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Category Archives: Personal

Things of a more personal nature, such as life and my own stories.

Social Media, Communication and Suicide

I first wish to start this post with a disclaimer:

The words and opinions utilized within this posting are of my own mind. In NO WAY do they represent the thoughts of my employer or family. If they do manage to match the ideas the reader has then it is purely coincidental.

Suicide rates are pulled from The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) 

I’m going to start by pointing out that the internet and its original ideals of allowing for the easy sharing of ideas across the world. I think those who created the internet could not fathom all that could potentially transpire from the invention, be it good or be it bad. This all came about over decades and became commercial in the mid-1990s.

One has to only look at how quickly technology grew after this period and one of the biggest growths seen was that of social media. A platform that saw Myspace become the real big first platform in 2003. At the same time, a disturbing trend was seen elsewhere starting to click upwards. This trend is a slight increase in suicides.

As we step forward to just 3 years, it’s now 2006 and Facebook and Twitter have now gone public as well. Some could say that this was a game-changer when it came to social media as there were multiple platforms that people could utilize to stay in touch with friends and family. The drawback is at the same time people learned fake profiles, anonymous usernames could be created and utilized for hate, cyberbullying, and other hateful acts.

Now, it wasn’t till about a year after that Twitter and Facebook began to take off. As each grew, so did their membership to the point Myspace began to decline, and until new platforms became available many people rushed to the big companies when it came to social media.  Again, as we look at the graphic suicide rates began to inch upwards, each year after 2006.

Now, from here on down I’m stepping into the realm of speculation.  I am sure I could do some additional research to find a multitude of papers on the dangers of social media and what it does to society. However, I’m going from my own experiences as someone who grew up with the precursor of social media and back previous to the world wide web growth.

I’ve seen how over the growth of the internet people really do not communicate. You are going, wait how can you say that, I text, I use messenger, I use Twitter, I use FaceTime, and so much more. The fact is, its not true communication in the sense we do not really talk to each other. We use a device to type words to each other. The emotions in those words can be lost no matter how many emoji’s, smiley faces, or memes that can be used. There is nothing like seeing the emotions those real words have on someone’s face. Do your words bring joy, laughter, smirks, tears, hate, or a multitude of other emotions.

I theorize that as we grow more and more inclined on using technology as our main form of communication we will get desensitized to real emotions. We could find ourselves laughing at someone we bring to tears. We may even make fun of the person for reasons we do not understand just as we forget to act, talk, deal with REAL emotions.

It is here that I firmly believe lies partially the primary reason for the suicide rate. In truth, I somewhat wonder if due to this if it doesn’t lead to other social ills such as the shootings that have been plaguing the country.

Now, wait how can I make such a conclusion? In my mind, it is rather simple. The more we escape our real world, our real problems, or real emotions to one that is found thru the acceptance of an online world the more people suffer. Humans want acceptance, we want friends, no matter how much of a loner we are, we still want some form of recognition. It’s when those dreams are busted when hate and ridicule become our world that it brings out the negative in us.

A great example is looking at social media platforms that low anonymous user names. You can look and see people ridiculing others, using names and terms that they’d never (well hope they wouldn’t) use when talking to a person one on one. It’s even worse when people do it using their real name when using a platform like Facebook.

The thing that really bothers me about this all is so many adults, be it a parent to a celebrity we call for civility. We want all the bullying to stop but look at the example that the “adults” set for the younger generations. If your political ideology differs you call others names, break off friendships, call for boycotts, and other things. As adults, we throw mixed messages at the young generations. It’s a case of doing as I say, not as I do.

Hey, wait are you not off track? How does this lead to suicide and other behaviors that are so anti-social?

Again, to me, the answer is obvious. This all plays out so much on social media. The platforms were originally created to share with friends and family. Instead, they are deemed to be used more to spread hate, ridicule, judgment and other forms of hate. Things that people pick up on and can lead to depression. If you see the world around you as a lonely world, a hate-filled world, a world of judgment how can one stay sane? It’s not like we can openly share our emotions as we will be seen as weak, a loser, a crybaby and all those negative connotations that come with it.

This thus leads to other antisocial behavior, a lashing out, and finding a TOOL to make others pay for the feelings and emotions that have bottled up for so long. It doesn’t help that the media puts these events all over the news. So, those clambering for the attention we cannot find online, get the attention we may want in another form thru murder, suicide, and other crimes as the news will share it with everyone. If the news doesn’t do it, well you can count on a story getting thrown around on social media.

The long conclusion here is that although there are many great assets to social media, is that we have forgotten how to be really social. We really need to put down the phones, the tablets, step out from behind the computer and just talk. Find reasons to remember what REAL EMOTIONS are and not emojis, smileys, and memes. Instead make it a real smile, a laugh, even a good cry and really understand where a person is coming from. If we can find a way to change one person, it can spread and maybe just maybe those suicide numbers will drop.

NOTE:

Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and other mentioned companies are not owned by me and are owned by their own companies. I have no ownership within either. They are only referenced as examples of social media and no blame should be placed upon them for comments made upon their platforms by their users.

The emotions graphic is from the public domain from Pixabay.com

 
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Posted by on September 5, 2019 in Personal

 

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Upcoming Return to “Normalcy?”

I took some personal time and thus, it’s been some time since I finally made a click/clack sound and let my fingers dance across the keyboard. I have several books I finished reading and need to get reviews written for them. The big one is sequel to a book I read sometime back. I’m not giving the name here, but just let me give you a hint on what the story is about. I’ll just say the United States Postal Service, the US Navy, law enforcement, FBI and vampires. Yep, I’ll let those who read this post let their imaginations go wild with the possibilities on that one.

As I work on the reviews, start reading yet another book, I wanted to start with getting some new content out on the blog. I am sure I have lost readership due to lack of content, and even my part for not really posting about the blog in some time on my social media.

So, I have been kicking around what I could potentially put out to help build content. I have many old movie reviews that I published on a different site when I was working with a Horror themed podcast. I then thought about more original content, some short stories, maybe my ideas on working environments (my managerial style).

I finally came down with the idea of letting things go a bit free-flowing. I guess let the muse hit me as some would say. I hope to try and get more content out, if possible daily, or every few days. I did make a decision that my first full post back I will make some assumptions on a theory I have (I’m not a scientist) on the correlation between suicides and the growing usage of social media. This could even tie into other events that I will not mention. I do hope people will find that an interesting post, granted if I do not get it how I want well I will do something else.

 
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Posted by on September 3, 2019 in Personal

 

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Help Save Kiki from Cancer (GoFundMe Campaign)

I hope people will read the below as it is the information that was shared in a recent GoFundMe Campaign that my wife and I created for our cat Kiki.  The link to the campaign is below and I wanted to share this posting here in hopes others may read and share.  I thank you all in Advance.

My name is Kiki and I’m hoping other humans will help my humans, Shawn and Jennifer, raise money so I can have cancer surgery. A recent visit to the Vet was scary but when my female human heard the word cancer she did cry.

I have heard my humans discussing finding the money for the surgery and they have talked about this thing called debt. I guess my female human has many student loans, and my male human may have to pay more on his medications for Multiple Sclerosis when the new insurance year starts. I will be honest, being a cat I have no idea what that all is, but money is tight.

So, I am hoping that there are other kind humans that may help us get this surgery done. They have a mass to remove from my cute tail. After the surgery, there will be additional costs for further treatments and why I hope to raise the money to help my humans.

You see, these two humans brought me in to their home and have taken good care of me and their other cats. We have been given much love, toys, and played with often. The vet visit for me came not long after we lost my big sister who died from old age and her organs shutting down. It is for this reason why I do not want to leave my humans now as they need me to fill the hole left by my big sister leaving the family.

So, I thank any and all humans for helping with the funds that I am looking for to help my humans. Please do not tell the secret that I can use this computer thing. My male owner is always working on one, and as he works I will sit on the desk and watch him and how I learned. He’s just not happy when I go after that thing called a mouse.

In all seriousness, Jennifer and I would greatly appreciate any help that people will be able to give us in keep our Kiki in our lives. She is a unique cat who is willing to share her love with us daily. I do hope those who have read the posting get a smile about how I wrote this posting as I wanted to show that although a Cancer diagnosis for anyone is never good, it is by staying positive and finding a way to smile that keeps us going.  Again thank you to all that are able to help. If for some reason we go over the requested amount we will be giving some of those funds to charity

 

https://www.gofundme.com/save-our-kiki-from-cancer

 
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Posted by on November 13, 2018 in Personal, Uncategorized

 

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Suicide is Painless

This is not an easy blog post to write. I have started over multiple times as the subject is not one that people want to hear about. It’s one that many feels belong in the shadows, that the problem is all in someone’s head. The fact is, it is in their head. Their emotions are all over the place from any form of issues which includes, and not limited to, the short list below:

  • Grief
  • Fear
  • Anger
  • Shame

The four simple emotions I listed above can lead to some of the most dangerous results in a person with DEPRESSION.  You will find that as I continue this I will be putting DEPRESSION in all capital letters, for the simple reason I want to draw attention to the word. I want people to realize how deadly it is not just to the person, but those around them.

You see contrary to a song that was popularized by a Movie and a TV Show, Suicide is NOT Painless. It impacts so many people in a person’s personal circle, but also those outside that circle. You see at one time many professionals thought the sphere of impact from suicide was on average six people. I have begun seeing new studies that say that the impact is much larger and I really do believe that is the case.

There are tons of arguments on what may be going on when someone commits suicide. They can be called selfish, heartless, loners, and even (by some) losers. The fact is that they let those emotions get to them and decided that was their way to end the pain. I will never attempt to get into the mind of someone who committed suicide as they all had their own personal reasoning’s.  All I can do is keep living and find a way to deal with those emotions.

Now I understand not all who commit suicide are doing it due simply from some behavioral issues, but some have diseases, mental or physical that causes them to feel that is the way out. Again, I will not attempt to get into their heads.

The fact is that many who do commit suicide are often deeply DEPRESSED and were unable, or unwilling to search out help.

I put a lot of the rise of DEPRESSION and suicide on our modern culture. We correspond over electronic devices without actually talking. A small pixel filled image, emoji, cannot take the place for a real smile, a real frown, or more importantly real tears. There are those who have gotten so used to this type of communication they cannot carry out a simple conversation if they had to.

We then add in the fact that many are told to hide their emotions. Keep them hidden do not share with each other.  If there is a problem, it’s probably all in their head. We adults can be just as horrible because who wishes to admit a child, a loved one, someone they care about has a problem. Very few as it can seem like it’s a reflection back on them for being such a horrible person. I got to say that’s bull crap.

You see, I’m going to get into my own past personal dark space here. I first and thankful for the help my parents was willing to get me. If not for them, and even my future, fiancé/wife, I may not be here to write this post. I can even say thank you to the great psychiatrist’s, and counselors I saw during this struggle.

You see I was in college, away from home for the first real time for a prolonged period. As I was away I was surely missing my family, and although a few hours away by car, they were away. This was also a period before computers where everywhere and texting was actually costly. I lost not one, not two but three dear family members within a year, and a couple just months apart. I started to struggle with my grades, fell into a deep DEPRESSION and at one point had a knife in my hand by the bathroom sink of an apartment I was living in. I looked at myself in the mirror, did not recognize the face looking back at me and realized, WHAT THE FUCK AM I DOING!

So I ended up flunking out of college for a term. I was able to get some help during that period off and it was due highly to my parents pushing me to get that help. I got back into college and even attended therapy sessions while in school. I was put on medications, I took them, and I beat it. I beat the DEPRESSION and I’ve done all I can to keep that specter in the back of my mind.  I know it tries to emerge at times and really tried when Multiple Sclerosis came calling. I, however, have really changed the way I view my life and will NOT let DEPRESSION take me down that rabbit hole again.

What I learned out of that experience is that the male myth of not showing emotions is bull. Men can certainly show emotion and talk about their emotions. If someone sees you as weak, then they are truly the weak ones for not being able to handle the truth and who you are. We have to find ways to get a circle of people who care for us, and do not let petty disagreements come in the way of true friendships.

I now go back to that song, Suicide is Painless. I surely disagree with that title as it may be to the person committing the act, but those left behind it is a pain that may never go away. The pain of being a survivor, wonder what happened, blaming first the individual, and then maybe turn it back on themselves helps no one. What can really help is to stop and be there for those fighting DEPRESSION so it does not lead to suicide. This may mean you have to admit your own failure, but isn’t that worth saving someone’s life?

I’m going to end with that open question and hopefully my own story, and this article is found to be helpful.  I have a list of Helpful links below and I do want to add a caveat on one of those links. The link on Suicide Risk Factors and Civil Liabilities is from a law firm in California that reached out to me about collaborating on a link share. I am being honest as it took time to think on if I wanted to do it, but considering the topic I felt it was worth it. If they can help get my blog post out, and I can help them then why not.

Also, I own no rights to the song, “Suicide is Painless” is written by Johnny Mandel (music) and Mike Altman (lyrics).

Useful Links

 

Two Final notes

  1. The image above is owned by me. Anyone wishing to use the image should reach out to me as it is a photo I took during a trip to Upper Michigan.
  2. I am not a counselor or phsycologist. I do not claim to be one, and suggest people use the above links for help. If you wish to know more about my struggle you can reach me by email on my About me Page.
 
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Posted by on July 26, 2018 in Multiple Sclerosis, Personal

 

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Please Not Now! Then When? (Opinion)

I will say that this is an opinion piece and really if any of my posts get really shared, I’d hope this would be the one. I say that as I do not take anything away from the many Reviews, short stories, or personal MS posts I have written. I say that about this post as I hope it creates some dialogue with in a family.

I’m going to start but stating that we as a society must stop and look around. Things such as information pass between people at lightning fast speeds. Individuals are always in a hurry to get from place to place faster than they need. Parents do all they can for their children even if they themselves have busy work days. It’s like people feel they got to do so much in a single day and at the same speed that information passes between people electronically.

To me this is causing a major issue with society. We are to easily forgetting what it’s like to really just sit down and talk to each other. This actually seems to making the world a somewhat colder place regardless if it’s intentional or not. If we stop and think on it, it may explain the rise of some mental disease and depression. Now why do I come to that conclusion you ask?

I first stop and think on how boys, and even men, have been for so long they need to hide their emotions. They must keep their sorrows to themselves and really NEVER cry. They, heck we, are made to feel that it is a weakness if we do share those thoughts that trouble us. We then look for other ways to release that emotion.  It can be through creative means, writing, art, music or other items. It could be through playing sports, or games to release some of the pain that may be felt. Some are fortunate and realize they need help and go to a doctor and often are prescribed medication as a way to make them feel better. There is of course the dark-side factors such as using illegal drugs to number the senses, acting out and hurting others.

Now, the title of this comes into this post at this time. I can recall, and have observed, people trying to talk to a parent, friend or family member about their emotions. It’s sad, but often a response received is, “Not Now”. You got to wonder how many times it will take to hear those two simple words that a young man just keeps it all in. Is the parent, loved one, family member just afraid of hearing those emotions put into words? Are they afraid that what may be said points some of the potential blame for what they are holding in back at that person? I mean these feelings can be compounded into adult hood, and even begin to drive a wedge into families. At the same time a family may find they really do not know each other after all, because they just couldn’t find the time in a busy day to stop, and listen.

Instead we find that many are walking around like drones. Their face staring at a small cell phone screen, reading a message from maybe the person next to them.  At home how many family members use a phone to text someone just in the other room?  How often is an emoji utilized over an actual face to face conversation to show emotions? I cannot say if this happens but seeing the state and how often a family is in a restaurant with members staring at a phone over having a conversation is scary.

So my question becomes, then when will people realize it’s time to stop and listen? The age doesn’t matter when the listening begins, as the key it will break a cycle. It will allow those emotions to come out instead of being held back. I’m sure there could be pain, and resentment that comes through but the key is, it’s coming out. The pain that may have been bottle up, deflected by drugs (illegal or not) can be hurtful for potentially all involved, but it needs to be said. I mean who remembers when psychiatrists actually listened to a patient over just prescribing the newest “wonder drug”. The rock group Theory of a Deadman even has a song about the issue which is titled RX(Medicate). The song can be seen by some as a way to say everyone is doing drugs but the lead singer (Tyler Connolly) gave a reason for the song. His reasoning is that it has to do with how a therapist told him he was depressed and wanted to put him on anti-depressants.  The therapist couldn’t take time to talk to him about the issues he was dealing with, but instead was quick to go to the easy answer, drugs.

So, this is why I ask “then when” will people stop and listen to those around them. All we got to do is take a look around the United States and see the massive opioid problem. After all many of the opioids being abused are painkillers and I wonder how many are being used less for physical but mental pains.

I say we have the fix to these problems and every human being has that fix within them. There are those who may have an impairment but they are still able to communicate in ways that show they care. Those tools that people can use are on our heads and can be used for more than holding a hat on our head. They can be used for more than putting music into our brains to enjoy the sound of. They are our ears and they are connected to our brains. The brain allows us to take in what is being said and process it like a computer, and can lead to a great result. The result is simple, it could be a hug, a sense of understand, and even just a smile that shows you care.

I realize I’m in no way a trained psychiatrist but I am an analyst by trade. My job entails looking at trends, observing data and making the appropriate guidance to make a situation better. When it comes to much of the mental issues, even the drug abuse in the United States, I truly believe there is that simple fix. Stop saying Not Now, but instead take time and just listen to a person and put the phone down for a period of time. I will say that I do have some firsthand experience on how important it is to listen as I dealt with Depression in my early years of college. I took time and got help, and talked with a therapist. Yes I was given drugs, but with the discussions I had with a therapist I was able to kick the drugs, and found other ways to deal with any depression that may come. I learned by being able to talk to someone things could, and would get better. It’s why I say stop and take time to LISTEN.

 

 

*Side note, I’m not affiliated with Theory of a Deadman other than a fan of their music and found the song to be perfect to mention in this post.

 
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Posted by on March 12, 2018 in Personal

 

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2017 Year of Challenges

I first apologize to readers of the blog for my total lack of new content at decent intervals. I also must apologize to the authors I feel I let down by not getting book reviews out in a timely manner. I am one that hates excuses, and I feel as if I have told this story before.  I am going to share some of the challenges of the past year with you along with a New Year Resolution.

First let me start with that resolution. I say this as I normally do not make resolutions as to me they are a promise and I do HATE breaking promises.  My resolution is to provide new content to the blog at least three times a month and when possible even more times. Content will be anything from continued book reviews to short stories, or just blurbs on life. So, there I’ve put it in writing what my resolution is and I will say for readers they will get this next statement. I promise there will not be a chapter like that from the William Faulkner book, As I Lay Dying. The chapter simply state, “My mother is a fish.” I’ll wrap this up by just saying that one of those books I had to read in high school as not really my cup of tea.

So 2017 was a lot of “fun”. I believe I posted about some of this previous but it was the year filled with the following things and thankfully not all happened to me. They unfortunately do involve family and as I wish to not give too much information out on their relationship to me let me just go with the list.

First I’ll start with the issue that had me scared, and still am, and this one deals with me. I have what I call micro blind spots in my left eye. They came about early in the year and after tons of testing my Multiple Sclerosis drug changed. This appears to be for the good as I am now on an oral medication, meaning no more shots. It also meant that some new lesions in the brain have gone done which is great, but a bit late for the eye. The good news it hasn’t gotten worse, but hasn’t gotten better either. I’m sure some will understand how that would impact my reading, and writing.

Now as for the family the list below is what they went thru, and as people say…Family comes first.

We saw:

  • We saw cancer diagnosis of not one but two forms, one was very close to be pancreatic. Thankfully it wasn’t.
  • We saw an infection get out of control and hit the brain. This was scary as anything with the brain can be potentially deadly and thankfully recovery was seen.
  • Broken bones requiring surgery, and short care rehab facility.
  • Bad backs requiring scans and talk of surgery, but thankfully that did not happen.

I realize the above list does look short, but much of the items where yearlong struggles. Some of the above even has continued into 2018, but thankfully not severe. In any case it was a year, and oh yeah our Ford Explorer decided it did not want to make another year. So car payments are back as we had to get rid of the 2004, and step it up by 10 years and get a 2014 Escape. Yeah that would seem like a perk but the car payments thankfully fit into the budget. Anyway that is not changing the fact my reviews are still free with the only thing I ask of authors is a copy of their book. I give an honest review in return no matter how much it would be nice to have some additional funds. (Insert a smile here)

So as I promised at the start of this posting there will be new posts three times a month on the blog. They again will be a mixture of postings but there will be more regular new content. I thank you for hanging in there. As always I am open to feedback and can find out how to reach me on my About Me page.

 
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Posted by on January 7, 2018 in Personal

 

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The Media (Does it report or just looking for Ratings)

I’m going to start by just saying that all below is my original thoughts. I do not claim to speak for anyone else, or my employer. I just am writing and sharing what I have come to feel when it comes to the media today and the major influence they have on the world.

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I’ll start by saying that when I was in high school I was asked to try out for the Forensics team.  The goal of Forensics is to help high school students get better at communication through things such as theatre, debate or speech. I went for a piece of that which gave me an opportunity to take provide stories and make a news story out of it. This eventually led to one of my first paying jobs outside of my father’s auto body shop.

I did have to leave the Forensics Team but I was hired by a local radio station and I ended up working in radio in both High School and in college. I would read the local news reports and even was given options on how to edit them to keep them to a specific length. These lengths and topics were important as we wanted to keep listeners and bring them back. I was allowed to leave out important facts if I needed to make sure the newscast did not go to long and more importantly what would get folks to come back later.

I had an even a short period of time than many news casts that have maybe thirty minutes and try to fit in as many stories as they can. Actually if you think about it a thirty minute news cast may only have time for 10 minutes of news as they have weather, sports and commercials to deal with. It’s also important to note that these newscasts face ratings and really their job is to keep you coming back to their channel. Often they say they are there to inform but really they are giving the highlights, the buzz words they know will get you talking and of course watching.

They also get to pick and choose what they wish to focus on and what they wish to leave out of their newscasts. You have to ask yourself, are they really covering everything in that 30 minutes or just what someone else deems to be the topic of the day.

I’m not talking about Fake news but real news as in CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox, CNN, MSN, and any other network. I know this to be true as some of what I’m saying are things I was told to do when I worked in Radio. No matter what you think the news is often spoon feeding us what THEY want us to be concerned about. They will use all the words and videos they can find to get us coming back and watching their program.

As a few examples of what I mean on the tricks they will use to get you back. They will a tease stay tuned to learn about this, or coming up in our next half hour, and things like that. However, if you stick around has the news really changed or is it basically a wash and repeated version of what you sat through already with a few minor changes. They can edit a video any way they like to get the story to tell what they wish to show.

So just stop and think who is pushing the divide in the United States. Who is reporting day in and day out about the problems to get RATINGS? You think they actually care? Well when did it go from a news report to a news story? I mean a story can be written in many ways to influence someone over a report that gives us, the facts and lets us decide. I know this as I had to write news stories and did my best to stick to the facts as it was NOT my job to influence but to report.

It’s why I personally have unplugged from the news as I see them as part of the gasoline that is creating the issues we see. Sure you can say they are bringing light to an issue, but are they doing so to alert us or to get more ratings. Just my two cents having worked in a form of media. I’ll close by saying I’m not even going to start on print news they can be just as bad as again how you phrase a sentence, or words used, can shape an opinion.

 
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Posted by on September 29, 2017 in Personal

 

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