jazzfish: a black-haired man with a big sword. blood stains the snow behind (Eddard Stark)
Tempus, as Scott M-- was wont to say when Latin class ran late, is fugiting.

I don't do very much, socially speaking: board gaming once or twice a week, an RPG once a week, hanging out with a couple of friends of an evening. There are a handful of other events I've been psyching myself up to get out to, and of course there's the neverending search for Cool People To Bond With.

Even so, since mid-October I've been feeling more and more time pressure. It's like I can either write or not-write, and not-writing isn't getting me any closer to my objective. (Not the kind of not-writing that results in posts about my writing, the other kind.)
No matter what I did it never seemed enough
He said I was lazy, I said I was young
He said, "How many songs did you write?"
I'd written zero, I lied and said "Ten."
"You won't be young forever--
You should have written fifteen."
--Lou Reed & John Cale, "Work"
Come the end of May I'll have twelve days of vacation available. May's a busy month: Beach Week with the Arlington Board Gamers, WisCon, and Origins all fall within a three-week span. The original plan was to take most of those three weeks off, and work from work for the time betweek Beach Week and WisCon.

This eats up nearly all of that vacation time. Which would be acceptable... except that someone on the VP list pointed out that the Rainforest Writers Village still has several spots open. It's three weekdays, which is about the length of the time I'd need to take off for Origins at the end of those three weeks.
Andy sat down to talk one day
He said "Decide what you want:
Do you want to expand your parameters
Or play museums like some dilettante?"
I've been thinking lately about who I am and who I want to be, where "who i am" is defined by what I do. Four years ago I was a gamer. I had several consoles hooked up, I had a room full of boardgames and shelves of RPG books, I even actively sought out new computer games. Now... I'd like to do more boardgaming and role-playing but that's a desire for quality not quantity. I'd happily drop back to one RPG every two weeks if it was a sufficiently good game, and one of the best parts about living outside DC was the really good boardgaming every other weekend. I've decimated the room of boardgames and have every intention of doing the same with the RPGs as soon as I can find them a home. Video games have fallen off my radar almost entirely; I sort of miss them, but (with the exception of "soon i will make time to play Portal 2") not really.

I think I was always a storyteller, and for awhile games were my chosen medium. Thing is, they're a peculiarly passive form of storytelling. They're a way to create someone else's story. Even the best role-playing games are built around someone else's framework. I have no intention of giving them up; they're just not so prominent anymore.

VP reminded me that I don't just want to "be a writer," I want to write. Which means making choices, which are here embodied in "how I want to spend a lot of money and a not insignificant amount of time": writing retreat or gaming convention?

Really, though, it's not much of a choice. Last year GAMA decided, that having Origins at the end of June meant that people were choosing between going to Origins or GenCon, and they didn't want to force people to make that choice. So they made it for them, and moved Origins back into the school year. This resulted in, among other things, Looney Labs deciding not to have a presence at Origins 2012. Thus at least half the people I go to Origins to see won't be there this year. My original thought was that I could get back to my roots, schedule some one-shot RPG sessions, maybe do a LARP that would go better than the last disastrous Deliria LARP I played in[1].
Andy said a lot of things
I stored them all away in my head
Sometimes when I can't decide what I should do
I think "What would Andy have said?"
He'd probably say "You think too much,
That's 'cos there's work that you don't want to do."
Given the option of either seeing some people I hardly ever see and doing things that might or might not turn out to be fun, or going off for several days in the company of a couple of folks I already know are pretty much awesome, doing What I Want To Be Doing... well. I don't want to rush into a decision so I'll sleep on it (and talk it over with [personal profile] uilos when I get back home); there are probably aspects I'm not thinking through.

At least Readercon isn't until July. I'll have time to save up enough vacation for that regardless.

[1] Short version: we were members of a travelling market that got ambushed and slaughtered with no chance to fight back, get away, or otherwise save ourselves. One player got handed an inspiring speech to recite before being killed in a particularly gruesome way. We were told afterwards that this speech had a huge effect on the game world. It was quite effectively horrifying, but an empty experience in terms of the kind of role-playing I'd wanted and expected to do. If they'd told me I was signing up for a horror game I might have been willing to forgive the blatant railroading. As it happened, all I could think was "for this I skipped the Icehouse tournament?"
jazzfish: five different colors of Icehouse pyramids (iCehouse)
So, on Friday morning I woke up at quarter of four, taxied to the airport with the cat couriers (because the Skytrain doesn't run that early), and hopped a flight to Toronto. From there I caught a puddle-jumper to Columbus.

Eventually. )

But I made it okay, starving and headachey and worse for the wear. I found [personal profile] uilos and collapsed on the bed in the hotel room for probably half an hour or so, and then she herded me to North Market for the first of several weekend meals involving crepes.

And then it was Origins. )

Speculation about next year )

Overall: fun but not nearly enough of it.

And now I am home,and it's time to face the week.
jazzfish: "Do you know the women's movement has no sense of humor?" "No, but hum a few bars and I'll fake it!" (the radical notion that women are people)
So... that happened.

It mostly went by in a blur. [personal profile] uilos and I got on a plane Thursday afternoon and left DC for the start of the Great Moving Adventure. (I had to go through a nude-scan for the first time, and for the first time they caught my tiny pocketknife. Jerks.) We arrived in Madison, had dinner, and collapsed.

Friday through today was WisCon. It surprised me with awesome a bit less than last year; I expect that's because I was used to it this time. The panels and readings continued to make me reasonably happy (note to self: watch for works by Carolyn Ives Gilman and David Levine). Through great self-control I limited myself to no more than a dozen books (I think: three by Terry Bisson, another five of Aqueduct Press's small Conversation Pieces, two misc, one won in a raffle at a reading, and one from the Tiptree jury's overstock), all of which I was able to fit into the luggage. I do not say my luggage, because what with the moving process we've had to sort of combine suitcases and shove things where they'll fit. Still, it's all packed and will require no additional shipping.

I had a small handful of short conversations and spoke to absolutely no one that I'd-- no, wait, I did say hello to Claire Light, from whom I'd won a critique in an auction a few months back. But I can name five other people off the top of my head I'd meant to introduce myself to before the con, and another handful that happened to be there. In a shock to no one who's not me, I am terminally bad at going up to people and starting conversations. Oh well. Perhaps this will be forcibly improved over the next few months.

(Also, next year I fully intend to take advantage of the Friday morning writer's workshop, by having something submitted around April 15.)

(Also also, a big FUCK YOU to GAMA, who appear to have decided to move Origins to Memorial Day. NOT COOL, GAMA. NOT COOL AT ALL.)

And tomorrow we get up and board a bus to Chicago, where I will re-purchase tickets to Seattle and thence Vancouver, in the hope that the previous tickets will be returned as Undeliverable and then refunded. And then we arrive at the new apartment on Wednesday afternoon, take possession, and look at each other in befuddlement as we try to figure out where we're going to sleep until our stuff arrives on Friday.
jazzfish: five different colors of Icehouse pyramids (iCehouse)
I think I've got the timing about figured out by now: leave a little early from work on Wednesday and make [livejournal.com profile] uilos drive through traffic, stop for dinner and change drivers somewhere between Hagerstown and Cumberland, roll into Columbus around ten-thirty. Collect badge Thursday morning, party hard through Sunday night, come back Monday morning and collapse in the evening. The only reason it didn't work out perfectly this time was that I neglected to schedule sufficient introvert downtime during the con: I spent literally from Wednesday morning through Sunday at noon in the company of someone, and was completely and utterly oversocialed and wiped out.

It was an absolute delight to see [livejournal.com profile] rbandrews and Chris and [livejournal.com profile] zyxwvut and ee0r and [livejournal.com profile] isolde_deely and [livejournal.com profile] elvenyukiryu and [livejournal.com profile] kdsorceress and [livejournal.com profile] currentlee and [livejournal.com profile] psilan and gord only knows how many other people I've forgotten. There was a medium-sized expedition to Mongolian for dinner, and waffles every morning from the breakfast bar, and lots of North Market for lunches. There were hugs and scritches and fragments of good conversation, and I got to retell (in somewhat fragmented form) the saga of the Worst D&D Game Ever (moral: if the GM doesn't name the Elvish city, he doesn't get to complain when his players start wanting to go to Graceland). I spent somewhat less time in the Lab than I would have liked. Next year I think I shall sign up to run something again, quite possibly some number of Fluxxen.

I did place in the Icehouse tournament, which is something. Of course, out of the five competitors, four placed; on the other hand, I won two of my four games and still came in second after a tiebreaker, and third in the single-game finals where the scores were all within four points of each other. High level of play all around this year.

I spent a great deal of time in the Board Room taking advantage of the open gaming, and got to try out the Samurai card game based on the board game (verdict: play the board game) and Priests Of Ra, a sequel to the auction game Ra (verdict: play the original), and other things that were decent. I talked Chris into buying Homesteaders on the argument of "this seems like the kind of thing you'll like, and I'm happy to teach it," and was rewarded with him winning by around twelve points (a significant margin) and "this is exactly the kind of thing I like," which made me very happy. He taught Neuland, which is fun but (at least with four players) is made of downtime. I purchased and played British Rails (crayon rails in Britain, go figure) and Golden City (a Michael Schacht connection game with some extra chrome), and got in a late-nite session of At The Gates Of Loyang in which we grew and sold six varieties of wooden vegetables.

Other than the aforementioned two games, plus Italia (Britannia in Italy! Recreate the epic sweep of Italian history, except for the boring parts where the Roman empire dominated everything), I mostly picked up RPGs this year, which felt odd since I gave up trying to interpret the convention program book relatively quickly and didn't actually play any. I snagged Ganakagok, a game [livejournal.com profile] uilos and I played in last year about Inuit mythmaking, and a handful of other indie RPGs. I also snagged a few cheap games including GURPS Alpha Centauri (the RPG based on the computer game that includes a unit from a board game from the same publisher as the RPG...). And also the In Nomine Ethereal Player's Guide, which I only snagged because I'm vaguely interested in how IN handles nonaligned spirits (IN being a game of roleplaying angels and/or demons); it wasn't until after I got it back to the hotel room that I realised it was by R. Sean Borgstrom, of Nobilis fame.

Origins isn't Beach Week. It's higher stress, for, I think, higher reward. I'm closer to the people there. I need that sometimes. I just also need to remember to take time Off.

And now I am tired and a little grumpy and I seem to have misplaced one of the 624 chits from Italia, probably back in the Hampton. Oh well. At least my replacement debit card came in the mail sometime last week.
jazzfish: five different colors of Icehouse pyramids (iCehouse)
So, Origins. Driving down Wednesday afternoon is an acceptable plan; missing Lab setup doesn't make me cry, missing the insanity of the Wednesday night Fluxx tournament makes me happy, and saving a vacation day for use elsewhere is certainly a good thing. Contrariwise, staying over Sunday night and taking Monday as a driving and recuperating day is a far better plan than driving back Sunday afternoon/evening: it gives me one more night of Origins, and it means I'm not completely fried when I get back to work.

The whole experience felt skimpy this year. Bought a couple RPG books, and a couple of games I'd been meaning to pick up anyway. Overloaded on Lab time on Friday with mastering for the overlong Zendo tournament, so skipped the IIT on Satyrday for my own mental health. (Although I did hand over the scepter to Mr Davenport, to whom congratulations.) Played perhaps a half-dozen games, and two RPGs.

On the other hand, I saw a whole mess of good people that I only ever see at Origins, I got to play two RPGs, and in general the whole weekend was sort of the last gasp of my vacation time.

Also, North Market still sells the best convention food ever.

I'll be going back next year but not working as much in the Lab. I am no longer a broke college student; I'm a DINK. Time is in much shorter supply than money. I don't need the free badge; I need the gaming. I'll likely continue to run Fluxx because it gives me a good excuse to be in the Lab and see people and wear my labcoat, but that's about it.
jazzfish: d6s stacked in an Escheresque triangle (Head-hurty dice)
Wednesday morning of Origins:

9:00 Depart from Rockville.
9:05 Get on 270N at exit 4.
9:06 Get passed by fire engine. Notice black plume of smoke up ahead. Swear.
9:40 Pass still-burning trash truck at exit 6.

Other than that. . . )


Jul. 1st, 2008 04:06 pm
jazzfish: five different colors of Icehouse pyramids (iCehouse)
I gather from [livejournal.com profile] zyxwvut's reaction that he may be interested in Secret Project Rock.

Actual Origins report to follow (short form: awesome); for now, you'll have to settle for my International Icehouse Tournament report. )
jazzfish: Pig from "Pearls Before Swine" standing next to a Ball O'Splendid Isolation (Ball O'Splendid Isolation)
Origins to change name to Origins.

Checkers has been solved, and the perfect-play bot has been implemented on Volity. Mostly linking because [livejournal.com profile] radiotelescope's comment amused me no end.

I appear to be surviving on under seven hours of sleep; perhaps that means I'm really getting better. That would be nice. I've had about enough fun being ill.

Tonight I shall fake sociability in an effort to deny that I am falling to pieces. (Not really. Lyme disease isn't leprosy.)

Sometime this week I shall do some writing because it's been too long. (Among other reasons.) A bit of serious omphaloskepsis is also on the schedule.
jazzfish: five different colors of Icehouse pyramids (iCehouse)
Um. I went back and forth between the Lab and the hotel room a lot trying to remain functional enough to run Fluxx tournaments and still have some amount of fun with [livejournal.com profile] uilos while breaking the fever. Didn't work terribly well, although we did manage to get to a single outside-the-Lab event (Shear Panic, which has awesome sheep and is an okay game) and walked the exhibit hall a bit. On what I guess must have been Friday night I pulled myself together enough to send [livejournal.com profile] heptadecagram on a Kroger run for ibuprofen and orange juice. He returned with these things and also with an Ohio State sweatshirt, in which I remained bundled for most of the rest of the con.

Games. Convinced [livejournal.com profile] rbandrews to purchase Duel in the Dark, a two-player game about British bombing raids over Germany. Basically, the British player preprograms the flight path of the bomber, then the German player sets up static defences, then the bomber makes its run while the British and German fighters try to defend and attack it respectively. It's neat and not very wargamey at all. There was the aforementioned Shear Panic. I acquired Inkognito, an interesting partnership deduction game featuring the Nun of Fate, and Attribute, which looks kind of like Apples to Apples if that were a game and not merely a party activity. And a couple of very nifty-looking small-press RPGs, about which more anon (probably in the media log).

People. Missed seeing practically everyone from Boston ([livejournal.com profile] xalolo was just about it; [livejournal.com profile] ndkid isn't really "from Boston"). Managed to meet a few new people (a handful of Fluxx players, and [livejournal.com profile] elvenyukiryu who gives backrubs, and apparently-LJ-less Jessie Clark from just north of Abingdon), and met and remembered this time [livejournal.com profile] muzikmaker21. Didn't get nearly as many hugs as I would have liked due to fear of contagion.

Food. North Market is of course made of awesome. Maybe next year I'll get to try their ice cream. Ongolian was closed on Wednesday for the Fourth so we went to a place where they give you too much good Italian food to split among a bunch of people instead. Tasty but, well, it's not Ongolian. Other than that I didn't really eat a whole lot, or taste much of what I ate.

I really do feel like I missed half of Origins this year. I didn't even get to compete in the IIT. With any luck next year will be better.
jazzfish: an open bottle of ether, and George conked out (Ether George)
Well, ever since our last episode . . .

A red splotch with a darker center appeared on the back of my knee Wednesday morning. I figured it was just a spider bite. We loaded into Liam's car and headed off for Origins.

The stupid 24-hour bug refused to go away, at /all/. This made my days consist primarily of running Fluxx tournaments with a steadily increasing fever, and then going back to the hotel room to collapse for awhile and let the fever drop a bit. Then repeat in the evening. On the bright side it was totally non-contagious.

I'd been wearing pants so the splotch wasn't really noticeable. Neither was the one that had appeared along my collarbone. On Satyrday Emily noticed that the original one had gotten substantially darker, larger, and generally more unhappy-looking. And we put a few things together and realised that I probably had Lyme disease.

Came home yesterday and went straight out to the doctor, who agreed with our diagnosis and gave me a three-week regimen of antibiotics. The fever broke (for good, it seems) last night. Now I'm just exhausted pretty much all the time. No work today or tomorrow, maybe not Thursday either.

Seasons change with the scenery
Weaving time in a tapestry
Won't you stop and remember me

I /do/ have two mostly-full bottles of vodka in the freezer, but I hate vodka.

Many many many thanks to everyone who took care of me this week, especially Emily for being Emily, Liam for getting orange juice and a sweatshirt (Ohio State yay!), and Carol for running the Stoner Fluxx tournament at midnight so I could go home and collapse.

?skip=425. 'Bout average, I think.


Jul. 3rd, 2007 04:47 pm
jazzfish: an open bottle of ether, and George conked out (Ether George)
Another twenty-four-hour bug (well, probably thirty-six). At least this one started last night, so it will be mostly done by the time I get in the car. And the last one wasn't contagious, so I doubt this one will be.

It is clearly bringing out my latent brilliance. I don't know ahead of time whether I will be too warm or too cold in the car tomorrow. Solution: wear pants that turn into shorts! I am so smart.

Now if I could just figure out why I'm hungry. Might have something to do with not having wanted any lunch, perhaps.
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] lolgaimans, which is more or less self-explanatory. Personal favorites include You get what everyone gets . . . and My stories.

For [livejournal.com profile] desfido, The Couch-to-5K Running Plan. My advice, distilled from everything people have told me: 1) it's a good plan; 2) drink before and after you run; 3) get running shoes, they don't have to be expensive but they do need to provide some support and cushion; 4) regulate your breathing and breathe out more often than you breathe in; 5) if you get bad shin splints, stretch the back of your lower legs by putting the balls of one foot on a curb and pressing the heel down for about ten seconds, then doing the other leg.

Me, I've been reasonably conscientious about getting out three mornings a week and doing just over two miles in just under 25 minutes. The past couple of weeks have been absolutely horrid: humidity of 80% makes it feel like I'm breathing through molasses. (Today was a delightful fifty-five degrees, and not overly humid.) Week after next I'll try varying my route, see if I can add length without too much elevation. I seem to have reached one of those pesky plateaus, though. Weight and size haven't changed since about February. Grr.

Origins in two days. It always seems to sneak up on me. This will be a weird year; as [livejournal.com profile] rbandrews pointed out, there won't be anyone from Blacksburg there this year. End of an era, or something.
jazzfish: an open bottle of ether, and George conked out (Ether George)
Origins occurred, games were played, Fluxx was run, conversations were had, Thoughts were Thunk. I swam and walked and bought and played and generally had a good time despite not sleeping well. The parts of the Hampton that weren't the desk staff were wonderful and helpful and tasty (depending on whether they were the pool, the non-desk staff, or the breakfast). Got a wonderful massage from [livejournal.com profile] ancientsong (hi there!) and got some stretches that I apparently need badly to be doing, since I walk so much on the balls of my feet. Played in a Deliria LARP that appears to have been made of poor timing and bad ideas on our part (my boss decided that the best idea EVER would be to hire a notoriously unreliable type of faery guide and tell him "Take us into fairyland!" without giving him any more destination requirements). Died horribly in another Deliria game (of which more later). North Market and Mongolian and peanut-butter-and-[livejournal.com profile] uilos-pomegranate-jelly sandwiches on labmade bread. The myriad people I only ever see at Origins. Babbling and incoherence and sleep-dep, oh my.

The lady on the plane next to me yesterday explained, when I told her I was a writer, that as a former English Major she had had dreams of being a major novelist, but she was making a living instead, and she hoped to one day have enough free time to write.

And I remembered Gene Wolfe getting up at 5.00 am every day and writing two pages before going in to work, and I told her that if she wanted to be a writer she ought to write. ("It's like most jobs," I told. "It's amazing how much of it just consists of showing up." But she didn't believe me.)

--Neil Gaiman, 2006-06-23

It's not all that much sleep-dep, I suppose. The world only feels about two feet further away than it ought.


Jul. 4th, 2005 06:13 pm
jazzfish: an open bottle of ether, and George conked out (Ether George)
Home from Origins. Had fun. Bought stuff.
?skip=250. Slow week.
Classes start tomorrow. Still not signed up for my independent study. This will be interesting.
More later.

Edit: from [livejournal.com profile] vvalkyri, "If, as you live your life, you find yourself mentally composing LJ entries about it, post this exact same sentence in your Live Journal." My problem is that they get half-written in my head and never fully written on paper. Dana was supposed to help with that.


Jul. 8th, 2004 11:59 pm
jazzfish: an open bottle of ether, and George conked out (Ether George)
Talked to my parents this evening for the first time since Origins. Pepsi, the hyperactive terrier we've had since I was seventeen, had to be put to sleep earlier this week. Couldn't digest food, etc. Sad, but not crippling-sad; she was an annoyingly hyperactive puppy for the two years I lived with her, and as such caught more resentment from me than she really deserved. We started getting along a lot better around about the time I started actually getting on well with my parents, which would be three or four years ago, I think.

Work sucks, and is about to start sucking a lot more: Liz, the fairly cool new assistant manager that I've worked with only a few times, got a real job in Richmond, and is leaving. Emily hasn't decided whether she's really quitting or just dropping back to very-few-hours-per-week. This leaves us with Leigh the manager who's probably an okay guy, Kyle the assistant manager who's a bit of a rules nazi, David who's a slackass and who talks all the time, Janet who's technically a keyholder and is even more of a slackass than David [though Janet is at least capable of shutting up], and Mary who doesn't ever show up to work on time. Well, and me.

Samurai is a rather cool game. I heartily encourage all those with an interest in strategy boardgames to download the computer version from Klear Games and give it a try. Some interface wonkiness, and make sure you play with the Classic ruleset and not the Domination one, but in all pretty good. The AI is decent as well.

I keep meaning to write up thoughts on people from Origins and not really having all that much to say. It mostly boils down to "I'm uncomfortable talking to people I don't know well," really. [livejournal.com profile] prog in particular made an effort to engage me in conversation several times, which I definitely appreciated; but I still felt like I was being way more awkward than I should have been. This didn't/doesn't happen in games, though. Give me something else outside of conversation to think about, and it's about an order of magnitude easier. Unsure if this is just having something to distract me or if it's the having something else to focus on. [Also curious: despite having spent an equally small time around both of them, I feel like I know [livejournal.com profile] cthulhia a lot better than [livejournal.com profile] prog. Probably due to the different nature of their LJs.]


Jun. 29th, 2004 09:34 pm
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
Rocked. )

Loot )

A wonderful, wonderful convention. Thank you all so much.


Jun. 28th, 2004 05:21 pm
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
Back from Origins. Had a great time, wish you'd been there. [Unless you're one of the numerous people reading this who was there, in which case it was really good to see you.]

?skip=200. Must've been a slow week.

jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
Ever since our last episode... )
Big thanks and hugs to those who provided emotional support where it was needed. (no, not for me, you twits.)
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
The Story of Bread: This is far too funny. I laughed out loud for the five minutes or so it took me to read it.

Origins. I laughed, I cried, I fell down, it changed my life. (Bonus points to people who recognise that and aren't [livejournal.com profile] vond.) Overall, good. Met up with [livejournal.com profile] chaosnymph, [livejournal.com profile] rikchik[1], [livejournal.com profile] sirleebutler, [livejournal.com profile] subbes, [livejournal.com profile] the_radix, [livejournal.com profile] ts52, [livejournal.com profile] ubiquity, and [livejournal.com profile] zyxwvut, plus a bunch of the LJless. Sadly missing from last year were [livejournal.com profile] cthulhia, [livejournal.com profile] elphie, [livejournal.com profile] mnemex, [livejournal.com profile] prog, [livejournal.com profile] queue, and Zarf. Real update coming tomorrow, as today was decreed to be a Vacation.

[1] I'm assuming that rikchik == dmm. Can someone confirm or deny?
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
And then I got inspired enough to write up an Origins report.
(Actually, I got bored enough with Evolution (so-so Dreamcast RPG) to write up
an Origins report, but who's counting?)
Read more... )


jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
Tucker McKinnon


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Adventures in Mamboland

"Jazz Fish, a saxophone playing wanderer, finds himself in Mamboland at a critical phase in his life." --Howie Green, on his book Jazz Fish Zen

Yeah. That sounds about right.

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