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Daily blurbs from the Guru
If this is your first visit to this site, you should first stop by my home page to find out what this site is all about. And please support this site's advertisers. They make free sites like this one possible.

Go forward to more recent blurbs.

12/23 - If you were looking for a good football differentiation move for the weekend, you needed to look no further than the offensive juggernaut known as the New York Giants. The tandem of Kerry Collins and Amani Toomer would have netted you nearly 1200 TSNP. Didn't find those inspired pickups? Me neither.

It seems to have been a difficult week for Football Pickoff. With the MNF game remaining, the top output so far is from mstucki25, with 13 correct picks and 681 points. After the early games yesterday, he was 11-0, but then stumbled a bit down the stretch. The top three entrants in the YTD standings all backpedaled, however. Still, frontrunner PGunn managed to widen his lead. And yours truly posted a powerful 319 point result, still shooting for a strong finish to get out of red numbers for the year.

Chris Webber was the big Kahuna in the NBA this weekend. On Saturday, he bagged an 88.5 TSNP triple double, and then followed it up with 49 TSNP yesterday. While Sacramento's schedule now turns very light (only 2 games in the next 12 days), his price gain pattern in the past few days indicates that some managers found a way to benefit from his largesse - including several who inexplicably picked him up just yesterday!

This will be my final blurb of 2002. For the next 9 days (through January 1st), I'll be vacationing away from home, and while I'll continue to update stats, I'll dispense with blurbs. This is the lightest week of the year for site activity, and I'll be doing my part to perpetuate that trend. Thanks to all of you for your support throughout the year, especially those GuruPatrons who generously chipped in to shoulder the financial load, as well as those who provide constructive contributions to the message forum. The continued popularity of RotoGuru is due to a broad community effort, and I am certainly grateful for the camaraderie and cooperation of the Gurupie collective.

Happy Holidays to all of you. Feel free to put your teams on autopilot and enjoy the season with your families and loved ones!

12/20 - We've had very few pre-Sunday NFL games this season, which certainly simplifies the timing of fantasy roster management. But this week there are three Saturday games (Mia/Min, SF/Ari, Phi/Dal), which has the following timing implications:

  • For TSN, players from those six Saturday teams will be frozen on Saturday noon. If you want any of them this weekend, you need them in place by tomorrow. And make sure your entire roster is valid tomorrow as well.
  • For Swirve and PSC, your entire roster freezes tomorrow. The Swirve freeze is at noon EST, while you get an extra hour and a half for PSC
  • For Football Pickoff, your picks for the Saturday games are locked in at 1:30pm EST on game day. The rest of the slate will be frozen on Sunday at 1pm.
Don't get caught napping!

Meanwhile, for the second night in a row, the top TSN price gainer was also the top point producer. Jason Kidd cranked out 60 TSNP, ending up just two assists shy of a triple double. On the other side of the court, the Lakers continued to play their matador defense while failing to find any consistent scoring answers. I almost said they continued their mediocre play, but that might be doing them a favor. In any event, they are in a virtual dead heat ("dead" being the operative word) with the GS Warriors for the bottom spot in the NBA Pacific Division. Shoot, they aren't even the best team in L.A. anymore! Who'd've thunk it?

12/19 - Many of the more popular players (from a fantasy ownership perspective) had great nights last night. The top game (57.5 TSNP) was from Tim Duncan, who was also yesterday's top TSN price gainer. The top center (57 TSNP) was Yao Ming, who has been the leading price gainer over the last two weeks. And the top guard (45.5 TSNP) was Ricky Davis, who has been the top price gainer over the last week. Sometimes the price gains and the points don't correlate very well, but it appears they did this time.

We're about to enter a relative lull in the NBA schedule. In an average week, there are about 50 NBA games scheduled. Next week the schedule reduces to about 75% of the norm, including a rare off-day on 12/24. If you are used to dealing away players with weak schedules, you'll need to recalibrate your threshold next week. Hitting a string of three consecutive off days is often a signal to sell. But over the new two weeks, there are only two teams that don't have at least one such stretch: Dallas and Washington. Several teams have 5 or 6 consecutive off days. Unless you have a tremendous stash of trades accumulated, learn to live with some 1-in-5's. And if Michael Jordan's ever going to get some love this year, we're probably approaching that time.

12/18 - I realized a few days ago that I had forgotten to call attention to a notable milestone.

This web site marks its 5-year anniversary this month. On December 7, 1997, the first sortable stats were posted at this location: The domain was initiated at the start of the following baseball season, and the tripod site was abandoned at the end of the NBA playoffs that spring. Amazingly, in spite of no activity, the old site is still breathing. Check out the playoff ending Hoops stats. Michael Jordan was priced at $16,500,500! (Unfortunately, his game-by-game detail page is no longer available.) Also, some of the old blurbs are fun to read. Some of the names have faded, but others are still alive and kicking.

What will RotoGuru look like five years from now? Will it even exist? I'm sure I have no idea on either count. As long as I remain interested and the site remains funded, I'll probably keep plugging away. If nothing else, I am a creature of habit. I'm blessed to be able to do this in lieu of having a "real" job. I've made a lot of friends through this site over 5 years, and I especially appreciate those who have stayed active and supportive since the very beginning.

Speaking of old timers who were there in the early days, today's quote was suggested by Gurupie What About Bob, who comments, "For me it describes in a nutshell what's wrong with the LA Lakers... [Imagine] making such a statement when your team is 1 game ahead of GSW for last place in their division. I don't envy the job Phil Jackson has with the Lakers for the rest of the season."

12/17 - Tennessee started the season 1-4, and many quickly wrote them off for the year. But since then they've gone 8-1, a pattern reminiscent of the Patriots last year. At one point, it looked like their only shot at a playoff berth would be as a result of being in a weaker division. But now they have a realistic chance to win home field advantage throughout the playoffs, as they are tied (with three other teams) for the best record in the AFC.

Speaking of the playoffs, four of the NFC teams have already clinched postseason spots, and there are only 3 teams with realistic shots at the other two. Atlanta and New Orleans have control of their own fates, but if either falters, the Giants could still slip by.

In the AFC, no team has clinched anything, as far as I can tell. Five teams have 5 losses, three have 6 losses, and four have 7 losses. Presumably things will start to clarify after this weekend, but it is unusual to have only 2 weeks to go in the regular without any teams having clinched.

Six Football Pickoff entrants managed to go 13-3 this week. The top score was posted by overall frontrunner PGunn with a 579 point showing. Coldwater coyotes was only 7 points behind him this week - but he's more than 3300 points behind YTD. Remember that Pickoff continues through the playoffs, and while the ability to rack up bonus points ends after 2 more weeks, eleven playoff games will still remain, and up to four of those can be doubled.

There are three NFL games on Saturday this week. Make sure to get your various rosters and picks made at the appropriate times. I'll try to remember to remind you again on Friday.

In the NBA, Eddie Jones posted his second straight 60+ TSNP game, and he hasn't been below 40 TSNP in his last four. He's been gravity-bound since opening day (although he did escape yesterday in the TSN Basic game), and at $5.6m with four games next week, there will probably be a few takers. Those four games are all on the road, though, and Miami's schedule gets notably lighter after that, so before you pick him up, think about your plans for next week as well.

Meanwhile, Tracy McGrady was a notable DNP again last night, his third of the season. When he's healthy, he's one of the most prolific producers in fantasy hoops. But so far he's missed only one less game than Grant Hill. Buyer beware!

12/16 - My apparent point-avoidance strategy in TSN football continues to be superbly executed. This week, my clever trades included selling Marcel Shipp and Marvin Harrison in order to pick up LaDainian Tomlinson and Koren Robinson. The good news is that the two additions had decent games, totaling 636 TSNP. But of course, the originals combined for 1016 TSNP. My other moves for the week essentially broke even, so I've still got some work to do before I can claim to have fully exploited the technique.

I liked this game a lot more when I had bye-week players to sell. At least they were easy to identify. In any event, I've never considered fantasy football to be one in which I am particularly proficient; it's basically a bridge from baseball to basketball. At least, that's my story and I sticking to it!

Fortunately, my football trading prowess hasn't completely infiltrated my Hoops experience. But I know there are a lot of Hoops managers today who are unhappy with their recent moves. For example, yesterday's three biggest price gainers in the TSN Ultimate game were Bobby Jackson, Tracy McGrady, and Richard Jefferson. Jackson took a DNP, McGrady managed only 25.5 TSNP while sustaining an injury, and Jefferson racked up a whopping 19.5 TSNP. Nice dividend return! I almost picked up McGrady for Payton yesterday, but decided to hold off in spite of Payton's recent lackluster performance. So far, that's looking like the right non-move. Time will tell, however, and I realize that the jury is still out.

12/13 - There were only three NBA games last night, and the one which commanded most of the attention was - none of them. That honor belonged to the high school game with LeBron James. I can't find a complete stat line for his game, but from the partial stats I've seen, it sounds like he generated more than 60 TSNP. And high school games are only 32 minutes long.

Yesterday afternoon, I expanded my analysis of home/away TSNP differentials to look at last year's entire regular season. Looking at the top 200 or so players (those who are likely to have any fantasy impact), about 80% of them did better in home games, and the degree of home advantage was pretty consistently in the 7% range across all categories. There was still a good deal of variability from player to player, and I remain unconvinced that the player-specific differentials are reliable projection indicators. But I do think it is reasonable to expect most players to produce about 3-4% above average at home, and 3-4% below average on the road.

To assist you in identifying the home/away breakdown of upcoming schedules, I've introduced two new enhancements to the sortable stats:

  1. The schedule outlook string (in the far right column) now shows home games in bold numbers, and
  2. when generating projected points, the report now shows both the total number of scheduled games and the number of home games included in that total.
Although I haven't made a final decision, I'm leaning against incorporating an ability to apply a quantitative adjustment to point projections using some form of home/away differential. I think this might be best left as a subjective assessment, and simply providing better info about home/away scheduling should be enough to facilitate that assessment. We'll see how it goes. But over most short projection horizons, random variability will still overwhelm any projection refinement like this. And over longer periods, home/away scheduling is likely to be pretty balanced.

12/12 - I'm a little surprised that Richard Jefferson hasn't been picked up by more TSN teams lately. Among mid-priced players, Dajuan Wagner and Yao Ming have gotten more buy activity, with their (TSN Ultimate) gains over the prior 7 days triple and double (respectively) the comparable gains for Jefferson. Their TSNP/G over the past 15 days have been reversed, however, with Jefferson averaging 41 TSNP/G to Yao's 34 and Wagner's 27. Of course, after last night's 69 TSNP explosion, Jefferson will probably get more notice.

There's been some recent discussion at the forum about the differences in home vs. away performance, and how it should be factored into projections of future production. I did a little research this morning, and posted my findings in this thread. The quick summary is that most players (about 70%) have produced better at home, on average. And the advantage for studs tends to be slightly less than for other regular players. But there are a lot of details and caveats, so I'd prefer to have you read my analysis at the forum. And please provide feedback if you have any interesting observations. I'm pretty sure I will not be incorporating player-specific home/away differentials into the sortable stats, but perhaps the ability to use an average differential in the projections would be useful. I'm pondering.

12/11 - I'm getting a late start on today's blurb. Thanks to Gurupie KnicksFan for submitting today's quote, thereby saving the time for that effort.

The reason for the delay is that I spent a lot of time going over possible trading plans. Yes, I had worked up some plans in advance, but today was the day I needed to execute some trades (or not), and I decided I really needed to plot out a plan through Christmas before committing to today's actions. There were a variety of issues to ponder:

  • Whether to sell Kobe today, and if so, if and when to get him back.
  • Whether to sell McGrady today, and if so, if and when to get him back.
  • Whether to sell Bobby Jackson today, and if so, if and when to get him back. (Sensing a theme here?)
  • How to manage my Phoenix players in the coming weeks - particularly Marbury and Marion.
  • Thinking about how the return of Darius Miles and the possible emergence of Smush Parker might impact playing time of the various Cavaliers.
That's not necessarily an exhaustive list, but it does hit the high points. I ultimately decided to bail on all of McGrady, Kobe, and Jackson (I didn't have all three on any single team). But the possibilities were almost endless.

The Cavs present a host of issues - and opportunities. It's funny how the weakest team in the league often presents multiple fantasy options. Two years ago, a lot of Clippers were showing up on rosters at various times (McInnis, Odom, Miles, Maggette, etc.), and last year, there were a lot of "Grizzly" choices (Gasol, J. Williams, B. Knight, Battier, Wright, Swift). This year, the Cavs seem to be that team, with Wagner, Miles, Ricky Davis, Boozer, Hill, and Ilgauskas all getting some action. If Smush Parker begin to start at the point, that's one more name to throw in the mix. Yet, once Miles returns this week, there aren't enough minutes to keep everyone at their recent levels, so something will have to give. I'll bet even John Lucas hasn't figured it all out yet. But Clevelnad has a nice schedule over the next couple of weeks, and it sure would be useful to have a good crystal ball.

Last week at this time, the consternation centered around Yao Ming. Fortunately, I made the right call there. In the past seven days, Yao cranked out almost 120 TSNP and gained $240K. Not a bad "penalty" to suffer for holding through a light schedule. Granted, he has 2 more off days now, but I'll happily suffer through those as well! In fact, it's probably because of the saved Yao trade(s) that I'm able to make today's moves at guard. We'll see whether that turns out to be a benefit.

12/10 - Only 14 shopping days left until Christmas!

No perfect slates in Football Pickoff this week. Nine people went 13-3, the best of which was ggavran, whose 707 points benefited from the double of Houston over Pittsburgh.

The Bucks and Cavs put up quite an offensive showing with 273 points scored in a double-overtime game last night. Sam Cassell led all producers with a triple-double (78 TSNP). Michael Redd (56.5), Anthony Mason (53.5), and Ricky Davis (51.5) also topped the 50 TSNP mark, making four players from one game who reached that level.

Do you know which player has the largest cumulative price gains in the TSN Ultimate Hoops game this season? Amare Stoudemire is up more than $1m since opening the year at the $500K minimum, and he has posted gains in each of the last 22 days. With 39.5 TSNP last night and a 5-game trade week starting tomorrow, I imagine that will continue, although you'd think that all active teams would own him by now. The second largest gains belong to Kobe Bryant, who has a lot of daily volatility, and who probably will drop out of the #2 spot in the next few days, with only one game from Wednesday-Saturday. There is a good thread going at the message forum about the pros & cons of selling Kobe now, but with trades refreshed this afternoon, it's hard to imagine that there won't be many more sellers than buyers on Wednesday. The Lakers' schedule is not so bad over the next two weeks (6 games in the 12 days starting tomorrow), but after that they play only 3 times in the following 12 days, including one stretch of 5 consecutive off days. During that second 12 days stretch, only Sacramento plays fewer games (2), while seven teams play twice as often. Suffice it to say that by New Year's day, Kobe's ownership should be pretty well flushed out. And it won't get any better for awhile, as no team plays fewer times than the Lakers (12) in January.

12/9 - The Houston-Pittsburgh game has to be the bizarro NFL game of the day, if not the entire season. The Steelers' offense outgained Houston's 422-47, and Houston's QB, David Carr, had more sacks than completions (4 vs. 3). The difference, of course, was the three defensive TDs for Houston (resulting in 665 TSNP!) while Pittsburgh evidently gained all of its yards in the middle of the field.

Houston's defense wasn't even the top point-getter of the day. The wackiness spliied over to Carolina, where the Panthers somehow managed to score 52 points, two on returns by Steve Smith, who ended the day with 790 TSNP, which is more than he accumulated over his team's last seven games.

The maddening result of the day (for me) was 578 TSNP from Jeff Garcia. I had him last week (instead of Gannon), but this week I reversed the trade. So my two week total for that QB slot is 388 TSNP, when the reverse holding would have garnered 994 TSNP. I stink at this game!

12/6 - Time for some Football Pickoff Analysis.

I've been a little surprised that underdogs are doing so well this season. Last year, if you had picked the consensus favorite in every game, you would have amassed a season total of 993 points. Picking underdogs would have netted you a grand total of 57 points. Interestingly, if we ignore bonus points (for picking 10 or more correct in any week), the totals were -7 for favorites and +7 for underdogs. The circumstantial evidence suggested that the game-by-game Pickoff odds were pretty efficiently set, but that bonus points were implicitly undervalued.

This year, underdogs have turned the tables. Through 13 weeks (192 NFL games), consensus underdogs have racked up 879 points, while favorites have accumulated a dismal -429. Without bonus points, the total for favorites drops to -879. What a difference a year makes!

I thought it might be interesting to drill down a little further into this year's results. The table below shows the game results for favorites grouped in 5% bracket ranges. For example, the second row of data shows the results for all games in which the favorite was picked by 80-84% of Football Pickoff entrants. The weighted average percentage in this bracket was 81%, and one might expect that efficient market pricing would suggest that 81% of these favorites should have won. In actuality, those favorites have gone 15-5 (75%), which is slightly below expectations, but not alarmingly out of whack, and could also be explained as reasonable compensation for enhanced bonus point potential.

Football Pickoff - 13 weeks, 2002
Performance of Consensus Favorites
Range Wtd. Avg. Actual W-L Actual W%
85-90% 90% 1-0 100%
80-84% 81% 15-5 75%
75-79% 77% 20-10 67%
70-74% 72% 20-3 87%
65-69% 68% 11-11 50%
60-64% 62% 18-15-1 55%
55-59% 57% 16-17 48%
50-54% 52% 16-13 55%

In most brackets, favorites have done modestly worse than expected. But there are several oddities. Teams picked by 70-74% of all entrants have actually done better than expected, going 20-3. Yet favorites in the next bracket, 65-69%, have only managed to win half of the time. I doubt if there is anything systematic happening here. But if you think these trends will persist, you should be picking 70-74% favorites and going with underdogs in the 65-69% bracket.

The NBA schedule has been a bit "doughnutty" this week, with 11 games on Wednesday and 10 tonight, but only 2 yesterday. When looking at the nightly results in my TSN divisions, a saw a fair number of zeros. It was also fairly simple to identify which teams had Kevin Garnett, who was only one assist shy of a triple-double. Although there were several other players with big nights, those players were very lightly held. And with only 4 games in the next 11 days, even KG's ownership is likely to dissipate somewhat over the next week.

12/5 - Tracy McGrady sat out last night's game with a sprained ankle, prompting several observations:

  • I warned you on Tuesday that this might happen!
  • Since so many TSN teams own him, it probably wasn't a major relative loss for most teams
  • Orlando has 4 games in the next 6 days. No other team has more than 3.
Of my three TSN teams, two already had McGrady, and I will continue to hold him on those teams. Even if he misses one more game, there is no compelling trade opportunity right now. On my third team, I opted to skip McGrady this week, fearing that he might not play. So that team got an immediate reward - although the week is not yet over, and a few big games from McGracy could still turn the tables once again.

Three players topped the 60 TSNP mark last night. Gary Payton probably didn't matter, because he's in the midst of a 2-games-in-8-days span. Shawn Marion was more widely owned. Hopefully you didn't heed my warning about his ankle! And Dirk Nowitzki had his first good game in a week, after three straight sub-40 TSNP efforts. Five other players were in the TSNP 50s, the most interesting of which was perhaps Michael Jordan, who played 39 minutes (his season high).

Thanks to Gurupie JCS for suggesting today's quote.

12/4 - I was fully prepared for this to be "drop Yao Ming" day. He hadn't been doing much lately, and I figured his game against the twin towers would only produce more disappointing results. Not! It may still be "drop Yao Ming" day. But at least he's caused a lot of managers to rethink their plans this morning.

If you don't already own him, now is certainly not the time to pick him up. But if you do, I've provided some expanded thoughts in this forum thread. Rather than repeating them here, I'll just direct you over there. Sufice it to say that I've rejiggered my plans to hold him on all three teams, when my original plans were to dump him three times. He's got two games in the next four days, so I'll take today's price hit and wait until Sunday to decide. I hate burning trades on inconsistent centers, so when Yao gives me a reason to hang on, I'll gladly conserve the trade for now.

Yao Ming had the most notoriety, but Kobe Bryant had the triple double, his fourth of the season, and his second since the return of Shaq. Four triple doubles in the first month is absurd. Last year, Jason Kidd was the only player with more than 4 triple-doubles for the season, and he had 8 for the entire year. Kobe is on pace to more than double that total. He probably won't, but so far, a major key to success in TSN has been to have Kobe on your roster most of the time. He's almost exactly matched Garnett's point totals, and he costs $1.5 million less.

12/3 - Keep a few trades in reserve. There are some troubling winds blowing on the injury front.

Shawn Marion had a 50 TSNP overtime game last night. Tracy McGrady produced 45.5. But both left their games with turned ankles. While they each returned after taping, you never know whether these injuries are going to present greater problems after given a day to swell up. If you already own them - and a lot of teams do - you should certainly hang on and see what transpires. If you were planning to buy them today, wait until at least tomorrow (since neither is scheduled tonight.) And if you were planning to add them tomorrow, just be aware that there is heightened potential for disappointment. You might be better off to keep your powder dry and save some rainy day trades.

We've just had the first ever 16-0 result for a Football Pickoff weekend. Kip parlayed all 16 correct picks into a 1052 point result. This was not only the first ever 16-0 result (in five years, there have been two 15-0 weekends, two 14-0 weekends, and one 13-0-1), but it was also the first weekend to top the 1000 point mark, eclipsing the previous best of 990, set in 2001. Congratulations!

12/2 - Wow. December already. I'd better start thinking about my Christmas shopping.

Michael Vick wasn't the top fantasy point producer yesterday, but his 530 TSNP is all the more remarkable because it includes -135 TSNP for three turnovers (one pick, two fumbles). But even a clean Vick game wouldn't have touched the output of LaDainian Tomlinson, whose 744 TSNP included 271 yards and three TDs. Second best was the Philly defense with 615 against the woeful Rams. All told, there were a lot of points to be had this weekend. Hope you traded better than I did.

I usually wait until Tuesday to comment on Football Pickoff, but we have a potential perfect slate going this week. Entrant Kip is 15-0, and needs only an Oakland win to run the table. The only thing he could have done better was to double Carolina instead of Buffalo.

I was thinking the other day that, in terms of troublesome injuries, we've had a rather clean NBA season so far, as not many widely held players have gone down at inopportune times. That may be changing, as this weekend saw the sudden demise of Michael Olowokandi (placed on the IR), Baron Davis, Andre Miller, Glen Rice, Jamal Tinsley, and a few others. Baron Davis may be the most troublesome of that group, as the Hornets' heavy schedule had induced some recent acquisitions. I hate when that happens!

Click here for prior daily blurbs, by month:

2002: November. . . October. . . September. . . August. . . July. . . June. . . May. . . April. . . March . . . February . . . January

Click here for prior daily blurbs, by month:

2001: December . . . . . November . . . . . October . . . . . September . . . . . August . . . . . July . . . . . June . . . . . May . . . . . April . . . . . March . . . . . February . . . . . January

2000: December . . . . . November . . . . . October . . . . . September . . . . . August . . . . . July . . . . . June . . . . . May . . . . . April . . . . . March . . . . . February . . . . . January

1999: December . . . . . November . . . . . October . . . . . September . . . . . August . . . . . July . . . . . June . . . . . May . . . . . April . . . . . March . . . . . February . . . . . January

1998: December . . . . . November . . . . . October . . . . . September . . . . August . . . . . July . . . . . June . . . . . May . . . . . April . . . . . March

RotoGuru is produced by Dave Hall (a.k.a. the Guru), an avid fantasy sports player. He is neither employed by nor compensated by any of the fantasy sports games discussed within this site, and all opinions expressed are solely his own. Questions or comments are welcome, and should be emailed to Guru<>.

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