Monday, May 31, 2010

Journal Bits

yellow flower


I’d like to say that this has been a relaxing and enjoyable three day weekend, but it hasn't.  I will spare the details but it has been very depressing and difficult to function for very long with succumbing to the sadness.

I am however going to do a few journal bits form the past, since I’ve neglected to do this for a while.

    • MAY 26 – If my mind were a box, what would the corners be like? What would be in the corners? I think my mind might be a bit like my desk at work. I see the corners as a place things might gravitate to. Important things that are looking for a place to be found
    • MAY 28 – How do you go about claiming a gut level feeling or experience that is clumsy in translation?  
    • MAY 30 - “… it has been hard to write-“
    • MAY 30 - frailty of trust's small black eyes / cut to the heart of the matter
    • MAY 30 – J. D. McClatchy  from The Poets Notebook Pg 155   “On the overemphasis of clarity in writing: A. J. Liebling  said the only way to make clear pea soup is to leave out the peas.”


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Live from the Ocean Floor: New Oil Leak Widget Features 'Spillcam' | The Rundown News Blog | PBS NewsHour | PBS

Live from the Ocean Floor: New Oil Leak Widget Features 'Spillcam' The Rundown News Blog PBS NewsHour PBS:

Click Here to visualize the size of the PB oil spill in the context of your hometown

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Unconscious Mutterings Week 383

You say, I think…

  • Fresh air :: NPR
  • Bodyguard :: Brute
  • Wedding :: Planner
  • Remind :: Elephant
  • Wicked :: Step mother
  • Crawling :: Ants
  • Gasoline :: Alley
  • Anyone :: Home
  • Dancing :: Dirty
  • Wall :: Facebook


Get your own list here


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Saturday, May 29, 2010

A Flowering Tribute To Emily Dickinson : NPR


The poet Emily Dickinson lived a reclusive life at her family's home in Amherst, Mass., but while she rarely went out into society, she did spend a lot of time outdoors. Dickinson loved nature and was an avid gardener, and now an exhibition at the New York Botanical Garden called Emily Dickinson's Garden: The Poetry of Flowers is putting on display a side of the poet that is little known.

Gardening was a huge part of Dickinson's life and her art. "I was always attached to mud," she once wrote, and a sophisticated understanding of plants and flowers is reflected in her poetry. According to Gregory Long, the president and CEO of the New York Botanical Garden, Dickinson used to tuck little poems into bouquets of flowers that she gave to her neighbors.

{for full NPR story click below}

A Flowering Tribute To Emily Dickinson : NPR


Emily Dickinson Video Game | WBUR


Who would have thought it? 


Emily Dickinson Video Game | WBUR


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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Confession Tuesday

It looks really nice outside and given the amount of rain we’ve had recently that’s a good sign. I should head off to the confessional with lots of uplifting tings on my mind but I fear this is not so. Given my mood today, you might want to tiptoe softly to join me in the confessional.

Dear reader, yes it’s Tuesday again and so what! That’s kind of how I’m feeling today. I’m waiting to hear from my doctor’s office, and waiting, and waiting, and if you can’t tell I’m really not a very patient confessor today.
 I called my doctor’s office on Friday and left a message about some blood work needed following a test that they scheduled. They knew full well that I would have to go off a medication that is rather important and that I would need a drug screen before I could start it up again. I needed to be off the medication for 48 hours after the test and then resume after a new blood screen cleared me to start again. I’m still waiting for the ok some 130+ hours later.
 I confess that I also have a colossal headache right now. I’m tired and grumpy as well. Did I mention I’m not in a very good mood?

For some reason I’ve been pretty emotional this week. I confess that I’ve been feeling a little nostalgic about a few things this past week. Nostalgic for music, especially the 1960’s and 1980’s tunes. Don’t ask me why those two decades and not the seventies too.

I confess this nostalgia carries over to other things as well. Like when the kids were younger. For that matter, when we all were younger as well.
I talked to my wife earlier and she said they her office was having lunch from Spin Pizza (including Gelato) and I confess to being hungry and jealous at the same time.
 Lastly, I confess that my lunch hour is about over so I am through with my confession.
 Till next week~

Sunday, May 23, 2010

From my journaling today...

"I cannot expect to grow as a  writer
 staying in areas of comfort.

One does not explore in comfort,
one soaks in it like a leasurly bath."

Waffle Time

Some of you may have noticed the delicious looking waffle on the right sidebar and I've been meaning to comment on it for weeks now. Not sure how long I'll leave it up, things are getting a wee-bit busy on the blog, but it's a button for the sight The Chocolate Chip Waffle.  This is a blog written by the very multi-talented writer Terresa Wellborn.

What I most like about her blog is the photo images and the word images her writing paints. Her poetry is refreshing, earthy, and uplifting. It's no wonder is has over 800 followers between networked blogs and google follow. With those numbers, there is a good chance you've already discovered her blog, but if not, what are you waiting for

Now if I just had some waffles....

Unconscious Mutterings - week 382

You say... I think:

  • 1.Cream :: corn
  • 2.Be with you :: I wanna be
  • 3.Pancakes ::  I hop
  • 4.Believe ::  make
  • 5.45 :: less than 6
  • 6.Eat :: out
  • 7.Background :: check
  • 8.Pane :: window
  • 9.Aim :: messaging
  • 10.Collapse :: dead tired
Get your own list here


I have so not blogged much in the past couple of weeks and I'm going to catch up today, so look out!

For starters, I want to thank Suzanne Frischkorn for adding a new and amusing word to my vocabulary. Suzanne linked today to a blog post at Tough Love From Tayari and Tayari linked Urban Dictionary and the word is penvy.  Definition number one is my favorite...   the wave of nausea that hits you when you read about forthcoming books by people you went to college or even once slept with that came out to great acclaim while you haven’t written anything in….ever. Coined in a contest at The Old Hag and picked up with days by the online writing community.

While perusing the trades for new releases to stock her bookstore, Janine was overcome with penvy at the sight of her ex-boyfriend's picture next to what would probably be his second bestseller.
I noticed that Beth Ann Fennelly (extraordinary poet) will be one of several  instructors at the Sixth Annual Clarksville Writers’ Conference ...  July 28 – 31, 2010  Her presentation is titled “4 Ways Writers Can Use Sound to Make Meaning."  That sounds so fascinating.  I wish I knew someone going and taking notes, or better still, going myself.


Saturday, May 22, 2010

A Few Thought Not on Poetry

At the left is a photograph of just a small portion of what the recent oil spill in the Gulf region is like.  It's evidence of a much larger - might I venture catastrophic accident from an off shore drilling site. 

I'll make my case for catastrophic on this basis.  We know factually that the Exxon Valdez oil spill in spring of 1989 was small potatoes compared to the current Gulf spill. Some 20 years later The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council continues to monitor the impact and reports that some areas remain as toxic to wildlife as they did just after the spill.  By size comparison, Exxon's spill was surpassed in size by the BP Gulf spill by the end of it's first week and it remains an active spill in spite of all efforts to control it and begin the cleanup. 

I've heard criticism in the past week or so that the government response is not unlike that of the government's response to Katrina.  I'm not sure I believe that is a fair comparison because we knew how to lift people from house tops. We know how to distribute food and water. To mobilize and move people. You see, no one seems knowledgeable about how to stop this spill for certain.

One might expect that if government is going to authorize and regulate off-shore drilling, they would first have a clear idea what to do in such cases. That also implies that the industry itself knows and convinces the government that there are methods to deal effectively with accidents such as this. We know now that even BP is using the trial and error method of abating the spill. I will assume that other industry giants are no more knowledgeable or they would be sharing their knowledge, after all the outcome of this spill cleanup will impact the future drill prospects for them. There should be no industry secrets here.

Yes, I believe the government is ill repaired for regulating the oil industry, but it is also clear they require regulation. Such a problem is however not simply a problem of the Obama Administration, but clearly a systemic problem that spans many administrations and places far to much reliance on the oil companies to "do the right thing."

The damage to the economic, ecological, and health of the Gulf Coast states is immeasurable. Not for the short term but for decades maybe centuries. No plan for dealing with such accidents is no different from licensing nuclear power plants with no thought given to how you decommission one or what you do in the case of an accident.

It was not that long ago people seemed to think it was somehow Unamerican to not be a part of the "Drill Baby Drill" crowd.  How is it that being stewards of our environment is unpatriotic?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Confession Tuesday on Wednesday

I confess I’m late! Hurry with me, I must get to the confessional.

Yes reader, I’m a day late with my confession, but I will argue with good reason.

My daughter has been in town and we did some things together yesterday which kept me away from the computer until late last night. So I confess that I did miss the mark on Tuesday but ask for special dispensation as I was doing a fatherly thing.

I have to confess that before we saw my daughter off this morning I was a bit teary eyed, though I kept myself together in here presence. I have the capacity to get like that at times. When my grandmother was alive, and lived out of the area, I would get misty eyed every time we left her place to return home. I could keep it together till we got on the road and then it would just hit me. ~0~

While Meghan was here, we went to see the exhibit Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race that is currently in Kansas City at our National Archives. The exhibit is a part of the United State Holocaust Memorial Museum and Meghan visited the Museum some years ago in Washington D.C. and has always raved about what a magnificent exhibit they have. Hence when I learned this was here through sometime in June we made plans to see it during her stay.

The exhibit was not quite what I expected but it was time well spent. I of course was aware of the concept of the “master race” that was a part of Hitler’s purge of Jews but I must confess I was not really aware of the extent to which this view was prevalent within parts of German society prior to Hitler assuming control. Equally of surprise to me was that there were societies even in this country that were subscribing to the ideology of eugenics or “good birth" (eradicating those deemed undesirable so as not to allow them to be part of the gene pool).

I was amazed at how much traction this ideology had gained in the public and how much widespread support it had within scientific communities. When I see how easy it is for individuals who collectively espouse such shallow views as say the “birthers” today to embrace and propagate their views and I compare that to the wide level of acceptance eugenics enjoyed by intellectuals and scientists, I confess that it sends shivers up my spine. Such blind faith in an ideology with no consideration of the ethics involved is scary.

I did not mean for my Tuesday Confession on Wednesday to be such a downer, but as the saying goes, it is what it is.

Thanks for listening.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Tonight I was thinking...

Dreams are connected circuits—

a marriage of fantasy and authenticity;

of fright and quietude.

Auld Lang Syne

On a lesser day
I’d be working with the masses
and you would not be privy
to what I am saying—
but a lesser day this is not.
Today I hopped a ride
over town and joined you
and others and was touched
by your laughter and smile.
The cloudy sky had broke wide
open by the time we parted.
As I dove into the east
I left behind the topaz ball
slowly descending
like the Times Square ball
on New Year’s eve and I thought
how I celebrate you each time
we are together—
and how departing is like
saying goodbye to the passing year.

Clever Fake BP T-Shirt: "We're bringing oil to American shores."

Oh true.  This shirt is available from Dispair Wear

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Unconscious Mutterings - Week 381

You say.... I think:

  • 1.Labor ::  pool
  • 2.Sweater ::  cardagan
  • 3.Five minutes ::  drill
  • 4.Treatment ::  center
  • 5.Eyebrows ::  dark
  • 6.Awake :: laying
  • 7.Salmon ::  spawning
  • 8.Red ::  snapper
  • 9.Hospital ::  medical
  • 10.Midwife ::  delivery
get your own list here

Friday, May 14, 2010

Poetry in the News

Gregory Cowles blogs in the NY Times on Poetry

 Does Poetry Matter?

Sometimes the planets align and you start seeing the same idea discussed by different people everywhere you look, as if your brain had stumbled late at night across a niche cable station broadcast by the universe itself. For me lately the show has been all about the relevance of poetry, as in: Is poetry relevant? Even among poets there seems to be a nervous consensus that it’s not.

I'm glad the poetry sidewalk public works venture is still thriving in St. Paul, Minnesota 
St. Paul Public Works officials Wednesday announced the winners of the 2010 Sidewalk Poetry Contest. The city annually replaces approximately 10 miles of sidewalk as part of its regular maintenance program. To date, 26 different poems have been stamped into 260 locations around the city


Ask the Experts: Carmen Gillespie on poetry

This week, we asked Professor of English Carmen Gillespie to talk about the importance of poetry in our daily lives. Essence recently named Gillespie one of its "Forty Favorite Poets" in honor of the magazine's 40th anniversary. Gillespie was recognized for her poem, "Lining the Rails," about her maternal family.


Just the Fact, Ma'am: The Statistics of a Manuscript shared by the poet author

The first poem mentions crumb cake and the penultimate poem mentions crumb cake. I cannot tell you the last lines in the collection as that will hopefully be a gift to you when/if you read it, but I can tell you the first and last poems mention "passion" (not the Mel Gibson movie) and have references to Alice in Wonderland in a couple ways along with Emily Dickinson if you're paying attention. ;-)

Thursday, May 13, 2010


The knots are tight
laced lies that hug
her waist

she sees them
for what she wants
to make of them

one day blunders
another she blames
on her genes

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Rainy Day

The rain slipped past us

like a line cutter

and puddles glare upward

frown and all

It was a day that stuck me

in the eye

with the tact of Donald Trump

and plagiarized my distaste

Across the Walkway

Thoughts are the shadows of our feelings - always darker, emptier and simpler.  ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Unconscious Mutterings - week 380

You say, I think:

  • 1.Rock n Roll :: Hall of Fame
  • 2.Be with you :: together
  • 3.Richard :: Simmons
  • 4.Hair ::  piece
  • 5.Police :: Cop
  • 6.Experience :: job
  • 7.Father figure :: Cosby
  • 8.Nice ::  day
  • 9.Switch :: light
  • 10.Appearance :: guest
Get your own list here

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Confession Tuesday - White Fudge Almond Divinity Edition

Oh Dear…Another Tuesday has arrived and time to head to the Confessional… so let’s get started.

Dear Reader I believe there must be another commandment that was somehow lost from the original stone tablets. The 11th commandment I'm pretty sure must have instructed us not to covet all of the Wells’ Blue Bunny White Fudge Almond Divinity Ice Cream. I must confess that I am very guilty of this 11th commandment. I not only covet all of it that comes into our household, but I want all of it that is produced. I want it… I want it… I WANT IT! I will confess this is a seriously sinful gluttonous want. (Unless this was not already obvious).

While we are talking about excesses… this month I managed to win six poetry books from the Poetry Month Book Give-a-way. I confess I feel a little guilty about this, like I should not have been so lucky… but they are poetry books. I mean can anyone get too many poetry books? Really?

This must be the week of excesses. Thanks for listening… may all your excesses this week be good ones.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Overdue Journal Bits


  I’m a little overdue for a for a posting of journal bits so here goes. The following are a sampling of my recent journal writings.

I keep a common journal. It includes journaling about life, writing drafts, quotes I find that strike my fancy. And occasionally one of my completed poems after many rewrites

May 8 – [observation]  While labels are necessary to the existence of language, they also have the potential to be a detriment to mankind.

May 6 - [observation] Last nights Mary Oliver reading got me to thinking about my place in the family of things.

May 5 – the room swings / an awkward stroll through the park / the windows dance on the walls

the bed is a boat afloat / that I am at a loss to reach

May 3 – I was not good to writing over the weekend. I neglected it and did not especially realize it until today.

April 29 – pushed back from the walls / an echo rebuking me / when I wanted to walk away but did not

April 26 – Macaroni and cheese must be the ultimate comfort food of my generation. I think there is a poem somewhere here.


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Times for Poetry to Thrive


‘The trouble with our times is that the future is not what it used to be.'’  ~Paul Valery

When I was maybe 7 years old and thought about the future my recollection is I recall it involving space exploration. Not my personal future mind you, but in the broadest sense, the future of mankind. At that tender age, it even seemed believable. You see, as far away as the future seemed to me, there was a level of expectation involved in it.

Not all my expectations of the future seemed to be positive or exciting. At age 8 to 9 I also lived as many at the time did in fear of nuclear warheads dropping out of the sky. This fear of course had a far greater rational aspect to it at that time then my thoughts of exploring space and even visiting the moon. And this latter threat was at that time as much about the present even more that the future. As the Cuban Missile crisis ended, the threat of future nuclear war did not. It remains a possibility today and in fact seems even more likely from a rogue entity  then any foreign nation.

There are so many aspects of changes in society today that demonstrate the remarkable rate of new advances in medicine and technology that make thinking about future advances a mind spinning exercise. This gives credence to Paul Valery’s quote… the future is just not what it used to be.

It was not all that long ago that Sarah Palin was being introduced to a crowded convention hall in Denver, Colorado and the rest of the nation as the Republican Vice Presidential Candidate.  That night she brought the people to their feet with signs and chants of “Drill-Baby-Drill,” a slogan that would spill over into rallies around the country that lasted well past the election and continued until recently and now we only shake our heads over a different spill over into the gulf region that is slowly trying to regain some measure of what it was before hurricane Katrina blighted the region.

We are more interwoven into the economic fabric of the rest of the world that things can happen overnight on the other side of the globe and we find ourselves dramatically impacted by it.  You are no doubt wondering where if anyplace I am going with all this. If you were expecting solutions, I am sorry, I have none to offer. These  are painful times for many and sadly for many, they are paying the price of a greedy few. I could tell you that I believe I see some positive signs by our government, but as the Old Breton fisherman’s prayer that John F. Kennedy liked to quote goes, "Oh God, Thy sea is so great and my boat is so small." I do however believe that for the rest of us, these are the times best made for poetry. Times when we need things to bind us together. Things we hold in common like language.

It was at the Mary Oliver reading this past week that this remarkable lady who is not a world leader, not a legislator, not a religious figure, not even an editorialist, but rather a simple poet; quite likely unknowingly instilled a degree of peace and spirituality upon us that I’m sure made that short period of time together worth much more than any of us might have imagined in advance.

I hope throughout this year already filled with much uncertainty, poets will write and readers will read and we will all be blessed by poems that touch that place where our hearts and minds meet.

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Saturday, May 08, 2010

What I'm Reading...

Presently I have two new poetry books on my reading stack. They are Circle by Victoria Chang  and Thirst by Mary Oliver.   I addition, I have several other poetry books that are coming my way so I will be busy with new material for a few weeks.

I've previously read Salvinia Molesta by Chang and I'm excited to be reading Circle . When I've finished I'll post my review of it.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Oliver Reading Wednesday Night

Wednesday evening I drove to Lawerence, Kansas after work to hear Mary Oliver read at the Leid Center for Preforming Arts. I suppose my only dissapointment of the evening was that I was unable to use the camera on my new Blackberry as it was announced that Ms Oliver had requested no photos be taken. Therefore, I cannot take credit for the photo at the left.

Leid Hall is a marvalous venue for arts. Modern, accustically sound, physically comfortable in seating. I have no idea for certain what the attendence was but it was easily 400 or more.

This was my first live contact with Mary Oliver and I came away with a few thoughts about who she is and how that informs her work.  She appears to me not at all a very complex person. She did not impress me as someone who carries the real her inside a fake facide but rather is transparent.  I think you pretty much get the genuine Mary Oliver right away.
I would describe her in these words:
  • humble
  • peaceful
  • spiritual though not perhaps not religiously traditional
  • a naturalist
  • accessible (a word that causes me to cringe)
  • private
Much of what Mary Oliver read to us was captivating in that she either prefaced each poem with a related story or the poem itself would tell a story. Not necessaraly with some deep moral or philosophical meaning, as was with the case of the poems she read about her dog Percy, but there were others in which the poems would raise questions... not necessarly answered.  So her poetry  tended to be bathed in subtle humor or invite questions... on or the other.

There was at the center of this reading, a person at profound peace with herself. So much so that I could not help but feel the presence of peace. I enjoyed the reading atmosphere which was quite different from what I normally attend. I picked up a copy of her book Thurst.  There were newer ones that looked especially interesting but this book had some poems that I felt my wife might enjoy as well. There is always hope. ;)

After I've finished it I will review it here.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Just a Thought...

I want to do to you what spring does with the cherry trees.  ~ Pablo Neruda

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Confession Tuesday

Tuesday is here… time for me to unburden myself with all the stuff I need to confess, except I’m not especially feeling like a pack mule today so I’m not sure where this is leading. Anyway, to the confessional…

Dear reader…

I do have to confess that I have not really written this weekend or even last night. I’ve had only a few sentences of jottings in my journal, but nothing like what I am accustomed to. The weekend was busy though not especially in a productive sort of way. The lack of creativity has left my brain feeling a little numb on one side. I will have to nourish it better these next few days.

Last night as I pulled into the drive I saw two doves in our walkway between the drive and steps. I love to watch doves. I don’t recall seeing any in our neighborhood since we moved out here (about 10 years ago) but my daughter and I used to watch them from out door when we lived over in the city. It also seemed odd that they were out and about at 6 p.m. – we always used to see them in the early morning. I confess that as I attempted to capture them on my Blackberry camera I was totally inept. I’m still trying to get used to the change of phones and this has resulted in accidentally dialing my mother late at night, calling my daughter and confessing that I was not really trying to reach her, being stuck trying to close down Pandora on my phone, and sending an unfinished (like three word) email to another poet.

I must also confess that I have been lax lately in blogging. Aside from last nights quick post about the Mary Oliver last night I have not posted since the 29th of April and that is a big lapse for me. Even last the Oliver post was basically a quick cut and paste of information to quickly get the world out as it suddenly hit me that it had been rescheduled and was almost here. I will try and do better.

Last night I mowed our lawn which I swear I could hear growing this past week. The Iris pictured above was in our yard and was taken with my Blackberry phone. This is not a confession – just a statement of fact. ;)

I would be remiss if I did not confess my excitement and gratitude for winning some poetry books in the Poetry Month Book Give-A-Way.

Thanks everyone for indulging me - now go have a good day!

Monday, May 03, 2010

Mary Oliver Event Rescheduled for Wednesday…



LAWRENCE – The Hall Center for the Humanities is pleased to announce that Mary Oliver’s visit has been rescheduled. Celebrated poet and winner of the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize, Mary Oliver will visit KU as part of the Hall Center for the Humanities’ 2009-2010 Humanities Lecture Series. Best known for her poetry’s lyrical connection to the natural world, Oliver will do a reading and take questions from the audience on Wednesday, May 5 at 7:30 p.m. at the Lied Center. This free event, supported by the Sosland Foundation of Kansas City, is open to the public. Kansas Public Radio is a co-sponsor.

The public will have a second opportunity to visit with the poet during “A Conversation with Mary Oliver,” which will take place at the Hall Center Conference Hall on Thursday, May 6 at 10:00 a.m. The author of 18 collections of poetry, most notably the Pulitzer Prize-winning American Primitive (1983) and New and Selected Poems, Volume One (1992), which garnered a National Book Award, Oliver is firmly established among the most accomplished of American poets. She is especially renowned for her evocative and precise imagery, which brings nature into clear focus, transforming the everyday world into a place of magic and discovery. Her most recent collections are The Truro Bear and Other Adventures (2008), new poems and beloved classics about creatures of all sorts, and Evidence (2009). Red Bird (2008) was an immediate national bestseller.Mary Oliver has received the Lannan Foundation Literary Award, the New England Booksellers Association Award for Literary Excellence, and the Poetry Society of America’s Shelley Memorial Award, among others. In 1980, her creativity and skill were recognized with a Guggenheim Fellowship. Oliver attended Ohio State University and Vassar College, then a women’s college. Over the past two decades she has taught at various colleges and universities – Case Western Reserve, Bucknell, Sweet Briar College, the University of Cincinnati and Bennington College in Vermont.

Founded in 1947, the Humanities Lecture Series is the oldest continuing series at the University of Kansas. More than 150 eminent scholars from around the world have participated in the program, including author Vladimir Nabokov, painter Thomas Hart Benton and author Aldous Huxley. Recent speakers have included Samantha Power, Michael Chabon, and T. R. Reid. Shortly after the program’s inception, a lecture by one outstanding KU faculty member was added to each year’s schedule.

For more information, please contact the Hall Center at or call (785) 864-4798.                   # # #

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