Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Focus on Christmas

The final week has arrived before Christmas Day bursts forth o the scene. I am sure there are many people looking forward to it being over, but Christmas Day is only the beginning.

Chris and I are in the middle of deciding upon menus for our Christmas Eve brunch and Christmas Day dinner.

I know that the excitement is growing for the kids and many adults alike as Christmas draws closer. It is part of the season. 

It is funny, however, Chris and I are already in the middle of returns. It seems that while ordering on Amazon is easy, sometimes it is not easy to ensure I get the right item. I guess I am particularly poor at ensuring that I select the correct colors and combinations. Oh well, what is a little extra for shipping?

So, what do you want this year? Or, is your joy in giving? 

For Christmas this year, as a Federal employee, Santa is bringing me a year without a pay raise and a leadership so embroiled in conflict that they are failing to lead the country by playing brinkmanship and planning for a partial government shutdown  And, at no extra cost, Santa is bringing us a stock market that is crashing and sucking our retirement accounts down the drain. 

I'm not just a little bit disturbed about what is happening in Washington.

But, I need to focus on Christmas--the season and the reason.

There is joy.

I will live in the joy!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, December 17, 2018

Monday Musings - December 17, 2018

1. Christmas Eve is one short week away. New Years Eve is just two short weeks away. Get ready and let the celebrations begin.

2. The dreary skies of the past few days are especially disheartening.

3. I was able to watch some of the exchange between Nancy Pelosi and the President the other day. While I am not a fan of Nancy Pelosi, the political cartoon that I found sums up the exchange pretty well.

4. It is sad that closing the federal government has become an accepted political approach to problem solving. Funny thing is, the Republicans control the government right now. They are fighting amongst themselves.

5. Family NFL Weekend Results

  -- Ravens (8-6) defeated Buccaneers 20-12
  -- Cowboys (8-6) lost to Colts 0-23
  -- Redskins (7-7) defeated Jaguars 16-13
  -- Steelers (8-5-1) defeated Patriots 17-10

6. I ventured out into the shopping arena surrounded by throngs of my new best friends on Saturday. It truly was a scene of chaos and commotion. Shopping on line while sipping a beverage with my feet propped up is far more pleasant.

7. There is a comet on tap for the Christmas season. Although it was brightest over the weekend, we were socked-in by clouds in the Baltimore region. Find the comet by reading the article about the Christmas comet. And then hope for clear skies.

8. I heard an interesting comparison regarding the periods in human development. There was the Stone Age, then the Bronze Age, the Iron Age, the Space Age, and now the Plastic Age. We are polluting the oceans with plastic.

9. Today in History, 1903. Near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, Orville and Wilbur Wright make the first successful flight in history of a self-propelled, heavier-than-air aircraft. Orville piloted the gasoline-powered, propeller-driven biplane, which stayed aloft for 12 seconds and covered 120 feet on its inaugural flight.


As the Trumps Dodged Taxes, Their Tenants Paid a Price - The New York Times

New report on Russian disinformation, prepared for the Senate, shows the operation’s scale and sweep - The Washington Post

Should we be able to indict a sitting president? Consider Spiro Agnew. - The Washington Post

Canada is looking for a way out of big Saudi arms deal, says PM - Reuters

Ronald Reagan Quote for the Week

Freedom is not created by government, nor is it a gift from those in political power. It is, in fact, secured, more than anything else, by those limitations I mentioned that are placed on those in government. It is absence of the government censor in our newspapers and broadcast stations and universities. It is the lack of fear by those who gather in religious services. It is the absence of official abuse of those who speak up against the policies of their government.
         -- Remarks Announcing America's Economic Bill of Rights, July 3, 1987, 10:06 a.m. at an Independence Day celebration at the Jefferson Memorial.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Remembering Other Times

Torrey, NY on Senaca Lake
October 4, 2018
December is passing day-by-day and as we are now past mid-month, the end of both the month and the year are in sight.

Bully Hill Winery
October 3, 20218
On top of the December darkness, it has rained non-stop for the past 36 hours. The forecast is for continued rain well into the afternoon today.

To escape the gloom of the sunless dawn, I downloaded some of the images from our early October wine tasting trip to Upstate New York.

The images reminded me of warmer times, although not necessarily dryer times. It rained during that trip. 

Senaca Lake near Torrey, NY
October 3, 2018
Despite the occasional rain, I was able to get Radio Flyer airborne for some nice images. Flying over Senaca Lake was a new experience. It was fun, but I was also nervous because I knew that if there was an emergency and I couldn't get Radio Flyer back to short, it would be lost. 

Fortunately, there was no emergency, although the winds aloft did cause me to shorten my flight a bit and recover the drone. 

Remembering past trips helps me to escape the dreary days. December will be over soon and the new year will be full of warmer and drier days to enjoy.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Reflections of the Lights

The rain has returned and dominates the weekend forecast. Ugh!

Christmas Lights Reflected on the Deck
December 14, 2018
We are expected to see temperatures in the 50's today, but the rain will preclude outdoor activities. I have so many outdoors projects that need to be accomplished, including cutting the trees we had felled and trimming the grasses around the pool.

Not this weekend.

But, even in the most disagreeable weather it is possible to find some beauty. 

Last evening as the rain fell, the Christmas lights illuminated the gloomy evening with their joyous light. I discovered some beauty on our back deck in their reflections in the rain.

The reflections added much needed light to the season and brightened my mood, just a bit.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, December 14, 2018

Taking to the Sky

Sunset Over the Neighborhood
December 13, 2018
For many reasons Radio Flyer, my DJI Spark UAS, has not been airborne since our get-away trip to New York during early October. 

Some of the reasons include the almost constant rain, the basement remodel project, the early onset of darkness since the time change, and the pace of life which has been incredibly busy with the arrival of the holiday season. 

Christmas Decorations on the House
December 13, 2018
Last evening around sunset, I made a point of getting Radio Flyer airborne, even if only for a short nine minute flight. It was good to get the controls back into my hands and my drone into the air. 
Wreath at the Peak

I was amazed at how many small things I had forgotten about flying the drone--mostly getting everything ready on the ground. But, they all came together and I had a successful flight checking out the Christmas lights on the house. I was able to do a close-up inspection of the wreath at the peak and determine that I will likely need to change the batteries for its lights during the next nice day, whenever that happens. 

As an added benefit of the flight, I also downloaded some videos and stills from the October trip to the Finger Lakes from the memory card onboard the drone.  

It was a short flight, but I was happy to slip the surly bonds of Earth, even if only for a few minutes and through the lens of Radio Flyer. 

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Truth or Dare

It dawned on me yesterday that our senior-most leaders are playing a game of truth or dare. Except, they are not telling the truth, ever, it seems.

As I watch the news clips of how the truth evolves over time to meet the circumstances, I wonder how today's youth can possibly ever sort reality from fiction.

It is appalling, really, how the truth is bent and distorted. 

The only good news in all of this is that the truth is finally coming to light through the ongoing investigations and that those who have lost their grip on truth are going to be spending time in prison or paying huge fines.

It is not enough, but it is a start.

I am appalled that a retired general and a respected lawyer have both bent the truth so blatantly. 

Maybe the truth will be uncovered in the end, I hope so.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

The Most Magnificent Birthday Cake

Unicorn Cake - The Mane
December 11, 2018
Last evening we celebrated Nicole's birthday. It is one of those major birthday's and we had a gathering at Lure's in Crownsville to start the evening. The food there was awesome as always.

After that it was back to the house for presents and cake.

What a cake it was. I have never seen such a fantastic cake--it was a unicorn.

We had a great time reconnecting with friends and enjoying the celebration.

But, the cake was truly spectacular--and it tasted good, too!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

I Rang the Bell

Ringing the Bell
December 10, 2018
Three times I rang the bell. 

There is a tradition that at the completion of a round of radiation treatment or chemo therapy, patients ring a bell three times to signify the end of the treatment and the transition into the rest of their lives.

I, accompanied by my dearest family and the fantastic staff and technicians at the University of Maryland Central Maryland Radiation Oncology Center, rang the bell yesterday to signify completion of my prostate cancer treatment regimen. The staff at the center made my daily visits as enjoyable as they possibly could be and I want ot send them a huge thank-you. At the beginning, 63 days earlier, I wondered how I could possibly get through 44 daily treatments. It was their great attitudes and the support and prayers of my family and friends that made it possible.

Completed Daily Treatment Schedule
This morning, I am still overwhelmed by the out-pouring of love shown to me. 

Yes, we threw a party last evening in celebration and even celebrated long distance with friends trapped in the snow of Central Virginia. 

There was wine and Cava, food and noise, and love.

Thank you to all. But a big thank you to Chris--she shouldered the biggest part of the burden of getting me through the daily grind. Her cheerful can do, one day at a time attitude helped my to check off each day of my now completed daily treatment plan. And because of adding in a Sunday in November, I actually finished one day early! 

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, December 10, 2018

Monday Musings - December 10, 2018

1. It is mid-December. There are just two weeks until Christmas Eve! It is hard to believe that the holiday is arriving so quickly.

2. Today I go for the last of my 44 prostate cancer treatments! I am excited. It has become a part of my life and I will miss seeing the team at the treatment center every day. The 63 day journey has been far easier and passed more quickly than I imagined that it would.

3. It seems that our President has a poor sense of people, because he cannot seem to retain a staff. When someone leaves he usually has something bad to say about them. Well, if they are so bad, why did he hire them for the position?

4. We finally decorated our second Christmas tree this weekend. I can say that the Christmas decorations are all up and that the basement remodel project is complete!

5. Family Football results. It was a rough weekend for most of the family teams with three of them losing.

  Ravens (7-6) lost to Chiefs 24-27
  Redskins lost (6-7) Giants 16-40
  Steelers (7-5-1) lost to Raiders 21-24
  Cowboys (8-5) defeated Eagles 29-23

6. There are still leaves that need raking from my yard and the grasses around the pool need to be cut and removed. I certainly hope there is a near 50 degree day coming where I ca get these critical things accomplished. 

7. I am thankful that the big snowstorm missed us yesterday. 

8. Today in History, 1901. The first Nobel Prizes are awarded in Stockholm, Sweden, in the fields of physics, chemistry, medicine, literature, and peace. The ceremony came on the fifth anniversary of the death of Alfred Nobel, the Swedish inventor of dynamite and other high explosives. In his will, Nobel directed that the bulk of his vast fortune be placed in a fund in which the interest would be “annually distributed in the form of prizes to those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind.” Although Nobel offered no public reason for his creation of the prizes, it is widely believed that he did so out of moral regret over the increasingly lethal uses of his inventions in war.


Your Apps Know Where You Were Last Night, and They’re Not Keeping It Secret - The New York Times

Wall St. Faces Stomach-Churning Swings as Economic Uncertainty Grows - The New York Times

Macron prepares response to 'yellow vest' protesters as Paris cleans up - Reuters

Ronald Reagan Quote for the Week

Tonight, in millions of American homes, the glow of the Christmas tree is a reflection of the love Jesus taught us. Like the shepherds and wise men of that first Christmas, we Americans have always tried to follow a higher light, a star, if you will. At lonely campfire vigils along the frontier, in the darkest days of the Great Depression, through war and peace, the twin beacons of faith and freedom have brightened the American sky. At times our footsteps may have faltered, but trusting in God's help, we've never lost our way.

   -- Address to there Nation About Christmas and the Situation in Poland, December 23, 1981

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Another Cold Sunday

I attended a Holiday Party last evening. It was a fantastic event and definitely brought holiday cheer into the dark days of December. A big thank-you to Jim and Shannon for hosting! 

One of the highlights of the evening was chatting with a golf pro. I have not swung a golf club at a little white ball in over a month and I am missing walking the courses. It has been cold or rainy, or both. Not good golf weather. So, chatting with another golfer for a few minutes provided a momentary relief from the season and the weather. 

I am already looking forward to our planned March Spring Training Trip! Hopefully this year we will have warm weather and a lot of sun. And golf and baseball! And more golf.

So for this cold Sunday I am thankful that the big storm hitting the east is south (yes, you read that right) of us! I just do not need snow or more snow, or any snow!

I may set up my net and hit some golf balls today just because! Because I have not swung a club since early November. And it was cold and rainy on that last outing of the season.

So for most of another cold Sunday I will be devoted to getting things ready for the Christmas season and watching football on TV. I do have the opportunity to attend a youth basketball game later today. But, I'd rather be on a golf course somewhere warm playing in a bright sun.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Midnight Madness - Ellicott City

Main Street Ellicott City
December 7, 2018
Ellicott City is alive! 

Last evening, Ellicott City celebrated its 40th Annual Midnight Madness. 

The annual event occurs on the first Friday night of December and Chris and I have attended many of them during the past years.

What was amazing is that the businesses conducted the Midnight Madness this year after the devastating flood during May. The city is rising from the ruins. Many of the businesses and storefronts remain closed, but many others were open. It was a festive time and the shops that were open were doing great business.

It was a cold December night, but the Christmas cheer served in many of the businesses on this special night helped keep our spirits warm. We enjoyed walking the nostalgic streets, listening to carolers, sharing the joys of the season with other shoppers and the merchants.

Walking the Main Street, Ellicott City at night reminded me of my childhood in Ithaca shopping for Christmas presents up and down State Street in Ithaca, back when cars used to be able to drive through the main business area. 

Christmas is alive, at least in Ellicott City.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, December 7, 2018

Remodel Project Complete, Mostly

After a final push last night to install the lights over the counter and paint the final areas where we have been mudding--the basement remodel project is complete. There are no more dangling wires or open areas that need attention. 


It has achieved the 99 percent complete point where just come clean up remains and I still need to install the utility sink in the laundry room. I don't know why the sink is still uninstalled, it is not that difficult. Chris and I have been discussing reinstalling the existing sink or purchasing another one. 

We did determine that we need a dimmer switch for the new lights over the counter and cabinets. The lights we bought are very bright--too bright. Fortunately, they are dimmable. Yay, we got lucky. 

What this means is that finally the second Christmas Tree can be erected to complete decorating the house. And, a by-product of that will be that Chris's car will once again be garaged. We have been staging materials and decorations from the garage. 

So, except for some really minor things, it is finished, finally.

Just in time for a party!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Tribute to a Father

Chris and I watched the State funeral for President Bush yesterday.

We watched the television coverage for the hours that it was on beginning with  the Capitol departure, where we paid our respects, through to where the family departed on Special Airlift Mission 41 from Andrews Joint Base.

What did I take away? 

I was reminded of the history of the man. From a young Naval aviator during the Second World War, to Congress, to The CIA, Reagan's Vice President and then the 41st President of the United States. 

I listened to the speakers who told about his life and our times. Their words were recounted a life of joy and sorrows about a man who was genuine.

Alan Simpson said:

The most decent and honorable person I ever met was my friend, George Bush.

He never lost his sense of humor. Humor is the universal solvent against the abrasive elements of life. That's what humor is. He never hated anyone. He knew what his mother and my mother always knew: hatred corrodes the container it's carried in.

John Meacham said:

George Herbert Walker Bush was America's last great soldier-statesman, a 20th century founding father. He governed with virtues that most closely resemble those of Washington and of Adams, of TR and of FDR, of Truman and of Eisenhower, of men who believed in causes larger than themselves. Six-foot-two, handsome, dominant in person, President Bush spoke with those big strong hands, making fists to underscore points.

But, most importantly, I learned that the 41st President was a committed father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. He was a friend. He had honor and integrity. He was humble. 

His son, George W. Bush, the 43rd President of the United States said this about his father:

In his Inaugural Address, the 41st president of the United States said this: “We cannot hope only to leave our children a bigger car, a bigger bank account. We must hope to give them a sense of what it means to be a loyal friend, a loving parent, a citizen who leaves his home, his neighborhood and town better than he found it. What do we want the men and women who work with us to say when we are no longer there? That we were more driven to succeed than anyone around us? Or that we stopped to ask if a sick child had gotten better, and stayed a moment there to trade a word of friendship?”
Well, Dad—we’re going remember you for exactly that and so much more.
And we’re going to miss you. Your decency, sincerity, and kind soul will stay with us forever. So, through our tears, let us see the blessings of knowing and loving you—a great and noble man, and the best father a son or daughter could have.

The character of a man defines him.

But through all of the words and tears what really moved me was that George H.W. Bush was a family man. He put his family first--and what a family he and Barbara developed. 

It was a great tribute to a father, who just happened to be President.

I hope that when I dross the threshold to change my permanent residence that I will be remembered for the family that Chris and I have and not what I have done, but how I have accomplished the things in my life.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD 

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Saying Good-bye to a President

The Capitol with the Lines to Honor a President
December 4, 2018
Chris and I sojourned into D.C. last evening to pay our respects to the late President George H.W. Bush. We were joined by thousands of other Americans who stood in line for hours to spend a few minutes in the Rotunda of the Capitol, the Cathedral of Freedom and Liberty, honoring the memory of the 41st President of these United States.

When we finally made it into the Rotunda with the flag draped casket, no one hurried us on or out. The crowd was respectful and well behaved. No pictures were allowed. We stood there, in the grand hall surrounded by the paintings of the founding of the Republic, to honor the memory of one of a select few men elected to lead this nation. 

The Remembrance Card for President Bush
(Front and Back)
And lead us he did. Through the difficult war with Iraq by building a multinational coalition such as the world had never seen. But even more, we were there to honor his grace and service to the nation. Qualities that need to be restored in and revered by all who would lead this nation.

It was a cold night. Very cold. Chris and I departed the house shortly after 4 PM to head off to the Greenbelt Metro Station and then to ride the rails into the city. We arrived in line outside the Capitol about 5:45. We stood in line, in the cold, for about two and a half hours until we were finally inside the Capitol building and then about another half hour inside, in the warmth, until we were finally in the Rotunda. It was after 9 PM when we were outside again and headed home after signing the remembrance books. 

The lines of people waiting to spend a few minutes in solemn remembrance had grown incredibly behind us. We estimated that those arriving in line when were leaving would have a five hour wait, in the cold. It was gratifying to see the numbers of people, like us, who were willing to take a few hours out of their busy holiday schedules to remember and honor the memory of a President and a very special man who meant so much to his family, friends, and this country.

It was almost 10:30 PM by the time we arrived back home. We had been gone over six hours.

Was it worth it? Yes. 

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Demise of the Fitbit

Until Sunday I had a Fitbit strapped to my arm all of the time, except when it was charging. 

I had used my Fitbit for a couple of years to ensure I maintained a relatively constant level of activity. My job is pretty sedentary and so I like to ensure I get about 10,000 steps per day.

As Chris reminded me, it is pretty easy when I play racquetball or golf to get more than the threshold level of steps. But, many days I need to walk the dogs or do some other activity to keep moving.

Sunday was, however, a dark day for my Fitbit. I am not sure when during the busy day it happened, but my Fitbit fell off my arm, probably when I was taking my coat off. It would be the last time my faithful piece of electronics would fall from my arm. For some reason, Finnegan likes to chew. He chewed my Fitbit before I realized that it had left my arm.

It is gone.

It actually was a two Fitbit weekend for Finnegan, he also chewed Chris's Fitbit--that one he snatched from her nightstand.

Chris has so far talked me out of purchasing a replacement. I am still undecided.

We will have to see how that goes.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, December 3, 2018

Monday Musings - December 3, 2018

1. December has arrived. The last month of the year. Christmas Eve is three weeks away.

2. It is amazing how life can turn on a dime. The passing of George H.W. Bush has really brought home how special life is and how one person can make a difference in the world.

Range Hood Mounting Structure
December 2, 2018
3. The remodel on the basement continues. Yesterday the bathroom was completed with the installation of the light above the vanity. Work progressed on reconstructing the former frame that supported the range hood. I only have to get it mudded and then install two lights above the counter and the remodel will be complete, mostly.

4. Family NFL Results

  - Ravens (7-5) defeat Falcons 26-16
  - Cowboys (7-5) defeat Saints 13-10
  - Steelers (7-4-1) lost to Chargers 30-33
  - Redskins (6-5) play Eagles tonight

5. There are 22 days until Christmas.

6. There was something enjoyable about 53 degree temperatures yesterday. Too bad it overcast all day. The forecast has 1-3 inches of snow for Saturday, brrrr.

7. Today in History. On this day in 1947, Marlon Brando’s famous cry of “STELLA!” first booms across a Broadway stage, electrifying the audience at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre during the first-ever performance of Tennessee Williams’ play Streetcar Named Desire.


U.S. and China Call Truce in Trade War - The New York Times

Stunned Parisians clean up posh central district after worst riots since 1968 - Reuters

George H.W. Bush Quote for the Week

In honor of the 41st President of the U.S., I will be providing a quote of his today.

"In the wake of the Cold War, in a world where we are the only remaining superpower, it is the role of the United States to marshal its moral and material resources to promote a democratic peace. It is our responsibility, it is our opportunity to lead. There is no one else." 
—Jan. 5, 1993, West Point speech.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Remember Movember

Movember has concluded. 

Me with Mustache
December, 1, 2018
I grew a mustache to show solidarity with others advocating for men's health issues. 

At the request of Chris and my friends, it is gone now. I was enjoying having it and had begun to grow used to the additional whiskers on my lip.

I think I looked good with it, however, many of my friends felt otherwise.

I only had one picture taken with it, and I posted it here. It was taken yesterday before I shaved.

What a year 2018 has been already, in terms of my appearance. I have begun to wear glasses full-time and I grew my first ever mustache. 


Just because the mustache is gone does not mean that my drive to support men's health issues has concluded! That is becoming a full-time passion, especially given my own journey with prostate cancer.

Men, and women, need to discuss mens health issues. The big four men's health issues are: prostate cancer, testicular cancer, suicide prevention and  mental health issues.  It is a complete package and men need talk about these things.

According to the Cancer network, an estimated 29,430 men will die from prostate cancer this year. According to the American Society for Suicide Prevention, an estimated 31,475 men will take their own lives this year as well.

I know that from my own personal journey that I am continually amazed at how many men have a close relative that has had prostate cancer. Yet, many of them have no idea about their own PSA

Remember Movember.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD 

Saturday, December 1, 2018

It Was a Different Era

I was surprised, but not shocked, as I woke this morning and learned of the passing of our 41st President, George H.W. Bush.

In reflecting upon his life and times I realized it was truly a different era. 

We saw an era of grace and respect. A call for volunteerism and service before self. 

It was the end of the Cold War and the promise, now unrealized, of world peace and prosperity.

We had ideals and goals. We knew that America was the greatest country on the planet and we believed in our direction and ideals.

We were a thousand points of light for the world!

Quotes from President George H. W. Bush

"I will never apologize for the United States — I don't care what the facts are. ... I'm not an apologize-for-America kind of guy." —comments during an Aug. 2, 1988, campaign stop about the USS Vincennes' mistakenly downing a commercial Iran Air flight, killing 290 civilians.

This is America ... a brilliant diversity spread like stars, like a thousand points of light in a broad and peaceful sky." — acceptance speech at Republican National Convention, Aug. 18, 1988.

"America is never wholly herself unless she is engaged in high moral principle. We as a people have such a purpose today. It is to make kinder the face of the nation and gentler the face of the world." —inauguration speech, Jan. 20, 1989.

"We're going to keep trying to strengthen the American family. To make them more like the Waltons and less like the Simpsons." —1992 Republican National Convention.
"My dog Millie knows more about foreign affairs than these two bozos." —during his unsuccessful 1992 re-election campaignagainst Bill Clinton and Al Gore.
"Losing is never easy. Trust me, I know something about that." —Jan. 5, 1993, speech at West Point, two months after his failed re-election bid.
Quotes compliments of CNBC.com

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD
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