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Old 02-20-2014, 08:46 AM   #1
rnturn
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Controlling fonts in Thunderbird: How?


First, let's get this out of the way:

Environment: OpenSUSE 12.2, Thunderbird 14.0

Now on to the good stuff...

I'm trying to adjust the font size used when viewing messages in Thunderbird. I've gone into Thunderbird's "Preferences->Display->Advanced" dialog and set a font type, size, and unchecked the box that allows messages to use different fonts. I took this to mean that my font selection should be used, right? Well, it doesn't. I'm still getting squinty sans-serif when I should be seeing much larger Adobe Times.

I've gone into the KDE Desktop Configuration dialog for GTK configuration and adjusted the fonts. But that changes the size and font type of menu selections, message list, mail folder list, etc. The tiny font in the message pane is not affected.

Ctrl-[+-] changes the message font size just fine. The trouble is that it reverts back to squinty sans-serif for each email viewed. (I "live" in Thunderbird for a good portion of the day and having to manually resize messages fonts is a major PITA.)

Any ideas how to force Thunderbird to, you know, actually use the preferences that I've selected?

As usual... TIA


--
Rick
 
Old 02-21-2014, 05:03 AM   #2
sadiqdm
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TBird 14 is very old. I have 24.0 and this works for me.
 
Old 02-21-2014, 05:08 AM   #3
Doc CPU
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Hi there,

Quote:
Originally Posted by rnturn View Post
Thunderbird 14.0
hasn't been updated for a while ... ;-)

Quote:
Originally Posted by rnturn View Post
I'm trying to adjust the font size used when viewing messages in Thunderbird. I've gone into Thunderbird's "Preferences->Display->Advanced" dialog and set a font type, size, and unchecked the box that allows messages to use different fonts. I took this to mean that my font selection should be used, right? Well, it doesn't. I'm still getting squinty sans-serif when I should be seeing much larger Adobe Times.
Okay. First important thing: Are you looking at HTML-formatted mails or plain-text ones? That's significant because HTML-formatted mails can set their own font properties, which you can't do much about except unchecking the box "Allow messages to use other fonts", which I understand you've already done.

Second: Yes, you got to the right place for setting font sizes. Did you take notice of the drop-down list at the very top of this dialog labeled "Fonts for ..."? I don't understand why, but T-Bird handles font settings different for each encoding. So you have to select the character encoding that your incoming and outgoing mails actually use, and then choose the font settings for that encoding. Since you can't tell what encoding other people use, you'll have to make the same adjustments for different encodings. As for me, I had to care about Unicode, Western and Central European to cover everything. The other ones are meaningless for me and my usual contacts (except SPAM mails, which are more than 90% Chinese or Russian, but I don't care to read them anyway).
Unfortunately, there is no "all the same" option.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rnturn View Post
Ctrl-[+-] changes the message font size just fine. The trouble is that it reverts back to squinty sans-serif for each email viewed. (I "live" in Thunderbird for a good portion of the day and having to manually resize messages fonts is a major PITA.)
Yes, I can imagine.

[X] Doc CPU
 
Old 02-21-2014, 08:31 AM   #4
rnturn
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Thanks for the reply Doc CPU...
Quote:
Okay. First important thing: Are you looking at HTML-formatted mails or plain-text ones? That's significant because HTML-formatted mails can set their own font properties, which you can't do much about except unchecking the box "Allow messages to use other fonts", which I understand you've already done.
I would imagine that pretty much everything I receive nowadays -- except for those important messages from the relatives of former Nigerian politicians -- is sent as HTML. That's why I unchecked that box.

Quote:
Second: Yes, you got to the right place for setting font sizes. Did you take notice of the drop-down list at the very top of this dialog labeled "Fonts for ..."? I don't understand why, but T-Bird handles font settings different for each encoding. So you have to select the character encoding that your incoming and outgoing mails actually use, and then choose the font settings for that encoding. Since you can't tell what encoding other people use, you'll have to make the same adjustments for different encodings.
Wow... I think you make have hit on the problem. I'd only changed the settings for "Western". That would explain why my font selection seems to work for some messages but not others. The (apparently) older version of T-bird I am running doesn't seem to have a Unicode option. I'm pulling down the upgrade as I type this. (I should have realized that T-bird was following the semi-monthly upgrade schedule used by other Mozilla projects like Firefox.)

Quote:
Unfortunately, there is no "all the same" option.
Yeah... interesting design choice.

I'll update once the new T-bird is installed.
 
Old 02-21-2014, 09:14 AM   #5
rnturn
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Just tried out T-bird 24.2.0...

The Unicode option, of course, appeared on the font choice menu. Set that up the same as the others (Western, Central European, etc.). Font sizes do change. Unfortunately... T-bird is one of those applications that does not understand what a "point" is. Setting the font size to "11" or "12" gets me a font size that only a sleazy lawyer could love. Setting the size to "22" seems to be necessary to get a font size comparable to what the rest of my KDE desktop understands to be "11" or "12" points. Thinking back... I think this is one of the things I found to be a major annoyance when I last used T-bird before switching to KMail. (If only KMail would a.) stop crashing and b.) not require akonadi.)

Let's call this problem "solved" even though the solution is not exactly satisfactory.
 
Old 02-21-2014, 10:15 AM   #6
Doc CPU
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Hi there,

Quote:
Originally Posted by rnturn View Post
I would imagine that pretty much everything I receive nowadays -- except for those important messages from the relatives of former Nigerian politicians -- is sent as HTML. That's why I unchecked that box.
exactly the opposite here. The vast majority of serious e-mail I receive (business as well as private) is either plain-text only, or multipart/alternative containing the same message in HTML and in plain-text, so that my T-Bird picks the plain-text part. There are just a few SPAM mails or newsletters I never subscribed which come in HTML only.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rnturn View Post
(I should have realized that T-bird was following the semi-monthly upgrade schedule used by other Mozilla projects like Firefox.)
Yea, but the recent changes are negligible - in my view, at least. I have version 17.0.5 on the old, out-dated distro I'm using atm (Linux Mint 12), and I have T-Bird 24 on another system under Mint 13, which is still being maintained and supported (an LTS), but I can't really find a difference between the two T-Bird versions.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rnturn View Post
Just tried out T-bird 24.2.0...
The Unicode option, of course, appeared on the font choice menu.
I should've thought it had been there "forever". At least it's there in my 17, and I know that T-Bird has supported Unicode as the character set in e-mails from version 1 onward. I remember that I began using T-Bird in Version 1.5.0.7 under Windows 2000. ;-)

Quote:
Originally Posted by rnturn View Post
Unfortunately... T-bird is one of those applications that does not understand what a "point" is. Setting the font size to "11" or "12" gets me a font size that only a sleazy lawyer could love. Setting the size to "22" seems to be necessary to get a font size comparable to what the rest of my KDE desktop understands to be "11" or "12" points.
Don't blame T-Bird for that - I'm not sure, but I think this is supposed to be pixels, not points. Note that it doesn't mention a unit anywhere. But assuming pixels seems right, verified with an enlarged screenshot. I've never tried to print an e-mail, though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rnturn View Post
Let's call this problem "solved" even though the solution is not exactly satisfactory.
Have a pleasant weekend, then.

[X] Doc CPU
 
Old 02-21-2014, 11:42 AM   #7
rnturn
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Quote:
exactly the opposite here. The vast majority of serious e-mail I receive (business as well as private) is either plain-text only, or multipart/alternative containing the same message in HTML and in plain-text, so that my T-Bird picks the plain-text part. There are just a few SPAM mails or newsletters I never subscribed which come in HTML only.
At the last mega-corp that I worked for HTML mail was the majority of what we got. Largely, I think, because someone in Marketing figured out that they could have a uselessly fancy .sig with 3-4 different font types, bold face, etc.
Quote:
Yea, but the recent changes are negligible - in my view, at least.

[snip]

... I can't really find a difference between the two T-Bird versions.
Largely changes addressing security problems, perhaps? YaST doesn't show me release notes for the updates.

Quote:
Don't blame T-Bird for that - I'm not sure, but I think this is supposed to be pixels, not points. Note that it doesn't mention a unit anywhere. But assuming pixels seems right, verified with an enlarged screenshot.
That is, IMHO, just stupid but it appears that you may be right. I can set certain fonts in KDE to be "72" (I can go up to 128, at for some font types) and it does not appear to make the characters 1 inch in height. (Maybe 0.75".) I still recall needing to supply the dimensions of my monitor so that the "correct" fonts would be used (72 vs. 100, etc.) and that X Windows fonts could still be specified in terms of "points". If application developers are going to continue to use font sizes in pixels (and I know that CSS writers often do that even though one can specify "pt") they're just asking for users to loudly complain if/when the crazy resolutions now becoming available for TVs begin trickling down to computer monitors. Most applications only allow you to specify a font size up to "24" and that's going to be woefully insufficient for anyone with a big monitor and a video card running at high resolution. Making the user manually scale the application fonts with Ctrl-[-+] is not the way to go. Again, IMHO. Maybe KDE is thinking ahead and that's why the some font sizes can go up to "128".

BTW... with regard to printing emails: my wife complains that when she prints out an email -- hey, sometimes an 8.5x11 piece of paper with various colored highlighting taped to the cupboard door where the cereal bowls are kept is the only way to get your kids' attention -- it sometimes results in tiny, tiny font sizes. It seems that Windows World doesn't always make it easier to have what's on the screen make it to paper unscathed. I tell her to cut-n-paste into a word processor and print from there but that never goes over very well. Any Mac folks out there know if it's easier in your world?

And I am going to enjoy my weekend... Hope you do too.

Later...

--
Rick
 
Old 02-21-2014, 12:13 PM   #8
Doc CPU
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Hi there,

Quote:
Originally Posted by rnturn View Post
That is, IMHO, just stupid but it appears that you may be right.
well, that depends on the medium on which to display the text. For something displayed on-screen, pixels are IMO the best unit there is. For print media, points make a lot of sense.
Now ask yourself, honestly: How often do you display and read an e-mail message onscreen, and how often are you going to print it? I can't remember printing an e-mail in the last five years. So from my point of view, T-Bird is right in specifying font sizes in pixels - if only it would clearly say so. Leaving the user to guess is what I don't like.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rnturn View Post
and I know that CSS writers often do that even though one can specify "pt"
Yes, and in web design, pt is about the most stupid unit for a font size - except in a print stylesheet. The recommended unit for font sizes in web pages is em (or percent), so that fonts are scaled based on the user-defined "standard" size.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rnturn View Post
BTW... with regard to printing emails: my wife complains that when she prints out an email -- hey, sometimes an 8.5x11 piece of paper with various colored highlighting taped to the cupboard door where the cereal bowls are kept is the only way to get your kids' attention
Quite a funny notion ... ;-)
Seems like that answers my above question, in a way. I don't have kids, so I can't confirm that experience. And my girlfriend is quite alert, so it's usually enough to tell her something once. It's rather the opposite: Sometimes she's annoyed when I forgot something she mentioned casually.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rnturn View Post
And I am going to enjoy my weekend... Hope you do too.
I will, thanks. Just recovering from a bad cold. Hardly been able to speak for the past three days, today there's at least something like a voice again. You know, you gotta be tough to make your way in a tough world. :-)

[X] Doc CPU
 
Old 02-23-2014, 01:05 PM   #9
rnturn
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Quote:
well, that depends on the medium on which to display the text. For something displayed on-screen, pixels are IMO the best unit there is. For print media, points make a lot of sense.
Now ask yourself, honestly: How often do you display and read an e-mail message onscreen, and how often are you going to print it?

[snip]

T-Bird is right in specifying font sizes in pixels - if only it would clearly say so. Leaving the user to guess is what I don't like.
I still recall having to specify a monitor brand and model number when you set up X Windows so one can easily expect that once you specify the model number X would know the dimensions, resolution and the number of scan lines/point. Specifying "points" instead of pixels wouldn't really be that difficult to figure out. Sure we read more on the screen than in print most of the time. But as an amateur photographer who struggles getting what on the screen accurately represented on the printer and realizes just how difficult that is given the "baby steps" status of Linux in being able to calibrate ones monitor, having the system simply do the math (given monitor's physical dimensions and resolution) to be able to specify font sizes in points seems like it'd be a piece of cake.

Quote:
The recommended unit for font sizes in web pages is em (or percent), so that fonts are scaled based on the user-defined "standard" size.
Ah but whatuser. Web designers seem to have superhuman visual acuity nowadays. Normal people would like to see the screen displaying fonts in a measurement that they are familiar with. Most people know about 10pt, 11pt, and 12pt fonts.

Quote:
And my girlfriend is quite alert, so it's usually enough to tell her something once. It's rather the opposite: Sometimes she's annoyed when I forgot something she mentioned casually.
Being married and with kids complicates things a bit. One's never quite sure if a comment is directed to you or to the kids.

Take care...

--
Rick
 
Old 02-24-2014, 03:31 PM   #10
Doc CPU
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Hi there,

Quote:
Originally Posted by rnturn View Post
I still recall having to specify a monitor brand and model number when you set up X Windows so one can easily expect that once you specify the model number X would know the dimensions, resolution and the number of scan lines/point. Specifying "points" instead of pixels wouldn't really be that difficult to figure out.
actually, I never specified a monitor model, they were always recognized automatically.
BUT ... this is bogus.

On my desk, I have a dual monitor system. The primary monitor is 1600x1200 and claims to be a 22", the secondary one is 1280x1024 and was sold as a 19" display. But their display height is almost exactly the same, and the width differs by mere millimeters. So if each of them were used separately, font sizes displayed on them would be very different. And actually it is, because in a multi-monitor setup X won't scale differently on multiple monitors, but will use the same dpi setting for all.

It's different, but none the better in Windows: Windows never cares about the physical resolution of monitors, but simply assumes 120dpi if the screen is 1024x768 or more, and 96dpi for smaller displays. You can, of course, calibrate the true dpi rating, but seriously: Who would really do that?

Quote:
Originally Posted by rnturn View Post
But as an amateur photographer who struggles getting what on the screen accurately represented on the printer and realizes just how difficult that is given the "baby steps" status of Linux in being able to calibrate ones monitor, having the system simply do the math (given monitor's physical dimensions and resolution) to be able to specify font sizes in points seems like it'd be a piece of cake.
You've got to accept that the display on a monitor is scaled arbitrarily. There is usually no physical relation. It's just a smudge of pixels aligned in a grid with no specific scale.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rnturn View Post
Quote:
The recommended unit for font sizes in web pages is em (or percent), so that fonts are scaled based on the user-defined "standard" size.
Ah but whatuser.
The user sitting in front of the screen, of course. The one who controls the browser.
Most browsers have a built-in default font size of about 16px. All relative font sizes go back to that reference size, if no absolute sizes (px, pt) are specified anywhere. If you have a very high screen resolution and feel that 16px is too small for your eye as a "standard" size, you choose a bigger one in your browser's preferences.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rnturn View Post
Web designers seem to have superhuman visual acuity nowadays. Normal people would like to see the screen displaying fonts in a measurement that they are familiar with. Most people know about 10pt, 11pt, and 12pt fonts.
That's really a problem with some web sites. Many of them are plain unreadable without zooming in two or three levels. But looking into the source code you'll find that they often set the font size explicitly to something like 8px, or 0.6em (which means 0.6 times the standard size of that particular element). That is, they maliciously shrink the user's preferred font size.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rnturn View Post
Being married and with kids complicates things a bit. One's never quite sure if a comment is directed to you or to the kids.
That's an interesting thought. I'd think you should be able to tell it by the context, though. ;-)

Quote:
Originally Posted by rnturn View Post
Take care...
You too, and everything will be okay.
And the earth is a flat disc, and the easter bunny's wearing contact lenses. *g*

[X] Doc CPU
 
Old 02-24-2014, 04:18 PM   #11
rnturn
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Quote:
actually, I never specified a monitor model, they were always recognized automatically.
I may be remembering back to the day when setting up XFree86 incorrectly would fry your monitor. You had to know the exact monitor model, V and H scan frequencies, etc.. Even some not-so-recent GUI-based installers would ask you for the vendor and model number. So my LG W2452T with it's (estimated) 12.75" physical height and 1200 pixel vertical resolution, how hard could it be for X to do the math and figure out that 72pt = 1200/12.75 pixels and scale everything accordingly?

Quote:
BUT ... this is bogus.

[snip]

in a multi-monitor setup X won't scale differently on multiple monitors, but will use the same dpi setting for all.
That seems to me to be a problem. I would want to have the font size represented equally (or as close as you can with integer math) on both monitors. I wonder if anyone who'd used Display PostScript had a similar problem with multiple monitor setups? Crazy Idea: With all the GPU power sitting mostly idle in people computers offloading a DP engine into those GPUs could make for a very interesting GUI.

Quote:
You can, of course, calibrate the true dpi rating, but seriously: Who would really do that?
My position is that the system ought to be doing that. It seems like we've taken a bit of a step backwards. Surely we're not going to get lazy and use Windows as an excuse -- "Well Windows does it that way." -- when we could be doing it batter. And by "we" I mean the Xorg or Wayward (or whatever it's called) projects.

Quote:
You've got to accept that the display on a monitor is scaled arbitrarily. There is usually no physical relation. It's just a smudge of pixels aligned in a grid with no specific scale.
Well, that's what I'm stuck with but I'm probably never going to accept it. Well, I may have to accept it but I surely will never like it. Where's O'Rielly's "Computer Display Annoyances"?

Quote:
If you have a very high screen resolution and feel that 16px is too small for your eye as a "standard" size, you choose a bigger one in your browser's preferences.
Then each and every application that let's me tinker with the font sizes is going to have to start supporting larger sizes. KDE already does (though once you get to the mid-20s the increments are very large). Most of the Mozilla applications top out at "24" (if memory serves) and the minimum font size less than that.

And what drives me crazy is that it's not even consistent: My KDE windows titles are set to "Utopia 14" and my Firefox fonts are set to "22". Guess which one is bigger. It's totally nuts.

Quote:
That's really a problem with some web sites. Many of them are plain unreadable without zooming in two or three levels. But looking into the source code you'll find that they often set the font size explicitly to something like 8px, or 0.6em (which means 0.6 times the standard size of that particular element). That is, they maliciously shrink the user's preferred font size.
I've noticed the "0.6em"-type stuff. A pox on their houses. Something tells me that those web sites would fail (in a big way) any sort of ADA compliance check.

Quote:
That's an interesting thought. I'd think you should be able to tell it by the context, though. ;-)
Some are universal, especially as the girls have gotten older. "Will you clean up your mess?" I get in trouble all the time when I assume that one's directed at someone else.

Later... more problems to solve.

--
Rick
 
Old 02-26-2014, 11:27 AM   #12
Doc CPU
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Hi there,

Quote:
Originally Posted by rnturn View Post
Quote:
actually, I never specified a monitor model, they were always recognized automatically.
I may be remembering back to the day when setting up XFree86 incorrectly would fry your monitor. You had to know the exact monitor model, V and H scan frequencies, etc.. Even some not-so-recent GUI-based installers would ask you for the vendor and model number.
really?? Never experienced anything like that.
Back in the Windows time, it was GDI that simply assumed a certain arbitrary resolution (though you could tune it, but hardly anybody did), and all the application depended on it. When I turned toward Linux (which was in 2008/09, after I'd realized that Windows 7 and I would never be friends), there was Gnome or xfce that seemed to take care of this, and again I wasn't bothered with the physical properties of my monitors.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rnturn View Post
That seems to me to be a problem. I would want to have the font size represented equally (or as close as you can with integer math) on both monitors.
Very early in my acquaintance with computers - that is, in the mid-80's - I accepted that from the computer's view, a screen is just a grid of pixels, as is a digital raster image. They don't have an intrinsic "size" of their own.
And I always considered it an advantage that a certain font looked the same on every 1024x768 screen - relative to the physical size of these screens. I've had monitors with a resolution of 1024x768 and a size of 15", but I also had one monitor that had the same resolution (1024x768), but at a size of 11". Sure, it was a lot smaller. But still, fonts looked the same. The were built with the same number of pixels.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rnturn View Post
Surely we're not going to get lazy and use Windows as an excuse
No, no. "Everybody does that" has never been a good excuse or argument.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rnturn View Post
Then each and every application that let's me tinker with the font sizes is going to have to start supporting larger sizes. KDE already does (though once you get to the mid-20s the increments are very large). Most of the Mozilla applications top out at "24" (if memory serves) and the minimum font size less than that.
Thunderbird lets me choose the default font from 8 to 72 pixels (presumably). Firefox too. Opera even goes up to 96, but like the Mozilla products, it doesn't tell whether these are supposed to be pixels or points or something completely different. My setting is 16, and this seems to be in pixels again.

Btw: Chicago, Illinois. I've never been in that area, but to a few other places in the US. However, at school I had an emigrated American from Chicago as an English teacher for three years. Guess that was the trigger for my English having a slight inclination to American. Accent and vocabulary. A classmate of mine asked the teacher, when he was new to us, whether he'd prefer American or British English in an exam, or mark one of them wrong. "No", he explained, "I'll accept either one as correct. But use it consistently. A mix of both will be marked wrong."

Best wishes to the country where I feel more like home than in Germany ...

[X] Doc CPU
 
Old 02-26-2014, 07:46 PM   #13
rnturn
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Quote:
really?? Never experienced anything like that.
Back in the Windows time, it was GDI that simply assumed a certain arbitrary resolution (though you could tune it, but hardly anybody did), and all the application depended on it. When I turned toward Linux (which was in 2008/09, after I'd realized that Windows 7 and I would never be friends), there was Gnome or xfce that seemed to take care of this, and again I wasn't bothered with the physical properties of my monitors.
I haven't noticed having to specify monitor brand/model lately but I've been working on mostly laptop and desktops with LCD monitors. I still have a couple of systems with CRTs; maybe one of those systems would ask for more hardware information if I did a re-install. Can't tell you much about Windows any more. The wife's laptop came with Win7 and I deal with it only infrequently. My systems have been Windows-free since I removed WinXP back in the fairly early 00s (and it was only used for games by then) and I've had no Windows partitions ever since. (Except when I have to use it at work.)

Quote:
Very early in my acquaintance with computers - that is, in the mid-80's - I accepted that from the computer's view, a screen is just a grid of pixels, as is a digital raster image. They don't have an intrinsic "size" of their own.
Unless you started adjusting the vertical size on the terminal.

Quote:
And I always considered it an advantage that a certain font looked the same on every 1024x768 screen - relative to the physical size of these screens.
I've made the adjustment from 24x80 terminals (not including the one terminal I used for a time that was something like 24x40) to 640x480 pixels and on. It's only been the recent transitions that have been kind of a pain with default fonts getting squintier and squintier.

Quote:
Thunderbird lets me choose the default font from 8 to 72 pixels (presumably). Firefox too. Opera even goes up to 96, but like the Mozilla products, it doesn't tell whether these are supposed to be pixels or points or something completely different. My setting is 16, and this seems to be in pixels again.
I checked and found that T-bird does, indeed, let me go up to "72". I set that up as my font size and it's definitely not points. (Maybe only 3/4".) I presume Firefox allows that, too. Can't remember what Opera allowed but I gave up on that browser a couple of years ago.

Quote:
Btw: Chicago, Illinois. I've never been in that area, but to a few other places in the US.
You don't know what you're missing. Which, today, includes a high of about 10F with winds about 20mph.

Later...

--
Rick
 
  


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Thunderbird Menu Bar, Menu Fonts mac57 Linux - Software 0 02-27-2005 03:15 PM


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