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Eph Linux

Stephen O’Grady ’97 has switched to a Linux desktop. Let’s make sure that WSO briefs all the new first years about this.

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Sox Diary: 8-31-04

Tuesday, August 31, 2004: Today was a good day. It was a great day. Were it not for Mike Myers (no, not the one of Austin Powers fame, and despite how it looked, not the one of Halloween fame, either) giving up a ninth-inning grand slam to make a laugher a 10-7 game, it might have been a historically great day. Oh hell, given that Foulke came in to close it out, and that the Yankees lost by what might be an American league record in a shutout shellacking at the hands of the Yankees, 22-0, and that we closed the gap to 3.5 (at one point they were up by 10.5; at the beginning of the month the lead was 8.5 games), and that we are up on the Angels by 2.5, and that the Rangers are losing, it was a pretty historically great day.

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Crane versus Needham

Before the comments to the below post get overwhelmed, I though it best to move the debate between Sam Crane and Mike Needham ’04 (and others) about Bush’s foreign policy to a new thread. That debate left off with

Prof. Crane:

You’re completely right that Jimmy Carter’s initial policy was to continue the “Republican” policy of detente (detente was “Republican” insofar as we define “Republican” to mean pre-1976 Republican Party civil war). I have not, do not, and most likely will not ever defend detente. Indeed, I was very pleased when Prof. Shanks asked the Record for a file photo of Prof. McAllister so the photo of Kissinger could finally be removed as his faculty facebook photo (hopefully by throwing in a Williams connection, I can keep this thread upon a little longer… though at the end of the day (literally) that’s just going to make me have to stay at work later to finish a paper… *sigh*).

Yes, he put an embargo on the Soviets. The effect of the grain embargo was to hurt our farmers and not the Soviets as he allowed everyone else to sell to the Soviets without any consequence.

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Rice Hall?

At some point, the College will have to put a name on the new Baxter, thereby revealing the identity of the generous donor, perhaps as early as convocation in two weeks. A favorite game here at EphBlog is Name that Donor, our attempt to guess the identity of this alum. I think that we are looking for a

very rich but not shy Williams grad from a not-wealthy family without a history of major gifts to the College, probably not a current trustee, perhaps approaching a major reunion.

My latest guess is Joe Rice ’54. Rice is a former trustee and quite active in College affairs. This past spring, while serving one of the chairs of his 50th reunion gift committee, Rice won the Rogerson Cup, “the College’s highest award for alumni service.” He is a co-founder of Clayton, Dubilier & Rice, one of the oldest (and most successful) private equity firms. Rice also served as an officer in the Marine Corps 50 years ago.

One reason why Rice might have asked that his gift not be announced last spring is that it might have overshadowed the 50th reunion gift from the class of 1954. One count against Rice is that Morty’s letter about the gift makes it appear like Morty doesn’t know the giver that well, whereas I think that Morty does know Rice. In fact, I think that Rice was chairman of the committee that selected Morty.

Perhaps we have some readers who can give us a few more clues. If not Rice, then who?

UPDATE: One of EphBlog’s anonymous sources reports that this guess is also wrong. Alas, s(h)e refuses to provide any other guidance.

UPDATE 2: Our source suggests that we will never be able to guess. The donor is not a well-known Eph name. Hmmmm.

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Sacred Blogging

David Senft ’07 notes

I was reading through some WSO blogs and I noticed that lots of people are blogging about important things that seem to matter to them a lot. Things like Bush and Kerry and Michael Moore and dining services. To me, blogging always meant a place where you went to escape things like politics and dining services. To me, blogging is a little more personal, a little more sacred, as it were.

Personal thought for the day: My eight year old daughter’s latest favorite activity is to read to adults, especially her parents. She’ll read to herself and, sometimes, to her sister, but she really wants to read to me. For how many more years will I be fortunate enough to have her want to do this? Why don’t I take more advantage of it now?

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Vitriolic

Derek Catsam ’93 has started a raucous discussion on the Kerry versus Swift Boat Veterans for Truth (SBVT) controversy at his other blog.

I would suspect that part of the reason we have been so quiet on Rebunk of late is that the presidential campaign, a topic obviously close to all three of us, has recently devolved into a rather unseemly war of words over John Kerry’s Vietnam service, a war of words into which Tom, Steve, and I have simply not wanted to become involved. But I do not want silence on my part to constitute an implication of apathy.

I am astounded that Republicans are going on the attack to impugn Kerry’s service.

In the comment section, Derek accuses the SBVT folks and their supporters of “vitriolic lies.” He asserts that:

You are not willing to condemn ads, books, interviews that lie. That lie outright. That so warp and misrepresent the truth as to be useful for nothing other than partisan gain. It just happens that your party is benefitting, thus, apparently, the silence.

I am no historian (!), but this seems over the top. I don’t think that everything that SBVT claim is a lie. In particular, their claim that Kerry has misrepresented his Chistmas visit to Cambodia (see page 17ff of this pdf) seems well-supported. See here and here for other commentary in the blogosphere.

My claim is not that everything that the SBVT is the truth, nor that Kerry shouldn’t be President, nor that this whole controversy really matters. My point is that Derek is setting a bad example for future Eph historians everwhere. Does he have any evidence that the SBVT are lying about Kerry’s service in Cambodia and his representations of that service?

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Sox Diary: 8-30-04

Monday, August 30, 2004: It is time for me to make an admission that has been scaring the devil out of me for two months or more. As my faithful readers, and even a few faithless ones, might have divined, I do not much go in for the Curse of the Bambino hooey. Red Sox fans may well be sinners in the hands of an angry, vengeful, and even arbitrary God, but it is a God that allows us to our own devices.

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Eph Comments

Before the semester starts in earnest, we are trying to upgrade some aspects of EphBlog. So, if you have an opinion and/or some technical expertise, we want to hear from you. Today’s issue is comments.

We hope that EphBlog will be the home to some rollicking discussion, as it was last year over topics like tips, quotes and military service. However, I, at least, find it hard to follow the discussion sometimes because the comments were not “threaded,”, i.e., there was no automatic way to figure out who was responding to what. See Derek Catsam’s ’93 blog for an example of threaded comments.

Here are some thoughts from our genius site maintainer Eric on how threaded comments might or might not work on EphBlog.

There is a threading plug-in that I can install that should be relatively “easy” (still will require a lot of edits – thankfully I think I can do it in a test template and the database changes “shouldn’t” break anything else). With that in place, then there is nothing with MT that inherently won’t allow threading comments (it basically says that one comment has an overall parent that is the original post, but then has a secondary and closer parent that is the comment to which it is a specific response to).

The main issue with any threading solution, regardless of MT, TextPattern, WordPress, or any other CMS (content management solution/system) is that visually they need to be represented in a way that indents them (like LiveJournal). That is not a problem at all if you have a comment that gets a single response.

But when you start getting a response to that response, etc, etc – the indents quickly get out of hand and usually break the style of the page (meaning they may overlap other content, distort the page layout, or any number of other nasties on the visual side). This can happen in just a matter of two or three nested replies. LiveJournal gets around this by making them just links after that, and then you have to click on them to view more – but it is (IMO) an ugly way of doing it and is not a pleasant user experience.

That visual ugliness has been the main thing holding me up – aside from any other commitments that increasingly come up.

Another option is a discussion board – such as what I put up at http://www.etraininglog.com/forums/index.php – but even those don’t thread (very few discussion boards thread, again due to the visual side of it), and instead have a “quote” feature. We could implement a “quote” feature on ours so that there is a link with each comment that says “quote” and when it is pressed (if they have JavaScript enabled, which most people do) then it puts the text into “blockquote” tags in their reply field (this is actually something that they can do now just manually typing out those tags and copying and pasting what they want).

I definitely agree with you that perhaps the best thing to do is to post a question right to the blog and get responses. It is very much possible that someone may know an easier/better way to do it, or it is also arguably possible that nobody even cares if they are threaded or not.

This is, of course, tied into our choice of Movable Type as a blogging platform. My first choice would be to do all of this at WSO, but they lack the capability (I think) for multiple authors.

So, does anyone have any insights on how to make the comments capabilities of EphBlog more useful and conducive to good conversation?

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Cumbersome

Libertarians, like John Phillips ’02, sometimes say the darndest things!

It’s 4 am in Paris and I can’t sleep because I hate the progressive income tax. I just do. The very idea gnaws at me like an unfriendly rat or a cumbersome girlfriend.

Another Eph who needs to read more EphBlog! I wonder what sort of metaphors the unnamed girlfriend might come up with for Phillips . . . Just asking!

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Mean (non-Eph) Girls

Luis Taboada ’02 is having girl problems.

I guess I just wish girls would be upfront about things. I wish they would just say something along the lines of “I never want to talk to you/see you ever again” rather than say “lets hang out again” or “I hope we can be friends” when they don’t mean it. I know it would probably suck a lot to hear that at first but in the end, it saves you from feeling pathetic later on when you actually try to be friends with these girls and you get no response.

Another example of why more people should listen to advice from EphBlog. Of course, I got the whole “let’s be friends” schpiel from my lovely wife on several occasions (and had to ask her out 4 (!) times to get a first date), so Luis should hang in there.

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Ephmail Invites

DeWitt Clinton ’97 kindly offers Gmail invites to Ephs and others.

And so does Stephen O’Grady ’97.

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Sox Diary: 8-29-04

Sunday, August 29, 2004: Six in a row, twelve of thirteen, fifteen of eighteen, eighteen of the last twenty-two. Sometimes numbers can be eloquent in their simple explication of complex reality. I am not certain that I am thrilled about tomorrow’s off day, but I do know that as well as we have been playing, it is all prelude to the next couple of weeks. The Wild Card is a dogfight right now, as the Angels, A’s and Rangers are playing nearly as well as we are. We get a shot at all of those teams in our next three series, and this is when it is essential to gain ground each series. We can effectively eliminate each of them as a serious contender if we win each of these series. Right now we have a game-and-a-half lead on Anaheim.

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Sox Diary: 8-28-04

Saturday, August 28, 2004: I am setting myself up for an enormous, crashing fall by being as stoked about the Sox as I have been since the April evisceration of the Yankees. Last night they continued their hot streak (10 of 11 and counting) by beating the Tigers 5-3. Derek Lowe went eight innings, a season high, and gave up three runs on the way to the victory. He has now only lost once in his last six appearances, and many, including The Globe’s Bob Hohler, are speculating that Nomar’s trade helped him more than anyone by improving the infield defense and thus helping the sinkerballer’s cause. Obviously it is impossible to prove whether or not this is so. I believed that Lowe would right things in the second half of the season anyway, but if he is more confident in the defense, and that helps explain his recent performances, there will be no complaints from this corner.

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Farley ’03 Update

Derek Catsam ’93 has an update on Scott Farley’s ’03 chances of making the Patriots over at his other blog. He cites a Boston Globe article that is this week-end’s must Eph reading.

That’s because Scott Farley, who grew up in Williamstown and played for his father at Division 3 Williams College, is trying to become the lone Massachusetts native to make the Patriots roster. The odds are stacked against him — Ravens offensive tackle Ethan Brooks is the only other Williams graduate on an NFL roster. (Of course, it could help that Patriots owner Robert Kraft is an Eph.)

Really? I know that Jon Kraft ’86 (second in command of the Kraft family empire and current trustee) is an Eph along with Josh ’89. Sally ’79 and Kathy ’82 also seem like possible relatives, but I don’t know that for sure.

But the only Kraft listed in the directory of Bob’s vintage is Richard M. Kraft, Jr. ’52. I could see this as Bob’s brother, but is it the same person? Is the alumni directory wrong?

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Sox Diary: 8-27-04

Friday, August 27, 2004: For all of the sturm and drang, the 2004 Red Sox are two games ahead of the pace set by their much more lovable (at least knowing what we do now about the season) 2003 forebears. That is a remarkable fact, and one trumpeted pretty clearly in the Globe today. Dan Shaughnessy wrote a fairly gushing piece, yet another example of the kinder, gentler Curly Headed Boyfriend revealing himself from his hardened soul.

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Question for Lapon ’05

Random Thoughts has a question for everyone’s favorite angry WSO blogger, Gary Lapon ’05.

But what are you doing with your anger? Are you using it as fuel for organizing? One of the easiest things to do when you’re at Williams is to (1) bitch about how hard you have it, and (2) one of the harder things is to try to fix things at Williams in a constructive manner. The harder thing yet (3) is to go into North Adams and try to help the folks there out, but to do it in a non-hierarchal, “I’m from Williams and I know what’s good for you” kinda way. The hardest thing (4) probably is to go abroad and try to help kids in sweatshops who are lucky to make $20 on average, a month, or kids who are fighting their governments’ wars.

And yeah, I know that we never talk about class at Williams. Why should we when 60% of the students’ families can afford to pay $200,000 for their education? That sort of stuff just makes people uncomfortable at entry dinners. And you wouldn’t want to disturb someone while they were eating . . . that would be downright impolite.

No word yet on whether Random Thoughts will be in NYC next week.

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Fridge Cleaning

Karen Lichtman ’02 has a hilarious post on what happens when a refrigerator breaks for several weeks when no one is around to notice.

The next day I called the Simmons and explained the problem. Yes, the fridge light was on, indicating that it had power. No, it wasn’t making any noise or trying to cool down. They were sure it could be fixed. “Are you sure you want to fix it?” I asked. “I mean, it smells really bad.” The mom replied: “Why does it smell?”

WHY DOES IT SMELL? She clearly had NO IDEA of the MAGNITUDE of the problem!

“WELL THEN, you’ll JUST HAVE to CLEAN IT OUT,” she ordered. This is a woman who would die from smelling one whiff my fridge. If it were her fridge, she would have her maid clean it. Unfortunately, in the present situation, I was her maid.

Read the whole thing. It is probably the funniest WSO post of the summer.

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Note from Rahill ’88

Have you e-mailed an Eph serving in harms way yet? Well, you really should. JR Rahill ’88, call sign Wily, is flying F-16’s in Iraq. He writes:

We’ve been very busy over here, 24/7 ops, lots of fighting, our job is to support the marines, army, Iraqi Guard and coalition forces on the ground. Can’t wait to get home, miss my wife and boys a lot.

I’ve got a lot of respect for the marines, have worked with them a lot, those guys are hard-core. I really feel for all of the guys on the ground, they are living in some brutal conditions, hot, dirty, getting shot at all the time, fighting an elusive enemy who doesn’t like to make direct contact but mostly uses rockets, mortars, RPGs and IEDs. I’m not sure what the solution to this conflict is, but it’s got to be straightened out politically, and we’ve got to get the security situation in hand before we can hand it off and get out of there.

JR, aka Wily

You can e-mail JR at john.rahill _at_ auab.aorcentaf.af.mil. If you haven’t yet, why not?

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Sox Diary: 8-25-04

Wednesday, August 25, 2004: Within any season there are dozens, hundreds of little plots and subplots to occupy the most fervid fan’s waking hours. The Red Sox seem to have more of these petit dramas in any given year than most teams.

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Appendix

Here’s some helpful advice, especially for those between the ages of 10 and 30.

If you have a stomachache that’s been hanging around for a while, and it doesn’t feel any better after you’ve been to the bathroom, feel around your stomach. If there’s a small region of tenderness about 24 hours or so after the pain or discomfort started, go get it checked out by a doctor. It may be appendicitis, and that’s not something you want to wait on dealing with.

Trust me on this, I just got back from the hospital yesterday afternoon after going in on Sunday evening, and I caught it early. Chances are that if it is appendicitis, you’ll end up having surgery sooner or later, but if you wait, it’s much more likely that they’ll have to cut you open, rather than doing it laparoscopically.

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Marston’s ’73 Music

Nice article on Ward Marston ’73.

For three decades now, the Pennsylvania native has provided a bridge to our musical past. Marston is a sonic magician, hailed for his restorations of antique, often intractable historical recordings. With 500 CDs worth of material released to date, his work has garnered international acclaim and several honors including a Grammy and Gramophone Award.

“You want to get the sound as natural as possible,” said Marston, from his home outside of Philadelphia. “I listen to as much live music as I can to keep the sound of real music in my ear. I always try to make the record sound like music — not like records.”

We had another post about Marston earlier in the year.

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Sox Diary: 8-24-04

Tuesday, August 24, 2004: Unfortunately, the Red Sox do not understand the whole chain of happiness. Last night they were shut out, 3-0, by Ted Lilly and the Blue Jays. This is not cause for too much alarm. The jays played just about the perfect game for them – Lilly gave one of the great pitching performances in franchise history, they got to Pedro with two quick runs right away, and yet even with this nearly flawless game, they only won by three runs.

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Bodnar ’05

Nice article about Chris Bodnar ’05 playing in an Oldtime Baseball Game.

Concord-Carlisle High graduate Chris Bodnar learned an important lesson last night at St. Peter’s Field: Never underestimate Dennis “Oil Can” Boyd.

With his team trailing, 2-1, in the fifth inning of the 11th annual Oldtime Baseball Game, the former Red Sox hurler smoked a line-drive RBI single into right field off Bodnar, tying the game for the Mount Auburn Hospital Stars.

“I was thinking, ‘Just throw strikes and he won’t be able to hit it,”‘ said Bodnar, who will enter his senior year at Williams College this fall. “I figured I could strike him out. But he came through and proved he could swing.”

Although he allowed the game-tying run in his lone inning of relief, Bodnar — along with eight other locals — relished the Game, where more than 30 college and high school athletes sported vintage uniforms and raised more than $41,000 for the radiation oncology department at Mount Auburn Hospital.

“This is my fourth Game and I always think the magic will wear off. But it never does,” said Bodnar, who donned Stan Musial’s No. 6 Cardinal jersey. “You’re never going to get this atmosphere anywhere else.”

And despite giving up a crucial hit to Boyd — who also looked like he could help Boston’s beleaguered bullpen with a four-inning, two-run effort — Bodnar could only smile as he scanned the scene unfolding on a starry night in Cambridge.

“You realize how fun baseball is,” said Bodnar, who received help from former Patriots linebacker Steve DeOssie at first base. “We are out here to have fun and just play.”

A feel-good story all around.

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Our Country’s Fragile Self-Esteem…

…has caused purple to become the new red.

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Sox Diary: 8-23-04

Monday, August 23, 2004: First day of classes here at UTPB, and my students undoubtedly will benefit from how well the Sox are playing. It’s sad but true – the Sox effect my mood, and my mood in so many obvious ways effects my students. Of course it goes without saying that Yankees’ hats are strictly verboten in my class, which usually garners a whole lot more support than it engenders hostility. In any case, I’m only draconian where I must be, but Yankees’ hats are a must quash situation.

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Unfazed

The Transcript reports on reaction to the US News ranking. All the students quoted say sensible things. Best bit:

Molly Sharlach, 20, a senior from Redding, Conn., said while hearing of U.S. News’ ranking makes her feel proud she is a Williams student, the report’s criteria is not what makes the college a great place.

“The setting is definitely part of it, and that’s something you can’t really measure,” said Sharlach. “Some of the things that they have in there, like the student-to-faculty ratio, I think that is meaningful. Our faculty are really accessible and really love teaching and working with students. I think that’s one of the big advantages to Williams. You actually do go to dinner at their houses.”

So true. In all the time that I was at Harvard, it was extremely rare for an undergraduate to be invited dinner at a faculty member’s house. I would wager that such invitations are at least 5 times more common at Williams than they are at larger schools.

Even almost 20 years after the fact, I am still mortified that I forgot to attend a dinner at Professor Alan White’s house after RSVPing Yes.

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Sox Diary: 8-22-04

Sunday, August 22, 2004: The weekend was all that we expected and more, as Josh and I had a crazy fun time. We did not treat our bodies especially well, and I desperately need tonight’s sleep, but it was worth it.

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More on Wilkins ’41

Great iBerkshires article on E. Wayne Wilkins ’41. Although I already blogged about Wilkins here, this article adds lots of good detail. My favorite parts:

Francis C. Oakley, president emeritus of Williams, enumerated Wilkins’ leadership roles for the college. Wilkins, in his senior year, was elected permanent president of his class and has served as vice president of the Society of Alumni and a permanent trustee, and a member of two presidential serarch committees. Wilkins was awarded the Rogerson Cup, the highest award for alumni and the college’s Bicentennial Medal.

“Few of us, of course, are anxious to find ourselves in it, but some of us will,” Oakley said of the future emergency center. Being in a center that bears Wilkins’ name “is a measure of confidence and reassurance, and the first crucial step in the healing process,” he said.

A Williams classmate from 1941, Preston “Pete” Parrish, noted that Wilkins led the 50th Reunion Committee, which raised a record $12 million for the college. Parrish praised Wilkins’ “commitment and compassion.

“He is truly a caring man. It is fitting to name the emergency department in his honor,” said Parrish, who traveled from Michigan for the event.

Wilkins’ manner was in marked contrast to that of his colleagues — other chairmen of services at Mass. General — Cronin recalled.

“Physicians and surgeons, to my young eyes, treated their students and residents in a way that bordered on abusive,” he said.

Cronin also noted Wilkins’ modesty, exemplified by his response, when asked to help the hospital: “I don’t know how a guy like me could help you.” Cronin said Wilkins’ service on the hospital’s committee on quality led to the creation of REACH.

“Wayne is my model for how I want the second half of my life to be,” he said.

Some thoughts:

1) There is a great senior thesis to be written about Wilkins’ contribution to the field of emergency medicine. I haven’t been able to find any good sources for this story, but it is my understanding that Wilkins, along with others, essentially invented emergency medicine as a separate specialty.

2) Parrish is a former trustee himself and Marine Corps WW II hero, a term which I do not use lightly.

3) The whole article is a fun read, especially for those of us trying to figure out how to lead the second half of our lives well.

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Liberal Arts

Graeme Biervliet-Schranz ’04 has some thoughts on a liberal arts education. Interesting discussion ensues.

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Sox Diary: 8-20-04

Friday, August 20, 2004: Today one of my best friends, Josh, some into town to pay me a visit here in the heart of Texas’ Permian Basin. Pep (his last name is Pepin) is also a diehard Sox fan and a fellow New Hampshire boy. I suspect that there will be beer involved. The Sox are the national Fox game tomorrow as well, so we’ll get to watch them.

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