Category Archives: Writing

abstract image of leaves

Just me and my Leaves

This has been the slowest week since the last one, and boy has it gone fast!

If you came here thinking today’s blog would be about you, think again – this one’s on me – or was that the last one? What can I say? I’m a writer. Hemingway said we’re all liars, but then can you really believe him?

The week in Review (or is it Next Week’s Preview?)

Actually I’ve got a lot done this week, but almost entirely in my head, and a little on index cards . . . why do they call them that anyway? I mean, does anyone in their right mind actually index them? Why not call them what they are . . . illusions of being organized . . . I’m smart though, I put little page numbers on them in the top right corner, and even circle them. I’ve got about 50 of these cards all over the place. I think about 12 of them have a single vertical line inside a moon, in the top corner . . . wonder what that’s all about!

Actually, I’m in the process of writing about five separate blogs, all very related to each other, and way too much for one blog. My intent was to have the first one written last night and posted today . . . this is not that one.

They are all related to three main subjects:

1. Building an author’s platform – It sure would have been easier if this were the 70’s . . . then I could just go out and buy the shoes, click my heels, and all would be well. Time after time I’m reading about the importance of just being oneself, and doing that basically all over the place. That’s fine, but it sure would help if that Wizard could whip me up a storm of “online oneness” – I’m sure he’s got the brains, not sure about the heart, and as for bravery, hmmm?

It takes a certain amount (a lot) of constraint to avoid flogging one’s own creative output, especially when it’s your main source of income and not something done on the side, but that’s an issue all on its own. As well, what I do keeps me occupied for probably 60 hours a week, maybe more, so it could never be a sideline.

2. The Book Environment – I’m using the term environment rather than industry. Actually, more and more, it feels like one of my projects is doing a case study on the whole mess – oops, environment – it is the best of times and worstest of days – catch my drift?

As you can imagine, this is a huge undertaking, especially for one person, and it is only one of many projects. It’s an important one though. It’s tempting to say that every indie author should try the same, but I’m not sure about that. To begin with, this is where I actually use my MBA skills, not just in marketing, but mostly in strategic planning, part of which includes doing an industry analysis.

I have already identified the big problems, and opportunities, and collapse them in a sentence or two. That only took three months, not full-time of course. However, that isn’t enough – I need to flesh in more details – then focus more on “what’s next” in this crazy world of platform building, selling books and art and so on.

When I’m done, I’ll be posting my insights on here . . . you can be rest assured that it won’t be the same stuff you find elsewhere . . . and you will learn something valuable, whether you’re a writer or a reader, or both.

4. Technical issues – Should I switch from a hosted blog to self-hosted one? Should I shut down my art site for now, or roll it into a redesigned blog? Technically, I can’t fully integrate this blog into my website . . . that would be ideal. Then there are all the design enhancements that I need to make . . . this is the more mundane topic, so I’ll leave it for now.

Now For the Rest of The Story

I found this link in a discussion group on goodreads. Whether you’re a writer or someone who sometimes wonders about writers, you need wonder no more . . . instead, feel free to laugh your ass off . . . some of you may want to pee before following this link:

The Secret Life of Writers

PS – I found these secrets from another writer – you can find her here: Dianne Harman

Top 10 Reasons To Work From Home

This title isn’t quite complete – it should also include something about working solo, so in this context, here goes!

  1. On birthdays, at the surprise office party, I get all the corners, and now the cake only has 4 pieces!
  2. Some of those telemarketers can be really sweet, my bff for a few minutes, especially if she can manage to turn off that “Your call may be monitored…” function – still wondering when my quality will be good enough not to require the control purposes.
  3. When it comes to softball, now I’m always at bat!
  4. Over time, you learn that overtime is actually two words.
  5. Ellen can actually be pretty cool . . . over time she’s taught me to dance!
  6. You learn that staff meetings are something you can do in bed.
  7. Eventually you need to call an exterminator to find all the post-it notes.
  8. You no longer have time for two hours of minesweeper every day.
  9. You can give the cleaning staff the day off, and sometimes, if you’re really nice, it’s okay to make that two or three!
  10. Dreaming – day or night – goes uninterrupted and turns into an amazing novel or some fine art!
  11. Going out for pizza becomes an adventure . . . enjoy this video, it’s hilarious:

The Pizza Adventure!

Finally, if you’d like to add to my list, feel free to comment . . . love to hear from you!

Catalog Writing, and then a Book

If you’re familiar with my blog at all, you’ve probably figured out that I enjoy the now-old TV show, Seinfeld.

One of my favorite characters is Mr. Peterman, mostly because when the show was in its heyday, one of main job duties was writing catalog copy for the gardening catalogs I was running – yeah, there were a few “Elaines” around!

Contrary to what the video might suggest, when you write for a catalog, or for advertising, you really are forced to write concisely, yet effectively. The legends (gurus?) of advertising used to claim that all writers should have a stint in advertising. If you think that’s pompous or silly, here’s three writers who spent some time in advertising as copywriters:

Salman Rushdie

Helen Gurley Brown

F. Scott Fitzgerald

I could say more, but then I might be accused of being a windbag . . . should we just keep it at pompous? Honestly though, since I’ve never been to Africa, I’d really like to tell you some of my hockey stories . . . they’re funny. Ha, there’s even a little of that in Dawn at Last!

Salman Rushdie on Seinfeld

Two Strings Attached

Of all the arts, music is regarded as the most universal in its appeal and acceptance. This universality,however, does not mean that music is without individual character. Each country has its own kind of music that embodies the total experience, the collective consciousness of its people. Music, therefore, is the collective expression of the musical genius of a particular people.

Such is the case of Philippine music which today is regarded as a unique blending of two great musical traditions – the East and the West. Being innately musical, the Filipinos, from the earliest to contemporary times, have imbibed these traditions and have woven their musical creations along these mainstreams of musical thought. Through time, Philippine society has witnessed the evolution of music expressed in different forms and stylistic nuances.

A people gifted with a strong sense of musicality, the Filipinos turn to music to express their innermost feelings. Hence, every song they sing, every instrument they play, every music they make is a direct, almost spontaneous reflection of their hopes and longings, frustrations and fulfillment, failures and triumphs.

The above quote come from Antonio C. Hila, found in a wonderful article on the musical instruments of the Filipinos.

My little musical journey continues, and it is starting to feel like the missing element of a troika . . . the art, some writing, and now the music . . . there will certainly be some dancing along the way.

I’d have to agree with Hilda’s first sentence (above), and It does seem like less there’s less arguing and such when it comes to music. I’m tired of getting involved in so many trite ones – yeah, one happened today in an online discussion – in the end though, it seems that I did help the art student with one of my observations. It was his discussion. He took my comment back to his teacher, who was caught off-guard by it.

There’s a strange mentality in some of the art world revolving around the issue of integrity when an artist sells their art, and how that is somehow “less than noble”. In the context of this discussion, the issue was about fine art ‘versus’ commercial art (advertising). One or more artists/ participants seemed to be offended when I said, “If you do a painting and have it hung in a gallery for sale, it is also a form of advertising.”

It got pretty quiet when I asked whether the picture of a can of soup is fine art. When you think about it, the can is actually covered. The picture is mostly a picture of the label of a can of soup, and believe me, packaging is all about advertising. Funny how no one knows who did the graphic arts on the original label . . . I wonder if Andy had the talent to do that?

As you can see, these kinds of discussions are pretty non-nonsensical – though I’m glad the student and his teacher saw the humor in the truth of it. I really don’t like any discussions on the issue of “what is art” . . . it gets wearisome and only leads to frustration, and this can literally throw me off for hours, if not the whole day or evening.

I don’t care to rank them either, but still there is the music . . . perhaps the common thread in all of it is the heart? That certainly helps makes a good book – the words –  special, it draws one in to a painting, makes the music charming and exciting, and when you add some dancing in there it can be down right exhilarating. There’s no need to judge it, much more need to enjoy and celebrate it. Hopefully as time goes on that message will come through in this blog – hopefully another way of sharing pleasant surprises.

Some words, a little music, lots of light and some dancing – get the picture? 🙂

 

Being Cool in the Media

It’s funny how one thing leads to another . . . eventually I’ll get to why I posted this video.

I began this Saturday night determined to push my book through more social marketing, but not knowing exactly where I would do so. These days I do gravitate to Pinterest, probably because I feel that it has the potential to be an outlet for creative expression.

I’ve been thinking of doing a Pin board completely about drumming. In the last few years I’ve come to appreciate it more. There’s something persistent, and I do believe universal, about drumming . . . there’s simply no need to try and explain that. However, it didn’t take long to come to the conclusion that it’s not so easy to make a board of it, so I’m going to make a board of all kinds of musical instruments instead, but not the ones I’m more familiar with.

After a simple search, wow, what can I say? I found a stunning list of musical instruments, 120 different percussion ones, 195 string ones, and over 500 in all! It seems my board won’t be complete tonight, on the other hand it feels like I’m starting another little adventure. Pin pictures really don’t do justice to the music, such as the video above, so I’m creating a YouTube playlist that will eventually link to my Pin page . . . once it’s full enough.

On this little journey, I’m doing a lot of Google searches to look up all kinds of instruments from many different countries and cultures. At first I was annoyed that Google wasn’t very helpful on many them – even coming up blank on some of them (instruments). Strange though, in no time at all the frustration turned into a relief of sorts – I really don’t want to ever think that “Google knows everything”!

This fascinating video at the top is titled:

“FOLI” there is no movement without rhythm original version by Thomas roebers and Floris Leeuwenberg

Certainly these people deserve the recognition, as little as mine may be. This is the fourth video installment on my new playlist – the seventh one I’ve researched so far from my list of 120 percussion instruments – the other three are each remarkable in their own right. I already know this is going to make an incredibly rich playlist, and yes Giselle, it does feel like a pretty cool way to spend a Saturday night! 🙂

It certainly beats getting bogged down in an online discussion on whether including vague figures in abstract art negates the label, “abstract”. It also beats getting into another discussion on the importance of garden sheds to the careers of various writers . . . the sheds being their favorite place to write . . . I screwed up by interjecting some humor . . . apparently the discussion is for those devoted to the topic . . . seriously folks!

What’s much more important is how this video struck a chord with me that’s been around for many years now. It seems I have a knack for putting two and two together and coming up with a picture or some words – in this case it’s words. The video reminds of something I read years ago, in Marshall McLuhan’s Understanding Media. It will take me awhile to find the exact quote. The passage has to with how the introduction of a water well completely disrupted the culture of an African tribe – the ritual of collecting water from the river was an important part of the day – the introduction of the well led to an unhappy cultural shock, whatever the intent.

This has stuck with me for many years now, and I kind of cringe every time I come across something that shows the third world becoming well-educated . . . I have very mixed feelings about this process. This book of McLuhan’s is like a fountain of relevancy – every page of it – not just to remote cultures, but to our own as well. Think about the following quote in the context of the video above, as well as in relation to our current cultural environment – the relevance is alarming on both counts:

Consider the phrase “It’s a man’s world.” As a quantitative observation endlessly repeated from within a homogenized culture, this phrase refers to the men in such a culture who have to be homogenized Dagwoods in order to belong at all. It is in our I.Q. testing that we have produced the greatest flood of misbegotten standards. Unaware of our typographic cultural bias, our testers assume that uniform and continuous habits are a sign of intelligence, thus eliminating the ear man and the tactile man.

Looked at another way, if we can’t solve so many of our own cultural problems, where is the wisdom in educating other cultures in our ways? These are some of the issues I think about often . . . as you can see, I get easily distracted. Perhaps that’s why I’m having a hard time selling my book . . . it is very much about all kinds of love, and the struggles.

I’m just glad I can still enjoy the music, like in this video above. I also believe there is much to be learned from the quote below, which is encouraging in more than one way – it turns out that he began by self-publishing as well:

“Re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book. Dismiss whatever insults your soul. ” —Walt Whitman

Do We Know?

 

Other People’s Stuff

A picture of a twig

This is another unfinished piece…it’s based on a variation of a leaf.

Normally I don’t comment on other people’s blogs, nor do I publish a list of favorites, who I follow and so on. That’s totally because I’m worried about leaving someone out by omission. Some days its tempting to single out those who can really strike a nerve, but I’d rather focus on the positives . . . so hopefully I won’t “make the wrong mistake” as Yogi Berra said.

I’m really just getting the hang of Pinterest. I spend most of my time related to that site looking for original pins, as opposed to simply repinning. However, there are a small number of pinners that I’m following, and some or all of them also have blogs. I’m not going to comment on the blogs here, just the Pinterest boards.

If you haven’t spent much time there – or if you think it’s somehow less than blogging – I think you might re-think that if you visit Julie Green’s page. It is fascinating to explore, an intellectual and visual treat . . . the kind where you stop watching the time, so be careful!

Here’s the link, and I hope you check it out for yourself: Julie Green on Pinterest

I’m learning how busy the world of Twitter is, though it has been all pleasant surprises, kind of “rapid-fire” so it’s hard to keep up. I still have much to learn over there, but aside from that, there are some people over there. One guy, @PhilTorcivia , is amazing because of his constant and pretty consistent stream of humorous one-liners. For example, “I told my girlfriend she’d drawn her eyebrows too high. She looked surprised.” I’m not surprised that he has over 64,000 followers.

For all the authors out there, I also came across some named Jane Friedman, but I can’t remember how I came upon her first – Twitter, blog, Pinterest or somewhere else. What I do know is that wherever I come across her, I learn something new and important when it comes to writing and publishing. If you’re looking for book reviews, that’s not what she does, but for tons of great information, resources, and opportunities, I suggest starting with her home page: Jane Friedman’s Home Page

There are many other kudos I’d like to send out, and will over time. There are some bloggers that have made an extra impression lately, including Jackie Jones, especially for her wonderfully honest and great photographs of the Caribbean on her blog. She keeps apologizing for this and that photography, but I’d never have noticed without her mentioning them – they’re imperfections make them all the more intriguing and endearing: Jackie Jones’ Caribbean Photos – the little stories add to the charm.

Finally, thank to Jill Paterson for your tips on writing that all-important blurb, as well for being a friend on Goodreads: Jill Paterson’s Blog

A little music, a little picture, and the “Blurb” . . .

If I could put the some of the tone of it to music, it would be as in the above video.

I feel like I’ve accomplished something with this book – lots of mystery and intrigue, yet funny and heartwarming, characters you come to love even though they can sometimes be insufferable, and something about love – with honey, not syrup, and believable.

Book – Dawn at Last – Why it’s not Free . . . Yet

Before I can give my book away on Amazon – and I can only do that for a few days – I’d really like to get a “critical mass” of people who like to read on Kindle – get my book out there for free for awhile – it really is a nice read.

Also, I’ve rewritten the “blurb” – this is such a hard thing to write! I’m still waiting for Amazon to update the new one, so here’s what it says:

_________________________________________________________________

New Blurb – Don’t be fooled by the Title!

Titles can be deceiving and no one knows this better than Donna Belauche. She is the envy of every woman she knows and adored by her eight male clients and two partners . . . or is it seven and three?

With her natural beauty, education and “special” training – and with her ability to charm on a dime – she has it all, but only according to others. She prides herself in playing the game of love, winning by acting and remaining unattainable . . . but in control.

Then her plans become unravelled in sleepy Victoria, a deception of its own . . . her secrets are only a pale part of the bigger picture. As events unfold beyond her control, what was once all so predictable becomes a battle with the past, a duel with deception, including the intrusion of a few simple tulips . . . will she learn to dance or will they cripple her forever?

“Then the strangest thing happened . . . Karen covered her naked body with Andrea’s robe, put her hair up and then put on that chauffeur’s hat . . . she told me to sit down again and just wait there for a minute. Then she went over to this platter. It had three tulips on it, but she only left one on the platter and put the lid back on. Then she disappeared with this platter – after all this – such a fuss over a single tulip?”

After 300 pages you will have the answers.

_________________________________________________________________

From my "Playful & Cheery" collection - which goes nicely with my novel, "Dancing With Tulips"

From one of my art collections – which goes nicely with my novel, “Dawn at Last”

_________________________________________________________________

So there you have it. Now to get that free copy – when its available – the best way is to follow me on twitter @ljgrodecki.

I’m hoping/ planning to do this launch two weeks from now – May 17th – depending on how much interest there is . . . and if you’re wondering why there is an error message up in the top right, under “Tweeter in Person”, that’s probably because as of this typing, I’m still a tweet virgin . . . I haven’t tweeted anyone yet . . . I’m so nervous as to who will be the first! 🙂

Yoga Sayings

Yes, my name is Lawrence, and I hope Lawrence doesn’t mind me playing around with his name. And yes, I’ve enjoyed a little Yoga off and on over the years, but can’t seem to make it part of my regiment, so my arms aren’t always serviced.

I like to play with words, and I suppose letters and even ideas. Ever since a kid, Yoga Berri is without a doubt the funniest athlete that I’ve heard, mostly in books though.

Funny thing is that he was a catcher too, and his real name is Lawrence, so we have at least a couple of things in common. I wonder if he did any of the below, or would agree with that? I hope he wouldn’t think it’s too much. I tried really hard, but couldn’t figure out how to add less:

1. As a kid I once caught two no-hitters in the same game.

2. If I find myself speeding to get somewhere 10 minutes earlier, I slow down and just decide to stay 10 minutes longer.

3. If you don’t know where you’re going, check the map.

4. If you can’t love the one you are with, try changing.

5. When the odds are stacked against you, be sure to check the bottom as well as the top.

6. I’ve been a part of three double plays at the same time, twice.

7. My first draft was cool, the second draft was cooler, but then the final one got hot!

8. I like it when I mince my words and they come out right, but my mince meet never does.

9. And finally, I have a hard time hearing with one ear, and can’t see out the other.

Feel free to add your own here…I’ll just grin and Berra it!

For Your Eyes Only…Only for You?

When I was a kid, and then still when I was a young man, I always looked forward to the next 007 flick. I don’t know about you, but for me it was all about the gadgets and special effects, and of course the leading ladies. Yeah, I know, there’s plenty of stereotyping that goes on, but then there’s the humor, so hopefully no one took the sexism to heart.

Then it got to the point where for me at least, the introduction and the ending credits became worth the price of admission all by themselves. In this particular case for example, as much as I like the video, I can’t remember a damn thing about the movie, nor do I care to now. And I must have seen it at least three times.

This video, For Your Eyes Only, has always captivated me. There’s the music, the intriguing and mysterious lyrics. . . “no need to read between the lines.”, and then there’s the visual portrayal, and finally, all the technology that goes with it.

It’s pretty amazing to think that this video was done so many years ago. We tend to think of all this layering as being much more recent than 1980. But then the machine that was eventually to become known as ‘the fax machine’ was actually based on technology from the 1920’s.

It’s funny how the ‘warm and fuzzy’ I get when I watch this video is also the same way I feel in writing many parts of novel. It is hard to blog about that, partly because what is really a very simple story seems to be deceptive in a way. I say ‘deceptive’ because as it is coming to completion, I see that it has many different layers, and to talk of one without the other is damn near impossible. It’s kind of like trying to describe the rain coming from one cloud when it’s actually coming from more than you can count. . . but not too many!

But I’ll try to touch on of those layers here. It actually does concern the issue of audio and video technology and what happens when they become somehow entwined in a very sensual experience. Should some experiences be “for yours eyes only”?

So the issue becomes an ethical one, and there are so many these days, so many that I wonder whether humanity will ever be able to catch up with all our modern technology. If you think about it, then in a way the technology controls our sense of right and wrong, or perhaps puts that sense to sleep, for your shut eyes only?

And does technology have karma? It must, at least in the sense that it seems to be an inextricable part of much of the human condition. But then what is karma? And I’m sorry, but I’m not going back to writings from thousands of years ago to try to understand that. I’ve already done that many times over the years. But there are things that happen, and they involve technology, technical applications in the context of Nagasaki and Hiroshima. . . well those events have crushed any personal understanding of that term ‘karma’, at least in the traditional sense.

In my writing, one of my characters finds herself disturbed by the term, so the best she can describe her own feelings on the matter is, “the blending and churning of time and truth.”

Anyways, these are the musings of someone finds inspiration in the strangest places, even a silly little introduction to a James Bond film. I think the next music I post here will be ‘Rainy Days and Mondays’, the live rendition by Sharon Clark.

Have a wonderful weekend.

PS – The last 007 film that I’ve seen was a breakthrough film for Halle Berry, with an exquisite Madonna intro and conclusion. Since then they have completely lost any appeal, but then I haven’t seen the intros.

So tell me, am I missing something, anything?

20,000 Words and a Bunch of Characters!

I wish this cursor would stop blinking at me, but I guess that’s why they call it a ‘cursor’.

It seems almost every blogger that I follow also does other writing. With a minor case of bloggers’ block, I’m finding this to be quite different than writer’s block. Funny thing is though, I’ve never had writers’ block. I’m 20,000 words and five chapters into my second novel and it’s coming along better than expected, and I expect a lot!

So far I’ve found four main characters that sneaked into my book.

Each character seems to have their own rule book, though none of them see themselves as rebels, just quietly rebellious.

They’re a curious bunch, all very decent on the surface, except for one dude who’s gotten what he deserves. Pardon me…that’s dudes not one of the four, and yet so far he’s been the sneakiest by far! The two main female characters are smart, one very funny and one very troubled, tough and at the same with a huge but confused heart…a survivor of both her looks and charm, as well as the curiosity that led her down an adventurous path that she very much wants to leave behind.

Then there’s two main male characters. One’s your average guy, until you get to know him. A tradesman, a loner, a playful dreamer who thinks he wants to find the right woman and ‘settle down’ but at 37 he is actually very much settled, comfortable, busy in his passions. In other words, like most men in his position he really doesn’t know what he wants, and the question remains as to whether he ever figure this out, or perhaps someone will do it for him?

The other man is more of a gentleman, a quirky eccentric who doesn’t mind helping others as long as he has a say in direction, and ‘helping others’ seems to have no end in terms of the strangely pleasant adventures he brings his followers into; most of them don’t even realize what they’re involved in, and none seem to mind…at least so far!

Now after dragging you into this funnel of intrigue, I suppose it’s only fair to punish you with an excerpt:

As always, Melanie begins with her window shopping, a full 90 minutes of it, followed by a quick 30 minute grocery tour, which is basically a routine more than an adventure. She likes the uniqueness of the bazaar or at least the attempt of it. Local and regional crafts people are everywhere, this being the start of the tourist season. Small artist and artisan-run co-ops occupy what seems like two out of five shops. Most of the others are franchise operations but at least the offerings are more exotic, different than the mega-malls. And then there are the service businesses: hair salons, acupuncture and massage, all kinds of mini restaurants, and then her favorite: the music shop.

 It’s more than a place to buy musical instruments of all sorts classical. It’s also more than a place to buy sheet music that must be exhaustive in availability.  It’s even more than a registry for antique instruments or a place to sign up for lessons of the French Horn. It’s also a place where every Sunday for 30 minutes of every hour, a local musician or small group performs in a small sitting area within the shop, with room for maybe 20 or so patrons. The charge is voluntary and all proceeds go to the musicians, and the ones that really don’t need the money leave theirs for the ones that really do.

 She knew of this kind of sharing through her acquaintance with one such musician, Joe Spence, a violinist who only recently came into some unexpected financial success with an online video that quickly became popular. She met this young man totally by accident about three months ago, literally bumping into him as she came out of the grocery store, in a hurry to meet up with Donna. Though it was her fault, he apologized and offered to repay her in some way for the trouble he had caused. His kindness caught her by surprise, or perhaps it was his gentle nature, which seemed odd when she looked at him and saw the face of a proud, defiant Sioux warrior.

 She would have no part of any kind gesture, so after helping her getting her bags repacked he offered to play for her someday. This is how she learned of the music shop, as he handed her a card and told her he plays there every Sunday morning. When he told that he’s a violinist, his eyes shone brightly and he grinned at her obvious surprise to the announcement. Perhaps it was all of this, and maybe his passion as well, that lured her every week to hear him play, and then to visit for awhile. Other than that, shopping was just groceries.

 Walking down the aisle, a poster on a community billboard catches her attention. It’s a beautiful picture of horses and an advertisement for some sort of jumping competition. It reminds her of Joe’s explanation, his reaction to her surprise, as he had told her, “I can you’re surprised…an Indian playing the violin! I was surprised too…never thought of it until I learned something special about violins.” Without giving her a chance to ask, he continued, “It’s all about the horses for me, and for my people. They were our friends, not our possessions. This is still the way. We don’t own them any more than we own the wind. So it’s the bow. Do you know the string of the bow is actually the hair of the horse? This fascinated me and soon I fell in love with the wind of the violin…the music.” He then looked her in the eyes, and seeing the warmth he knew she understood and with a lightning grin he concluded, “It’s all horseplay!” and they laughed.

And just so you know, I’m just teasing here…neither Joe nor Melanie are one of the four main characters mentioned above…gotcha!

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