doesn’t filter sounds as well as it used to. Limiting my exposure is a coping strategy, not a behavioral problem.
If there is more than one person talking, I may seem uninterested in the conversation. That is because I have trouble following all the different “lines” of discussion. It is exhausting to keep trying to piece it all together. I’m not dumb or rude; my brain is getting overloaded!
If we are talking and I tell you that I need to stop, I need to stop NOW! And it is not because I’m avoiding the subject, it’s just that I need time to process our discussion and “take a break” from all the thinking. Later I will be able to rejoin the conversation and really be present for the subject and for you.
Try to notice the circumstances if a behavior problem arises. “Behavior problems” are often an indication of my inability to cope with a specific situation and not a mental health issue. I may be frustrated, in pain, overtired or there may be too much confusion or noise for my brain to filter.
Patience is the best gift you can give me. It allows me to work deliberately and at my own pace, allowing me to rebuild pathways in my brain. Rushing and multi-tasking inhibit cognition.
Please listen to me with patience. Try not to interrupt. Allow me to find my words and follow my thoughts. It will help me rebuild my language skills.
Please have patience with my memory. Know that not remembering does not mean that I don’t care.
Please don’t be condescending or talk to me like I am a child. I’m not stupid, my brain is injured and it doesn’t work as well as it used to. Try to think of me as if my brain were in a cast.
If I seem “rigid,” needing to do tasks the same way all the time; it is because I am retraining my brain. It’s like learning main roads before you can learn the shortcuts. Repeating tasks in the same sequence is a rehabilitation strategy.
If I seem “stuck,” my brain may be stuck in the processing of information. Coaching me, suggesting other options or asking what you can do to help may help me figure it out. Taking over and doing it for me will not be constructive and it will make me feel inadequate. (It may also be an indication that I need to take a break.)
You may not be able to help me do something if helping requires me to frequently interrupt what I am doing to give you directives. I work best on my own, one step at a time and at my own pace.
If I repeat actions, like checking to see if the doors are locked or the stove is turned off, it may seem like I have OCD — obsessive-compulsive disorder — but I may not. It may be that I am having trouble registering what I am doing in my brain. Repetitions enhance memory. (It can also be a cue that I need to stop and rest.)
If I seem sensitive, it could be emotional liability as a result of the injury or it may be a reflection of the extraordinary effort it takes to do things now. Tasks that used to feel “automatic” and take minimal effort, now take much longer, require the implementation of numerous strategies and are huge accomplishments for me.
We need cheerleaders now, as we start over, just like children do when they are growing up. Please help me and encourage all efforts. Please don’t be negative or critical. I am doing the best I can.
Don’t confuse Hope for Denial. We are learning more and more about the amazing brain and there are remarkable stories about healing in the news every day. No one can know for certain what our potential is. We need Hope to be able to employ the many, many coping mechanisms, accommodations and strategies needed to navigate our new lives. Everything single thing in our lives is extraordinarily difficult for us now. It would be easy to give up without Hope.



A New Chapter

People do crazy things when their kids start leaving the nest. Men buy sports cars that make it obvious they are having an identity crisis, women buy shoes, or maybe sign up for a mud run when they've never in their life done anything remotely athletic. Feeling the need to start a new chapter in our life, my husband and I signed up for a mud run. He has experience in being athletic. He used to race motocross professionally, then he moved to triathlons and bike races. Since his hip replacements (yes, that's suppose to be plural), he hasn't competed in anything except getting a word in edge ways in our conversations. Me? Well, I do scrapbooks, and if there were a category of Olympic shoe shopping, I'd be a gold metal winner. So, for me to do a mud run is a little extreme but I'm trying to break out of my shell, re-define my life and prove to myself I can do more than bake cookies, do laundry, and freak out at the really bad (or sometimes just odd) teenage/young adult decision making kids are prone to. I'm very used to answering the phone and hearing.... "Now Mom, don't freak out but...." or "I've got something to tell you that's probably going to really upset you, so don't freak out." The funny thing is, they've always said that, but I never have really freaked out about things. Well, there was that one time my son told me he wanted to have his wedding rehearsal dinner at the bowling ally, but it worked out amazingly well even though I did totally have a meltdown in the beginning when he told me. That was the one conversation he really should have prefaced with... "Now Mom, don't freak out but" but he didn't.
Anywho.... Saturday is the big race day (or in my case, just pray that I finish day). Originally the weather was suppose to be normal October weather, but then some moron must have sent Murphy (as in Murph's Law) a memo that I had indeed signed up for the run and so, as is Murphy's typical behavior, he decided "Hey, let's have a cold front move in that weekend." The last weather forecast called for a chance of rain with the high in the high 40's and the low in the low 40's. If you're cleaning house Saturday (as is my typical habit), the weather will be pleasantly crisp. If you're doing a mud run first thing Saturday, it's going to be freakishly wet and extremely cold. But hey, I'm going to roll with the punches, put my big girl panties on and make like a Nike commercial and just do it!!! Consider it another contribution in the fight against global warming.... Again Al Gore and Polar Bears, you are welcome. Glad I could be of some assistance.