Grandzootlets Thing One and Thing Two, after several worrisome periods, we're safely born two weeks ago. Thing One, a fine and handsome little fellow, weighed 6 pounds even, a very respectable weight for a twin, and his sister, Thing Two, weighed an equally respectable 5 pounds and 15 ounces.

All are well....


Feb. 21st, 2013 09:01 pm
Dar Williams sings a song called 'February', and you know, it works, even if we don't have the snow or sleet here. February, as a month, has lost even the limited appeal it had for me as the year's shortest month since last year.

But we made it through the year anniversary of Mom's loss, and so far, we're all still here and as well as can be expected. Mouse, after six or seven weeks of being on and off medication to stop or slow down premature labour, has finally reached 34 weeks, the little fellow is over five pounds, and the little girl is almost five pounds, and my poor little 5' 2" daughter had a Death Star painted on her belly a week or so ago. It was actually quite good, whoever did it, and it sent my sister in law and I into an on FB exchange where I was afraid they'd out all Sithly, and my sister in law reminded me that Luke and Leia were twins.

Things were starting to get weirdish at work, as I may have mentioned in one of my infrequent postings; our PMO started that 'we're going to more with less' shit, and after four layoffs in eight years, I could smell the char in the air. So, I'm back on contract and hilariously, back where I was when I first got here. Two of the contract QA leads are still here or here again, so that's fun, and there are more people who were actually employees who are still here and the funniest and really sweetest thing happened when the PMO greeted me by name and told me it was great to have me back.

I couldn't believe she even remembered me. It's actually been two years and two weeks, since I had stayed until my 2nd anniversary date before waltzing out. Sadly, this means that in the last six months, seven of their most experienced and knowledgeable for their subject matter QA engineers have absconded for greener and better pastures. I am working with two of them in my new job.

Somehow, I managed to get atypical pneumonia in January, which put me in a snit, as I had once sworn to myself never to get pneumonia again. I tell myself that at least it wasn't the typical kind I had last time, and I'm glad about that in more ways than one.

Okay, here's a thought. All those folks who love Firefly and Serenity and the Browncoats? Have ya noticed that your country is becoming the Alliance? Have you noticed that our taxes are being spent not on war, but on assassination? Have you noticed that we have the NDAA, which I refer to as the American Nacht und Nebel act?

It's bad enough that this country is in the toilet, and I mean from a moral and philosophic perspective, not merely economic and political. What really leaves me in despair is that Israel, a country I used to believe was really the only country founded with moral authority, and that was unrelated to religion, by the way, has inverted every bit of that. On the other hand, I think I'm in despair over both countries, now that I ponder.

But that's okay. I have my plan for avoiding starvation in the next twenty years; it may cut things a bit shorter, but since it is clear that by that time, I won't be the only one starving, it will at least relieved the surplus population.

That's assuming that the magic oil pipeline doesn't actually tip the planet, or at least this country over into true desolation and death.

Thirty years have passed, and now Richard Nixon looks like a pinko liberal.

Or something.

And seriously, why is Dick Cheney still even breathing? Hasn't his contract with Lucifer expired yet? Is he sekritly advising Obama or Holder?

A while back--or rather, in several instances, several whiles back, I made comments to the effect that the only problem with Christianity was the Christians.

I tended, honestly, to more or less attribute that to people who believed in the literal truth of the Old Testament--remind me sometime about Twain's comments on the boys tormenting the prophet and the prophet asking God to punish them and a bear suddenly appearing and eating them. Or maybe it was a lion, it's been that same thirty years since I last read it. Or maybe only twenty. But at my age, that's pretty much the same thing.

Today, however, I find myself reacting in a kneejerk way whenever anyone says anything at all about any god, any deity, any cosmic consciousness. Which means instead of just biting my tongue around evangelicals, I'm biting my tongue around damn near everyone. And since I'm not really an atheist--sadly, I appear more to be of the school of, "I wouldn't worship you if you were the only God on Earth" since my anger at how Mom died has neither cooled nor been slaked. Plus there's the whole prevalence of assholes in the world and in our government.

I do remind myself that marriage equality and legalization of marijuana have both been gaining ground like magic horsies, so there's a ray of hope in there somewhere. Maybe I've been heading here since I learned, at the age of sixteen, that there were Jesuit chaplains in the SS.

Although, Pope Gruppenfuehrer's resignation might have also been a teeny bit of hope, I have a bad feeling the Catholic church is going to end up with someone even more right wing than Pope Gruppenfuehrer. Not that it's any skin of my nose; I've even abandoned the Episcopals.

I don't see my frame of mind in that regard improving until reality reflects the old joke about the second coming of Christ, where an angel is sent to give a press conference about the second coming, and said angel looks around and says, I've got good news and bad news. The good news, of course, is that Christ is returning tomorrow. The bad news is that he's really really pissed.

And hey,it's not like I don't know I can be an asshole, it's just that my assholery tends to move in different directions, although when it comes to neocons and evangelists, I have to work hard to grant them the same right to believe wrongheadedly as I would want for myself. It ain't easy, especially down here in the Bible Belt where you have otherwise reasonable people saying things like, "But it's against God's law!" or "Republicans are God's people" (won't the Jews be surprised) right out in public in their outside voices.

I don't even twitch any more, although there have been a few times my eyes nearly rolled out of my head in the effort to keep my head from blowing off.

How can I care so much for the individuals I care about, when I pretty much loathe human beings in general? Frocked if I know.

Happy Valentine's Day belatedly anyway.


Dec. 8th, 2012 06:02 pm
For reasons I intend to discover on Monday morning, my new cable and internet company billed me more than $200 more than makes sense to me, either from the alleged cost when I signed up, or even the damn bill.

Aside from the totally mundane annoyance of that, it also screws my Christmas plans into the ground. At the moment, I have enough left in my checking account to pay the one bill I haven't yet paid and then I will be flat. I will not have enough gas money to drive to Houston. I may have enough money to mail packages.

Don't get me wrong, I am actually not badly off, actually not at all. I'm stretched tight, but partly because of what goes into my retirement fund (which started at zero in 2011) and my flex spending account. My bills are paid, it's just like most people these days--things are stretched tight.

So no getting to see Mouse, her Man and her baby bump.
Mouse is off bed rest, the twins are fine, and are each over 1 pound at 23 weeks. Seriously, Mouse is only 5'2". I have concerns about where those twins are going to be, heh.

I'm in the running for a new job, potentially, with a helluva lot more money, and considering that the Democrats would rather emulate the Republicans in terms of serving their corporate masters, otherwise known as massive expenditures for military adventuring for access to oil, while tearing apart the social safety net and raping Social Securiety and Medicare--while pretending that the subsidies, tax cuts, and entitlements for the 1 percent are far more important than the rest of us...

Okay, sorry, it's all that anger that still hasn't subsided despite the fact that we escaped having a robot for president and a self-aggrandizing greedy and heartless little weasel as a vice president.

As I posted one day on Facebook, the recent election was some sort of diabolic variation on the Peter Principle. I try, therefore, to spend my time reading, connecting with friends, real life or online, and half-assed writing history....or something.

Otherwise, I'd probably stroke out with unexpressed rage. This way, I channel that energy into other things and determinedly avoid watching the news, or reading any more of it than necessary to keep myself as a relatively well informed citizen grouch.

But I digressed, as always. Anyway, the job could be good, but then again, aside from feeling like myo head is stuffed with cotton wool while trying to learn to use Visual C# to code tests, I still like this one, so we'll see. Thing is, we've lost good people in the last few months, mostly out of frustration with less than sterling management and some uneasiness generated by the product manager who doesn't know his Agile from his ass. We've got new people who might turn out to be good people, but as of today, four of the people hired after me and two hired before me have left, and one of the teams is being phased out because their focus happened to be on products which have suddenly become legacy products. These events make me nervous. That said, even idiots acting like idiots sort of rolls off my back simply because EFI was so horrible a place to work.

I just need to get my brain in gear on this coding. Argle.
I am so very ridiculously excited, because I've been thanked in a dedication for reading at the eleventh hour! Anna Roberts, Summerland,, Kindle.

The twins and Mouse are doing well, and I swear, I am having so much fun with the technological advances in ultrasounds; I have an 'album' on my iPad called Twins, containing their very first 'pictures' when they were just wee blastocysts prior to implantation all the way up to three weeks ago, at which time I could see Thing B (for Boy) has the cutest little snub nose, and Thing G (for Girl, natch) has a decidedly straight little nose like her mama and two grandmothers.

I cannot wait.

In 17 days, I will be visiting the Mouse and her Man in Houston!
That scant eyelashes are now considered a medical problem that requires treatment?

That the FDA has gotten in bed so intimately with corporate interests that much of what we see advertised, whether prescription or over the counter, bears a strong resemblance to snake oil?

Okay, so I'm a little bitter. Sanofi is dismissive of suggestions that Lantus has any linkage between Lantus and cancer. The FDA is slightly dismissive of the studies suggesting those linkages exist.

European experts are a little more concerned, apparently.

Both of the above entries were written in 2009.

Here is a brand new one. It might be worth it to note that as of January of 2011, the FDA continued dismissive over the possible link. This in spite of the fact that the linkage/causal factor may be exclusive to Lantus, when there is another type of long acting insulin which has not had any links to cancer of any kind.

My mom smoked from about the time she was twenty until about thirty two or three. My mom did not drink to excess. She followed her diet closely, because she did develop Type II diabetes once she had a benign tumor the size of a grapefruit removed from her pancreas. Later, she had a benign tumor removed from her thyroid.

Bear this medical history in mind.

I don't know at what point she was prescribed Lantus. That is one of the bulleted points on my research list.

Apparently, the linkage between cancer and Lantus is related to the type of relationship that Lantus has with insulin type growth factor. (I don't know all of the science yet, so I foresee a period in the near future where my head will be struggling to digest a great deal of biological science it has not been hitherto exposed to.) Bear that IGF in mind as I continue snarling.

So, Mom's history shows a tendency to have benign tumors form well before she developed malignant tumors. And yet there apparently was no hesitation in prescribing Lantus over Levemir.

I was already really angry at her general medical doctor because a simple physical examination and pressure on her abdomen would have reveal the presence of something that shouldn't have been there. I don't know if that would have been soon enough for treatment to actually be effective at killing more than my mother.

Dad asked me if I could look Lantus up just before Mom died. That's what got me started. IF, and this is a big if, I can find the right information, and a reputable lawyer, I am not above suing Sanofi and her general practitioner, the latter for malpractice. It may give you an indication of how lackluster the latter was that Mom switched in the middle of discovering she was in Stage IV cancer.

Mom was stoic, way too stoic. I wish she hadn't been. I don't think of myself as stoic in the least, but I did learn some bad habits of diagnosing myself and not going to the doctor when something happens. Hell, when I broke my foot, I didn't even see a doctor until two days later. I was convinced it was a bad sprain. The only reason I did is that it seemed to me that it was way more painful on the third day than any of my serious sprains had been.

But I'm going to do the research. If I can't do anything more than hector the FDA and Sanofi, I'm game. I told Dad that I knew that none of this would bring Mom back. I told him I knew it would make no difference to us. (Of course, it might for someone else's mother, but I have to be honest and say that's not why I'm doing it. I'm doing it because I think they need to share to agony. I'm doing it because occasionally, I act like a typical Scorpio. I didn't act like that to my ex-husband. I may sneer at jerks I've encountered in the past, and I'm not above mockery, but vengeance is not, generally, my cup of tea.

In this case, I'm kind of liking the idea.

In the King James version of the Bible, I believe there's a verse out of the blue which is: "Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord". Since I don't believe in the Lord, I'll just have to do it myself.

And by the way? I don't want to frighten anyone, but if you do know anyone with either Type I or Type II diabetes who has been prescribed Lantus, I would suggest that they ask their doctor to switch them, as Dr. Mintz in his blog entry suggests. Or just point them at the blog. But pass it on. No, the linkage has not been accepted by the FDA. Nevertheless, in 2011, the linkage was, in fact, raised in San Antonio at a medical conference dealing with breast cancer.

I think patients should be informed of the possibility. And since their doctors and the FDA won't do it, I'm asking you to pass it on.
For all the praises the producers are heaping in The Game of Thrones and how nifty all of it is, including the characters and world, I must tell you, I am bemused that no one appears to realize how much of the basis of this world owes to the last Plantagent King, that is, Richard III, the next to last and second next to last Plantagenet Kings, Edward IV and Edward V--or wait, he was never crowned, so one supposes we cannot call him that.

Now, the parallels aren't exact, nor even particularly consistent as we've gone along, but still, it entertains me to have noticed it and that no one else appears to do so.

Robert Baratheon, when we meet him, is very nearly Edward IV to the very life. Carousing, drinking, overeating and ultimately, leaving two young sons after him, with his lord Protector ultimately murdered.

Well, I suppose depending on which side of the historical debate you're on, there could be some argument about that last. Was Richard III a wicked usurper who murdered his brothers children or a harsh, but fair king who landed in a bad spot because his brother, the late king, couldn't keep his codpiece laced up, and who, when forced to it, alleged took vows as binding as marriage to coax a virtuous lady into his bed.

At this date, the waters have been so muddied by the chaos of the dynastic wars, Tudor propaganda, and the intervening centuries, this is a debate that rivals any discussion of how many angels can dance on the head of a pin in terms of utter futility and uselessness, although it can be more fun.

Anyway, back to the Baratheons. The correspondence isn't exact, of course; Ned Stark appears to temporarily be standing in for Richard, Duke of Gloucester, until the awful Joffrey has his head chopped off. Then, Robb Stark seems to take over the role by claiming the title King of the North--which is fun, because Richard remained a hero in the North, apparently for generations after that first Tudor, unlovable, venal and exigent Henry, killed Richard.

The Lannisters, though, that's where the real fun lies. The queen, of course, is Elizabeth Woodville, unloved by the peers of the land, although Elizabeth's worst sin appears to have been a Lancastrian widow who, moreover, spoiled Warwick's foreign alliance plans and to work hard to raise her family to prominence. Although, amusingly, Jacquetta, her mother, had already been prominent, more or less, and like Queen Katherine, the widow of Henry V, had thrown over being nothing more than a dowager royal for a love match with someone of a lower social status.

One does wonder how much Edward fell in love and how much he just really wanted out from under Warwick's admittedly skillful thumbs. Still he allegedly remained somewhat besotted, even once the new wore off and he continued his wayward ways with mistresses of varying social status and power.

The drinking and carousing, some believe, had to do with his sense of guilt over having his reprehensible brother George drowned in a vat of George's favorite wine. Which tale has also been called apocryphal and others have countered with details that suggest there's nothing apocryphal about it.

So, George, Duke of Clarence, was a bad brother, but I'm not sure which of the Baratheon brothers is supposedly representative of the bad brother. I'm guessing Renly, who is fairly feckless. Stannis is far too humourless. In fact, Stannis reminds one more of one facet of Richard of Gloucester; Richard was an accomplished warrior who served his brother Edward very well, and compared to George, who was something of a wit and bon vivant when not whinging about how he wasn't the king instead of Edward, he was stolid and dull. So, split the soldier Richard away from the rest of him and you might have Stannis. Plus, Stannis' wife is established as being sickly and unable to bear an heir, and poor Anne Neville, Warwick's daughter, was consumptive and apparently not robust. Her older sister, who marriied the older brother, George, bore two children before expiring after giving birth was likewise less than robust, but then in our decadent modern age, we don't realize just how prevalent and deadly 'consumption' was.

There were those who claimed that the close relationship between Elizabeth Woodville and her brother Anthony was incestuous, and the relatiionship between Robert's queen and her brother is actually incestuous.

I don't believe that anyone ever called into question whether or not Edward IV actually fathered his sons Edward and Richard, however. Their lack of legitimacy goes back to the fact that their father was allegedly precontracted to someone else before he married Elizabeth Woodville. Poor Elizabeth; unlike Cersei Lannister, she wasn't inherently vicious, but do recall I refer to the Cersei in the books. The Cersei of the series is actually a bit more interesting and multi-layered, which is something we usually don't see happening between the book and the screen, large or small.

(Although I do love that the actress who played Anne Boleyn in that abortion The Tudors playing the slightly less than virtuous Margery of Highgarden. She's still a vixen, but a lot less medieval via California than she was as Anne Boleyn.)

The casual sociopaths of Game of Thrones do get tiring, though. Mind, since most of the higher aristocracy of any country appears to have been made up people suffering from sociopathy to varying degrees, it's hard to complain much about it. It just becomes harder and harder to really give a damn about any of the characters as time goes one and they are either butchered, or revealed to be capable of the most vicious behaviors....

And fair warning for those who haven't been reading the books--it only gets worse as time goes on. This is why I've been less than thrilled about Martin's novels and a lot more enthused about his novellas and shorter fiction. 'A Song for Lya' haunts me still decades after reading it for the first time.

The positive thing is that Martin hasn't just replayed the Plantagenet tragedy with different names; he's taken the raw material, given it a few twists and hems and sewn a sleeve or two in place of a pant leg, but it has a new shape. The brutality of the world he's built really has nothing on the actual world of the Plantagenets, of course, but to our sensibilities, I suspect it seems worse. It's one of those mysteries that allow us to keep thinking our own age is the best, except for that mysterious golden age that somehow hides in the back of our minds.

I keep reading the books, but mostly now because I'm determined to find out what becomes of Arya and Jon Snow. And, in a more academic way, what becomes of Stannis and his 'red woman'. And, of course, after the first three books, we've met additional families and people and while few of those have done much to engage me, there have been a few.

If Martin has done anything, he's done a great job of illustrating why the world is a good understudy for hell, since very little of what he's written, aside from the dragons and magic, is any worse than human beings have already endured.

Bah, humbug, I can't even say that democracy is better than monarchy, because I no longer believe it exists.

But George, some of us recognize your roots, even if most of us don't.
She talks to me on the phone pretty well, although I think it's just a dim memory of me and the fact that I at least talk at her with reasonable frequency that lends her a level of comfort.

So last night, my ex-daughter-in-law called me and asked if I wanted to Skype, and naturally (or as the grandzootlet told me the other day, Duh) I did.

My god, she's gotten big. Apparently she isn't as tall as she looks to me; the XDIL says that she's about in the middle of the height range for her kindergarten class. She will be six in a few weeks, and the mind boggles.

I have finally made progress toward getting back in shape, albeit not a huge amount, no pun intended. So far, 22 lbs down and until I caught an annoying virus last weekend, doing a brisk treadmill session of thirty or more minutes a night. Unfortunately, I still want to lose 30, so it's relative, but I can feel the difference, not just in my clothes, and that's to the good. Heh, I figure that since I'm out of Minnesota and out of all fandoms, I'll win this one. On the hilarious side, because, apparently, of how fit I started before gaining the weight, and because I never did stop exercising, even with the fibro, my bottomses are smaller than my topses, even after the breast reduction. So the difference in pant sizes is only about 1 1/2, while the difference in shirt/top/tunic sizes is nearly 3. This is alien to me because while I have apparently turned into an apple, I used to be a pear. :cackles:

But I've had three people who aren't good friends be shocked when I say my age and tell me that I look ten years younger than I am. I'm bemused, and also reasonably pleased by that. Not because I 'don't look that old', per se, although that's nice, too, but because it means I don't look nearly as haggard as I thought I did. It's really hard for me to assess age anyway; back in the day, we could recognize a grandmother at fifty paces, but things have changed. A co-worker of mine told me that sixty is the new forty, and since he's well under the forty, I'm both amused and bemused by that. He might, of course, be right. My second great grandmother died when she was seven years younger than I am now. My grandfather died a year younger than I am now.

And, of course, Mom died this year. I can actually say it without having a flood of tears or anger, so I guess the stretch of time actually does numb you. Mind, for no reason this morning, I heard her voice in my head telling me hi in the way she always did, and nearly lost it while brushing my teeth. Or the other day, loading the dishwasher, I had one of those, oh, I have to remember to tell that to Mom moments, and lost it. I'm not sure that's ever going to go completely away, but that's actually okay. I'd be more worried if I didn't feel anything.

My first stepmother, bless her, sent me a very kind email expressing her sympathy, which I know was a bit difficult for her, but which does explain why I have a relationship with the woman that is genuinely affectionate, considering she was kind of like Cinderella's stepmother when she was actually my stepmother. In a way, it's like my relationship with J, my ex. Sure, he was a terrible husband to me, but aside from his right wing politics and religion (which I admit, is pretty big), he's grown up a lot and is a much better husband to his wife now. I could take that with bitterness, of course, and dwell on the fact that it took him that long to learn how to grow up, but I prefer to focus on the fact that he did. It somewhat reassures me that my judgement wasn't really terrible, that at least some of the good qualities I thought I saw were there, even if the Air Force didn't exactly encourage those qualities to develop. Fighter pilots, go figure.

Stepmothers, too, I suppose. We've been corresponding a bit and I finally told her that she definitely had to stick around as long as her mother, who seriously will be 104 next May, because my heart and mind won't handle another loss.

I mean, seriously, people. Who has three mothers and loses 2 of them within less than a decade? My dad, understandably, is having a tough time, and I'm already scared to death we'll lose him. Feh.

All that considered, I'm pretty freaking tired.

I put a new comforter on the bed yesterday and it freaked Rosita Bonita right out. She kept walking around and under the bed, complaining and questioning. Claire got right up and curled behind my hip, but not Rosita. She was sure it was going to eat her or something. Still, I had put the kitty snuggle fleeces on the foot of the bed, so she finally did get up and snuggle into one, but it was really pretty hilarious.

Kids and cats, oh, my.


Dec. 4th, 2011 08:34 pm
So I've been having this long distance email debate with one of my less than favorite uncles and his entire mailing list because he sent out this kind of fatuous, yet actually sensible in its own way, email with the subject line "Aux Armes, Citoyen" about Senate Bill 1867. Then, he sent another that was naturally appalled at the fact that a) it had passed and b) it had passed with only seven votes against.

The whole thing reminded me of the fact that even people who found Hitler a lunatic really didn't believe that he meant to do what he said to do.

Especially the part when, despite legal opinions which state otherwise, people say, "But it will never happen to an American citizen". Keep on dreamin'.

But seriously, the whole thing makes me feel so nostalgic for the sixties and seventies and, horribly, the Vietnam war. Vietnam didn't have any oil, so once we finally got ourselves out, we didn't find our president adventuring around Southeast Asia. Wait, let me rephrase that: we didn't find our president openly adventuring around Southeast Asia.

Maybe that's what Obama means about transparency in government. He's not going to change anything about his military adventures, but at least he's doing it right out in the open.

Wait, is that a good thing or a bad thing?

This is the danger of having an intelligent president. If he's going to be lying liar, he does it ever so well on his own. Dubya needed Rove and Cheney.

You know, if a person didn't laugh, I'm afraid they'd never stop crying. tolls for thee.

Hear that sound, that strange and alarming sound so much like a death rattle? That's the sound of the American experiment in democracy dying.

Nacht-und-Nebel Erlass. Know what that is? The Night and Fog Decree. Sounds mysterious, right?

Oh, yeah, it was. People were 'disappeared', generally into concentration camps, but also into graves.

The United States Senate has finally proven that our elected representatives aren't just venal and exigent, they're also intent on destroying this country. God knows, this country has never been close to perfect, but hey, the principles on which it was founded were pretty revolutionary and apparently still are, if the ongoing efforts to erode every semblance of our constitutional rights are any indications. Did I say ongoing efforts? Forget it, I'm pretty sure this is the last effort, because any one of us who proves to be enough of an irritant can now be accused of being involved in terrorism and disappeared without a warrant. How's that for the grand finale of habeas corpus, eh, ladies and germs?

So, yeah, send not to know for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for me and thee. And thank your Senators for it. Call, send email, send snail mail, take out a full fucking page ad in the Washington Post.


I know I'm not the only person who actually looks back at Richard Nixon with fond nostalgia. And if you believe I ever thought it was possible I'd actually say that anywhere, anytime, to anyone, I've got a bridge for you to buy.

I wonder what a person has to do to get political asylum in Canada.
...learned to fear the Kochs, and started marching

There's a reason for the adage about those who forget their history being condemned to repeat it.

Godwin's law does not apply if the comparison is actually apt )

Then there was the Gilded Age.

Cycles and cycles and motorcycles.... )

Yossarian might have been crazy, but he wasn't wrong.

And now Newt Gingrich has advocated doing away with child labor laws, and Perry wants to do away with civilian control over the military. Does he realize that to eliminate the President's control over the military would pave the way for military juntas and even more military adventurism? In the unlikely event that he's elected president, I swear to you, I'm going to illegally emigrate to Canada. Harper's a right wing idiot, but at least he has a few sparks of intellect.

Eight by ten color glossies with the circles and the arrows on each side look downright safe these days )

And that's all the opinion and worry that's fit or unfit to print, ladies and germs. Keep the faith and do not go quietly
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