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Yes Virginia, There is a Mortgage Modification

28 Nov

I reblog this every year around this time to get you in the holiday spirit. To remind those going through tough times that the situation is not permanent. Situations can change in an instant. To remind people that, although you might not see it, there are people struggling. Help when you can. Be kind always.

My Own Adventure

In honor of the beginning of the holiday season, and recognizing what I believe is possibly a miracle – my achieving an actual permanent mortgage modification – I have structured this post in the vein of the letter to the editor of the New York Sun and the answer, which appeared in the publication on September 21, 1897 – otherwise known as, “Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.” With a nod to Francis P. Church, no copywrite infringement is intended.

Dear Editor: I am 45 years old.

Some of my little friends say there is no Mortgage Modification.

The Government said, “If we give the banks the money, it will be so.”

Please tell me the truth; is there a Mortgage Modification?

Virginia

Home Owner

Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except what they…

View original post 353 more words

The Ten People You’ll Meet at the Gym

1 Jul

gym

I once dated a man who told me he admired people like me.

“People like what?” I asked, puzzled.

“People who like going to the gym,” he replied.

I accepted the compliment as it was intended without telling him that, in fact, I often struggle with getting myself to the gym. Okay, here and there I enjoy it, normally when I’ve had a lot of caffeine, had an exceptionally good night’s sleep and have no agenda for the day; so maybe like three times a year. I go to the gym for the same reason I eat my vegetables – I’m an adult and it’s good for me. Both of my parents died fairly young from heart disease and, although I always thought I would die young (no idea why), surprisingly it hasn’t yet happened yet, so I might as well, um, fight to the death, so to speak. Also, it’s not that I’m afraid of being dead; it’s the whole process of dying thing. No long deaths for me, no letting my body fail while my mind is working overtime. Getting hit by a bus? I could live with that! Well, no, I probably couldn’t. But that would be preferable to a lingering, body and/or mind failing death. So, in the interest of self-preservation, I make my way to the gym four or five times per week.

Yes, I’m a regular at the gym and, as such, I’ve made a few observations. When you’re counting down those minutes on the elliptical trainer while watching The View (no need to judge me, as I have enough judgment for the both of us) I tend to people watch. When I’m curling those my hand weights I notice those testosterone pumped men grunting under the strain of 100 pound weights. I notice many other gym clichés and, to help you feel a little less intimidated by the gym, I’ve made a list of the people you can expect to run into there.

1)      The Girly Man – C’mon dude, there’s a reason those weights are pink. They’re girly weights. Stop using my weights, man up and grab something that weighs, you know, more than a beer bottle.

2)      The Dripper – That’s me next to you on the elliptical trainer. I love that you’re working hard and that you’re staying hydrated but man, I’m going to need some rubber waders to get past that flood on the floor next to you.

3)      Look at me, I’m not wearing any clothes – Yup, there she is, the 18-22 year old girl wearing, well, nearly nothing. Yes, she’s tiny. Yes, her waist is the same circumference as my right thigh. But really, do we need to see that she made it to the spa to get her bikini wax? And a sports bra is, in fact, a bra. Does she walk around the mall wearing only her push up and a pair of shorts? This girl has told Victoria’s secret to everyone. Put on some clothes, girl!

4)      The Weight Slammer– This guy isn’t lifting any girly, pink weights. No, he’s got huge, thick iron discs attached to the barbell which he’s grasping for dear life while ferociously bending and straightening his massive, sweat-soaked biceps. Here and there he grunts while pumping his arms and staring at his muscles. Fifteen reps done, he slams down the weights hard enough to make everyone look up and consider running towards the door frames in order to brace for the rest of what must surely be an earthquake. The weights bounce a few times. Dude, we get it, you’re strong.

5)      The Talker – She’s on the elliptical trainer, elipticalling (it’s now a verb) next to me. She doesn’t want to talk to me, thank God. No, she wants to talk to her friend on the phone. Loudly.

“Did you hear what Stacey said about Kevin last night?”

“Yes, she did!”

“Swear to God.”

“He totally should break up with her.”

Seriously, I cannot turn Whoopi Goldberg up any louder. Girl, you need to take that outside.

6)      The Texter – While quieter than The Talker, this one’s just as irritating. This one sits on the machine that you want to use and has a ten minute texting, Facebook or Twitter chat while you walk around the machine giving dirty looks that would probably be upsetting to The Texter should he/she look up. Oh, and when you drive out of the gym parking lot, this person nearly backs into you as, well, if texting and working out is that easy, texting and driving is a snap.

7)      The Wet Spot Guy – The gym provides free towels. On your way in, you’re expected to grab one and use it to wipe off the equipment after you use it. It’s simple etiquette. Nobody likes sitting (lying) in the wet spot. This guy just doesn’t get it. He thinks his sweat is made of gold and anyone would be lucky to get to share in it. *Note, the Wet Spot Guy most likely applies everything he believes about the gym to his bedroom. Yup.

8)      The Mute Karaoke Singer – This one has her ear buds firmly in place and is mutely rockin’ out to some unknown song, acting as if she’s completely alone and nobody is noticing. She does a bit of head-banging, some subtle dancing on the BOSU ball and lifts those weights to a beat she alone can hear. She seems to be a bit inspired by Olivia Newton John in the Let’s Get Physical video, only without the 80’s leotard and headband. *Note, The Mute Karaoke Singer is yours truly.

9)      The Gatherer – Can’t find the weights you’re looking for? That’s probably because he has them. In fact, he has seven different sets of weights gathered around his bench. When you walk over and ask if he’s currently using them all, he dramatically removes his ear buds, breathes a deep sigh, stares you down, and lets you know in no uncertain terms that, yes, he is using every one of them right now. Then he shoves his ear buds back in and returns to staring at his sweat soaked muscles in the mirror.

10)   The Recording Secretary – You’ll see many of these. The Recording Secretary brings his tiny notebook with him and, after each round on a piece of equipment, sits down to record how many reps he did at what weight and whatever other piece of information he finds relevant. Strange that, with all of the technology he may use on a daily (or perhaps hourly) basis, this is the one thing that he still feels must be on paper. The ink is running as the sweat drips on his notepad. I’m guessing his two-hour workout would really only last about twenty-minutes if he took out all of the writing time. Seriously, did you work-out? It’s a true/false question, not an essay.

So I go to the gym, not always loving it but always entertained by the people I see there. I also play mind games to get me there. When I don’t feel like going, I tell myself that I only have to stay for ten minutes. If, after ten minutes, I still don’t feel like being there, I leave (and perhaps go for ice cream). Nine out of ten times, after ten minutes, the adrenaline has kicked in and I’m lip-syncing to Springsteen.

Invitation To My Shower

15 Apr

You are cordially invited to a very special occasion.     It’s a shower!

“What?” you say. “I didn’t know you were getting married!”

Nope, it’s not a bridal shower.

“Oh my God, you’re pregnant!?”

Uh, not that I know of.

“Then what?” you ask.

You’re invited to my “Life Dream” Shower!       

Date: Now through May 1

Location: Online     

Where I’m Registered: Kickstarter

So what brought this on? Well, I believe you know about the book I’m writing. No? Oh, well you should read An April Fools Day Announcement. In order to help with the expense of researching my book, Drop Me Anywhere – A Travel Memoir with a Twist, I started a Kickstarter project on April 1st. With just over two weeks left, my Kickstarter could use a Kickstart. So I’m throwing myself a shower.

I’ve attended countless bridal showers in my life. These have ranged from a small group of women going on about how wonderful it is to find your soul mate and endless descriptions of the lace and sparkle explosion commonly known as a wedding gown, to a large party with both men and women, and booze and games including “How Well Do You Know Your Mate?” Whatever type of bridal shower it is, it’s expected that you will show up with a lovely gift of a household appliance, beautiful linens or perhaps a spa day to help the bride relax from the stress of wedding planning. Don’t worry, in order to make it easy for you, she’s made a list of exactly what you can buy her. You can find this list at Macy’s, Target, or even Amazon.com

A month or two after the bridal shower, you get the honor of attending the wedding of the happy couple. You’ll get all dressed up, sit through a ceremony that includes oohing and aahing as the bride walks down the aisle, hearing the beautiful vows a couple may have written for each other, and taking bets with your friends on how long it will last. Then you get dinner, dancing and drunk (not necessarily in that order). If you’re really lucky, you’re crowned as a bridesmaid. In this case, you get to spend $350 on a dress, not of your choosing, which you will most likely never wear again as its sole purpose is to make the one woman not wearing it appear more beautiful.

As the night nears the end, there’s one more unique custom. Men will gather for the throwing of the garter and the women, nay, the single women get the honor of lining up to catch the bridal bouquet. This generally ends in an elbow to the ribcage and someone wearing that, um, “beautiful” bridesmaid’s dress, on the floor assuring everyone, “I’m all right, it’s just a scratch” (could they not afford to give flowers to all of the single women instead of having them fight over one bouquet?). Following this she gets the joy of a man groping her leg to put on the garter while the guests yell, “Higher! Higher!” For all of this, all you have to do is give a present; yes, another one. Don’t worry, they’re registered.

Wedding Cartoon

After a year or two, you’ll receive another invitation; it’s a baby shower! The happy couple is expecting. They’re not only expecting a baby, but another gift. Yes, you’ll get a nice lunch and you’ll play games such as, “Whose baby picture is this?” and “How many squares of toilet tissue will it take to wrap around the mother-to-be’s belly?” You’ll also get to hear friends and family who already have children discuss pregnancy bladder issues and spit-up. Not to worry, to make the gift-giving easy they’ve, once again, registered at Macy’s, Target and Amazon. But they’ve also added Babies R Us. StorkWhile I’m not opposed to marriage – I’m actually a fan – I’m not a huge fan of big weddings. And I’m certainly not opposed to babies. As most who know me will tell you that, given the choice of spending time with adults or spending time with kids, I’ll always choose the kids (they’re usually much more entertaining). I always wanted kids, it just never happened (take a look at Grace and you’ll better understand).

Since I’ve never had a bridal shower, a baby shower, or a wedding, I’ve decided to have a “Life Dream” shower. I’m asking that all of that money you’ve saved on not buying me those life event presents, you consider spending on my shower gift. I’m not registered at Macy’s, Target, Amazon or even Babies R Us, but I am registered at Kickstarter. In return, I have the best party favors ever! No, they’re not chocolates with the happy couple’s name in gold leaf, nor are they candles that smell like vanilla with a hint of orchid. They’re books, tote bags, complimentary motivational speaking engagements, opportunities to contribute ideas to the book, and even paid lodging to join me on a Drop Me Anywhere trip. As long as I hit my goal, I’ll guarantee that I won’t return your gift as, what ever you give will be the perfect size and color.

I’ll keep an eye out for your RSVP on the Drop Me Anywhere Kickstarter page. Thanks for celebrating my “Life Dream” shower with me.

 

It’s April Fools’ Day and This is No Joke

31 Mar Book Logo

It’s a big day. No, I’m not talking about April Fools’ Day, although it’s one of my favorite days. Once, while working on a ship, my April Fools’ Day prank was to glue one of the other officer’s shoes to the cabin floor (relax, I was dating him). I figured we had acetone on board to dilute it. How was I supposed to know that he’d rip up the shoe and half the floor with it?

Anyway, April Fools’ day seems like the perfect day to launch my Kickstarter project. A brief Kickstarter explanation for those unfamiliar with it; Kickstarter is the largest crowdfunding site around. “What’s crowdfunding?” you ask. Really, have you been locked in a closet? Crowdfunding sites allow creators of new projects, products, apps, and random business ideas to present them to the cyberspace crowd (you) and ask for help with funding in exchange for fabulous rewards (although the rewards I’m offering are, of course, much more fabulous than the most fabulous of the others).

What will my Kickstarter campaign be funding? If you remember, at the beginning of the year – January 1st to be exact (I’m all about those special days) – I launched a website called www.DropMeAnywhere.com. It’s an interactive travel reading and writing site. It’s about travel without a plan. You, my virtual travel buddies vote on where I go without a plan. And while I’m there, I do some volunteer work because well, it’s the right thing to do.

Based on the success of the website (yup, it’s a hit!), I’ve decided that there’s a book in this. The Kickstarter campaign will help fund Drop Me Anywhere – A Travel Memoir with a Twist. How will the book be different than the website? Well, while the each day on the blog tends to be a different story, the website will be a memoir of the year of doing the project. I may even hold back the stories from a couple of the locations and save them for the book. And, as any juicy memoir has its, hmmmm, sex, drugs and rock-n-roll, this will also. I call them the untold stories from the road. Men have asked me, “Are you going to write about me?” I’m never sure if they want me to, or if they’re afraid I will. Regardless, in this case, the answer is. “Yes, I probably will.”

You should know, it’s not easy for me to ask for help. If you read my post “I’m From the Government and I’m Here to Help” written a few years ago, you’ll understand. But here I am asking, “Will you help?” In this case, I alleviate some of my guilt by offering you those fabulous rewards (sure am hoping people are using the search term “fabulous” today). Also, if you like good books – entertaining, full of great information, good stories and well, there’s the sex, drugs and rock-n-roll part – then you’ll get to read one in 2015. Finally, have you ever felt there was something you wanted to do in your life, but were afraid to do it because it meant risking a lot? Well this is mine. And I’m doing it. I feel that so much of my life so far has led to this. Working in the travel industry for twenty years; writing, both professionally (yes, for money) as well as for myself, for nothing at all except to tell a story and practice technique; and a lifetime of being a keen observer of the world through a pair of fairly snarky eyes.

The link to my Kickstarter campaign is here (and pretty much linked wherever you see the word Kickstarter). I’m asking for $18,000 and my campaign ends on May 1. Why that amount and that ending date? This won’t cover the entire project. But, as Drop Me Anywhere is a partnership between me and you, I’ll throw in my money too – remember, I’ve already done so on the first trip to Newfoundland. What? You haven’t read about it? Please start with “Oh Canada” to get an idea of the feel of the book. Between the 8-10% Kickstarter and Amazon payment fees as well as the U.S. Government’s share (hello I.R.S., I ❤ you), well, the money going to the project will be significantly less. As far as the ending date goes, most successful Kickstarter campaigns are 30 days or less. Oh, and one more thing, if I don’t reach my goal by the ending date of May 1, I get nothing. . . nada. . .zip. . .zilch. . . a big, fat zero. How scary is that?! Don’t worry, if I don’t hit my goal, you won’t be charged for anything you may have pledged (and you won’t receive those fabulous rewards).

Besides pledging, you can also help in another way. Spread the word. Not like gossiping or anything, but more in the social media realm. While there’s a fine line between gossip and social media, I have no problem if you share it with the lady standing in front of you in the check-out line at the grocery store while she’s browsing through the National Enquirer (what? Mila Kunis and Macauley Culkin are getting married? She’ll definitely leave him Home Alone). Whoever you choose to share this Kickstarter campaign with, please do it quickly. . .and often (getting better at this asking for help thing).

Again, here’s the link. Oh, and stop by www.DropMeAnywhere.com and vote on where to “drop me” for the next location – Take Me to the River.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT, HERE’S THE LINK!

 

Yes Virginia, There is a Mortgage Modification

16 Dec

I reblog this each year, 3 years after the original posting to remind those struggling that it is a temporary situation and to remind others that some are still struggling. Please enjoy.

My Own Adventure

In honor of the beginning of the holiday season, and recognizing what I believe is possibly a miracle – my achieving an actual permanent mortgage modification – I have structured this post in the vein of the letter to the editor of the New York Sun and the answer, which appeared in the publication on September 21, 1897 – otherwise known as, “Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.” With a nod to Francis P. Church, no copyright infringement is intended.

Dear Editor: I am 45 years old.

Some of my little friends say there is no Mortgage Modification.

The Government said, “If we give the banks the money, it will be so.”

Please tell me the truth; is there a Mortgage Modification?

Virginia

Home Owner

Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except what they…

View original post 353 more words

It’s Not Me, It’s You

10 Nov Broken Heart

When I was 18 my dad took me to the bank to apply for my first credit card. Dad was a banker and, in fact, so was I (a drive-thru teller when I was 17). With dad co-signing, I was approved. The card was with Michigan National Bank, the company both dad and I worked for. Dad was very clear, this credit card was because I was driving a ’76 Impala into the heart of a not so great part of Detroit (yes, there are good parts) to attend Wayne State University each day. This card was for emergencies only. Credit was not something to be taken lightly.

Fast forward 26 years and Michigan National Bank no longer existed. Dad passed away nine years previously and my credit card was transferred a few times to various banks, the final one being Chase. I followed dad’s advice through the years and handled my credit responsibly. I saw the benefit of this in great rates for car loans and a mortgage loan.

Over the years, I tried to get dad taken off the card as, well, he was dead. I didn’t really see the need for him to be on there as, if the saying is true, ‘you can’t take it with you’ (and I don’t think heaven has a gift shop that you pass through at the end of your life like on The Pirates of the Caribbean ride). And my version of heaven has nothing in the realm of ‘buy now, pay later.’

Then the recession hit and my industry collapsed (read about all the fun in I’m From the Government and I’m Here to Help). I was late on my mortgage. I was never late on a credit card (my friends know I hate tardiness in anyone). Yet, after 26 years of never being late, I received a letter from Chase saying they were ending our relationship. What? They’re breaking up with me?Broken HeartIt’s now three years later and I recently received a letter from my ex, Chase. It seems they want to get back together. So in response, here is my answer to that letter:

Dear Chase,

I received your letter asking me to get back together. I must admit that it came as quite a surprise. You see, while I was having many challenges at the time you ended our relationship, I didn’t think you were one of them. I didn’t know we were having trouble? I mean, I tried not to be needy. I thought we communicated well. You sent me letters telling me you respected our privacy. I read every word you wrote. We traded E-mails. I thought you loved me.

The funny thing is, you still loved my dad. He continued to receive credit card offers from other companies. As you were the only one he was still associated with, I assumed you referred these people to him. He was dead and he had better credit than me.

So now, three years after you broke up with me, you write me and want to get back together. Do you have any idea how much you hurt me? I mean, I expected that behavior from Bank of America, or even American Express. But from someone who I had my longest relationship with? And you don’t even mention our history. There’s no apology, no, “I hope you’re doing well.” Your letter sounds as if you don’t even remember me.

So Chase, after very little consideration, I am tearing up your letter (or maybe I’ll burn it) and forgetting you. I am happy without you. I’ve gotten over our break-up and have moved on. I can’t do this anymore. As Taylor Swift said, “We are never, ever, ever getting back together.” The love is gone.

Random Acts of Kindness or Who Peed In Your Cocoa Puffs?

25 Sep

20130925-203842.jpg

In case you missed it, I was recently in the Philadelphia on business. In keeping with the spirit of The City of Brotherly Love, I decided to do a random act of kindness each day i wads there. Read part one at It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

Friday – Day 4

Today was a challenge for my random act of kindness commitment. I believe it’s because I was so busy taking care of the people I was being paid to take care of that I kept overlooking other opportunities. I’m not happy about this but vow to do better in the future..

Luckily, one of the people I was being paid to take care of decided to do her own RAoK which I witnessed. You see, we took our group out for a fancy dinner. Despite having 8:30 reservations, the restaurant thought it just fine to seat our group at various tables as they became available, with the first seated at 9:00 and the last seated at 9:30. This was one of those ‘we’re really cool and you’re just lucky we let you in’ restaurants.

After most finished and began gathering outside, we were assisting them with working out plan for the rest of their night when Ashley, one of our guests ran back inside as she had forgotten the ‘Doggie Bag’ she had asked for her leftovers to be packed in (I’m sure this snobby restaurant loved this). When she exited with the bag, she walked over to the homeless man sitting at the corner and offered it to him, which he gratefully accepted. When she explained that it was filet mignon and lobster, his face lit up like a child trying his first taste of sugar. He thanked her over and over. She went back to him a few minutes later and gave him some money to buy a drink to wash it down with.

Myself and much of the group witnessed this RAoK and, it not only made the man’s day, it made our day. One RAoK can cheer many people.

Saturday – Day 5

I decide to concentrate on completing today’s random act of kindness early to be sure I actually get it done. I’m was a bit concerned that I might complete it and then have another opportunity present later. It turns out there’s no rule against doing more than one RAoK per day. With my mind at ease, I start looking for opportunities.

I start working early and, at about 10:00am have a chance to take a break. I choose to walk around the streets of Philadelphia and enjoy some sunshine and people watching. As I stroll through the Arts District I seemed to forget that I’m no longer working for Disney and am not required to smile and greet each and every person. I begin to feel as if downtown Philly may have run out of coffee as most people respond to my friendly greeting by averting their eyes as if I’ve escaped from a zombie movie. I know this look as this is exactly how I am before I’ve had my morning cup of joy. Whether it’s a coffee shortage or people are scared of me I’m not sure, but I decid to tone down the cheer. That is, until I come upon a convenience store and the RAoK lightbulb lights up. I wander in and come upon a rack of Pepperidge Farm Cookies. Who doesn’t feel special when eating these fancy cookies that seem as if you should be eating them while drinking a cup of tea out of fine china with your pinky finger sticking up (I’m pretty sure Queen Elizabeth serves these)? As I have no tea, I decide to go for the least fancy of the Pepperidge Farm Cookies, the chocolate chip macadamia ones.

After my purchase I walk back down the street greeting people (apparently you can take the girl out of Disney but you can’t take Disney out of the girl) and offering cookies. The first man I come upon had a cup of coffee but appears to not have a home. I ask if he would like a cookie to go with his coffee and he smiles and gratefully says yes. I offer cookies to a couple of others who politely declined (apparently I’m not the only one who isn’t eating sugar these days). The man sitting on the steps of a church listening to music decides to partake as do some others I pass. Still, many politely decline.

Soon I come upon the man I will call Mr. Nasty. Mr. Nasty is standing on the corner waiting for the light to change. I approach him and tell him that today is my random act of kindness day and offer a delicious cookie. The man gives an abrupt, “No,” and then continues on to say, “furthermore, this is not an act of kindness and you need to do better!” I’m stunned. I stand there with my mouth open deciding what to respond. I can’t let him bring me down that easily. As I begin to cross the street in the other direction I respond, “Have a nice day!” As I continue walking away he proceeds to yell at me. I can’t even remember what he said as I’m so stunned and upset by this that his exact words don’t register. I admit to losing my good attitude and yelling back at him that, indeed, “There is evil in the world.” I find it slightly ironic that this was World Peace Day.

I continue on, attempting to give away more cookies. One or two more people accept while most politely decline. I return to the hotel and give the remainder of my cookies to my coworkers and my favorite front desk agent who are very appreciative.

While I understand that, despite my curly, red hair and honest face, some people might have concerns about accepting food from strangers, and I have no problem when they politely declined, I was truly was shocked by Mr. DI. Apparently you can only distribute cookies if you charge for them and wear a ridiculous green dress with a sash.

Sunday – Day 6

Today is my final day in The City of Brotherly Love. The beautiful Hotel Palomar, which has been my home away from home, is part of the Kimpton chain. As I joined their club (I feel like one of the cool kids in the cafeteria), they gave me a $10 credit to “invade the minibar.” Due to my never-ending work schedule I was rarely in my room and hadn’t taken advantage of my gift. This morning I sift through the options and find a bag of individually wrapped Snickers bars for the low, low price of $10. Score! I grab the bag and head down to work.

This being departure day for my group, I spend most of the morning in front of the hotel getting them in cars to take them to the airport or their homes. While standing at the entrance I decide to distribute my Snickers bars to the hard-working bellmen and doormen before going and offering the final pieces to the front desk crew.

This brings to an end my concentrated week of Random Acts of Kindness. I’ve learned a few things:

First, many people will not accept food from strangers, even if they’re the fancy kind presented to you by an honest-looking redhead. Still, there are polite ways of refusing.

Second, one flower (or some chocolate) can truly brighten someone’s day.

Third, this was more challenging than I anticipated. I truly thought that since I try to do random good deeds when the opportunity strikes, committing to doing them on a daily basis wouldn’t be a big deal. I was wrong. And while I may not do them daily, hopefully this has made me more aware of the opportunities to brighten someone’s day.

Lastly, people are sometimes hesitant to accept that a random act of kindness is just that. No catches, no strings, simply kindness. After talking to a couple of friends about Mr. Nasty, they told me their stories of other people they knew who had experienced similar challenges when just trying to do something nice. When this happens, I can understand why people choose not to be kind for fear that someone will think there is an ulterior motive and therefore, treat them poorly. Be kind anyway. That is their problem, not yours.

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