Monday, October 25, 2021

In the Spotlight: INTENTIONAL: HOW TO LIVE, LOVE, WORK AND PLAY MEANINGFULLY by David Amerland

  



Intentional is a gameplan... 


By David Amerland

INTENTIONAL: HOW TO LIVE, LOVE, WORK AND PLAY MEANINGFULLY, Nonfiction, NewLine Books, 218 pp.




Live your life the way you want to. Manage stress better. Be more resilient and enjoy meaningful relationships and better health. We all want that. Such life leads to better choices, better jobs, loving romantic partners, more rewarding careers and decisions that are fully aligned with our aims.

What stops us from getting all that is the complexity of our brain and the complicated way in which the external world comes together. The misalignment between the internal states we experience and the external circumstances we encounter often leads to confusion, a lack of clarity in our thinking and actions that are not consistent with our professed values.

Intentional is a gameplan. It helps us connect the pieces of our mind to the pieces of our life. It shows us how to map what we feel to what has caused those feelings. It helps us understand what affects us and what effects it has on us. It makes it possible for us to determine what we want, why we want it and what we need to do to get it.

When we know what to do, we know how to behave. When we know how to behave we know how to act. When we know how to act, we know how to live. Our actions, each day, become our lives. Drawn from the latest research from the fields of neuroscience, behavioral and social psychology and evolutionary anthropology, Intentional shows how to add meaning to our actions and lead a meaningful, happier, more fulfilling life on our terms.







Here is the first truth in a book of truths: you can't be everything to everyone. At some point you need to make a choice of what truly matters to you and why. Fair warning: it’s an approach that will lose you a lot of 'friends'.

There is little point in trying to define what ‘life’ is. Philosophers and, surprisingly, even some biologists, have never agreed on it.

Biology however tells us that life is: “defined as any system capable of performing functions such as eating, metabolizing, excreting, breathing, moving, growing, reproducing, and responding to external stimuli.”

The moment you think about this definition you know that there is little point in trying to adapt it to concepts such as “living a good life” or “a life well-lived”, yet it is by those that most of us intuitively try to measure and understand what it is we mean when we mention “life”.

As it happens I will give you a much better definition but before I do I will start with an obvious truth: we all struggle with the exact same thing that is, knowing how to behave.

In trying to live a life, good or bad, we all seek to find, discover or accept a set of rules that basically tell us how to behave in any given situation. When we accept social mores, religion, the law, tradition, culture, a code of conduct, a belief or an ideal what we basically engage in is a direct attempt to find our personal rule book that tells us exactly what to do when we need it.

I am a sucker for mindless action flicks that spike my adrenaline levels and shower me with eye-candy special effects. If you’ve never seen Wanted, starring Angelina Jolie, James McAvoy and Morgan Freeman, then I strongly recommend it, not least because in one of his over-the- top cinematic speeches delivered with that all-too-familiar authoritative deep, tonal voice Freeman’s character declares:

“Insanity is wasting your life as a nothing when you have the blood of a killer flowing in your veins. Insanity is being shat on, beat down, coasting through life in a miserable existence when you have a caged lion locked inside and a key to release it.”

He goes on to give the requited spiel about a fraternity of super- assassins that take it upon themselves to guide history by killing selected people “for the greater good” and he finishes it with the memorable line: “This is what has been missing from your life Wesley: Purpose.” I did say it’s over-the-top. At the same time the speech has a point. A life lived without a purpose is a life mostly wasted. And purpose is frequently defined by knowing what we should do and being actively engaged in doing it.

Whether we realize it or not, we all feel the need for this kind of guidance that gives us a deep sense of purpose. Because we are born physically helpless we have evolved to latch onto and work hard to understand our immediate environment and the people around us. This makes us, as we grow older, intensely pro-social. At the same time it provides us with a ready-made set of expectations, rules and guidelines to guide our behavior that arise from the collective behavior of those around us.

That behavior is the culture we experience and the traditions we abide by. The problem with this is that rather than defining for ourselves what is important to us we accept that which is given to us. That which is given to us is rarely what we want, but it can very easily become what we settle for.

Settling is an evolutionary-programmed trait. Let me explain: Life is hard. It really is. Even if we happen to have the extraordinary luck to be born into a very rich family whose legacy gives us everything we need to live comfortably for the rest of our life, maintaining that fortune and navigating through life is going to be fraught with risks, traps and constant upheavals.

We need other people. Other people need us. That is a truth. But the reasons for this mutual need are usually contradictory or, at the very least, sufficiently at odds with each other to make trust an issue and turn cooperation into a risk-assessment exercise.

All of this takes inner resources. It takes attention, thinking, planning, mental and psychological effort, perhaps some introspection. It frequently is emotionally painful and psychologically costly. We are programmed to avoid it because it adds to the intrinsic difficulty that is life.

If you want the definition of life here it is: It is a game plan that emerges from the collective activities for survival of everyone around you. That is, everyone. It is difficult because it is unpredictable. It is unpredictable because no one knows the rules. In an emergent game plan things change spontaneously according to the same principle that guides us to settle for what we are given: conservation of energy. When ‘witches’ threaten our communal beliefs, the stability of our governing institutions and the perceived natural order of the Cosmos it is required of us to hunt them down and publicly burn them.

The act, however, barbaric, painful and seemingly inhuman restores the perceived natural order of things, reinforces the power of our institutions to safeguard our way of life and impresses upon us the value and desirability of accepting what we are given. Life goes on much easier then.

When the public burning of witches however marks our way of life as brutal, our religious leaders as misguided, fanatical zealots whose actions endanger us all and our institutions as unbending, power- hungry instruments of control, we become more enlightened. More accepting. Our society becomes tolerant. Our horizons broader. Life goes on much easier then.

“Easier” is what we have been programmed to seek because it increases the chances of our survival. What made sense in pre-historic times when the outside world could easily kill us has, in our days, evolved into a complex dance of what we believe and what we reject, what we accept and what we actively seek. We have created a world that pretty much guarantees our survival. Yet, for most of us that is no longer enough.

We lack the deeper sense of purpose that makes us feel truly alive. We have the key to releasing the “lion” inside each of us but choose not to use it. This makes our life a complex weave of small advances and retreats. Victories and losses that are designed to keep us in place until we no longer care and it no longer matters.

I say “designed” when I describe the constant churn of victories and losses that are life, but that is a mislabel. Life is a system. Like any system it seeks stability in order to function. Stability demands conformity. Almost like a biological organism, the system that we call “life” rewards innovation and change (i.e. mutations) sufficiently to progress but makes it hard enough for them to become established so that it is never severely disrupted.

It is no accident that in our lifetime we shall each experience only one great innovation or upheaval. More than that and it may truly be the end of the line for the experiment called “Human life on Earth”.

This need to live by choosing “the path of least resistance” because it allows us to use the least amount of energy to coast through life leads to some pretty convoluted mental acrobatics. We are, for instance, perfectly at ease with a Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde transformation where we present a different face (and maybe, even values) to those we work with and a completely different set of behaviors to those at home or our friends at the pub.

We can use ‘morality’ to ostracize and dehumanize fellow human beings who are different from us, because their existence creates perturbations in the social system we directly experience that require greater energy in order to deal with and may, even, challenge our own sense of right and wrong with our own life choices.

The ease with which we can turn on anyone not of our own religion, social caste, skin colour, ethnicity, neighbourhood or area is testament to this. History supplies a long list of such instances that range from the destruction of Carthage in pre-history to the genocides that took place in Rwanda and Bosnia in the closing years of the last century.

In each case the ingredients are the same incendiary mix of social stress, political polarization and a dehumanization of the ‘other’ that is different, strange, outside our own group and therefore the enemy who deserves to be eradicated.

The irony that this is the same game only with different players escapes its participants who had they been capable of such awareness would have behaved differently anyway. The irony is rich here because in order for this game of life called “division” and “ostracism” to work its players must be capable of exhibiting the same behavior when confronted with the same set of circumstances. The oppressed turn oppressors just as easily as the victims can turn into aggressors. Given similar circumstances and capabilities we are usually pretty good at coming up with justification of our behavior and if you need a living, breathing example of such role reversal look at the atrocities, injustice and demonization of the ‘other’ carried out by none others than the Israelis upon the Palestinians.

A case of role-reversal, where those who history has frequently ascribed the role of victims turn into aggressors and perpetrate on their neighbors the same type of persecution they have, historically, experienced themselves.

Now that we’ve established, on these broad lines, that life is a game whose rules are the same everywhere and we have seen, again broadly, how similar circumstances allows us to behave in similar ways and even make the exact same behavioral mistakes we, ourselves, have condemned it’s fair to ask “what now?” Is this it? Will this chapter be enough to raise questions without providing much of an answer¬? Is everything always grey and in doubt? Is the rest of the book more of the same which would make it no more than a superfluous addition to this chapter required to provide what publishers call “spine value”?

Well, not quite. What follows are the elements, the modalities, if you like, required to make this game of life work. What follows is the prescription you need to live your life the way you want to. This chapter, however, is far from over.

Because all this is serious I can afford to be flippant, though as you will see even my flippancy has a very serious intent. So, I will add here that the one ‘rule’ we all need to keep in mind is that favourite of William S. Burroughs’ from his Naked Lunch “Nothing is true; everything is permitted”. Burrough, of course, borrowed this from Vladimir Bartol, who used it in his novel Alamut. Bartol, himself borrowed it, and slightly changed it in the process, from the teachings of Hassan-i Sabbah who was the founder of the Order of the Assassins, historically known as the Nizari Assassins. The tale, writings and doctrine of the Order was incorporated in the storyline of the popular video game Assassin’s Creed which is where I first came across it and filed it away for future reference which brings us to here and now. You reading what I’ve written.

What do we, what can we learn from this? That life is circuitous but the circuit has polygonal junctures with cultural jumps and bends that require an open mind and a thirst for cultural learning in order for the metaphorical dots to connect? Or, that nothing is truly original, that everything is borrowed from somewhere else and made to fit the moment and its time?

Both, I’d argue. If you are truly living and if you truly feel alive you are aware of both context and history. Moment and time. Alamut was written as an implied rebuke to Mussolini’s fascism. Naked Lunch is a chronicle of the messiness of life and its often unplanned trajectory where the brain makes sense of basically senseless moments of existence. This book is about learning to behave in ways that help you get more out of your life.

 














Amazon →  https://amzn.to/3kqx0C6

Bookshop.org → https://bit.ly/3ktTAtC 

Barnes &Noble → https://bit.ly/2YUNDxT

Powell's → https://bit.ly/3mVkfiU 






David Amerland is a Chemical Engineer with an MSc. in quantum dynamics in laminar flow processes. He converted his knowledge of science and understanding of mathematics into a business writing career that’s helped him demystify, for his readers, the complexity of subjects such as search engine optimization (SEO), search marketing, social media, decision-making, communication and personal development. The diversity of the subjects is held together by the underlying fundamental of human behavior and the way this is expressed online and offline. Intentional: How to Live, Love, Work and Play Meaningfully is the latest addition to a thread that explores what to do in order to thrive. A lifelong martial arts practitioner, David Amerland is found punching and kicking sparring dummies and punch bags when he’s not behind his keyboard.

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Sunday, September 26, 2021

⭐IN THE SPOTLIGHT⭐THE WILLING BY LINDSAY LEES⭐

 


Welcome to Ovoidia where every woman can be approached for immediate sex by any man…




By Lindsay Lees


Title: THE WILLING
Author: Lindsay Lees
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 299
Genre: Dystopian



In less than a year, fifteen-year-old Gypsy Capone will be considered a woman in Ovoidia, a “utopian” city-state where every woman can be approached for immediate sex by any man, where curving architecture adds weird whimsy, sporks are the only cutlery, and true intimacy between the genders is a sign of suspect subversion. After all, if a woman just plays along, she’ll also do her job and have children, with the reward of a fine home in the “Communities,” where she and the other “Mamas” live together in harmony with everything they need. Right?

The irony: Diam and Isis, the two leaders of Ovoidia, are themselves females. Fun, yes! And just below the surface, perversely sinister. They personally execute these precise sacrifices by women to establish their “happy,” absurdly totalitarian utopia, and are backed up by their chosen army of male “crusaders,” enforcing a crime-free, fully controlled society.

Men are relegated to work in the “City” where they may “enjoy”—right there on the street if they wish—any woman they want and are welcome to satisfy their sexual and emotional needs at establishments called Gaje Clubs where only the most “gifted” among women are chosen to work.

Not surprisingly, in Ovoidia women have evolved until they feel nothing of sexual pleasure. But in Gypsy’s deepest heart, she realizes her own dark secret: she is the exception. Next she discovers to her horror that her secret, if known, could result in the ultimate punishment—genital mutilation.

To save her body and even her soul, Gypsy chooses a dangerous path—to single-handedly confront this scary and absurd world. She has the support of her allegiant sister Sadie and Miles Devine, a rogue, secretly gay crusader, and also “Doctor,” a morally questionable physician to help her. But none of them fathom the levels of paradox, incongruity, and twisted evil they will soon face, and the ride becomes something even Gypsy could have never imaged.

PRAISE

The Willing is stunning in its brutality as well as its sensitivity! Absolute must read. We all have a piece of Gypsy in us. We must consider our potential future as women now with eyes wide open.”–Amazon Reviewer

“The Willing is an unusually deep commentary on a malignant dysfunction in our society, dressed in fishnet utopian stockings. While the premise and its sensual details push the boundaries of belief, a community that is ostensibly focused on the greater good but is governed by fear and hypocrisy fits perfectly in the dystopian genre. Gypsy’s character is flawed and immature in many ways, but her shield-like honesty is refreshing among a sea of conformists. A rather feminist piece filled with satire on the state of equality, The Willing is weighty and serious in its message, and sad in its reflection of how women are treated in our modern world. For a change from the norm, Lindsay Lees provides a gripping story that will have you thinking deeply about the importance of the relationships in your life.”–Jennifer Jackson from IndiesToday.com






In a basement meeting room of the Head Gaje’s oval-spiral Headquarters, an arched doorway slid open. Doctor Gino’s tired, wrinkled eyes also bolted open; he had only been resting them. He’d practically been dragged from his bed, after all. Ovoidia’s Chief Crusader, Rigby Katz, entered the hermetical, bleach-white room holding his round helmet, nestled under his thick, toned arm. Eyes bright and vigilant—a caffeine glow—he must have only just finished his shift, Doctor thought. He had been a Crusader for over thirty years but had the good fortune of not appearing his age. Rigby scanned the room like a robot from Robocop or Terminator, one of the Pre-Ultimate Revolution movies. After completing a thorough assessment, he surveyed the white leather office chair where Doctor sat with his liver-spotted hands folded on the round table. 

"Oh good. I'm not the first to arrive." Crusader Katz clomped in wearing heavy black boots, clean as the day they were made. "Gives me anxiety waiting around, wondering if I'm at the right place. Easy to get lost down here."

A round clock above the arched doorway swept past the seconds. It was almost three A.M. Doctor hadn’t expected the tribunal meeting to take place so late.

"Do you know why we're having the meeting now?" Doctor asked, casually.

Rigby regarded Doctor with amusement, rather like the way a mama looks at her child when she asks where babies come from. "Yes, the Head Gajes had an inauguration party to attend.”

Doctor yawned. So much for not having time to get a coffee.

Crusader Katz removed a piece of spearmint gum and his cell phone from his utility belt. He owned the newest model, a razor-thin silver flip-phone with a peek window on the front. When he flipped it open, the interior buttons reflected electric blue on his milky eyes. Doctor didn't know why cell phones required upgrades. So long as they served their primary function who cared what they looked like?

Crusader Katz snapped the phone shut and shoved it back in his belt. "No service." He sighed.

"We're too far down," Doctor said, pleased with himself.

The steady hum of an air purifier oscillated from a corner. A few stray bubbles burped in a standing water cooler. Doctor eased a ballpoint pen from his lab coat and hovered it over the table, pinching the cap to make sure it was firmly secured. He was forever spilling ink or coffee on the ubiquitous white leather.

“I forgot my notepad,” Doctor said, surprised at his error. While most communications in Ovoidia were transcribed digitally, Doctor preferred to handwrite his notes for archival purposes.

He experienced nostalgia for the tactile fluidity the pen afforded the fingers. “Do you happen to have an extra pad or a piece of paper?” he asked Crusader Katz.

Just then, the meeting room door opened to the heady scent of a dozen steamed bouquets, as though the Head Gajes had bathed in the buckets of wilting flowers being sold on the streets in the mid-day heat. Diam, the eldest of the Head Gajes strolled, chin up, into the room. Her stilettos tapped like hail on glass as she walked across the marble floor. She wore a black satin skirt flared above her knee. Her skin shone, glossy and supple. Isis, the younger Head Gaje, teetered in behind her, gripping a round red lollipop on a white stick.
















Lindsay Lees is originally from Los Angeles and holds dual citizenship in the U.S. and the United Kingdom, and while growing up and later in college, she split her time between the two countries. Lindsay earned a B.A. in 2008 from Manchester Metropolitan University, and next an M.F.A.in Creative Writing from California College of the Arts. 

The Willing is Lindsay’s debut novel. She currently lives a quiet Southern life with her husband and a houseful of pets. 

Visit her website or connect with her at FACEBOOK and GOODREADS.








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Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Fall Calls for a New Tea Kettle




With fall and winter on the way it's time to add a new tea kettle to the household. I used to have an electric one but it stopped working. That was ok because I was hoping to find one that looked nice on the stove anyway. I would love to have a collection of antique tea kettles to match my antique tea cups, unfortunately I don't have the space where we live to accommodate that.

It came down to what type and what color tea kettle to get...after talking with my husband (yeah, I do have him help sometimes) this is the tea kettle we decided on, an AIDEA Ceramic Tea Kettle with a Wooden Handle. I thought the color was fabulous and I have never had a tea kettle with a wooden handle before, so that is also exciting. 

Sitting with a good book and a nice cup of tea (French Breakfast may be my favorite), are two of my all time favorite things to do. What about you? Are you a tea drinker? If so, what is your favorite brand/flavor?

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Monday, September 13, 2021

⭐INTERVIEW⭐CHERYL CARPINELLO AUTHOR OF ANCIENT TALES & LEGENDS⭐

 




Cheryl Carpinello
 taught high school English for 25 years. During that time, she worked with numerous students who didn’t like to read for a variety of reasons. However, she discovered that even the most reluctant readers became engaged in the classroom and in reading when she introduced units on King Arthur and the works of ancient world writers. Upon retiring, she set out to write fast-paced, action-filled stories in these setting to encourage young readers to read more. When not writing, you can find her reading, spending time with family, and traveling.

“In 2008, my husband and I spent three weeks traveling around Egypt via train and visiting all those magnificent archeological sites. Since we returned home, Egypt has never been far from my thoughts. I truly believe that I left part of my soul in that ancient land. To satisfy my longing to return, I wrote Sons of the Sphinx and Tutankhamen Speaks.” Visit her on Twitter and Facebook.




Thank you for this interview!  I’d like to know more about you as a person first. What do you do when you’re not writing?

When I’m not writing, I have plenty to fill up my time! Don’t we all?! We have 4 grandkids which keep us busy. I also love to read, both fiction and non-fiction. I love reading about the ancient worlds. When we can, my husband and I love to travel. We go to college football games around the country in the fall, and I’ve got a long list of countries overseas that we haven’t visited yet.

When did you start writing?

I’ve always written, but as a high school English teacher, I didn’t have time to write seriously until I retired in 2007. Since then I write as often as I’m able, and when I can’t physically write, I write in my head.

As a published author, what would you say was the most pivotal point of your writing life?

Seeing my first book in print gave me the confidence to continue writing. Subsequently, each of my newly published books re-enforce that confidence and renews my creative brain.

If you could go anywhere in the world to start writing your next book, where would that be and why?

Where I write isn’t a concern of mine. In fact, going anywhere I wanted to in the world to write would be a distraction. I consider myself a life-long learner, so when I find myself in a new environment, I set out to discover the many treasures and wonders of that environment.

Now that said, we are frequent visitors to Mexico, and I’ve finished many a story there. It’s almost like a second home, so there are few distractions, except for the ocean, the beach, the Cajun-seasoned mahi- mahi, the margaritas, etc.!!

If you had 4 hours of extra time today, what would you do?

Probably read, and try to finish up my newest picture book.

Where would you like to set a story that you haven’t done yet?

One of the books of my upcoming series Feathers of the Phoenix takes place in Pompeii. It’s always intrigued me. Hoping for a visit there soon.

Another in that series is set in Egypt, and although, I’ve been there and done that, I’m looking forward to writing that story.

Back to your present books, Sons of the Sphinx and Tutankhamen Speaks, how did you publish those?

All of my books are published under the Silver Quill Publishing brand. It is an author-owned co-op based in England. I publish through Amazon, Ingrams, Draft2Digital, Hulu, and several other platforms.

In writing your books, did you travel anywhere for research?

Yes and no. We spent three weeks in Egypt in 2008. The country, its people, and its monuments and history really registered with my creative side. However, it was four years later before that influence led to writing Sons of the Sphinx and Tutankhamen Speaks.

Why was writing Sons of the Sphinx and Tutankhamen Speaks so important to you?

Our visit in Egypt temporarily sated my curiosity and thirst for exploring an ancient world. However, I continued to replay that visit over and over in my mind. Writing Sons and Tut allowed me to actually place myself back in ancient Egypt amid those monuments and those ancient pharaohs. Each time I read these stories, I experience the thrill I first felt when I beheld the Great Pyramid outside of Cairo.

Where do you get your best ideas and why do you think that is?

My story ideas come from my teaching and my love of medieval times and the ancient worlds. All of my characters are based on my intimate knowledge of teenagers, i.e. what excites them and/or scares them, their fears, longings, and expectations to name just a few. With so many tales hiding in the ancient stories, it’s easy to pick a favorite and develop my story.

Any final words?

Both Sons of the Sphinx and Tutankhamen Speaks are based on historical facts with a little literary license thrown in. If you enjoy a thrilling adventure and you’ve ever wondered what ancient Egypt would have been like, I hope you’ll pick up my Ancient Tales.

Also, I want to thank you for hosting me.

 




Title: Tutankhamen Speaks
Author: Cheryl Carpinello
Publisher: Beyond Today Educator
Pages: 81
Genre: Teen / YA / Ancient Egypt Historical Fiction

BOOK BLURB

From over 3000 years ago comes the voice of the Boy King.

Scrolls found buried in the basement of the Egyptian Museum. Transcribed in an ancient hand. Record the words of King Tut for all to read.

Tutankhamen answers all of the lingering questions, including the big one.

Discover the real story behind this famous pharaoh. Transport yourself back to an Ancient Egypt filled with mystery, magic, and danger!

ORDER YOUR COPY

Amazon eBook: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00E18KH46

Amazon Print: https://www.amazon.com/dp/149615536X

B&N:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/tutankhamen-speaks-cheryl-carpinello/1118847147

Book Depository: https://www.bookdepository.com/Tutankhamen-Speaks-Cheryl-Carpinello/9781496155368



Title: Sons of the Sphinx
Author: Cheryl Carpinello
Publisher: Beyond Today Educator
Pages: 189
Genre: Teen / YA / Ancient Egypt Historical Fiction

BOOK BLURB

A grandmother’s gift usually bring happiness. Rosa’s gift: a very different story. Hearing the dead alienated her from classmates. Not good for a 15-year-old.

Many times very insistent, the dead cared little for her surroundings. They even bothered her in class. Dates? Forget that.

Then one day, he shows up in her room. An old dead guy. A really old famous dead guy. In living human form!

Thrilling story of battling good and evil in an ancient world.

 

ORDER YOUR COPY

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00MVGC96Y

Amazon Print: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1912513951

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/sons-of-the-sphinx-1

Tolino: https://www.thalia.de/shop/home/artikeldetails/ID151524898.html

Vivlio: https://shop.vivlio.com/product/9781912513949_9781912513949_10020

Book Depository: https://www.bookdepository.com/Sons-Sphinx-Cheryl-Carpinello/9781912513956

iBooks: https://books.apple.com/us/book/id1565754127

Nook: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/sons-of-the-sphinx-cheryl-carpinello/1120481788?ean=2940161911747

Scribd: https://www.scribd.com/book/505876516/Sons-of-the-Sphinx-Ancient-Tales-Legends-1

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