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Friday, March 30, 2007

sharing experiences

"Sharing experiences --- whether about our childhood or about likes and dislikes, happy and unhappy times --- is another way of integrating play, love and work. For when we share experiences, we represent our experiences (play), share it with our family (love), and develop communication skills (work). ... When we share experiences with our children, we come to appreciate then as individuals and give them the freedom to be the best they can be. We give them wings to sail with the wind. With roots and wings, children as best prepared to weather the climate of schooling ..."

From The Power of Play by David Elkind

The holiday dinner table with the extended family; whether the Sherlock side or the Proulx side is a wonderful discussion setting for three generations. Dolores and I have our siblings and their families along with our parents. There generally is an "adults" table and a "kids" table. There is some mix of the generations at each table and it is all good.

The discussion and sharing that occurs at these times is much like what is referenced by David. Especially now that our daughters are off to college, we don't get the chance to have the dinner discussion like we used to regularly. These holiday times become all the more special.

How do you share? Do you have a regular meal together?

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Thursday, March 29, 2007

Stop Cyberbullying

Andy Carvin is advocating for stopcyberbullying this Friday. I applaud his efforts and will add my 2 cents to endorse it here and elsewhere.

In my advocation of this is I would not limited this to just one day. We should practice this every day.

We need to treat each other with respect. We need to have civil conversations.

The more we do this the better off we will all be.

Read Andy's posting on this here.

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sharing our passions

"One of the best ways of ensuring our children both play and develop lifelong habits of play is to share our personal passions with them. Our passions are activities we love and engage in whenever we have the opportunity to do so. Whether golf, gardening, fishing, or jogging, passions give us a creative outlet that we may not find in our jobs or professions. They allow us to realize our personal talents and abilities. Children are blessed when we have passions that we can share with them. While they might not take them up, they have the opportunity to see us engaged in something we love and do for no other reason than the shear pleasure of doing it."

From The Power of Play by David Elkind

I have run for 30 plus years. I did not always run every day, usually 3-4 days per week. Since I've used the FIRST plan, it has generally been 3 days per week. My daughters have not known me without an association to running.

They have been exposed to our diverse musical tastes. They have been exposed to our love of reading. One of the key factors in determining the layout of our 3-season porch was the requirement for four comfortable chairs so all of us would have a place to read together.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

forts and boxes

"I became aware of another variety of playacting several years ago. A graduate student at Leslie University made an appointment to see me. When me met, Mark tolld me that he had taught at a Montessori school nearby. He said that he was intrigued by something he had observed during the children's lunch hour. Both boys and girls would go into the woods and build makeshift "forts" out of tree limbs, rocks and brush. ... I was indeed intrigued by the idea of forts because it was a facet of child life that I knew nothing about, despite many years in the field."
From The Power of Play by David Elkind

As much as I loved the book, this is one section I found surprising. David, where have you been studying kids at play to not know about forts or about related structures that kids love to build? I recall using blankets and pillows on our bunk beds to make a private play space. It became a fort when one of my brothers or sisters try to enter.

We moved a couple of times and each time my daughters and their friends loved playing with the moving boxes. On the last move here to Franklin, the arrangement of boxes; large wardrobe, big dinnerware, and smaller book boxes all became quite elaborately connected with Duct tape. There were doors, windows and tunnels. Then the outsides were decorated with markers, the floors were covered with extra area rugs or old towels. It became something of a kids Taj Mahal made of boxes.

And what family has not seen some little kids opening presents on either their birthday or around the holidays, where the kid has been more enthralled with the wrapping paper and the box than the toy itself?

Sometimes the simplest box can become the most fabulous toy!

When was the last time you played with a box?

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007


"The next stage of ordinality comes from children's being read to. When children hear a story several times they learn the order of the words, and want to hear them again and again. They are acutely sensitive to this order and get upset if it is not followed exactly."
From The Power of Play by David Elkind

I can attest to this from experience with reading to my daughters. We had a routine for Allison and Carolyn to each pick a Golden book to read before bed. Some nights, when we had time, it would be two or more. Some nights we picked something other than a Golden book. There were periods of the same book (for what seemed) weeks on end. I know I can still pick up the "The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry and the Big Hungry Bear" and get back into the flow of reading it like we did once upon a time.

Little Red Riding Hood was also a favorite. When we found Jim Trelease's Hey! Listen to This: Stories to Read Aloud, we also found that there were variations on this classic tale. Lon Po Po is one the girls liked but from the Trelease book the favorite was far and away "The Gunniwolf".

The Gunniwolf story provided repetition which the girls enjoyed, and variety when they let me. The first time repeating the story, it had to be exactly as the original. The second and third time as well. By the fourth time, I started to stray a little and the "pit a pat" of Little Girl's footsteps started to venture off the trail. Initially, my girls would have none of this variation. I had to stick to the book. Gradually, they found that going off the trail could be fun. They found that they could suggest something and sure enough, the "pit a pat" would take Little Girl there. Of course, the wolf's "hunka cha" would follow but that was only natural.

Alas my girls are young ladies now, they don't fit in my lap together anymore. We still do read together for special times (like Christmas).

If there would be one single thing a parent should do with their children, for my own experience, I would recommend a routine of regular reading.

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Monday, March 26, 2007

playful handle for lapses

"Young children have the same problem with many other rules we try to inculcate, such as putting their toys away, picking up things they have dropped, not getting up from the table, and so on. If we appreciate that these lapses reflect intellectual immaturity rather than stubbornness, or rebellion, we can handle them in a playful way. When we do this the child is more likely to learn the rule than if we criticized the child for something he cannot help."
From The Power of Play by David Elkind

David goes on to mention a few alternatives to using this playful approach. As parents, we need to be mindful that they (as children) are intellectually immature and that the best approach is the playful one.

If you chose the punishment route, you are just starting on a path of more escalations which are doomed to failure because the child is intellectually immature. They don't comprehend the rules. They are looking to play.

If you play along with them and set the rules by playing, there will be successful development of the behavior you are looking for.

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Billy Collins links

For the Billy Collins friends and admirers here are some links I have accumulated.

Billy's official web site - The Best Cigarette

Internet Archive
(to download the Best Cigarette)

The Poetry Archive entry for Billy

Technorati's listing of all things tagged as "Billy Collins" (automatically updated)

Vimeo - Billy Collins reading some of his poems with creative video by others

If you find other worthwhile links, please let me know.

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Sunday, March 25, 2007

Spring Portrait

the first day of spring came and went already this week, I decided it was time to do a new set of portraits. A set to continue the main theme of Steve's 2 Cents, 2 heads are better than one, whatever...

I have set my self up for doing another set each season... oh well, such is the life!

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Review: The Power of Play - David Elkind

The Power of Play by David Elkind
is an insightful book. We all recognize that our children are the future. How do we help them learn well?

David writes:
"Learning is most effective when it involves play, love, and work. ... Children are not naturally motivated to learn from formal instruction. This motivation comes first and foremost from the ways in which literacy, math, music, and sports are introduced. Formal instruction is work. Parents and teachers are most effective if they build on children's love of stories, contrasts, rhythm and rhyme, unexpected facts, and humor. If we introduce literacy and numeracy with the use of these techniques, we build on children's spontaneous motivation and learning interesting and fun. At the same time, we also win the child's respect and affection and thus make the instruction a matter of play and love as well as work."

Can we also apply these best practices on how they learn to how we learn?

Aren't we still kids in some ways?

In many ways, yes.

I think if we look at how we learned best, we will recognize the same combination of play, love and work present at those key learning moments.

If these components were there, then in order to continue to learn, we should try and replicate the same combination of play, love and work in all our learning situations.

I would suggest that this combination of play, love, and work
There maybe other examples. These come to mind from activities I have been involved in.

I recommend this book to all those wanting to know more and especially to those who appreciate understanding how to learn.

For parents in particular, David closes the book with suggestions on how to beat the system. You can create opportunities to play the "Dumb books Caper", the case of the missing use, how to break the report card code, and tips on how to utilize the neighborhood tutor. These tips are worth working your way through the book. They will be fully appreciated (and balanced with play, love, and work) by the time you get to the end. Trying to get ahead of the "game" by going directly to the end defeats the purpose as you'll have missed the all important framing.

I have written a series of posts around other quotations from this book. The series is collected here.

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The Power of Play - Quote Series

The following posts were centered on quotes from The Power of Play, David Elkind, Ph.D.

play, love, work

iconic literacy

the diamond test

skill mastery and innovative play

cooperation, competition

The full book review

playful approach


forts and boxes

sharing passions

sharing experiences

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Friday, March 23, 2007

cooperation, competition

In cooperation the basic rule syllogism is: "I will help you and you will help me; I helped you, you help me." In competition the basic syllogistic rule is: "I will try and do better than you and you will try and do better than me: I tried to do better than you, you tried to do better than me." Both cooperation and competition are healthy. But competition can sometimes get out of hand... One solution to the cooperation/competition dilemma is to teach young people to compete with themselves and cooperate with others. In this way the child focuses on improving his own performance rather than besting the other child.

From The Power of Play; David Elkind, Ph.D.

Competition needs to be balanced. The news is often full of examples where it gets out of hand. Focus on cooperation can provide a better long term environment. We are all in this together. If we help each other, we can get further ahead.

I believe this. I try to act this way.

What do you think?

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Skill mastery and innovative play

Once children have mastered a skill by repetitive play, they want to innovate and push the limits of their newfound skill. Watch a child learning to climb up the top of a slide and go down. Initially the child will repeat the process over and over again. Then, extending the limits of what he has learned, the child may try climbing up the slide rather than the stairs; some children try going down on their stomachs. Once children feel confident walking, they want to run and to jump. In the same way, an older child who has learned to ride a bike will then experiment riding without hands, going on one wheel, and so on. Adults too, when they have mastered a skill, want to push the limits. That's when skiers are likely to break a leg.
From The Power of Play; David Elkind, Ph.D.

Doesn't this resonate? Doesn't this ring a bell?

How many playgrounds or groups of kids have you seen where this has occurred?

How many times did you do this yourself as you grew up?

Do you still do this now?

If you have achieved mastery, do you push to the limit?

This is NOT a bad thing.

It is a natural thing. Let's look to take advantage of it.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

the diamond test

Earlier I made the point that children's verbal facility often gave a false impression of their level of mental development. Language simply develops more rapidly than thought. The test I proposed was to ask the child to draw or copy a diamond. This task requires the age of reason. In order to draw a diamond, the child has to understand vectors --- the idea that one and the same line can move in two directions at the same time. This is the same issue we have seen over and over again as separating the child who has attained the age of reason from one who has not. In drawing a diamond he child has to make the line go down and out at the same time, and that is a problem for the presyllogistic child. Many highly verbal children have great trouble copying a diamond.

From The Power of Play; David Elkind, Ph.D.

Dolores, my wonderful wife of 25 years (this August), is in her joy each day teaching kindergarten. As we were discussing this quote, she said something interesting. She doesn't use the word 'diamond'. They prefer to use the mathematical term rhombus. The shapes she has for her friends to work with are either big rhombus or little rhombus. They also use hexagons, trapezoids, circles, and squares.

I wonder: the fairly catchy TV and print ads "Diamonds are forever", will these kids understand? If not from the class lessons, maybe from other sources?


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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

iconic literacy

... what we are seeing, particularly since the advent of computers, is not so much a new way of thinking as a new form of literacy --- iconic literacy. In many respects, the new media have reintroduced us to the rich world of pictorial icons and memorization that dominated the preliterate world. An icon is more than a picture or drawing because it is functional and is used to perform some task. You just have to look at your computer screen desktop, your cell phone, your BlackBerry, or any computer game to recognize the extent to which icons permeate our world and our thinking. In contrast to adults, who have to struggle to remember what all these icons mean and do, young children are preliterate and have an intuitive grasp of, and memory for, icons. This intuitive iconic literacy may be one of the reasons children take so readily to electronic media. Whether this form of literacy supports, inhibits, or has no effect on print literacy is yet to be determined.

From The Power of Play, David Elkind, Ph.D.

This helps to explain the youthful advantage to figuring out icons and the hesitancy of adults to interact with the same icons.

It also raises questions on how you can introduce new icons. The icon needs to be in the context to be used. It needs to be representative of the action you must take and also indicate the results you will get. That is, do this and you will get what you want (search results, next page, bigger picture, etc.)

This is where design, research, understanding the user, and the situation will definitely come in to play before hand. If you rush this, you'll fail and maybe loose the chance at winning the user.

On the other hand, working with some "friendly" users can help to figure it out before putting it out for the "real" test.

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Monday, March 19, 2007

Play, love, and work

Play, love, and work are operative throughout the human life cycle. The relative contribution of each disposition, however, varies with the particular stage of growth. The development of play, love, and work unfolds in four major periods. During infancy and early childhood, play is the dominant and directing mode of activity; love and work are secondary. After the age of six or seven --- during childhood proper --- work takes charge as play and love take on supportive roles. In adolescence love becomes the overriding determinant of activity, with work and play subsumed under this disposition. In adulthood, play, love, and work become fully separate but can appear together in one or another combination. Some adults, for example, love their work but have little time for play. Then there are the professional athletes whose play is their work. And sometimes all of us appreciate play, love, and work as a single joyful experience.

From The Power Of Play - David Elkind, Ph.D.

I have finished reading this book and it is good. I have selected a set of quotes from it to write about as I prepare the 'formal' book review. This quote comes from the first chapter where David provides his thesis statement.

The alignment of play, love and work with the major periods of growth makes sense. Many of us would like to return to our childhood play days. Others would like to return to that first love in adolescence.

I do what I love; running for my physical health, writing for my mental health, and work to pay the bills to make to all happen.

What do you do?

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Sunday, March 18, 2007

Lessons from the Icicles

Originally uploaded by shersteve.
The front porch railing has new ornaments this morning. The melting snow on the roof dripped over the edge and fell to the railing below gradually, drop by drop, forming this series of icicles.

If the melting was allowed to continue (the roof is south facing) with the air temperature stil hovering around the freezing mark, these icicles would continue to grow downward and then outward. If left long enough, they could fill in the gap between the ballisters, creating a frozen window.

Alas, this may not happen today. The south facing may heat up too much to allow this phenomenom.

I admire Natures persistence. It will drip, and form, and continue to do so as long as the conditions allow. It will not give up because it will be too warm today or if it were to realize the action would be futile.

Are you as persistent in your learning?
It only takes a little effort each day to be open to learning.

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Saturday, March 17, 2007


lots of things happen by accident, some by luck, I guess it all depends on your perspective.

I wrote about preparation and work this morning.

I was writing about an "accidental yogist" and instead of saving it in draft, it got posted, by accident?

I can't wait to see!

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Friday, March 16, 2007

Love Affair with Books

Midway through the month of March, yes March is truly living up to its name and "marching" on, we have book reviews on meditation, politics, leadership, fantasy, and food to just name some recent topics.

Click on over, read a review or two, and join in the conversations via the comments.

This is one healthy love affair you can partake of virtually!

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Research is a method

Dan Saffer of Adaptive Path writes well on "research as a method, not a methodology".

One of the reasons designers are hired is their expertise — those “good guesses” — part of which comes from knowing what works in most situations, and what doesn’t. It could be argued that this expertise (which is made up of intuition, experience, understanding and taste) is more important than an understanding of users. I’m not sure I want to go that far, but I have decided that there is a more reasonable approach than the dogma that research has to be included on every project. Evidence that is all around us, from the humble fork to the lauded iPod, proves that this dogma simply is not true.


It could be argued that these “Only When” guidelines I just outlined apply to every design project and every designer. Which is true, to a degree. Who, for instance, doesn’t need inspiration and empathy?

But I want to shift assumptions about research: Namely, stop thinking of it as a necessary approach to design and start thinking of it as just a helpful tool. Saying that research is required for every project would be like saying that all projects need wireframes or content analyses, which just isn’t the case. Yes, research is good for many types of projects (as outlined above), but it isn’t always a necessity.

As Jesse pointed out, “Research can help us improve our hunches. But research should inform our professional judgment, not substitute for it.” Like other tools in the designer’s toolbox, research should be used only when necessary, not applied to every project unthinkingly.

Click through to read his full article and find out the details on when to use research. It makes a whole lot of sense to me. I recently read FastCompany's March edition and the piece on the trading tool for the NYSE is a case in point where research was required to get the design to be accepted and functional by the traders.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Stretching into new areas

The trees are leafless. Normal for this time of year in New England.

Fascinating all the same. Look at them closely!

The tips are thin. Work back down toward the branches.

As you do so the branches get thicker.

As you work your way down the branches to the trunk, the thickness increases.

Below ground, the roots spread out in a pattern something like what we can see above ground.

How do you reach out to learn something new?

Do you send forth a thin query?

Or do you jump in whole lock, stock, and barrel?

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

What do you do to stop?

life moves very quickly

sometimes you just need to stop

take a break, a deep breath

and then resume

What is your stop button? What works for you?

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Monday, March 12, 2007

Stata @MIT

The Boston Globe had an article reflecting on the first three years of the Stata building at MIT. I had my first opportunity there as part of the BeyondBroadcasting 2007 event which was held a couple of weeks ago.

You can read the full article here.

I would add that I was impressed with how the mix of old and new helped the building work. The new space arrangement, created odd places along the main 'street' which enabled conversation to just happen as folks gathered. The 'old' technology, chalkboards and big pieces of what we would have called sidewalk chalk were in use to draw out diagrams or the line of thought on boards along the 'street'.

Virtual chalkboards, workspaces are cropping up in the online community to enable collaboration in the internet for folks scattered about the world. But the real chalkboard still has a place where people do gather. An alternative to the chalkboard, the whiteboard with erasable markers was oddly not prevalent in the 'street'.

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Did You Know?

Scott MacLoed has tweaked a presentation originally put together by Karl Fischer.

This is a must see. Here is the YouTube link.

One teaser line from it (pay attention to this Allison and Carolyn!):
At the rate of growth of knowledge in the world, half of what a freshman in college learns today will be obsolete by the time they are a junior!

What is the tagline for this blog?
Oh, yes: commencement begins everyday!

I think this is one of the reasons why I did that....

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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Somebody's happy

Somebody's happy
Originally uploaded by shersteve.
Another view of the iPod ads at South Station.

At least somebody is happy in this view.

Notice the book seller display to the left?

I'll report back on how many of the books in the Love Affair of Books are on sale there. In the mean time, you can read 24 reviews during the month of March on the Joyful Jubilant Learner blog.

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Friday, March 02, 2007

A Love Affair with Books

The lineup is impressive!

The number posted is growing as the month passes day by day!

Jump on over, subscribe, participate, and enjoy!

March 1:
Made to Stick, written by Chip and Dan Heath
Reviewed by Tim Milburn

March 2:
Setting the Table, written by Danny Meyer

Reviewed by Rosa Say

March 3:
GRUB, written by Anna Lappe and Bryant Terry
Reviewed by Mary Hunt

March 4:
Love is the Killer App, written by Tim Sanders
Reviewed by Benjamin Bach

March 5:
Authentic Leadership, written by Bill George
Reviewed by Dean Boyer

March 6:
Two Weeks to a Breakthrough: How to Zoom Toward Your Goal in 14 Days or Less, written by Lisa Haneberg
Reviewed by Dwayne Melancon

March 7:
Do Less, Achieve More, written by Chin-Ning Chu
Reviewed by Karen Wallace

March 8:
Your Brain on Music, written by Daniel Levitin
Reviewed by Steve Sherlock

March 9:
The Zen of Groups, A Handbook for People Meeting With a Purpose
, written by Dale Hunter, Anne Bailey and Bill Taylor
Reviewed by Lisa Haneberg

March 10:
The Omnivore's Dilemma, written by Michael Pollan
Reviewed by Bren Connelly

March 11: Trackback Sunday. Can’t choose just one book? Now that is a great problem to have! This will be the day to trackback a post here with other book reviews published elsewhere!

March 12:
Wherever You Go There You Are, written by Jon Kabat-Zinn
Reviewed by Chris Owen

March 13:
Move Closer Stay Longer, written by Dr. Stephanie Burns
Reviewed by Beth Robinson

March 14:
Leaders’ Playbook, How to Apply Emotional Intelligence: Keys to Great Leadership, written by Reldan Nadler
Reviewed by Wayne Hurlbert

March 15:
The Sundering, Banewreaker and Godslayer, a two-volume work written by Jacqueline Carey
Reviewed by EM Sky

March 16:
The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama
Reviewed by Nneka

March 17:
Citizen Marketers by Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba
Reviewed by Phil Gerbyshak

March 18: Trackback Sunday 2. Did you miss this sign-up? Never fear ...this is your second chance to trackback a post here with other book reviews published elsewhere!

March 19:
How to Connect in Business in 90 Seconds or Less, written by Nicholas Boothman
Reviewed by John Richardson

March 20:
Seeing David in the Stone, written by James B. Swartz and Joseph E. Swartz
Reviewed by Terry Starbucker

March 21:
The Difference Maker, written by John C. Maxwell
Reviewed by Tim Draayer

March 22:
Oh the Places You'll Go!, written by Dr. Seuss
Reviewed by Dave Rothacker

March 23:

The Starfish and the Spider, by Ori Brafman and Rod A. Beckstrom

Reviewed by Dave Rothacker

March 25: Trackback Sunday 3. Still reading? Fantastic! Third chance to trackback a post here with other book reviews published elsewhere!

March 26:

Rapid Fire Learning March 2007 (boy oh boy, will we have some great sharing on this day after all these reviews!)

March 27:
StrengthsFinder 2.0, written by Tom Rath
Reviewed by David Zinger

March 28:
One, written by Lance Secretan
Reviewed by Greg Balanko-Dickson

March 29:
Think and Grow Rich, written by Napoleon Hill and newly edited by Ross Cornwell
Reviewed by Carolyn Manning

March 31:
Go Put Your Strengths to Work, written by Marcus Buckingham
Reviewed by Blaine Collins

The summary as published at JJL, includes the books that were covered during the trackbacks as well.

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Thursday, March 01, 2007

Ray - in his own words

From The Show with ZeFrank, Ze delivers the remixed CDs to Ray and Ray talks about his song. This is a must view for a number of reasons.

the show with zefrank: 02-28-07

Do yourself a favor and spend about 10 minutes to view this!
You will be glad you did.

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