Our Lady of Fatima... Pray for us.
Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament... Hear us.
Our Lady of the Rosary... Strengthen us.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Funny Guy Friday... Napping and watching whatever... not...

     Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my husband Mark. So, I married a funny guy...
     So... Last Sunday, I woke up feeling sick as a dog.
     In fact, I had been waking up feeling bad for five or six days prior, but that Sunday was worse. When I get up and move around, I usually start to feel better, so I assumed that this day would be no different. So, I got up and got ready for church. After church, we went to breakfast and then headed for home.
     Typically, even if I am sick, I tell Cheryl that I feel fine and press on.
     I do this for a couple of reasons... first, stuff has to get done, and there is only so much time in a day. Second, if I should mention that I have a headache, Cheryl will all of the sudden come down with a migraine. Then she is down for the count, and I have twice the load.
     I am always reminded of the time we met an old Chinese man in a pet store who was looking at a goldfish and blinking. After thirty seconds, the goldfish was blinking just like the man. Cheryl asked how he did that and he responded, I control his mind with my mind.  Cheryl then tried the same thing and after thirty seconds of blinking, I caught Cheryl moving her lips just like the goldfish.
     I got a million of them... Don't forget to tip your waiters and waitresses!
     Anyway, as time went on, I was not feeling any better, so I went upstairs to lie down.
     As is usual, Noah was soon by my side, snuggling away.
     These are the best of times, so I decided that I would skip the nap and try to find a movie to watch with my boy. As I was flipping through the channels, I found Gladiator. I had never seen this movie before but it was on a regular cable channel so I decided, how bad could it be. Did I refer to him as a boy? Forget that... Noah is my nine-year-old man.
     We weren't two minutes into it when SHE walked into the room.
     SHE, of course, is Cheryl.
     The first thing she did is to make me turn the volume down to a level only a dog could hear. Funny thing about the volume for our TV in our bedroom... when we are watching stuff that SHE likes, the TV is blasted. On the other hand, when we are watching my shows, she claims the volume is so high it gives her a headache and is "just so loud."
     Then the interrogation began...
     Is this appropriate for Noah?
     Have you seen it before? 
     How can you say it is okay if you've never seen it before... do you have the remote to turn the channel or mute it if necessary? 
     I have never seen it, so how would I know when to turn the channel or mute it... it is on regular TV. How bad can it be?
     At about this time, some king was lying down on a bed with a women who we thought was his sister... What could go wrong here? I thought.
     Well... this turned a bit awkward when the king started touching his sister's neck in a way that I have never seen a brother touch a sister... so SHE turned off the TV.
     I eventually restored order, regaining control of the remote, and began to scan for a different, more appropriate movie.
     BINGO... the greatest movie of all time... The Godfather.
     I love that movie and will watch it a hundred times out of a hundred. I decided that this was an opportune time to teach Noah all of life's lessons that you can learn from the Corleone family. For example... A man that doesn't spend time with his family can never be a real man... or Keep your friends close but your enemies closer... or Women and children can afford to be careless, but not men... and of course, Leave the gun... take the cannolis. 
     SHE reared her interruptive head once again and questioned whether The Godfather was a good option for Noah.
     No problem. I've seen this a thousand times and I know the exact times to turn the channel or turn down the sound.
     Oh yeah, like when you watched it with Matthew. 
     That was operator error. I know what I am doing now! 
     When I watched The Godfather with Matthew, I was prepared to skip over the bad parts. The first bad part was when Sonny was with a woman that was not his wife. In my efforts to fast forward past that part, I hit the wrong button, and there he was... ahem..."being with a woman that was not with his wife" in slow motion. Fortunately, on that occasion, Matthew acted quickly and took over the remote.   
     Cheryl didn't trust me. No... turn it off or find something else to watch. 
     SHE does not share my affection for Francis Ford Coppola's masterpiece. SHE feels that it has too much violence and adult content. Noah was on my side, and we made our case. It was two against one... so I am sure that you know how this turned out... We watched the end of Who Framed Roger Rabbit instead, of course.
     The Godfather was too violent and had too many adult themes, but Roger Rabbit is okay. Let's see... Roger Rabbit has a crazed, corrupt judge that has eyes that turn into daggers and an arm that becomes a buzz saw in an effort to kill a good-guy detective working for a crazy rabbit and his love interest, the ultra-voluptuous, Jessica Rabbit. And let me just say this, there is not a single woman in The Godfather that looks or dresses like Jessica Rabbit. I don't even think she is anatomically correct, for crying out loud!
     I suppose if The Godfather were a cartoon, it would have been okay.
     At the conclusion of Roger Rabbit, SHE turned off the TV, forcing both Noah and me out of the room... and then SHE shut her eyes and fell asleep, claiming that her head hurt.
     So to review... I was sick and went up to take a nap. Noah joined me, so we decided to snuggle up and watch a movie. SHE came into the room and made us turn down the volume, made us turn the channel (twice), and then made us turn off the TV all together so SHE could take a nap. Her actions forced her sick husband and young son out of the room to fend for themselves.
     Kind of ironic because that is exactly what Noah and I were doing when SHE barged into the bedroom in the first place.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Funny Guy Friday... Snow days ain't what they used to be...

     Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my husband Mark. So, I married a funny guy...
     I don't want to sound like an old curmudgeon... but back when I was a kid, it actually had to snow for us to get a day off of school.
     Today, even though the local weathermen are only hitting about .300, our school systems shut down as soon as the they hear the words "five" and "inches" in the same sentence.
     This is kind of ironic because when it actually does snow five inches, they seem satisfied with a measly two-hour delay.
     This week, the prognosticators got it right, and we actually got the eight inches they had predicted, and with that eight inches, the schools were closed for two days.
     For kids, there is nothing better.
     Presumably, they have already done their homework, and there is no way teachers can assign new work. They have a full day to frolic without deadlines.
     Unfortunately, my homeschooled boys attend tutorial classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and because of the stupid internet, the teachers are able to assign work even when schools are closed. What is the point of a snow day if you have to work? My boys have to pray for snow and a power outage.
     I remember the days when I was in school and they were predicting snow. I would wake up two hours early to tune into WPGC or Q107 to find out if school was cancelled or not.
     On a side note, at that time, WPGC and Q107 were two of the hippest pop music stations in the world... they had two crazy deejays in the "morning zoo." What a unique and wonderful idea! I am surprised that other stations around the country didn't try that format.
     What's that? Every station in the country had that same format? Nah, I don't believe that for a second... these guys were really wacky!
     Why we picked these wack-a-doos to give us the most important news of the day was beyond me. They were more concerned about playing a song backwards and having the caller guess the tune to win a free tee-shirt.
     The real school updates were on the grown-up news station, WTOP.
     The problem with WTOP was that you had to change your clock radio to a.m. and then try to tune it so the voices were not completely overcome by the static at the 1500 band. This was a feat that was dang near impossible.
     Anyway, once you got the word, either way, your kid-logic kicked in.
     If schools were closed, you jubilantly hopped out of bed and started the day two hours earlier than usual. You would be bouncing off the walls waiting for your mom to get up so you could do something... anything! If, on the other hand, the school's start time was merely delayed, you were soooo tired that you had to go back to sleep only to be exhausted two hours later when mom came into to blast you out of bed.
     Then as we got older, we began to hear the rumors. Hey, your sister's friend Susan is dating the cousin of the Superintendent's niece, and she heard that they already made the decision to close schools tomorrow.  
     Those predictions were rarely correct.
     Still... in those days... there was nothing better than a snow day.
     For an adult, the day is just one big pain in the rear.
     Unless there is so much snow that everything is closed, you have to go to work. The exception, of course, is the adult government worker. In fact, the adult government workers have it better than the kids because they don't have any deadlines in the first place. I wish I were a government worker.
     Here is a little-known secret: I worked for the federal government for three days.
     I was attending law school in the evenings and needed to make some money, so I filled out an application. Without any interview, I somehow got hired to work at the Department of the Treasury's Greenbelt field office. This was perfect because it was only twenty minutes from home, and I did not have to actually venture into D.C.
     I started work with five other new employees, and we were assigned to a young woman for training. One of our duties was to process new orders for coins offered to collectors. This was fairly simple as the main skill requirement was having a firm grasp of the alphabet. I finished first in our group and was sitting waiting for the others to catch up. As I sat and waited, and waited and waited, our trainer was skeptical. Apparently, I was a little too fast for her and she was sure that I had somehow misunderstood my task.
     After a review of my work, I graded out at 100%.
     I would like to report that there were other duties, but alphabetizing was all we did for the first day. I spent most of that day waiting for the rest of the group to finish and listening to our fearless leader give her critique of the previous night's Starsky and Hutch episode.
     What a realistic portrayal of police work. God I love that Huggy Bear!
     At the end of the day, I was advised that there would be more of this mind numbing work for day two... so rest up and be ready. I had nightmares that Starsky and Hutch were going to jumble up the  order of the alphabet. Fortunately, they did not, so I woke up on day two with a plan. I brought all of my law books, figuring that I could alphabetize my orders and then read as my co-workers caught up.
     This was a great plan except that security informed me that I was not allowed to bring any books or my backpack onto the work floor for fear that I would smuggle stuff out of the office. This was a bummer because not only did I want to study, I also intended to sneak coin collectors' orders out of Greenbelt in a diabolical effort to shut down the government. Mwaha ha ha! (if you could see me now, I am twisting my mustache and laughing a really loud fake laugh... Mwaha ha ha ha!).
     Day three, I arrived at work and walked right into my boss's office and quit! Quite a resume builder if I say so myself.
     The funny thing was, I remember exactly what she said when I told her I was quitting... Wow, that is disappointing. We have been watching you over the past two days, and we thought you would have been a supervisor in no time.
     Having just quit, I had no problem asking... Why, because I know my alphabet? 
     Every day that the federal government is code red, I wish that I had never quit that job.
     Then again, if I were home, I'd probably have to spend the day helping the boys with their schoolwork.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Funny Guy Friday... So far, so good with the Rock Star...

     Funny Guy Friday is written by my husband, Mark. So, I married a funny guy...
     So... it has been about three months with the new dog, and things are going just swimmingly.
     Just to bring everyone up to speed, Cheryl had said no, no, no, no, no... never! She was a one-woman wrecking-ball of my children's hopes and dreams. Okay, that's a bit of an exaggeration, but she was the only thing standing between them and a dog.
     Then my nephew found a dog, and in a single moment of weakness she allowed the poor lost thing into the house for a weekend "test drive."
     Of course, he's still with us.
     He's been neutered, so there is a little less of him with us now than when he first arrived, but it was for his own good. At least, I keep telling myself that it was for his own good.
     Rocky is now part of the family, and we all have our little Rocky-related routines.
     Matthew and I, mainly, walk him, and as part of our walks... we get to clean up after him. And by clean up after him, I mean exactly what you think I mean.
     As part of my duties, or doo-doo doodies, if you will, I puppy-talk like an idiot. For example...
     Is Rockhead my good pooper boy? or...
     Are you a pooper boy today, Rock Star? or...
     You're a poopie, poopie, pooper, Mr. Rock and Roll.
     He went twice on the same walk last week (a double doodie), and this qualified as a big event in my life... my poor, sad, pathetic life.
     Gracie is in charge of treats.
     She wants Rocky to like her so much that she gives him a treat every time she sees him... then she complains because he is getting too fat.
     Noah is the worrier.
     I think Noah is very cognizant of how Rocky came into our lives: he ran away from his real family!! Mistakenly, Cheryl thinks that Rocky is sooo happy with his new home that he would never think of running away. This, despite all the evidence to the contrary. Rocky, like Hussein Bolt, is always looking to run.
     Cheryl doesn't help Noah out very much with his worrying. In fact, more often than not, she is the reason he worries. The other day, she left the front door open, and when Noah complained that Rocky was going to run, she told him, If he runs, he runs, I have to live my life!
     Funny thing is, we lived our life behind closed doors for many years before Rocky entered our home. Now, all of the sudden, Cheryl needs to feel the rush of the wind on her face while standing in our foyer... and by doing so, she tortures our youngest child with her newfound relationship with nature.
     Which brings me to Cheryl.
     She loves Rocky more than everyone else in the family.
     To be clear... I don't mean that she loves Rocky more than I love Rocky... or more than Noah, Matthew or Grace loves Rocky... although she does. I mean that she loves Rocky more than she loves me... or Noah... or Matthew... or Grace.
     She snuggles with him. She sweet-talks him. She feeds him. And she trains him. She used to do all that stuff with me. Now I get nothing but the training part! However, I must admit that getting a treat every time I hang up one of my suits is quite an enticing reward.
     I may be mistaken, but I could swear that I saw Cheryl lick Rocky's face the other morning.
     No dogs ever, she said. Uh-huh.
     We often wonder what Rocky's life was like before he came into our home.
     Cheryl has created several scenarios that are, in my humble opinion, delusional.
     For example, Rocky reacts to sirens... like thousands of other dogs... so Cheryl thinks he was a fire dog. Or Rocky responds to whistles... like thousands of other dogs... so Cheryl thinks that he was a trained hunter. I hate to break the news to Cheryl but he chases every squirrel he sees. Not sure that would work real well out in the woods... where the squirrels tend to congregate.
     We often ask Rocky if he misses his old home.
     We know he can't answer (at least most of us know he can't answer; Cheryl still holds a verbal response out as a possibility), but if he could talk, I think that he might tell us... I do like my new home... I just wish that I could have kept all of my body parts... if you know what I mean!       
     Hey Rocky... In the off-chance that you are as brilliant as Cheryl thinks you are... and your previous owners taught you how to read... that neutering thing was Cheryl's idea, not mine.
     I had said no, no, no, no, no... never!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Funny Guy Friday... Do you swear to tell the truth...

     One of the most effective ways to get to the bottom of any argument between two (sometimes all three) of our kids is to have a trial... right there in the middle of the kitchen.
     These trials typically occur when the kids give completely different accounts of the same exact event... all at the exact same time. After about a minute of that noise, I will demand... Swear them in... Let's have a trial!
     Noah loves to have trials.
     One Sunday, after spending an hour in playgroup, he got in the car and told me that he was mean to another little boy. I told him that was not very nice, and next time he sees the kid, he should apologize. Noah said that he would but he wanted to have a trial.
     But you just confessed to the crime... there is no need for a trial... I found you guilty! 
     Oh, but I really want to have a trial!
     You were the only witness, and you admitted that you did it, so no trial... you are guilty! I will decide what your sentence will be!
     Then forget it, I wasn't really mean to anyone... I just wanted to have a trial!  
     Never too young to commit perjury.
     Just before Christmas, the boys were scheduled to take part in their very first piano recital.
     On the way home from shopping one day, Cheryl and I discussed the event details. I have never been to a piano recital, so I asked my lovely bride how long the recital would last. Well... you would have thought that I had committed the crime of the century.
     I don't believe you! she started. They have been working hard, so you can sit and listen and not complain about it.
     Wow... somebody woke up on the wrong side of the bed.
     Okay... full disclosure... I actually asked: How long will this fiasco last? 
     It appears that the word fiasco seemed to have caused the problem.
     Four hours... it will last four hours! Do you have someplace else to be?
     I did... but I knew better than to answer what I had perceived to be a rhetorical question. Besides, I thought she might be bluffing about the whole four hour thing. I took a different approach.
     How many kids will be playing? 
     Ten kids. And each will play two songs!
     Now we were getting some clarification.
     I did the math in my head. Ten kids... two songs each... each song about two to three minutes long... we were talking hour... hour and a half tops.
     I then was thinking about making what I thought was a very valid point.
     I had sat and listened to our boys practice their two songs for about two months. Usually, they sit down and announce they are going to play the two songs that they will play at the recital... and then they play the two songs.
     Over and over and over again.
     I have heard them numerous times. I have heard them so often that I can tell you the exact moment that they are going to mess up.
     So, I ask you... why did I have to go and listen to them at some crowded coffee house in Annapolis when I could just do what I had been doing for two months now... grab a beer, and sit in the comfort of my spacious living room while they play their two stupid songs.
     I did not see any upside to making that point, but I could not let my wife's previous snappy response go without a response!
     As innocently as I could, I asked: Why couldn't you just tell me how long it was going to be instead of scaring me with the four hour threat/estimate? 
     You are unbelievable. 
     I have been married to Cheryl for more than twenty years, and I could tell that she did not mean "unbelievable" in a good way.
     No bother... I was just happy that the recital was not going to take up half of my day!
     When we got home from shopping, with Cheryl within ear shot, I recounted my version of the conversation to Grace, prompting Cheryl to blurt out... Swear him in... Let's have a trial! 
    You can't put me on trial... it doesn't work that way. I am the judge!
    Cheryl was not moved... Grace, you're my first witness! Noah you can be the judge!
    This was a total breach in legal protocol, and I was sure that Noah would never agree to preside over this travesty of justice.
     I was wrong. Noah was more than happy to jump in and sit in judgment of dear old dad!
     Just remember, Judge Noah, you are going to want a car some day... and I love you more than Mommy does!
     A good lawyer knows the law... a great lawyer knows what makes the judge tick!   
     As an experienced trial attorney, I was not afraid of Grace's testimony, as she was not even present during the whole exchange. What relevant information could she possibly have?
     I was walking... free and clear, baby!
     Cheryl began... Gracie, what does Dad mean when he uses the word "fiasco?"
     Objection! Calls for speculation on the part of the witness.
     Uh oh.
     Gracie's eyes opened wide, and a big fat smile crossed her face when she realized Cheryl's strategy... and her own opportunity to bury her poor old dad!
     Grace couldn't get it out fast enough... He always uses the word "fiasco" whenever he doesn't want to do something... like a dentist appointment... or a church function on a weekday... or going to Grammy's house! 
     I renew my objection... besides I like going to the dentist... or to a church function on a weekday! 
     Noah couldn't resist: Overruled... you are guilty, Dad! And Mom says you are bordering on contempt for that crack about going to Grammy's.
     How can you find me guilty when I have not even testified yet? 
     No need for your testimony... things can only get worse for you!
     Well... you should know that you ain't getting a car!
     At this point, Matthew walked by, so I decided to drag him into the fray.
     Matthew, don't I always use the term "fiasco" for every event, not just the stuff I don't want to go to.
     A perfectly good leading question guiding my young star witness to the obvious answer.
     No, you just say it for the stuff you don't want to do! 
     Star witness my rear end. Traitor! No car for him either!
     Noah found me guilty... and my sentence? I had to attend the piano recital!
     Cheryl had asked one lousy question to a witness that was not even present at the scene of the crime and she won the case.  It was disheartening!
     Fortunately, I was able to forget all my troubles at the piano recital, and I am happy to report that I was all wrong about that recital. Ten kids playing two songs each... hour and fifteen minutes. The boys did wonderfully, and I had a great time.
     More importantly, I learned a valuable lesson about word choices.
     As we left the recital, Cheryl mentioned that we were going over to her parents' house the next Thursday.
     Really? Great. What time does that fiasco start?
     I quickly suggested the boys could bring their music with them!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Funny Guy Friday... Road trips on the Bridge...

     Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my husband Mark. So, I married a funny guy...
     About five years ago, Cheryl and I decided that skiing was going to be our "family thing." At the end of every year, we like to take a couple of days the week after Christmas to hit the slopes. I remember the first time we went skiing, I was exhausted after the first twenty minutes.
     First, I had to carry all the skis up onto the mountain... and then I had to get Matthew's boots on with his bindings good and tight. Once Matthew was all set, I had to get Grace's boots on and her bindings good and tight. And then, and only then, did I have the pleasure to get Cheryl's boots on and her "laces" good and tight (she calls them laces, and I don't have the heart to tell her they are not laces... she is so darn cute).
     As the kids have gotten older, and Noah has joined the fun, my duties have changed a bit. I still have to get the skis up onto the mountain before getting Noah's boots on and his bindings good and tight. Then I get Matthew's boots on with his bindings good and tight. Then I get Grace's boots on with her bindings good and tight. And then, and only then, do I get the pleasure of dealing with Cheryl's laces.
     I liken it to a promotion with additional responsibilities... but no pay raise.
     It can be ten degrees outside and I am sweating before I ever get my skis on.
     Speaking of the weather, when I was a kid, I would ski in a pair of jeans, a wool cap, a pair of wool mittens, a wind breaker, and because it was cold... two pair of white socks.
     At the end of the day, my pants were so frozen that they could stand by themselves. Of course, they were the only pants that I bothered to bring with me, so I had to enjoy the icy cold for the three hour ride home.
     What was my mother thinking? I thought she loved me. Maybe not!
     I have struggled all my life with women who say they love me but in reality... do not!
     I digress...
     My kids wear ski masks, ski gloves, ski pants, ski jackets, ski goggles, scarves and helmets. In addition, they use hand warmers and foot warmers. They look like skiing ninjas! Cheryl has so much gear from head to toe that you can't even tell whether she is male or female.
     But all of that is not enough for my girl, Cheryl. She wants hand warmers shaped like a mittens so she can slide her hands into the hand warmers and then slide them into her real mittens. She also is not above using a stray hand warmer as a bun warmer... if you know what I mean!
     This year, since Gracie was in Houston, it was just Cheryl and the boys. Although Matthew and I could have spun off and done some more difficult runs, we decided to all stick together. This was a good decision because we had a great time.
     Our first day was spent skiing in the rain. The good news was that we were the only ones on the mountain, so we got in as many runs as we liked. The bad news was... WE WERE SKIING IN THE RAIN!!!
     We only lasted about six or seven runs.
     Day two was better weather, so we spent the day on the mountain before heading home.
     As much fun as we had skiing, we had just as much fun on the drive home.
     The boys drew pictures and occasionally commented on our songs while Cheryl and I listened to the radio. Sirius XM has a station called The Bridge. I think they call it The Bridge because they play so many sad sappy love songs that after listening for thirty minutes you feel like you want to want to jump off a bridge.
     If The Bridge had a Mount Rushmore, it would include James Taylor, Cat Stevens, Elton John and Billy Joel. But add Jim Croce, Carole King, and Rod Stewart to the mix and you're beginning to get the picture. Oh, and don't forget Bread and America... perhaps the two saddest bands in the history of music.
     Of course, Cheryl loves The Bridge.
     I hate The Bridge.
     Not because I hate the Rushmore singers, in fact, I like them all. I just hate them on The Bridge. For God's sake, could they ever play one upbeat song? Ever? Just one!
     I will say that each song I heard brought back a memory. A bad memory, but a memory just the same.
     For instance, I am going to let everyone in on a little known secret. Back in high school, I played my sister's Bread album whenever I could convince a girl I liked to come over to my parent's house. I chuckle at the notion that playing Lost Without Your Love and Baby I'm a Want You would ever land me a second date.
     Or, did you know that I know every Cat Stevens song on the album Tea for the Tillerman. 
     My brother had that album, and I had to listen to it for hours at a time. Hours and hours! By the way, I think I found my Hard Headed Woman... Headed Woman!
     Cheryl's musical memories were all good, of course: a song her mom sang back in the day... or a reminder of beach week with her friends... or driving through the Hollywood hills... teen club... or last but not least... the infamous dances at the Knights of Columbus. Lots of these songs reminded her of dances at the Knights of Columbus.  
     I went to those dances and don't recall Janis Ian's Seventeen ever being a big show stopper.  Of course, I don't recall Cheryl being at those dances either. Perhaps had I paid a little more attention, I wouldn't have been stuck trying to impress chicks with Bread songs.
     Once the boys grew tired of drawing, they joined in our musical trip down memory lane. At one point, Matthew asked with surprise, How do you know the words to this song? 
     Cheryl and I both blurted out, We lived in the 70s! 
     Not you guys. Noah. He is singing along! 
     I have no idea how Noah could have known the words to these songs, but I am pretty sure he was not at the Knights of Columbus dances.
     We laughed, we sang, and we remembered old times the whole ride home.
     Our ski trip was a great way to end what has been a great year.
     We are thankful for the many blessings that God has given us and for the courage and the grace He gives us to handle whatever troubles may come our way. I wouldn't change a thing.
     I have three great kids and a wife that I love more than anyone could imagine. And the beautiful thing is... I know she feels the exact same way about me.
     How can I be so sure?
     Well, it turns out, I found her diary underneath a tree and started reading about me. The words she'd written took me by surprise, you'd never read them in her eyes. She said that she had found the love she'd waited for. When confronted with her writing there, she simply pretended not to care. I passed it off as just in keeping with her total disconcerting air.
     What can I say? She loves me! As long as I've got that going for me, I can go confidently into 2014 with a girl that thinks the world of me. Perhaps I should stop being so insecure about the women in my life.
     I wish you and your family a very happy new year!
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