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Author Topic: Newcomers start here ... and a reference for older hands  (Read 63590 times)
grahame
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« on: February 16, 2008, 04:19:49 PM »

Hello and welcome to the "Introductions and Chat" Board here at the Great Western Railway Coffee Shop.  This thread (which is "Sticky" so it remains at the top of the board) is a reference for information for the newcomer, and also for the established member who comes back to re-check useful links, forum agreement, etc.  Posts follow this header as follows:

1. About this forum
2. Your forum agreement, and what it means
3. A note for members old and new
4. Links to some useful resources
5. Posting guidelines - acceptable language and style (added 4.3.2008)

Sticky threads such as this will be updated as appropriate by the moderators of the forum - please send a message to any of us if you have any questions, corrections, or suggestions for how we might improve the pages or site.

Edit Change from "First Great Western" to "Great Western Railway" due to train operator re-branding.
« Last Edit: July 09, 2017, 03:27:40 PM by grahame » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: February 16, 2008, 04:21:02 PM »

About this forum

This forum is provided by a Great Western Railway Customer, for Great Western Railway customers.

Although many of us feel that the product being supplied to us at present falls well below acceptable standards, please don't just make this a knocking shop!.

Please use the forum - yes - to report and discuss failings, but also to liaise with others to help make improvements.  That may mean co-ordinating information, publicity ranging from "serious" to "stunt",  and alternatives.  But it also means posting the positive - a good fare offer or  service beyond the call of duty from the staff at a particular station for example.

Knowledge shared is powerful and this can become a real resource.  Please do post up as much other general information about the services, places served, good time had in the wedge of the country served westward from Paddington.  And advise on fare options, routes to go, and how to get a seat in the rush hour are all encouraged.

My personal objective is to work with the train operating company (FGW GWR), with the franchise setters (DfT), with the rest of the rail industry (from Network Rail through to the RMT), with local authorities at all levels, and with other passenger groups .... for the provision, together, of an appropriate service - running when and where it's needed, safely and reliably, and at a sensible cost.  And that service should be marketed / publicised so that it's easy to find out about, easy to use, easy for other transport providers to connect to ... and a great moving experience for the customers.

Edit to change FGW / First Great Western to Great Western Railway due to train operator rebranding.

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« Reply #2 on: February 16, 2008, 04:21:59 PM »

Your forum agreement, and what it means

If and when you sign up for this forum, you're required to agree to the following conditions, which are pretty standard across most forums.

You agree, through your use of this forum, that you will not post any material which is false, defamatory, inaccurate, abusive, vulgar, hateful, harassing, obscene, profane, sexually oriented, threatening, invasive of a person's privacy, adult material, or otherwise in violation of any International or United States Federal law. You also agree not to post any copyrighted material unless you own the copyright or you have written consent from the owner of the copyrighted material. Spam, flooding, advertisements, chain letters, pyramid schemes, and solicitations are also forbidden on this forum. This agreement extends to personal communication with other members (via personal message, email, or in any other way) where such communication is not acceptable to the recipient.

Note that it is impossible for the staff or the owners of this forum to confirm the validity of posts. Please remember that we do not actively monitor the posted messages, and as such, are not responsible for the content contained within. We do not warrant the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information presented. The posted messages express the views of the author, and not necessarily the views of this forum, its staff, its subsidiaries, or this forum's owner. Anyone who feels that a posted message is objectionable is encouraged to notify an administrator or moderator of this forum immediately. The staff and the owner of this forum reserve the right to remove objectionable content, within a reasonable time frame, if they determine that removal is necessary. This is a manual process, however, please realize that they may not be able to remove or edit particular messages immediately. This policy applies to member profile information as well.

You remain solely responsible for the content of your posted messages. Furthermore, you agree to indemnify and hold harmless the owners of this forum, any related websites to this forum, its staff, and its subsidiaries. The owners of this forum also reserve the right to reveal your identity (or any other related information collected on this service) in the event of a formal complaint or legal action arising from any situation caused by your use of this forum.

You have the ability, as you register, to choose your username. We advise that you keep the name appropriate. With this user account you are about to register, you agree to never give your password out to another person except an administrator, for your protection and for validity reasons. You also agree to NEVER use another person's account for any reason, and not to register for a second account if you already have one, even if you are unable to access it for any reason. We also HIGHLY recommend you use a complex and unique password for your account, to prevent account theft.

After you register and login to this forum, you will be able to fill out a detailed profile. It is your responsibility to present clean and accurate information. Any information the forum owner or staff determines to be inaccurate or vulgar in nature will be removed, with or without prior notice. Appropriate sanctions may be applicable.

Please note that with each post, your IP address is recorded, in the event that you need to be banned from this forum or your ISP contacted. This will only happen in the event of a major violation of this agreement.

A "vexatious person" is one who posts / acts in such as way as to increase the workload and stress on the web site operator, and the web site team supporting that operator.  The site operation and support team (including owner, programmers, administrators and moderators) will declare that a member or other party or group is a vexatious person in exceptional circumstances, and the team's decision as to what's exceptional will be final.  Any sanctions which the team feels appropriate to safeguard the site and its aims, or to reduce the support work overhead that such a vexatious interacter may generate, may be taken without the application of our standard rules, methods, courtesies or policies.  Vexatious persons who wish to make a formal approach to the web site owners may do so in a letter sent via the Royal Mail, postage prepaid, to the address at which the domain is registered, and will be answered if appropriate within four weeks of the receipt of the letter.

When you log in, this software will place a cookie in your browser, allowing us to keep you logged in and identify you on each screen (i.e. keeps you logged in). This data is then returned each time you link to a new page or submit a form, and is use to link your posts together.  It's also used to ensure privacy and protection of personal messages, and to track which posts you have read so that you can make use of facilities such as "view unread posts".  We also use Google Analystics which places some cookies in your browser, and if you select to change the colour scheme a further cookie is placed which tells our server to use a non-default style with each subsequent request. By accepting this forum agreement, you are agreeing to us placing these cookies in your browser.


And what does that specifically mean for the First Great Western Coffeeshop?

1. Opinions are welcome, whether or not the operators of the board share them, but information which you know to be incorrect (or is misleading) is not.  Personal attacks on people / individuals are unacceptable and the moderators of the board will take appropriate action against anyone who violates these rules ... however,  we have a gentle moderation approach and you're likely to get no more than a gentle warning and a request to change your post if you go "beyond the mark" after a stressful commute from Pangbourne to Paddington one morning.

2. Please keep topics on stream; although we're looking specifically at First's Great Western franchise, other discussions such as the price that Arriva trains pay to rent a train may be appropriate but a site recommending pharmaceutical products probably isn't (travel sickness pills excepted?)

3. It's your responsibility as poster to keep it legal - and there's a whole raft of law from copyright through incitement to consider.   Please ask for advise if you need any - I'm happy to help.  And if you spot anything that you feel isn't appropriate, please let me or a moderator know.

4. Subject to higher legal authority, your identity (such as your email address) will be kept secret unless you choose to reveal it.   The board owners may choose to email you very occasional news updates concerning the board and / or main subjects covered, but it's not anticipated that we'll do this more than a handful of times every year.

Addition - August 2008

The forum agreement also applies as appropriate to personal messages sent via the forum, and indeed with wider scope too. For example, any member who floods / harrasses / spams another member (whether via public posts or in another way) will be regarded as being in breach of his / her agreement.

Amendment - June 2012

The last paragraph changed from:

Also note that the software places a cookie, a text file containing bits of information (such as your username and password), in your browser's cache. This is ONLY used to keep you logged in/out. The software does not collect or send any other form of information to your computer.

to:

When you log in, this software will place a cookie in your browser, allowing us to keep you logged in and identify you on each screen (i.e. keeps you logged in). This data is then returned each time you link to a new page or submit a form, and is use to link your posts together.  It's also used to ensure privacy and protection of personal messages, and to track which posts you have read so that you can make use of facilities such as "view unread posts".  We also use Google Analystics which places some cookies in your browser, and if you select to change the colour scheme a further cookie is placed which tells our server to use a non-default style with each subsequent request. By accepting this forum agreement, you are agreeing to us placing these cookies in your browser.

This change is to ensure compliance with the new "Cookie Law" which has just come into effect. See here

Addition - February/March 2013

An additional paragraph to cover vexatious interacters has been added. This deals with actions and sanctions we may take against individuals and groups who may, in our view, unreasonably increase the workload on the board's operating team, owners and / or sponsors. It's a last safety clause and I can only thing of one case in the last 7 years that it might have been invoked, and that was a long time ago.  At the date of addition of this clause, there is noone under consideration for designation, nor remotely so.
« Last Edit: March 03, 2013, 07:51:51 AM by grahame » Logged

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« Reply #3 on: February 16, 2008, 04:23:22 PM »

A Note for members old and new

This forum exists to provide a friendly place in which we (as customers of the train services west from Paddington, east from Penzance, south from Worcester and north from Dorset can talk about both the good and the bad of the travel services we have.   And we value hugely the interaction of operational and planning and other raisl staff too - the forum wouldn't be half of what it is without them.

The perspective of a commuter from Reading - his / her issues - differ hugely from the issues of an occasional traveller from Melksham, and what's sometimes a legitimate and reasonable question about a 15 minute gap in service at one location can be read at being provocative by someone who's just seen (according to the National Rail web site) a reduction from 2 trains to just one per day - and that at a quarter past six in the morning - on his line.

And a train user who's a great expert in - let us say - Mozart won't have the same knowledge as some of our more inquisitive members who have time in their regular study schedules to study rail services in great depth.  So questions may be asked that are obvious to one person, but new to another.

We're here as a resource and I want to encourage ALL these points of views / postings and become even for of an a resource for the future.  But if posts are made that upset the friendly nature we could become a clique, and an irrellevance.   But, my goodness, it's an easy boundary to step over.  So can I say the following to folks:

If you're a new member then you are very welcome indeed.
* Posting - even if it's a repeated issue or you'r not sure where
* Ask questions of your fellow board members
* The moderators are here to help you.
There are two board - "Frequent Poster's Club" and "The Rumour Mill" which are only viewable once you get up to a certain minimum number of posts. The other boards are open to all readers / members.   In the case of rumours, yes, we do want them discussed - but we certainly don't want to give them any effective weight that newcomers might take from seeing the posts up there when they first sign in.  Once they become established, members will know how big a pinch of salt they need to take with them.

For established members
* Remember that newcomers may not be as used to an abrasive tone if that's your style, even if the rest of us are.
* Always look for and push the positive and don't make assumptions.

I would also like to make it very clear that although we're primarily intended as a board for the passengers of First Great Western, we're also delighted if rail staff, managers, and others in the industry too choose to read us and post - indeed such contributions add enormously to the value of the board.

It is easy - too easy - to be misunderstood in the printed word; think a little about what you write (but don't let the warning stop you writing).  And if you see something that offends, give the writer the benefit of the doubt - yet don't be reluctant to ask the moderators or individual for clarifiaction - you'll usually find it's just his way, or totally innocent.

« Last Edit: January 22, 2013, 06:21:45 PM by grahame » Logged

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« Reply #4 on: February 16, 2008, 04:26:52 PM »

Links to some useful resources

First Great Western - official site of company:
http://www.firstgreatwestern.co.uk


Great Western Railway - official site of company:
http://www.gwr.com

Introduction page to this site, including a summary of the latest from all the bloggers:
http://www.firstgreatwestern.info/index.html

Abrreviations and Acronymns that you'll find in use on this site:
http://www.firstgreatwestern.info/acronyms.html

Train running information - how have FGW GWR been doing for the last 48 hours:
http://www.savethetrain.org.uk/running.php
These days, I recommend:
Recent time trains: http://www.recenttraintimes.co.uk
Real time trains: http://www.realtimetrains.co.uk

Edit to reflect change of operator name from FGW to GWR, and add more recent and better data sources
« Last Edit: July 09, 2017, 03:34:03 PM by grahame » Logged

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« Reply #5 on: March 04, 2008, 08:24:26 AM »

What is acceptable language and style on "The Coffeeshop"?

A brief guide for new posters, who should remember that this forum can be read by anyone and everyone, including children, the train company we travel with (or in the case of Melksham WISH to travel with), and groups and individuals who we may criticise .. and who we may wish to talk to and work with in the future.

Language

1. The words that "I can't bring myself to type" - you know the ones, I'm sure - certainly are out. And, no, I am not coming up with a list.

2. The "arse", "scum", "bastard", "moron" level - certainly out when used to refer to a member, an identifiable person, or one of a small group of people. Probably out too when used to talk about larger groups - a very slightly grey area there.  But some of these words have to be acceptable in their original meaning. "They was a horrid scum on the coffee I was served in the buffet at Dilton Marsh station" has to be AOK.

3. Calling an identified peron a "silly cow" or "twit" starts getting even more questionable.  Again I would say "no" when an identified person, but the team behind the scenes does not wish to drive you to come up with colourful new phrases which might be even more difficult to moderate.

4. It has to be a case by case basis with many of the lesser terms and content which may offend by its combination of totally innocent words.  I personally found a comment that I felt to be sarcastic referring to me as "his holyness" to be offensive, although I let it go by without comment at the time as it provided me with a userful reminder of my place.  And that also reminded me just how many others may be offended from time to time, but not say anything!

The moderation team takes a delight in the fact that there a number of us moderating. Any poster who seriously transgressed the acceptable level of any one of the group may get asked to change his/her language (or have it changed), so we cannot be 100% predictable and people should if in doubt, leave it out

Style

a. I would like to discourage the use of texting language as it's not universally understood. We have a common language in English and we're talking about a British company and operation in England and Wales - so really we should all stick to posts in standard English to be universally understood by our readers.

b. Please try to cut down on the number of acronyms you use - we DO have an acronym page on which I try to list them all as they come up, but at times I get my GOSW mixed up with my GOBLs - so what must it do to the newcomers?   If you introduce an acronym to make your post less verbose, please define it the first time in full.

c. Whilst we don't wish to go round and round (and round and round) the same subject in a thread, remember that we are rapidly growing and that there are many newcomers here all the time - and guests, and people who find our pages via search engines.  So you are encouraged to go back to basics, provide full explanations, re-open matters that we discussed a couple of months back, and should NOT assume that everyone is up to speed. Established posters - if you see a subject repeating itself in a short timescale, please help us by adding a link back to the old subject so that we can keep "churning" at acceptable levels.

In spite of the comments above, the general approach to moderation is a "lighter touch" with moderators very much looking to facilitate the use and usefullness of the board.  Typically, we will NOT jump in and correct spellings nor grammatical errors, nor alter posts that we feel could have been explained better in another way - after all, it's your forum. We may point out via a personal message that a post could be understood in two different ways if we feel there could be a chance the original poster didn't realise this. As a "backstop" we (or rather I as the administrator) have a legal responsibility to act on posts that are (or may be considered) indecent, incite hatred, incite illegal actions, break copyright laws, are libellous and a whole host of other things which - thank you everyone - are very rare indeed here.

Claims of authority to represent

From time to time, new members claim to represent or work for a company or an organisation in the rail business, or to be a well known person, but then that claim turns out to be false.  If you want to do that - sorry - it's not allowed; it's against the very first sentence of the forum agreement that you have to accept to post here (top of this thread). It's a very serious matter to pretend to represent an organisation you don't represent; it's also serious to pretend to work for someone when you don't. 

We've always checked posts that are potentially false in this way, and how we make those checks has been tested and honed pretty well now. That's fantastic news for everyone else, as it means that official ans staff posts have that greater validity - something of a stamp of authority.
« Last Edit: April 08, 2012, 09:00:58 PM by grahame » Logged

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« Reply #6 on: May 18, 2008, 08:11:41 PM »

I'm just clarifying something ... if you find you're unable to sign in, please do not simply register a new account.    I've seen this done in the past on other forums, and found that it has resulted in (even as a best case) other users getting confused, and of course your new account looses you the "rank" that you get from having a certain number of posts. Please let me or one of the other moderators know if you're having trouble logging in and we'll help.

There may, very rarely, be a legitimate reason to sign up for two accounts - again, if you feel you have one please let me know.
« Last Edit: May 18, 2008, 08:35:03 PM by grahame » Logged

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« Reply #7 on: September 09, 2009, 05:59:43 AM »

As this forum has grown (over 2000 posts per month!) there have been a number of times where speculative / perhaps inaccurate information and questions have been posted, sometimes to the notable frustration of our more knowledged members - be they knowledged because of there profession or because they have spent so long in use and amateur study of rail.  And the question has been asked "what are we going to do" ...



"What are we going to do?".  Celebrate that this is a board where people can post the questions they have, even if others know the answers, and where people can post the whisper they hear on the line and learn if there's a real wind behind the whisper or it was just someone blowing their breath out.  For the questions that a few ask, and the rumours that a few have heard, and the wondering the few do on the board will mirror the thoughts being thought far wider, and it is one of our goals to be here to pool information and discuss and work out what is an isn't true;  we are not an official authority in any way - this forum is not the Hansard record of FGW (go to their official site for that, or to National Rail)!

We are grateful - very grateful - to official spokesmen for the rail industry, to staff who know far more than any of us do, to journalists who help us see the wood for the trees.  And I know we passengers and wannanbe passengers sometimes frustrate them (and frustrate the living daylights out of them!) - so we do ask from time to time that people clearly mark stuff up as "question", "thought" "rumour", that they go back and modify their posts where something has turned out to be utterly false (I prefer actually an "update" on the end of threads and not a rewrite of history - then we do end up with a later useful resource)

In my 'day job', I get a lot of questions asked of me.  And at times there might be a temptation to roll the eyes, when there should not be.  You'll note (I hope) how I come across strongly in favour of the nervous visitor from Norway who was 'fleeced' by being sold a single ticket at just a pound less than the return when he was returning the next day, and how I come across strongly in favour of the people of a town of 23,000 who effectively lost their train service because they hadn't heard about a consultation that was open for 4 weeks, within the rail industry, some 18 months prior.   We are, and I hope we remain, a resource for Joe Public. Barring a change of heart / policy by the moderator team which would probably go to a public poll at which a huge majority would be needed, we won't change that.

Talking of votes ... the poll on what we should do w.r.t. the GWRUS is just finishing.   In policy with my comments above, I should start by ensuring that WRT and GWRUS are on the acronymn list, and then I suggest we move on, with those of us who have learned a lot about rail by being here providing friendly, supporting reviews for those who know somewhat less. We were all there once ... some of us still are, as I discovered this week about Hampshire Local Diesel trains - my thanks to the experts in that area who have so graciously provided some answers to my prattlings!



This is posted - for the moment - on the welcome and reference thread as a bit of a 'keynote'. It's a locked thread to keep all this stuff clean for the newcomer; please feel free, anyone, to quote and discuss elsewhere as you see fit - it's your forum!

Edited to correct some of my worst 'trademark typos'
« Last Edit: September 09, 2009, 06:50:56 AM by grahame » Logged

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« Reply #8 on: December 28, 2009, 12:07:12 PM »

I'm just clarifying something ... if you find you're unable to sign in, please do not simply register a new account ...

I'm just "pinging" this topic to bring it to the top of the pile.  <i>Please ...</i> if you have forgotten your password, please used the password reminder. And if you no longer have access to the email account you registered from, get in touch and let us help you manually.

The "no two accounts" stipulation has been in place for a very long time, and I know it's easy to overlook it in the heat of the moment ... if anyone does have two accounts that they've set up without realising that we have this stipulation, please get in touch and I'll fix it.  Just to complete the loop, I've added extra words <i>"and not to register for a second account if you already have one, even if you are unable to access it for any reason"</i> to the forum agreement that everyone agrees to abide by when they sign up.
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« Reply #9 on: September 20, 2015, 01:42:39 PM »

"Same rules apply to GWR as to FGW"

All references within this thread (and other threads on this board) which refer to First Great Western and now also applied equally and severally to Great Western Railway in consequence of the rebranding formalised on 20th September 2015.

If you do NOT agree with the transfer of the forum agreement, posting rules and guidelines in conjunction with the new company name, please cease your use of the forum and notify the administrators.  By continuing to use this forum, you agree to abide by the agreement and rules with respect to both the new "Great Western Railway" and the old "First Great Western"

« Last Edit: September 20, 2015, 07:47:18 PM by grahame » Logged

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« Reply #10 on: December 18, 2016, 10:40:06 AM »

Another forum I use one of the moderators is getting upset and deleting all posts suggesting ...

Cross posting from another board on this forum ... thank you for that comment, Richwarwicker.  I've cross posted here to remind members (and anyone who wants to sign up as a member) that this forum encourages a very wide range of views - not just those held by those of us who administer / moderate it.
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« Reply #11 on: January 18, 2017, 02:18:58 PM »

Hi
Help - how do I post a new topic? Cannot see an option to do that anywhere!
Thanks,
AdeB
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grahame
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« Reply #12 on: January 18, 2017, 03:04:39 PM »

Hi
Help - how do I post a new topic? Cannot see an option to do that anywhere!
Thanks,
AdeB

1. Home page
http://www.firstgreatwestern.info/coffeeshop/index.php
2. Select a board
3. Select "New Topic" which is in a menu on top of the list of recent posts

Welcome to the forum!

Grahame


P.S. Think you found that ... I'm seeing a Shalford question  Cheesy
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« Reply #13 on: August 03, 2017, 07:26:40 AM »

On differences of opinion.

A correspondent writes that (s)he is surprised that this forum's not a club where everyone agrees with everyone else. I'm going to share my answer more widely than just with that correspondent, as I feel it's helpful - long term - in redefining (or defining for newer members) thoughts on this.

As a matter of forum policy, we thrive on differing views.  I find I learn so much from reading what others think, even if their views differ from mine, as it helps educate me in the total picture and helps us where we can work in partnership with government and rail industry to know on one hand what makes them "tick" and on the other hand what the community would like.   With a strong understanding of where everyone's coming from (and why) and of the technical and financial metrics, we can at times help find mutually helpful changes.

Differing opinions of how we should go forward / the best option where choices are to be made could be a problem - and at those times there needs to be a decision made, with anyone who feels that the decision being made isn't the perfect one encouraged to work in pragmatically supporting what is being done, rather than seeking to derail it.  For the most part,  developments are at least good and perhaps excellent even if not perfect, and one of the issues that come up as things are taken forward is that people with sometimes very close views will continue to bicker, squabble or even fight over the minutiae to the extent that they risk breaking the whole ... or they'll continue to wish to consult and alter decisions once the whole thing has been consulted "to death" and a pragmatic decision taken.

Welcoming differing opinion in no way welcomes personal attacks, of which the moderator and admin team take a very dim view indeed.



I personally got involved in campaigning for an appropriate rail service, without data to know what was going to be "appropriate" at a point where a decision had been made. That's not an unusual situation, with people finding out about things far too late in the day to have any real input as to how things are progressed.  Consultations and ideas looking forward to 2018, to 2019, and to the next franchise all need to be considered now.  Indeed for 2018, only adjustments of timings rather than anything dramatic are now feasible. But it's hard to motivate people to think about what they want and need in the next decade, and really thoughts do need to go that far ahead and beyond to stop us falling into a series of pendulum changes which build up and break down uses and facilities at each swing, at huge expense financially and with improvement followed by destruction of quality of life and people change their travel habits to make use of something that's then taken away.  A cynic would suggest that our system encourages the swings on a five year cycle, with the most positive point of the cycle being in the run up to a general election.

On that point, I will leave you.   Please feel free to add your comments and thoughts whether you agree with me or not - I look forward to learning from what you say and it helping me (and others who read what we all write) be more effective in reaching mutual goals in the future.  I may end up splitting a discussion off this "sticky" thread to keep it as a single page reference for newcomers, but this is so much a forum of partnership ... as well as (at times) one of protest.
« Last Edit: August 03, 2017, 11:06:04 AM by grahame » Logged

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