yeah, i know the sentence is cleaner that way - but this is how i wrote it the first time, and it got me thinking
and dave - you are right that the verb and noun must agree....singular nouns require "is", while plural require "are"
but i guess what we differ over is what the subject of the sentence actually is - i beleive the subject is "total", which is singular, and therefore "is" would be appropriate...this is in contrast to thinking "three" is the subject, where "are" would be appropriate
i did start this thread with the intention of looking for advice, but the more i read it the more im convinced that "is" is correct...makes for an interesting discussion, at least
i found this link - look at the first example under #5
"One of the boxes is open"