08-20-2020, 01:08 PM
#1
  • chazt
  • Senior Member
  • Queens, NY
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The Den Specific Observational Brush Rating Scale - 2 Band (DSOBRS-2B)
c. 2020, C. Jaffe
(Published courtesy of The Shave Nook)

The Den Specific Observational Brush Rating Scale - 2 Band (DSOBRS-2B) is the result of questions raised in The Shave Nook, an Internet forum (TSN, “a place to discuss the fine art of wet shaving,” [http://shavenook.com/index.php]). In “What makes a great brush great?” (WMAGBG, http://shavenook.com/showthread.php?tid=55584), forum members opined on the qualities inherent in shave brushes that they felt were important to enjoyable lathering experiences, and were therefore necessarily vital to overall satisfaction with the shave itself. The questions posed in WMAGBG were the genesis of the DSOBRS-2B. This OP was immediately struck by the difficulty of quantifying the various elements of a shave brush to provide a coherent response, and thus was unable to provide a response worthy of the questions themselves. Indeed, one can peruse conversations in any of the various online shave related fora and will discover a myriad of opinions on the various aspects of individual elements of shave brushes beyond their actual physical construction. People discuss subjects such as knot diameter, loft, density, softness of tips, backbone, flow through, etc. Handles are considered relative to their shape, size, ergonomics, color, etc. In this OP’s experience, although widely discussed and debated, there has yet to be a concerted effort to quantify the qualitative opinions sought in WMAGBG.

The DSOBRS-2B attempts to quantify and provide a measure of a shaver’s brush collection relative to itself. Please note, there is a  distinction between 2 band hair relative to 3 band badger hair, boar bristle, horse hair or synthetic fiber. This study investigated 2 band badger brushes in the OP’s personal collection during the time period of the study. The brushes were used only for face lathering. Observations were by nature subjective and are in no sense of the word, scientific. Results obtained with the DSOBRS-2B should be taken with the proverbial grain of salt and should not be extrapolated and/or extended to any other shaver’s shave brush collection. The DSOBRS-2B does not presume to make judgements on the individual merits of brush cost or place of manufacture. Readers of this paper will note that there was no intertester reliability and that subjects were not chosen randomly. It is expected that readers of this paper will provide informed critique and peer review. Individuals are encouraged to begin their own investigations into their own unique collections.

The investigation was conducted between late November, 2019 and mid January, 2020. While conducting the trials, care was taken to not use any 3 band brushes which might have obfuscated focus on the 2 band hair. Full disclosure requires reporting the use of two synthetic brushes (three uses total) during the investigation. Review of the data commenced, and an early draft of the findings was initiated in late January, 2020. In February, 2020 the project was put aside for a number of reasons. Data review and writing resumed in mid August, 2020. It is also noted here that the OP engaged in a similar activity during the summer and fall of 2019 relative to the 3 band brushes in his collection. No data was collected at that time, hence there are no findings to report in that regard.

This study looked at the following aspects of shave brushes. The categories are listed arbitrarily:

Knot: scrub, scritch, density, flow through, backbone, softness of tips and aesthetics.

Handle: ergonomics, aesthetics and Q factor. Q factor is a categorical term created by the OP for this study. It is here defined as of or pertaining to that which makes an object special, unique or one-of-a-kind. A handle’s Q factor can be thought of in terms of its general grooviness and WOW! appeal.

During trials, after each use the subjects’ knots and handles were assigned categorical values ranging from 1-4, with two exceptions, scrub and flow through. After careful consideration, it was determined that a 3 point rubric was sufficient for determining such values. It was further determined that intermediate, decimalized scores (e.g., 2.5, 3.9, etc.) would be useful when analyzing the data as it related to small distinctions between brushes. The rubrics are shown below.

Knot

Scrub:
1 = not enough
2 = too much
3 = just right

Scritch:
1 = barbed wire
2 = palpable
3 = a hint
4 = none

Density:
1 = meh
2 = more
3 = too much
4 = just right

Flow through:
1 = oink!
2 = leaves a little around the middle
3 = gives it up!

Backbone:
1 = Flop City
2 = too much!
3 = almost...
4 = just right

Tips (silky-softness):
1 = eww
2 = meh
3 = impressive
4 = luxurious

Aesthetics:
1 = unevenly shaped/too many upside down
2 = well shaped/some upside down
3 = very well shaped/even colored
4 = all of 3, plus iridescent and perfect

Handle

Aesthetics:
1 = boring
2 = getting better
3 = interesting!
4 = Special

Ergonomics:
1 = uncomfortable
2 = it’s just too small/large
3 = very friendly
4 = Yes!

Q factor:
1 = bereft
2 = OK
3 = “Please, Sir. I want more”
4 = YOWZA!

Subjects order of use in the trials remained consistent through all three trials, with one exception. The BSSW Arley was custom ordered and received after the trials had commenced. It was placed in the rotation at the end of the second trial. At the conclusion of trial three, Arley’s second round, a consecutive third trial shave was conducted. The initial order of rotation was based on shelf placement on Day 1 of trials and proceeded from left to right. As many of the brushes were not given identifying model designations by their maker, for identification during the study with a few exceptions the brushes were named by the OP, generally referencing the color of the handle. Please note that the OP does not have exact data regarding knot diameters and lofts, nor does he own calipers with which to provide such data. Unscientific? Absolutely, Yes. But brushes are all about feel, are they not? Subjectivity at its finest!

A selection of highly regarded, top quality soaps from the OP’s existing rotation at the time of the investigation was used for the study. Soap choice was random from day to day. Soaps used were Barrister & Mann unscented, Mike’s Natural unscented, Shannon’s Soaps Nil, a jar containing a 50/50 blend of Asylum Shave Works Royal Fougere/Mike’s Natural unscented, and a similar 50/50 jar of ASW Old Virginia also with Mike’s Natural unscented. All lathers were produced “sur le visage.” Data regarding soaps was neither sought nor collected. Anecdotal observations indicated quality lathers that helped the investigator focus on the brushes in question.

The subjects

Eight of the thirteen subjects (62%) in the study were fully fashioned by brush maker Bob Quinn of Elite Razor (http://www.eliterazor.com/). One particular brush (i.e., Thater 4125 28mm) was modified by Mr. Quinn with one of his Manchurian White knots when it was determined by the OP years before undertaking this investigation that the OEM knot had not and likely would not become “broken-in,” rendering the brush relatively useless as a shave tool. Mr. Quinn took detailed measurements of the OEM knot and was able to replicate its density, loft and roof profile to the point that the replacement knot is indistinguishable save for its greatly improved face feel. Another brush, a Simpson Duke 3 (Best grade) was similarly modified by brush maker Rudy Vey (http://ultimatependesigns.com/Shaving.html). Mr. Vey replaced the stock knot in the Simpson handle with the Shavemac knot which now resides in said handle. These brushes were discussed in the TSN thread, Post your “mongrel” shave brush (http://shavenook.com/showthread.php?tid=50312&highlight=Mongrel).

1, Spin Art. An Elite Razor masterpiece. This beauty was made from a special pour by Bob Quinn. As far as I know, two handles of different design were made from that pour. The other was fitted with a synthetic “Tuxedo“ knot. That brush was and may still be owned by a TSN member. I recall later seeing a handle similar to Spin Art on Bob’s website. The knot in Spin Art is a 26mm Manchurian White knot. The brush was so named for its resemblance to a piece of spin art done by a six year old chazt in July of 1965 in upstate New York. That early masterpiece is now likely stashed in a box in the far recesses of the researcher’s basement.
[Image: xeh3glu.jpg]

2, Grey. Elite Razor’s take on a Simpson M7. 26mm Manchurian White. Incredible face feel. Ergonomics are top notch. I was and remain attracted to this brush for its awesome shaviness, and also the appearance. Long before ‘50 shades of grey‘ was a thing, my outlook on life has been there is very little in terms of extremes relative to “black and white.” Rather, there are simply shades of grey.
[Image: bDeHs3c.jpg]

3, Orange. Elite Razor. Spiny Oyster handle, 26mm Manchurian White knot. This knot improves with a longer soak. 
[Image: Q9qg78b.jpg]

4, Blue. Elite Razor. If this 26mm Manchurian White knot was in the Spin Art handle, there would be no need for any other brush. Well, not really, but you can imagine how much I enjoy this one.
[Image: iecnLwk.jpg]

5, 60. Elite Razor 26mm Manchurian White. The handle is 60mm tall. Custom ordered on the occasion of my 60th birthday. Another knot that benefits from an extra long pre shave soak.
[Image: grqNyV5.jpg]

6, Hive. Elite Razor, 24mm Manchurian White. Bob made this handle from a very old piece of reclaimed pine (iirc) from a demolished railway station. Looks awesome, but ergonomically it’s just a wee bit too small and the butt end is too squared off to be very comfortable. ymmv.
[Image: 29My6lf.jpg]

7, Pony.  Elite Razor, 24mm Manchurian White. Reminiscent of a small Simpson Polo. Hence the name. Think Honeymooners. Perhaps the single best 24mm knot in my den.
[Image: uKZ8djx.jpg]

8, Olive. Elite Razor, 26mm Manchurian White - fan. The olivewood handle is reported to be from old growth trees harvested in Nazareth. Light weight and attractive. A stellar brush.
[Image: siJjC6K.jpg]

9, Octo. Thater 4125 handle, 28mm ER Manchurian White. Bob Quinn took a previously unusable brush and swapped out the OEM knot for a sublime, perhaps perfect feeling knot. Every time I use this brush my reaction is, “O.M.G.”
[Image: BmctBdP.jpg]

10, Eps. From the original Epsilon second run of production. 27/55 iirc. A birthday gift from one of my kids a few years ago. The densest 2 band knot in my den. Dense, dense, dense. A long soak beneficiary. The faux bone material looks good but is rather light. Did I mention it’s density?
[Image: bXfgsgn.jpg]

11, SOC. A classic. Lightweight cherry wood handle. Ergonomically a thing of beauty. It was a long time breaking in, but is now a perennial fave in the den. Every shaver should have a Semogue Owner’s Club brush.
[Image: Op6glpJ.jpg]

12, D3.1. Modded by Rudy Vey with a Shavemac knot. Iirc, I shipped the brush to Rudy and received it by return mail in a week! The brush handle is classic Simpson. The original Best knot was scratchy, scritchy up the wazoo. Now an awesome face feeling shave tool.
[Image: HEvRabZ.jpg]

13, Arley. A custom ordered Brad Sears 61st birthday special. The handle is that of a 28mm Arley, with a 26mm Estate Series knot. A beautiful piece of craftsmanship. Dense knot, soft knot with excellent backbone and silky tips. A wow! brush.
[Image: WosVMAX.jpg]

(OP Note: Due to the extreme number of photographs in this post, additional photos of the knots will appear in a subsequent post.)

Results:

Table 1.
[Image: S7pPJLL.jpg]

Table 2.
[Image: EeORJjj.jpg]

Table 3.
[Image: RVsiX7B.jpg]

Table 4.
[Image: mTb9Wga.jpg]
+ D3.1 scored 3.593 (rounded to 3.59); Blue scored 3.59
* Olive scored 3.706 (rounded to 3.71); Octo scored 3.71

Table 5.
[Image: EIqL3bU.jpg]

Table 6.
[Image: 1mmwXzZ.jpg]

Table 7.
[Image: wCHgVka.jpg]

Table 8.
[Image: iPoT5KK.jpg]

Discussion/Observations/Next steps:

A shave brush is generally considered to be the sum of its parts. As such the Average Handle Rating score and the Average Knot Rating score were combined to yield a Total Brush Rating score. Analysis of the data indicated a few obvious discrepancies between the numbers generated relative to the amount of joy certain brushes provide. It was clear that those raw scores needed to be converted to scaled scores. While a brush handle should be visually and aesthetically appealing, it is the knot that is responsible for the soap/water interaction. It is the knot that the shaver feels on the about-to-be-shaved skin. As brush maker Brad Sears states on his website, “... the knot is where the rubber meets the road... the knot makes or breaks a shaving brush (https://www.bradsearsshaveworks.com/page...properties).” Quantifying the symbiotic relationship between knot and handle for this research study was by nature purely arbitrary. Thus, it was decided arbitrarily that the knot is twice as important as the handle in terms of the user’s overall satisfaction with the brush. As there are only two parts of a brush the shaver contemplates, knot raw scores were multiplied by a factor of 2/3, or, 0.67. Handle raw scores were multiplied by a factor of 1/3, or, 0.33 (OP note: think of a pie cut into three equal pieces; 2:1, get it?). The resulting scaled scores determined the basis of the associated knot, handle, and overall brush rankings.

Scaled scores were used to generate various indices; Scaled Average Knot Rating (SAKR), Scaled Average Handle Rating (SAHR) and Total Brush Scaled Score (TBSS). Based upon the rubrics, the highest achievable SAKR was determined to be 6.20. The highest achievable SAHR was determined to be 5.32. Ergo, the highest achievable TBSS was determined to be 11.52. Interested readers will find that two brushes, Octo, the modded Thater 4125, and the Elite Razor Olivewood, achieved a maximum SAKR. Interestingly, no brush achieved a maximum SAHR.

Having used the subjects consistently post study in rotation with 3 band and synthetic brushes, a few observations arise in retrospect. Some knots (i.e., Spin Art, Orange and 60) seem to have softened somewhat since concluding the investigation. This could possibly be the result of a continuation of the initial break-in period. Or not. Since ending the study an additional procedural factor has come to light. Anecdotal observation suggests that a longer pre-shave soak in cold water yields a softer face feel. This is not necessarily in terms of the tips’ softness, scrub or scritch. Rather it seems to be a combination of all three factors. Future studies should include this additional area of investigation. In this investigator’s opinion, a ten minute soak with water covering 1/3 to 1/2 of the knot provides a more “comfortable” face feel relative to a two to three minute pre-shave soak. Here again, linguistics (“comfortable”) obfuscates the tactile. Therefore, shavers are left to determine such phenomena for themselves.

Prior to undertaking the investigation, the OP developed a personal preference for 26mm knots with a loft in the vicinity of 50-52mm. This has not changed. Clearly higher lofts, all things being equal, yield softer face feel. Lower set knots are scrubbier in this writer’s opinion.

In regards to handle ergonomics, this shaver seems to prefer handles with a rounded base. Such a design seems to fit the curvature of the gripping hand/palm more comfortably. Furthermore, this shaver also generally seems to prefer handle lengths in the range of 55-60mm. Also regarding handles, it was interesting in retrospect to note how important visual appearance impacted the scores. For example, while considered by many, including this OP, to be a “classy” looking handle, the Simpson Duke did not earn high scores in aesthetics or Q factor. Indeed, the more flamboyant brushes received the majority of high scores in those categories.

A search of TSN database reveals that much has been discussed regarding gel-tipped brushes (a.k.a. ‘hooked tips’) (http://shavenook.com/search.php?action=results&sid=2ac65c1806a3b27cf8a90e37c831d9cb&sortby=lastpost&order=desc). It is expected that such discussion will continue for as long as there are shave related fora. Therefore, in discussion here we will not attempt to address the question, “Are treated knots ‘better’?” This study did not look at that factor specifically. Future comparative studies of shaving brushes should perhaps attempt to quantify “gel tipped” knots in some meaningful way. Future studies should look similarly at 3 band badger hair, boar bristle and even synthetic fiber knots. It would be interesting to see various types of knots compared in the same study.

Results of the investigation suggest that it is possible to quantify various elements of shave brushes within a limited sample, and supported the hypothesis. Analysis of the data indicated quantifiable subjective measures within specific areas of investigation. Future studies should attempt to replicate observable differences within other, limited samples. Readers are asked to consider the caveat that quantification of shave brush attributes using linguistic concepts is unscientific and limiting. What one shaver likes and appreciates, another may not. Thus in reality, all discussion is essentially moot. However, since all shavers have opinions, it is hoped that this paper will generate discussion amongst interested parties.

Considering traditional shaving hardware, shave brushes in particular, the OP is reminded of the quote attributed to Hollywood legend, Orson Wells, “I don’t know anything about art but I know what I like” (http://indso.com/orson-welles-quotes/).

Ain’t that the truth?

Questions, comments and polite conversation are invited. Thank you Shave Nook for your consideration.

Please Note: due to the extreme size of this post, please do not click the “quote” or “reply” buttons. Instead, please use the Quick Reply feature.

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 08-20-2020, 01:17 PM
#2
  • chazt
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  • Queens, NY
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 08-20-2020, 01:34 PM
#3
  • NJDJ
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  • New Jersey
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Some beautiful brushes.

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 08-20-2020, 02:33 PM
#4
  • chazt
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  • Queens, NY
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I can only take credit for buying them. Kudos really go to the folks who made them Wink

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 08-20-2020, 06:02 PM
#5
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Too much backbone? Not sure I understand that concept Smile

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 08-20-2020, 06:27 PM
#6
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Epic post, Charlie!

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 08-20-2020, 07:18 PM
#7
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Wow, what a writeup chazt, great post! I applaud your thoroughness and pictures. It was quite a fun read!

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 08-20-2020, 07:48 PM
#8
  • chazt
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  • Queens, NY
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(08-20-2020, 06:02 PM)lloydrm Wrote: Too much backbone? Not sure I understand that concept Smile
I know your tongue is mostly in cheek, as mine often was while writing the above. Seriously though, sometimes I just like to feel something soft on my skin. Less backbone helps to achieve that feeling.
(08-20-2020, 06:27 PM)TheLegalRazor Wrote: Epic post, Charlie!
Thank you, Ricardo. It was an attempt to add to the literature. I’m glad you enjoyed.
(08-20-2020, 07:18 PM)zaclikestoshave Wrote: Wow, what a writeup chazt, great post! I applaud your thoroughness and pictures. It was quite a fun read!
Thank you, my friend. It was a monstrous undertaking. It’s been many years since I last wrote a journal-style piece. It needed to be done.

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 08-21-2020, 05:29 AM
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great post. an epic     truthfully i did skim a little but the gist was there.  thanks Ricardo

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 08-21-2020, 05:57 AM
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Charlie, I went back to look at your individual brushes.  You have a great collection of Bob Quinn/Elite Razor brushes.  I particularly like the olivewood handle in brush #8.  Beautiful grain in that piece of olivewood.

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 08-21-2020, 08:10 AM
#11
  • chazt
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  • Queens, NY
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(08-21-2020, 05:29 AM)daveinsweethome Wrote: great post. an epic     truthfully i did skim a little but the gist was there.  thanks Ricardo

Thanks, Dave. I appreciate that.

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 08-21-2020, 08:13 AM
#12
  • chazt
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(08-21-2020, 05:57 AM)TheLegalRazor Wrote: Charlie, I went back to look at your individual brushes.  You have a great collection of Bob Quinn/Elite Razor brushes.  I particularly like the olivewood handle in brush #8.  Beautiful grain in that piece of olivewood.

You turned me on to Bob’s work many years ago, Ricardo. That olivewood brush is nearly perfect. Grip, heft, knot... nearly perfect. Perfection of course, reminiscent of the Borg Collective. Always striving to get there.

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 08-22-2020, 08:16 AM
#13
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Thanks for this interesting glimpse in your den!
Quite some masterpieces there.

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 08-22-2020, 12:24 PM
#14
  • chazt
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(08-22-2020, 08:16 AM)wimbouman Wrote: Thanks for this interesting glimpse in your den!
Quite some masterpieces there.

Thank you, Wim. Some of them really are exquisite examples of fine brushery. If financial considerations were not in play there would likely be more for me to know and enjoy. There are so many artisans making beautiful brushes these days. I often hear brushes calling my name when I cruise the www (good karma helps). Perhaps with enough practice (and money) I could become a brush whisperer.

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 08-22-2020, 12:27 PM
#15
  • chazt
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(08-21-2020, 05:57 AM)TheLegalRazor Wrote: Charlie, I went back to look at your individual brushes.  You have a great collection of Bob Quinn/Elite Razor brushes.  I particularly like the olivewood handle in brush #8.  Beautiful grain in that piece of olivewood.

Ricardo, you got me to thinking again.. As time permits I’ll photograph the 3 bands and synths. There are some good lookers there too!

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 08-22-2020, 12:29 PM
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(08-22-2020, 12:27 PM)chazt Wrote:
(08-21-2020, 05:57 AM)TheLegalRazor Wrote: Charlie, I went back to look at your individual brushes.  You have a great collection of Bob Quinn/Elite Razor brushes.  I particularly like the olivewood handle in brush #8.  Beautiful grain in that piece of olivewood.

Ricardo, you got me to thinking again.. As time permits I’ll photograph the 3 bands and synths. There are some good lookers there too!

Definitely!  I didn't think about your 3 bands and synthetics.

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 08-23-2020, 03:48 AM
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As a former college professor, this treatise rivals many of the dissertations I was forced to endure; well-written with a modicum of humor. Lovely syntax and flow...not to be confused with flow-through. The brush subjects, without exception, belong to the upper echelon of Badger society.  Badger 


Now, as a follow-up, and as the un-designated chairman of your dissertation committee, I would like you to develop an application---with all of the appropriate and necessary algorithms, which will then be distributed to a subject group with the numbers to be determined at a later date. These guinea pigs  SmiliePig will take part in a test, to discover the meta data as it relates to your hypotheses. Please make an appointment with me to discuss the details. My offices hours are listed in your syllabus. BTW, I ran a spell-check and will be sending it to you, along with high-lighted sections for correction and further elaboration.  Please have that finished BEFORE our next committee meeting. 

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 08-23-2020, 09:39 AM
#18
  • chazt
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Yep, I find typos here and there, fixing them as they pop out.

When I was in draft, there were a few ideas and comments that didn’t make it to the posted version. I must get in there at some point soon and make some amendments. Perhaps when I do, more discussion  of the findings will ensue.

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