John’s Recon

February 8, 2016

A Last Ride with Bosco

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Prichard @ 11:58 am

Theresa and I said our final goodbye, this morning, to a friend of 15 years. His name was Bosco, a gentle, soothing, chocolate Lab, who lived for the opportunity of walking with Theresa in the mornings and being next to her when she arrived home in the evenings. Even when he was old, feeble, and struggled to work his back legs, he would move room to room every time she moved.

I didn’t know I was real friends with him, but I have spent a lot of time at home since retirement. I didn’t realize that these last two years we WERE friends, too. He would move to the room I was in and followed all my rules and would ask to go outside every few hours like a real gentleman and not like a rowdy dog. I guess he was old, too, you see. We developed a non-verbal non-touching closeness of mutual respect and on occasion I would give him a pat or plate-licking duty or even a few cheese fish when I was on a binge. This kind of friendship sneaks up on you … the kind you don’t realize until it’s not there.

After much deliberation, we decided it was time. We had doubled up on meds and it was no longer working at giving him quality of life. He had trouble breathing and we couldn’t keep him from getting up and following us room to room in pain even though we were only moving temporarily.

This morning we went for a 2 mile ride to the vet. He needed lifting to get into the car and laid down on the back seat … no looking out the window even when we passed through a school zone. I didn’t want to go, really, but who would be there to hold Theresa’s hand and give her comfort when he couldn’t with those sad understanding eyes.

The shot worked mercifully quick with an easy breath and a sigh, in pain no more. He just went to sleep … He is so so good at that (


11598 Boscoe Sorry About Kitty

May 22, 2015

Why a retired guy takes an hour and a half to change a light bulb

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Prichard @ 3:00 pm
Well I got ready to take a shower this morning and noticed the light bulb was out in the shower. Reached up and took off the cover plate and unscrewed a long spiral florescent. We have one of those. I just put this in about 4 years ago. Went to the kitchen closet where we keep them and got a similar one. Packaging says 10,000 hrs, 9 year life …. baloney. Re-stepped over Bosco (our old dog who sleeps A LOT) there and back (2 step-over-subtotal). The new spiral bulb didn’t go in the socket due to some extra width in the spiral and some kind of tabs in the recessed socket itself. What about a flood light style since I saw some of those in the closet, as well? Dang packaging, I need to get a pocket knife. Stepped over Bosco (4). A pocket knife isn’t cutting it; I need some big scissors. After much consternation, package is open, no cuts on fingers and I have a flood light and am back to the shower. Stepped over Bosco (6).

Socket so deep I can’t reach to screw in the light; just out of tippy toe range. Into the garage to get something to stand on. We have some over-the-top choices but also a little work stool that I haven’t used in forever and will do just fine. EEEWW. Its full of spiders and bugs. After 5 minutes of detailed brushing, it is ready to go into the house. Back to the shower after stepping over Bosco (8). Did I mention I am dressed for the shower. Light is in and time to switch it on. Yuck, it is much lower lumens and not a daylight/sunlight color but rather the kind of orangish outdoor low light for the outside of the house. That makes sense, T said she bought some of those for over the driveway.

OK. This is where a person who works makes the decision to leave AS IS since 1) he has spent too much time already, 2) needs to get to work, 3) orangish low light isn’t that bad, and 4) orangish low light sets the kind of mood you are probably already in when you have to go to work and why have bright daylight trying to set you in a happy mood anyway. BUT I’m retired and I have time to do this job right. So it is off to the garage to get some Channel-Locks so that I can bend the tabs out of the way. Bosco would you please get out of the hallway (10).

I should have brought the pliers too. Bosco (12). I wonder what the probability of stepping on a dog is because I am sure I am using up chances. Dang, these tabs are too springy and I really need to bend them back a lot. I need vice-grips. Bosco I’m really getting tired of this (14). Now we are getting somewhere. But I have to pull the recessed socket out some to really get access. Uh, what are the chances that I have exposed wire on the backside that hits something in the shower or even up against the metal with my hands stuck in the recessed socket. Would they find me in the bottom of the shower with some vice-grips in my hand? Would it seem right that I was dressed for a shower and not as a handy man? Should I go get my cell so that it is close at hand if I come to? Time to turn off the breaker.

I put the Yuck bulb in so that I could see when I get the right breaker. Darn, only the major appliance breakers are labeled. All the other 16 (8 pairs) are labeled lights and plugs. Of course they are. Why would a new house electrician bother to label them otherwise. The following is tedious in that it took me 7 out of a possible 8 attempts to go to the garage, turn off a breaker, come back to the shower to see if the light is on, yes, go back to the garage and switch the off-pair on and another-pair off AND step over Bosco (14 previous step overs plus 14 more = 28). Ah, now the right breaker is off (glad this wasn’t upstairs) and my back-up batteries are alarming. I got 15 minutes before the juice runs out to the DirecTV, etc.

Alarms make you feel under pressure — like a REAL job. OK, bending complete. Daylight spiral florescent in the socket and eye-opening bright. Back to the garage to turn on the breaker. Last time Bosco (30). We have bright cheerful light in the shower. Now to clean up.

Over Bosco (32) for tool replacement. We have been wanting a small step for Bosco’s 2.5 gal drinking system. He is old and bending down on old legs to drink his water is hard. I will use the work stool for that. Lift the 2.5 gal water bottle out. Oh that was a lot of water dumped in by mistake. Put the system up on the stool. Put the water bottle back. Oh that was a lot of water dumped in by mistake. Looks about right. What is with all the dripping. Darn, there is more water in than the bowl will hold. Get a glass to bail. Bail, Bail, Bail. Whew, what a mess. Get a bath towel for a big spill. Get out of the way Bosco (34). Ok, it looks about right height. Cue towel for wash.

Ah nothing like taking a shower in bright sunny light to feel like a million bucks. Job well done. Just under one and a half hours including mopping up mess.

Time to go out to eat lunch with my friends. As I’m driving away …. Oh, I should have written on the fuse box where the master bedroom/bathroom lights are. I will never remember which breakers they are if I wait. Then what would I do for tomorrow. Besides it will be a long time before someone steps over me 34 times and I don’t wake up. 🙂

February 8, 2011

I have a month’s worth of socks

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Prichard @ 7:11 pm

I noticed that I always use the front of the drawer to both retrieve and put back clean pairs. I thought how far back does this thing go … way back. So I decided that I would wash but not put back any pairs until I got to the end of the sock drawer … a place that I haven’t been in years.

As I neared a month I started to see the back of the drawer but still had plenty to go. Now I am to the end. I found old favorites that were as neglected as Rex the Dinosaur in Toy Story. Then there were hardly used ones whose elastic burst everywhere when I put them on leading me to believe that manufactures have built an “end of life” in their socks because men will never replace them unless they fall off their feet … kind of like boxers, huh … ‘cept you wear those ’round the waist … ‘cept for some gangs of guys, you know who you are.

By the end of the experiment, I had a sock pile as big as a garbage truck.

With this many socks (over 62 when not matched), it was a daunting task to separate and thrown some away. So in a typical fashion male fashion, I put them all back … all the way to the back of the sock drawer. I need to fashion a divider (out of cardboard?) so that when I put the washed ones back, I put them behind the divider so that I will end up using all of them each month … no favorites.

September 13, 2010

Serpentine, Serpentine

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Prichard @ 6:37 am

I think this was said to Gene Wilder in the Frisco Kid when he was running and dodging bullets … anyway it was a funny scene. Serpentine is the word that comes to mind when a new driver can’t keep a straight line. It seems that at first most new drivers go down the road moving the steering wheel back and forth like they are riding in an old pick-up across the open plains … serpentine.

Many times I make sure that we are on a straight and level surface, put my hand close to the steering wheel, and ask them to take their hands off. Imagine their surprise when they realize the car tracks straight as an arrow without any guidance from them. I explain to them that what is happening is that they are working too hard … they are the ones that are adding in steering errors and then taking them away … left on its own the car does just fine (if properly aligned). After that, they drive more smoothly and straight … until they go across an uneven surface and have to add in more input … back to their old ways.

This one young man gave me a chuckle when after being shown this “complete lack of movement of the steering wheel” remarked that we have been programmed by old movies where we look at the faces of the driver while he has a conversation with his passenger in front … these actors are constantly moving the wheel side to side. He is right. Not only that but they look at each other far too often and far too long.

How funny that Hollywood decided that a driver should look physically “busy” driving when in reality the only thing that is busy is your brain and your eyes.

August 5, 2010

The Galatyn Overpass

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Prichard @ 5:52 am

After getting slightly confused on the Galatyn Overpass over US75 in Dallas, the student driver said to me, I am not familiar with this road – I have not been on it before. I answered, that he will be on many roads that he has never been on before. After thinking about it, I have a lot more to say to this student who is a very skillful handler of the car but who will spend his whole life obtaining a mastery of the “road”.

Your Dad has taught you well. You are a very skillful handler of the car, but …   I like to use my favorite sport soccer as an example. The masters of the game look on the outside to be just simple passers of the ball. Every pass is simple and unhurried while others are frantically scurrying about. Their minds are going a thousand miles a minute as they mentally compute the paths of friendlies and foes to make that simple correct-speed pass to a team mate that threads through just beyond the reach of foes but just exactly reaches their player in just the right place to move the game forward. This master, mastered the skills of the ball in early teens but has taken a lifetime to master the game so that his play looks simple.

Think of three of the top driving masters in our country — the long-haul truck driver, the bus driver, and the limousine driver. The limousine driver’s mind has to work extremely fast to plan and re-plan his strategic path through traffic in an unhurried and very smooth manner. As openings come and go in traffic, he has to smoothly move in to take advantage while seeming nonchalant while the guy in back writes his report and sips his coffee — the good ones move through traffic and handle the unexpected just as fast as the guy who looks like a race car driver with his arms flailing about jumping from lane to lane. My mom once put an object on the dash when I was learning in Phoenix traffic and told me to keep it still as I moved through traffic — harder than you think. The bus driver has to think about all of his loading and unloading as well as how to negotiate carefully and smoothly in amongst the little traffic scurrying about his ankles without stepping on any of them. The long-haul truck driver has to think and plan miles in advance to make sure he doesn’t get into any “situations” that he can’t get out of.

I had a TV delivered a few days ago from a long-haul truck driver. He called me about a half-hour before he delivered. He wanted to know how the cars were parked in my cul-de-sac, could he turn around, could he back in — know the layout before you get there. Now that is a master driver.

So even if the markings are worn thin on the Galatyn Overpass, think about the overall structure as you are driving up and that there must be 4-way traffic at the top or they wouldn’t have built it. Actually more importantly, think about the next situation or road you will be on before you get to it — just like the master soccer player thinks about where he will pass the ball before the ball comes to him. It will take a lifetime to master but you will be darn good in five years from now.


John Prichard

Almost master of some Plano roads

June 24, 2010

Round of 16

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Prichard @ 7:20 am

I not so sure I wouldn’t rather play Germany next because ….

Playing in a stadium chock full of the other team’s rabid supporters can really shake up a team. Having watched 20 years worth of qualifiers … it is really hard to win a game when the intense feelings and sounds ooze negativity onto the field toward you … it is really hard to win a game against a team that is so carried away by the positive telepathy of the crowd that their feet don’t touch the ground and they believe they are unbeatable. … see Australia’s last game

Thus Ghana will be, as the last African team standing. African nations may have their differences but in the end … it is one Africa against the world … and that makes the game tougher than Germany.

April 23, 2010

Good Prints: Better, but still a bother.

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Prichard @ 5:54 pm

You can make a good scenery photograph with a camera. If you are good you can say a little more than the simple record of the visual event. You control crop, focus, point of view and all kinds of contrast to better state what you like about this frame. If you are really good you might get people to feel some emotion about this place. You can even slightly control time but it is harder to elongate it … this is video’s game. A painter has it easier in that they get to control where everything goes, arranging everything just so … basically a remembrance of a place … like a witness who remembers selectively. Of course, then they have to paint the darn thing and we got them beat … kind of … getting it down for others to see can be a bother for the both of us. More on this later.

The final project for my art class was a choice of a collage and painting it to canvas or a photo montage with some artistic enhancements. I’m sure you know what I chose … the thought of mixing all those colors just made my paint runny and my camel hair “Afro-ed”. It isn’t that bad really, but I have no patience or talent for it.

One of the things this class has taught me is to loosen up and not be so anal retentive about the reverence of the photograph. It is all about the image and what you want it to say and much less how you captured it. Heck, with a camera you lie like a rug anyway since you can point the lens toward specific things, sharpen, contrast, focus, saturate, and CROP … Hey, I thought Bertha came to the wedding … Guess not, she doesn’t seem to be in any of the family photos. When you break the bond of reverence then you can make the photo into an image that can point out more … maybe the texture, the warm light, the whatever can be enhanced beyond what was possible at the actual scene. I was taught to point the camera down when the sky subtracted from the scene but, now I read that there are a ton of photos that I like whose great clouds were swapped in from one of their other photographs … and now online there is a program that supplies the sky for you in case you don’t have any (maybe you don’t get out much – like in prison). What is up with that?

One of my photo montages (I’m doing two since I thought they weren’t that much work … what a dummy I am) is from a favorite memorial from our trip to Washington DC last summer. A single photo of the Franklin Delano Roosevelt memorial just can’t do this place justice. I took several during the day and then we came back at night and I took my favorite in the moonlight just after sunset. This one says to me serenity, peace, solitary strength, but only because I had seen the other places, statues and read the words … to the uninitiated, it says nothing. So what if you wanted to say more in a single picture about a great man (almost a father figure) who loved his dog and hated war … had a great wife who was as strong as he was … brought the US out of the great depression and created great works projects that produced jobs rightly/wrongly to get people working again. This is a lot for one image to accomplish. Hopefully my attempt at a photo montage says most of this.

It is created from the following pictures:

7058 Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, Washington, DC

This anti war text carved into this great granite.

7060 Eleanor, Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, Washington, DC

A great stoic statue of his wife Eleanor. I love her hands too but couldn’t fit them in.

7062 Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, Washington, DC

Their famous dog Fala and the worry ravaged face of Franklin himself.

7064a Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, Washington, DC

This great set of statues of the famous breadline … an icon of the depression. I like the determined resolve in their faces and their body postures with folded arms in defiant pride.

7334 Roosevelt Memorial, Old Town Trolley Tour, Washington, DC

All incorporated into my favorite night image taken 30 minutes after sundown where the camera still captures the navy blue in the sky on a moonlit night (moon too high in the sky to capture in this one).

The end result after 32 hours is this picture (15 hours was learning curve of the program itself)

7334montage Roosevelt Memorial, Washington, DC

It’s easy to just leave this on the web where high resolution monitors with good light output do the job. But I want Franklin to be more felt than seen so it is a tricky thing to print him to be just visible in other print media. High gloss not that much of a problem. But it looks better on matte but now you have to experiment on how much brighter the face has to be since the light reflectivity of matte is much less than gloss. Then there is canvas, the ultimate medium to show the texture of the granite floor and walls … less reflectivity yet … you have to build a frame afterward … then mount it. Maybe another 15 – 20 hours (I’m not quite finished yet).

Yikes! this was project one and I have another one due in short order. This digital art stuff is time consuming. Maybe this is the definition of art to many … stuff you put lots of work into. In photography we get away with murder when we can put our stuff on the web and have thousands view it. It is a whole lot different when you have to make a finished print to hang in a gallery. Good prints are easier than they were … but still a bother. Hey, I got a new Epson 13″ x 19″ printer … but can only afford printing 11″ x 17″ with it.

March 21, 2010

Asses Are For Big Boys

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Prichard @ 5:19 pm

Theresa picks up our grandson, Grayson, from preschool every Wednesday to spend a few hours plus dinner. He is three and a half. Out of the clear blue he says, “Asses.” “Asses is a bad word.” ” Asses.” Theresa says, “Grayson.” He follows with, “You can only say asses when you are a big boy like my daddy.” Asses.”  Then he starts on the rules and regulations on the next word he can’t say.

This kind of unexpected behavior has returned to our house. For my wife it is in the form of Grayson. For me, it has to do with driving. You see, I started my “observations” part of my driver education teacher training. I rode around with 11 young drivers this week. This was an experience in unexpected behavior. The point, of course, was to teach me to expect this behavior … to be comfortable with a lane change to the left lane where the driver checks his blind spot over his left shoulder but steers right, making essentially a lane change to the right … to expect a near perfect driver at the end of their hour to make a perfect stop, look left to right, and make a right turn on red – right into people turning left on the green arrow. The instructor/owner of the driving school already had his foot above the break so we only lurched — bet those left turners on green arrows will look a little harder at the magnetic signs on a car. The owner tells a story of a time a young lady driver heard a song she didn’t like come on the radio, squeal, and take both hands off the steering wheel to change the station … while in a long left turn … only after the turn had she realized her mistake … OMG. Another one of my teachers told me one of her students went home and told her mother that the car she drove must have a mind of its own … she only had to gently push the brake and it continued to stop on its own … perfectly behind the line. Her mother told her it was the teacher. She said no way and then later asked the teacher, “Do you have a brake in the car?”. They had to show her … she didn’t believe them.

I’m sure I will have other stories once I start teaching “beside the wheel”. Meanwhile, I got to start learning the unexpected IS the expected.

March 8, 2010

A Good Driver

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Prichard @ 11:59 am

As some of you might know, my family suggested that I would like teaching Driver’s Ed with an outfit like Classic Driving School (in Plano and soon to be in Richardson/Dallas). They have some interesting cars and still have a Porche (only the owner is allowed to teach in it now). So along with my art class, I am now in Driver’s Training Training. As part of the certification process, we are required to include in our submitted application folder a 1000 word essay on our early driving experiences. Although I could easily balloon many of my early stories, I am submitting the following 999 words.


I think I was 10 the first time I climbed behind the wheel of a big old Cadillac with a huge two-tone steering wheel and a hood long enough to make trucks proud. My grandfather let me steer on the curvy mountain roads of Pineville, KY while sitting on his lap. I couldn’t touch the pedals yet, but that was a mere formality. My grandfather agreed that I was a good driver … just like Raymond in “Rain Man” was a good driver.

I think I was 13 or 14 when Mother Nature “ratted” me out when the snow wouldn’t gather on the hood of our Jeep “woody” station wagon due to residual engine heat and my Dad discovering that someone was “borrowing” the Jeep in the afternoons. I was strongly disciplined and kept in line by the threat of not getting my license until 18. This was a horrifying thought since everyone got their license on their 16th birthday. I had driven all around Northbrook, Illinois which was a suburb of Chicago before I got caught. I drove in rain, shine, sleet, snow, and ice. I stopped at all the lights … even merged onto a highway or two. But now it was time to toe the line if I was ever going to get my license on my 16th birthday. Still, I was a good driver.

During High School Driver’s Ed, I had a teacher named Mr Spain who was missing his left hand. He had a hook that was a marvel to watch as he deftly manipulated a car around tight turns. He had a way of hooking into the steering wheel and rapidly spinning the wheel … the way you see an old locomotive wheel spin or a pumpjack on the plains of West Texas. Although we learned city driving in Mesa, Az, he loved going to the nearby canyon lakes. Saguaro Lake, had long gentle highway turns. The dreaded Apache Trail, Highway 88 to Canyon Lake was filled with turns more suited to skillful drivers. When the turns got tighter and the going got steeper with 50 – 100 ft cliffs on the edge of the road, it was my turn to drive … all the way past Canyon Lake and back. Mr Spain said I was an excellent driver.

My mom would let me continue along the Apache Trail to Apache Lake which was more difficult. She once let me drive all the way to Roosevelt Lake using the Apache Trail which was dirt with wash board/washed out areas the last 20 miles. I fell in love with the scenic driving that I still do today. My mom said I was an excellent driver but then she was paid to say that … oh wait, no pay, just love.

My dad tricked out his Toyota Land Cruiser. This was the old tiny 4-wheel that was better and more rugged than anything off-road at the time. He researched it and put gauges in for roll (up to 45 deg without rolling over) and climb (60 deg up without falling backwards). He learned in the Smoky Mountains … a la Coal Miner’s Daughter. He needed those gauges when we drove off-road in the Superstition Mountain Wilderness area to hunt. One time when we came up on a piece of washed out road that ran along the steep hillside he stopped. He explained that he was going to use centrifugal force to keep the Toyota up on the hill. I was to wait for him to get across and then come after him … hopefully not down for him. He was moving about 20 mph when he slung the Toyota up onto the hill above over the smooth part of the wash and down the other side. Another time, others, while standing by their stuck 4-wheels stared unbelieving as we climbed up a very steep muddy hill with with just 2 wheels and 20 ft rooster tails out the back, popping up over the top waiting for us to return to earth. It was scary and I thought we were falling over backwards but he pointed to the gauge and I saw we were only at 48 deg climb. I was a good driver but he was the most excellent. He loved to drive but he let me on occasion out in the boonies … even the tricky spots. He never said it but I think he thought I was a good driver.

I got my license on my birthday. My mom took me. She was excited for me and had me drive her straight home where she gave me the keys and told me she didn’t expect me back for 3 hours, dinnertime. You see I was an excellent driver and aced the tests and even received a complement from the test giver on parallel parking.

About one month later I was driving through an intersection with all cars stopped except for my lane. I maybe slowed a little when I entered the intersection but promptly hit a police car on his front wheel and slit his car open to the back wheel. Another officer got out of his car (where did all these police cars come from?) and promptly gave me a ticket for “Failure to Yield” which carried a lot of points with it. I fought it (against 3 state lawyers — another good story) and won but the judge specified a condition … I take the new class they were starting called “Defensive Driving”. This is where I found out that being a skillful vehicle handler does not have that much to do with being a good driver. It is like being a good dribbler/shooter doesn’t make you a good basketball/soccer player. In traffic, we are all a team of good/bad skills playing with hostile/friendly players using a rather limited facility for our own purposes. We don’t communicate with words or gestures (well some do) but rather with “Car Body Language”. That is what you have to know to be a good driver. With 43 years of driving experience, I am starting to get good at interpreting this other language.

January 24, 2010

It’s Either Black or White

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Prichard @ 1:12 pm

I started a graphics art class this last week, 2-D Design. Yes, this lifetime engineer is taking art. The point is to take more interesting pictures by understanding how people perceive and process images. Our first project is a screen printing of a two tone image. By two tones I mean full black and full white or full background color and full single ink color. We are going to take pictures this next Thursday to work on (or you can do your own artwork if you have some). Oh Boy this is where I can shine … Uh Oh, I will be in 4 feet of snow in Flagstaff Arizona for this. I’m missing the only photographic part of the class. So with no instructor to guide my eye … I will be on my own for source material. No problem from what I am hearing from the in-laws … they have white up to their ears … might be a problem to find some black though. I guess the Grand Canyon is out for a side trip … probably full of snow anyway.

Just black and white with nothing in between is significantly less information to convey in a picture … kind of like having to answer just yes or no in the courtroom. I decided to take all day Saturday and train my eye for seeing a shot with so little information. I used the “Threshold” capability in Photoshop on the pictures I took since I retired last February … a year’s worth, almost. I put them in a separate set here. As you can see, you can get shades if you use black and white dots … I don’t think we get to use much of these. So what did I learn from this? What did I train my eye to see? What am I going to look for?

With so little information you are relying on the brain to make the image … strong lines and recognizable structures work. Leading lines work but scenery as a whole doesn’t since most of it is shading and doesn’t synchronize with the same threshold (just confusing). I had pictures where you are standing on a cliff or looking down a path deep into a forest and these didn’t work at all. In fact, you can not perceive depth unless you have something in the picture with very strong leading lines to make it so. Sky for the most part just doesn’t cut it both because it is different light shades and clouds really screw up. Huge contrasts across the subject will work but only if it isn’t blotchy and only if it is helping to outline something. Nothing else in the photo will coincidentally be at the same light value as your subject so will get lobotomized and detract from the image … thus simple images without a lot of other stuff to worry about messing up is probably best. Glint, blacks and detail in shade which are usually problems are not a problem since they disappear into either black or white.

Generally … something simple with lots of light variation or contrasts especially along edges that define shapes. Try some of this thresholding on your pictures, you will like it. If you like one of my pictures you can go to it directly to it at my flickr site to see the original. Here is the link to just this folder/set, Art Thresholded 2 Tone. You can click one of the thumbnails and enter into the picture …you will also see that it belongs to the original set it came from so you can drill down to see that picture too. OR just remember the number and search for it directly.

I’m ready to do some shooting … now for a warm coat.

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