November 30, 2009

Eight Completely Selfish Reasons the Holidays Stress Me Out


  1. Between traveling to see family and spending any free time either brainstorming about present ideas or shopping for said presents, my Tivo gets completely overloaded. When will I have time to watch it all? When?!

  2. On a related note, who had the bright idea to put So You Think You Can Dance up against an HD version of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer on Wednesday? Why don't you just ask me to choose between my dogs, you sadists!

  3. There are too many food choices. Three meats, 12 different kinds of potatoes, 25 different vegetables, 167 desserts. What do I eat?! Where do I turn?! Aaaaaahhhhh!!

  4. The song "Feliz Navidad" makes me want to impale myself on a sprig of mistletoe. I don't know why. But it gets stuck in my head for DAYS and makes me INSANE.

  5. Between my neighbors' and my co-workers' kids, I am now supporting every single class in every single school in Central Ohio. I cannot say no to a preschooler selling $35 candles who tells me, "I get a pri-thze if I th-ell the mo-tht. Can you buy the one with the pic-thure of the birdhou-th?" At least I have a stash of overpriced tchotchkes and giant tins of popcorn to give to people I don't like that much.
  6. Speaking of things I don't need: EVERY SINGLE COMPANY I've ever ordered anything from is bombarding me with e-mails about special holiday deals for things I would never want or need. Just because I once ordered tickets for Wicked doesn't mean I want to see A Holiday Classic with Tom Jones and Olivia Newton John*, TICKETMASTER.
  7. I get that times are tough, and companies have to tighten their belts. I'm sure that extends to advertising, too. But if Hershey's could please, for the love, develop a new commercial to replace their "Hershey's Kiss handbells playing We Wish You a Merry Christmas" where the little Kiss wipes its forehead at the end with its tiny Kiss paper and goes, "Whew!" -- I would greatly appreciate it. I'm fairly certain that was created in the 80s. At first it was cute. Now it's just lazy.
  8. What with all the witticisms and heartfelt sentiments I'm pouring into my Christmas cards, I'm nearly dry when it comes to mustering up things to write about on this blog. I'm just going to apologize in advance.
(Relax, I'm joking about most or maybe all of this. I love the holidays. But if you find me rocking back and forth in the corner whispering "I wanna wish you a Merry Christmas from the bottom of my heaaaaaaaaaarrrrt" while quietly weeping, please handle me with care.)

*May or may not be an event I just made up.

November 26, 2009

Out for turkey.


November 25, 2009

I could go either way on this one.


So today I tried Yoplait's new coffee-flavored yogurt.

I picked it up at the grocery store last weekend on a whim, and just finished eating it.

Hm.

On the one hand, it's intriguing. I like coffee-flavored things (ice cream, and... OK, maybe just ice cream). I like flavored coffee. Their yogurts tend to taste like what they're intended to taste like.

The first bite was...odd. It's very strong-tasting. And it tastes a little bit like coffee with a lot of artificial sweetener (which it probably does have) and possibly some liquor (not entirely a bad thing).

I'm pretty sure that, upon taking the first bite, my face resembled a tiny child trying a new food for the first time (La-la-la-Lila eating bananas comes to mind): "OMG what is this it might be gross do I like it I think I might like it but I think I'll spit it out anyway."

And then: the aftertaste. It is wicked. And not the good, Boston-accented type of wicked. More like the never-going-to-leave-my-mouth-so-I'll-probably-be-eating-coffee-flavored-turkey-tomorrow kind of wicked.

Has anyone else tried this? I'm on the fence. It wasn't bad, but I'm thinking I will pass over this and just grab more Harvest Peach from now on.
(I did see, while looking for the image above, that boingboing.com beat me to the punch on this one. And they boiled their review down to one word: Horrid. Ha.)

Can I express my undying love and devotion...

...for people who use "regardless" and "irrespective" correctly?

It is SO RARE. I almost stood up and cheered during a conference call today.

(Also: I realize that some people get hungry and feel snacky between breakfast and lunch. But does that mean they have to make popcorn at 9:30 in the morning? I feel like I'm going to throw up.)

November 24, 2009

What I learned this weekend


There are a lot of things I want to do "before I die." (I put that in quotes because it's a bit overly-dramatic -- they're really just "things I want to do," period.)

The list ranges from the expensive and/or difficult (visit Australia and trek through the Outback, learn to speak a foreign language fluently) to the pretty-mundane (go canoeing with my husband, finish our wedding album).

Most people who know me know that I take my career pretty seriously, and, in the last six years, I've worked a LOT. Like, a lot. Which left room for little else. I started my "things to do before..." list about five years ago, with just over 20 to-dos. Until this year, I hadn't done any of them. :)

Then, about a year and a half ago, I started working with a different group in my company. I was still busy, but I suddenly had more time than I'd had in years. Time to remind my husband what I looked like in the daylight. Time to do what *I* wanted. I hardly knew what to do with myself.

So I decided to look at my list. I've started writing a series of children's books, I started this blog, I started volunteering at our local dog shelter.

It's been fantastic. Amazing, fulfilling and rewarding. Not to mention satisfying to start checking things off the list!

Something on the list that I'd been mulling over for years was this idea of writing down the stories of how my grandparents and parents (and my husband's) met, fell in love and grew in their marriages. There's been no divorce on either side of our family—they’ve all stayed married through good times and bad. I find that so amazing and inspiring, and I wanted to know their histories as well as what they consider to be the "secret" to their successful marriages.

So this past weekend, I grabbed our camcorder and made the trip up to where my parents and grandparents live, and made appointments to “interview” my grandparents.

They were surprisingly accommodating of my weird request (as my Grandma said, “You want me to talk? I’m there!”), and seemed pretty excited about the idea of reminiscing and sharing their stories.

I started out chatting with my grandparents on my father’s side, who have been married for 63 years and counting. (That's them above and just below on the right; in the second picture, I told them to smooch and Grandpa's nose went into Grandma's eye. Oops.)

They’re an affectionate couple, and they clearly still enjoy each other after all these years. My grandmother is lively and loud; my grandfather is more reserved with a dry sense of humor. Together, they were hysterical subjects, talking over each other and correcting each other as they told their stories.

I’d made a list of questions to ask (how did you first meet, what did you think about each other, when did you know you were in love, what was your wedding like, what were the best/hardest parts of being married, what makes a good marriage), and I was surprised by how few of them I had to ask--their story just flowed naturally.

They told me how they met (he came in the store where she was working and “would never ask me out!”) and how they fell in love (they wrote letters for months and months while he was working out west during WWII), and the stories just flowed—funny, emotional and fascinating. They’ve traveled all over the world, and I had a ball listening as they recounted 63 years’ worth of memories.

When it came time to interview my grandfather on my mother’s side (at left), I was a little more hesitant. Not because he isn’t a fascinating person—quite the contrary: He's a career Army vet who served during Korea and Vietnam, and he's just a great storyteller. I just wasn’t sure if this particular topic (how he fell in love with my late grandmother) would make him uncomfortable. It’s only been four years since my Grandma passed away, and I know he misses her deeply.

Still, he made it clear that he was game. (“I’ve been rehearsing,” he teased when I arrived at his condo.) And interviewing him was an absolute pleasure.

He told me all about how he’d met my grandmother (at a teen dance club, where they danced all the slow dances, and he let her dance the fast ones with other boys!) and their wedding (a huge affair put on by her Italian father, who “invited every Italian in the whole town”). It was a glimpse into their lives that I’d never gotten before, and it was wonderful.

All told, I have more than two hours’ worth of precious memories and stories now, preserved for eternity. It turned out so much better than I ever expected. I knew this before, but this just drove home the point that I have the most wonderful family on earth!

And I’m closer to checking something off my list! My parents and my husband’s family are next—I can’t wait. :)

What’s on your “to-do” list?

November 23, 2009

I had a GREAT...


So much so, in fact, that it left no time for blogging.

I will remedy that tonight, complete with pictures of the family I had such a great time with.

November 21, 2009

Remember this guy? 'Cause he's funny now.


Anyone remember Dave Holmes? He was a VJ (aw, remember those days?) on MTV back in the early 90s.

Hosted Say What? Karaoke. Has guest-starred on Reno 911 a bunch of times in the last few years. Has probably done a bunch of other stuff that I don't know about (and can't be bothered to check IMDb to verify).

Anyway.

He noticed the trend of people doing things for a year and then writing a book about them. (My favorite example: A.J. Jacobs' The Know-it-all: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World. It's a great book.) So he decided to read one of THOSE books every week for a year, possibly learn something and then write a book about THAT.

He blogs about the experience (and various other things), and he's quite funny. From my very, very vague recollections of him on MTV, I had serious doubts about whether or not he could actually be entertaining. But lo!

He's been doing what he calls "My Year of Everything" for about a month or so now. He doesn't over-blog, and his posts are quick and snarky and amusing.

I've recently added it to my blog roll. Give it a look, if you're so inclined.

November 20, 2009

I'm old.


Last night, I went to bed at 8:30.

Admittedly, I'm still getting over a bad cold.

But still.

I'm 32. Not 92.

This is ridiculous.

Tonight, I'm thinking of staying up until 10, just to prove to myself that I still can.

Unless I fall asleep before then.

Bring on the Ensure.

November 19, 2009

Moisturizing advice?



(Note: I hate the word "moisturizing" because it includes the word "moist," which is just a disgusting word. Ew.)

I have dry skin. Dry, dry, dry. I would never have guessed as an oily-faced teenager that I'd ever, EVER have need for moisturizer.

But now I'm 32. Times have changed. My skin is a desert.

For the past few years, I've been using "Dream Cream" from Lush on my face and hands. It actually works pretty well, but 1) it really isn't meant for your face, so I think I could maybe stand to switch things up there, and 2) it's expensive, so I can't afford to make it a whole-body moisturizer, so while my hands look OK, the rest of me is a dry, flaky nightmare.

(OK, this whole post is gross. I apologize.)

So I'm looking for recommendations for a good body moisturizer that won't put me in the po' house, and a facial moisturizer that's a little less rich than Dream Cream but better than, say, Oil of Olay (which I've tried and hated).

Do you have a product you absolutely love, or even one that just does passably well? Please share. Don't be stingy. It's almost Christmas.

November 17, 2009

Loved it then, love it now


As Google lovingly reminded me all week last week, this year marks the 40th anniversary of one of the most beloved parts of my childhood: Sesame Street.

(Incidentally, my parents also celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary this year. Yay, Mom and Dad!)

Sesame Street was an absolute mainstay in my life as far back as I can remember. my parents were incredibly strict about what we could and couldn't watch. This was one of only a few things outside of nature shows that we were allowed to park ourselves in front of. Not to mention that "cable" and "satellite" TV were foreign concepts to our family, so PBS was the only suitable television for my young mind, especially during the week.

And yeah, Mr. Rogers was OK (if a little goobery), and The Electric Company and 3-2-1 Contact! were pretty cool. But for sheer entertainment value (and, as it turned out, educational value), Sesame Street was in a class by itself.

Need proof? I can still sing you any number of songs from that show at age 32 (including one about taking your llama to the dentist, oddly), and remember fondly a huge number of the stories and lessons the show wrapped up in a bright, fuzzy, friendly package.

Sesame Street was the perfect supplement to what my parents tried to teach me: How to share, how to be a good friend, how to treat your pets--not to mention letters and numbers and colors and how to speak a few words in Spanish. To this day, 99.9 percent of the Spanish words I know are because I watched Sesame Street.

Earlier this year I read "Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street." It's a great book, if a little in love with itself and perhaps a bit too detailed (when the author says "complete" history, he ain't kidding). But it was fascinating to me to learn all the stories behind how the show was dreamed up and then created, how deliberate the creators were in what they included in the curriculum, and all the behind-the-scenes stories of how the characters I loved came to be.

(Something I never knew: The Muppet Show came into being because Jim Henson was getting tired of only doing material aimed at three-year-olds and wanted to do some more "adult" material. :))

I find it incredible that a children's show that started in 1969 could still be around and still be so relevant. Even knowing that it didn't come by accident or pure luck (the book made it clear that the Sesame Street producers focus-grouped EVERYTHING), it doesn't take anything away from the amazing standard of excellence they've been able to maintain.

I just loved that, while everything had an educational component to it, everything was also FUN. They made educational things fun and fun things educational. I have yet to see a children's show that does that as effectively or as consistently. (Granted I don't have kids, and I'm sure there are a million awesome kids' shows out there. But a 40-year proven track record is pretty impressive.)

Some of my favorite memories about this wonderful show:
  • The two-headed monster was always my (and my mother's) favorite -- they could always make us giggle uncontrollably.
  • Bert and Ernie: How can you not love them? In addition to adoring all their little sketches on the show, we also had a record (a REAL record, back in the day) of them singing various songs. Our family still sings, "La, la, la -- linoleum!" Ah, good times.
  • I always loved the idea that Oscar the Grouch had a pet worm. Not to mention the elephant that somehow lived in his trash can.
  • The sketch where the diner had to send back his soup a million times; Grover was the waiter. I don't even remember the punch line, but I remember that I loved it.
  • "1-2-3, 4-5-6, 7-8-9, 10-11-12, and the ladybugs sang at the ladybug picnic!" Yes, I still sing that every time I count in threes. (It happens more often than you'd think.)
  • Remember the big-mouthed aliens? (That's them on the right.) I'm sure they were teaching me something, but all I can remember is "Yep-yep-yep-yep-yep! Uh-huh! Uh-huh!" Come to think of it, I think they used to come to earth and learn how things worked...maybe? I kind of remember them saying "Tel-e-PHONE, tel-e-PHONE."
  • Aw, remember when Kermit played a roving reporter? "Hi-ho, Kermit the Frog here..." Aw.
OK, your turn. Did anyone else love this show as much as I did? Do your kids still watch it? Do YOU still watch it? (I probably would if I was home during the day!)

November 16, 2009

Current obsessions


Things I'm a wee bit obsessed with right now:
  • Owl City. I can't stop listening to the song "Fireflies." Apparently some kid from Canada had insomnia, started making music in his parents' basement to pass the time and now he's famous. I just like that.
  • Shit My Dad Says. This guy lives with his 73-year-old dad and just Twitters the awesome things he says. The guy has a potty mouth, but his little bits of wisdom crack me up.
  • A hoarder. I'm convinced there's one living about a mile from my house. They have one of those enclosed sun rooms with windows wrapped around the whole thing, and the room (it's as wide as their entire house) has crap piled TO THE CEILING. I find it fascinating and disturbing.
  • This video. It's stupid and completely ridiculous. But somehow, the more I watch it, the more it makes me laugh.


  • A song I can't find. Or, rather, a version of a song I can't find. About a month ago I heard an acapella, multi-harmonied version of the song More Than Words on my satellite radio. All the pad data said was "Extreme/More Than Words." No other info. Google and YouTube searches have failed me. I just want to know who added the other harmonies, because it ROCKS.
  • Tootsie Rolls. Tiny. Chocolatey. Chewy. Relatively low in calories and fat. What's not to love?
  • The Who. I was never really into them (although I liked some of their songs well enough) until I watched "Amazing Journey: The Story of The Who." It had the usual background on all the band members, sort of like a typical Behind the Music type of thing, but it delved more deeply into how Pete Townshend wrote all their stuff, how they worked together as musicians, what each of them brought to the band, etc. It appealed to the inner music nerd in me. And now I'm a bit obsessed with them. Particularly how Roger Daltrey could have started out life so good-looking (if incredibly short) and then transformed somehow into a hobbit.

November 15, 2009

Do not try this at home.


I just saw one of those Bud Light "too light/too heavy" commercials. It's the one where the woman in the restaurant first softly tries to get the waiter's attention (too light), then trips him and causes him to fall through a plate-glass window (too heavy).

As she trips him and he's falling through the window, there's a disclaimer that appears at the bottom of the screen: "Professional stunt. Do not attempt."

Really?

I mean, really?

I once saw a car commercial where the car was skimming across the surface of a lake, then did a snappy little turn and started driving underwater. The disclaimer said, "Car does not actually drive in or under water."

I realize we have these disclaimers because we're a ridiculously litigious nation, and the legal departments that now run everything force companies to do this so they're covered if some dumbass actually trips a waiter hoping he or she will fall through a window, or tries to drive their Toyota into a pond and is surprised when they need to be rescued by a crane.

But really?

It's times like these when I wonder what exactly we're doing as a nation.

Don't even get me started on that Gap commercial where the people are dancing around saying, "Go Christmas! Go Hanukkah! Go Kwanzaa! Go Solstice!"

Ugh.

November 13, 2009

Playdate!

So, in addition to each other, my dogs have two other BFFs:


These are our next-door neighbors'/friends' dogs. Remington is the distinguished-looking Black Lab/Weim mix on the left above; Romeo is the bewildered-looking white boxer on the right. (It's hard to tell because my crappy camera gives all the dogs green-eye, but Romeo has one blue eye and one brown eye. It adds to his adorableness.)

Here's the whole motley crew, looking about as subdued as they were all night:


The doggy version of a coffee klatch (I'm dying to know what they talk about):


Remington again, looking far more angelic than he really is. You can see how large he is compared with the other dogs, right? He's lean, but gigantic, with a super-long tail that whips all the boxers in the face (they have only tiny lopped-off tails with which to retaliate).

His face would have you believe otherwise, but he is a menace. We still love him, though.

I call this last picture, "Please save us from the black dog." Please note that Murray and Bubba are holding hands while Remington towers over them menacingly:


Just another Friday night at my house. Trying to kick this awful cold while outnumbered by four-legged critters. (And trust me: They weren't this low-key for very long. I managed to break up the wrestling and play-biting just long enough to grab these pictures and then it was back ON.)

Have a good weekend, y'all.

November 12, 2009

A brief "if/then" statement


If my sinuses stop producing strange and terrifying things...

If my head returns to its former size of slightly-larger-than-average, as opposed to its current size of larger-than-a-Thanksgiving-Day-parade-balloon...

If callers to my home no longer mistake me for a man when I answer the phone...

If I no longer want to bludgeon the makers of Dayquil, who have been unable (for me, at least) to create a suitable counterpart to the heavensent Nyquil...

...then I shall return to the land of smiles, sunshine and blogging.

Until then, I beg 1,000 pardons and will be over here on the couch, muttering fever-induced expletives.

(I'm being overly-dramatic -- I don't have a fever. Just a really bad cold. But I'm out for the day. Boo.)

November 11, 2009

Brothers? BFFs? Boyfriends? You decide.



We're not certain about the true nature of their relationship.

But either way, they're just cute.

(This was not posed. We came upon them laying like this on my mother-in-law's couch. Murray took it upon himself to put his arm around Bubba. Um, so cute.)

November 10, 2009

This may be my favorite one yet

Courtesy of Google's "we think we know what you're about to type" technology:

Edited to add: OK, now they're just messing with me:



November 9, 2009

Things that are making me smile today

  • My dogs in "play mode" this morning, getting down in their play stance (butt in the air) and racing around in crazy zigzags in our living room.
  • The two little girls wrestling and giggling uncontrollably in a chair at Panera during lunchtime, to the point where one of them said, "I can't breeeeeaathe, hahahahahahaaaaaa!"
  • The miraculous fact that my hair actually looks good today.
  • The man at the gas station who, upon hearing someone on my car radio ask a question, thought I was talking to him and answered (and then kept talking to me out of embarrassment).
  • My vision insurance -- I just got a new pair of glasses for $18.77, y'all.
  • The hot chocolate I'm about to drink (yum) even though it's warm outside.
  • IT'S WARM OUTSIDE!
  • The woman in my office kitchenette who agreed that cheese popcorn smells disgusting, and that whomever has decided they need some every morning at 9 a.m. "is about to get slapped up in here."

What's making YOU smile today?

November 8, 2009

Puppy PSA


Very quick public service announcement...

If anyone is looking (or knows someone who's looking) to adopt a dog in the central Ohio area, I just want to put in a plug for the Morrow County Dog Shelter.

I volunteer there once a week and can personally vouch for the fact that the staff does an AMAZING job with the incredible number of dogs that come through their door. They not only actively publicize the dogs they have available (which results in a great adoption rate), they also work with the dogs, try to give them a basic headstart in obedience and really, truly give them love.

They're a small shelter, and unfortunately are located in a county where, since it's out in the country, a lot of folks come to drop off their dogs. They get a huge number of strays, and they do a fabulous job of trying to make sure they promote, promote, promote so they never run out of space (and therefore don't have to euthanize).

However, the floodgates have recently opened, and they are completely full-up. And, more disturbingly, they've been getting a huge influx of really young puppies lately (pictures of four of them attached above). Puppies just abandoned at the vet, in the dog shelter parking lot, underneath a broken-down car at the grocery store...

The amazing job they're doing notwithstanding, a shelter (any shelter) is really not the ideal place for dogs, and it certainly isn't a place for tiny puppies.

If you know anyone who's interested, the shelter's list of adoptable dogs is on Petfinder.com.

P.S.: This is strictly a PSA; no indictment for getting your dog elsewhere or not getting a dog at all. :) Even if you're a cat person, I won't hold that against you.

P.P.S.: Kidding! Cats are awesome, too.

November 6, 2009

Photo of the Week: Mutton Chop Edition


No one has ever requested this.

Sorry, Ken.

November 5, 2009

Grumble


Things that are annoying me today (you may or may not see some patterns developing here):
  1. Going to the bathroom. It takes too long. And it’s too far away from my desk at work. They should just give us toilets for office chairs and allow us to wear pants with butt flaps. In the time we’d save by not walking to the bathroom, we could make our own air freshener to deal with the smell.
  2. People who don’t wash their hands after they go to the bathroom. What, you didn’t think I’d notice the distinct silence between the sounds of your toilet flushing and the door closing behind you? Now my own conscientious hand-washing is rendered completely useless, and I have to use my elbow to pull the door open. And lest you think I’m whining for nothing, let me remind you that elbows don’t have opposable thumbs.
  3. Whoever thought it was a good idea to put a communal jar of pretzels right outside the women’s restroom. See above. Ew, ew and ew.
  4. The clerk at the gas station I just left. Did you really need to stare, glassy-eyed, past my head while you were giving me my change? Is eye contact SO difficult? I AM A HUMAN BEING.
  5. My own rampant emotions. I have no idea why I need to feel validated by a convenience store clerk, but there you have it.
  6. The two teenagers who felt it necessary to A) blast their music at 40,000 db so the rest of us could also be assured that they “run this town,” and B) peel out of the gas station parking lot in their…Toyota Camry. Yes, you are big and bad. Ugh.
To balance out all this negativity, I should mention that I enjoyed the fact that the gas station was providing everyone with complimentary squirts of Germx, lest we all infect one another in this, the time of the flu (both swine and seasonal). At least BP is doing its part to protect us.

November 4, 2009

IT SNOWED TODAY!


See that powdery white stuff on the railing of our deck? Hurrah! :) I love snow.

Below: Note the paw prints in the snow before it melted (which it did about 15 minutes after I took this picture). Aw.


Shut up, Daylight Savings Time.

It was all well and good when I got an extra hour of sleep on Sunday. I’m not going to lie – that was nice.

But when I left work at 6:30 last night and it was PITCH BLACK outside, and I had to scurry to my car in the creepy parking garage, under the overhead lights that don’t work (or if they do, they’re flickering and adding to the overall I’m-going-to-be-killed-by-a-psychopath-any-second-now vibe)? I was cursing you and your stupid, stupid rules.

Thanks to Google, I now know that Daylight Savings Time is supposed to save us energy by slotting the traditional “daytime hours” for the majority of folks (presumably 7 a.m.-5 p.m.?) within the actual hours of daylight as much as possible. Thereby cutting down on the number of hours we’re all using electricity to see. Or something.

(Incidentally, this was the sixth thing that came up when I typed “Why do we have” in Google. Also making the list: “Why do we have laws,” “Why do we have dreams” and “Why do we have pubic hair.” Indeed.)

What I want to know is: What do these new hours do for ME? I’m at work from 9-6. Any daylight before 9 a.m. is entirely wasted on me. (What, am I going to get up early and do a load of laundry and weed my flowerbed before I go to work? HA! Oh, you’re hilarious.)

Your stupid rules mean that I never get to be outside between November and March. I NEVER SEE THE SUN. I become a grouchy mole person who scuttles from the house to the car, from the car to the office and back again, hissing at anyone who looks at me or gets in my way.

In closing: I hate you, Daylight Savings Time. You suck.

P.S.: Let me also express my hatred of anyone who is not me who can go see movies on a weeknight. The movie theater near my office was PACKED when I left last night. HATE.

November 3, 2009

A little late, but...

...here is my adorable niece dressed up for Halloween.


(Sorry for the grainy picture; I think her mama took it with her phone.)

She was a zebra. Please note the ADORABLE painted face. I just want to smooch her. :)
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