By: Esther Powell
Posted on: Thu, March 01 2018 - 9:42 pm
April 29, 2018
When I first heard about marijuana in the sixties, it was warned as against as a gateway drug to addiction to hard drugs, namely opioids.
Now it is being touted as a gateway out of addiction.
Good thing I am not addicted to drugs or in serious pain. Marijuana exacerbates my tendencies toward paranoia.
April 28, 2018
It has been an interesting few days.
On Wednesday the 25th, our book club finally managed to meet with Patricia Kenny, who is one of the main stars of Footloose in America, an account written by her then-husband Ben Kenny about their trek from Hot Springs, Arkansas to Maine with a wagon and their beloved mule Della. First we had dinner at the Shrimp House, but since the restaurant's Pirate Cove has been temporarily flooded out, we held our discussion at the River Terrace facility at the old hospital. Patricia is a person with much strength of love and personality. We hope to see her again at club meetings, wherever they may be.
Thursday I went for a short walk and ended up talking for an hour with a neighbor on the other side of Bicentennial Park who has a beautiful garden at her corner house, including some intermediate irises I had never seen before. Our conversation ranged from flowers to the universal truths (if you will) and I staggered home well soused in more ways than one. (No, I drank nary a drop. Conversation is my addiction!)
In the evening there was what should have been a big event at the Public Library - Sharyn McCombs talking about some of the history that has inspired her ballad books combined with a singer and musician who, accompanied by his fiddle and guitar, sang us some songs.
I ran late (or slow!) expecting to find the library filled to overflowing with fans of this very entertaining author and her minstral, and was stunned to see it not so. Well, those who did not attend were the losers - the two provided the attendees with an evening full of Southern Appalachian lore.
Yesterday was good also. We drove out old and current Highway 62 with many interesting sights and sites you can visit yourself if you come out this way!
April 24, 2018
Wildness is essential to some of us. That little spark of something that is in my mother's eye in her high school graduation class photo always caught mine.
Where did it go?
My mom was not known for being wild in my life, particularly, except for a few habits (like walking miles on errands, which in Valparaiso, Indiana was considered eccentric.)
Mom had her wildness thoroughly tamped down by her old age - at least externally. She pretended to disapprove of it.
Maybe she was really like some others I have known who remain outwardly circumspect themselves while provoking others into providing a little longed-for wildlife entertainment.
Here in Madison, along the River O, the smidgeons of wildness have gone from our balcony view. The mulberry tree and its train of shrubs were hacked down two years ago, maybe. The bigger maples in the park were cut down last year. Within the last few days the pair of towering not yet flowering catalpa trees directly across from our apartment were taken down by a team of tree removal experts. They didn't know why.
At least some other occupants of our building are happy the trees are gone. It looks cleaner. No more big catalpa worms, which reportedly look like tobacco worms (neither of which have I ever seen). My partner and I are in possession of a better view of the river than we have had since we moved in six years ago.
I wonder, though, what is happening to our wildness. Where is it going?
Is it sneaking furtively into our unconscious lives?
Each individual among us - even we ourselves - a wilderness?
Every one of us, young and old, an unexplored, untamed, unexplainable and uncontrollable wilderness.
April 21, 2018
Three more big trees coming down from the lot in front of us! Two of them are the catalpas whose blossoms are so beautiful directly across from our second floor balcony. Well, were. Looks as if they won't be blooming this year.
Now we will have a hotter environment. There will be no place for the birds and squirrels.
The big trees are coming down. What are these people so afraid of?
A mockingbird perched on a railing of a truck loaded with logs from the destroyed trees. He was looking towards the men and machines chopping and chipping.
How was he responding, I wonder? He did not make a sound. He kept his counsel.
April 20, 2018
I promised to look up the wild flowers I saw on my walk the other day - flowers I saw on the North-facing banks of the south side of the Ohio River.
It wasn't as easy as I thought it would be. Personally I think photographs are not as good for identifying purposes as botanical drawings. The drawings are a little more abstract and universal than photographs.
Plus drawings give you necessary details that are often obscured in photographs.
Sigh. I know I have said all this before.
I'm repeating myself, surely, about photographs versus drawings for identification purposes.
I'm not repeating myself about the Spring flora of the Kentucky south banks, though. In addition to some of the flowers I saw the other day, today we saw richly dark blue-violet larkspur, along with blueberries (pulmonary, I think) and some yellow outbursts of flowers.
There are places along Cooper's Bottom Road where calves and their elders hang out in meadows without the benefit of fencing along the road.
It's a reminder that at one time northern Kentucky was the Wild West.
April 17, 2018
I'm getting confused.
Do you think it is okay to assault people and destroy property, but not verbally judge people?
Recent movies often have a scene in which our hero or heroine sweeps a tabletop or desktop of possessions (including breakable and valuable stuff, of course) onto the floor in a fit of rage. This is supposed to be understandable, but the person who raises his eyebrows in disapproval is the bad guy.
A similar weird set of values seems to apply to animals also. Nothing is ever their fault. They don't have to accept responsibility for anything. I tend to agree with that, actually. In that case, though, animals are not people. They will not, like children, grow up to be responsible adults.
Then again, evidently children don't have to grow up to be responsible adults anymore, either.
Every time I see a supposedly mature character in a film make a horrible mess, I'm sorry, but I immediately let go of my suspension of disbelief and start wondering about who is going to clean up the mess - both in the plot and in real life.
For too many years of my life the mop-up person would have been me.
April 16, 2018
The fourth week of Spring. Snow coming down sideways.
This morning I went on a walk along Cooper's Bottom Road in Milton, Kentucky. Walking distance from where I live in Madison.
I was looking at a bunch of little bell-shaped wildflowers and thinking they were the only kind I had seen, when kaboom!
There were Dutchman's breeches! I am not used to seeing them in quantities along the paths I take here on the northern side of the Ohio River. Maybe I take the wrong paths.
A little farther away from trailer park civilization I saw, in quick succession, another pale yellowish-green larger limply hanging bell-flower, some toad trillium, yellow violets and larger sizzlingly bright globular yellow flowers - maybe marsh marigolds? I didn't get close enough this time to tell for sure. Oh, and some white anemone.
I'll look them all up right now and get back to you.
What do you know - I start writing about Spring blossoms and it stops snowing.
April 14, 2018
I've been making more bread than usual. I made French bread a couple of times, and today I made a dark rye. Perfect activity for a rainy morning.
A walk in a light rain is not bad at all when the weather's warm.
Trying to spot a small bird singing an unusual song turned out to be impossible for me on such a dark day, but the geese were willing to be seen - and heard. They seem to be going around in pairs these days.
April is being cruel in other parts of the country and the world, and here too, at times.
Somehow, though, by the next day - or hour - I have forgotten about it.
Look! Now the sun is shining.
April 13, 2018
If I don't like any of a book's characters I don't care about how they are acting.
I've started putting down books with too many put-downs.
I read a lot, would that make me a pager?
Do many pages do any paging? And would that be trying to call someone, or turning pages as in a report or book, or determining pagination? Can you ever even paginate something?
I have met people who don't like books with too many lengthy descriptions. Although I do not share their distaste I can hardly blame them. Wouldn't you think the word description would imply less script? Less verbiage?
All in all, I am a less patient reader than I used to be. Just as I throw out garbage every day, I have less tolerance for verbiage.
Except when it's mine, of course.
April 10, 2018
Trump contradicts himself all the time, I know.
Don't you find it strange, though, that he decries the media and "fake news" while spending hours a day watching T.V.? (When not on the golf course, naturally.)
If anyone should be able to obtain the real facts from a plethora of experts, it is the president.
Why does he spend so much time watching T.V. - at best a secondary source about what's happening?
April 9, 2018
It seems to me that the history that people retain of the wrongs their culture and lands have suffered is more intense if they stay where the misfortunes happened.
Some populations pass on the history of their lands hundreds of years later with much indignation. That is understandable. It is living all around them.
My family seems to have moved around more. Some of them came here over two hundred years ago. If they left their homeland because of some grievance or injustice the information has not come down to the seventh generation.
There are some rumors about religious persecution in the Old World, but I am unsure about this. Why and how my ancestors came here is unknown. Maybe they didn't dwell upon the circumstances because they were more sinning than sinned-against.
I prefer to think that new environments and new living conditions demanded so much of my forefathers and foremothers that they really had no time to dwell on the past - that their focus was perforce on the present and the future.
For my family, I suspect that water under the bridge was more like waves behind the stern.
April 8, 2018
This morning I realized that all my adult life I have schooled myself to not want to do what I can't do.
I wondered if that was a good thing.
Just now I realized it wasn't true.
Luckily I didn't spend my whole day thinking about that!
While I was on a walk I saw a duck sitting in a tree surrounded by river water, and spent quite a few minutes trying to figure out if it was alive or a sculpture.
It didn't move for the longest time! (Well, long minutes, anyway.)
I thought it was real. Finally it moved!
Yay! If it had been a decoy I might have drowned myself trying to retrieve it.
April 7, 2018
April folly is upon me!
I am the maniacal zodiacal baby of my birth family and I am squalling!
(My editor, conversely (I will refrain from saying perversely), is telling me I am equalling.)
No, damn it, I am squalling!
Oh, the cruelty!
Now all the issues are snowied. Not snowed.
(What do you expect? It's 4:30 a.m. where I live.)
April 6, 2018
On my walk this morning I saw the second dog off a leash with no owner in sight - in the last week.
Today's dog was in a city parking lot. I had intended to walk down the adjacent alley but the dog put me off.
Still, I rebelled against his presence there unleashed.
I have read that talking to dogs in a high voice returns them psychologically to puppyhood, so just like an owner, I said, "Go home! Go home!" in a singsong falsetto, flapping the back of my hand in a dismissive gesture.
He obeyed! I'm pretty sure it was his back yard to which he retired. I've seen him there before.
Oh, the power!
April 4, 2018
For the last few days walking along the Ohio River, I have seen what looks like a large red iron(?) buoy hung up with the rest of the detritus upstream of the Lighthouse Restaurant. I keep expecting someone to come and rescue it - it must be an expensive object.
A neighbor told me the U.S. Coast Guard patrols the river for boats and other valuable drift. You'd think someone would have reported that buoy, the restaurant owners if no one else.
The flood was hard on the Lighthouse also. Part of its pier is completely submerged. Who knows when it will be ready to reopen. The owners have made some attempts to sell it in the last year or two, but right now its fate remains to be cleared up - an invisible part of the flotage.
Reality is as reality does.
April 2, 2018
When have I passed over a chance to write on April Fool's Day?
Maybe when it is also Easter.
Really, though, I don't think people who can believe in the resurrection of Jesus are fools.
If there is anything science finds out on a daily basis, it is that it doesn't know everything.
Of course individual scientists can't know any more than a small part of what the whole of science "knows."
I'm certainly not going to say anything so foolish as that people who are celebrating a religious holiday are fools!
Not even on April Fool's Day!
We celebrated both Easter and April Fool's Day! most appropriately - by eating too much.
March 30, 2018
Some of us are pulled to big cities. Others of us gravitate towards nature and the wilds.
Most of us whose ancestors farmed close to crops and animals are now cut off from that life. Though many of them left a hard life (dependent on the weather) of their own free will, I think people miss nature, both large domestic and wild animals, and closeness to the elements.
Maybe that's why so many of us cling so closely to the animals we have left, our cats and dogs. When deprived of those living breathing empathetic animals in our homes, we suffer.
Let's face it, though. For what we have lost, pets - and even zoos - are merely consolation prizes.
March 29, 2018
Dear blahg, dear readers,
I think of you often. Sadly, I have little to say.
It feels as if we are living in London, all fog and drizzle and wet.
Some of the blooming trees are blighted, some of them, more happily, have gotten away scot-free from any damage.
All the neighbors' scores of daffodils, which I have been too virtuous and/or inhibited to steal and to proud and/or lazy to ask for, are weighed down by droplets and speckled with mud.
Central heating keeps us toasty. I guess I don't feel as if we live in London after all.
March 26, 2018
Lately I've been feeling as if I have lost my way.
Maybe it is the crazy juxtaposition of the return of the light and the recent attempted return of winter in these parts.
Consciously the recent cold and snow has not bothered me, but it seems to make existence treacherous.
It is comforting to know that half the world is facing the coming of the hard season of the year with courage or even - so early in its approach - with oblivion!
If people can do that, certainly I can contemplate the approach of the soft season.
Maybe I am just feeling a little off balance and wondering why.
March 24, 2018
It's too bad that my designation for the current President, dT, didn't catch on.
Not only is he a symbol of a national hallucination in that he is a force for chaos, but the imagery of a pink elephant is even more apropos than I knew when I suggested it.
dT is not really a Republican, as the GOP should have known all along. The elephant is an illusion.
dT is maybe pink with embarrassment about his sexual escapades, although that would definitely be a fantasy on my part. More likely a commie pink, I would think, but no... more likely a Russian Red!
One thing is not in doubt: most Republicans are red with the embarrassment that dT is too in the grip of his hallucinations to experience himself.
March 22, 2018
Alas, I am a seventy-year-old female Gemini who lives in a small town in the state of Indiana.
How could life get any worse?
I meant to say, my status any lower.
My life is fine!
Ay yi, yi, in Trump's America, who knows how long I will be able to say that?
March 21, 2018
Day before yesterday I took an afternoon walk along the river - or tried to. There were so many people walking dogs and pushing strollers that I couldn't get up any speed. I headed towards home through an alley between a parking lot and First Street. A percussive bang made me look uphill and I saw one half of an old brick two-story crumble.
I walked around the block and saw a crane smash its bucket against the other back half of the old house. It was so visually interesting, with different layers falling in different directions, that I wanted to observe the action.
Even though the wind was blowing the dust away from me and I kept well back, I started coughing to the point of gagging. A family standing much closer than I seemed untroubled, but as I was moving away a man suggested they back off also.
It's probably just as well. For all I know there could have been asbestos in that debris.
I am such canary.
March 20, 2018
Today is the equinox. If there is as much light tonight as there is cloudy dark today, we won't be able to tell any dusk or dawn division at all.
Warm snow. Cold rain.
Spring is real. Reel in Spring!
March 19, 2018
Last week my partner thought he saw a Snowy Owl high on a tree on a hill along Highway 421. It took flight as he watched.
His sighting inspired me to walk a little further than I have for a while.
Day before yesterday I chose Hatcher Hill Road, through the woods near the highway, in spite of the fact that a white-gray sky might be an ideal camouflage for a white owl.
It was good exercise, but I didn't see much wildlife except robins and about ten black vultures.
Yesterday I aimed for the top of the Heritage Trail, which I believe I haven't hiked since I was sick. I ran into some acquaintances, one of whom said he had heard an owl. I didn't want to embarrass him by asking how it sounded, so I just headed for an alternative way back down the hill closer to where they had passed.
Between the top of the Heritage Trail and the descending stairway for which I was aiming were two turkey vultures sitting in the road with wings outspread.
Hmm... black vultures yesterday and Turkey vultures today - I hoped they weren't divining something about my innards of which I am unaware!
I tried to appear energetic and spry and kept walking the road. The buzzards weren't going anywhere. One person has interpreted this wing-stretching behavior on the part of vultures as an attempt on their part to intimidate. I just think they are warming up.
Yesterday I wasn't so sure, but I kept going, and they gave ground, finally, before I was forced to step off the pavement.
I finished my walk without seeing or hearing a Snowy owl, but the outing had its excitement.
It's not every day that I confront big birds wondering if, in case of my collapse, putting my jacket over my head would keep them away - at least temporarily - from my eyeballs!
It was a glorious sunny blue-skied day. Snowy owl-less.
P.S. Ha, ha, I just heard a call of a Snowy owl recorded by the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology. It sounds like the gruff bark of a large dog!
March 17, 2018
Here's a great St. Patrick's Day story, experienced first-hand by my partner, Joseph Rusiski, when he was in fourth grade in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Since the Catholic school Jos attended, Nativity, observed St. Patrick's day, a friend thought it would be fun to celebrate their own cultural heritage on the same day.
John Murkowski, who had the idea, enlisted his classmates to wear crepe paper sashes the color of the Polish flag - a bright red - maybe in this case an orangeish red.
Joseph Rusiski, John Murkowski, Richard Rutkowski, Thomas Markowinski, and Joanne Baronowski strode proudly into their classroom displaying their own national heritage emblazoned diagonally across their chests.
The other students kind of tittered. They didn't really know quite what to make of the demonstration.
Their old, grizzled teacher Sister Mary Austin, however, took their sashes to represent a Protestant orange, and hit the ceiling. You would have thought she was the embodiment of St. Patrick himself, there to abolish the snakes. Jos, John and friends ended up lined up in the cloak room, their sashes in a heap on the floor.
Eventually the students managed to explain their true intentions, and they were forgiven if not pardoned.
March 15, 2018
I was talking to one of our friendly regional beekeepers the other day, telling him about some of the upheavals in our apartment building in the last few months.
After I told him about how some ex-offender renters had jobs in local companies and seemed to be holding their lives together but all of a sudden were off the job again and evidently experiencing a downward spiral, he shrugged.
Companies get tax breaks for hiring felons, he said. After they get the benefits, they figure they don't really want them around and lay them off.
This kind of shenanigan rang a bell with me. Remember how McDonald's hires people and "trains" them for three months with the Federal government subsidizing those wages, then lays them off to get the subsidies for a new set of employees? (Maybe they no longer get this tax break, but I bet they do.)
It sounds as if companies do the same thing to a very vulnerable population, ex drug addicts. Felons.
I decided to see if it was true. Bingo. Looks like my beekeeping friend has had time to research something besides bees.
The Federal government does offer tax breaks to those who hire felons. Unfortunately there is a cap on the amount an employer can get from each employee. This, sadly, provides an incentive to companies to lay off people after a few months so they can get new employees with the potential for more savings to the companies.
This is a truly cruel practice for those who sign a lease and start paying rent every month, going to work regularly, then for no good reason get cut off from their job and their income.
Citizens who have some security have no idea how much legitimate source of grievance many of our struggling countrymen possess.
Some states and municipalities also offer incentives (including cash) for hiring felons. It is ironic that policies designed to help ex-cons might end up working against them.
I did not know companies were doing this. Did you?
March 14, 2018
Although it snowed a little overnight, today was sunny and I went for a walk along the Ohio River. From the east I saw a tow with an unusually tall load coming down the river.
It almost looked like an apartment building! As the boat got closer, I could see it carried what looked like a showboat. But why? Maybe it was a gambling boat, I thought.
Sure enough when the load came alongside I saw Lawrenceburg - an Indiana city near Cincinnati - painted in fancy letters on the side. Above that, in smaller letters: Argosy Casino.
The tow carried as well plain rust-colored structures that I imagined might be a stage or movie theater, but who knows? They volunteered no information at all.
They were heading downstream against a strong, icy wind and so was I. The woods were a little too far away for even masochistic me. The wind knifed through clothes I had thought might be too warm when I left home.
Spring seemed a little farther off today than it had for weeks.
March 11, 2018
What does the time change mean to me?
Stress, aggravation, loss of sleep, and frayed nerves.
Several times I appeared at work an hour late or an hour early. My employers were amazingly philosophical about it. I guess they were just used to the confusion, and normally I was very prompt, if not compulsive, about my arrival time.
Once I went off on a friend/babysitter as I have rarely if ever done with a non-family member when she was an hour late to watch my children early in the morning my husband and I had planned a big hike. She heard me out, then reminded me that there had been a time change. My rant included a guilt trip which of course, I had to immediately turn against myself.
Time changes are very hard on moms. Children, as they grow, change napping and eating habits. The adjustments to these changes are hard enough normally. Throw in time changes and the situation worsens to the detriment of a peaceful family life.
I have been late picking up my daughter from an airport, although that could arguably have been a time zone issue.
Those are confusing enough.
Since I am one of those people who awaken when morning light hits my eyes the clock is irrelevant. The spring time change would cut down on the early morning study that I enjoyed doing in bed.
In the Fall the change seems to exacerbate the already depressing shortening of the days.
The time change is disruptive of the rhythm of life.
It's too bad the polls asking about how people feel about changing daylight savings don't have a category for people who don't care whether it is left on standard time or left on daylight savings time.
Many of us are not partial to one time zone or the other. We just don't want living our year in split shifts.
March 10, 2018
From 1972 to 1991 I did not watch much T.V., even when I had one. I didn't watch M*A*S*H more than once or twice.
Because we decided we needed a reliable source of comedy and my partner persuaded me that the show is a part of American culture I shouldn't miss out on, we started watching it. Since each season needs three discs and our library gives us only one week for a DVD (renewable, but still...) We have been watching two episodes most days.
The last episode we saw just this afternoon was a fantastical tale about Hawkeye and Trapper ordering barbequed ribs all the way from Chicago to where they were stationed in Korea.
Just now, reading a book in my Kindle, the pregnant author wakes up her husband in the middle of the Ugandan night whining (her word) with longing for Western food and reminiscing to her husband about - you guessed it - the time our comic heroes in M*A*S*H ordered pork ribs from Adam's Rib.
And that, my friends, is what we call a coincidence.
March 9, 2018
I'm having a little difficulty understanding why some people don't know work when they see it - or when they do it.
I'll never forget reading a mystery novelist's detective's description of some catering waiters taking a break from their "slacker jobs."
If you think their jobs aren't worth doing, I thought, I guess you never go to a party or a wedding or out to eat at a restaurant. Or do you think the people who carry the tables and the cartons of dinner plates and pour your water for your enjoyment are just doing it for fun?
Personally, I think writing genre fiction is a slacker job that I would much rather do for money than wait on ingrates. The thing is, the money in catering is much more reliable and some of us need that to pay for food and rent.
Now I am reading a book - a personal memoir, maybe you would call it, and the author wrote about looking for work outside the home and failing to find it. So she did some stuff at home. She made bread and shelled peas, "if you can call that work."
I sure as hell do call that work! Any activity that provides food or shelter or clothes, entertains, and transports humans or animals is work, even if it is also fun.
The fact that the young woman decided it was just too hard to clean her own house makes me think she should consider it work, even if she didn't get paid to do it.
Cleaning house is sure not my idea of fun.
I'm getting thoroughly sick not only of snobbery, but reverse snobbery, inverse snobbery, and transverse snobbery.
Some people who do physical labor don't think scholars work. Sitting at a desk or "playing" with test tubes in a lab are not real jobs. They value the fruits of that labor, though, going to movies, buying records, taking life-saving medicines, wearing comfortable fabrics.
Many of the upper social classes don't respect those who do physical labor, although their very lives depend upon someone doing it for them. Sadly, in the times of the early colonies some aristocratic gentlemen died of starvation rather than lower themselves to work at all.
Some young people I have encountered have a through-the-looking-glass mentality. What is on the screen is reality. Everything else is unreal, seemingly. Maybe that is what I mean by inverse snobbery.
Transverse snobbery? I just made that up for fun because I was caught up in making the list. But I think it has meaning. It applies to the attitude groups have to anyone not of their own group. Even if they pursue exactly the same kind of activity it doesn't really count as work when someone of another group does it.
Don't expect me to come up with an example. It's getting late, I am tired, and that sounds too much like work!
March 8, 2018
Of course I woke up all paranoid about what I wrote last night.
The thought that maybe I was not original in what many would call my obscenity tortures me. I'll Google it.
Ha, ha, it turns out "Trump cuntry" isn't Googlable at all! They gave me results for "Trump Country" (the latter word automatically capitalized, I note.)
Oh, the course of often automated censorship in our Brave New Digital World! (Did I mean (say?) course - or curse?)
How much do we self-edit (in fear) and how much are we robotically edited?
Will (do?) actual robots control our behavior as much as they seem to attempt to edit our written speech?
Are we experiencing the death of spontaneity?
Whew, it must not be dead yet.
Er, or maybe not. We at least still have a word for it.
Whereas "robotically" is being underlined as not a word by my e editor.
It thinks perhaps I mean to say "politically".
We live in interesting times.
March 7, 2018
For those of our foreign friends that think Americans have all gone insane, I am writing this so you know we have not.
Trump has made our country Trump Cuntry and he has grabbed us all where it hurts.
All except the Oligarchy, that is, and the minority who still have faith in him despite everything he seems to be trying to do.
Well, Trump has succeeded in one thing.
He has made America grate again.
March 5, 2018
Come to think of it, May is almost always here.
It may rain, you may win the lottery, he may be impeached, I may be on time, you may be blessed with a child, they may guarantee their product.
May may may may May.
It's all around us almost all the time!
March 3, 2018
Come what may, May will come!
March 1, 2018
A hop, a skip, and a jump and winter is over! (Each one is a week long.)
All of a sudden the warm weather doesn't seem so terribly unseasonable.
The blooming daffodils and crocuses don't seem like a bitter joke.
Yesterday I saw along Main Street some of my favorite flowers, hellebore in pink and white full bloom!
This is real.
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