Motivation Sludge

My next-door neighbour retired shortly before the pandemic shut down the country & restricted travel out of it. Now that it is opening up he feels unmotivated to do anything. Without his work he isn’t finding a sense of purpose – even with a dog, a wife, a garden – he finds it hard to even get up in the morning to do anything. Without stress he apparently feels shapeless & directionless.

I empathized but didn’t have any advice for him – I doubt if what motivates me would appeal to him & even I something feel like I’m going through the motions as opposed to do things that that fulfill me – I do know that even those motions will ripple out in positive ways. But it did make me think about my sense of purpose.

I have another friend, between contract, lost track of what day it was 🙂 Without the routine of a job to deal with time slipped away, even working from home didn’t help & more than once he found himself checking the actual date & day of the week before entering that info on his daily reports. To be honest some times I do consult my cell phone to confirm the date of the day of the week 🙂 

I’m no longer a goal driven person – I do have objectives like finishing that chapter edit, write that poem etc – those are enough for me. Getting published was a prime motivator for me at one time – you know hitting it Big like Stephen King or J. K. Rowling – but getting to know some ‘major’ minor writers I found out the emotional & creative cost for even their level of accomplishment was something I didn’t want to pay.

The things that motivate me are pretty simple, with blogging being near the top of the list. Creating new posts, taking pictures keep me focused; zoom increased the quantity of recovery meetings I could attend – I enjoy f2f meeting but, you know, zoom means I’m there in less than a minute – as opposed to taking an hour or more to get there & another to get home 🙂 Yes, lazy is me 🙂

What motivates me to write? I’ve been asked that more than a few times. My response is usually something like ‘What motivates you to breathe?’

Enough Is Foolishness

let me make one thing 

perfectly clear

I don’t know 

what I’m looking for

never did

when I find what I think 

might be what I’m looking for 

it turns out to be

something I never really wanted 

in the first place 

something that TV said 

was the right thing to have


& so I did what I had to to get it

when I had it

my sense of satisfaction

didn’t match that of the people 

in the commercial

didn’t come with bright lights

or cheery music

only a distracted clerk

handing it to me

with half a smile

looking for the next unhappy customer


I’ve never really known

what it is I truly want

there isn’t enough statistical evidence

no algorithm 

to tell me what it might be

new shoes

the right cellphone

a room full of slightly tipsy friends 

watching TV in some cozy bar


I grind myself at work

to keep up the payments

on all the things

that fill the time space continuum 

with sparky energy

things that make me wonder

what better things 

am I going to find tomorrow

content that clogs up

the arteries of the planet

stuff to be tossed aside

when brighter sparks are offered

when tastier juicier 

mineral enhanced sludge is 

funnelled into my gaping

yawning mouth

seeking the more more more

to burst my gut 

to glut my need for enough



a word I dare not use in pubic

to say I’ve had enough 

a surrender to the hopelessness

of every having what I want

I have to want something

if I don’t have need 

I might as well vanish

jump into the clogged up arteries

to be absorbed by the sludge


I don’t know

what I’m looking for

but I do know

I want to be free of want

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Ontario Lockdown May Update

The covid pandemic is now well into year 2 & its grip has tightened despite various lockdown restrictions & even the fairly rapid distribution of various vaccines, while the distribution of conspiracy theories has been even faster. Is there an end in sight? That depends on the profit margins, right.

Not only do the living have to bury the dead but they have to shoulder the burden of the cost – a burden that increases as the tax base shrinks thanks to covid deaths & lockdown bankruptcies.  Like poverty, the pandemic will stick around as long as someone is making big bucks off it – I should have invested in pharmaceuticals when I had the chance 🙂 Or undertakers.

Emotionally I have remained relatively even-keeled. Sharing my house means my social bubble has never been one of total isolation. Zoom has been a boon for recovery meetings & I generally log on to six a week. Each with a slightly different format & different people. I am one of those doesn’t go on camera & usual I minimize to audio only to spare my wifi connection. Not seeing all those faces eating, pulling at split ends, playing with pets lets me focus on the sharing.

I have maintained an active social bubble within the stipulated limits. Socially distant walks with a couple of recovery friends has been important. Also sending time with some non-recovery buddies has kept them for being too isolated. I’ve had a a good friend drop over a few times to help with the garden. 

Blogging & taking pictures have been vital to maintaining emotional & spiritual balance. Sharing things about various aspects of my life with complete strangers around world, most of whom I’ll never meet, makes me feel more connected. 

Major purging has given me a sense of accomplishment – one of the benefits of a house is that I have things to purge 🙂 I’ve suggested to a couple of friends maybe they should clear out their apartment storage spaces rather than gripe about not being able to do things. The purge also stepped into my writing archive – unearthing artifacts that go back to high school days. Poetry, short stories, plays, even a couple of novels. Inputting them & getting the paper into the recycle bin. 

I sure hope this lockdown paranoia soon has an end in sight though. My basement is clean enough, thanks.

Ballad of a Translucent Man

I would be happy

if someone greeted & invited me

as opposed to a nod

from the group clumped together

at their noisy chatty table 

drinks all around

guys slipping outside

in two or threes

for a quick smoke of bonding


I remain unbondable

I’m not sure what underlies 

all that camaraderie 

I have never penetrated it

never been apart of an inner circle

a pal amongst pals

but I no longer seek that

content in this cool distance


doubt if that’ll change at any time

won’t work at changing that

won’t make my words invite 

any more than they do

in fact I take a somewhat 

more challenging stance

a gentle fuck you


no one there 

I need approval from

don’t have to please anyone but myself

the audience will respond regardless

in fact it seems 

the more indifferent I am to them

the more they listen


though this sense of apartness

is something everyone carries

perhaps I am as much of this scene

as they are

as much of the under structure 

as any of them are

each of us looking for attention

for acceptance without 

wanting to surrender 

much of the self to get it

to get it for the self

for whatever that means 

to anyone else

bored and distant warm 

and in the middle of things


each piece has a place 

in how things work

how things continue to work

fellowship is that the word

friendship maybe

companionship championship

a steady climb up some little ladder 

to a bugger bigger stage

the wow of applause

then the stride of celebration

that leads to 

who does he think he is

who was that translucent man

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Summer 2020

My following blog is at 360! The June WP map show my hits have come from countries around the world. Canada & US top the list with India & Bangladesh near the top. Monaco in the top 10 is a surprise. My Tumblr is at 280. Twitter is at 226 followers

You’ll be seeing some summer changes in the blog starting this week. Wednesday & Thursday will be looking at my Fiddlehead chapbook: Distant Music. In May I input the text & in June I started exploring those old pieces. Not that I remember what I was thinking at the time but I do recall information – what I was reading, where I was etc. 

To give me a break may stop the Saturday covid posts. Things haven’t change much on that front but I will slot covid updates on Mondays to alternate with the Artist’s Way posts. People have been enjoying my posts & pictures of things in my house so they’ll continue on Mondays as well. Coming to the end of the first section of Picture Perfect. It took three Nano’s in a row to do it so by section I mean the first November. In editing I found several places that needed more writing to account for later events. My nano word count included non-plot elements it is still mounting up to a decent count. 40,000 so farI’ve also loved creating the graphic for each week.

Fridays will continue the crawl through my music collection. It is large enough to take me into to the next decade. It has been good to look at what I have, what I like & what I’ll be letting go of. My need to be a music archive has left me 🙂 Boring is boring regardless of its historic importance. Purge is the word.

Speaking of purging – my covid cleaning frenzy though some of the major hoards have reduced them considerably. I still have the basement to contend with which will be nice with the summer heat already on us. The basement is cool & full of my partner’s old school files for starters. Plus a box or two of magazines I’ve had for too long. eBay here I come.

I do have a limited number of the original Distant Music chapbook for sale for $25.00 each (includes surface mail postage). Send via the paypal above along with where to send it. 


This marks my 1010 blog post. When I started this blog in September 2011 it was recommended as a way of enlarging one’s audience for relentless self-promotion. There was talk about how a blog would generate a vast following of eager fans & one’s life would the talk of the world. I quickly realized that only happens for blogs about kittens & puppies.

Over the years my following has slowly built to 200. People follow me because they want to not excuse they want me to follow them back so they can spam me with their posts about kittens & puppies. Perhaps spam is too harsh a word. I follow a fair number, some of which I actually read & sometimes comment on. What I read regularly has to give me content I enjoy & not just another simpering poem about their girlfriend.

I’ve added photos, nearly always my own, which lead me to my Tumblr photo blog. I started slowly with reviews of poetry shows, theatre I’d seen, my travels & workshops I was taking. Gradually my focus expanded & contract at the same time. The blog is ultimately about me me me & how I see the world. As it became more structured it started to write itself. As it became more regular – at least 5 posts a week – it was easier, if a bit more time consuming, to keep it up. I love getting hits from around the world & for surprising places – one day over a dozen from Kuwait! North & South Korea! It’s become an effective, if limited, tool for sharing what interests me. I say limited because I have yet to go viral – most hits for a single post is about 150 – I know some people who get thousands of hits but I’m just not willing to do posts about kittens & puppies 🙂

Breaking In Grief

he was wearing

his dead son’s sneakers

bought a month before

the son’s step off into oblivion

new shoes a sign of hope

of a future planned for

not of a life too soon to be ended


they found the sneakers

still in their box

in the cupboard

worn once to try them on

designer expensive

too nice to toss or donate

so he’s wearing them now

it gives me the creeps

practicality in the face of catastrophe


I visited home

the summer after my father died

his death was sudden

it was the body that gave out

he didn’t go out of his way

to find that oblivion

I go through his clothes

to help my sister winnow out

throw out donate

to share some memories

I end up keeping a a couple of jackets

that actually fit me

the shirt and pants

were easy to part with

most of the shoes too


my Dad was all business

when it came to shoes

his idea of comfort wear was

hard onyx red oxfords

there was box with a new onyx pair

only worn to try them on

they sort of fit me

very stuff and inflexible

never being broken in


I take them


I wear them a few times

then drop them in a clothing box

they don’t fit

right size but wrong shape

maybe that’s why my Dad never

wore them either

the life my Dad hoped I would fit into

was also the right size

but the wrong shape

I was unwilling to do the work

that would break me in

so it would be a comfortable fit


I meet my friend one day

he’s sporting wildly neon runners

these were his son’s

it’s been a year after the death

and his finally feels okay to wear them

to walk in grief

knowing he’ll never leave that grief behind

but ready

to walk forward with it


Chapbooks available:


kiss314257567_1162384753819933_3271661288579707843_oon going 🙂 when new podcast are posted:  Disability after Dark  iTunes

June 9-10: attending: Capturing Fire 2017 – flight & hotel booked already

check out these poets from  Capturing Fire 2015 & 2016

August 31-Sept.3 – I have my ticket already


November 1 – 30 Participating NaNoWriMo


Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington – sweet,eh?

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr

Mixed Messages

What is your working title of your blog?

Where did the idea come from for the blog? a short course at UofT that looked at increasing one’s audience via electronic media.

gay balls of fun
gay balls of fun

What genre does your blog fall under? mixed – poetry, spoke-word, writing, short-story, stage – something just me opining from my ancient queer point of view – plus my photographs or photos of me performing.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? John Garfield.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your blog? Toronto-based poetry vulture/social bloggerfly shares his arts/culture/entertainment adventures, with random photos and cynicism thrown in.

turd in a tub
turd in a tub

Will your blog be self-published or represented by an agency? self-published – as will be any of my literary expressions.  Though I wouldn’t say no to being paid $750 a week to blog as I do either 🙂

How long does it take you to write the blog/how much time do you put into it? The blog is ongoing – I post 3 times a week and a single post can take up to about two hours just to write. Wednesday is usually my yak about poetry post, Monday, Friday review of spoken-word shows I’ve been to – I always include some of my fiction or poetry. I always include photos I’ve taken around the city – lost, discarded items or things that catch my eye.

What other blogs would you compare this story to within your genre? Too many to list.

Who or what inspired you to write this blog? Partly to raise my online presence. Life With More Cowbell inspired me to write about the poetry scene – something that wasn’t being covered – the non-slam poetry scene.

I also saw that blogs that hold my interest have a general focus – arts or writing. So I wanted to give mine more of a focus.

put your toys away
put your toys away

What else about your blog might pique the reader’s interest? You never know what might show up – a review of a flea market, a trip to Stratford, another serialization of one of my novels – glimpses into the life of an old bald gay guy – who could resist that?





writing sample
writing sample

The other piece I read at Birthday Inferno

Mixed Messages

I’m sorry

when I called you a useless piece of shit

I really meant to say

how much I respected you

when I admitted I made out with your brother

because it was close as I could get to you

without having to touch you

I actually meant say

I cherish the time we spend together

when I said

the sight of you makes me want to vomit

I actually meant to say

the thought of not seeing you again leaves me bereft

and without a reason to live

when I went behind your back

and lied to everyone

that you had given me a social disease


I had intended to thank them for being your friend

and that the disease

was just a bad case of loving you too much

trust me that when I called

you a cheap money grubbing soulless dick head

as bright as bag of sour milk

I meant to say

you were someone with the finest

emotional and spiritual insights

when I called you the

the useless off spring of two demented

misshaped unwashed oozing genitalia

that were ground together

in a blind moment of drunken stupor

I was really trying to say

that I can’t stand the thought of you

so get the fuck out of here now

sorry sorry I mean

I just want to know

how long it would be before you get here

so we can be together

believe me

I really really miss you

more than words can say


snow bound bike
snow bound bike


When I set out to upload my novel, City of Valleys, I didn’t realize it would take 70 excerpts and seven months to do the job. It certainly filled up my blogs pages and the number of ‘actual’ hits I got has steadily increased, even some new followers, and subscribers. Some get email copy of each post which only count as hits if they click through the blog (as opposed to just reading the email).


The next step will be a proof-read edit. Then I’ll contract it out for the final preparation for smashwords. I’ve read the style guide and could probably do it myself but I’m lazy. If it were as simple as uploading my present Pages version I’d do it, but it has to be formatting in some non-Mac program with all the Mac coding stripped out – too much work for me

Special Delivery
Special Delivery

Plan is to get it ready for October. I’ll have to delete all the excerpt first though because Amazon price point always equals the cheapest on line – so if I have it free here they’ll automatically price it free as well.

Last Friday I got out to my first writer’s group meeting – most of whom are writers I know from Loyalist. Felt good to be with such an attentive, tough bunch of fiction writers. I’ve tried to get into a couple of groups before only be told there’s waiting list in such a way that it was  clear they didn’t think I was worth their effort – ditto for some of the poetry workshops around – by invite only apparently & no one thinks I’m worth inviting. Such is life 🙂

Tim's Tanked
Tim’s Tanked

The writing sample, rough draft, is first part of the piece ‘Compound’ I submitted to the writer’s group. Part 2 Monday.

writing sample
writing sample

The Compound

The hostages were unhappy. Even I could see that but what was I to do? Overseeing captives was new to me, a promotion in fact. It had come quite unexpectedly. I’d been in the security branch of the service corps for several years. Kept my nose clean. Did my job, did what was asked without question.

I was proud of this advancement, more responsibility meant more respect, more money. The day I got notified I was Overseer, I couldn’t wait to tell my lover. He merely nodded. He never really approved of the corps, even though he found the uniform erotic. It was dark red with blue piping in the pants – blue stripes on the arms for each small advancement, then gold florets that equaled five stripes. I had five stripes but wouldn’t get my first floret till I had a sixth.

I flourished my arm with the the five stripes. Good things were bound to follow. That finally I was a son any father could be proud of.

My lover, as I said, wasn’t as pleased as I was. He said only war could follow. Did I want war, people to die, so I could get gold florets.

When we made love that night he was distant and mechanical.  I didn’t tell him he’d regret this coldness if I died in war. Guilt never leads to passion.

The hostages were sullen. Grim faced they walked the perimeter of the exercise field, scowling up at the cameras as they passed them.

My second-in-command suggested we try talking with them again. The hostages refused speak our language and acted as if they did not to understand us. Each time I had tried to talk with them had ended up with them slouching into the dark corners. Even when our linguistics experts spoke to them in their language they acted as if they didn’t understand. There was no way to reason with them.

There were nearly two hundred captives in our compound. Each bore a random number. No names were to be used.  I had a troop of twenty-four under my command plus my second-in-command. All good men and women. None of whom could communicate with the hostages. We had tried everything – mime, writing in the ground, pictographs, hieroglyphics.

Each attempt made the hostages more fearful. Blame was clear in their eyes, as if it was our fault for not trying hard enough. As if communicating with them was our job but it wasn’t nor was it our job to make them happy or comfortable.

We merely had to keep them alive till their nation met our demands.

My lover snickered at my frustrations. The fact that the war wasn’t my idea didn’t soften his attitude. Not that I cared, in fact, his indifference challenged me when we made love. I strove with a new found passion that left him limp and gasping when I was satisfied.

The hostages were restless. They paced their compound fast for a few laps, then slow, then they would stand huddled in groups of two or three in each of the corners. One of them in each group looking sullen at the cameras that followed their every move. We used sound sensors to pick up their conversations, to find out what, if anything they were plotting but I didn’t feel any threat. Well, I did sense a threat but knew that anything they tried to do would be an exercise in futility. But they never spoke, not even to each other. Even though my orders were to confine and protect them – to see that no harm came to them I wouldn’t hesitate to kill to one keep the others in line. Besides, after two weeks, they still hadn’t spoken.

We had had no word from Capital City for several days now. Communications lines were staticy and even when they worked would stop in mid-transmission. Our enemy had damaged our communications system with their bombs and their ultra high frequency jamming devices. Some days even the Internet wasn’t working.

I would go home after my day at the compound and look for some sympathy from my lover. He would snort and tell me that I shouldn’t act so dismayed, this is what life with captives is like. Both keepers and captives pay a price. My price was to be drained. I asked him why he was so bitter, told him it wasn’t my fault we were at war, that we had to do what was necessary to protect our fragile economy. After making sweet love he rolled away from me in the bed with barely hidden disdain because they hadn’t drained me of everything.

I lay in the bed beside him looking at the moonlight on the wall as it moved, dimmed and brought in the morning while I counted his breaths, my ears snuggled into his quiet sighs as he rolled unaware that I was wanting his touch once more. A touch that would make this war all worth while. What difference did it make to me if it didn’t make any difference to the ones I loved. The ones we were supposedly protecting yet who felt only a sense of discomfort when we tried to tell them what this war was like.

There had been no supplies from Capital City for over a week now. We were running short on water and food for the hostages. We had taken to rationing. I could tell they were unhappy. They stood in doleful clumps in view of the security cameras. Their eyes wide and glaring up at the lenses, through the lenses at us, pleading for something but unable to tell us what it was.

Perhaps they are thirsty my second-in-command suggested. I cursed at her that there was nothing I could do. We had barely enough water for the troops. I was taking water home to my lover to keep him happy too. The village’s water supply had been tainted in the last uprising and this war had come so fast on its heels we hadn’t had time to set it right. It wasn’t my fault. It had happened before we were stationed here. I explained this to my second-in-command who was no more understanding and sympathetic than my lover.

My second-in-command had children to worry about. Her babies, she told me. I knew this but chose to ignore it. I told her that she shouldn’t act so dismayed, that is what life of captives is like. Both keeper and captives pay a price. She toyed with the handle of her pistol and glared at the monitors as the hostages loomed at the security cameras.

Some of the hostages began to hover in front of the security cameras blocking our view of the compound. The operator was forced to swivel the cameras gently which caused the images to break up, smear across the monitors. We knew they were up to something.

I stationed guards along the perimeter of the chain-link fence to keep human eyes on them. The hostages would gather and stare. Hatred and frustration glinted from their dusty, dirty faces. This was the first time we had come face-to-face for several weeks. Even when food and water was delivered we merely put it in the eating room of their compound while they were in the open air yard.

The smell was so unpleasant when we did this that our sympathy for them was diminished. Who could  feel compassion for people who didn’t wash themselves. Even with limited water it was possible for them to keep clean.

Once again I attempted to communicate with them. I stood at the gate and called out a solemn hello. At first they paid little heed to me. Then two of them walked warily over to the gate.

With crusted eyes and dry voices they made noises at me. I explained slowly that there was a problem with the supply route, that even my own men were suffering from the same lack as they were. That I had to decide between water for them and and water for my men. It was unfair to all.

They looked at me blankly. They didn’t understand. Or they refused to understand. One of them spat at me and turned away. The other stepped closer with an apologetic shrug. He was unshaved. Unwashed. There was something familiar about his eyes.

He smiled weakly. Blood ringed his teeth. He fell to his knees with with a sob. One hand reaching out to me palm up for something. What could I give him when I didn’t understand what he wanted.

I had the gate opened and two of my men picked him up and brought him out. His eyes were rimmed with red.

The hostages shuffled quickly to the gate as it was locked shut again. Fear and dread in their eyes. I assured them that we wouldn’t hurt this man. But perhaps I was lying. I didn’t know. They wandered off.



Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr

Taken Seriously @lifemorecowbell

trash for the cure
trash for the cure

At Cabaret Noir we celebrated Cate McKim’s (Morecowbell) birthday. Cate’s blog is one of the ones that inspired me to keep on bloggin’. Not that I would have stopped, but her reviews of local arts, exhibits, live theatre & cd’s launches, showed me there was a place for that sort of grass roots stuff. There are enough blogs reviewing books, movies, TV etc. – but, as far as I could tell, no one was writing about local readings.

People read reviews to decide what they want to see or read so who wants reviews of what are essentially one time events? The participants for starters, & people who have missed the event. So I took up the challenge & have been enjoying that structure.

let me in
let me in

Another blog that has been an inspiration for me is Wide Awake But Dreaming. Cassidy blogs nearly daily about the travails of writing. Often funny & always insightful – Cassidy’s book ‘Her Demonic Majesty’ is a great read, too.

two seats no waiting
two seats no waiting

Here’s one of the pieces I read at Noir.


I was sitting there

after my quick hit at the open mic

putting my crumpled pages away

when the feature sat at my table

‘nice stuff

but you don’t wear enough black

for anyone to take you seriously

as a deep spoken word artist

I’m telling you this for your own good

because you got what it takes

you have to take that next step

‘til you commit to the black

no one will take you seriously’

I clutched my coat

blundered into the rain

well    unfortunately    it wasn’t raining

my feet went fast as they could past

indifferent people

who didn’t sense me crumble inside

as I made my escape to the subway

home quivering    fearful

I stumbled up the stairs

fumbled open the door to my tiny attic room

threw myself on my little bed

sobbing and shuddering with shame

what was I going to do

was it time to conform

with the nonconformists

if I really want

to taste the vibrant sting of success

that laced their sets

not wanting to give in

yet yearning for the satisfying comfort

full and total acceptance would bring

I cried myself to sleep

the very next day

I searched through vintage clothing stores

in Kensington    Queen east and west

shoved seniors aside at Value Village

tripped them at Goodwill

‘that mottled black brackish

turtle neck is mine gramma’

then I decided to go one step beyond

and hit the tanning salons

I’d show them

not only would I wear the brightest black

I’d become black

that would do the trick

then I could throw down

harsh slam verses about

empty purses

violating nurses mysteriously

and finally be taken seriously

me May 2013
me May 2013

#Social (Media) #Disease

I suffer from a social medial disease that leads me to expect more than can be delivered. When I see fifty rsvp accepts to a FB invite I learned not to anticipate all fifty showing up but nor do I even expect any of them to show up. I don’t quite get this sort of people pleasing – afraid not to accept the invite but then not caring to show up at all?

above the clouds
above the clouds

Since bumping up to high-speed a couple of years ago I was able to increase my social media presence with FB, then WordPress, and Twitter. All on top of my various email accounts, YouTube, Yahoo Groups. Over 200 FB friends merely means more status updates than I can keep track of, endless invites to events I’ll never go to – but I do say no rather than  fake yes or maybe. That way if I show up it comes as a pleasant (I hope) surprise.

I have some 40 likes for my City of Valleys FB page, over 4o subscribers to my WP blog, 40 twitter followers – yet rarely do I get more than 20 hits for my WP page – except when I do a spoken-word review.

below the clouds
below the clouds

But I suppose that’s better than no on-line presence at all. No publisher will accept an author who does not have a web page of some sort – many publishing contracts now include that as a must. So I’ve done that and have learned how to comport myself. Unlike some I don’t pester my few twitter followers with constant reminders about my web pages or flood their feeds with a endless the same # anything that eventually covers everyone on my list as some do regularly. Keep simple.

lingering clouds
lingering clouds

My social medial disease immunity has built up some. I know that being on line is merely being on line – it isn’t a real connection with everyone on any given site. Many of us are only connected so we have numbers not friends, so that we have numbers and not even an audience, we have numbers not sales. Such is life.