Jun 24, 2007

Big Talkers

A comment from an earlier post mirrors my observations about our recent addition of vocal "Little Nell" blog contributors.



Some of the LLNL posters remind me of the LANL posters over the last two years. They complained loudly about the benefit changes and said they didn't have to take this type of abuse from NNSA....but they stayed. Then came the urine test and they threatened, once again, to leave....but they stayed. Then came the polygraph's return and they threatened, once again to leave in disgust....but they stayed.

This has clearly demonstrated to both NNSA and LANS that they can abuse the workforce in just about any fashion they wish. The workforce will bitch and complain loudly and threaten to leave, but in the end they'll stay and continue to take the paychecks. Too bad, because I suspect that NNSA and LANS would really like to see more people leave the payroll.

All the current LLNL threats to leave are mostly a means of venting frustration and not much else. Like LANL, I suspect that most of the people at LLNL will stay regardless of the raw deal that NNSA and LLNS will give them. Just watch the employee numbers at LLNL over the next few years. I highly doubt you'll see an exodus.

NNSA knows they don't have to offer you a chance to stay in UCRP. You'll take pretty much what ever they give you.


Anonymous said...

The big change is that staff complained in the hopes of fixing the problems, now they know its hopeless so they have adopted the management attitude of extracting as much personal wealth from the institution before it collapses.

Anonymous said...

Would you say then, that LANS has been successful in changing the often mentioned "culture" at LANL?

Anonymous said...

I don't do drugs and am not a spy. If the lab screws up and says I am then my lawyers will nail their as*** to the wall and I'll retire in style.

Anonymous said...

If you mean the culture of:
Scientific integrity, national duty, patriotism, and self-sacrifice for the good of the country.
I'd say LANS and NNSA has pretty much gotten rid of that.

Anonymous said...

You are forgetting that LLNL is in the Bay Area and LANL is pretty much out in the middle of nowhere. I think you will be surprised at how many LLNL employees end up leaving in the near future. And if that's what NNSA wants, then I guess their evil plan succeeded.

Anonymous said...

Actually, people are leaving!! The office space situation that used to be so hard to deal with at TA-55 is getting easier and easier. They will vanish before our eyes and we will be asked to do the work of those that left...qualifications be damned.

Anonymous said...

If you mean the culture of arrogant, yet cowardly, self-centered narrow-mindedness, I'd say that LANS has brought out the best in the two labs.

Anonymous said...

9:36 am makes an excellent point. I am simply enduring LANS until I get an offer in an area I want relocate to.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
If you mean the culture of:
Scientific integrity, national duty, patriotism, and self-sacrifice for the good of the country. I'd say LLNS and NNSA has pretty much gotten rid of that.

6/24/07 9:15 AM

Having seen what they are offering in direct conflict to MERCER's advice and warning there will be no more dedication to the cause, no more non paid overtime and surly I am not going to worry about ranking anymore. There is nothing to compete for, so walk and talks or as they should be entitled scratch and sniffs should be done away with immediately and a STEP system implement as of Oct1st, 2007. WE, the employees of LLNL are now no better then the typical civil service welfare recipient who does eight for eight or out the gate and rightfully so. The mission is gone and so are any good projects. If you haven't noticed NIF is the only big project left at LLNL and it supports about 60% of all the people on site. It is son going to come to an end and when it does there is going to be hell to pay. At that point in time I see no reason why DOE/NNSA and LLNS doesn't call for an immediate 50% reduction in force with 30 days from the day NIF's funding is cut. IT would be foolish not to do so and miserable for the people who are trying to cut one anothers throat for a position in order to stay employed. So, for all of those that can leave now and avoid the battles to come, please do so for the good of the younger ones who still have 20-30 years to go. At your age you don't need the aggravation of what is about to come. I will guarantee you that it is only going to get worse..So, DOE/NNSA, you are finally going to get what you want. Lots of advocacies and piss poor workers who have zero job ethics, pants hanging down to the crack of their asses and fancy colorful drawer showing, strutting their stuff as the walk down the hall talking more trash than a Russian radio. Isn't that a wonder visual? Your movement is going to bring out the best of the best in todays society. I hope you and you comrades get along well. Those employees can get up every morning and truthfully says that they are going to the hood.

Anonymous said...

I hear you 9:36,:39, and :41. I'm still looking.

What job categories do people see leaving at LANL? TSM, Support, Techs? What level of education and experience?

All the people I know that left were MS and PhD TSMs with 15+ years of experience. I know several more of the same that are actively looking.

Anyone have an idea of the number of houses for sale? Those looking around for other jobs have been looking into the RE market and say not much is moving. I have no clue.

Anonymous said...

I'd say that you people up on the hill are in a world of crap with the RE market. Housing prices are dropping and they are going to continue to do so, I'd say that maybe in ten years the RE market value will rebound. Knowing that no one is going to buy a house up there unless that have a good paying job with LANS makes you sale even loss possible since LANS goal is to reduce wages and benefits by at least 50% I would say. They will not do this by cutting wages, they will just leave the salaries where they are for a decade or so until all evens out to where they want the top to be. All I can say is I hope it is paid for in full as well as your cars and toys. If not it is time to start leaning things out fast and possibly even walk away.

Anonymous said...

In case you missed the other 123 post below about LLNL shafting here is the text out of the MERCER report that everyone wants to see. I was surpirsed that they didn't caputure the part about poor quaity work to come because of the type of people they are going to attract.

Anonymous said...
From the (click me) Mercer Report 18th page, and final Mercer summary, 29th page:

Dual Programs = Higher Cost. The Notice would directly increase contractor expenses by mandating two-tier benefit structures that will increase administration and communication expense and require more complex and expensive discrimination testing. After several years, such a dual program is likely to fail discrimination testing. These additional costs of maintaining dual programs are likely to persist for 30 years or more.

The Notice would also directly increase contractor expense for the next several years because of the age profile of new hires. New employees arc typically younger than the average employee in a workforce. Market-based defined contribution (DC) plans typically provide the same contribution level for all employees regardless of age. The cost of defined benefit (DB) pension plans is a function of age, with younger employees costing much less than older employees. This cost increase can be demonstrated by a simple example.

Suppose a contractor sponsors a DB pension plan with an average cost of 6% of pay for a workforce with an average age of 48. If the plan is closed to new hires and new hires are put in a DC plan that provides a 6% of pay contribution the contractor's cost will increase. The closed group of participants in the DB plan will age and the average cost will increase above 6%. New hires, who would have cost less than 6% of pay in the DB plan, will have a cost of6% of pay in the DC plan. Cost for this contractor will continue to escalate above 6% for many years. If the new hires were placed instead in the DB plan, then the cost may have remained at 6% (particularly with the cost stabilization techniques we recommend below).


Summary: The DOE has correctly identified the volatility of reimbursements for pension and retiree medical benefits and the design of these programs as serious business issues. However, abolishing plans will exacerbate problems as contractors will have increased costs, may be unable to retain workers and may have more difficulty managing the turnover ofthe workforce. Intermediate solutions exist that will mitigate volatility and provide valued retirement benefits to workers.

There you have it. DOE has received expert detailed analysis of the pension train wreck they are creating, and they have chosen to ignore it. Also read the full Mercer report detailing how retiree medical under the current approaches will be an even bigger train wreck.

6/24/07 11:18 AM

Anonymous said...

What's happening at LANL and will happen at LLNL just indicate that scientists are so engrossed in trying to protect their science that they have no idea how to look out for themselves and others.

Thank God there were no LANL and LLNL scientists around during the American Revolution or we would all celebrate the Queen's birthday.

Scientists have no understanding of how LANL policies (and soon LLNL policies) affect everyone at LANL, from the lowly office staff to the support staff to the group techs to the contractors, many of whom have supported them for double digit years Scientists live in a bubble, babble about theories and concepts and proofs and papers and conferences, poke their heads out to see what's going on around them, and then retreat into their fairy tail worlds. They don't support the staff that has supported them.

As a whole they are the I in the following quote from Martin Niemoller.

"When the Nazis arrested the Communists,
I said nothing; after all, I was not a Communist. When they locked up the Social Democrats, I said nothing; after all, I was not a Social Democrat. When they arrested the trade unionists, I said nothing; after all, I was not a trade unionist. When they arrested the Jews, I said nothing; after all, I was not a Jew. When they arrested me, there was no longer anyone who could protest."

Anonymous said...

9:39 is right. People are already leaving LLNL by the droves. Since last year, already 4 people in just my work group have retired. One young scientist, in a different group, that I worked with on a small project, left, for a better position, back in January. And just today, one of my lab colleagues just told me she is giving her notice on Monday and moving out of Livermore. Apparently she has been preparing for this for a while now. And this is just the beginning.

Anonymous said...

Oh, pleeaaze, 12:13 PM. Cut the histronics about LANL's scientists "not supporting the support staff".

It's suppose to be the other way around and that's a large part of the reason for some of the high costs and difficulties that LANL is now facing. LANL scientists get very poor support from a large segment of the so-called support staff. Some of them are helpful, but many of them are not.

Anonymous said...

It can take a long time to find a comparable job somewhere else. Yes, if you're an admin or an IT guy you can do it quickly, but for specialized TSMs it is different. In the meantime, there are bills to pay and mouths to feed. No, we are not spineless cowards, many of us want to leave and we are actively trying, but if walking out now lands your family into a situation of unemployment, that doesn't seem like a good move. I don't think sacrificing the well being of yourself or your family just to make a point to LANS is very well thought out.

Anonymous said...

What point exactly is there to make to LANS, LLNS or DOE/NNSA at this point?

Anonymous said...

"No, we are not spineless cowards,[...]"

Yes, you are, 6/24/07 12:45 PM. You and every other LANL employee who was here during the shutdown of 2004 and were too afraid to speak out against the the incompetent managers in charge of LANL.

You had a two year period from that point until July 1, 2006 to speak out against the plans to corporatize LANL before the contract was awarded. You, and 99% of the other cowards that you work with were too afraid to speak out.

So, now you pay the price for your collective silence. I don't feel sorry for you.

Anonymous said...

12:13 needs a reality check.
Its the technical staff that has repeatably blocked management efforts to contract out TECs and Secretaries, its the staff that has the contacts in DC that brings in the money. Without the TSM staff LANL has no reason to exist.
LLNL and SNL contract low level Tec and Admin. They only bring on board the best after being vetted for years. So the sad truth is that the average abilities of the support side at LANL is considerably less than the other laboratories. The top LANL Tecs and Admin can easy compete for positions other places but the mid and low level ones are in a tough spot. That coupled with their unwilliness to leave northern NM is going to be devastating. So 12:13 better pray that enough staff hangs around to provide them with a job.

Anonymous said...

I empathize with 9:11AM's outrage, but believe me...the Lab could care less about you or your lawyers. The worst thing Senator Domenici ever did for this place was providing it a blank check to financiing endless, protracted devil-may-care litigation. This one act alone spawned a level of arrogance among Lab managers that is largely the reason for our current state of affairs. Until this blatant abuse of power is curtailed, there's not much chance of the Los Alamos National Lab becoming a decent employer and responsible corporate citizen. As someone once said--power corrupts, absolute power corrups absolutely.

Anonymous said...

What support?

In addition to doing our research, my small team does all of its own management and support functions that our overhead is supposed to pay for.

We do Line Management, ensuring that each team member is continuously covered.

We do Program Management, ensuring that our projects are properly staffed, reported, and completed in a timely manner.

We do Program Development, hunting down new projects, customers, and sources of funding.

We do Administrative, creating our own spreadsheets of timekeeping and charge codes each week for all members of the team, and forecasting the burn rate for the out months.

We do Budget and Proposal, again creating detailed spreadsheets of future costs, gathering the complex system of signatures, and even mailing the proposal off.

We do Custodial, emptying our own trash cans, carrying recyclables to the outdoor bins, and restocking the bathroom with toilet paper (I'm not exaggerating).

We do Facilities, paying out of direct funds for paint, tiling, power upgrades, badge swipes, key cores, cell phones, pagers, and computer backups.

We do our own Morale building, paying out of personal pocket for small gatherings of food and fun.

We do our own Recruitment, again paying out of personal pocket to take interviewees to lunch.

We're ordered into generally worthless CYA training classes and told to direct charge our time to the projects that we so carefully budgeted and won.

And we are all just TSMs, not managers or support. We get no overhead funds for any of the above efforts. We're the ones who are supposed to be doing the work.

Our Technical Group and Division management recently warned us that their own overhead budgets were being further cut next year in order to feed the Support Divisions, so that we should expect even less support and more direct charging of other costs.

What support?

Anonymous said...

12:13 is not wrong, In my division I have seen upper management treat loyal contract support staff, who supported everyone who asked for help, like dirt, I've heard management lie about them, and I've seen only a few knowledgeable TSMs support them. The support is now gone, and those same TSMs are crying because they don't have the support they need. In my division fear is the only emotion I've seen from many of the TSMs, fear for themselves but not an overall concern for others..

Anonymous said...

6/24/07 1:07 PM must be a Troll. Even though the contract became a ballistic fact when its intent was announced in April 2003 (long before the shutdown), staff members fought long and hard against it. Of course you can't see the letters we wrote to our deaf congressmen. Nor can you know of the endless meetings with our upper management, hammering on them to try to get some sense into the process.

But just read the past blogs. We were never silent.

Anonymous said...

The 'big talkers' can be the best and the brightest but no longer will stomping your feet and demanding to be held high on a pedestal work effectively even if all you desire is the ability to do real, meaningful work with some sense of economic and mental stability as 6/24/07 12:13 stated (accurately, I believe).

In the minds of those who hold the keys to this kingdom, your time of what they perceive is purely pampered existence is over. The days of champions manipulating on behalf of the Lab since Gen. Groves, upon his reassignment to the Manhattan Engineering District, put in motion the earliest of Los Alamos's fast-track methods for procurement and pedestal-making by writing a letter to himself granting AAA war priority and walking it through the chain of command for signatures in order to have essentially carte blanche in most things that were unavailable or were highly restricted from anyone with a lower priority level (Hunner, "Inventing Los Alamos", 15) are gone, especially since the pressing need to grease the skids for magnificent progress on a priority mission has also diminished in many people's minds. (Note, this was long before Dominici arrived but he followed the well-established pattern perfectly.)

They, Congress, taxpayers, corporate managers who are here to 'save' the Lab et al, expect results and efficiency even if it's a painful process to make that a reality. And they expect that in the process, if I'm correct in my assumptions (always an unknown variable), that the best and brightest will be capable as well as willing to ensure that essentials like security aren't compromised in the process. They've been left with the indelible impression that there are really only a couple hundred of 'best and brightest' that are necessary to be retained (and catered to in order to retain them, if necessary). This is the foundation of the 'reality' that most decision-makers are working with. They are probably even more suspicious about motives and what ‘really’ goes on in this community (or region) when there seems to be more noise made about maintaining a perception of highly regarded reputation and incredibly generous standards of living rather than seeing an effort of salvaging or preserving the ability to perform incredible science (first).

If you're really one of the best and the brightest nuclear scientists who is dedicated to serving the nation's interests, the assumption is that you'd be willing to relocate or innovate in order to continue making a contribution (with the understanding that compensation packages would reflect your 'best and brightest' potential). The majority of the LANL population (of which I am one and not among the elite either) does not, unfortunately, fall into this category and thus are considered more of a burden or even a liability.

Certainly there are concerns that a sudden change in funding or massive change like shutdown of a large facility is going to hit the radar of an economically feeble state like NM and it does concern many decision-makers but not enough to warrant subsidizing the entire population when the work could be performed elsewhere at better rates and halt what they feel is a bad and unaffordable pattern of coddling an entire tri-county population. And even more importantly, if anyone is worth their pay (any pay at any level), they should be able to find work elsewhere even if it's not the same but perhaps commensurate with what you're making today (or in years' past) at LANL or more realistically, the market level for your skill set. Support, admin, TSM’s, and nearly everyone else should understand that it’s the person in the mirror to which this applies.

Gone is the golden goose of northern New Mexico and along with it, the props that have long held up an entire region's population that may have to learn to compete with their peers or revert back to the impoverished potential that this area would have remained had Oppie & Groves not found it so appealing for a remote enclave of secretive activity.

12:45 “I don't think sacrificing the well being of yourself or your family just to make a point to LANS is very well thought out.”

I don’t know that LANS is giving any though whatsoever about your family and it doesn’t prevent them from pursuing their goals with haste. You won’t be making a statement to LANS whether you stay or go; LANS managers aren’t listening or waiting for statements from the trenches, in case you’ve missed the clues. You’ll probably be salvaging your career and avoiding sacrificing your family in the long run if you’re realistic about what they are expecting.

Doug Roberts said...

It depends on your definition of "silent", 6/24/07 1:38 PM. By the time I shut down LANL, The Real Story, it had accumulated 3.3 million page views, and over 12,000 comments. Most of the comments, however, were either anonymous, or posted under cover of some cute little blog alias.

I would probably not use all the fingers on both hands counting up the individuals who were not afraid to post their thoughts on LANL under their real names: Brad Holian, Tom Meyer, Bernie Foy, John Horne, Todd Kauppila, Dave Forselund, and until I banned him from LTRS, Gary Stradling being the ones who stand out. There were a few others, but LANL staff were largely silent when it came to speaking openly against the mismanagement of LANL while using their own names.

--Doug Roberts

Anonymous said...


Wow, good post!

Anonymous said...

Yeah, but that illustrates the level of trust workers have in LANL management.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous posting allows free and open discussion without (much) fear of being attacked. This forum is more informational rather than action. Just like the blogs in Russia or China we're currently powerless to confront the evil empire. But maybe someday!

Anonymous said...

The free and open discussion that the blog allows can tell you a lot about the general morale of a place. If I meet anyone who wants to apply for work at LANL, I will direct them to this blog and then they can decide if they still want to apply.

Doug Roberts said...

"Yeah, but that illustrates the level of trust workers have in LANL management."

You miss my point. Prior to June 1, 2006 LANL employees were not subject to "at-will" termination. Yet, most staff were too fearful of LANL management to take a public stand against any of the series of management abuses that were occurring during that period.

I agree with 1:07 PM's position: that was cowardly; their jobs were not at risk for simply speaking out on LANL issues (the public firing of the LANL facilities manager in the downtown Los Alamos Starbucks by Nanos notwithstanding).

In today's environment of "at-will" employment it is a different story. I probably would not have started the LTRS blog had I been an at-will employee at the time.

--Doug Roberts

Anonymous said...

Poster 1:31 PM ("What Support?"), hear, hear! Been there, done that. Your post about having to do most of your own support work at LANL rings some familiar bells. LANS and Mike have said that they feel adding more support staff allows the TSMs to work more effectively and at lower costs. They are completely clueless as to what is really going on in the trenches at LANL.

Anonymous said...

"What support? 6/24/07 1:31 PM"

What a bunch of wimps!

Indeed "what support?".

In addition to all of "what support", my work site:

1) has had no building heat for an entire winter. No prospects of repair.

2) has no building ventilation for fresh air for 50 people in the heat of the summer due to the failed heating system.

3) has no running water...it was shut off due to a permanently failed sanitary sewer system.

4) has no sewer system, so no operable sinks in eating areas or wash rooms for sanitary cleanup.

5) has to depend on seven porta-johns for toilets (glad I'm not a girl) along with miserly-sparse dispensation of bottles of hand-sanitizers. Then the porta-johns blew over in a wind-storm creating a huge mess. An embarrassment to visitors.

6) now have use of a leased 24-stall toilet trailer with fresh running water, but storage tanks for the waste that recently ran over creating yet another huge mess and a reportable incident. Toilet trailer is located adjacent to the main building air intake, so guess what will happen when the main building circulating air is started up again.

LANS is sucking the life out of the Lab. LANL is broken. LANL support staff are non-existant.

Wait 'til the failure of basic facilities comes to a location near you!

Livermore. Give it a year.

Anonymous said...


"Dude" dared to question the Admiral in a public recorded meeting just two days before the big shutdown in August 2004, before your blog. Our management came down hard on him, and he eventually quit in disgust.

That same month, we dared to question Billy Pearl about the new dumbass rules being forced on us; he yelled at us in the meeting to shut up and do it, or else.

My team received a personal meeting with Nanos to decry the shutdown. We were publicly lauded for bringing these problems up with the Director and privately told we had better watch our necks for speaking too openly.

The message was clear to us before your blog had even started in 2005. Our own managers would not support us. The "survival unit" was the Team and the Individual, no higher. We had already seen "due process" used to fire outspoken individuals during the 1995 RIF. It was obvious that the new contract would cost monies not in the budget, and that trouble was coming. The "at will" status just expedites the abuse potential.

So I chose to never use my name in any of the blogs. My survival instinct is too strong.

Eric said...

Very interesting comments.


As Doug said the problems were clear even before he started the initial blog.

As for houses on the market, the current number is about 400 (70 is normal) and the current time on the market is 200 days (30 is normal for Los Alamos.

Anonymous said...

Eric, do you have a link to the housing data?

Anonymous said...

Good post 1:51. I agree that there is a group of people that is valuable and special arrangements could be made to keep them. However, that group is not large and I'm definitely not in it. Hence, I am working on an exit plan if needed.

Anonymous said...

Eric's numbers are inflammatory. Here's Nancy Mroz's: (click me) Nancy Mroz (a local long-time Los Alamos realtor) who says of mid May 2007:

Currently, there are about 212 homes available for sale. The median time on market for these homes is 110 days. The median list price is $309,000.

and Karen Hawkins (click me) Karen Hawkins (another long-time Los Alamos realtor)

Current Market Outlook
As of June 1st, 2007
Active Listings (all property types)
Active Listings 262
Average Price $337,154
Median Price $298,500
Number of Pending 25
Average Days on Market 136

Mroz's site particularly has lots of data going back many years.

The numbers are depressing, but not as bad as Eric claims, unless he wants to cite a different reference.

Anonymous said...

Doug, how's life treating you now that you've been on the outside for a while? Is it truly possible to live in the area with a good job and not have to bother with the stress of LANL? That sounds so enticing these days.

Anonymous said...

So now Eric is also a real estate expert, in addition to being a financial councilor? I agree, his data doesn't jive with the figures I have seen from local experts. The RE market in Los Alamos is bad, but not yet that bad! Perhaps by Summer of 08 we will be there, though.

Anonymous said...

The RE market is bad everywhere and it's not going to get better for a long, long time. It will probably continue to deteriorate well into the next decade and will hit bottom around 2018, I would imagine. This is just how RE boom/busts go.
Check out The Housing Bubble Blog:

Doug Roberts said...

6/24/07 5:11 PM, Thanks for asking.

I have absolutely no complaints. I telecommute to a company in the Research Triangle Park in North Carolina. It wasn't until I left LANL that I realized how unhealthy the work environment really was there. In my new company I'm doing work that I enjoy with people that I like and respect. I travel a bit, but that's because we're really busy (doing actual work, not brain-dead CYA training).

Sometimes change just for the sake of change is refreshing. When it's change that involves leaving LANL, it feels extra good.

--Doug Roberts

Anonymous said...

"Our Technical Group and Division management recently warned us that their own overhead budgets were being further cut next year in order to feed the Support Divisions, so that we should expect even less support and more direct charging of other costs. What support?" 6/24/07 1:31 PM

Yes, TSMs are about to be nickel'd and dime'd to death with scads of new "direct" charges. It's how many of those who don't bring in funds at LANL plan on getting through the upcoming budget crisis. As a TSM, the only people I can direct charge are my program sponsors, who are getting mighty tired of the FTE cost escalations at LANL. But does our management care? No way! They live off the taxes on the incoming project funds that the TSM bring work to bring in.

Anonymous said...

400+ Houses on the market is about tright, thyis includes people selling their own houses and not listing them with a Broker/Realator, and that was a few weeks ago, the number is growing as we speak....the average time is about 70-90 days, today it's about duh...forever

Anonymous said...

Eric just can't take a hint can he? At the same time he just can't resist this blog alone - the lack of activity at his own blog leaves him with far too much time on his hands. Eric - it has been repeatedly s-p-e-l-l-e-d out here. Please enjoy reading, but otherwise, don't share with us!

Anonymous said...

400 (including FSBO) or 200 (FSBR), it may not matter as much as the trend. You can see that the trend is clearly linear up now at
[For some reason, you get better resolution at this site if you use "single family" rather than "all"] This linear trend up in the summer (not spring), is a very, very bad sign (VVBS), similar (but smaller in amplitude) to the Phoenix RE trend.

Anonymous said...

From the wires this AM: "Inventory of homes for sale rises to 15-year high"

Anonymous said...

I though Eric was banned. Can't that be enforced?

Anonymous said...

" Anonymous said...

I though Eric was banned. Can't that be enforced? "

Good grief, just scroll past his comments. Some of us don't like to see the f word used so freely either, but we aren't asking for those posters to clean up their posts or be banned.

Anonymous said...

I don't use the f word, try to remain civil, but like so many here, have become quite annoyed at Eric's refusal to grant us the oft repeated request to remain silent (if he is even capable of doing so). Some of his longer self serving and useless posts are very difficult to "scroll past."