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Help with an Old Wives Tale

08/07/2009 4:32 PM

Recently while I attempted to defrost dinner (frozen hamburger) for my convalescing wife I was given explicit instructions to place the hamburger in a sink of cold water.

When I informed her that it would defrost faster IN warm water I was provided with a lengthy explanation of how the molecules jiggled , and the cold water would defrost the hamburger faster.

This is somewhat contrary to my understanding of thermal dynamics and energy transfer. Of course my wife is somewhat contrary.

Should anyone agree with me that the hamburger would defrost faster in warm water, I would appreciate you posting such a comment. Heaven knows she won't listen to me.

As I argued with my college educated wife I was reminded of A skit from the Three Stooges when Moe asked Curly "did you go to college stupid?" And Curley replyed" yeah and I came out that way to!"

PS: I anticipate winning this argument, but somehow losing the war. If anybody has a dog house to rent cheap please send me a PM.

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#1

Re: Help with an Old Wives Tale

08/07/2009 4:49 PM

As per this website: http://web.extension.uiuc.edu/meatsafety/preparation/thawing.html

Thawing in Cold Water

Meat can be safely thawed in cold, not hot, water. Be sure to thaw meat in a leak-proof package or bag. Submerge the bag in cold water, changing water every 30 minutes so that is stays cold. It is important to keep the meat out of the food spoilage temperature range of 70° to 100°F.

After defrosting, refrigerate or cook promptly. Unlike meat thawed in the refrigerator, meat thawed by the cold water method should be cooked before re-freezing.

Perhaps it isn't that it will be defrosted faster in cold water, but that there will be less bacteria growth. A lot of websites site defrosting in cold water to prevent the exponential growth of bacteria in and around the meat.

So while it may be true that it will defrost faster in warm water, it is safer and highly recommended that you defrost meat in cold water.

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#2

Re: Help with an Old Wives Tale

08/07/2009 5:09 PM

Looks like you've got some kissin' up to do! YWROADRUNNER

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#3

Re: Help with an Old Wives Tale

08/07/2009 7:54 PM

YWRR,

You're an engineer. Do an experiment. Here's how:

Find a spot in the garage where there isn't much of a draft. Make a bed out of some old rags and cardboard.

Go down to the supermarket and buy several brands of frozen dinners. Practice heating them on the manifold of your car on the way home. Eat them with whatever utensils you find in your toolbox.

While at the supermarket, stop by the library and takes out a copy of the Kama Sutra. This may help you remember connubial pleasures in your lonely twilight years.

Take all your clothes, pile them on the lawn, and pour any weird BBQ sauce you had in the fridge on them. Practice washing them at the Jiffy car wash by hanging them on the floormat rack. Better yet, wear them and you also get the ocassional bath.

Pile all your money, your 401k, and anything else of value on the garage floor and set it afire to stay warm. It's better than giving them to her lawyer.

Now, write the following experimental conclusion: "She is right. How could I have doubted?"

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#8
In reply to #3

Re: Help with an Old Wives Tale

08/07/2009 10:38 PM

Now, write the following experimental conclusion: "She is right. How could I have doubted?"

100 times on a sheet of paper clearly and sign in the end and give it to her. may be she will forgive you with this note.

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#4

Re: Help with an Old Wives Tale

08/07/2009 8:37 PM

Okay guys I see who's wearing the pants. However you all have made some good points.

My thanks to Jaxy, for giving me a way to say you're right Dear without choking on the words. Lynlynch for your straightforward solution.

And special thanks to TVP45 for providing the experiment proving lynlynch made a valid recommendation.

How could I have been so foolish as to employ thermal dynamics and logic in an argument with a woman.

Obviously I neglected to factor in all the variables in the experiment. Like food, warm place to stay, something warm to sleep with etc.

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#5
In reply to #4

Re: Help with an Old Wives Tale

08/07/2009 9:03 PM

And go brush that hair of yours while you're at it...

And stay off my lawn!!!

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#6
In reply to #4

Re: Help with an Old Wives Tale

08/07/2009 9:37 PM

"How could I have been so foolish as to employ thermal dynamics and logic in an argument with a woman."

"Yes dear", would have saved you a lot of grief.

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#11
In reply to #4

Re: Help with an Old Wives Tale

08/07/2009 11:31 PM

How could I have been so foolish as to employ thermal dynamics and logic in an argument with a woman.

I think that it was exceptional logic that taught her not to defrost meat in warm water so that she doesn't potentially get her family sick. Her argument may have been flawed as to the exact reason why defrosting in cold water was the way to go, but the logic that warm water increases the rate of bacteria is solid.

Don't act like women can't carry logically sound arguments - that is sexist, whether that statement was how you intended it or not.

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#7

Re: Help with an Old Wives Tale

08/07/2009 10:22 PM

Good news, fella ... You were right at the start, but then you quit too fast.

1. The 'warm the meat in cold water' thing: yes, bacteria will multiply when the meat's temperature is in the right (or wrong) range. Let's suppose that the 70 to 100 F figures are good.

2. The other factor to consider in bacteria proliferation is time. Once the meat's temperature is in the baterial-proliferation range, bacteria already will begin to multiply sort-of exponentially and cause it to spoil. However, this will take time.

3. If you thaw the meat and cook it right after, the bacteria won't have time to proliferate and the meat won't have time to spoil. Thus, thawing the meat in cold as opposed to hot water will make make no difference to the meat's quality before or after cooking, PROVIDED YOU COOK IT RIGHT AFTER THAWING.

4. Point 3 above amounts to saying 'Under all circumstances, never leave raw meat lying around in open air'. If you do, it'll go bad and you'll contaminate whatever the meat and its juices have been in contact with. Cold-water thawing doesn't change this the least bit.

5. No matter what, even if you've not left warm, raw hamburger lying around, ALWAYS make sure that it's well cooked for long enough at the right temperature. NEVER eats hamburger that's red or pink inside.

The reason behind this is that bacteria harmful to humans on meat cuts are found only on meat surfaces. In other words, the bacteria on an unspoiled steak are all on its outside, they're not on its inside. HAMBURGER, however, has been ground, which means that the bacteria on the outside of the original will be mixed into the ground meat thoroughly. If the hamburger's not fully cooked, that is if there's still some red or pink on the inside after it's been cooked, some harmful (lethal) bacteria may have survived and could make sick whoever eats it. And that applies to ALL hamburger at ALL times: freezing hamburger in no way kills bacteria; only fully cooking it ensures that they're all KOed.

Moral of the story:

- thaw fast and save yourself precious minutes;

- cook the hamburger right away ... ALWAYS!!!;

- make sure that you cook the hamburger FULLY;

- make your loved one a nice conmfort meal, kiss her, and tell her you love her;

- when she's all fed, fuzzy, and happy, tell her she was dead wrong and that an engineer (me) is telling her so.

Her thunderbolt will be launched at me, but since she'll neither who or where I am, it'll strike some poor blameless sod who's totally undeserving of pain and suffering. Still, butter him than either of us, yes? ;-)

Happy hamburgerin' ... and rember that context is EVERTHING. The issue isn't thaw speed; it's not leaving warm, raw meat lying around, and in ensuring that hamburger's thoroughly cooked.

Cheers! And stick up for yourself ... ;-)

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#9
In reply to #7

Re: Help with an Old Wives Tale

08/07/2009 11:13 PM

GA -- My wife is handicapped so I do 90% of the cooking. She loves hamburger and will often wait till the last minute before she decides what she wants for dinner. We buy hamburger 5-6 pounds at a time at Costco (western USA) and I divide and freeze it in 1 pound packages.

What I do is defrost it in the microwave at about a 20% power setting for 7-8 minutes checking it a couple of times to make sure it isn't browning (actually cooking) anywhere on the surface. If I don't think I'll remember to check it I'll set it on 10% power for about twice the time. You'll have to experiment with this a bit because microwaves vary in power. The idea is that you want to catch it before any of the surface starts cooking. Once you know your own microwave you can repeat the time and power setting that works. The idea is to understand that it takes time for the temperatures in the meat to even out. That's the reason for the low defrosting rate.

1/2 hour a room temperature or a bit above is harmless if you are going to either cook or rerefrigerate defrosted hamburger.

Ed Weldon

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#13
In reply to #9

Re: Help with an Old Wives Tale

08/08/2009 12:35 AM

Hello Ed:

The shopping and cooking chores have been somewhat reallocated around here since I've been off with a work injury. I'm really good at picking up things on sales like hamburger but unfortunately I'm a little remiss in just tossing it in the freezer, not bad when you're dealing with a small packs, but the last sale was 5 pound packages.

It is almost impossible to defrost 5 pounds of hamburger in the microwave evenly. I'm going to have to follow your lead and break it up into smaller packages. I like hamburger but once it's defrosted eating it several nights in a row becomes old in a hurry.

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#20
In reply to #13

Re: Help with an Old Wives Tale

08/08/2009 2:08 AM

Here's how I break up the 5-6 pound packages from Costco (I do this within a day of getting the meat home from the store)

I get out the kitchen scale and put a plate on it. Note the tare weight. Then I spread out 5 large sheets of plastic wrap (the stuff like Glad Wrap that Costco sells in 3000 foot rolls).

Next I get the meat out of the fridge, unwrap the package of hamburger, grab a lump about a pound and put it on the plate on the scale. Add or subtract bits until it is one pound. Then shape it in my hands to a large hamburger shape more or less round with flat sides maybe 2 inches thick. Put it down on one of the plastic sheets and repeat the process. If the last one is not a pound I note what it is to mark it later when wrapping them up.

Now I go wash my hands, wrap each one up and put them in gallon size ziploc bags (3 to a bag fits well) Mark the date and any other identifying info on the plastic bags with a sharpie pen and put them in the freezer. They're usually good for 2-3 months before they lose noticeable taste quality.

That flat on each side of the one pound lump makes direct defrosting in the frying pan for one dish recipes to go fast. Put a little oil (I like olive oil) in the pan and fry one side for a minute or so. Flip it over and scrape off the seared and defrosted layer while the part on the bottom cooks. Keep repeating this until it's all defrosted, break up the large lumps and finish browning. For most of my recipes I also throw a teaspoon or so of minced garlic and a half a cup of chopped onions in with the oil.

You can turn this into a decent spaghetti sauce with a jar of Prego prepared sauce or something similar, a chopped bell pepper, about a cup of canned or cooked sliced mushrooms, a can of black olives broken or cut in pieces, 1/2 cup of cheap red wine and a teaspoon of sugar. Simmer in the frying pan (you'll need your largest frying pan) on low setting for 30 minutes stirring occasionally while you cook up the pasta.

If you like more liquid sauce in this mix you can use two jars of the Prego stuff or extend the recipe with a can of regular tomato sauce or a can of diced tomatoes plus a tablespoon of Italian seasonings.

Ed Weldon

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#28
In reply to #7

Re: Help with an Old Wives Tale

08/08/2009 1:57 PM

I agree 100% with all, even if so much fear of bacteria is little paranoic....

You forget simple facts like 2 hours needed for one bacteria replication, and thawing of this hamburger should not take more than half hour.

There is truth that it seems that hot water would thaw it faster, but it is not so. It would take time for temperature to get transfered from surface to center of the hamburger mass, and it depend on speed of temperature transfer inside of hamburger.

By Your logic fastest way to thaw it would be to put it on fire directly, but You would get burned hamburger that could have ice inside...... Therefore, Your wife was right, and You were not listening her explanation about molecules juggling inside.

However, if You use microwave owen to thaw or defrost hamburger, it would be fastest way, since microwave influence water molecules trough anything organic regardless of thickness. I heard (but I cant say if it is correct) that You can cook frozen hamburger directly in microwave owen, but not together with dough as it would start burning in time when burger is just thawed out.....

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#29
In reply to #28

Re: Help with an Old Wives Tale

08/08/2009 2:43 PM

I forgot to say that I had similar argument with my wife about making Seitan from wheat flour. She would make dough and put it in cold water overnight. I knew from chemistry that it is question of polymerisation of glucose where water molecules are added, so I reasoned this process must be more effective in warm than in cold water since molecules would move faster.

What to say? Obviously I speed up molecules too much and therefore precluded polymerisation to take place. Obviously, practical knowledge was more valuable, even if my wife did not know what is going on and why water should be cold.... As usually, setting up theory without having taken into consideration all parameters or starting with wrong assumption cannot bring expected results.

I was lucky that my experiment could be used to make pancakes, and I was not forced to throw it all.......

Therefore, I would be very careful not to try to improve millennia old recipe, specially when it gives results as expected :-))

Moral is: if You are not professional cook that may know some better way to do something than simple housewife, and You are not cooking food in the house, then listen to one who knows best from practice or generations long tradition that went form one knee to another.......

You may be professional engineer and understand laws of thermodynamic or even theory of relativity, but Your wife is expert for cooking so remember this next time and don't try to be wise.

I just remembered one other reason why cold water is better than warm for thawing hamburgers: When water is warm, then it would fast warm water from thawed ice on the bottom of hamburger mass, and surely this water would leak out of hamburger mass instead staying inside. This way Your hamburger would tend to be drier than before. Also, warm water would try to rise up trough hamburger but would encounter cold water from thawed ice coming down, therefore process would be slowed down instead of fastened! Cold water would let still colder water to go to the bottom unimpeded, and then in thermal transfer contact with cold water it would be unable to get warm enough to start rising. It is counterproductive to thaw hamburger fast as if it is done slowly meat would retain water and be more juicy and soft....

Anybody find any flaws in my conclusions?

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#30
In reply to #29

Re: Help with an Old Wives Tale

08/08/2009 4:32 PM

I didn't think we would actually have to state the facts here but....

heat transfer rate is based on the difference in temperature between the two points being measured.

Sustaining the heat transfer rate is based upon the amount of heat capacity in either body.

If you have warm water with lots of volume as compared to the volume of hamburger, then the defrosting will absolutely (imho) be faster than if the same amounts of cold water and hamburger, due to the larger temperature difference. (assuming the same start temperature for the hamburger)

I personally would be shocked to my bones to find this time tested law of nature to be wrong. (but always willing to learn. ) There are simply more btu's being transferred and available to be transferred, if the water is warm. (where does the heat (btu's) come from to defrost, if the water is cooler?)

or perhaps we should have more female HVAC engineers?

Chris

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#10

Re: Help with an Old Wives Tale

08/07/2009 11:21 PM

I just toss it in the microwave on high for a few minutes and cook it strait away.

Why waste time with the warm of cold water method that can take an hour or more for hard frozen hamburger to thaw out. 8 minutes in my microwave takes two pounds of lean ground beef from frozen brick to ready to grill burger patties!

As it thaws I just stop at a four minutes and take the ready to go layer off and make a burger patty. When I am done with that one there is enough thawed to make the next one. and so on.

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#12
In reply to #10

Re: Help with an Old Wives Tale

08/08/2009 12:23 AM

Hello tcmtech:

It sounds like our preferred methods are pretty much the same. I usually use the auto defrost but you still end up with the outside of the hamburger starting to brown and the center frozen.

I just strip away the part that's defrosted, and put the frozen part back in the meat keeper. That's when I'm cooking for myself and not following explicit instructions. Needless to say she doesn't like the microwave for defrosting hamburger.

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#14

Re: Help with an Old Wives Tale

08/08/2009 12:49 AM

I've lost a few bets to my partner... but I've won a few too. I think it is important to make it fun.

Chris.

PS.... she loves Wendy's burgers.. I can go down the street and back in the same time it takes to defrost hamburger... the only trick is to anticipate the desire, and you too can be a hero!

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#15
In reply to #14

Re: Help with an Old Wives Tale

08/08/2009 12:56 AM

Hello Chris:

This is actually been a lot of fun for both me and my wife. And actually there's been a lot of good information on this thread. Just goes to show you never know where your to learn something.

I see one of the guys took exception to my intentionally ribbing her in my post but that was part of the fun. And she is now conceded that the hamburger would probably defrost faster in warm water and admitted that she had heard somewhere that it was better to defrost it in cold water.

If you can't have fun with a friendly argument with your wife I ask you who can have fun arguing with. She's actually gotten more laughs out of this thread that I have.

PS: You will have to admit it is going to the extremes to post a question about defrosting hamburger on the science and engineering website. But heck it was her idea.

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#16
In reply to #15

Re: Help with an Old Wives Tale

08/08/2009 1:17 AM

I've had the 'hot water to make ice cubes' discussion.. and when we buy pre-cooked chicken that are still hot when we get home from the store.. I say leave it on the counter to let it cool to room temp before putting it in the fridge...

I've just learned to keep the bets low, as I don't score greater than 50%... but it is no use citing thermal laws.... just put yer money down and get the proof, and don't expect a 'gee you know I was wrong' if you win... just "Humph"... end of discussion.. (and try not to cackle maniacally.. you don't get any luv for that)

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#17
In reply to #16

Re: Help with an Old Wives Tale

08/08/2009 1:40 AM

Lolll ... SAY it, Brother!

And you're right on all counts.

Hot water for ice cubes ... *Braaaaap* ... It's actually cold water for boiling. Cold water has less air dissolved in it, so it takes less time and energy to warm. Hot water has more air, for which energy is consumed by de-airing before water boils, and de-airing takes more energy than warming cold water to domestic-hot-water temperature. For best effect, take off the aerator cap on your tap to minimize air presence in your water.

Add to that the fact that heating water on the stove displaces heating water in your domestic water tank, so more or less no net loss from stove-heating.

Lastly, as concerns using hot water to make ice cubes ... as the water cools, it'll release some of the air dissolved in it (cold water holds less air than hot water does), meaning that your ice cubes will be slightly smaller than if you'd used cold water.

Cheers! DZ

P.S. As concerns self-respect ... put up with a few *Harumphs* at first, then enjoy your new-found Olympian smugness when she learns to not argue with you.

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#18

Re: Help with an Old Wives Tale

08/08/2009 1:49 AM

The "female logic" mine depend on depends on what her mother told her. And the only way I can win an argument is if I can have her mother to agree. (people 6' down is not very agreeable)

On thermo dynamics she persist that it is better

1. to let the tap run until the water is rather hot.

2. Fill the kettle to the top (past the max mark)

2.1 it takes 1c to heat a kettle therefore it is better to heat more water.

3. reboil whenever water is needed.

proof - see how fast it boils!!!!!!

(yes dear -otherwise . . . )

How can I get her mother to see the light??

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#21
In reply to #18

Re: Help with an Old Wives Tale

08/08/2009 2:19 AM

I don't know the other's, but over here "She is the boss" else, have your dinner in the factory canteen (for me, for others may be in some hotel).

There are many great quotes on this aspect like (for a successful marriage)

In an argument, there will be equal wins and losses, 50% of times she wins and the other 50% times you lose.

To be successful in marriage continuously argue with your wife and lose (even if you think/know you are right).

While leaving the parents the bride cries (in our area) and the groom laughs, rest of the life...

There is no stronger proof than what "my mother said" and no weaker rejoinder than "But my mother said ..."

There are many more but have to think them out.

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#19

Re: Help with an Old Wives Tale

08/08/2009 1:52 AM

silly you...agree with her and defrost in micro

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#22

Re: Help with an Old Wives Tale

08/08/2009 2:35 AM

Thermite... Block of ice to cheeseburgers in 3 seconds!

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#23

Re: Help with an Old Wives Tale

08/08/2009 4:19 AM

Over this side of the pond you would be considered a 'Wimp' for even knowing about such things.

But we never tell others do we?

At this point it may be prudent to move into the garage etc as suggested by DVP,

That is provided you have selected the time and the place well. Otherwise there is something that is likely to land on your head or back, depending on her aim (usually accurate since it is always on the head) and your distance from her at approximately 2 seconds from you have uttered the word "beer"

Then the offender will be deposited to the garage hospital due to accidental slipping on the wet floor (as per his statement - after all he doesn't want to be called a wimp does he?).

BTW: she was not looking on as you wrote isn't it? nor does she know your avatar ?

There is a story over here.

There is some thing called OHS (Occupational health and safety Oppressed Husbands Society on second thought it is the first one too )

In the first meeting the selection for chairman was to be done. Obviously he had to be the bravest of all. The Dias called out - All the not scared of your wives please move to the left and others move to the right.

After the commotion (all were husbands and there was nothing to hide) There was only one man in the whole auditorium left out.

After the usual garlanding and felicitations he was interviewed

"Are you truly not afraid of your wife" he was asked incredulously.

"I am"

"So why did you raise your hands?"

"My wife told me" he indicated his puny frame "Don't go into the crowd and keep away from them. They are any way no good, else...".

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#24

Re: Help with an Old Wives Tale

08/08/2009 9:01 AM

you might want to read the OP carefully. his wife is convalescing.

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#26
In reply to #24

Re: Help with an Old Wives Tale

08/08/2009 9:42 AM

And she is the one with pant so it is a case of role reversal .

But then when we are the panting ones (or panted ones) we never interfere in the kitchen do we?

The OP should make it clear please do not interfere in other's domain.

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#25

Re: Help with an Old Wives Tale

08/08/2009 9:35 AM

I find that the fastest way to thaw meat or frozen food is th invert a metal skillet (preferably aluminum skillet or a copper clad stainless one) and lay the food on it. Heat transfer works extremely well. I saw a Miracle Thaw platter that used this technique for $20, but a skillet or pan works as well.

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#27

Re: Help with an Old Wives Tale

08/08/2009 10:44 AM

HELLO YWR,[P]

I hate to put a stick in your spokes, but erm, you can cook beef or any burger from frozen.

If you thaw it and do it in warm, or warm to hot water, it will start to cook. I learned the hard way like you, and before that I tried to defrost some chops in pretty warm water. The container leaked, and I ended up with grey coloured chops before they were cooked! About 4 mm had been semi cooked. I dread (now) to think of the bugs breeding on them. Needless to say I had a bad stumach a few hours later.

Take care and cook from the freezer. Only ground meat though, anything else should be thawed in cold water.

Take care.

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#31

Re: Help with an Old Wives Tale

08/08/2009 5:06 PM

My response often in these type circumstances is a flat, "due to my experience I'm doing it this way". Then correction is not an argument but a discussion of merit.

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