Below is a excerpt of a Journal entry of how easy or hard Massage Therapy School can be.
9/17/1999 11:30 pm after a very fun graduation party.
I have finished my last day of class at the Utah College of Massage Therapy, yesterday. (get this, when I typed this above, I had to verify with my dictionary and sure enough I had typed "Collage", I so much liked writing on resumes and applications that I graduated from BYU, for the simple fact that I always spelled University correctly!
It was quite the day. Very nerve racking as I had so set my mind and heart on getting a 4.0
Last Tuesday, when we took our anatomy final, out Permanent Teachers Aid, Jason Tolbert's wife, had a cyst in an ovary burst. So he had to take care of her instead of correcting grades for the class, so we didn't find out our grades until Thursday morning. He had mentioned the day before that 2 student had received 89. something for their final score in anatomy and that the teacher had rounded it up to 90, so that they got A's. This made me very nervous.
I had put so much into anatomy study that I had no available pool of fresh synapses, from which to store the 98 different items that made of the table from which Russian Sports Massage final would be taken. It was exacting stuff such as what percent of a 50 minute massage is vibration used, as well as the order that the stroke is used, the amount of time in minutes, whether it is sedative or stimulant, the purpose of the stroke, what it is best used for, such as "increase stamina, size and strength of muscle and decrease fatigue", the rhythm of the stroke (even or variable), speed or repetitions per minute (200-300 x min), the pressure (medium to deep), the direction of movement, whether the stroke slide or doesn't and the difference between, Effleurage, Wringing, Perishable, Friction, Vibration, Percussion and Passive Movement.
Yes I had to unwind from taking a comprehensive anatomy final, that covered a 400 page text, with 6 cadaver labs, and learn over 100 boney landmarks (BTW about 1/3 of the time I wrote boan, instead of bone in my notes, I also had to ask Stephanie how to spell vane (vein) during the final because it was bugging me that I knew I was writing it down wrong all the time, but didn't have what it takes to remember the correct spelling) and over 200 muscles, with their name, what they look like, their origin, insertion and action, as well as the origins of the body, down to the detail of the technical like "fimbriae" that catch the egg on the end of the Uterine tube, (formerly known as Fallopian tube). We also studied for less than an hour, but still had questions on the test, the Endocrine system and glandular organs, such as Pituitary, Thyroid, Parathyroid, Adrenal, and Pancreas glands as well as know the at lest 2 hormones they secrete and what those hormones do. I didn't get the Fimbriae, right, but I think I can still identify the clitoris even with the lights out :)
Yes the test contained a ton of stuff, all the way back to 6 months ago, on the cellular components of the skin, their layers, tissue types, glands etc.
Oh one bit of trivia that our TA shared with us was that during ejaculation, sperm travels 29 Miles Per Hour! It was not all noses to the grind stone, it took us 5 minutes before the jokes about the radar guns etc, died down enough to get back on task.
Yes it was the best of times, and it was the "Dura Mater" of times! Just a little anatomy geek joke, it is a layer of the brain that provides protection, linearly in Latin, tough mother!
I was very stressed out during the written final for Russian Sports Massage. As soon as I got the test, I turned it over on the back and started writing down every category I could remember hopping that no dyslexia gods were going to be haunting me. Which they usually do during times of stress. My dyslexia showed up during the oddest times during the course, with dyslexic people the simplest things to remember never make a solid connection, such as right and left, origin and insertion, vein and artery, ventral and posterior, Dorsal and Anterior, humeral and femoral. the humerus and the femur have lots of similarities and look some what a like. Most people would say NO, the humerus is much larger. Generally dyslexic people don't think in simplistic world views, they over analyze, they think if they found only one bone in the desert, that it could easily be mistaken for a humerus, because it could be the bone of a child rather than an adult or that of a midget.
Often dyslexic people don't easily or quicly accept that right is right and left is left. For example when someone faces the same direction as me and we are facing north, the hand toward the East is our right hand, but when they face me, their hand to East is their left. It was an arbitrary decision to make the default method to refer to THEM as their right compared to MY right. When we could have always keep the right on the right, but referred to it as (my) right facing me and right facing away from me. Yes the majority of society just accepted right and left and your right and your left from day one, but for some dyslexic people like myself I knew that right and left was not consistently your right and your left and I did not easily accept the explanation that it simply changes depending on which way your are facing. There was always this underlining doubt that everything about right and left was not that simple. It was an athoritanrian decision, not a logical decision. If you are a first grader and you try to argue with your teacher that their explanation of right and lift and someone's right and left is "fuzzy" (incomplete), they are going to make the assumption that I am really stupid because you can't learn your right from your left.
The same, no assumptions, analysis did not make the fastest programer around but made me one of the best quality control analyst around. But it got really trying to hide the fact that I still don't know my 8 times tables or that I can't spell the most simple of words such as "because" or "Writting" "boan" or "vine" etc. That was part of the left brain, the more lucrative job in the computer industry for one where my spelling skills are not scrutinized as a criteria of my intelligence on a daily basis. I am sure the logical side of my brain will atrophy some. Oh well.
Oh kind of got off on a tangent.
Anyway, take all that stuff, set it aside and made way for 89 Russian facts.
I missed 3 out of 20 questions on the Russian written exam, which was 85%, so to get 93 or higher to get an "A", I had to have near perfect hands on final. and my luck I get Andrey the Russian instructor to grade me, and he has been teaching the class for 8 years and does not play favorites or make exceptions. I had practiced harder than anyone else in the class, weeks in advance, and knew most of the strokes very well.
We got to pick one of each of the 7 different strokes and he would pick the other. We were told if we picked an easy one he would pick a hard one. The two women that went before me struggle and he had to ask them over and over and corrected them. So I figured that I would have it easier. Well the first stroke Effleurage, spreading the lotion, I did a hard combination one, and he immediately asks how much pressure for that stroke. I go very light, which I apparently was not as light as his very light, his is almost tickling light. So I missed some points there, and then latter on pressing Petrissage I had chosen Closed fist, and as I was doing it, apparently I had learned wrong and I was using the dorsal surface of the proximal phalanges, but I should have rotated my fist another 30 degrees and used more of the distal ends of the proximal phalanges as well as the proximal end of the middle phalanges, i.e. lost points. Then the last stroke on the test, topotment, I pick a hard one and he picked a hard one, and I had the name mixed up and I used the wrong tool and missed points, but as soon as I realized that I had the name wrong I corrected the stroke that he wanted without him having to show me what it was.
It was looking bad for my 4.0 and it would be another 24 hours before I knew if I had blown it or not.
During the rest of yet another final, sports injury, I was worried about my anatomy grade and very much worried about my Russian grade.
The afternoon class we cleared all the chairs away and hid them behind some curtains and turned out all the lights and had 2 dim lamps glowing. We were divided up into 3 groups, and one from each group would come up to the front of the class and tell what their personal vision for massage therapy was going to be.
The teacher went to lots of trouble to match personalities and friends within the groups and also with the 3 that got up together.
Each person freely shared the love that they had felt for the group. Our class was very special and had possibly the best "Beingness" dedication, respect, and care, i.e. being there for the client, as any other class ever has. Time and time again each different teacher would remark on how focused our class was on being in tune, but when it came to lecture, few classes were as talkative and noisy. Odd.
When it was my turn to share my vision, I tried to maintain my composure as I had read a few stories in the past, that were very emotional. Well it was hard to look out on these people that I had spent so much time with. 34 people in the same class room 4 and 5 days a week, for 8 hours. And this was with people that you had shared your energy with, and they with you. People that had been annoying and immature at one point and supportive at another. It is one thing to get undressed by yourself, and lay naked under a sheet and have one body part exposed to one person at a time, but it is another to get undressed under a sheets twice a day, and at times have your butt cheek uncovered in the presence of 33 other people and try to be professional about it. There is a familiarity and a mutual respect that develops that you are unlikely to get in any other academic situation. I first spoke of how I am known as being "Metal", (Chinese for type "a" personality, i.e. that I type up my notes and on my take home test I types up my answers, printed it on 8 1/2 x 11 inch label paper, cut it up and pasted the type words on the answer sheet. I had my reasons, as my hand writing, when in a hurry, is so bad that I can't read it 2 weeks later.
I explained that the reason that I wanted so bad to get a 4.0 was that it was a personal sign to me that I had overcome my dyslexia. How I had D's and C-'s in grade school C's in Jr High and C+'s in High school, and B's at BYU, B+'s in Grad school and that I had never had all A's or anything close to it. I forgot to mention that I had dropped out of many things because of my memorization skills, or lack there of, such as graduate school twice, Cougar Band, just days before the first performance, because I couldn't memorize the marching pattern's on the field, Male chorus, Majoring in Vocal performance, dropped out of Mormon Youth Chorus, because I couldn't memorize the songs, struggled on my mission to memorize the discussions, dropped 40 or more BYU classes because I they required too much memorization, just to add the class with a different professor. Who knows how many things that I didn't even attempt like law school or becoming a paralegal or paramedic because I didn't have the memorization skills or confidence to even attempt it.
It would have taken too long to mention them all, so I only mentioned elementary, Jr, high and High school. I did NOT mention that I really didn't learn to read very well until 7th grade, and that I have only read 3 fictions books in my life, "A Wrinkle in Time", "The Hobbit", and the first 2 books of "Lord of the Rings", (Oh I may have read "Where the Red Fern Grows", or maybe it was read to me. But I have read over 30 computer manuals, and know what ever word means, and have over 300 church history books and have read over 125 of them. I do not read for pleasure, but I only read for necessity, but I didn't go into that. I told about when I was in first grade that the teacher singled me out in school and YELLED at me for 5 minutes for Goofing off and blasphemy and that God was watching and that she was going to tell my parents, and that I would be in big trouble if I ever did that again. I looked at my spelling test and saw that I had the spelling word for "dog" marked wrong, but I didn't know what was wrong with the way I wrote it or why God would be mad at me. But I did learn that If I didn't know for sure how to spell a word really well that it was better to leave it blank and quietly get it wrong, than to make some mistake that gets the whole class laughing at you!
I explained that part of my vision in attending the school was to strive to get a 4.0 to show myself that I could do it, even if I don't have the kind of memory or confidence in my memory to learn the times tables past the 7's. I tried to explain, but I don't think I did it well, that getting perfect attendance, allowed me to achieve something I knew I had control over, which took pressure off the part of my goals that I was not sure I had it in me to do.
I did not tell the rest of the class, but Jason knew, that 2 weeks into studying the muscles, I started having anxiety that there was too much rote memorization, and that my mind went into a mental block, where I stopped learning all together. No it was not about getting a B instead of a A, it was about failing. It was the reoccurrence of trying to do the impossible for me. It was 4th grade all over again, and the 6, 7, 8 and 9 times table. I couldn't simply act out in class so that no one would notice that I didn't know the origin and insertion, let along the action of the muscles. This was not High school where I could crack jokes, or Read aloud in Falsetto or with a big lisp, so as to shorten my turn at reading aloud, before anyone noticed that I couldn't pronounce any big words, because I had never been taught phonics. It was not College, where those rare occasions that I had to read aloud, I would cough violently when I got to a word I didn't have know how to pronounce! My best acting skills would not allow me to FAKE my way through 2 months of 200 muscles. I had the weight of a failed married. Failing or dropping out of school would accentuate that I had made the biggest mistake that any rational adult could make career wise! For anyone not knowing the details of the reasons for our divorce would look at me as a man in mid life crisis, but one that couldn't even do that right!
Jason, listened as I told him just a few of the examples of inadequacy and inconsistency of my memory, such as never passing off the all of the discussions on my mission and then Jason offered some suggestions and encouragement. It is probably a good thing that I soft peddled the extent of anxiety that I was feeling, otherwise Jason would have been overwhelmed, and tossed up his hands.
Yes I have had successes in my life, but the failures at times can loom much larger for me. And when I get in that mode, my mood can be debilitating. Jason told me to read the list of muscles night and morning, and gave me a memory book to study. The book was only moral support, as it did not address faulty memory problems, but dealt with regular people. The suggestion of reading the muscle night and morning was difficult to want to do, but since I was sleeping along, for the first time in 20 years, it filled in a little for what was lacking, well at lest time wise. And instead of waking up in the morning, with a typical male response, I woke up with names of muscles and boney land marks repeated over and over in my mind.
When I would race in the door with only 10 seconds left before roll call started, or half way through roll call, but before my name was called, we would just look at me and say "Oh Perry, you need to leave sooner". But with the passage of time, I learned when to accelerate, which intersection to avoid, and left later every day.
There were times when I would be getting Mary dressed, and she would cry because her socks didn't match because they were hot pink and not soft pink, or her hair was tangled and I let time get away from me, that I would literally be driving for 4 or more blocks down state street at 85 miles per hour on a 40 MPH road! One of my closet calls was 2 months into the program, there was road construction on state Street and 8th north, and it took 4 lights to get past the intersection, I barely made it, another time there they were paving the road and the lane was cut down to one lane. Another time I was reading e-mail at lunch and took too long responding to an e-mail. I was studying so much for finals the last 2 weeks that I set 2 alarms on my radio so make sure I didn't sleep in and show up late for class.
As the last 5 days approached, I became more and more paranoid that something bizarre would happen and that I would miss my perfect attendance. I tried to go to school 15 minutes early, but somehow, habit chewed up the extra time, and all but the very last day, I ended up rushing to school. The last day I planed on eating local, and not even go home for lunch, in case somehow I would be late. Coincidentally we had a pot luck, so lunch was a no strainer! I explained to the class how having perfect attendance gave me control over something that I knew I could control, and how I hoped that it would spill over on to things that I was afraid I could not control, such as my memory skills or lack of such, or at lest lack of confidence to trust my memory.
We had given Jason a Decanter and 4 glasses, and the decanter had each of the students first name in the class. Charles had arranged this and I had supplied him with a revised copy from my computer of a class list, missing the names of a few students that had dropped out.
As things were winding down, the announcement came from the font desk lady, that Jessica had delivered a 6 pound boy, at 5:15. She sat next to me for the first 3 months and enjoyed hitting me in the arm when ever she felt like it. For no apparent reason I had drifted more to the front row, and she drifted back a row, and we didn't have as much of contact as before. But that morning as she had tried to attend the last day of school so as not to have to go to lots of trouble to make up later, her contractions were increasing, and she left after only 15 minutes. I followed her out to her car to make sure he felt good enough to drive. I asked her if her husband was coming to take her. She was crying and started me out on what would be a very misty day. She assured me that she could make it the 10 or so blocks to the hospital. I told her to call when she was admitted so that I would know that she had arrived safely.
I was very torn at that moment, I very much wanted to get perfect attendance, but at the same time I wanted to go with Jessica, and screw school, I could make up classes later, after all I didn't have any plans for vision, beyond a week. I wanted to go with her and hold her hand and help her have her baby. I am afraid I didn't pay attention to the acupressure points for maternity delivery. But I had been there for all 5 of our children, and I know the drill. Hell I could probably deliver a baby myself, since it is somewhat related to sex, I had always paid attention to the birthing process. I wanted to, and felt I could help my friend and class mate, she would have been in our group of three that presented together. And her husband, a nice guy, but he is a brick layer for God's sake!
She seemed to be in control and determined to go on without me, so I let her.
I returned to class to be teased by Jason, about being assent from class, even after lunch when I went out to my car to put my sheets in the car and was gone less than 45 seconds, less than a pee break, and Jason and others were teasing me that I had screwed up my perfect attendance just moments after them voting to allow me to be an exception to the rule.
I finished writing this last night at 5 minutes to 4 am. After sleeping on it, I realized though I give a lot of credit to others helping me, I also put forth much effort. During spring break for a week, I spent 4 of the 5 days studying muscles and making my own study guides from morning till night, and the day I went to Mesquite NV, I listened to audio tapes of muscles that I made my self, while driving back and forth! Everyone else took a break for a week.
If I had taken a break during that week, and not made my study guides, I don't know if I would have leaned all those muscles. Also stress wise, I was my worst enemy, trying to make the perfect flash cards. When the other students labeled and color coded their books, left my muscle pages blank so that I could scan then to make flash cards. Well I never got time and with 2 days before the books were due I scanned the pages and started coloring, and was coloring between studying up until 10 minutes before the final anatomy class began. The book was worth 50 points, half as much as one of the finals. So I was way stressed out, due to my own obsession with perfection. I only got around to making 1/4 of the flash cards for the muscles, but they are professional quality, one of the draw backs of being too "Metal"
In the future if someone shows up on the first day of class to sign up for school they should tell them to attend class and sigh up during lunch and after school! The vote on whether to make an exception to the rule was that I had technically missed the 2nd half of the first day of school, as I was in the Administration office signing up for admission to school, while my class was going around introducing each other to the class.
Anyway I hope you all have felt just a little bit of what it is like to go to Massage Therapy school, and that you are just a little bit jealous of my new found knowledge of anatomy as well as my increased sensitivity to human touch and emotions, as well as being jealous that you could have been part of DP-08
Oh BTW I got higher on my anatomy quiz than 2 students half my age, both of them have effortless memorization ability, Joey didn't study more than an hour in the last 2 weeks, and Kim L. studies just a bit more than Joey, They both got "A"'s with little effort.
And my cumulative final exam, I got 92% and an over all average in Anatomy of 93% or without any rounding help an A, yeee haaaaaa !!!!
Now for the other shoe, I am afraid I put too much effort in to Anatomy and did not leave enough ATP for Russian Sports Massage. With my 100% attendance, 100 points, final example of 17 out of 20 or 85 % and 66 out of 70 points or 94 % averages out to exactly 93.0 percent.
Yes, one more final question wrong or one stroke too fast or too low or with a hand at 30 degree too high or too low etc, and I would not have got an "A" in Russian. No yelling here, for the next 2 hours after finding out, all I could feel was fear of how close I almost came to not reaching my goal.
Yes I got my 4.0, and I am still in disbelief. There were so many that helped me. Sorry to end on a sad note, but there are more pianos in homes than in concert halls.
When I got home I told Renee about our last day in class, and how close my Russian Scores were. Yes at one or two of my hardest times in school she has been very supportive, and other times disinterested. She had frankly stated that it does her no good for me to fail at school.
She asked, "So did you get all A's?" to which I replied, with measured enthusiasm, "yes".
During the next two weeks I worked on finishing for real, the
basement, i.e. (adding a hand rail, paneling, and a hand rail.)
avoided more study and didn't even get around to reading more than 2 chapters of the Malady's review questions.
I read the State Laws test sample questions only once, and passed the state laws test with a score of 93%!
With only studying 3 hours with Charles in the next week, I
passed the State Theory test with 84%! (I wrote 5 or 6 pages,
about 20 or more responses on their special form, where the question was worded poorly or had more than one answer
depending on your knowledge level.
The Proctor asked if I was writing a novel, to which I replied,
I am a former school teacher, and she nodded with
Some memories of graduation night.
The speeches were typical of graduation, actually better than a High School or College Graduation.
Then came the presentation of special Honors.
Those that had receive all "A"'s i.e. a 4.0 GPA, I was happy to be numbered among them.
Next was the presentation of those that had Prefect attendance, there was one from the night class out of 50 student and two from our class, I being one of the two, that had never missed class or been marked late.
One of the guys in our class had perfect attendance, until the 3rd to last week, he got gravel in his eye and a blister on his eye and missed the next day.
They made a big deal out of the perfect attendance, because it was such a hard thing to do. You only have to slip up once and it is over, but you can have a bad quiz and still pull an "A"
The net award was for those that did 5 massages each clinic in a 5 1/2 hour shift. There were about 6 in our class that received a $100.00 gift certificate, and I got a coat and some shorts with my certificate the next day. Interesting note, that all but one were over 30 years old. And of those in our class that were over 35, there was only one that didn't do 5 massages each week. What does that say about our work ethic of our generation? The extra hour we worked while others took breaks, came to working just less than $1.00 per hour, for the gift certificate. But for me it was not the gift certificate, but the challenge, and by damn, If I'm going to pay $7,000.00 for 6 months of school, I am going to get the most out of every opportunity, which I did!
The LAST award was for those that had participated in the Sports Massage Team, It was not mentioned, but I was the only one in my class to travel to Logan to the 2 day 150 mile bike tour, to SLC for the Deseret News Marathon, to Yuba for the Triathlon and last week all the way to St. George for the Marathon there. Since the Sales and marketing teacher also handed out the awards, I wondered if she would mention that I had the most cards turned into clinic, than any other student she had know about, the previous count she thought was about 38, at last count, my total, was 65. But she didn't mention that, but that's ok. I had lots of singling out that day.
When the announcer got up after that, She mentioned that there was only one student that received all 4 awards that night, from either of the two classes, she said that she figured that I might like to say a few words.
I had never in my life, ever been such the center of attention and applause. I thought that I could get up and tell them about my new found drinking problem, but that might be misconstrued as Alcohol rather than Dark Chocolate milk. (For breakfast, every day I would go during the 10 am break, to Allens and buy a quart of Dark Chocolate Milk.
For the last 2 months I have been keeping the lids from my Chocolate milk bottles, to use when I do sports massage and put my table up on grass, to keep the legs from sinking in the grass and getting dirty. Table legs that is. Well I counted them up and I had over 40 which meant that in approximately the last 2 months I have drank over 10 GALLONS, yes that is not pints or quarts, but 10 gallons of Chocolate Milk! and I am thinner now than I was on the first day of class! Well the funny part is that I got down to ST. George and I was setting up my table in the park. I got in my bag to get a few dozen milk bottle lids, and low and behold, I didn't pack any with me!!!
I approached the podium with trepidation, as I didn't feel it was the place to explain the extent of effort it was to get a 4.0 with flaky memory skills and semi recovery from dyslexia. I also didn't want to mention about achieving each of those awards was compounded by the fact that I in the process of getting a divorce.
I would have been to emotional to say much, because as irony would have it, we went out to get one last family picture together, as Tiscia had come down from Logan for my graduation, and on the way to get the last family photo together, I also stopped in at Renee's work and signed our divorce papers, as there was a notary that worked there, and Renee had finally got things correct with her lawyer, and it just happened to fall on that same day!
So what I said, through a cracking voice, was; "The hardiest award to earn was the Perfect attendance, because I had someone that some days help and inspired me, and other days made it almost impossible to be on time for school. That person was Mary Elizabeth Porter. I had to get her ready for the baby sitter each day and there were many times that she was not cooperative."
"So Mary come on up here!" and I waved at her to come on up on stage and share this moment with me. I shielded my eyes from the spot light and looked in the middle of the crowd for her to appear in the isle. She came running down the aisle, and I pointed her towards the stairs. She ran across the stage and leapt into my arms, squeezing me around my neck. I just stood there for a long time and squeezed her tight, as tears filled my eyes, as I rocked her from side to side and I held on to her and she held on so strong to me.
I had no more to say, and couldn't if I had tried. I carried her back to my seat, sat her on my lap. The chears and clapping were thunderious an non-stop, at least in my heard and heart.
Next on the program was the awarding of the diplomas. We had slips of paper that had how we wanted our names read. We were asked one class at a time to line up at the stairs and proceed. As I walked up, class mates jockeyed to stand by their special buddies. I didn't want to cut in line, so I ended up at the end of the line. (no special order Keith)
After the program, I had quite a few people come up to me and congratulate me on getting all those awards. I tried to, as humbly as possible, thank them. A few commented on how special it was to have my daughter come up on stage with me. 3 Staff members came up and made a point to tell me how touched they were by the my gesture of in encluding Mary. One said that it was a very real moment, and that is what events are all about. Another said that she was crying so hard that she felt she might have to leave the stage.
It was one of the most special experiences of my life. When I got home, Renee had some other divorce papers that needed signed, which I did, with out much thought, as I was still feeling Mary's hug, deep in my heart.
I don't mean to paint Renee as cold and disinterested in the evening, as the next morning, we had a brief positive exchange, which has now slipped my mind (re-edited 2-19-2008), as it is 3 am, I have not yet packed my back pack, and I get up at 6am to head to Europe for a month. I have moved most all my stuff into the designated storage room except my computer related items.
I guess if I had to pick any day in my life to sign divorce
papers, I can't think of a brighter day for me, to balance out
an event that I have NEVER looked forward to.
Or if that does not work, try this mail
All opinions are mine and mine alone, and represent my thinking at this point in time,
(subject to change based on better information).
All original writings of mine are just that, to reproduce, forward or use, parts or whole, you need to get permission from me first.
Spellings constructed for effect and to confound the ridged. ;)
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This page updated on 10/6/99 04:03:48