Using the Track to Your Advantage

I don’t hear a whole lot of talk in my derby world about track layout and how to use it, which is unfortunate because there’s a lot of potential advantage in knowing the ins and outs of track layout.  It affects strategy and game play, so once you know how you can use all of the track like Garey Busey snorts all of the cocaine in any given room he’s in.  Depending on how long you’ve been skating, you might be confused as to what difference the track could make.

The issue actually came up at a roller derby practice tonight.  I shouted at my teammates to get out of the apex (I believe my exact words were ‘Not in the apex!!’, which makes the apex sound hilariously like the shunted hope of butt sex) and then things got confusing.  So while discussing where shit got fucked  up, I asked if they knew what it meant and we had a titllating discussion on the matter, complete with a visual demonstration.

As it turns out, defending in the apex sucks for a handful of reasons.  Reason number one is that the curve of the track is actually a bit wider than the straight part of the track.  Think about that for a second.  It’s enough of a pain in the ass to hold back a jammer without giving them an allowance of a few extra feet.  Reason number two is that the increased distance on the outside makes it harder to keep your wall straight while moving.  This is becausse of the outside having to move faster to keep up and the inside having to move a little slower.  Throw a little pushing behind that factor and that alone makes it way easier to break up a wall.  This also gives the jammer the opportunity to draw the blockers to the outside and then juke to the inside, thereby forcing the blockers to have to move at the speed of light to have to catch her since she has the inside of the track and they are on the outside.  In that scenario, it’s basically like the inside of the track is one of the speed boosters you drive over in Mario Kart.  If someone runs over that and you don’t, you’re going to have a hard time catching up. A third reason is that it gives a good spry jammer the opportunity to jump the apex, which fucking sucks as a blocker. If you’ve watched the WFTDA champs and seen Bonnie Thunders jump that apex, you know how that fucking goes.

Although defending in the apex sucks sweaty herpes balls, there are some ways the apex can work to your advantage.  Such as the making people defend in the apex.  If you know your shit and see an opportunity to push or draw the opposing team into the apex then do it.  You can skate forward if they’re the type to follow the pack mindlessly, you can skate forward slowly so as to destroy the pack without getting a penalty, forcing you to stop and them to come to teh apex if you’re close enough, or you can just fucking push them if they’re in front of you.  Then all of that shit I just talked about becomes your best friend, and you can smile in mischevious glee as you watch those beautiful points being added to your total.

One less ovbvious way to use the apex is when bridging.  This is another pointer brought to us by the lovely Kiki, and is also something we completely fucking forgot about five minutes after she left.  Because the circumference (or distance around the curve, for those of you who are not on good terms with geomoetry) is shorter the closer the closer you are to the inside, this causes the whole going slower on the inside and faster on the outside thing.  Ten feet on the inside covers a fuck ton more of the track than ten feet on the outside. If you’re confused about this point, do this at your next practice: Take four skaters and line them up with ten feet between them on the inside of the track.  Pause. Consider how much track that covers (spoiler alert: about half the total track).  Tell those skaters to move to the outside of the track while maintaining ten feet distance.  Be shocked by how little track that covers (about 3/4 of the apex) compared to the previous positions.

What that little four person visual or exercise just did was usd a bridge, which is exactly why I’m bothering to explain the distance thing.  When you bridge, you’re lengthening the definition of the pack so that you can bring the jammer (sometimes a blocker if you feel like being a dick) back further, thereby tiring her out.  You want to bridge as far back as possible because the farther back she goes the more tired she will be, and therefore more shitty of a player she will be.  Having each member of your bridge, with ten feet between each, stand on the inside of the track makes your bridge superhellafragilistic longer.  Depending on how you want to defend once the jammer comes in, the last person can stand in the middle and be a lone man wall, or skate forward quickly to form a two person wall with the next person.  Whatever floats your roller boat, really.

For now that’s all I have in mind for making the track your dirty bitch.  Hopefully I can add more to this at some point, but I felt compelled to churn out at least one more info post, since it’s been super long.  For that same reason I’m not proofreading tonight, so sorrynotsorry about typoss.



Offensive Jam Starts

In my last post I mentioned the term ‘awkward salmoning’ and I realized that eventually I have to explain that.  While brainstorming for a general topic under which it would fit, I decided on the subject of starting jams.

This literary conquest didn’t seem too terrible when I started, but holy shit guise, lemme tell you what.  There is not an abundance of accurate information on the interwebs concerning jam starts, and a lot of this is because of the ever evolving nature of the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association rules.  Shit used to be a lot different from what we know it currently, so the majority of jam start tips and tricks don’t make any god damned sense.  Someone needs to message google and tell them to update their search algorithms to account for this.  But in the mean time, I’ve done you the solid of wading through the ocean of bullshit jam start articles and picking out the succulent relevant bits.  So enjoy, my friends, and derby accordingly.

Whether you’re a jammer or a blocker, waiting the last few seconds before the jam whistle as you’re crouched in derby position can be nerve wracking. If you’re smart, which I assume you are because you’re making the effort to read this, you can mitigate the stress by reading up a bit and planning out some strategy with your team.  Hopefully this humble blog poost can help you on that way.  There are a lot of aspects to offensively starting a power jam, but hopefully I’ll do an alright job of breaking it down.

The first thing to remember is that unlike power jams, regular jams are both offensive and defensive.  Although I’m focusing on the offensive aspect of it for now, it’s not entirely offensive.  When both teams have a jammer on the track it’s a constant switch between offensive and defensive, so you have to be able to adjust depending on what happens on the track.  If you have an offensive plan that’s contigent on your strongest blocker and the opposing jammer happens to line up right behind your strongest blocker, that plan needs to be flexible enough to adjust for that.

If you you and your team are big on defense and don’t want to compromise your defensive line at the whistle, then don’t worry, I have some shenanigans for you, too.  There are some mischevious offensive tactics that you can employ before the whistle. They involve a certain simile about a salmon that I’ve been referencing.  And alliteration, apparently.

Before  get into how fantastic awkward salmons are I must give due credit to Truckstop Trixie.  This wee wild cat came to us from a bank track league in Texas.  She brought with her the hilarious technique called awkward salmoning, so any and all credit for the move goes towards her.

The excitement of the awkward salmon was brought up during a team discussion of rules, and whether or not certain tactics were legal.  The specific tactic being talked about is also one worth trying out for offensive strategies before the whistle, and was brought ot us by Kiki Urhaz.  She mentioned that sometimes when she jams, she’ll wait until about three seconds before the whistle and poke an opposing blocker square in the asshole.

Do you need to reread that? Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Now that we’re clear on what I typed, I’ll explain.  If you don’t have your imagination pants on still from last time, go ahead and put them on again.  Imagine being a blocker in front of the jammer line, waiting for the whistle.  You’re in derby position, as you should be, watching the jam timer, and you feel a surprising but definite poke that’s centered on your asshole.  You’re probably going to straighten up a lilttle bit and look behind you to try and figure out what the fuck is happening that apparently involves your asshole.  Can you see how that’s ideal as a jammer?  The blocker is temporarily distracted and puts herself in the ideal position to be knocked the fuck over.  Even if she doesnt stand up, that momentary distraction will break her focus on maintaining the wall and give you an opportunity to bust through that shit like the kool-aid guy high on crack.

The team discussion centered around whether or not that’s a legal move, the conclusion of which being unclear in Europe.  Although we play by the same rules as the States, European refs call shit weird sometimes, so starting a power jam with a poke to the brownie maker is a risky move.  Nekromancer, the head ref for the Pikes Peak Derby Dames, Castle Rock n’ Rollers and Team Bionic (basically someone who really knows his shit) said that stateside it’s completely legal as long as the engagement doesn’t last more than three seconds and doesn’t better relative position.  While it may seem like the move betters relative position, it’s not the move itself but rather the skater’s reaction that gives you th e advantage, and that’s what makes it legal.

During one of these discussions Truckstop likened the move to something that the bank track does called awkward salmoning.  You wait until a few seconds before the whistle, shove your hand between the thighs of the blocker in front of you and violently wiggle your hand like a salmon out of water.  Like an awkward salmon.  It has the same effect, and can be used by either a jammer or a blocker who’s trying to make a hole for their jammer.  Or as a hilarious way to get someone to jump up and shriek a little bit.  Or as an awkward way to say hello. I’ve done both, both to people at roller derby and work. No regrets.

If you’re not done yet with creatively innapropriate names for jam start tactics yet then I have one more.  This one is called a ‘dick arm’, and it is not related to the porn remake of Edward Scissorhands (surprisingly).  The core of this tactic is to put your forearms together, lightly clasping your fists (but not interlocking your fingers) and wiggling your way between two blockers enough to drop your shoulder and get your body through.  If you don’t get why that’s called dick arming, then I feel bad for you.  One effective way to start a dick arm is to start at the thighs.  Blockers can mash their hips together all they want, but there will always be space a little above their knees.  You can start there, ram your dick arm in, and wiggle your way up. Alternately, you can start by standing on the line until a few seconds before the whistle and drop your wheels back while keeping some of your body and your dick arm in that spot.  Unless the blockers move forward, they can’t push you back and close the space without getting a penalty.

Those are a few offensive tactics that don’t involve team coordination as much as how close you’re willing to get to someone’s no-no parts. It’s worth trying out, either in a scrimmage or a match where you’re at an unbelievable point deficit and don’t give a fuck.  If you dig it ask your captains to bring it up with the refs at the captain’s meeting to establish the legality and go for it.  It being assholes and thighs.

While we’re on the topic of things that jammers can do to kick off the jam offensively, it’s worth noting that distance from the jam line is something worth playing around with.  Some jammers like starting right up in there, while other prefer to start a meter or more back,  This gives them more space to jump around and confuse the other blockers with where she’s going.  If you’re not sure what your preference is then play around with it during scrimmages, and see what style floats your boat.

There are of course other strategies that involve a more thorough understanding of WFTDA rules.  One of the more common tactics that you might have seen in some of the many WFTDA matches you’ve been watching is the no pack situation.  Just before the whistle the foremost team might skate forward.  When they do this it destroys the pack and the other team is either forced to bridge the gap thus losing a blocker, or skate forward as fast as possible to reform the pack.  Both of these scenarios assume that the rearmose team knows what the hell is happening, because if they aren’t paying attention or aren’t familiar with the strategy they’ll probably continue to block and get a penalty.  All of these situations benefit your jammer.  If they lose a blocker to a penalty or bridging then that’s one less blocker.  If they skate forward to catch up to the foremost blockers a quick jammer can outskate them and get past with minimal effort.

That tactic is one of the more straightforward ones, but if you’re creative you can come  up with others.  One strategy I came across while wading through that ocean of outdated strategy bullshit was the collective false start tactic, dreamed up by some michevious little peice of shit on a forum.  I say peice of shit endearingly because although this strategy is shady as fuck, I like shady as fuck.  This person brought up the idea of every blocker on the team doing a false start.  False start if when you’re on the track but you’re not in the right position.  When you’re lined up waiting for a jam whistle and your teammate tells you to  watch your wheels, they’re probably politely telling you to not get a fucking false start penalty by letting your wheel wander behind the jam line.

I posted this on our league forum to try and verify whether or not it’s in fact legal, and I found out it is not. Sorry/not sorry to get your panties wet prematurely, guys.  Our beloved referee, John E Crash, hit us with some sweet sweet knowledge by pointing out some clarifications WFTDA had made that would result in this scenario reulting in the jamn not starting and your captain getting a delay of game.  Woops.

Our head NSO, though, brought up another strategy that is sneaky and therefore appeals to me.  If you have enough jammer helmet panties, have everyoine line up in front of the jammer line wearing a jammer panty.  Right before the whistle, everyoine but the actualk jammer can take off the panty and the jammer drops back. This takes time away from the oppposing team to figure out where and who the jammer is.  If it’s done quickly and not clumsily like that time I fell down the stairs last week, it can be effective.

A much more simple way to kick off a jam offensively is to just have one of your outer blockers push in.  Once you get good at it, it can be devastating to their wall.  Have the inside or outside blocker (preferably the one farthest from the opposing jammer’s start position) line up just a little to the side of the blocker in front of them.  When the whistle blows that blocker immediately starts pushing the opposing blocker to the inside, making a hole for your jammer while your fellow blockers are (hopefully) busy holding back the opposing jammer.  It takes a bit of practice to be ale to effectively lock someone and push them.  It also helps if you can throw your ass out and stop them should they get ahead of you a bit and try and get a hit in as the jammer’s passing through.  But again, practice, and a huge amount of awareness about where everyone is.  You have to be able to switch from offense to defense in a heartbeat.

If you want to go with the above strategy of pushing someone in it helps your jammer to let her in the know.  An easy way to do this is to have a code.  You can do it with hand signals, like your offensive blocker making an O with their hands so the jammer can see (and behind her back so everyone else and their mother can’t see), or you can do it with code words, like asking ‘Who’s going to the afterparty?’ and whoever answers is the blocker about to make a hole for the jammer.

You can also experiment with the positions of the blockers as a way to increase your effectiveness, both offensively and defensively.  You can start as truck and trailer or in the London wall, for example.  If you watch WFTDA matches on, you’ll notice that not a lot of professional teams start in a four wall.  They’re fond of London walls.


As I find more strategies I’ll try to add them on.  There’s probably some spelling mistakes and some shit missing from this article, but since it’s been a while since I’ve published anything you can deal with it.

If you like any of the possibilities laid out for you in this post, play around with them at freee practice or scrimmages or whatever.  It might end up being something your team loves, and could be an asset in a bout.  As always, message me or comment with questions or tips.  To the woman who asked for examples to be posted, the hubs and I are still working on the camera situation, but we’re getting there.

Until next time,


Tips For the FM In All of Us – 27 in 5 and Crossovers

The first time I stepped out onto a roller derby rink in skates seems like both eons ago and yesterday.  Eons ago in the sense that my knowledge of roller derby has evolved tremendously, but yesterday in the sense that I still struggle with a lot of the issues that all fresh meat do.

The fact is that all roller derby girls need work on basics, and anyone who says otherwise is a god damned liar.  Freshies should take comfort in the fact that the best leagues in the sport still do basic balance and agility exercises regularly.  So while I write this blog entry with freshies specifically in mind, hopefully the chicks with radio frequencies scribbled on their white t-shirts (I seriously thought that’s what they were at first, and I know I’m not alone) won’t be the only ones gleaning some sweet juicy knowledge from this reading.

I’d originally planned on covering lots of different sweet juicy aspects, but realized quickly that the length of that blog entry would be approximately as long as a preschooler’s rant on anything, so I’ve decided to focus on two of the bigger issues facing fresh meat.

One of the most formidable things we have to accomplish as fresh meat and often even as vets is the 27 in 5.  Oh my lanta is that shit hard.  It sometimes feels like the longest five minutes of your life, and just when you feel like you can’t push your miserable aching thighs anymore, you have to push them harder.  I was that bitch blessed with long legs who got her 25 in 5 (back when it was 25) in two months time starting from when I first put on skates. I know, I know, try to hold back your seething hatred and jealousy. If it makes you feel any better, take comfort in the fact that I have a small torso, so should I ever get knocked up I will look like a whale that’s been beached, dead and bloating for at least two swelling summer days.

In my time skating I’ve learned a few things that have helped me push my numbers higher.  Kiki Urhaz, the trainer who I reference frequently in my posts once said that even without endurance vets should be able to get their 27 in 5 without an issue.  I like to think the lessons she taught us after that stuck, because the first day back from a four month period where I did zero endurance because of a foot surgery I got my 27 in 5.  If you can refrain from making that effigy of me to shove needles into long enough, I’ll tell you the things that helped me, and will hopefully help you get to that holy grail of 27 laps.

The single most important thing that Kiki taught us was to lengthen our strides. Let me say that again, because it’s a point that cannot get enough emphasis. LENGTHEN YOUR GODDAMN STRIDES.  What I mean is that when you’re doing your crossovers, push your foot out as long as you can until you’re pushing off with the edge of the front left wheel.  Both of your feet should be making long strides and pushing off the floor for the maximum amount of time they can.  Quite often we make the mistake of assuming that quicker steps mean better laps, but the opposite is true. Slower, drawn out steps with the maximum amount of push help us get the most laps, simply because it doesn’t tire us out as much.  If you’re dying thirty seconds into your five minutes, evaluate what you’re doing.  Odds are you’re taking short steps, and that constant stepping is tiring you out faster than the octobirth tired out octomom’s vagina.

I know what you’re thinking. ‘Easier said that done, you long legged bitch.’  I know, I know. But I wouldn’t talk about it if I didn’t have some drill suggestions to back my shit up.

There’s a couple of drills I’ve done to practice and reinforce the idea of long strides.  The first came from Olympic speed skater Dan.  Don’t wait up for a last name, because I don’t fuckin know it.  Olympic speed skater Dan, whose expertise was most suited to helping us get that 27 in 5, had us propel ourselves around the track using only a total of six strides.  Three strides per half track was all we had to push ourselves.  For every additional stride we took, we had to do five pushups.

Ok, alright, I made that last part up. Olympic Dan didn’t do shit about us taking extra strides, but that’s stupid and nullified the effect of the drill.  Intense core workouts are a great motivation to make people push themselves (holla at’ya Smokin Okie), so don’t give your team or yourself the opportunity to be lax about this exercise by being apathetic about people taking extra strides. Enforce that shit by giving them delicious abs and a better chance at their 27 in 5.

Another drill that taught well the value of long strides was Ms. Urhaz’s drill. Kiki had us skate slowly along the track, taking our time to get our feet out and push for as long as humanely possible.  We took our time to stretch our legs out and get the feel for what it meant to push with every part of our feet, until the tippy tip of the left front wheel leaves the ground and you’re pushing with your other foot.  If you’re having trouble with Olympic Dan’s modified drill, then do this one for a bit and then try his again.  Different people learn different ways, so it might make one of the drills click if the other is done first.  For me, Kiki’s drill is what made Dan’s click, but it may be different for others.

I hope that explanation shed light on the importance of lengthening your strides.  If it didn’t, reread this shit until it does because lengthening your strides is, in my opinion, the most important aspect to getting your 27.  And if you disagree, I know a certain Olympian who would tell you to check yourself before you wreck yourself.

Of course, I type this knowing that some people struggle with crossovers more than anything else in the beginning.  Crossovers are the foundation to a long stride, and should be happening the entire way round the track once you get up enough speed to get your 27 in 5.  Chin up, folks who are struggling with it, it’s just a matter of practice and repetition. I believe in you!  I especially believe in you if you tackle the matter of practice with some of the drills I’m about to outline for you.

Which drill you do should be based on what aspect of the crossover is throwing you off the most.  If you don’t know, try to do some crossovers and pay attention to what’s holding you back. It could be that you’re freaking yourself out and are afraid to fall. It could be that the feeling of your legs being crossed is just awkward (we know how you like it, no judgement). It could be you’re so used to your balance being centered between both of your feet that you don’t know how to switch your center of balance from one foot or the other.  There are a surprisingly wide range of possibilities for what’s keeping you from perfecting your crossover, so it’s absolutely worth putting some critical thought into.

I’ll just say this and get it out of the way: If you’re afraid to fall, just fuckin’ fall. Take one foot off the ground, fall and tuck your shit in like Buffalo Bill. Once you do it enough times your misplaced anxiety will realize it’s not actually anything to be afraid of and go away.  If you continue to avoid crossing over or continue to hesitate, that’s shit’s going to stick around like herpes.  Make that fear your bitch.

One of the basic drills for crossovers that addresses getting used to crossed legs is what my league calls not being a dirty whore.  Just kidding.  We call it a grapevine.  You’re essentially just sidestepping over your own foot.  Let’s say you start with your right side parallel to a wall.  Balance your weight on your left foot as you bring your right foot over your left and plant it on the ground.  Your legs should be crossed. Swing your left foot around back to a normal position.  Repeat until you’ve sidestepped your merry way to the opposite wall. Do it the other way now, with your right foot balanced on the ground and your left foot stepping over your right.  This motion also does a pretty decent job of addressing switching your balance between feet, so it’s a drill that vets should be doing as well.  In my grapevine research I realized that other leagues have different drills called grapevines. I’m not saying they’re wrong and need to re-evaluate their nomenclature, but they’re absolutely wrong and need to re-evaluate their nomenclature.

One handy-dandy drill I came across in my research for crossover drills comes from the skating coach of the Nashville Rollergirls, xlracer.  My favorite part of this exercise is that you can do it at home.  Since my husband is not ok with me skating on our hardwood floors my time on wheels is limited, so I appreciate having effective drills that will placate that sexy beast.  I also love it being cheap, because you only need stairs, and the fact you do it barefoot, because my inner dirty hippie is not fond of shoes.  To do this drill you essentially go up the stairs in a low, parallel position, without putting your feet on the same step.  So if your right foot is starting closest the steps (as you stand parallel), step up with your left, and pull your weight up with your left foot. Then take your right foot and put it on the step above where your left foot is, pulling your weight up with that right foot. Then take your left foot, and put it on the step above the right foot, pulling up with the left foot.  Repeat, stepping on every other step with each foot. Your feet will cross over each other as you do this.  Keep low, maintaining your derby position, and you’ll be doing a pretty spiffy fuckin’ crossover.  Do this drill over and over and you’ll see it translate quickly to your crossovers on the track.

Another drill comes to us from Powersnatch of the New Orleans Rollergirls.  It’s essentially skating counterclockwise in a circle around a cone in four stages, maintaining a 10 foot radius from the cone.  The first stage requires that your left foot be as stationary as you can manage while you push yourself around with your right foot, sticky skate style (meaning all eight wheels stay on the ground like they’re sticking to the floor).  As with almost any drill we derby girls do, maintaining a low derby position is important.  Once you get used to that, start pushing with your right skate so that it comes off the floor a little, still maintaining the ten foot radius.  Remember to keep your head up.  Looking at the floor increases your chances of ending up on the floor.  Once you get comfortable with that, it’s time to throw in an arm swing and stepping over.  Lift your left arm behind you a bit and swing your right arm out as you’re pushing with your right foot.  When you have a comfortable pace, start stepping over your left foot with your right foot in as smooth a motion as you can manage.  Your right arm should swing back as you cross over, and forward as your foot moves back to its normal position.  Don’t skip the arm swinging, it’s incredibly helpful.  In her explanation Powersnatch emphasizes leaning to the inside of the turn, even if it feels like you’re going to fall over.

If those aren’t enough for you here’s one more for your insatiable derby appetite, coming all the way from Gotham.  Even though I’ll always be a little disappointed in any drill that comes from someone in Gotham not named Batman (can you imagine that mofo on skates?  That would have made The Dark Knight Rises so much better), shoutout to Megahurtz for posting this on the interwebs where I could find.  It’s called the ‘Tuck and Hydrant’.  Skate around the track and as you near the first turn lift your inner leg and coast the entire turn on that skate.  At the second curve lift your outside leg and coast the entire turn on your inside leg.  Once you get comfortable doing this, you want to progress towards the drill namesakes, the tuck and hydrant.  The tuck is what you should eventually progress to as you lift your inside leg on the first curve.  It’s when you lift your inside leg and point it towards the outside, behind your outside leg.  If you’re bending your knees like you always should be, then she describes it as “if you are trying to sit on your inner leg.”  The hydrant is the eventual progression of lifting the outside leg on the second turn.  It’s called a hydrant because it looks like a dog pissing on a hydrant to some degree. You lift your right leg to the side and behind you as you coast.  Megahurtz advises to “remember to also lean into your turns and, swing those arms!! When you use your arms to balance you, it allows you to put MUCH more into your pushes.”

If you’re more of a visual learner, here’s a few links to some crossover drills you can watch, from the same thread as Megahurtz’s comment: … c-training

As you do any of the drills I’ve listed here for laps or crossovers, there’s a few final things to always keep in mind.  First off, remember to stay low.  Get low, then get even lower, and stay there.  There is no such thing as getting too low in roller derby. A 90 degree angle in your knees is the power stance, which, for those of you who aren’t mathematically inclined is really fuckin’ low.  My thighs are hurting just thinking about it, because that’s how much it burns.  But in a good way that will make for great sex and better derby later, so just focus on that part while your thighs are temporarily screaming about being in the fifth circle of hell.  Second, lean into the curve.  It will keep you from slipping as you skate.  Third, look at the corner of the track where you’re going, not where you are.  You want to keep your sight about one and a half curves ahead of where you are.  If you’re entering curve one, look at the end of curve two.  If you’re leaving curve two, look at the beginning of curve four.  This keeps your shoulders squared with your desired direction, lining up your momentum so that it moves your speed along instead of hindering it.

If you’re still here, thanks for reading through, and I hope you found something on here useful. If I didn’t credit someone properly, if you have something to add or want something clarified, comment or message me. I am also open to taking suggestions on what my next entry should focus on, should anyone have anything specific they’re struggling with.


Write ya next time,


PS Seeing as how this blog is getting a few more views than I anticipated, I tried to make the format a bit simpler and easier to navigate.  Here’s hoping that five minutes of effort is helpful to someone in the blogosphere.