One Hundred Minus Fifteen

January 28, 2016 Leave a comment

Today marks day 100 of my weight loss journey. I was pleasantly surprised by hitting one of my goals today: 15 lbs gone, hopefully forever.

I started my journey on my 45th birthday. I had an ultimate weight goal in mind, which would take me back to my weight around the time of my first marriage. That meant I had at least 100 lbs to lose. This was not going to be easy.

In 1992, I was a fairly healthy young woman. That’s when my body turned against me. I developed a medical condition called Meniere’s Disease, which causes vertigo, tinnitus, and hearing loss. It took 14 years to finally get a definitive diagnosis. During those 14 years, I struggled with mobility, because it’s difficult to be active when your world is spinning more often than not. That lack of activity also brought about weight gain. By 1995, I’d gained about 20 lbs. Not a huge amount, but because of my body’s small frame, it made me look chubby.

In 1996, I became pregnant. Naturally, I gained weight. I ballooned another 30 lbs. I wasn’t terribly worried about it, because I knew that once I had the baby, I’d lose weight. Or so I thought. I struggled for over a year, just to lose 5 lbs. I was mortified. I’d been experiencing severe migraines at the rate of about 1 per week. In addition to the vertigo, I was laid up for 1-2 days at a time because of the migraines. The only thing I could do to control my weight was diet, because exercise was something I was rarely capable of doing.

Fast forward to 2004. I’d learned how to somewhat manage the vertigo, and was learning how to do life with migraines that were getting worse by the year. I got a part-time job at Walmart, as a cashier. I was on my feet 2-3 nights a week, walking around a lot. 3rd shift cashiers don’t just stand at the register all night. We were responsible for so much more, which meant walking for several hours, and countless miles. I never did buy a pedometer back then, but I estimate I walked at least 5 miles every night I worked. I ended up losing about 30 lbs in six months. I was ecstatic. I could do this! I could get myself healthy again. Maybe it would even help with the migraines.

Then I injured myself. I slammed a shopping cart into the back of my heel. I thought I’d just bruised it, and it would heal in a few days, and I’d be back to normal (or what passed as normal for my body) in a week. But that didn’t happen. The pain became worse every day. Each step I took was excruciating. I was missing more days than I was working. I went to the ER, where x-rays were taken of my foot. That’s when the bone spurs were discovered. The shopping cart had broken off a piece of a large bone spur, and the broken piece was “floating” around inside. The spur was under my Achilles tendon, and every time I stretched it with normal movement, the floating piece was cutting through the tendon, and rubbing against the bone. The pain was unimaginable. I was sent to a podiatrist, who said there was a surgery that could be done, but he wasn’t willing to do it at that time. I went on a Leave of Absence from work. I never returned.

By 2008, having been unemployable for at least 2 years, I had gained back all of the weight I lost, plus more. I went to another podiatrist when I started experiencing the same type of pain in my other foot. X-rays revealed another bone spur, nearly identical to the other one (minus the broken piece). He agreed that surgery was absolutely necessary. I had surgery on one foot. I was immobile for 2 months, then had to re-learn how to walk on that foot again. It took 4 years and another 25 lbs to get to the point where I could go through the same surgery on my other foot. I was ashamed by how much weight I’d gained. The 2nd surgery had to be done in the hospital instead of the outpatient unit, because I’d gained so much weight, it wasn’t safe for me to be put under anesthesia outside of the hospital.

A year after the 2nd surgery, I had to have another minor surgery on the same foot, to repair a problem. It’s been 3 years since that surgery, 8 years since the first surgery, and I’m still struggling to walk like a normal human being. There’s a good chance I will never walk normally again. I have accepted that. I have accepted that the Meniere’s Disease is permanent, and that the migraines probably are, too.

What I have never accepted was the amount of weight I’d gained over the years. All told, I gained 106 lbs between 1992 and 2015. I am determined to lose it, no matter what it takes! I can’t walk every day. I can’t ride a normal bike outside. I tried joining the YMCA in 2014 to swim, but it didn’t work out, for various reasons. I knew that diet alone wasn’t going to get the weight off. We don’t have the money for a gym membership or diet plan like Weight Watchers. I started researching ways to lose weight, with so many things stacked against me.

I found an app for my phone. MyFitnessPal. I downloaded it, learned how to use it, and committed to doing what I could. I logged everything I ate. I downloaded a second app for my phone to record my exercise. MapMyWalk. I bought a new digital scale to replace the ancient, malfunctioning analog scale we had (and discovered I was 5 lbs fatter than I thought I was!). I bought a digital food scale, and I now weigh everything I possibly can, so my calorie intake can be as accurate as possible. We found an exercise bike through a local FreeCycle group. And lastly, I bought a used FitBit Flex from a local yard sale group.

I ride my exercise bike for at least 30 minutes a day. I distract myself by playing a game on my phone, or by watching tv (usually Biggest Loser). By the time I’m done on the bike, I’m in an excruciating amount of pain. Both of my feet hurt, my back hurts, my knees and hips hurt, my butt hurts, my crotch feels like it’s on fire. But I haven’t gone one day in the past 100 days without riding that bike. And it’s paying off. I’m losing, on average, about a pound a week.

The best part is that I’m doing this on my own. I don’t have a trainer*. I don’t have a dietitian. I don’t have a gym. I don’t have much physical ability. I have many physical disabilities. But I’m doing it. BY MYSELF. And it’s hard. I won’t lie, this has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life. It’s also slow. I know it will be close to 2 years before I reach my goal weight. I still have a lot to learn. I know I will have to change many things in my diet. But I’m determined to be healthy and beautiful again.

15 Pound Badge

Earned January 27, 2016

 

* If Jillian Michaels wants to come train me, I’m more than willing to have my ass kicked by her! ;-)

 

10 Pound Badge

Earned January 6, 2016

5 Pound Badge

Earned November 18, 2015

The Tin Anniversary

September 27, 2015 2 comments

bride and groom

Today marks our 10th anniversary. According to sources, it’s the “Tin Anniversary”. Since we don’t really buy each other gifts, and I want nothing to do with the modern gift of diamond jewelry, I’m thinking I’ll just throw tin foil balls at him all day. Added bonus: it’ll give the cats something to play with.

In all seriousness, though, we’re both quite shocked that it’s been 10 years already. It barely feels like 5. Where did the time go?

We met on my birthday in 2004. Officially met. I’d seen him around work prior to that night, but really paid no attention to him at all. He was just another face in the crowd at work.

It was a horrible day for me. One of my favorite Aunts had just died that afternoon. I was in no mood to acknowledge my birthday, or spend any time at all with a smile on my face. The custom at work was for a manager to announce birthdays over the intercom. It was just about midnight, and I thought I’d dodged a bullet, because nobody seemed to remember. Then, as bad luck would have it, my immediate manager happened to check the calendar and realized she’d nearly missed announcing my “special” day. Right before break, no less, so it was fresh in everyone’s mind when I walked in the break-room with tears in my eyes. Bill was one of the first people to cheerfully wish me a happy birthday. I put on a fake smile, but couldn’t hide my tears.

Later that night, at lunch, the usual group of people sat in the break-room. Back then, smoking was allowed in there, so most of us ate our lunches and puffed away on a couple of cigarettes for 30 minutes. Some spent lunch in silence, some read a book, some slept (how, I’ll never know), but most of us sat around and chatted. I typically sat with the guys. I’ve always been more comfortable being “just one of the guys”, as opposed to chewing the fat and gossiping with the women.

Bill and 3 other guys were my lunch companions that night. They were all trying to cheer me up, but mostly they failed. One of them asked me how old I was, so I told them they had to guess. I don’t remember their guesses, only that they all came fairly close to my actual age. Then they all asked how old I thought they were. That’s when things became funny. I’m pretty sure I got most of them correct (or very close), but when it came time to guess Bill’s age, I was way, way off. Embarrassingly so. I looked him up and down, mulled it over in my head a bit, and guessed that he was at least 40, maybe 45. He was only 32. He took it pretty well, considering I’d insulted him so badly. What’s worse is that he was 2 years younger than me!

It’s here that I should explain that he was already well on his way to a halfway bald head, which prematurely aged him. I felt terrible, and I kept apologizing. He was so sweet about it, though, and kept feigning emotional injury. Naturally, the conversation turned to hair. I remember them talking about age and gray hair. I’d been graying since I was about 18, which naturally, I dyed to make sure I didn’t look like I was 50. Bill snarkily asked if the carpet matched the curtains. Nobody thought I’d understand what that meant. Of course I did (remember, me being more comfortable hanging around guys than women?)! I snapped back, “what carpet? I have hardwood floors!” The other guys were shocked, but Bill just laughed.

Needless to say, the conversation came to a screeching halt at that moment. The other guys were visibly uncomfortable with the direction the conversation had turned. Not because they were embarrassed to be guys acting like guys, but because here was this woman who could keep up with them, and they didn’t know how to handle it. Not Bill. He looked totally at ease, not just with the joking around, but with me, personally. I ribbed him a bit more, pointing to the gold band he was wearing on his left ring finger, and asked if his wife would be happy with the way the conversation was going. When he told me he wasn’t married, I was confused and a bit speechless. (those of you who know me know how rare that is)

From that day on, Bill and I shared our life stories with each other. Neither of us can really explain why, but we felt like we’d known each other forever. We’d talk during our breaks at work, and even on the phone outside of work. A little over 2 months later, I moved in with him. 9 months after that, we were married.

And 10 years later, we’re still very happily married and very much in love. And neither of us can explain how everything happened as fast as it did. We’ve weathered many storms together. We’ve carried each other through some of the worst moments in our lives. We’ve celebrated the good times, and mourned the losses. We’ve taught each other, and learned from each other. We’ve grown together. We discovered we’re individually much stronger than we gave ourselves credit for, but we both know that without the other, our strength wouldn’t be as great as it is when we’re together. We fiercely protect each other. And we’re each other’s soft place to land.

I can’t imagine a better husband. He’s truly my best friend. I can’t wait to see what the next 10 years have in store for us! I love you, Bill, with every fiber of my being. Happy Anniversary, my love.

DSCF0064

New doctor … what would you do?

January 15, 2015 3 comments

I found this doctor who says he can fix a few of my medical problems. I’ve been going to see him about once a week for a while now. He has me jumping through some hoops, though, before he’ll even start treatment.

 

I had to wear a monitoring device, so he could see what was going on with me at all times. In addition to that, I had to call him every day and update him on what my day was like. He basically wanted to know things like my emotional state, the things I was eating, exercise I was getting, etc. Even though he could see everything through the monitoring device, I still had to check in with him at least once a day.

 

After a while of doing that, I went back to him to discuss treatment. He started asking me all of these questions, like have I done any charity work, do I do good things for others, have I done anything illegal or immoral, how is my relationship with my parents, and how did I raise my kids. He was pretty much taking my life history.

 

I started to get a little uncomfortable and impatient. I asked when I could start treatment. He told me that I seemed ungrateful, and that even though he could definitely fix my problems, he wasn’t seeing enough from me, so he was having second thoughts about helping me.

 

I begged him to help, but he’s still not sure. I offered to get everyone who knows me to talk to him on my behalf, and he said he’d consider changing his mind if enough people called him, and if he started seeing some gratitude from me for all that he’s already done for me.

 

I’m really not comfortable with this. What would you do?

Elizabeth SCOTT Holston 1843-1906

October 27, 2014 Leave a comment

Elizabeth “Lizzie” SCOTT Holston
1843-1906

Elizabeth SCOTT Holston 1843-1906

DOB: 12 March 1843 [1] [8] [9] (possibly 1844 [5] [7] or 1845 [2] [3] ?)
Place of birth: most likely lower Delaware, USA [2] [3] [5] [7] [8]  (possibly Scotland, UK [4]?)
Need birth certificate or record of baptism. Also need the name of her parents.

Need to know where she was from 1843 to 1870

► 12 July 1870: She gives birth to George Holston. (Why wasn’t he listed on the census the next day? Was she married to James Holston; if so, why is she listed as ‘Domestic Servant’ and not ‘wife’?) Need George’s birth certificate to confirm date.

► 13 July 1870: She’s 25 years old (should be 27). Living in Cedar Creek Hundred, Sussex County, Ellendale, DE with James J Holston and his 4 children. Listed as a Domestic Servant. Still using her maiden name “Scott”. [2] Need marriage certificate to James to confirm date.

► 25 September 1873: She gives birth to Charles C Holston.

► 1877: She gives birth to Messa Holston. (no date, year approximate)

► 2 June 1880: Listed on the census as “Lizzie”. She’s 35 years old (should be 37). Living in Cedar Creek Hundred, Sussex County, Ellendale, DE with her husband James, their 3 children, and her step-daughter. Her occupation is listed as “keeps home”. Her birthplace is listed as Delaware, as are both of her parents. [3]

► 4 November 1880: She gives birth to Frank Holston. [4]

► 28 February 1883: She gives birth to David Stayton Holston.

Need 1890 census, or information on where she was between 1883 and 1900.

► 13 June 1900: Listed on the census as Lizzie J Holston, with a DOB of March 1844; age 56. Living in Cedar Creek Hundred, Sussex County, Milford Town, DE. Marital status is Widowed. Her birthplace is listed as Delaware; her mother’s birthplace is Delaware; her father’s birthplace is unknown. She can not read or write. She’s renting a house. She has a boarder. Her occupation is “takes washing”. She’s given birth to 9 children, 4 of which are living. [5] (We know of 5 children, who were the other 4? Could the 5 deceased children be those who died in a barn fire, as relayed by her son Frank to his daughter? [10])

► 1905: Living at 2215 Latona Street, Philadelphia, PA. Her sons Frank and David live with her. She’s listed as the widow of James J. [6]

► 13 January 1906: Living at 2145 S 16th Street, Philadelphia, PA, for 1 month and 28 days. Was sick with breast cancer for 10 years. Seen by Dr. J T Williams at Presbyterian Hospital from 15 November 1905 until her death on Saturday, 13 January 1906 @7pm. DOB is listed as 1844; age 62 (which is mathematically impossible, unless she was born in 1843 [11]). Her birthplace is listed as Delaware, as is that of both of her parents. The names of her parents are unknown. She was buried on 15 January 1906 in Milford, DE. The funeral home was David H Bowen & Son, 813 South 2nd Street, Philadelphia, PA. [7]

► Records from the funeral home somewhat confirm and somewhat contradict previous information. [8] However, it ties everything together. The information that I can read is as follows:
13 January 1906
Presbyterian Hospital
Elizabeth “Scott” Holston
Widow of James J
Sons David & Frank
62 years old; DOB 12 March 1843
Residence – Milford DE (is that where she’s from or where she’s buried?)
5-7-19 (is that measurements?)
Sealed box (assuming casket?)
Time – Tues 7:40am train (to where?); Mon 2pm at office (for what? service? viewing?)
2145 S 16th Street
(The rest I can not decipher.)

► Another document comes from the Gerberich Collection of Gravestone Inscriptions. It’s from page 306. It says that Elizabeth Holston 1843-1906 was buried at Beulah Baptist Church, Russellville, PA (Upper Oxford Twp, Chester County). It lists her as “mother”, w. of James (wife? widow?), and her middle initial as “A”. [9]
At the FindAGrave website, it also has this listing.
(Is this a coincidence? Could there really be 2 women named Elizabeth Holston with the same birth and death year, both married to James?)


Sources (click on the links to enlarge pics):

Source 1
Photo. Provided by a member of David Holston’s branch of the tree. Dates and name written on back.
DOB 12 March 1843 – DOD 13 January 1906

Source 2
1870 US Census

Source 3
1880 US Census

Source 4
Frank Holston’s Birth Certificate

Source 5
1900 US Census

Source 6
1905 City Directory

Source 7
Elizabeth SCOTT Holston
Death Certificate 1906

Source 8
Funeral Home Records 1906

Source 9
Church Burial Records 1906
from the Gerberich Collection

Source 10
Excerpt from a 1981 letter; written by Elizabeth SCOTT Holston’s granddaughter (Elizabeth Lillian HOLSTON Montague) to Lillian’s son James Montague.

Source 11
Wolfram Alpha calculations

Categories: Family, Genealogy, Photo Tags: , ,

Human Jellyfish

March 11, 2014 Leave a comment

When did we become a nation of spineless wimps, unable to emotionally cope with perspectives different from our own?

Was it when social media became so popular? Maybe now that we see so many differing perspectives, we’ve shut down mentally and cry “that’s offensive!” at every turn. No, people were offended before Facebook.

Maybe, then, it was the invention of the internet? Connecting with people outside of our usual circles exposed us to things we’d never even heard of before. No, television and newspapers accomplished that long before the World Wide Web.

Was it in the middle of the 20th century, when people were frequently admonished with, “those things aren’t polite to talk about in mixed company!”? Maybe that was the start of it. But no, that admonishment is much older than the 1950’s.

Perhaps it goes all the way back to the start of our country? Clearly people were getting into serious trouble for speaking their minds back then because it conflicted with the powers that be, making the 1st Amendment necessary. No, people were getting into serious trouble long before then!

Maybe it’s not just our nation, but all nations! We have the Puritans, and before that the Spanish Inquisition, and before that a thousand years of medieval times to show us that different viewpoints were often met with harsh punishment. Before that, we have the biblical times, and the ancient Roman civilization, and the ancient Chinese dynasties.

So maybe the question isn’t ‘when’ but ‘why’. Why do people become so troubled about information that doesn’t fit their preconceived ideas and ideals? Why are people so uncomfortable with different political or religious viewpoints that they figuratively (and sometimes literally) stick their fingers in their ears? What is it about pointing out differences that makes people so angry?

Why do people get so offended by things that they’ll cast aside a longtime friend or family member who doesn’t agree with them? Why are there a hundred psychological diagnoses for people who just can’t deal with things that aren’t familiar, or who can’t cope with experiences that are outside of their realm of reality? Are we really so mentally fragile and emotionally stunted as a species that we can’t speak our minds without someone crying foul?

Difference of opinion are what progresses us as people. If we never heard anything that challenged us, we’d still be living in caves, grunting at each other. If we didn’t speak up when something was wrong, we’d never change for the better. If we never questioned anything, we’d never learn anything.

We’re devolving, losing our spines. We’re becoming human jellyfish, and that’s not ok with me!

Speak up! Allow yourself to be challenged. Question everything! And when someone whines because you’re offending their delicate sensibilities, tell ’em to grow a spine.

So You Wanna Be An Atheist

December 9, 2013 4 comments

So You Wanna Be An Atheist…

We all know atheism is hip and sexy. Atheists get laid more than anyone, they don’t pay any taxes, they get wined and dined, and they skate into positions of wealth and power in our society. All you have to do is say you’re an atheist and suddenly the world opens up for you. Your friends and family think you’re awesome and want to be just like you, you get in free to all the best clubs, you get the best tables and the fastest service in the restaurants, you get complimentary penthouse suites and limousines, and your adoring fans follow your every move on the Internet and show up asking for autographs while you’re out with your date (which, you have to admit, makes you look pretty cool).

So, how do you penetrate this insular, elite segment of society? What does it take to rise to the top and become one of the jet-setting atheist crowd?

At last, here is how you, too, can be an atheist, one of the privileged few:

1) Stop believing in a god. Whether your concept of a deity is one who created the universe and then went to sleep or disappeared, whether it is one who takes an active interest in your sex life and answers your prayers, whether it is one who lives on another planet and occasionally intercedes in human affairs on behalf of its pet humans, or whether it is more than one god or goddess, the first and most critically important thing to do is not believe in it or them. Actually, that’s it. Nothing more is required of you. You don’t have to defend your lack of belief if you don’t want to, you don’t have to arrive at your non-belief through a process of reasoned argument or self-seeking, and you certainly don’t have to pray. There are no elaborate rituals to undergo or affidavits to sign. You can go on believing in Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, yetis, trolls, liberal globalist conspiracies or orbital mind control lasers if you want to, and nobody will accuse you of not being an atheist. Well, some might, but you are not obligated to take their criticisms seriously. Really, it’s as simple as that: Shed your belief in a deity, and you are an atheist. If you are reading this because you want to be an atheist, congratulations, you probably are already.

2) If you want to be more radical about your non-belief, the next step is to become more educated. Now might be a good time to stop believing in Bigfoot, too. Familiarize yourself with the works of atheist writers such as the Four Horsemen: Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett and Sam Harris. Train yourself to debate and to be able to identify logical fallacies in an argument and to resist pseudo-scientific claims. Watch YouTube videos by atheists and listen to atheist podcasts. You might also want to become familiar with some of the YouTube material put out by religious kooks like Ray Comfort and Alister McGrath, though these can be painful to watch. If you are an American, it would be a good idea to have a working knowledge of the King James Bible as well.

3) If you want to be a more militant, capital-A Atheist, get active. Join a secular organization like American Atheists or the Secular Student Alliance and pay dues. Go to conventions and conferences and network. Join or start a group on Facebook and a meetup group in your area, and get together regularly and socialize, bitch about Christians, plan events, and drink beer. Speak loudly with your atheist friends when you’re in a bar in order to invite Christians to come over and start arguments with you – this can be quite entertaining but could get you in trouble if you are not careful. In addition to proficiency in verbal ju-jitsu, it might be a good idea to have some actual Kung Fu skills.

4) Kick it up a notch. Get more active. Get a position in the administration of one of those organizations you have joined. Get on the planning committees of those conferences and conventions you’re going to all the time. Cultivate personal relationships with politicians and convince them they need to pay attention to the wishes of atheists in their districts, and that churches ought to pay taxes. Get involved with school districts and convince them they need to not teach creationist horseshit in their science curricula. Contribute to Planned Parenthood and volunteer your time (and Kung Fu skills) as a security guard at a clinic that performs abortions.

5) Now it’s time to make your mark on the world. Make a name for yourself. Get yourself elected president of your favorite atheist organization, or start your own, and build it into an internationally known force for reason and justice in the world. Write a book, or several. Do speaking tours and book signings all over the place. Appear on talk shows and participate in debates on college campuses.

6) If you don’t succeed at 5), you might think about becoming bitter, angry, depressed and hostile. Cultivate that malicious streak that guided you toward atheism in the first place. Actually eat a baby. Have gay sex even if you’re not gay, just to piss off your parents. Perform blood sacrifices to the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Burn down a church, preferably a megachurch where you can cause millions of dollars in property damage. When you see people collecting money for Catholic homeless shelters on the street corners, pull over and kick the crap out of them and take their money. Picket the funerals of Christians. Wear T-shirts that say things like “Jesus is coming! Somebody get a towel!” Perform abortions for free in your garage. Move to New York and cultivate a heroin habit. Convince yourself that the Second Law of Thermodynamics shows that the universe is decaying, life is pointless, and we are all doomed. Kill yourself in a way that will air on prime time TV.

7) If 6) is not for you, good. Forget about all the other steps and go back to 1). Honestly, that’s all there is to it.

Well, there you have it. Now you are equipped with all the necessary knowledge to be an atheist. Now you will have the red-carpet treatment wherever you go, and members of the sex of your choice will flock to you. Your limousine is waiting…

Copied with permission from my friend Sean Gale at Kill Your TV.
 

Tale of Two Daughters

November 28, 2013 Leave a comment

Two daughters from the same parents.

One was a child whom many would consider troubled. She was loud, defiant and sometimes belligerent. She bucked the rules every chance she got. She had a rocky relationship with her parents. She’s an avowed atheist who regularly speaks out against religion.

The other toed the line, and never got in trouble. She was quiet, compliant and obedient. She was the goody-two-shoes; the prudish child. She’s a Bible-thumping Christian, who regularly speaks out against sins and sinners.

All grown up now, they’re still very different from each other.

One is a habitual liar, thief and scam artist. She’s been arrested several times – for as many different crimes. She’s spent time in prison and on probation. She never finished high school. She’s had a child, but the child was taken away and put in foster care. She’s been homeless or living out of hotels for nearly her entire adult life. She’s never had a steady, solid relationship. She’s estranged from nearly every family member, and the ones she still has contact with would rather she be estranged from them as well.

The other has never been in trouble with the law, not even so much as a parking ticket. She’s honest to a fault and trustworthy. She graduated near the top of her class, and went to college on a scholarship, but did drop out. She’s had a couple of long-term, solid relationships, and has been married twice. She’s raised 3 children, never once having any run-ins with protective services. She’s always had a home, and has been relatively responsible with money. She gets along with most of her family.

By now, I’m sure the assumption is that the bad child, the atheist, is the one who grew into the delinquent adult … and the good child, the Christian, is the one who grew into the responsible adult.

That assumption would be dead wrong.

I know I gave my parents a run for their money when I was growing up. I’ve turned into a damn good adult, though! I’m proud of who I am, and my accomplishments. I’m proud of the way I raised my children.

And I’m ecstatic that I didn’t turn out like my sister.

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