• January 17, 2013
    http://www.dead.net/features/blair-jackson/blair-s-golden-road-blog-here-s-where-rainbow-ends
    Blair’s Golden Road Blog: Here’s Where the Rainbow Ends

    By Blair Jackson

    Nearly two years and 90 blogs ago, we embarked on a remarkable mutual journey through the world of the Dead. At times, writing Blair’s Golden Road Blog and contributing regular features to Dead.net has felt like a wonderful continuation of putting out The Golden Road, the spirited Dead ’zine my wife, Regan, and I put out between 1984 and 1993.

    Writing for this space, I’ve been able to freely explore an incredible variety of topics relating to the Grateful Dead and all the impressive surviving offshoots thriving today. I’ve had the opportunity to interview at length so many fantastic musicians from Furthur, Phil & Friends, RatDog and Mickey’s and Bill’s groups—all of them incredibly nice and interesting folks. These are all truly special people who have been touched by that GD mojo. I’ve been privileged to write about a mind-blowing array of transformative events, from Bob’s transfixing meld with the Marin Symphony, to various New Year’s extravaganzas, Phil’s remarkable 70th birthday concert, Wavy Gravy’s 75th, the Global Drum Project, various magical Rex benefits and so many more. We’ve talked about Dead-related books, movies and videos, debated myriad big and small issues related to the Dead Head community, and gone off on all sorts of strange and colorful tangents. And there was also a fairly large dose of nostalgia—memories, reflections, opinions shared and sometimes battled over.

    This week’s column marks the end of Blair’s Golden Road Blog, and I want to sincerely thank you all for your input these past two years. To be honest, when I started the blog, I was worried that the discussions it would prompt might devolve into the sometimes bitter and acrimonious back-and-forth that is so common in discussion groups all over the Internet. I completely understand that this is the way of the modern world, but I don’t have to approve of it! Can’t we all just get along? Yes, we can can!

    But I/we lucked out! The responses to nearly every topic I broached in the blog were informative, thoughtfully presented and remarkably free of invective. What a collection of stories you’ve shared with us — insightful, funny, scary, crazy; the whole emotional spectrum. Thanks for being so damn cool! You also have my eternal gratitude for turning me on to your favorite shows, CDs and other inspiring things that brighten your lives. For a guy who is supposedly an “expert” on all this, I have huge humbling gaps in my knowledge—hundreds of shows and even a few entire tours I’ve never heard a note from, sad to say. I’ve taken copious notes from your suggestions and they should keep me busy for a long time to come. And with any luck, you’ve learned a few things from me and your fellow fans along the way. Lord, you know we made a fine connection!

    The Grateful Dead has been in the foreground of my life since I first saw the band in 1970 (talk to high school buddies I tortured with endless spins of Live Dead, Workingman’s Dead and American Beauty!), but most intensely since the beginning of the ’80s, when my show-going increased dramatically (thanks to the Dead playing at the Greek, Frost, Ventura, etc.) and wrote my first book about the band, The Music Never Stopped. The feedback that book elicited (dozens of hand-written letters; remember that art form?) led directly to my starting The Golden Road, which dominated nine amazing years of Regan’s and my life. That, in turn, prompted Viking Books to ask me to write Garcia: An American Life following Jerry’s death, a project that affected me more emotionally than any in my career. Its success led to other books (such as Grateful Dead Gear) and to a number of liner notes writing assignments, and even some production work on Grateful Dead and Garcia releases — If An American Life was my favorite project of the post-Grateful Dead era, the box set, All Good Things: Jerry Garcia Studio Sessions, was a close second. To be in a top-flight professional recording studio day after day for months, listening to hour after hour of Jerry in action was powerfully overwhelming. God, I miss Jerry.

    It was also an honor to work on the 17-volume Road Trips series with David Lemieux, who has been creatively steering the Good Ship Grateful Dead through both calm and stormy waters in the post-Garcia era and has consistently done magnificent work to keep the flame alive. I was, frankly, disappointed that Road Trips was critically lambasted in some circles, but I stand by every choice that was made and I continue to believe that a strong anthology can be every bit the equal of a single hot show release. Happily, the Dave’s Picks series seems to be working for just about everyone. Another highlight for me was penning the main essay for The Complete Europe ’72 megabox. That was such a special world to live in for the months it took to put together.

    Sometimes I feel as though my life has been one very long Grateful Dead show. There are jamming songs and short tunes, rockers and ballads, smooth transitions and noisy train wrecks; songs I don’t want to hear, others that arrive at the perfect moment, “space” that baffles and soothes; long lines, lots of waiting around and bathroom breaks; dashed expectations and miracles beyond wonder.

    At some point around 40 years ago, “Playing in the Band” started rattling around in my head, and stayed there. There have been a thousand offshoots from that theme, but it never disappears completely, and the variations are unending. Like waves upon the sand.

    I’ve long embraced the concept that the sound of the Grateful Dead, and their songs, are always out there, floating in the ether, and all we do is just lock onto it/them for brief or long periods, as we ourselves move through time and space. It’s all one “Dark Star,” one “Playing in the Band,” from the early days through the post-Jerry years, and we enter that zone both alone and together. Where does the time go? It’s right there, unfolding before you. How does the song go? Just like you think it does.

    Take care, everybody! No doubt I’ll see you again a few exits down The Golden Road. In the immortal words of counterculture sage Scoop Nisker, “Question authority and question reality. Stay high but keep your priorities straight.”

    And as my eternal role model, the ever-optimistic Tigger, put it, “Ta-ta for now!”

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By Blair Jackson

Nearly two years and 90 blogs ago, we embarked on a remarkable mutual journey through the world of the Dead. At times, writing Blair’s Golden Road Blog and contributing regular features to Dead.net has felt like a wonderful continuation of putting out The Golden Road, the spirited Dead ’zine my wife, Regan, and I put out between 1984 and 1993.

Writing for this space, I’ve been able to freely explore an incredible variety of topics relating to the Grateful Dead and all the impressive surviving offshoots thriving today. I’ve had the opportunity to interview at length so many fantastic musicians from Furthur, Phil & Friends, RatDog and Mickey’s and Bill’s groups—all of them incredibly nice and interesting folks. These are all truly special people who have been touched by that GD mojo. I’ve been privileged to write about a mind-blowing array of transformative events, from Bob’s transfixing meld with the Marin Symphony, to various New Year’s extravaganzas, Phil’s remarkable 70th birthday concert, Wavy Gravy’s 75th, the Global Drum Project, various magical Rex benefits and so many more. We’ve talked about Dead-related books, movies and videos, debated myriad big and small issues related to the Dead Head community, and gone off on all sorts of strange and colorful tangents. And there was also a fairly large dose of nostalgia—memories, reflections, opinions shared and sometimes battled over.

This week’s column marks the end of Blair’s Golden Road Blog, and I want to sincerely thank you all for your input these past two years. To be honest, when I started the blog, I was worried that the discussions it would prompt might devolve into the sometimes bitter and acrimonious back-and-forth that is so common in discussion groups all over the Internet. I completely understand that this is the way of the modern world, but I don’t have to approve of it! Can’t we all just get along? Yes, we can can!

But I/we lucked out! The responses to nearly every topic I broached in the blog were informative, thoughtfully presented and remarkably free of invective. What a collection of stories you’ve shared with us — insightful, funny, scary, crazy; the whole emotional spectrum. Thanks for being so damn cool! You also have my eternal gratitude for turning me on to your favorite shows, CDs and other inspiring things that brighten your lives. For a guy who is supposedly an “expert” on all this, I have huge humbling gaps in my knowledge—hundreds of shows and even a few entire tours I’ve never heard a note from, sad to say. I’ve taken copious notes from your suggestions and they should keep me busy for a long time to come. And with any luck, you’ve learned a few things from me and your fellow fans along the way. Lord, you know we made a fine connection!

The Grateful Dead has been in the foreground of my life since I first saw the band in 1970 (talk to high school buddies I tortured with endless spins of Live Dead, Workingman’s Dead and American Beauty!), but most intensely since the beginning of the ’80s, when my show-going increased dramatically (thanks to the Dead playing at the Greek, Frost, Ventura, etc.) and wrote my first book about the band, The Music Never Stopped. The feedback that book elicited (dozens of hand-written letters; remember that art form?) led directly to my starting The Golden Road, which dominated nine amazing years of Regan’s and my life. That, in turn, prompted Viking Books to ask me to write Garcia: An American Life following Jerry’s death, a project that affected me more emotionally than any in my career. Its success led to other books (such as Grateful Dead Gear) and to a number of liner notes writing assignments, and even some production work on Grateful Dead and Garcia releases — If An American Life was my favorite project of the post-Grateful Dead era, the box set, All Good Things: Jerry Garcia Studio Sessions, was a close second. To be in a top-flight professional recording studio day after day for months, listening to hour after hour of Jerry in action was powerfully overwhelming. God, I miss Jerry.

It was also an honor to work on the 17-volume Road Trips series with David Lemieux, who has been creatively steering the Good Ship Grateful Dead through both calm and stormy waters in the post-Garcia era and has consistently done magnificent work to keep the flame alive. I was, frankly, disappointed that Road Trips was critically lambasted in some circles, but I stand by every choice that was made and I continue to believe that a strong anthology can be every bit the equal of a single hot show release. Happily, the Dave’s Picks series seems to be working for just about everyone. Another highlight for me was penning the main essay for The Complete Europe ’72 megabox. That was such a special world to live in for the months it took to put together.

Sometimes I feel as though my life has been one very long Grateful Dead show. There are jamming songs and short tunes, rockers and ballads, smooth transitions and noisy train wrecks; songs I don’t want to hear, others that arrive at the perfect moment, “space” that baffles and soothes; long lines, lots of waiting around and bathroom breaks; dashed expectations and miracles beyond wonder.

At some point around 40 years ago, “Playing in the Band” started rattling around in my head, and stayed there. There have been a thousand offshoots from that theme, but it never disappears completely, and the variations are unending. Like waves upon the sand.

I’ve long embraced the concept that the sound of the Grateful Dead, and their songs, are always out there, floating in the ether, and all we do is just lock onto it/them for brief or long periods, as we ourselves move through time and space. It’s all one “Dark Star,” one “Playing in the Band,” from the early days through the post-Jerry years, and we enter that zone both alone and together. Where does the time go? It’s right there, unfolding before you. How does the song go? Just like you think it does.

Take care, everybody! No doubt I’ll see you again a few exits down The Golden Road. In the immortal words of counterculture sage Scoop Nisker, “Question authority and question reality. Stay high but keep your priorities straight.”

And as my eternal role model, the ever-optimistic Tigger, put it, “Ta-ta for now!”

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Nearly two years and 90 blogs ago, we embarked on a remarkable mutual journey through the world of the Dead. At times, writing Blair’s Golden Road Blog and contributing regular features to Dead.net has felt like a wonderful continuation of putting out The Golden Road, the spirited Dead ’zine my wife, Regan, and I put out between 1984 and 1993.

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BlairLike others I didn't comment on your Blogs but enjoyed them immensely. Good luck with whatever the future brings to you and thanks again for a thoroughly enjoyable two years.
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...for all of the great stories...and memories. Your contributions will be missed. This development has all the earmarks of Corporate downsizing. Peace be with you...
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I have really enjoyed your blogs..has it really been two years. You have constantly come up with interesting material and different angles and I think your writings get better all time. I seee that David Dadd is taking over the blogging slot....you are going to be a hard act to follow. The way you write here seems to suggest that you are done not just with the blog, but also the whole deadnet/rhino world. Surely not? Whatever the case stay well, and I will be sure to look out for your next book project.
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I also noticed a mood in this last blog, but I didn't want to go there, but since you have both touched upon some thoughts that I had also had, I decided to put this out there, Blair, did you get fired? Did they dump you for someone else who would do the same thing for less? I can see why it would be hard for you not to have a say about the shoddy business practices of Rhino, their non existent cusomer service, or the not quite right product but I never heard you say a negative word, congrats for that but could this be why you are leaving? Inquiring minds want to know, you can pm me if you don't want to say here on the blog. If this is downsizing, who's next? We the customer have all ready been put on the back burner by Rhino and it's subordinates in the name of profit, now they slowly start to chip away at the old guard for the same greed? when will it stop, when this site is mearly a website to "place your order"? Blair, if you are leaving on your own accord for whatever the reason, good luck again and Happy Trails, but if you have been downsized, that would be a real shame and another black mark for Rhino.
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Best wishes down the road, Blair, and thanks for your writing and the forum.
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Best Wishes, Blair . . . I couldn't have said any of what you've so eloquently put into words these many years any better than you have . . . ~ Thank You ~ ! . . .
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And a break to re-charge, let's say. Thanks for the pleasure week after week. There'll be a void from now on. Had been away and Just saw this after reading David Dodd's piece. It was like a mirror shattering ............. Hope it doesn't close down completely and the first strains of St. Stephen will be heard in the not too distant future. All the very best Blair.
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Thanks Blair. I have always enjoyed your insights and the little historical nuggets you provided. All the best in your new endeavors. You will be missed.
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As so many others have stated you will be missed. Good luck with whatever you are gonna do next. Hopefully this isn't the last time the dead community will hear from you.
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Wait ... what? I've enjoyed your writing - it really is good. I'll be looking for your book(s) and other writings. Suerte, suerte y te vaya bien. Kevin aka Deadicated
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there once was a man named blairwho wrote 'bout the grateful dead's flair he departed his blog in a mysterious fog was his treatment by powers tb truly fair? Hey, I'm waiting for something here at work, and had to do SOMETHING. Check out JOTW...GD79 is lip-smackin' good.

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Your blogs will be seriously missed....as in, serious fun.... A place to have conversations spanning every aspect we could want to talk about about the good ol' GD, and encompassing and encouraging every opinion on each.... Thanks. Fun as the prospect of Bill Walton liner notes sounds (!), I was hoping these recent guest-writers didn't reflect a permanent or even indefinite departure from the liner notes. But your waxing sentimental above on all the release endeavors you've been proudly part of, it does seem to suggest, as others have, that you're departing the building in all your capacities ~ sans your lifelong embodiment of fan. Big fan. Perhaps the most official and even professional fan the Grateful Dead have had the pleasure of inspiring, to listen, to dance, to write, to smile, to share, to inspire. Again, thanks. We'll all hope to hear from you sooner than later....... Blessings, Tony
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Bummer, Blair -- always loved reading your articles, the Golden Road and loved your book on Garcia. Keep it going Furthur and hope to see down the road at a show -- perhaps Denver/Broomfield in a few weeks? Stay cool, Eagle
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Thanks. You've made the experience of the space, time, love, music, peace continuum better and more enjoyable. GoodOldDead Blessing to you.
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Whether I was in totally agreement, or disagreement, with your blogs, I have always found them, insightful, interesting, heartfelt and informed. What more can one ask for? Your knowledge and love for the band, its music, and the scene always shined through (let it shine!), yet never clouded your vision, you need no blind-man to take your hand! I will miss your blog, which always brought be back to golden days, urged me to revisit old recordings, asked me to rethink well entrenched views, but always, no matter what, brought me back to the music so important to us all, no matter whether we like this as opposed to that. May the four winds blow you safely home....
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Blair, the thing I'll miss most about this blog is how it made me feel connecteed in a time when it's easy to wonder if we really are still everywhere. Most of the people I talk music with here in MN were in middle school in 1995. I don't know who the hell all these old-timers who post replies are, but I feel like I know them and you in a small way. I don't like change. I worried at some point in every show in the 90s that it would be the last time I saw Jerry. Now I've thought the same thing about Phil, Bobby, and Mickey. (Haven't seen Bill post-The Dead). There 's nothing you can hold...So, I hope you'll stick around in some capacity. Thanks for keeping the conversation going, and especially for taking the time to respond to the couple of rambling PMs I sent you.
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Hello Blair. It's been nice to read your take on all things "Dead" thru the years. And I know this is not the last we'll see and hear from you. So stay healthy and keep smilin', we'll see you on down the line. Weve
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hey..i will really miss your perspective on this whole dead thing.your writing has always been fun, honest and insightful.my interest in the band coincided with the emergence of the golden road magazine and i was always glad that there was somebody out there who was articulate and intelligent writing about this music that means so much to so many.thanks for being there and for being so good at what you do. i guess it matters...anyway.
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As the last panel of Calvin & Hobbes had it -- "Let's explore!" Thanks for the memories & the blog!
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thank uwtf y well they did trade willie mays u r loved and we all thank u again
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I know I've only read a small fraction of what you've written about the Dead and the scene, but I always found your work thoughtful, interesting, evocative and revealing. I admire your dedication to unearthing and validating nuggets of stories that tell a part of this huge tale of ours. I also admire your fortitude in dealing with naysayers, your patience in dealing with the prickly and your perseverance in getting your book projects completed, regardless of the obstacles. While the blog may be going away, I'm sure we'll all be hearing from you before too long, once you catch your breath again. You've probably got at least three projects in various stages of development - right? I hope you and Regan take a very special and pampering vacation, and we'll see you when you get back! We'll look forward to it. Love, Rosie
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Blessings to you, and thank you for your wonderful writings over the years. Peace.
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And Rhino has changed the format to a less user-friendly one. Their contract is dues to end in 2015. Perhaps they have had it with the Deadheads. I couldn't blame them. If they exit the year after next so does this website, I would imagine. All compounded phenomenon arise, dwell and pass away. It must have been hard for Rhino to deal with the collection of people who take ownership of projects relating to Grateful Dead releases. They certainly couldn't have found a fan base with greater critical commentary. Some times they listened to us, some times they didn't. Who can say if they would have sold more stuff doing it one way as opposed to another? The hard core with discretionary income were always going to buy.
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riders are gonna miss ya when you're gone. Happy trails on your next adventure.
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Looks like I showed up late for the blog. I'll get to enjoy it as history, just like so many of the shows I was too young to see. I really appreciate the community that still springs up around this phenomenon, and yet I still yearn for the old days with deep sentiment. Eh, well.
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I lost touch with this amazing web-based world a year or so ago. Before that I followed the blog and all the wonderful happenings of the Dead. I forgot this place, and then today stumbled across it in remembrance (and in remembering my login after all this time). I am a little late for the farewell party, but I'm here now... ...Keep on truckin' man and never stop the Love. This place is sure to go down in history, blog and all.
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It's been several years already since this blog went into archive mode. Not sure why it's still so prominently displayed on the site ... unless the site's developers are being lazy or waiting to surprise us all with the much anticipated 50th year tour and all the zip and wow that promises to bring. Personally, I love reading the old blog articles. They remain amazing and insightful about a band of mirthful music magicians who gave to much to so many. Blair's blog or no Blair's blog, I will always remember Cornell, Winterland, Oakland, the Philly Spectrum, RFK, JFK, Giza, Amsterdam and so many other large and small gigs that gave me so much pleasure in ways that I will cherish forever.
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>Personally, I love reading the old blog articles. They remain amazing and insightful about a band of mirthful music magicians who gave to much to so many.< Good reason to leave it up, in my book.
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I love reading through them again and again from time to time! And cool for the new folks who wander into this groovy site.
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"Nothing But The Best And Later For The Garbage" (John Lee Hooker)
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I'm sure Jerry's doing just fine , Blair. And thanks for all the great articles over the years! Peace, Byrd
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Hey, Blair, I haven't been on Dead Net in a long while and just discovered your (now finished) blog. As a former Golden Road subscriber and a long time Dead fan, I've always enjoyed your take on the scene and your insights. I hope we cross paths again in the flesh or around the interwebs! Best to you and your lovely wife, -Paul Honeycutt (aka Aesop Waldo Firehead)
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Thanks, Paul/Aesop! I appreciate the kind words. I do miss the blog and the Rhino gang, who were always so nice to me. But time marches on! Feels like the blog did what it was supposed to do during its time...
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I also like to read up on the history and events surrounding the Grateful Dead. Keep up the great work. I love this blog.
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hmmmm, I thought I posted a formal thank you for this blog, but I guess I didn't. Well, thank you. I still come back here fairly often and read one or two, and maybe comment on one or two. I really enjoy the writing, the insight and the additions by all the "co=authors" who contribute comments, anecdotes, interpretations of songs, first hand accounts of shows and tours, etc...this blog, this site, is truly a collaborative effort...shining example of what the net can be.
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I miss having a weekly (or whatever) blog to read on here...
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  • foliage12
    1 month ago
    New Blog
    I miss having a weekly (or whatever) blog to read on here...
  • mkav
    4 months 4 weeks ago
    BIODTL
    hmmmm, I thought I posted a formal thank you for this blog, but I guess I didn't. Well, thank you. I still come back here fairly often and read one or two, and maybe comment on one or two. I really enjoy the writing, the insight and the additions by all the "co=authors" who contribute comments, anecdotes, interpretations of songs, first hand accounts of shows and tours, etc...this blog, this site, is truly a collaborative effort...shining example of what the net can be.
  • Default Avatar
    goldstandard
    5 months 2 weeks ago
    Great History
    I also like to read up on the history and events surrounding the Grateful Dead. Keep up the great work. I love this blog.
  • Default Avatar
    Masaharu Morimoto
    7 months ago
    Thank you...
    This is amazing.
  • Default Avatar
    blairj
    1 year 11 months ago
    thanks!
    Thanks, Paul/Aesop! I appreciate the kind words. I do miss the blog and the Rhino gang, who were always so nice to me. But time marches on! Feels like the blog did what it was supposed to do during its time...