This Day In History: 11/02

Friday, November 02, 2001

Off to Blacksburg... I should be back late Monday night. Sadly, at least for the eight regular visitors, there will be no updates until next Tuesday. Take the time to explore a part of the Domain that you've never visited. Perhaps you'll stumble across something noteworthy or pornographic (or even pornographically noteworthy). If it's one of those boring weekends, start in the Potpourri section as there's always something of interest there.

Have a good weekend!

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Saturday, November 02, 2002

So next year at this time, I'll be a software engineer in northern Virginia. That doesn't mean I'll stop composing by any stretch of the imagination. I just decided that this is what I need to be doing for the forseeable future, based on a combination of factors. Here are the questions I posed back in August:

Do I have enough inspiration to compose for the span of an entire career without rehashing old material?
Probably so, depending on how prolific I would be. I started off in high school with scads of new music every month, but have continuously slowed down since then. This probably reflects more attention to detail than lack of inspiration, but it's important for me to realize that composing for a living would require me to write consistently, rather than whenever I feel moved to do so. Even now, I'm starting to see subtle things in my thesis that I already said in my string quartet and some earlier works. The average joe isn't going to notice, but I can anticipate that it will be much harder to be fresh if I'm always writing.

Am I a good enough composer to make an artistic difference?
I'd like to think that I write decent music, and there are definitely a few measures of inspired lunacy in my work. But on the whole, my music won't change the face of contemporary music, and it's never tried to. I write particular things because I think it would be neat to. The composing world needs more people willing to push forward, and there's already a good majority with nothing to say who don't know how to shut up.

Am I motivated enough to "sell" myself competitively and professionally in an already-struggling academic field?
Yes, I could do it. No, I wouldn't want to. With purse strings getting tighter and composers seen as ancillary, I can picture the constant sales pitch needed to attain a decent position in life. I don't have a "go-get-'em" attitude when it comes to music, and I think it's very important for people in music to have that if they're willing to get anywhere. Plus, in the computer field I've already "got-'em" so to speak. Why fight to establish myself in another field when I've already staked a claim in one? Someone without a split focus could provide just as much competency as me, and would probably appreciate it more.

Will the amount of time and effort devoted to a Doctorate make me that much better at composing (quantitatively speaking)?
No. I do not do a good job of taking advantage of my situation and pursuing a Doctorate wouldn't necessarily change that about me. I don't have the urge to explore new possibilities, listen to new music, or take advantage of performances, which tells me that I shouldn't make music my first priority.

In addition to these points, there's also a few others. Notably, it's too easy for me to use my split focus as an excuse or crutch, and I'd like to do away with it. When I pursued the disparate fields equally as an undergrad, I could always attribute my shortcomings in one field to my attention in the other field. As long as I have both doors propped open, I'll be able to fall back on that excuse, and it's a habit that I need to stop.

This is all coupled with the fact that this computer opportunity came at just the right time. With the state of the economy and the mindset of both fields, now seemed like the time to jump onboard with FGM, and FGM in particular. The fact that the company is an incredible working environment played as big a role as any of the above musical reasons. If I hadn't had an offer specifically from FGM, I would continue with the Doctorate.

Finally, I'm tired of learning to live and want to start living. I've been in the bastions of higher education for seven consecutive years now (since I was sixteen), and I'd like to get some real responsibility and goals underway. I'd like to stop living in temporary places, stop moving every year, and start considering somewhere to be a permanent home (perhaps even with furniture and pictures on the wall!). Though I admit to some bias with going back to good old northern Virginia, I can also consider the fact that FGM has offices in Colorado Springs, San Diego, and Hawaii as well, if I ever get tired of Virginia. I probably won't though; the pace of life there suits me.

It's not like I'm quitting composing -- I'm just bailing out of official composition education. Northern Virginia has a plethora of performance opportunities and I'll still be writing and practicing whenever the urge strikes me.

Questions or comments? Have I made a mistake? Want to come along? As always, you can e-mail me with the icon on the upper right.

tagged as deep thoughts, music | permalink | 0 comments

Sunday, November 02, 2003

Halloween in Centreville was a low-key affair. Judging from the number of rugrats that tear around the apartment complex all day long, we figured that we'd get quite a few visitors, but fewer than fifteen had come by the end of the night. As a result, we were left with tons of candy that I'll probably give away at work on Monday.

I dressed up as a gangster for last week's Halloween party (and also went to work like one as well). I think I scared a few office workers from another floor who saw the butt of a Tommy gun poking out of my backpack on my way out. Booty and Kitty dressed up too, but not on their own volition.

You can see new pictures from Halloween on the Photos page under "URI! Pictures", and I've added some new cat pictures as well (obviously under "Cat Pictures").

Women disarm man with a ham sandwich
"The weapon seen on the X-ray machine turned out to be a plastic .38-caliber revolver, intended to help one of the women portray Alias television character Sydney Bristow at a Halloween party." Sydney would have been able to sneak the gun in.

tagged as day-to-day | permalink | 1 comment

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

I voted today. Did you? I arrived at 6 AM and voted a half hour later after waiting in an endless line, just before the terrorists blew up the elementary school. Ironically, they were targetting a school play that was going to villify the Pilgrims and the damage to the voters was incidental.

November will be just like October. Prepare yourself for another month of endless news stories and postulation on voter fraud.

Mike wrote an interesting, thoughtful post yesterday on work .

Real Sims
Teacher Sorry for Kicking Student

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Wednesday, November 02, 2005

In an effort to muddle up the more salient issues by introducing several new ones, President Bush has requested $7.1 billion in emergency funding to combat the possible bird flu pandemic which has been rumoured to be lurking in the shadows for several years now. After ten minutes of giving shout-outs to his dogs (but no nominations this time around), Bush gave a doomsday speech at the NIH which sounded vaguely familiar . Some conspiracy theorists note that the speech is identical to the one kicking off his war on terrorism, replacing the words "terrorism", "Iraq", and "insurgency" with "pandemic influenza", "China", and "outbreak". I'm always amused when Bush tries to talk in technical jargon, but luckily there were no nucular mistakes this time around. In fact, he was so well-prepared that he squeezed the phrase "pandemic influenza" into his speech three times. And since every crisis needs a buzzword, he used the word "pandemic" a whopping seventy-one times in the course of his diatribe.

Since most clueless uneducated constituents think a pandemic is a syringe used in physicals on the baby Panda Cub, Butterstick (English for Tai Shan), I'm sure the speech will have its effect and put people into I'm-scared mode (which, coincidentally, is a mutually exclusive mode from "paying-attention-to-scandals mode") for the coming months. Bush will get his money (but not at the expense of his "Let's Visit Mars" program or his "We're Winning in Iranq" program) and the media will spend weeks showing how birds die from the flu, since this is much more compelling imagery than a closed Senate hearing on government missteps.

I'm all for protecting myself from sickness, but this latest scare tactic is just as useless as the whole terrorism campaign. The reason? Scared or aware citizens are no better prepared for the danger than unaware citizens. You can warn everyone in the country about the bird flu, but all you're doing is seeding unease -- it's not like they can all report to the doctor the next day and get completely immunized. If Bush really wanted to fix the problem, he would work with drug companies behind the scenes to prepare ample supplies of vaccines rather than deliver end-of-the-world monologues to the powerless people.

With a new common foe for us to unite against, it is only fitting that we create a new Pandemic Influenza Terror Chart, so we can raise and lower the Threat Levels appropriately as elections and hurricanes threaten to distract us from the real dangers of the flu. As a public service, I have outlined the five levels below. Please presume, for the safety of you and your family, that we will never be lower than code Medium.

  • Plain:
    Pandemic Influenza is merely the name of the day labourer who has moved in next door to you. Though you may lose your job as a bricklayer on the Dulles Technology Corridor or be stricken with sexually transmitted diseases should you decide to mate with him, you are in no danger of mortally contagious avian sicknesses in everyday life. You will never be totally safe however, so do not drop your guard. Somewhere out there, a faceless extremist is plotting a runny course to mass diarrhea.

  • Mild:
    Rumours abound that Iranq has been trafficking in three-piece meals from Popeyes, and it takes very little supposition to realize that birds are a prime and necessary ingredient in bird flu. Otherwise it'd just be the flu, and not nearly as exotic. I would pass on the extra coleslaw if I were you.

  • Medium:
    Elusive secret plans may have been discovered linking Osama Bin Laden to the migratory patterns of Atlantic birds. Baby birds such as puffins and mallards may be especially dangerous because they are cute and completely unexpected as disease-carrying carrion. Expect diseased birds to be dumped wholesale in Miami as the winter comes to an end, allowing the flu to spread as far north as New Brunswick as the birds fly, swim, and Greyhound their way into the Northeast. Damn you, cute puffins! Damn you all to hell!

  • Hot:
    An endemic epidemic of Pandemic Influenza is imminent in one or more major U.S. cities, but you will not be told which ones to stay away from, because that might cause a pandemic panic. An academic course of action would be the systemic purchase of guns and vaccine stockpiles. Take all vague threats and news reports seriously no matter how anemic the source or how caustic the polemic surrounding them is, as this is not an issue you want to run afoul with. Pandemic.

  • Flaming!!:
    By now, all your friends and neighbours are vomiting in their handbags, and you probably have less than forty-eight hours to live. Please take care to stay away from other people and to cough into a hanky if you have to cough at all. The virus will have mutated into Evian Flu by now, so stay away from all bottled water products as well. You will be recruited by the CIA with the goal of infecting as many hostile North Koreans as possible. If you are one of the few remaining survivors, please stand by until NASA finishes our rocket ships, and we will migrate you to another inhabitable planet.

  • I have also created these posters which you should print and distribute in your place of work. Feel free to reuse them on your own site -- it's the only way we can get the word out about the pandemic.

    How to rob a bank dramatically
    Britney Spears laughs at husband's music
    Round bowls make fish go blind

    tagged as newsday, mock mock, politics, favourites | permalink | 12 comments

    Thursday, November 02, 2006

    Sitcom or Serial?

    Your average television sitcom is all about concise resolution. Through the course of the hour or half-hour, a conflict is introduced and neatly resolved, just in time to regain equilibrium before the credits roll. The players in the sitcom are generally timeless, and large plot changes are rare, only occurring to provide new situations in which to tell the same story. Because of this, viewers can jump in on any particular show without worrying too much about what came before or how many episodes they missed. There's a certain comfort level in knowing that there are no loose ends or drastically altered perceptions.

    In contrast, the serial is all about the continuing plot. The whole point of watching a serial is to forward the plot and watch how characters change and grow over the course of a season. People live and die, switch sides, or lurk in the background smoking cigarettes. By investing in the characters, viewers are (hopefully) rewarded in the long run, and missing a couple episodes is the greater sin.

    Though I may view the world through Transition-Lens™-coloured glasses, I think the average person's life is more like a sitcom than a serial. Life is all about waking up, taking advantage of the day, surviving and enjoying the fruits of your labours, and getting back to bed in time for a new episode tomorrow. All of this is set against the backdrop of a slowly evolving lifestyle. By the end of your television season, you probably have grown and matured in different directions, but not in tangible ways, and certainly not in ways that you can easily express in words.

    Yes, there are major life-altering bookends like babies and epiphanies, and your life will have "A Very Special Episode" or two during Sweeps Week, but these interstices are few and far between. Most of life is about taking care fo the mundane, appreciating one day at a time without constantly worrying about the big picture.

    It could also be a matter of perception -- you could see yourself in the serial camp if you're ambitious and goal-oriented, working towards predefined endpoints for your life's satisfaction. If you're just along for the ride, like I am on most days, your life may seem to be a sitcom, but without the annoying laugh track.

    And if you're like some of the girls I knew in college, your life could be nothing more than a soap opera on a grander, cosmic scale.

    Happy Birthday Andrea Principe!

    Clown vandalism not funny -- okay it's pretty funny
    Man banned from touching muscles
    Bad choice of costume forces jail lockdown

    tagged as random, deep thoughts | permalink | 2 comments

    Friday, November 02, 2007

    Friday Fragments

    it's sixty degrees in November -- somebody screwed up

    ♠ The high temperature over the weekend is supposed to be 66 degrees (Farenheit, you dirty Euros). This is completely unacceptable for a Fall season, and I may decide to sue someone. I guess there was some truth after all to Al Gore's claims of global warming. Luckily, I have a book ready to take advantage of his success.

    ♠ Since I generally spend 98% of my day behind a desk, in a car, or in my house, I first noticed the unseasonable mildness on Wednesday afternoon, when I was putting a spare tire on my car. I had to do this, you see, because I somehow managed to run over a giant hex bolt within fifty yards of my home on the way back from work.

    ♠ I'm not fibbing when I say the bolt was giant -- I would not have been surprised to learn that it sprang fully formed from Zeus' ass. The head of the bolt was a half inch across and the whole thing was over an inch long. The devious steel beast managed to inject itself into my tire, causing it to deflate faster than a partying frat boy who's just discovered that he's been flirting with a drag queen. As a result, I spent three hours on Thursday, wandering around Costco and eating at Friendly's, waiting for the Tire Shop to replace it under warranty. On the way home, I saw gas selling for over $3 a gallon.

    ♠ I've never understood all those gas stations that require you to pay in advance -- when I go to a gas station, I want to be efficient and fill up the tank. I honestly don't know exactly how much gas I'm going to want before I fill it up, and I definitely don't want to make a trip in beforehand to pay and a trip afterwards to collect the change.

    ♠ I always top off the tank so that the final amount works out to a multiple of five cents. This is a throwback to the days when I always bought gas with cash (and I hated pennies), because you don't know what those shifty gas stations will do with your card numbers. Now, I'm much more practical, and buy everything with my debit card, even Popeyes ($4.68 per week).

    ♠ Actually, there IS one thing I don't pay with a card -- the Wednesday bagel at work. Every week, the local bagel guy drops off a batch of bagels for a dollar each. I burn through all my spare change on bagels (and steal change from Jack's office when I'm low, but it's okay because he eats my chips).

    ♠ I realize that I could probably bring my own bagel to work for much less than a dollar, which is why I load up on cream cheese. (That's where I make my dollar back).

    ♠ The bagel guy has drastically reduced the amount of cream cheese provided, which is where coming into work at 6 AM comes in handy. I am wholly to blame if the cream cheese block is reduced by 25% after a single visit.

    ♠ People are supposed to learn from their mistakes, but there's one mistake I have never learned from: every so often, I'll try buying the 1/3 fat Cream Cheese at the store, figuring that it'll be a much healthier, and taste reasonably similar to the real fatty thing. THIS IS A 100% INCORRECT CONCLUSION AND WOULD GIVE ME AN F IN CREAM CHEESE IF I WERE IN A CREAM CHEESE CLASS.

    ♠ Lite Cream Cheese is the worst. Normal cream cheese is wonderful though. I would marry a block of cream cheese and then eat it like a popsicle.

    ♠ Speaking of marriage, I heard from Nikki that Liz Benyo got married recently. Congratulations to her! Liz Benyo was one of the two singers on my fifth year recital at Tech -- she never did like it when I called her "Liz B'o" though.

    ♠ This weekend, I have plans to play a little poker and do a little raking. My new computer is supposed to arrive at some point too, so I'll spend three or four days rebuilding it from the ground up to get rid of all the annoying shovelware they pre-install at the factory. My new Janny Wurts book is also arriving sometime soon by International Mail, so I'll be reading fantasy books and installing operating systems, like the Computer Scientist that I am at my core. "I want to cast MAGIC MISSILE!"

    ♠ Happy Birthday to Andrea Principe! Have a great weekend!

    He's not undead, just unsober
    Flirty old man sues for ageism
    I've been eating e.coli pizzas for months

    tagged as fragments | permalink | 3 comments

    Monday, November 02, 2009

    Weekend Wrap-up

    This weekend was a mix of work and play, which sadly did not include any volcanic sand beaches or hikes through the jungle. On Friday evening, we went to a Halloween party in Gainesville at Mike & Beth's house. I attended as "Costume Fail" since I like costumes that take as little effort as possible. This new costume worked out, although I had to spend a lot of time intefering with other people's navigation in my frame (much like any website from 1998).

    At this particular party, there were victims of domestic abuse, Mr. and Mrs. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice, a custom-made Double-Dare uniform, as well as The Money You Could Save with GEICO, among many others.

    On Saturday, I put in a few hours working on session timeout issues and then downloaded a new game, Torchlight, which so far has been a great $20 Diablo-clone with all the annoying parts taken out.

    In the evening, Rebecca came home from work and we discovered that party #2 had been cancelled, so we went straight to Party #3 in McLean. I reused my Holiday Box costume so I wouldn't keep bumping into things and ate several hundred wings. We also came in 2nd in a Halloween trivia contest and saw a puppy dressed up as a pumpkin.

    Sunday was a rather slow day, during which I spent most of the day resetting the half of the clocks that didn't automatically update. We closed the weekend out with some tasty burgers at Red Robin and an episode of Burn Notice.

    Hello November!

    Stray gator no match for pet store owner
    Arnold tells the legislature where to go
    Ex-Notre Dame worker to repay much of $29,000 tip

    tagged as day-to-day | permalink | 0 comments

    Tuesday, November 02, 2010

    Late Day

    Please accept my deepest apologies for the lack of update today, but it's really all your fault, since the days where my updates are the latest are also the days with the highest amount of traffic from people who have been Pavloved into thinking that 6 AM will bring explosive new wit like a midair bomb on a UPS carrier -- no doubt that terrorist was halfway through the third season of Alias, got bored waiting for his Netflix to arrive by Yemenese post, and decided for a reenactment of a Sark-Vaughnese scene.

    To make up for the Museday which I did not write today, here are some fresh new facts you may not already know:

    • I have now written 68 Museday excerpts over the past three years, and expanded three into two-minute works. If I were to release a CD, it would clock in at 39:42, which is longer than most "real" albums released today.
    • The ringtone on my cellphone is Muse's Undisclosed Desires.
    • Having a cellphone actually disconnects me further from the world than the old landline, because it's usually in the other room and I don't hear it until the next day. Thank you, technology. Now please do good by jamming all of Rep. Frank Wolf's robocalls. He wins by 120% every election -- the least he can do is coast in silence.
    • Booty currently waddles like a duck.
    Dentists offer Halloween candy buyback program
    Smokers must clock out, as they should
    High speed Internet comes to Mt. Everest

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    Wednesday, November 02, 2011

    Memory Day: Snapshots

    If I recall correctly, this photo was taken during the period where I was an itinerant child priest. Here, I can be seen giving the evil eye to someone who crossed my path indiscriminately.

    Jack the Cat turns up at JFK
    Halloween black licorice could kill you
    Fed false logic, campus eats up a hoax and revolts

    tagged as memories, media | permalink | 2 comments

    Friday, November 02, 2012

    Random Chart Day: Ear Training Cheaters

    Because of this post, the URI! Zone has jumped to the number one Google result for people in search of ways to cheat on their computer-assisted ear training assignments. As a sociology experiment, I decided to track and record the people who arrived at my website in search of cheats during the month of October. Since the experiment only lasted 1 month, it is not statistically significant in the least bit, but I'll continue in the future if there's interest. I received 32 prospective cheaters from all manner of universities and colleges (alphabetical, clockwise).

    Pro-tip: If you are hiring music faculty in the next six to eight years, skip anyone who graduated from Ball State University. At first, I thought it was one really desperate cheater, until I noticed that most of the searches came from different combinations of web browser and operating system.

    Over half of cheaters are using Macs, probably because their freshman orientation manual ordered them to buy a department-specified laptop. Of more interest is the fact that people using IE don't cheat. However, this can probably be attributed to the fact that IE defaults to Bing, where the URI! Zone is much lower in the list of search results.

    • View Raw Data (10KB XLSX)

    tagged as data | permalink | 1 comment

    Monday, November 02, 2015

    Weekend Wrap-up

    Happy November!

    Our weekend was pleasant across the board. On Saturday, we kicked off the transition from the fun part of Fall to the cold part of Fall by raking the backyard. Based on historical data, this was raking #1 of 3 or 4. In the afternoon, we made various squash-based side dishes (one with spaghetti squash and basil, and another with butternut squash and brown sugar) for a Halloween potluck at the Lowry's. Not a single person was dressed up in a costume for this event, which is probably more noble than a sea of Donald Trumps.

    On Sunday, we completed our yearly benefits enrollment and confirmed for the millionth year running that my company has better benefits than all of the other companies in the world. It's almost a shame that I don't actually go to the doctor for anything, given my amazing mutt genes and bacon-based diet that combine in support of my physical robustness.

    In the evening, we had a dinner cheese, beans, meats, and tortillas in different permutations at Don Pablo's followed by an early bedtime in honor of Daylight Savings Time.

    How was your weekend?

    tagged as day-to-day | permalink | 0 comments

    Wednesday, November 02, 2016

    Overwatch Day

    I'm still enjoying Overwatch, as evinced by the 376 hours I've spent playing it. For reference, Steam says that I played Skyrim for 345 hours, Borderlands 2 for 232 hours, Fallout 4 for 214 hours, and Portal Stories: Mel for 30 minutes. I enjoy the fact that Overwatch matches are quick, self-contained, and always fresh, even though I haven't branched out from the few heroes I play the most.

    • Roadhog is my default hero pick, because I feel like I can make a difference in a game regardless of how good my team is. I've also become adept at "fishing for Tracers" with the hook, which is always satisfying.
    • Junkrat is the character I have the most fun with because he can be played completely chaotically and blows things up, after which you can emote "Happy Birthday!".
    • Lucio is my default healer choice when I don't feel like doing much other than herding cats and pushing the payload.
    • Mercy used to be my main healer choice, but really needs a good team to be satisfying to play. This is still the best play I ever did:
    • Mei was my (mei)n hero in beta, and I've gotten back into playing her again recently with the buffs to her Blizzard ultimate. I love that she pisses everyone off on the enemy team even if she doesn't do much burst damage.
    • I only play Reaper when the enemy team has more than 2 tanks and we're struggling to survive. I'm pretty awful at most of the offense heroes but in this specific situation, Reaper shines.

    Come play!

    tagged as games | permalink | 3 comments

    Friday, November 02, 2018

    Review Day

    There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

    I've noticed that my grading has gotten slightly harder since Maia was born. Time is money, friend!

    Art of Doubt by Metric:
    In their latest album, Metric moves away from the padded electronica sound of Pagans in Vegas and back to a more garage rock sound. The songs are still fun, but a bit more repetitive, and nothing stands up as a catchy hit.

    Final Grade: B-

    Greatest Showman (PG):
    The success of a musical effort like this really depends on the actors investing in their roles 110%. Led by Hugh Jackman, the energy level remains high throughout. The opening montage is the weakest part, and the overarching movie doesn't leave you with much to hang your hat on in the end, but this is about as successful a movie as you can come up with, within the constraints of the format and the PG rating. It reminds me of something I would have wanted to watch on VHS in grade school on a sick day.

    Final Grade: B-

    Sinner, Season One:
    I enjoyed the pilot of this top-rated show about a woman who unequivocally commits murder in front of many witnesses without any clear motive. While I appreciated the style, it seemed like it would be relentlessly grim and involve religion and child abuse in some way, so I decided to devote my limited free time to collecting a bunch of harmless cartoon moons in Super Mario Odyssey instead.

    Final Grade: Not Rated

    Fargo, Season Three:
    Fargo continues its successful blend of high-quality cinematography, mysticism, and Midwestern charm, and Ewan MacGregor managed to avoid being a distraction in his double role as twin brothers. This was my least favourite season of the three so far, but I would still take all three to the hypothetical castaway island with nothing but a DVD player.

    Final Grade: A-

    tagged as reviews | permalink | 0 comments

    Monday, November 02, 2020

    Halloween Wrap-up

    Halloween was a success in spite of the roadblocks erected by 2020. We carved a single pumpkin, locally grown from a vine in our backyard. That vine originated from the pumpkin seeds we tossed in the compost in 2019. Maia named the pumpkin "Jackie".

    Elsa was the obvious choice for costume this year, and it had been worn so often in the run up to Halloween that the plastic tiara had already broken. I'm pretty sure the magic wand isn't Frozen canon, but Maia enjoyed casting spells by saying, "Abracadabra, POOF!"

    Maia went trick-or-treating with the across-the-street neighbours and actually got a decent amount of candy. I stayed home because I couldn't see anything through my glasses while masked in the frigid evening. We had the most visitors we've ever had, though still not many, and gave away about 15 individual bags of candy (to minimize fingers in a shared bowl). EVERYONE that came to our house was masked!

    How was your Halloween?

    tagged as day-to-day | permalink | 0 comments

     

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