Month: October 2015

It’s That Time Again!

Last year, Sigyn and I went all-out for Halloween.  Costumes, pumpkins, candy–festivities galore!  This year, the humans and Sigyn and I have been very busy, and we don’t havea time for cucurbitaceous carvings, but we can dress up!

Sigyn started talking about what she wanted to be this year sometime back in July.  “I want to be a butterfly!”  Well, what’s the point of having a a sorcerous paramour if you can’t get what you want?  Behold:  the most beautiful Lepidopteran ever,  Legovanessa sigynii.

Sigyn

And because “couple’s costumes” are a Midgardian tradition, I have joined Sigyn in insectile raiment.

Loki

Let the extortion of sweets begin!  Fisi has been recruited to accompany us and carry the pillowcase full of tasty loot.

ready to go

(later)

Now, I’m no mathematician, but I think that the odds of every house in the neighborhood handing out the same type of candy must be vanishingly small.

divvy

I think there is probably a journal paper to be written about this.

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More Field Day

That’s a relief. The human female has managed to haul her carcass down off the mountain.  I was thinking I was going to have to bring out my most powerful magic to shift her.  I made sure to keep Sigyn well behind her on the way down, so that if there was a tumble, my beloved wouldn’t be crushed beneath far too many pounds of bouncing botanist.

We have repaired to the lovely farmhouse belonging to a local naturalist.  And look!  Lunch!  While the human female talks edible plants with an anthropologist, Sigyn and I shall check out the dessert table.  What are those little cakes?  Ah!  So that’s what a madeleine looks like!  I have read about those!

treats

Sigyn, you found your way inside the fly screen.  Can you find your way out on your own, or do you need help?

What the—?  The hostess is handing out thank-you gifts to this morning’s presenters and to the leader of the upcoming afternoon plant walk, and the human female was just given a gift and hailed as an expert!  Really?  Do you mean all her botanistic drabble has actually been heeded by anyone is actually being lauded?  Surely not.

But here we go!  As I may have mentioned before, the latter half if this year has been abysmally dry, so what plants there are are mostly looking unenthusiastic, if not actually crispy.  Sand shuffles underfoot and is rising with every step.  (The human female is sure to have brown nose boogers tonight.  Eew.)  It’s warm, and the posey procession is moving at a gastropod’s gait.

For all the human female’s vaunted prowess in the field, it is my beloved who has found the first interesting plant.  This is one of the sumacs, known for reliably producing fall color in this otherwise drab part of Midgard.

sumac

Augh!  I believe the Norns have decreed that each time Sigyn stops to take a photo, the sun will be in my eyes.

Despite there not being much in flower, the human female is finding plenty to blather about as we walk very, very slowly down the path.  Oak, oak, oak, elm, croton, poison ivy (careful, Sigyn!), grass, grass, grass, cactus (ehehehehehehe–the human female now has a pant cuff full of little barb-y hairs!), yellow daisy thing, yellow daisy thing, smaller yellow daisy thing.

Tall purplish-pinky daisy thing!

palafoxia

Nerd fact:  what looks like a single blossom is actually a whole bouquet of tiny florets.  Sigyn, I know they are pretty, but look!  There is a bee there!  Stick close to me and do NOT climb up there!

The human female and her hostess are having a fine time putting names on every single plant, but some of the other walkers are starting to flag from the heat, the sand, and the uninterruptible stream of botanese issuing from the know-it-all leading this meander.  Someone has just mentioned heading back.  Yes, please!  I hear lemonade calling!

I thought we’d be going home now, but argh!  I forgot:  After every every expedition, botanists feel the need to sit down and rehash everything they saw, write out a list of slanty Latin names, and make plans for future trips.  Please, can’t we be done now?

Oh, no.  Nerd alert!  The books have come out.  In particular this big black one.

keying

There are hundreds and hundreds of pages of dense, inscrutable angiospermic verbiage.  Blocks and blocks of text and hardly any pictures.  What’s this?  The human female wrote this behemoth?  Somehow this doesn’t entirely surprise me–she’s as un-shutuppable on paper as she is in person.  Be careful handling the pages, Sigyn, in case the nerdiness rubs off.

After a quick trip around the acres and acres of this ranch on a spiffy electric cart , plotting out paths for future surveying, the human female has finally accepted a gift of a dozen farm fresh eggs, promised to return, said her goodbyes, and loaded everything back into the car for the drive home.

Did you have a fun day, Sigyn?  Between tales of gold and golden daisy thingies, I’m actually sort of glad I came.

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Another Day, Another Outcrop

It would seem that the human female has not had enough of sun, sand, and scrambling about over rocks looking at planty things.  She and Sigyn got up at the merest whimper of dawn this morning to go to a “field day” in the next county over.  I had heard the Midgardian expression “having a field day” before, but I had never understood the context.  Apparently, it means, “gathering the nature nerds together to tromp all over the countryside, poking at things.” I can think of better ways to spend a day, but someone has to make sure the human female gets Sigyn home safely, so here I am, en route to a place called “Sugarloaf.”  I can’t imagine what sort of place it could be–on Asgard, bread comes in loaves and sugar comes on sticky buns.  Perhaps there will be bakery snacks where we are going?

We have arrived.  It turns out that Sugarloaf is a mountain–or what passes for a mountain in this part of Midgard.  Sugar used to be molded into tall, pointy loaves for shipping, hence the name.  Our path begins at the bridge over the nearby Little River.

bridge

It is a very slow, glassy river. With the drought, it is down by a good number of feet.  The human female suggested I step up on the railing for a better view, but fool me once…

Down near where the cars have been parked and the field trip folks are gathering and gearing up, Sigyn has found some woolly croton.  Sweetie, it’s coolish right now, so I can understand wanting a warm hat, but the afternoon is supposed to be warm, so I don’t think you will want it for long.

croton

You can’t tell from the above photo, but I took the human female’s hand lens our of her little pack before we left home.  She’s going to want that later.

The human female is definitely getting too old for this.  I am listening to her huff and puff, hauling herself up the side of this sandstone monolith, and wondering if she’s going to make it at all, and it’s not that far.  Too many late nights, too many cookies.

We have reached the summit, or what is left of it.  This is one enormous chunk of rock.  Oooo. What’s the green stuff?

lichen

Ah.  A lichen.  Look–there are gray ones, too.  Now the plant nerds on this trip are happy, because green things.  (But technically, lichens aren’t plants.)

A geologist and historian are now lecturing about the geological and historical significance of this site.  I’m am half listening to the rock expert go on about layers and Oligocene marine sediments and ferret oxides (what do weasels have to do with reddish rocks?!)  Mostly I am enjoying the view, which is actually rather nice.

view1

Look–away out there, Sigyn.  You can see the bridge.  Wow.  You don’t realize how FLAT this part of Midgard is until you get up someplace like this and can see there is not. one. single. hill. anywhere within a million kilometers.

view2

Nor any fall color.  Well, all right.  I suppose tan is a color.

Oh, hey–this is getting interesting.  The historian is telling us about Native Americans and Spanish explorers and hidden gold and murders!  Treasure hunters blew the top off this mountain, looking for the gold, but no one ever found it.  That settles it.  At the earliest opportunity, I am coming back.  With my magic, I bet I could find it in no time.  I shall have to study the topographical maps and examine the rocks most thoroughly.

top

Do you see anything sparkly, Sigyn?

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Mischief Update: Chasing the Elusive 10

I haven’t done a lot of mischief this week, but I like to think it has been high-quality mischief.  None of this slip-shod, half-assed, mildly-annoying business.  No, by the Norns’ flowered nighties, only the best for the human female.

Every semester, she orders “flash gels” for one of the labs, handy (but expensive) pre-formed electrophoresis gels that run in minutes rather than hours.  This time, after ordering them, the prep techs let her know that they also needed the “ladder,” a reference portion of DNA that yields a known result against which tests can be measured.  With me so far?  Well, because she is an inveterate penny-pincher, the human female placed the order for the ladder, then called the company and asked if they could hold the first order until the second arrived, so they could ship together, thus saving on postage.  It was at this point I stepped in, so when the Helpful Person at Gels-R-Us looked up the orders in the system, the second one hadn’t even posted yet, but the Helpful Person put a note on the first order to hold until the second arrived.  The human called again the next day to try to make sure things went as planned.  The Helpful Person she talked to said yes, the second order was in the system now, but she couldn’t find the FIRST order.  Eventually, it was located, and after checking that both items would ship from the same place (the parent company of Gels-R-Us has branches in two states), the human female was assured that YES!  Postage would be saved!  All hail, Combined Shipping!

Ever laugh so hard that your beverage comes out your nose?  That’s what I did when the second order arrived separately, a day before the first.

Then there were the pipette guts.  There are a lot pipettes (gadgets for picking up, transferring, and dispensing an accurately-measured tiny amount of liquid) where the human female works, and last year she bought a whole flock of them when she was outfitting a new classroom.  I played with one of the new ones the other day, and I might have shaken loose the metal thingy from the plastic dohickey on the piston assembly.  The instrument was out of warranty, but it has seen so little use that the human female felt justified in asking the Pipette Purveyor for a replacement–or at least the replacement part.  Her blandishment skills are pretty good, and the Pipette Purveyor agreed.  After going around and around about whether it was more efficacious to mail the pipette to the Purveyor or for the Purveyor to send the part, the latter was decided upon.  The part arrived and was installed.  Then the human female received an e-mail from a friend who works in a different department, in a different College at the University.  The invoice (showing $0 owed) had showed up in HER office.  The humans are still trying to figure that one out.   Ehehehehe!  Useless bits of erroneous paper!  Is it even worth it to try to get a correct invoice for zero dollars?  The human female made a lunch date with her friend, to eat and chat and hand over the invoice, but they got so caught up in talking about Purchasing Nightmares that both of them FORGOT to hand it off!   Ehehehehe…

And then there are the UV light bulbs.  You remember playing, “Who’s Got the Bulb?”, yes?  The hard-won order hadn’t arrived, so the human female called Fisher to check up on them.  She was told the bulbs woul’d ship on November 6.  Or perhaps November 7.  Appeased, the human female regaled the Helpful Person with the long saga of Bulb Acquisition, not glossing over my role in the story.  The Helpful Person was so amused that she offered to double check the status of the order with Bulb Moguls.  After some considerable time on hold, the human female was told that Bulb Moguls wouldn’t sell Fisher just two, either!  The case of ten is inviolate and must not be broken!  Since the order is marked “drop ship,” it is NEVER going to come unless the human female orders 8 more, at roughly $50 apiece.  She asked the Fisher Helpful Person whether Fisher couldn’t order a whole case and, you know, actually have them on hand for when someone wants to order them. The Helpful Person is looking into this (has to talk to Sales), but in in these days of on-demand, zero-inventory merchandising, the human female may yet end up banging her head against the nearest hard surface.  Find the headache pills; I think she’s going to need them.

Oh, oh!  I almost forgot one! Do you remember when I arranged for the pharmacy to send the human female drugs she didn’t need and didn’t want and wasn’t going to pay for, and then the pharmacy issued her a refund for the money she didn’t pay for the pills she didn’t take? Yesterday another refund check came, for the bizarre amount of $9.79.

Now she definitely needs the headache medicine.  I give this week a 9.5.

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I Don’t Think This is One of Idunn’s…

This is one of the apples the human female brought back from the big market.  If I’m interpreting the little sticker correctly, this one is called ‘Roxbury Russet.’

apple3

According to the human female, this is “perhaps the oldest American apple, having been found and named in the town of Roxbury, back in the days when Massachusetts was merely a colony.”  Some apples are better keepers than others, but let us hope that is not when this particular individual was harvested.

It is not much to look at, is it, Sigyn?  Small, hard, and green.  There are many prettier, more colorful varieties.  And look!  It’s all rough and brown around the stem.

roxburyrussett2

Oh.  It’s supposed to look that way?  That’s called “russeting” and it’s harmless?  Well, well.  There’s a Midgardian belief that one should learn something new every day.  I have now accomplished this and can go home and go to bed.  But first, I am curious about how this apple tastes.

(munch, munch, munch.)  A bit mealy, but then again, it’s the end of its season.  Juicy, sweet with a nice tartness to balance it.  And even the peel is tasty.  Or, as the human female has noted in her apple-eating journal, “gobble-worthy.”  (She has no manners AT ALL.)

Hard, green, a bit rough around the edges, but unexpectedly delicious. Remind you of anyone?

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A Quick Trip for Odd Things

No trip to the Big City to the South would be complete without a  raid on  visit to the large market full of interesting foodstuffs.  The humans are supremely predictable.  They always start in the produce department.  The female likes to coo at all the weird vegetables and fruits.  One of these days I will magic something to talk back to her just to watch her puny mind unravel.

Perhaps it will be one of these fiery fellows.  I imagine they have a lot to say.

scoville

Hmm.  That one on the right has horns and an attitude.  I like him.

It’s apple season, and while she hasn’t found any new varieties to sample, she has found a few heirloom cultivars she knows she likes.  Stand back, Sigyn, she gets all grabby hands around old apples and you don’t want to get snatched by mistake.

By Fandral’s Mustache Wax!  What’s wrong with these citrus fruits?

stripeylemons

The sign says they are lemons and are pink inside.  Striped pink lemons?  That sounds like the wacky sort of mischief I would dream up, but these are not my doing.

Hugin and Munin’s downy pinfeathers!  What on earth is this thing?!

buddhahand

If you could induce a grapefruit to conduct a romance with a bunch of bananas, the twisted offspring might look like this on a bad hair day.  According to the human female, this is a “Buddha hand, grown for its aromatic rind rather than any edible flesh.”  (sniff sniff)  Mmm.  Come here Sigyn and smell this.  It really does smell delicious!

Uh, oh. The humans are saying we have to hurry and get on the road for home, since this is just a short day-trip.  Last stop, spice aisle!  Scoop ’em up, weigh ’em out, slap on a label, and off we go.

(later, at home)

Let us discover what aromatic wonders precipitated a trip to the spice department.  Oh ho!  This must be meant just for me.  Green, sprightly, pointy, rare, and expensive.

cardamom

Cardamom pods!  If it would ever get properly cold outside, the human male would put these in some spiced cider.  It might be time for some Frost Giant weather magic so that day can come sooner!

Ah–they purchased Sigyn’s favorite as well.  She just loves the sweet blend of flavors and scents in Chinese Five Spice Powder.  If the human female weren’t quite so lazy, we could perhaps persuade her to make us some cookies.

5-spice

(sniff  sniff  achoo! achoo! achoo!)

Sweetie, I know you love it, but please come out of the bag…

5-spice-2

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Same Madness, Different City

I like my new green fountain pen well enough and would happily call a halt to the search for whatever ill-defined ne plus ultra of pendom the humans are seeking, but No!  There must be MORE PENS!  MORE INK!  Somewhere there awaits an ink or a nib they have not tried and there is no rest for anyone until totality is reached.

Thus Sigyn and I find ourselves whisked away (well, as whisk-y as the traffic will allow, which isn’t very) to the Pen Emporium in the Big City to the South.  *Yawn.*  Old news, mortals.

The human female is taking the opportunity to try out the Namiki Falcon Fine Soft nib she thinks might work well with her handwriting.

falcon

Look at that hieroglyphic mess!  Flamingos?  Really?  Turns out that while it feels quite nice to write with, it really doesn’t flex as much as she hoped, and it doesn’t miraculously give her perfect penmanship.  I could have predicted that.

The next nib is a clever little one that is adjustable from stiff to soft.  Let us see what that produces.

adjustable

Blots, mostly.  Oh, well. It was worth a try, I suppose.  And while we are examining the results, what color would you say that ink is, hmm?  It is called Noodler’s Texas Blue Steel (I am not making this up!) The female maintains it is a dark teal.  The male says it is a steel blue with no green at all.  Greenish!  Blue!  GreenishNo green!  Ehehehehehe!  This is marvelous–I think they may actually come to blows!

Rats! The humans are moving on to testing every other ink they can find.

inktesting

Great Frigga’s corset!  What possible use could one have for that screaming yellow?  The Rome Burning is an intriguing shade, and I quite like the Antietam (looks like dried blood), but where are all the good greens?

While the male continues to try every. single. tester. bottle. ever, the female has wandered over to look at the pre-filled sissy gel pens.  Given her inability to write with a fountain pen without besmearing herself and her surroundings utterly…

hand

…this is probably wise.  (The above was AFTER washing.) You can see some of the ones she’s tested toward the bottom of the photo above.  After a LOT of dithering, she has picked out two greens, a teal, and a purple.  (It is purple, woman.  No amount of you calling it “Antique Violet” will keep it from being a purple pen.)

Sigyn is using the gel pens to draw a little violet or something.

sigyndoodle

Not bad for using her non-dominant hand, though you can see her coloring wobbled a little.  Sigyn, may I try the dark green one?

IMG_5669

Oh, that will do quite well, when my fountain pen isn’t handy.  I shall mark where the human female puts it and purloin it at the earliest opportunity.

The male has just examined (at the female’s behest) a bottle of something called King Philip’s Requiem.  King Philip’s Revenge would be a more apt name!  Ehehehe!  It is a most violent shade of magenta-fuchsia, and the over-filled bottle has dribbled ink everywhere, much in the manner of the dreaded pink stain in that famous Midgardian children’s book about the cake-eating feline.  I do not know what heinous crime the ghost of King Philip is avenging, but his retribution is indeed terrible to behold.  While everyone else cleans up, Sigyn and I will enjoy this pastel repast which the proprietor has set out for valued customers such as ourselves.

cake

Ehehehe!  Oh, no!  Ehehehehehe!  The human male has actually purchased the magenta ink!  It was the last of its kind, a tester bottle, and the proprietor opened it to see how much remained, so as to set a price upon it.  I distracted him and he did not secure the lid properly afterwards. The check-out clerk, the clerk’s computer mouse, and the check-out counter have now all been liberally anointed, and the Revenge continues to spread. Sometimes these mortals make it just too easy.

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Mischief Update: Let’s Play a Little Game

Let’s play a little game.  Can you tell which bits of mischief are mine and which are not?  Grab yourself a piece of scratch paper and the scribing instrument of your choice and decide whether each of the following is Loki or Not Loki

Questions:

  1. Hurricane Patricia
  2.  The large printer-copier in the human female’s office suddenly decided it didn’t want to talk to any of the networked computers.  Twice.
  3. The human female’s field trip for tomorrow has been cancelled.
  4. The human female ordered disposable scrub tops and pants for students to wear if they spill something on their clothes that necessitates their removal.  The pants came.  The tops did not. After waiting, she called, and the company said they had no record of an order for tops.  What followed was like some well-rehearsed Midgardian vaudeville routine. “So it’s the pants you need?”  “No, the pants came.  I need tops.” “I don’t have an order for tops.”  “Yes you do.  They are on the same order.”  “So we need to send the pants?”  “No, we received the pants. It’s the tops we need.” “Pants?”
  5. Windows 10
  6. The human female needed to refill one of the prescriptions that keep her tired carcass running.  The online refill site wouldn’t let her log in, just kept dumping her back to the start page.  When she was finally able to submit the refill on a different site, she learned that the pharmacy changed their software provider without notice.  When she went to pick up the headache remedy, not only had they packaged nine little pills in three separate boxes, they had also refilled a different medicine, which she did not need.  Total time spent: 30 minutes on a 5-minute operation.
  7. The cat left a steaming pile of disgruntlement squarely on the sofa cushion when the humans were late getting home.
  8. Daylight Saving Time
  9. The humans’ dish-washing machine has died with a whimper.  It can fill, and it can heat, but all the moving bits no longer move.  It is capable of an unhappy whine, and that is it.
  10. There has been one more student lab accident, and another staff injury involving stitches.

I’ll just drop this photo in here so that you can’t immediately see the answers below.  It’s an oldie but a goodie.

sundews

Answers.  Score 10 points for each correct answer.

  1. Not Loki.  Since this is a storm with wind and thunder and rain and lightning and it’s big and unstoppable, I’d look to Thor for someone to blame.
  2. Definitely Loki.  Since the human male is the departmental computer geek, he got to come over and try to figure out just what the problem was.  The problem was that I was a little bored. Twice.
  3. Not Loki.  Again, most weather problems can be laid at my brother’s feet.  Sigyn was looking forward to the trip, and I can deny her nothing, so no, not Loki.
  4. Totally Loki.  The tops are supposedly on their way, but they haven’t arrived yet, so don’t file this as Mischief Completed just yet!
  5. Definitely NOT Loki.  As much as I like tampering with people’s computers, I am not wholly evil.
  6. Loki all the way.  I though the gross over-packaging was a nice touch.  Also, it might not be a coincidence that the migraines started about the time I came to live with the humans…
  7. Not Loki.  But I did laugh!  She puked up a huge hairball on the same day, so there was a mess for each of the humans to clean up, which was even funnier.  Keep up the good work, kitty!
  8. Not Loki, but I look forward to watching the humans grumble about coming home in the dark all winter.  The male, especially, routinely consigns the inventors of DST to the most painful regions of the netherworld.
  9. Loki.  I had some spectacular sparks and acrid smells planned too, but the human female had the presence of mind to unplug it, drat her.
  10. Mostly Loki.  I provide the elbow-nudges and distractions. How the students and staff respond is up to them. The human responsible for receiving the incident reports has struck up a friendship with the human female since they spend so much time communicating and commiserating!

So how did you do?  Leave your score in the comments!

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Old Botanical Friends (Sigyn Speaks)

After all the playing indoors with pens, it feels so good to get out into the field!  Last year the human female very kindly let Loki and me help her with looking for the rare plant she studies.  What with one thing and another (mostly being busy and/or sick, as well as coordinating with other botanists), she is late getting back out to the outcrop this year.  But here we are, with our eyes open, looking for Prairie False Foxglove.

Look at all the flowers!  Fall is apparently a very bloomy season here, drought notwithstanding.  I just got out of the car, and I already found this bright-blue dayflower (Commelina erecta.)

dayflower

They call them that because they only last one day.  The human female says they are also known as Widow’s Tears, for the same reason.  I don’t think that’s very nice.  You can read more about them here.

Loki has also found something blue.  This is autumn sage, Salvia azurea.  He’s frowning. I suppose it is more beautiful than comfy to sit in.

salvia

My next plant is a fall-flowering Obedient Plant.  All the others flower in the spring–remember?  We saw some in the local woods back in May.

physostegia

But is the Agalinis here?  There are a lot of white flowers, and yellow ones…

thelesperma

… and green ones, and grass, but is the rare plant blooming this year?  I remember that they are pink and rather showy, but I’m not seeing ANY, which is a little scary.

The human female has stopped to make some notes about what we aren’t seeing.

Um?  What is this right here next to your knee?

Agalinis1

This is it, right?  This is it!  See?  Two flowers in bud!  Hello, old friend!  And look, this one is in full flower.

agalinis2

Hooray!

But wait. Weren’t there hundreds last year?  And this year there are only five?  That is so sad!  What a disappointing year.  Maybe it has been too dry?  Or maybe there is too much grass, using up all the sun and water and nutrients?

prairie

That is a lot of grass.  It looks pretty, but the Agalinis doesn’t like to be crowded, and some of it is an invasive, non-native grass.  Is there anything we can do?

The human female is saying we need to have a controlled burn*  to take care of the leaf litter, woody plants, and excessive grass.  We never did get to do it last year.  It sounds dangerous, but maybe it’s the right thing to do.  It would help the grasses and the other wildflowers too.  Now we just need a still, dry day after rain, when we are not under a burn ban.

The human female is sad about her plant.  Cheer up.  Next year will be better, and I think there’s some rain in the forecast.

: )

* To read about a previous controlled burn and see pictures, you can go here.

Getting Sucked Into Another Hobby, Part V: Mine!

I liked the Sherwood green ink well enough, but just like the human female, I haven’t found “my” pen yet.  However, the human male dredged up another one, one he rather likes.  Something called a Regal Edward.  “Regal” is good.

lokipen1

Ooooh.  I like that green!  What sort of nib does it have?  Pretty!  Looks like a medium…  (You have no idea how geeky knowing that makes me feel!)

lokipen2

And how does it write?  I shall inscribe my name and a simple test message.

lokipen3

Mine now.

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