Road Trip 2015 – PreTrip

So, I am taking my summer vacation time and I am taking a nice long road trip and I will be taking it on my motorcycle, all packed up and heading out.

I am making the best use of my vacation time and the locations of offices my company has.

So in order to maximize my enjoyment time while riding and being able to spend the most time in places I want to see, I am eliminating some of what I call my “beat feet” time into non-vacation time. “Beat-feet” time is time where I just need to get from point A to point B and I don’t care about sight-seeing or anything like that in the middle. For example, on a trip where you are flying by airplane to get there, the “beat-feet” would be everything from home, to the airport and then the flight itself usually.

So, my company has an office in Indianapolis, and I don’t really care about seeing anything between home and Indy, so I just need to get there as quick as I can and not worry about seeing anything since I have seen most of it before and it is just not what interests me. So, I will take a weekend and travel from home to Indy and then I will crash with a co-worker who was nice enough to offer to let me stay there. This is key because it take finances into account, and keeping costs low is what will enable me to take this trip.

So now, I will be halfway(a third?) across the country and I will stay here for 4 nights, Sunday through Thursday morning and work at our office there for a few days before I head out on what is going to be the real part of my vacation.

I am taking 10 days off, which is 10 days Mon through Fri for vacation. I realized that I could give myself an extra 2 days if I was able to break up my vacation with a week of work in the middle. So I have 2 groups of 2 weekends and 2 weeks of workdays put together, for 2 sets of 9 days instead of just 1 long stretch of 16 days, 3 weekends and 2 weeks of workdays.

So how exactly do I make that work? Well my company also has an office located in Southern CA in Orange County just south of Los Angeles, so if I stay in that area for a week and work, I get my bonus 2 days thrown in there. Fortunately for me, I happen to have an aunt and uncle who live not too far from my company’s office in SoCal, so I spoke to them, and they are nice enough to let me stay with them while I am there. Win! Since again, no outright cost for a place to stay which is key. I then travel from SoCal on the way home, and will stay in Indy again for the week and work there, and then spend another Sat/Sun to travel home from Indy.

On top of this I am making my trip coincide with the weekend of July 4th, but July 4th is a Saturday, however, we are granted the 3rd of July as a day off in recognition of the July 4th holiday. So I can tack on an extra day for a stretch of 10 days instead of 9. Then, I worked Memorial Day weekend for an upgrade, which grants me a bonus free day off on the year in payment for taking away my holiday time by working. Well, let’s tack on another day to that 4th of July weekend, so I will leave on July 2nd instead of 3rd from Indy.

Now the trip, what is it I want to see? I have a list of things, this is mostly in order of what is planned to see, this may change and I will add or subtract things as fitting for the trip, all depends on time. This will be similar to my trip a couple years ago in Europe where I don’t have an exact plan of what I am doing each day, I just have a general idea of things I want to see and try to fit them in.

Week 1(11 days): Leave Indy and head towards SoCal and see the following

  • Chicago for lunch with K
  • Mount Rushmore
  • Wall Drug
  • Badlands
  • Grand Teton NP
  • Yellowstone NP
  • Lolo Pass
  • Walla Walla
  • Crater Lake
  • Redwoods
  • Lassen Volcanic NP
  • San Francisco for dinner with J&G
  • PCH/Big Sur

Week 2(9 Days): Leave SoCal and head back to Indy

  • Death Valley
  • Vegas
  • Hoover Dam
  • Grand Canyon South
  • Grand Canyon North
  • Zion NP
  • Bryce Canyon NP
  • Monument Valley
  • Four Corners

So that’s the overall trip, a lot of these things I have wanted to see, and I know I am not going to see everything in them, I mean, you can spend a week in Yellowstone, Crater Lake, or Grand Tetons by themselves, but I am going to see the highlights, and take notes for later trips when I want to spend a week somewhere. However, a lot of these places aren’t places you are going to spend a whole week of vacation going to see, they are meant to be tiny small pieces of a much larger road trip, so I am making them exactly that.

Aweosme right?

 

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Suicide and Mental Illness, Part II

I don’t really have anything personal to say about this that I didn’t say the first time about, but this is part II from from my friend about the same event.

Today is the anniversary of Stephanie’s death.

5 years.

Suicide.

While her birthday post is always about how to step up and intervene and do something when you have a loved one that is struggling, I reserve her death anniversary post for those who are medical and health professionals.

I was investigated by a State Agency to determine what my role in her suicide was. You read that right. You should have seen the look on my face when the investigator said that! He said that he contacts all families of individuals who were receiving any State services to determine what may have gone wrong in the system. That part sounded great! I couldn’t wait to talk to him…until he said that.

I learned the “Social Worker” who was assigned her case (this was post most recent suicide attempt, and my attempt to get her some help- because when you are uninsured, unemployed and an adult, it’s not easy). It turns out the woman was not a licensed social worker at all, though she told me she was (I did ask because I was social worker myself). In fact, she did not even have a college degree. She was grandfathered into her job. I would have been ok with that if she had the skills and had not lied and had not had sessions with Stephanie that were far above and outside the scope of her job and ability. She was supposed to be helping with getting her Medicaid, into out-patient programs, housing, etc.

I’m still angry.

The out-patient group therapy met once a week for 4 hours. There was a psychiatrist who would come and spend the usual 10 minutes discussing meds and leave. Stephanie asked for more. She needed more. She lacked a solid diagnosis, which I never understood how someone could be in the hospital this many times for weeks and weeks at a time and meet with a psychiatrist and still not have a diagnosis.

Professionals. Doctors, nurses, social workers, therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists and ALL of you who work in any health care setting or provide any health service….I implore you, do more. Not more of what you do because I know you work hard and long hours in a difficult profession, but step back and look at the whole situation.

Look at the family and what they are trying to do. Family have no resources. No one tells us how to act at home or what to do or say to our family member. You see them for a brief moment, we have them the other 167 hours a week. Give guidance. We are frustrated, scared, mad…all kinds of emotions. Help us too. Do you know what it’s like to be the family member those 167 hours a week you aren’t with the person? Waiting for them to sneak off with the pills, or find some rope or a razor. Worrying that you didn’t supervise them close enough and you will walk into the bathroom and find them. The tension and stress is bad for us and it’s bad for the person trying to get well and feel better. Being the focus of all that stress, worry and anger and frustration will not be solved by your brief session with them.

Professionals- please do more. Think broader. Learn more about what other services are available and make sure you refer people into them. There are 167 hours a week where other services could help. Hold your organizations accountable to have qualified staff. It’s not always about a degree, but make sure they are qualified and supervised.

I am very fortunate to have found a company to work for that helps heal my soul and enables me to be part of the solution. I try to be the person I am asking you to be. I can make a change by doing my part.

Thank you for indulging me twice on this topic,  I hope by sharing parts of our story that it makes a difference. I have come to believe that when you know the details, you understand it better and it makes you want to be part of the change.

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Just Take a Pound of Flesh

This is a combination rant about both our political leaders as well as banks, big banks specifically.

Bank fees, honestly, $6 fee on a $20 check is ridiculous, while I understand that there need to be limits on what the government pokes it’s nose into and the need for freedoms for a business to operate how it sees most fit for itself, charging fees like that shouldn’t be a major profit center for a bank. The same goes for bounced check fees and ATM fees; Sorry, if these were the actual costs they were incurring I could understand it, but these aren’t realistically their actual costs in labor etc to handle these things. It’s just an opportunity to price gouge consumers to make an extra buck, I mean, how else is Santander going to increase profits from $1billion to $2billion in a 3 year period unless they do this sort of thing?

I understand it’s a banks job to make money, but why not make money the way a bank is actually designed to make money? You’re supposed to hold our money for us, protect it, and in some cases give us a small bit of interest on holding that money for us, and in return for holding that money, we have granted you the right to loan that money to other people, who then pay it back with interest, which is where you are supposed to make your money and profits. There is zero additional cost to a bank if they cash a check drawn on an account in their bank, whether it’s for a customer or a non-customer. Your teller is there regardless, whether they are processing a check or sitting staring out the window, you are paying them the same amount of money, and even if their are costs associated with the processing in the background, it’s pennies at the most on a per check basis with the modern computer technology we have.

Ever notice that there are lots of banks that don’t actually require a fee if you cash a check drawn on their bank? They don’t have a problem with it, why do you other banks feel the need to charge a fee?

I am not totally against a convenience fee, but really, make it something that’s realistic and doesn’t intentionally punish the poor for not having an account with your bank. Change the fee structure based on the size of the check. If someone walks into a Santander right now with a $10 check they got for something,  they either need to pay a $6 fee to cash it, or open up an account with fees attached to them. Doing a quick scan over their options, you could open up a savings account that has no fee if you keep a $100 minimum balance, otherwise $3.50 a month; You could also open up a Checking account, but that has a $5 monthly fee, or there is another account where you can have it free, but that requires $500 direct deposits a month, or a $750 average daily balance.

They are taking money from the people who have the least amount of it in the first place.

This is a good fee structure in my opinion.

$1-100 or payroll check under $1500 – $0 fee

$101-500 – 1% rounded to the nearest $0.25

$501-1000 – 2% rounded to the nearest $1

$1001+ – not cash it at all, or $20 cash it but not let them pick up the money until the check can be verified, 2-3 days. If you are getting a check that’s not payroll for more than this, then there’s probably more to the story and as fraud protection, it should go through some extra scrutiny, but in general, I think anyone cashing anything this size that isn’t payroll is probably in a situation where they have a bank account they can use, or that $20 and the couple days isn’t a big deal. Same with the upping of the % at $501 in my opinion, the larger the check, the less impact the fee will have on the person cashing it.

In the end though, fees like this aren’t truly a necessity for any bank, they aren’t being taken advantage when someone wants to cash their check, or, if the process of cashing a check is really that big a deal, how about just charging everyone who writes a check $1 for every check instead, put the onus on the person who wants to use it, not the person willing to accept it. That would probably make them more money as well.

and our political leaders? That’s a whole other story.

I really wish that whoever our political reps have reading their email and correspondence actually read them and understand what is being communicated with them instead of scanning for a couple quick key words and making up a reply that actually has nothing to do with why they were written to in the first place.

If I write to you about how towns should be securing my personal information and tracking whoever gets access to it, and also including concerns about there only being penalties for people if they Dox someone in law enforcement or the government, but not a regular citizen, don’t send me back a reply about how you have helped sponsor a bill that limits how the government is allowed to access your emails without warrants etc.

Then of course, even if they actually read and took time to understand what you wrote to them about, all they are going to do is send you back some sort of acknowledgement that you sent them something, not like they are ever actually going to do anything about your concerns unless you have a ton of money to donate to their campaign.

Corruption at it’s finest.

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Suicide and Mental Illness

This was written by my friend Jackie about a friend we both had, while she was closer with Stephanie, I did spend time with her and while only a casual friend, she was a good friend. I know that doesn’t make a lot of sense, but not everything I say or think makes a lot of sense, but I think you can understand it even with how esoteric it is.

I don’t have a ton of experience with suicide in general, I can think of 4 people who I have been connected(even loosely) with that have attempted to commit suicide, 2 were successful, 2 were not. The two who were not successful are doing well, I have contact with them randomly, one moved back home with her parents on the Cape and is happy and healthy for now. The other has appeared and disappeared over the years, which has always made me wonder if she was eventually successful, but I recently found out she is doing well and living with the love of her life in Phoenix.

The two who succeeded were Stephanie and my 3rd grade science teacher Ms. Hanlon who I only saw 2 times a week for 40 minutes, but she had the classroom next door and many friends who had her as their teacher and it was hard for them, but I never quite understood it all at the time. Although, she is one of the few teachers who were not my full time teacher who I can actually remember, so maybe it did have an impact more than I think. I can still remember in vivid detail when Mrs. Evans told us what had happened, even with her words vague and muffled with sobs and tears, they still ring out once in awhile at random times in my head, 25 years later.

“Mrs. Hanlon won’t be coming back to teach anymore, she inflicted a wound upon herself.”

I do still feel sadness and regret that I wasn’t aware of everything going on with Stephanie, and I wish I could have helped in some way, either with Stephanie directly or with Jackie and what she was going through. I think one of Jackie’s points is that it’s not something anyone can fully change or conquer alone, but anyone who is connected to someone on a personal level in any way should be made aware of someone’s situation to keep an eye and ear out for anything they might notice to be able to help their friend, sometimes it’s a losing battle, and we lose more than just the friend, but it’s a battle we should all be fighting and aware of, there are silent diseases like depression & anxiety that are killing people before they actually die, we can’t see them so we pretend they don’t exist or we don’t believe “that person” could possibly be depresses, these illnesses deserve and need just as much attention as a broken arm or cancer, and to use an old cliché, they’re “as serious as a heart attack”.

 

Suicide and mental illness.

Today would have been my friend Stephanie’s birthday, but she isn’t here to celebrate it because she committed suicide.

Every year in January, I post twice about suicide – once on her birthday and once on the anniversary of her death, in the hopes that by sharing my experience it will help save lives and change how we think.

It’s still hard to talk about and it’s been 5 years. For the first 3 years, I was just angry. It took a long time for me to get to the part where I could be sad and grieve her and I notice now, this year, I can talk about her and good memories and miss her.

What happens in our private lives, often our good friends don’t even know what is really happening. Stephanie and I met because she was my kid’s nanny. Until the first suicide attempt. That was shocking. And I hate telling people that I hired someone unstable to come to my home and take care of my children. I know some of you think you are smarter than me- that you wouldn’t make such a poor decision, but people who are either ill or hurting inside don’t always know themselves or they hide it well- that’s called coping. She didn’t have other family, so there was (is) a group of us that she was close to and we were her family and I often felt like her mother, even though she was actually a year older than me.

After her first attempt, the hospitalization and the lack of follow up treatment – because our healthcare system does not have safeguards in place for mental illness or depression…but if she had cancer you bet there would have been a treatment plan and lots of follow up.

Once she was “better” she moved to her home state for a time, and then she came back to me. Unsettled, needed a place until she figured out what she wanted to do next. And while in a meeting in Texas, my phone rang again and again and I knew…attempt number 2. She was supposed to be home with my kids while I went on this business trip. I thought she was better, she seemed fine. I thought I would recognize some signs if she was going to do it again…but I didn’t. My oldest daughter had to drive to pick up my car, a car filled with suicide supplies. She was 19. It’s hard to type this because what mother “let’s” this happen? She seemed better and moved to a new state and a new job.

But she wasn’t better.

I will skip all the details of her life spiraling out of control. She came back to me- again, no place to go. And she attempted suicide again.

My daughter begged me and begged me to please not let her come home to our house. It was too hard. But I didn’t know what to do because Stephanie didn’t have any other place to go. What was I supposed to do? Leave her on the street? My daughter said- you are choosing her over me. I have the look on her face when she said that burned into my soul. And I brought Stephanie home.

This time, she never got better. She promised me one day she wouldn’t kill herself until after Christmas. I was going to kick her out- her erratic behavior was destroying my family.

At the end of January this time she committed suicide.

I have not shared this much detail publicly before – for lots of reasons. It’s embarrassing. It’s hard to talk about. My family wasn’t sad- we were hurt and angry and it hurt my relationship with my daughter and it brought a marriage that was already struggling to an end.

Life changing.

So – I share this because people who are struggling with mental illness still do not have the care and the help needed. Families- just like mine, do not have access to any help or support to know what to do. We, as a society and we, as my many connections on facebook; We are the WE that need to make change happen.

Every year I implore you, if you see someone struggling – do something. Do anything. Call their doctor. The doctor can’t say anything to you, but they can listen. And call again and again. If the person had cancer or a broken arm you would take action. If someone has depression or a more serious illness- just like cancer, just like a broken arm- they need help. Call for help, because they can’t or they won’t.

We change the world by changing the way we conduct ourselves as humans. When faced with a situation, even though it’s really, really hard – call their doctor. If you somehow think it can’t happen to you… did you ever think this would be a story you would hear from me?

If I help save one life. If I make one person pick up the phone and call a doctor then sharing this very personal story will have been worth it.

And to Stephanie’s friends- you know who you are, I know this was hard for you as well and the impact it had on your lives and thank you so much for being there and dealing with this together the best we could.

This was Stephanie, I don’t know if anyone has ever seen these photos besides me, but I took these of her while at the Newport Jazz Festival in 2007.

Steph at Jazz FestPhotos 072

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All Uploaded

So they are all there, all the video from my Europe trip has been uploaded to the video sub-blog, a lot of them are kind of boring, but they are what they are, a view of some of the things I saw while riding around.

This is not yet totally complete, I am going to go back through them and adjust the dates and times of the posts the best I can to put them in some semblance of order so you know what I saw first, or saw last, and hopefully it will make some sense, although probably just to me.

 

**update, all the dates have been updated to pretty much when they happened, the camera’s date and time was off, but it was consistently off, so I think I got em all right now.**

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Wooties: It’s a Trap

Don’t Worry, Linda, They Also Dubbed Over David Prowse

Woot Shirt, Its a Trap

Woot Shirt, Its a Trap

We’re so sorry
Uncle Ackbert
We’re so sorry if your flippers are restrained
We’re so sorry
Uncle Ackbert
But we’re going up against the Empire
And the fleet’s not gone away

We’re so sorry but intelligence was wrong, today
We’re so sorry
Uncle Ackbert
But at least you’ve got that hot ship
Just fly in closer and engage

drrtdrtt drrtdrtt drrtdrtt drrtdrtt drrtdrtt
drrtdrtt drrtdrtt drrtdrtt drrtdrtt drrtdrtt

We’re so sorry
Uncle Ackbert
But the Emperor’s already on his way
We’re so sorry
Uncle Ackbert
But the Empire’s fully armored
And the shield won’t go away

Nieeeeen numb
Ooo ooo oo oo oo oo ooo
Nieeeeen numb
Oooo ooo ooo oo oo oo oo
Oooo oo oo ooo ooo ooo ooooooo

Whoooooo’s inside the bunker?
Bunker
Whoooooo’s broken inside?

Whoooooo’s inside the bunker?
Bunker
Whoooooo’s broken inside?

Admiral Ackbert notified me
We’d all just been trapped by Imperial fleets
Our only hope was to just take down the shield
And then we could fly

Rebels, looks alive!
Everyone form on me, and into this shaft we’ll dive

Whoooooo’s inside the bunker?
Bunker
Whoooooo’s broken inside?

Whoooooo’s inside the bunker?
Bunker
Whoooooo’s broken inside?

Hey there, mister, you’ve a sister, she’s been found
she’s been found
Guess we don’t need you around
With my saber I will pound

No, you heavy breather, I will take her all around
All around
I have earned my knightly crown
Now I’ll knock you to the ground

Parrrrrrty near the bunker
Bunker
Little fuuuurry things are inside

Hey reeeeeeeeeebels, light a pyre
Pyre
Fiiiiireworks in the skyyyyyy

ooo oo ooo oooo ooo ooo oooo ooo
ooo oo ooo oooo ooo ooo oooo ooo
ooo oo oooooooo ooo ooo oooo ooo
ooo oo oooooooo ooo ooo oooo ooo

Wear this shirt: when you’re returning!

Don’t wear this shirt: if you want revenge.

This shirt tells the world: “I’ve got a bad feeling about this.”

We call this color: Bladmiral Blackbar

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Wooties: I’m a Lumberjack

Lumberjacks Anonymous

Woot Shirt, I'm a Lumberjack

Woot Shirt, I’m a Lumberjack

Hello, my name is Sven, and I … I’m a lumberjack.

HI SVEN

It started simply enough. In high school everyone was starting to cut down trees, and I was too. But I always cut down a few more than everybody else, and started earlier in the day. By college I couldn’t get through a day without felling something.

You know the old saying, “One tree is just right. Two is too many. Three is never enough.” Heh. That was me all right. I kept thinking that I could keep my behavior under control, but as soon as I felt the buzz of that chainsaw it was all over and I’d wake up the next morning covered in sawdust.

I had lost my friends, my family, and the shade in my backyard when I finally decided to seek help. That’s when I first came to these meetings and told everyone “I’m a lumberjack, and I’m not OK.”

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Wooties: Exclamation Print

Please Please Exclamation Point

Woot Shirt, Exclamation Print

Woot Shirt, Exclamation Print

Dear Woot: how dare you ask me to turn my body into an advertisement for your crappy company – and pay for the privilege?

You think I’m such a sucker that I’m going to hand you my hard-earned cash for the right to plug your stupid web sites? Oh, wow, I get my choice of five ink colors printed on the same high-quality shirts Shirt.Woot uses – that’s like giving slaves the right to choose the color of the whip.

So what if your name is not actually on the t-shirt anywhere? So what if the only people who will even know that it’s a Woot shirt will be people who are already Woot fans? So what if it might as well be “advertising” the exclamation point itself? It’s still, uh, like, commercialism and, uh, stuff, and…wait, let me start this over:

Dear Exclamation Point: how dare you ask me to turn my body into an advertisement for your crappy punctuation mark – and pay for the privilege?

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Wooties: Infinity Plus One

Saga Genesis

Woot Shirt, Infinity Plus One

Woot Shirt, Infinity Plus One

1st Place in Derby #303: Nightlife, with 255 votes!

1: In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
2: And the earth was without form, and void; and God realized he had taken on a much bigger project than he had anticipated.
3: And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw exactly how much of a mess he was dealing with, and decided to set aside a week to work on it.
4: And God picked up some gum wrappers and folded some laundry that he had done the week before, but it didn’t seem to impact the clutter very much.
5: And God called his mom, because hey, that was something he needed to do this week anyway, and he could pick up while he talked to her.
6: And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and his mom said she didn’t think that was a very good idea. And God got frustrated with his mom, and changed the subject.
7: And God knocked over a glass and broke it and told his mom he had to go. And he could tell his mom was upset, but what can you do?
8: And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day. And God started putting together a playlist to listen to while he cleaned up, but ended up spending the entire third day putting together the perfect mix.
9: And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. And that really took it out of God, and he figured he had worked hard enough to take a break.
10: And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good. But not, you know, great. But good enough for now. He’d get back to it next week.

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Wooties: Mid Act-Three Conflict

Singing In The Dead Of Night

Woot Shirt, Mid-Act Three Conflict

Woot Shirt, Mid-Act Three Conflict

Quoth the raven, “Not so fast, Senator Valducci.”

You? You dare? You dare come here? You dare come here and confront me? You dare come here and confront me in this place? You dare come here and confront me in this place in front of my family? I thought we’d finished you.

But no matter. You’re just one bird. You can’t stop me. You can’t stop what I have planned. Which, incidentally, is a far reaching plan to take over this entire planet by using the recording industry to sue their customers so that the underground will embrace the various high-quality downloadable files I’ve made of my birdsong and play them constantly in bars, record stores and coffee shops, giving me a legal basis to claim everything as my territory under avian law. Here are some documents, in fact, proving everything I just said. I’m not scared of you seeing them because, as I said, you’re just one bird and you can’t stop me.

Okay, boys. I’m gonna get in this helicopter and go to my meeting with the recording industry. You go ahead and mow him down with your powerful machine guns which he couldn’t possibly dodge by going left, right or up. I’m sure he can’t escape, no matter how many times he’s done it before. Oh, and attach this extra long easy-to-grab cable to the bottom of my helicopter, too. No reason, I just think it looks cool.

Wear this shirt: with other people wearing this shirt. Then call the police and report a murder. Then tell them, technically, more than one crow is called a murder and grin smugly. The bruises will probably heal and a good lawyer should be able to get you some money!

Don’t wear this shirt: and think it will give you mystical Ghost Dance powers or something. It’s just a freakin’ shirt.

This shirt tells the world: “You broke the cardinal rule.”

We call this color: E-Lemon-ate Him… For Good.

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