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Signs Of An Eruption
BBC ^ | 8-30-2003

Posted on 08/29/2003 5:37:16 PM PDT by blam

Signs of an eruption

For days before the eruption the volcano had been screaming 'I'm about to explode'

Bernard Chouet

A scientist has found a way to use earthquakes to predict when volcanoes will erupt. Swiss scientist Bernard Chouet fell in love with volcanoes when he witnessed spectacular fountains of lava spewing from Sicily's Mount Etna in 1969.

Now at the US Geological Survey, Chouet has devoted his career to finding a way to predict deadly volcanic eruptions. He is haunted by a disaster in South America that killed 25,000 people.

When Colombia's Nevado del Ruiz volcano erupted in 1985, it melted a glacier capping the mountain. Water and volcanic ash combined to produce devastating mudflows that wiped the entire town of Armero off the map.

By then Chouet had developed a theory that volcanic eruptions should be preceded by a type of earthquake he called a long period event.

Chouet believed that long period events were a sign that pressure was building up inside a volcano.

When he finally saw the earthquake records from Nevado del Ruiz, a year on from the disaster, he was horrified.

Tragic misjudgement

Chouet saw long-period events all over charts. For days before the eruption the volcano had been screaming "I'm about to explode" but no one had heard the warning.

Vesuvius volcano

In the early 1990s another Colombian volcano, Galeras, became restless. Long period events had again appeared on the charts - a clear sign of an impending eruption, according to Chouet.

But US volcanologist Stanley Williams was sceptical about Chouet's approach. Apart from the long period events the volcano was completely quiet.

So on 14th January 1993 Williams led a group of scientists into the crater of Galeras to measure gas emissions.

It was a tragic misjudgement. As they were preparing to leave the crater the volcano erupted, killing six of his colleagues and three tourists. Williams himself was severely injured.

In December 2000 Chouet was vindicated in dramatic fashion. For several years the mighty Popocatépetl on the outskirts of Mexico City had been gently steaming.

Fumarole volcano But then the long period events started - so many that they merged into a continuous tremor that could be felt in nearby villages.

Using Chouet's methods scientists at the National Centre for Prevention of Disasters in Mexico City predicted that there would be a large eruption in two days. The government evacuated tens of thousands of people.

Forty eight hours later, bang on time, the volcano erupted spectacularly. It was Popocatépetl's largest eruption for a thousand years and yet no one was hurt.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: an; archaeology; catastrophism; earthquake; eruption; etna; ggg; godsgravesglyphs; history; of; signs; thera; usgs; volcano
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I wonder what he thinks of Yellowstone? It could affect the whole world when/if it blows.
1 posted on 08/29/2003 5:37:16 PM PDT by blam
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To: blam
I knew Yellowstone had a geyser. I guess I never thought about there being a volcano there. Quite a few bison would be affected.
2 posted on 08/29/2003 5:49:49 PM PDT by cinnathepoet (Why, oh why, oh why? -- Rabbit)
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To: blam
Yea, I saw a post awhile back about a bulge in the lake.
3 posted on 08/29/2003 5:50:35 PM PDT by meanie monster (hooked on phonics werked for me.)
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To: blam
Geologists had been aware Ruiz was awakening. They'd even done some emergency planning and preparation. But noone, noone, was prepared for the violence that came. And of course, noone knew exactly when. Very sad.
4 posted on 08/29/2003 5:51:27 PM PDT by witnesstothefall
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To: cinnathepoet
"I knew Yellowstone had a geyser. I guess I never thought about there being a volcano there"

Yellowstone Lake Hints At Buildup To Huge Blast

5 posted on 08/29/2003 5:53:52 PM PDT by blam
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To: blam
I wonder what he thinks of Yellowstone? It could affect the whole world when/if it blows.

Genetic detectives figure the human gene pool was very tiny 75000 thousand years ago. Something horrible nearly made mankind extinct. A supervolcano like the one at Yellowstone erupted at about that time period. Thanks to a handful of people, both private and government, that have special places set aside for nuclear war I don't think extinction will happen this time, but the next eruption event at Yellowstone is already due by noting it past history of eruptions. The last time it went off Kansas was covered by ash at least 10 feet thick.

6 posted on 08/29/2003 5:54:12 PM PDT by Nateman (Socialism first, cancer second.)
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To: cinnathepoet
Yellowstone is one of the largest super volcanoes in the world. It is also VERY active.
7 posted on 08/29/2003 5:54:12 PM PDT by meanie monster (hooked on phonics werked for me.)
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To: meanie monster
This could be hugh!
8 posted on 08/29/2003 5:55:40 PM PDT by cinnathepoet (Why, oh why, oh why? -- Rabbit)
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To: blam
Please keep me pinged on news about Yellowstone. Thanks.
9 posted on 08/29/2003 5:55:53 PM PDT by Cool Guy (Why is my comment a big jumbled mess?)
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To: cinnathepoet

The Toba 'super volcano' blew 75,000 years ago and only 2-5,000 humans worldwide survived. This 'bottleneck' is detectable in human DNA.

10 posted on 08/29/2003 5:58:18 PM PDT by blam
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To: cinnathepoet
Re: This could be hugh!

This is hugh


11 posted on 08/29/2003 5:59:20 PM PDT by ChadGore (Kakkate Koi!)
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To: cinnathepoet
Quite a few bison would be affected.

True. And women and minorities will be hurt the most.


12 posted on 08/29/2003 6:00:45 PM PDT by rdb3 (They've read all the books but they can't find the answers...)
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To: Nateman
Calm down. Last time that thing blew we had no real understanding of the world itself, nor did we have any technology.

We now have both. It will be a little tough for a year or two. But we'll be okay.

By the way, the last time Yellowstone blew, the ash only cover everything west of the Mississippi in the U.S. If your east of the Smokey Mountain, you'll probably be okay.

It will not be the end of the world, it will just be a very bad day for anyone caught in the blast.

13 posted on 08/29/2003 6:03:01 PM PDT by Paul C. Jesup
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To: Nateman
"Genetic detectives figure the human gene pool was very tiny 75000 thousand years ago. Something horrible nearly made mankind extinct. A supervolcano like the one at Yellowstone erupted at about that time period."

That was TOBA (click the link and read, they say less than 1,000 humans survived.)

14 posted on 08/29/2003 6:03:46 PM PDT by blam
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To: Paul C. Jesup
"We now have both. It will be a little tough for a year or two. But we'll be okay."

So...what are you gonna eat for the 2-4 years it will take for the dust veil to clear?

15 posted on 08/29/2003 6:05:55 PM PDT by blam
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To: blam
Bernard Chouet is a god. He looked at a signal within a signal (called the B wave, I think) and found a signature of a volcano getting ready to blow.

His analogy of a magma tube being like a plugged pipe in a pipe organ was spot on. These long period events are the mountain pressuring up to blow. A lot of his colleagues at Galeras bet their lives on Stanley Williams' theory that low gas emissions meant low eruption probability. Six of them lost.

I'd love to see his long period event model plugged into a supervolcano system, not that it would matter a hell of a lot if Yellowstone lets go. There won't be anyone left to say "I TOLD YOU SO!" to.

16 posted on 08/29/2003 6:12:49 PM PDT by Treebeard
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To: blam
The Toba 'super volcano' blew 75,000 years ago

Toba > 700 Cubic Miles of stuff.

17 posted on 08/29/2003 6:14:32 PM PDT by Mike Darancette (Por La Raza Mierda.)
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To: blam
The Great Plains is not the only source for the world's farms. And this event will NOT block out the sun, it will just cool the climate slightly. There will still be a workable food supply from other farms worldwide. And if worse comes to worse, I live in rural Georgia, getting food will not be that hard, compared to a major urban city.

By the way, after this is over, the ash itself will actually enrich the soil that it cover, allowing for better farming in the future.

18 posted on 08/29/2003 6:15:33 PM PDT by Paul C. Jesup
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Comment #19 Removed by Moderator

To: cinnathepoet
I knew Yellowstone had a geyser. I guess I never thought about there being a volcano there. Quite a few bison would be affected.

Err, well, if the entire Caldera went up, it would kill every human being in Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana, and end all agriculture in the midwest for years, likely leading to mass starvation in the US, which is more than a few bison :-)

However, it's extremely unlikely that happens in our lifetimes.

The recent spate of articles about the lake are about the possibility of a small localyzed eruption, NOT the caldera going up. It's possible to have small eruptions at Yellowstone without a full caldera blast.

20 posted on 08/29/2003 6:17:20 PM PDT by John H K
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To: okchemyst
I'd love to see his long period event model plugged into a supervolcano system, not that it would matter a hell of a lot if Yellowstone lets go. There won't be anyone left to say "I TOLD YOU SO!" to.

Calderas are entirely different from individual volcanes. We've never witnessed an entire large Caldera erupting (though we've seen large eruptions of individual volcanoes at large calderas like Rabaul).

It seems exceedingly unlikely you'd see a large caldera blast without quite a bit of obvious warning signs over a long period of time.

21 posted on 08/29/2003 6:21:22 PM PDT by John H K
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To: blam
Yellowstone is going to blow? Wonderful, where is my hat? The tin-foil one?
22 posted on 08/29/2003 6:27:43 PM PDT by Ditter
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To: Paul C. Jesup
"The Great Plains is not the only source for the world's farms. And this event will NOT block out the sun, it will just cool the climate slightly. "

Okay, if you say so.

"What would be the effect of an eruption?

Immediately before the eruption, there would be large earthquakes in the Yellowstone region. The ground would swell further with most of Yellowstone being uplifted. One earthquake would finally break the layer of rock that holds the magma in - and all the pressure the Earth can build up in 640,000 years would be unleashed in a cataclysmic event. Magma would be flung 50 kilometres into the atmosphere. Within a thousand kilometres virtually all life would be killed by falling ash, lava flows and the sheer explosive force of the eruption. Volcanic ash would coat places as far away as Iowa and the Gulf of Mexico. One thousand cubic kilometres of lava would pour out of the volcano, enough to coat the whole of the USA with a layer 5 inches thick. The explosion would have a force 2,500 times that of Mount St. Helens. It would be the loudest noise heard by man for 75,000 years, the time of the last super volcano eruption. Within minutes of the eruption tens of thousands would be dead.

The long-term effects would be even more devastating. The thousands of cubic kilometres of ash that would shoot into the atmosphere could block out light from the sun, making global temperatures plummet. This is called a nuclear winter. As during the Sumatra eruption a large percentage of the world's plant life would be killed by the ash and drop in temperature. Also, virtually the entire of the grain harvest of the Great Plains would disappear in hours, as it would be coated in ash. Similar effects around the world would cause massive food shortages. If the temperatures plummet by the 21 degrees they did after the Sumatra eruption the Yellowstone super volcano eruption could truly be an extinction level event.

23 posted on 08/29/2003 6:27:43 PM PDT by blam
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To: blam
You remind me of those eco-nuts that believe that one nuke blast will destroy the world. You are making this out to be more than it is.

Yes, if you are within a 1000 miles of this blast then you are screwed, but if you are outside that range, you'll probably be fine.

But the humanity and the world are a lot tougher than you think.

Also, note that the last Yellowstone blast was much smaller than the one before that. If we are lucky this next blast will be the smallest one yet, probably equal to the Island Park blast.

Bad, but not the end of the world.

24 posted on 08/29/2003 6:38:59 PM PDT by Paul C. Jesup
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To: blam
You remind me of those eco-nuts that believe that one nuke blast will destroy the world. You are making this out to be more than it is.

Yes, if you are within a 1000 miles of this blast then you are screwed, but if you are outside that range, you'll probably be fine.

But the humanity and the world are a lot tougher than you think.

Also, note that the last Yellowstone blast was much smaller than the one before that. If we are lucky this next blast will be the smallest one yet, probably equal to the Tambora blast.

Bad, but not the end of the world.

25 posted on 08/29/2003 6:40:42 PM PDT by Paul C. Jesup
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To: blam
what are you gonna eat for the 2-4 years it will take for the dust veil to clear?

Soylent green?

26 posted on 08/29/2003 6:43:51 PM PDT by CobaltBlue (Never voted for a Democrat in my life.)
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To: Paul C. Jesup; RightWhale
"You remind me of those eco-nuts that believe that one nuke blast will destroy the world. You are making this out to be more than it is."

Without a doubt, I'm a catastrophist.

Tree rings worldwide have recorded five catastrophic events (some call them 'near-extinction' events) in the last ten thousand years, They are: 3195BC, 2353BC, 1628BC, 1159BC and 540AD. All these events, except for 540AD event, are recorded in the ice cores as acid layers which is the signature of volcanos. The 540AD event is believed to have been caused by a meteorite or comet fragments (no acid layer) plunging into the Celtic Sea and was the event that brought on the Dark Ages. (BTW, the Dark Ages was a worldwide event, not just Europe).

I'm not an eco-nut and don't think you take the potential serious enough.

27 posted on 08/29/2003 6:58:46 PM PDT by blam
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To: blam
I use the 'eco-nut' as example of how alarmist you sound. But it you take a look at the pattern of the Yellowstone blasts, each one is much smaller than the one before it.
28 posted on 08/29/2003 7:03:04 PM PDT by Paul C. Jesup
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To: blam
Probably the only people really prepared for the kind of catastrophe you suggest is possible are those who have stockpiled a year or more of food and water.

Even so, the ash will cause the air to be unbreatheable, and you will need air filters in order to breathe.

Survival will depend on luck unless you are a fanatical survivalist prepared for every possible eventuality.
29 posted on 08/29/2003 7:06:56 PM PDT by CobaltBlue (Never voted for a Democrat in my life.)
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To: John H K
It seems like something that large wouldn't all blow at one time anyway. The total of ash and gas and whatever else comes out of volcanos would be immense, but if it cascades over even a couple days it would be possible for a lot of people to get away. For the time being. What comes later, global winter maybe, would follow the script. A couple cool summers, a couple wet winters, maybe even an Ice Age. Some people would probably say we deserved it.
30 posted on 08/29/2003 7:11:25 PM PDT by RightWhale (Repeal the Law of the Excluded Middle)
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To: Paul C. Jesup; farmfriend; plusones
"I use the 'eco-nut' as example of how alarmist you sound. But it you take a look at the pattern of the Yellowstone blasts, each one is much smaller than the one before it."

I'm not alarmed either.

My main interests are archaeology/anthropology and I use these catastrophic events to trace the movement and history of humans across the world. Click on the links on my profile page and you'll see the 'trend' from the articles I have bookmarked there.

For example, I've often wondered how many humans were killed during the impact that caused the Barringer Crater in Arizona 50k years ago. (Yes, I believe there were humans here then)

31 posted on 08/29/2003 7:16:36 PM PDT by blam
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Comment #32 Removed by Moderator

To: blam
Transformers.
33 posted on 08/29/2003 7:23:36 PM PDT by ChemistCat (Focused, Relentless Charity Beats Random Acts of Kindness.)
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To: blam
I'm gonna spray my garden hose up in the air to knock down the dust, I call on ALL the inhabitants of the world who have a garden hose to do the same and in unison....we can beat this thing!

34 posted on 08/29/2003 7:24:06 PM PDT by Gringo1 (Handsome...and now with springtime fresh lemon scent.)
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To: blam
That tree ring stuff is fascinating. By scanning different logs, logged at different times, but whose lifespan overlapped, they basically have the annual weather going back 8000 years or so.
35 posted on 08/29/2003 7:28:46 PM PDT by djf
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To: djf
"That tree ring stuff is fascinating. By scanning different logs, logged at different times, but whose lifespan overlapped, they basically have the annual weather going back 8000 years or so."

Yup, love it. The tree ring chronology is now over 10k years. Some of the dendrochronologists are so good, they can read these rings with out any reference book, etc.

36 posted on 08/29/2003 7:33:29 PM PDT by blam
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To: CobaltBlue
"Survival will depend on luck unless you are a fanatical survivalist prepared for every possible eventuality."

I figure the folks near the poles have the best chance with the worst case scenerio. They are already prepared for cold and any humans and animals that starved to death would freeze and provide food for the future when unfrozen.

37 posted on 08/29/2003 7:38:05 PM PDT by blam
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To: plusones
"I hadn't heard about that. Interesting. I've read that cat-ologists were perplexed by the number of genetic defects that cheetas had. They worked out that about 10000 years ago, one lone pregnant female survived some calamity. So all the cheetas are inbred from the sole survivor. Weird stuff."

Yup, I read that too. Interesting stuff.

38 posted on 08/29/2003 7:42:53 PM PDT by blam
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To: blam; *Gods, Graves, Glyphs; bd476; carenot; CatoRenasci; ckilmer; curmudgeonII; dorothy; ellery; ..
Gods, Graves, Glyphs
List for articles regarding early civilizations , life of all forms, - dinosaurs - etc.

Let me know if you wish to be added or removed from this ping list.

39 posted on 08/29/2003 7:47:42 PM PDT by farmfriend ( Isaiah 55:10,11)
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To: blam
supervolcano bump
40 posted on 08/29/2003 8:41:59 PM PDT by Centurion2000 (We are crushing our enemies, seeing him driven before us and hearing the lamentations of the liberal)
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BTTT
41 posted on 08/29/2003 8:43:12 PM PDT by StriperSniper (The Federal Register is printed on pulp from The Tree Of Liberty)
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To: blam
Didn't Krakatau cause "Winter" in the middle of summer in the US?

I remember Pinatubo. We rarely got 80 Degree days that summer and we usually hit the upper 80's.

42 posted on 08/29/2003 8:48:11 PM PDT by Dan from Michigan ("Boom Boom! Out go the lights!" - Pat Travers)
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To: Dan from Michigan
"Didn't Krakatau cause "Winter" in the middle of summer in the US? "

Yup, That was 1816, The Year Without Summer.

"I remember Pinatubo. We rarely got 80 Degree days that summer and we usually hit the upper 80's."

The plume from Pinatubo was 26 miles high. The plume from Thera would have had to be 30 miles high for it to have been seen in Egypt. (Exodus, "Staff By Day, Torch By Night")

43 posted on 08/29/2003 8:59:27 PM PDT by blam
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To: blam
BUMP!
44 posted on 08/29/2003 9:03:27 PM PDT by Publius6961 (californians are as dumb as a sack of rocks.)
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To: blam
But the world is only about~6500 years old </sarcasm>
45 posted on 08/29/2003 9:04:55 PM PDT by Wacka
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To: blam
Then what happened in 1884? If that's twice Pinatubo, and Pinatubo made July here look like October in cloudcover, what did that do worldwide?
46 posted on 08/29/2003 9:07:30 PM PDT by Dan from Michigan ("Boom Boom! Out go the lights!" - Pat Travers)
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To: All
Listen to Blam. He's not alarmist, he's trying to save your sorry @sses. The events he describes are very real. Just because we haven't witnessed them in our lifetimes (yet) doesn't mean they won't happen.

OTOH, you can just be a fool and pretend it won't happen to you. Yellowstone has the definite potential to nearly wipe mankind from the planet - and it won't matter if you live in Gillette WY or Moscow Russia. Those of us who try to be prepared for cataclysmic events want you to ignore him - because whatever stuff you've got when it happens we'll appreciate after you're dead.

For all of you "portfolio" types, I'm afraid that someday you'll realize that your investments should have been in tool steel and lead. But by that time you wouldn't be able to buy a gun or ammo for all of Bill Gate's money.
47 posted on 08/29/2003 9:19:52 PM PDT by 11B3 (Looking for a belt-fed, multi-barreled 12 guage. It's Liberal season, no daily limit.)
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To: Dan from Michigan
"Then what happened in 1884? "

Don't know, nothing in my headlights. The volcanos Nyiragongo (Congo) and Gamalama (Indonesia) lighted up in 1884 but, they go off often.

48 posted on 08/29/2003 9:24:26 PM PDT by blam
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To: 11B3
I certainly agree we are overdue for another large event. And I think, if one happens, a very, very large part of humanity might be affected.

But men are more widespread on this planet than cockroaches. And I've been 1500 feet underground in various mining complexes, where there is a steady temperature of 56 degrees, and a continous flow of groundwater.

An intelligent person who has done some planning could survive just about anything, provided he is not trapped at the wrong place at the wrong time when an event occurs.
49 posted on 08/29/2003 9:35:09 PM PDT by djf
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To: 11B3
"For all of you "portfolio" types, I'm afraid that someday you'll realize that your investments should have been in tool steel and lead. But by that time you wouldn't be able to buy a gun or ammo for all of Bill Gate's money."

Thanks for the vote of confidence, you get it!

50 posted on 08/29/2003 9:36:20 PM PDT by blam
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