August 2011 Archives

Had a couple of very small wins today in an otherwise unproductive day :/

It would be over the hump, but tomorrow I'm oncall for a week.. hrmm

Moving on with the old news.  This was from July as well.  My first attempt at a caramel slice - one of my favourite sweet treats.  The recipe needs some refining - the biscuit base was too thick and too hard, the caramel was a bit grainy, and the chocolate layer was way too thick and solid.  But Stu liked it :)

Caramel slice
A year ago today we left Osaka and headed back to Tokyo, spending time in Akihabara and going to a maid cafe for Stu's birthday.  This year it ended with a migraine.. poor sweetie *cuddles*

Tuesday .. yeah ..

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Probably no better, and maybe even worse than Monday :/

Ok so this is really old news now: Mid July the little brother came down with his German tourist friend Conny in tow (he'd met her a few days earlier on Town Hall steps and they'd been doing the tourist thing with her).  They stayed with us the Saturday night after the booze train run, and Conny did touristy stuff on the Sunday while David worked on the train.  So Sunday night we put on a lamb roast (I mean what else are you going to serve international guests? :) ) and after dinner played some card games.  Monday night we had leftovers and Conny made a tiramisu for us for dessert.  And since there was leftover egg whites, we made meringues as well :)

Meringue
Conny
A year ago today we decided to escape the Japan heat and travel around the Kii peninsula by train.  It took us a lot longer than we thought it would but did get to see a lot of the coast which was really nice, and escaped the heat for most of the day, which was the point!

Monday .. yeah..

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This entry would have been a rant.  Except that that sort of thing can get one fired.  Suffice to say I had an "ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME???" moment today and was literally shellshocked for the next hour.

So anyway.

Tonight more geotagging.  I'm going to struggle to keep up with the holiday at the rate I'm going!  One year ago today we went to Kyoto - went up the tower, visited the monkeys and the bamboo grove at Arashiyama.  It was a good day, but very hot so we didn't have the energy to do all the things we wanted to.

And since blog entries are pretty boring without pictures, here's one of the Mongolian flag :)

Mongolian Flag

Kii Peninsula

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Have I ever mentioned how hard Geotagging photos is? Especially from trains? In other countries with not great Google Earth coverage in places? 

Yeup.

This only took like ten hours to do.. almost as long as the trip itself!

Kii peninsula

So yesterday was less than 2000 steps: the furthest I walked was just outside to photograph the house and flowers.

The cherry blossoms are about to burst.  I thought it would be cool to have another Hanami party this year - who wants to come? :)
Cherry buds
Purple bell things
Purple bells

The rest of the weekend (apart from a trip up Mount Taylor) was spent geotagging photos.  Do you have *any idea* how hard it is to accurately geotag photos taken from trains??

So it was a year ago last night that we took off for the UK.  Our first day was a bit of a waste of a day, flying all night, then arriving in the morning and catching a train to Osaka.  Extremely hot, so didn't do much, just had some lunch before checking in, then a rest, then heading out again for dinner and having a fun time in Nanba, Osaka.  I've updated the blog entry with some pictures here.

Mount Taylor

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Keep fit challenge of the weekend: Mount Taylor!

Crimson rosellas nesting in bird boxes
Nest boxes
Mount Taylor Walking Track sign
Mount Taylor reserve sign
Galah
Galah
Pea!
Pea!
Trig station at the top of Mount Taylor
Trig station
Trig Station silhouette
Trig station sillouette
Tuggeranong
Tuggeranong

Magpie having a bird bath in a dog-watering bowl
Magpie having a bath in a dog watering bowl
That same magpie
Magpie
And again - magpie jump!
Magpie jump
Back again for another bath
Magpie having a bath in a dog watering bowl
Canberra from Mount Taylor
Canberra from Mount Taylor
Mount Stromlo from Mount Taylor
Mount Stromlo from Mount Taylor
Chris could probably tell me what this is..
Bird of prey
Wattle!
Wattle
Wattle

So was geotagging photos again today and discovered this crazy freeway interchange between Osaka and Kyoto.  Never noticed it before!

Crazy freeway interchange

Bored yet? :)

410 photos.  And all of this was walked - no trains as we didn't bother with the Tube strike that day.

London Wandering
As I was reading the blog entry for that day last night I remembered I'd actually already tracked where I'd walked for the first few days in London in gmap-pedometer.  I'd so totally forgotten them that I hadn't even downloaded them off the usb stick I've been carrying around ever since then!

London Wandering
Although I did note that there was a pretty big mistake on the Hyde Park track.  Funny how a year later I had a better memory of it than that the same day I was actually there..
Day three of our London wanderings.  477 photos geotagged today.

London Wandering

Had leftover lamb roast for dinner tonight (leftovers from Saturday night - had Kat over for dinner).  Been anxious for the better part of today and this evening.  Stoopid stressful work :(  Need to remember to stay calm, otherwise I'll end up with high blood pressure like last time it was this stressful at work :(

This was our next day in London.  Quite a bit more spread out.

London Wandering

London Wandering

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Ever wonder what a day of wandering around London looks like?

This apparently.

London Wandering

That was our first day in London a year ago.  One of the best days of the trip.

Birthday Presents

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Here's my two (tangible) birthday presents (I also had various meals and drinks bought for me by various people :) ).

Birthday Presents
I wanted the food processor mainly for making biscuit bases - breaking up butter into flour by hand takes me like fifteen minutes - this thing could do it in fifteen seconds!  But it does so much more, will be fun to play with it.

Processor bits

The bananas are from Dave C - because bananas are a luxury item, don't you know? :)  hehe

So of course, I had to use both things and christen the blender by making a banana smoothie :)

Banana smoothie

Had a "cleaning" day today .. aka a procrastination day .. aka I'd rather be doing just about anything else than figuring out how WAFs work.. hrmmmmm

Here's some more pics from July.. photos of Neil's fish

I pulled out my camera to document the biggest corys I've ever seen (the photo doesn't show the scale!)
Neil's fish
Neil's fish
Neil's fish

Google+

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When Google+ first came out a month or so ago, I scored an invite and decided to have a look.  

My reaction: meh.

I mean, I blog.  I tweet.  What use would another app have that was basically just a combination of the two? So I used it all of three or four times.  I quickly added quite a few people to various circles.  But really the only people using it were people I haven't seen in forever talking about things that really have no meaning for me.  And not just their original comments, but all the ongoing conversations they have with their own friends.  Completely boring!  To filter them out I'd have to put them in their own circle, and only read the other circles regularly.  Pointless.

But whatever.

The thing that really turned me off however is their "real name" policy.  Which I simply don't want to use.  I have my online persona thankyouverymuch, I don't need them dictating that I need to use my real name online.  

There were two problems.  
1. I didn't know what other Google services would be affected by me using my real name.  This is not explained anywhere.  Would my YouTube videos suddenly have my real name?  Blogger comments?  Noone could tell me.
2. If they catch you, they don't just suspend your Google+ account - they suspend just about *everything*.  Now you have to understand, I am entirely dependant on my Google services.  I mean just look at the list:

Google services
The biggest things of course being my calendar (I *really* couldn't live without this), Reader (that'd be an epic pain in the butt to switch to something else), Gmail for some mailing lists to make some things easier to manage, Analytics for my blog, Maps for various travel maps I've done, as well as a profile for commenting on people's blogs, chat which is the only chat program left that I use with any sort of regularity, and YouTube which I have a few videos but could live without.  

So you can understand my fear of being suspended.

And then there are stories like this (and other Australians in the past few days as well) and so I decided to delete my Google+ account.  Just like that.  All gone.  Never even miss it.

Since the weekend I've been keeping my news feeds under control.  A typical day takes about 20 minutes to read all the news feeds for (it was a lot longer before I culled lots and lots).  Which doesn't sound like a lot until you miss a day or two, then it adds up very quickly.  So got today's feeds read and spent the rest of the evening geotagging.  Well sort of.  Finding photos taken over Japan, Russian and Germany and tagging them in Google Earth.

Just for fun, here's some pool freezage we had on July 30 - the best we've had this winter.  Solid enough to hold up the bird seed container easily.

Freezage
When I came back an hour or so later, it had refrozen!

Refreeze
Had to smash through the ice on the bucket of water - and the crystals forming underneath the surface were amazing!

Bucket crystals
Bucket crystals

Syd-uh-nee!

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Went on a quick trip to Sydney on the weekend.  Mainly to see a John Williams concert, and chuck in a family and friends visit too.

The drive was quite pretty - all the wattles along the way are out in bloom at the moment.  Unfortunately I was driving on the way up and it was too dark on the way back, so you'll have to take my word for it ;)

I realised I've probably *never* taken a photo on Como station before...!

Como station
In the city, an A380 flew overhead.

A380
A380 and Sydney Harbour Bridge
And then onto the Opera House for the concert.

Heaps of people came dressed up. There were lots of Jedis and Leias and Supermen (and a Superwoman) and wizards.

Stormtroopers
The Opera House itself is a pretty funky place for photography.

Sydney Opera House interior
Sydney Opera House interior
Sydney Opera House interior
Sydney Opera House interior
Sydney Opera House interior
Sydney Opera House
So the concert.  Fantastic!!!  It was really really cool.  Unfortunately we had pretty crappy seats.  Right near the front, which gave us an awesome view of the first violinists and the harp and a few of the cellists, but other than that - nothing :(  Couldn't see any of the brass or woodwind or percussion *at all* :(:(:(  So that was pretty frustrating and disappointing.  Note to self: don't get seats there again.

Sydney Opera House interior

Shaun Micallef came out between each piece for a bit of light entertainment which was kinda fun.  Didn't get any photos of him unfortunately, even though we had an awesome view.. you know.. being so close and all!  And near the end, Darth Vader and some stormtroopers came onto the stage.  That's the second concert in recent months I've been to with Stormtroopers.  Pretty cool :)

ACT I 
Olympic Fanfare 
Theme from Lost in Space 
Theme from Jaws 
Highlights from Close Encounters of the Third Kind 
Adventures on Earth - Concert suite from E.T. (The Extra-Terrestrial) 
Theme from Schindler's List 
The Raiders March from Raiders of the Lost Ark 
Theme from Jurassic Park 
Theme from Superman 

ACT II 
March from 1941 
Hedwig's Theme from Harry Potter 
Sayuri's Theme from Memoirs of a Geisha 
Main Title from Star Wars 
Imperial March from Star Wars 
Princess Leia's Theme from Star Wars 
Cantina Band Theme from Star Wars 
Throne Room and End Titles from Star Wars 

So yeah.  Thoroughly enjoyed it.  It was far too short too - only two hours.. for once I could have sat still for hours just enjoying it heh.

Anyways.

Sydney Harbour Bridge and Manly ferry

So hopped on a train home, and D&Y came over and we all went out to the Tradies for dinner.

Lamb shank
And they played with Yvonne's polaroid

Polaroid playing
Sunday morning we had a bit of a sleep in.

I took a photo of the "Pigs and Chickens" bathroom tiles for posterity.

Pigs and Chickens bathroom tiles
We headed out to Miranda Fair next, so Stu could get a nice cup of tea, and to get my birthday present.  Stu got me a birthday cake too :):)

Cupcake
Then went home, packed up all our stuff and headed out to lunch - met up with James and George and Liz and Luc and all the kids and had Sizzler.  Ate too much as always.  In fact I completely skipped dinner last night and didn't even wake up hungry in the middle of the night heh.

Then home to Canberra.  The end.

And did confirm that my mother does indeed read this blog.  *sigh*  hi mum....  now you won't have to ask questions all the time when you talk to me, cause you get it all here?  m,kay?

Home, Sick

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Home from a quick trip to Sydney which will get its own post soon.  In the meantime, I've come down with a cold (woke up this morning with a runny nose).  Feeling pretty crappy tonight.  Will see how I feel in the morning, but not the best ending to my day ever...

Trivia Newton John

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Went to a trivia night for Stu's work tonight.  Was lots of fun.  Only six rounds though, and *lots* of blank space between each round, so not a good enough range of scores and the night took *ages*.  I got a few that noone else got which was pretty cool.  Although they didn't listen to me when I said a bulls eye in archery was 10 points.  Oh well heh.  

The theme was "If I wasn't working here I'd be a..."   .. Stu thought he'd be a hobo :)

Stu the Hobo

Ginger Spice

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A few weeks ago I went into Stu's work for some after work drinks.  We hit up Uni Pub and then went to Ginger Spice for dinner.  I think at some point they asked us if we wanted the food *hot* to which people said yes.  

Woah boy!  It was pretty hot!  There were a couple of reasonably spiced dishes, but mostly they were insanely hot (for me).  Yummy though.

Ginger Spice
After dinner there were still plenty of leftovers so I asked that they be boxed up.  But when it was time to go, noone wanted to take any because they were all going out to other places after.  So we got all the leftovers.  And it was pretty awesome, because we didn't have to do much food shopping that week - we were set for the whole week with leftovers!  Win!

The Friday night we saw Harry Potter, we had a bit of a wander around Civic.

The ice rink looked so cool.  I'd love to have gone skating, but somehow the month got away from me and it was all too hard. Maybe if they do it again next year..

Snowflake light
Sad Hydrant
Civic sculpture
Civic sculpture
Civic fountain
Ice rink

Today I organised to meet up with Neil at Woden at 2pm to join the queue for Brick Expo 2011!  I told Nat and Andrew we were going, and they turned up a little after 2pm as well.

Lego BrickExpo 2011

It took us fifty minutes to make our way along the queue and into the room they'd setup (which was a bigger room than last time).  There was a lot more Lego there this year, looks like a lot of SydLUG people had brought Lego down as well.

Lego BrickExpo 2011

They didn't have the Hogwarts Castle this time, but there was a super awesome Space Lego setup (probably my favourite thing of the day) and an amazing western scene.

Last year when I went my camera was exactly one day old.  This year it was exactly one year old.  !!  To the day!  Since changing the focus mode in Japan last year I've been a lot happier with the results out of the camera, and generally this year's photos were better than last year's.

There were lots and lots of town/city scenes and lots of trains..

Lego BrickExpo 2011
Lego BrickExpo 2011
Lego BrickExpo 2011

Bridges..

Lego BrickExpo 2011

Lego BrickExpo 2011

Lego BrickExpo 2011

Towers..

Lego BrickExpo 2011

Lego BrickExpo 2011

Lego BrickExpo 2011

A casino..

Lego BrickExpo 2011

Lego BrickExpo 2011


Cool things from movies..

A delorean and train from Back to the Future

Lego BrickExpo 2011

Lego BrickExpo 2011

Wall-E and Eve

Lego BrickExpo 2011


Lots of Star Wars stuff

Lego BrickExpo 2011

Lego BrickExpo 2011

Lego BrickExpo 2011


The Blacktron vs Classic Space diorama

Lego BrickExpo 2011

Lego BrickExpo 2011

Lego BrickExpo 2011

Lego BrickExpo 2011

Lego BrickExpo 2011

Lego BrickExpo 2011


The Western diorama

Lego BrickExpo 2011

Lego BrickExpo 2011

Lego BrickExpo 2011


Some other miscellaneous models..

A big minifig
Lego BrickExpo 2011

Snoopy!
Lego BrickExpo 2011

A cool mountain scene
Lego BrickExpo 2011

Parliament House
Lego BrickExpo 2011

A Tardis
Lego BrickExpo 2011

Another space type scene
Lego BrickExpo 2011

A wind turbine (this is actually a set - I saw two of these)
Lego BrickExpo 2011

80s Video Games characters
Lego BrickExpo 2011

But some of the most fun was in the detail people put into the dioramas.  You really need to look closely to see everything that's going on.  So much fun!

Fishing a skeleton out of the water
Lego BrickExpo 2011

This was in the casino.  Hagrid, Harry and Ginny using slot machines?? With Dobby watching??
Lego BrickExpo 2011
Geisha and sailors inside a very large building, that had stuff going on on all the floors
Lego BrickExpo 2011
This Buzz was flying around the top of the tower - you couldn't really even see him from ground level
Lego BrickExpo 2011
A kitten needing rescuing from a tree
Lego BrickExpo 2011
People having a spa
Lego BrickExpo 2011
Chickens in the western scene
Lego BrickExpo 2011

R2-D2 serving drinks on the sail barge
Lego BrickExpo 2011
Hagrid and Dumbledore on platform 9 3/4
Lego BrickExpo 2011
A bicyclist hit by a car
Lego BrickExpo 2011

A barbeque
Lego BrickExpo 2011


By 3:30 the room was starting to thin out, and by 4pm there was wide open spaces.  So glad we decided to stick around, as it made for much less stressful viewing of Lego with no crowds and kids sticking their heads in the way of photos.

Lego BrickExpo 2011
Debating whether I should join CLUG (and display any of my Lego at one of these things - but I don't think I could do that - I'd be far too stressed about kids touching my Lego and breaking things and losing pieces... hrmmm.. maybe if I could display stuff behind plexiglass?? :) )

Skiing July

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24th July saw me getting up at stoopid o'clock to head down to the snow with Steve and Alan W.

It snowed pretty much the whole day, which meant for super awesome snow all day, but not great visibility, made worse by goggles that kept steaming up and had heaps of blind spots around the edges.  So a little frustrating and it meant I went a lot slower than my normally slow speed.

Skiing July
Heading up the Interceptor Quad
Skiing July
Another shot from the Interceptor Quad
Skiing July
Snowflakes!!
Skiing July
Heading up the very pretty Ridge Quad.  Unfortunately as I was taking these photos, I dropped a glove :(  This was above Excelerator.  I really didn't want to do Excelerator as it's very steep, but alas I had to retrieve it.  Steve and Alan got there first and got it for me, but it was in a non-groomed bit so it was very icy and I stacked while trying to stop with them.  Got a big bruise on my leg to show for it.
Skiing July
The ice on the trees was pretty cool.  And this isn't even a lot - many other trees had heaps more ice.
Skiing July
From Side Saddle looking across to Blue Cow terminal.  I had my other stack of the day down the bottom nearish the lift.
Skiing July
Looking from Blue Cow terminal across to Summit.  Had lunch of a few snacks and just sat down for half an hour to recover from my morning.
Skiing July
More pretty snow on the trees
Skiing July
Looking down to Perisher resort
Skiing July

I don't think I've ever seen Lake Jindabyne so full!
Lake Jindabyne


Yesterday I had a play with the GPS track I took of the day.  It was super cool!  I took 17 lift rides (actually that reminds me, I need to create an account so I can look at the MyRide stats - ski passes are now all RFID and you swipe past them as you get on the lift, so you can see all your stats).  I did 15 green runs (although a decent chunk of those were the very easy Pleasant Valley) and 3 blue runs.  Next time I go I'm going to make much more of an effort to go on different runs and lifts all over the resort to make the GPS track look even better :)

Skiing July GPS track

OK so this entry is a little late (only five months!!)

14th March saw us heading down to Yarrangobilly Caves.

First up was a walk down to the thermal pool and then along the river walk.

Gang Gang cockatoos
Thermal pool
Thermal pool
River walk
Skink
Yellow worm
Cute lizard.. a dragon maybe?
Went around to the Glory Cave entrances but decided we wouldn't have time to go through it properly before our tour of Jersey Cave started.

Glory Cave entrances
So went back and did the Jersey Cave tour.  This cave was amazing.  Lots of really pretty formations, and lots of bacon :)

Jersey Cave
Jersey Cave
Jersey Cave
Jersey Cave
Jersey Cave
Jersey Cave
Jersey Cave
Photos can't capture the beauty of this pool and all the crystals of rock around it
Jersey Cave
Jersey Cave
Another pool that was a bit easier to photograph
Jersey Cave
Jersey Cave
Jersey Cave
Then it was back to South Glory Cave, which was a self-guided tour.  This cave was completely different to Jersey Cave - it was all white!

South Glory Cave
The hole in the roof is only relatively recent - Tony remembers going there when there was no hole!
South Glory Cave
My brother could probably explain why streaks of water come out as dots??  Something to do with the camera sensor?  I don't remember there being any fluoro lights around..
South Glory Cave
South Glory Cave
South Glory Cave
South Glory Cave
South Glory Cave
South Glory Cave
Quite a bit of wild life around the buildings, real and, er, stuffed!

Bunny rabbit!
Wedgetailed Eagle
Kangaroo
Honeyeater of some description
Flutterby
And heaps of cunninghams skinks!
Cunninghams skink
Cunninghams skink
Cunninghams skinks
All my cave photos were hand held, the majority without flash.  I did take a tripod, but it was too much like hard work to set it up - especially on the guided tour with lots of other people around.  Sorry, I'm just not dedicated enough ;)

Menagerie

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My neighbour has a full-on menagerie.  As well as her goat (Goat!) there are two doggies (Petal and Reggie) which are meant to be guard dogs but would only ever lick you to death. There's a four foot tank in the garage with a blue tongue lizard.  Inside there's a tank with three frogs (don't know what sort) and another huge tank with eight gorgeous green tree frogs.  

Soooo cool! :):)

Green Tree Frog

The sweetie took me out to dinner tonight - to my instant request when asked - Bella Vista!!

Since the serving sizes are (relatively) small, we decided to forgo garlic bread and have a proper entrée, as well as mains and a dessert.

For entrée I had a stuffed quail.  I don't think I've ever had quail before.  It was lovely, although a few bones to negotiate!  Stu had some prawns which were super tasty.

Bella Vista quail
For mains I had a salmon and prawn dish, and Stu had a chicken risotto in a parmesan cheese net.  Those cheese nets are soooo yummy!  Mine was delicious except for the need to peel and de-poo whole prawns that were still hot.

Bella Vista salmon and prawns

We got dessert as well.  Stu got a chocolate tart with the most amazingest butterscotch sauce *ever*!

Bella Vista chocolate tart
And I had a pannacotta, which was good, but a little difficult to negotiate in the champagne glass!

Bella Vista Pannacotta

Had a work trivia night tonight.  We were down on numbers this time, and a couple of people dropped out at the last minute, so had to do some last minute scrambling.  Ended up with seven on the table plus Neil (Me, Chris H, Windy, Duncan A, Lyn&Peter and Steve).  

And did remarkably well - winning the "mega round" - which we didn't think we would, and coming second over all!
W00t!!!

(of course coming second is the best place to come - as you don't get pressured to organise the next trivia night ;) )

Alfoiled Office

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A couple of weeks ago Windy said there was an office upstairs that had been alfoiled and I should go take photos.  

So cool!  You hear about this sort of thing on the internet but it was cool to see it actually done in real life.  An enormous waste of resources though...

Alfoiled Office
Alfoiled Office
Alfoiled Office

So I stayed home from work this morning so a Telstra tech could come and look at our lines.  He turned up about 10:30 and went downstairs and ran some tests on the line.  Then he said he was done, he was going back to the exchange, he thought the problem was there, and we'd get a call later from our ISP.

er. OK.

So Stu did get a call later to say that the problem had been fixed.

er.  OK.

Got home.  No internet.  Go and reboot the router.

OMG!!! INTERWEBS!!!

Well sort of.  The modem came up, link came up, but couldn't get to web pages.  Tried pinging something.  It worked.  And then the web did too.  Go figure.

No idea of our line speed is any good.  But I did do an FTP download of some files, that come down around 400kbytes/sec, so I suppose that's ok.  

Here's hoping it stays working.

Maybe we'll fill out our eCensus tonight.  8 days to go peoples! :)
Kazza's "Boring Life Of a Geek" aka BLOG

IT geek, originally from Sydney, moved to Canberra in 2007. Married to "the sweetie", aka Stu. Prolific photographer, Lego junkie and tropical fish keeper.

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