dorsetgirl: (DG1)
When my oldest first went there, my sons' secondary school was very aware of the fact that their students' families didn't automatically have lots of money just because it was a Grammar School. In fact, as they take anyone who passes, rather than only the top-ranked candidates, they're very much the plate-glass end of the grammar-school spectrum rather than redbrick or Oxbridge, if I can borrow University labels for a moment. Until five years ago it was only necessary to buy two things direct from the school - the tie and the blazer badge. Everything else could be sourced wherever parents could find the right-looking stuff. I used to buy blazers in BHS for about £16 and they lasted reasonably well for the 2-3 years it took to grow out of them.

Then the school started supplying blazers with the badge ready-embroidered onto the pocket and that was fine because they were still only about £16. It was only three years later that I realised that an outgrown school blazer could no longer be passed down as a pleasingly cool black jacket to wear with jeans and a t-shirt, unless you actually cut the pocket off.

Then the PE kit started sprouting school emblems on every item, and had to be obtained from the school. No more Asda shorts.

And today I've had an email from them. Apparently from January they have a new uniform supplier. It's a specialist school outfitters' and as such, one of the most expensive shops in the area.

The school is still plate-glass. The parents are still very ordinary people who just want their children to have an academic education and think a grammar school would suit them best. We don't have pearls and BMWs and ambitions for our children to be world-beaters. For my part, I just want my children to survive their schooling without being crushed and broken too badly; to come out still full of interest and intelligence while having hopefully ticked enough boxes to get the right bits of paper. I would rather use my limited resources to buy them books and computers and thought-provoking Christmas presents than spent lots of money pandering to the headteacher's wish to run a school for "the right kind of people".




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dorsetgirl: (Default)
My sons' school has recently moved over to the "three-year GCSE". However, they quickly worked out that there's a reason GCSEs are normally done in two years - that's all it takes.

So they had to cast around for something to fill in the time in between all those two-year courses dragged out over three years, and they came up with a thing called the Arts Award. This isn't a major problem for the youngest, who's the only one involved, but I am extremely grateful the oldest ("Art is rubbish, English Literature is all lies") and the middle one ("I don't see the point of music, it's just a noise") were too old to be dragged into it.

Anyway, part of this time-filler is that they have to research and write about "An Arts Hero". My little hero has chosen to focus on Notch, creator of Minecraft.

This strikes me as distinctly subversive and thus I approve whole-heartedly. (I admit it, I think "The Arts" is a load of rubbish too. I like some films, I read a lot, I like some pictures, I don't mind watching people dance, but "The Arts"? I've never really understood what that is, and if it's Damien Hirst you can keep it.)

For those who don't know, Minecraft also has the benefit of allowing players to design and build remarkably sophisticated circuits based on "redstone". My kids are all fully conversant with "AND gates" and the like from this, and the oldest explained the whole logic-gates thing to his 'A' level Computing class based on Minecraft (which they all know) after the teacher had failed to get the concept across.




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dorsetgirl: (DG1)
Scientists claim to have discovered (again - I'm sure I've read this before, several years ago) that older men are more likely to father autistic children than are younger men. This is of interest to me as I have an ASD son whose father qualifies as "older". Then I read the article and discover that the findings are based on "seventy-eight Icelandic families".

I have no idea of the average size of an Icelandic family, but let's assume for a moment that it's three children. So we're talking here about 234 children in all. Average incidence of (diagnosed) autism is currently thought to be somewhere between 1 in 60 and 1 in 100. So we might expect to find a total of two to four noticeably autistic children within the seventy-eight families. My university stats courses are a long way behind me and I was never very good at it anyway, but I'd be interested to see the confidence levels on there even being two to four ASD kids in such a small sample, never mind the age of their fathers.

The newspaper article, predictably enough, quoted some supposed expert saying "Nature designed us to produce children while we are young". Well yes, but nature also designed us to carry on producing children until we are fifty years old (females) or too old to get it up (males). This means that throughout history, men of fifty or sixty have been fathering their tenth or twelfth child on women approaching fifty.

Here's an idea for a study: today's eighty- and ninety-year-olds are the last (in this country at least) product of an age where (according to my family history research) women generally had an average of ten children over a period of 22 years or so. It follows that - very roughly - ten percent of today's elderly will be the youngest sibling, born to a man of maybe 45 - 50. So compare the rates of autism amongst them with the rate amongst those who were the oldest in their family, born to men of around 23 - 28. Simple. Yes, I know there's a lot of fine detail to be ironed out there, plus I have no idea how many autistic people would have died of neglect in asylums in the 1920s, but seriously - seventy-eight families? That's simply ridiculous.





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dorsetgirl: (Default)
I can’t honestly say I enjoyed much of the Closing Ceremony, in fact I was totally bored after only five minutes, but I was determined to stick it out, and there were a few moments worth waiting for.

Some random outbursts:

Freddie!

Oh my god, Brian May’s gone grey! And he’s finally looking older. Until recently he’s been looking the same ever since I first saw Queen in 1974.

Eric Idle! It’s very difficult to believe that I was a child when I first saw that man on television. That song’s definitely a bit of a British icon though, and I’m pleased it was included.

Kudos to Gary Barlow for turning up and doing a good job - true professionalism.

Pleased to know that Ray Davies and Roger Daltrey can still (more or less) sing. Certainly better than Suggs or McCartney.

Russell Brand can be quite disturbingly good-looking on occasion - this was one of them. I enjoyed his performance; I didn't even know he could sing.

I’m definitely a bit old for One Direction, but I actually recognised and enjoyed their song (or songs?). I can see why they're so popular.

I've probably missed out something important - what did anyone else think of the show?

So that's that, then. Back to reality tomorrow. One of the best things about the Games, for me, has been the way it’s dominated the news. I mean, that’s actually seriously irritating when you’ve just been watching the Games for the past however many hours, but there hasn’t been a single stupid story about stupid politicians for two weeks now. I wish the BBC would keep to that from now on, and concentrate on actual news, but I don’t suppose they will.





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dorsetgirl: (Gene_draw)
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If I started explaining exactly what is so complicated, I'd be here all day, so I'll just mention the current confusion:

I've just booked "guaranteed entry" tickets for Victoria Park tomorrow (no, not just to see if Boris is still up there), and the blurb says "tickets should be printed no later than 24 hours before the event." Well, the "event" starts at 11am tomorrow, and given that it was already 11:02 when I read those words, I'm not sure if I'm screwed or not.

We don't own a printer so I've just booked a screen round at the library to go and print out these tickets. Just one question, on second thoughts make it two: Have they really programmed their ticket-bar-code reading machines to read the time the ticket was printed? And WHY THE FUCK DOES IT MATTER WHAT TIME I PRINT THE FUCKING TICKETS?

OMG

Jul. 11th, 2012 02:37 pm
dorsetgirl: (Default)
Just had the most horrendous thunderclap, literally out of a clear blue sky. I actually did jump. And it went on for about 4-5 times as long as a normal one, too. No rain as yet, in fact the sun is still shining, but we are forecast to get rain and thunder this afternoon. Just, give us a warning next time, yes?
dorsetgirl: (Default)
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Went to see The Woman in Black this afternoon. It is utterly, brilliantly, fucking scary, and should not be a 12A. It should be at least a 15, and I'd almost say it should be an 18, except that probably 15-18s would be less freaked by some parts of it than adults would be. My almost-thirteen-year-old had his eyes closed most of the time, and he'll watch terror and gore that turns my stomach. My fifteen-year-old had his ears covered half the time (he's weird like that). As for me, I never swear in front of the youngest, but despite the fact that he was sitting right next to me, the various shocks and frights had me completely unable to stop myself coming out with things like "fucking hellfire" and "Jesus Christ".

There were several moments where practically the whole cinema jumped and about ten percent (including me) gasped or shrieked in shock. After about an hour, I was wrung out, and couldn't watch the scary bits any more. I was covering my eyes every time the music got worked up.

Having said all that, it is an excellent film, truly. As soon as I got out of the cinema I was regretting the bits I'd missed - I just couldn't take so much suspense and fear in such a short time. Daniel Radcliffe is very good indeed - at no point did I feel I was watching a child actor grown up, I was just watching an actor who had the part nailed, and was indeed very watchable. This film will do his transition to an adult film career no harm at all.

In case you haven't read any other reviews, this film is horror the ooold-fashioned way: lots and lots of tension and atmosphere till you're so strung out that you'll jump at almost anything. Even though I couldn't hack it for the whole film, I still thoroughly recommend it. It simply is a very good film.

Oh, and the Woman herself is apparently played by Liz White, but I have to admit that all the scenes with her were so scary that I never actually got a look at her face.





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dorsetgirl: (DG1)
What is it with "Black Friday" ffs? Why do Amazon keep sending me emails about it, and why would I want to know? "Black Friday" sounds like something bad, along the lines of Black Monday (Black Monday was the day I started a new job, my first in the financial services industry. Yeah, timing.)

Why are these companies trying to sell me something that sounds so bad?

And now bloody IWOOT are doing it as well.

Dear Amazon and IWOOT, I am not American: I am English and annoyed, and I am in England. Please stop treating this country like a mere outpost of the United States.
dorsetgirl: (DG1)
What is it with "Black Friday" ffs? Why do Amazon keep sending me emails about it, and why would I want to know? "Black Friday" sounds like something bad, along the lines of Black Monday (Black Monday was the day I started a new job, my first in the financial services industry. Yeah, timing.)

Why are these companies trying to sell me something that sounds so bad?

And now bloody IWOOT are doing it as well.

Dear Amazon and IWOOT, I am not American: I am English and annoyed, and I am in England. Please stop treating this country like a mere outpost of the United States.
dorsetgirl: (sunset)
So, November.
 
National Novel Writing Month.
 
But not for me.
 
Sorry, I’ll stop channelling Ian Wylie now. Anyway, I worked out several years ago that if I typed at my normal speed for fifty percent of the minutes I had available during the month, I might just make the 50K. That’s assuming I can think at the same rate I type. Not normally a problem, but I guess fifty thousand words need some kind of joining thread if they’re not going to become totally random, and that involves Plot.
 
I don’t do plot - I can never think of anything for the characters to actually do, and besides, I get bored. I get them in a situation and then start to think, “Oh for fuck’s sake, sort it out for yourself.” I’m not the kind of writer who wants to “convey a message” in my fic; I’ve only ever done that once, and it worked, but I just don’t have it in me to want to tell other people how to live their lives or what they should be thinking about. All I ask is that no-one tells me what to do or what to think. (This could be why I totally refuse to do Hallowe’en: all those supermarket shelves full of pumpkins and ghouly cakes and stupid costumes simply make me think “Don’t tell me what to do just because it's the end of October.")
 
Getting to the point of this ramble: No NaNo for me, so I've signed up for WriSoMiFu - Write Something you Miserable Fuck - which I'm hoping is more my style. )
dorsetgirl: (sunset)
So, November.
 
National Novel Writing Month.
 
But not for me.
 
Sorry, I’ll stop channelling Ian Wylie now. Anyway, I worked out several years ago that if I typed at my normal speed for fifty percent of the minutes I had available during the month, I might just make the 50K. That’s assuming I can think at the same rate I type. Not normally a problem, but I guess fifty thousand words need some kind of joining thread if they’re not going to become totally random, and that involves Plot.
 
I don’t do plot - I can never think of anything for the characters to actually do, and besides, I get bored. I get them in a situation and then start to think, “Oh for fuck’s sake, sort it out for yourself.” I’m not the kind of writer who wants to “convey a message” in my fic; I’ve only ever done that once, and it worked, but I just don’t have it in me to want to tell other people how to live their lives or what they should be thinking about. All I ask is that no-one tells me what to do or what to think. (This could be why I totally refuse to do Hallowe’en: all those supermarket shelves full of pumpkins and ghouly cakes and stupid costumes simply make me think “Don’t tell me what to do just because it's the end of October.")
 
Getting to the point of this ramble: No NaNo for me, so I've signed up for WriSoMiFu - Write Something you Miserable Fuck - which I'm hoping is more my style. )
dorsetgirl: (Loss)
Oh, the complications. I won't say everything's organised, because that never ends well. But OH is on his way to Exeter for a car show, oldest son is on a train to London on his way to a University Open Day (Reading), middle son is still asleep, and youngest son is up and raring to go. Us three stay-at-homes will be setting off on holiday in a couple of hours; the general plan is for OH to collect oldest son from Reading this afternoon and we'll all meet up at our holiday location in Norfolk this evening *crosses fingers*

And I still haven't had time to read any of the LoM Big Bang fic, and more immediately, I haven't yet had time to even start watching Hidden. By my calculations it should all still be available on iPlayer when I get back next weekend, so with any luck that's my Monday sorted out. Ian Wylie promises a (brief) shower scene. That man understands us too well.





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dorsetgirl: (Loss)
Oh, the complications. I won't say everything's organised, because that never ends well. But OH is on his way to Exeter for a car show, oldest son is on a train to London on his way to a University Open Day (Reading), middle son is still asleep, and youngest son is up and raring to go. Us three stay-at-homes will be setting off on holiday in a couple of hours; the general plan is for OH to collect oldest son from Reading this afternoon and we'll all meet up at our holiday location in Norfolk this evening *crosses fingers*

And I still haven't had time to read any of the LoM Big Bang fic, and more immediately, I haven't yet had time to even start watching Hidden. By my calculations it should all still be available on iPlayer when I get back next weekend, so with any luck that's my Monday sorted out. Ian Wylie promises a (brief) shower scene. That man understands us too well.





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dorsetgirl: (DG1)
I seem to be quite late to the party, but Matthew Graham appears to be seriously pissed off with Philip Glenister over his Radio Times interview.

He does seem to be even more angry about him and Ash being referred to as "the writers" than about Phil's claim to have originated the phrase "Fire up the Quattro". Which was a crap phrase anyway imo. Anyway, the tone of those tweets seems like something there's no coming back from!


As an aside, I screencapped the tweets and was going to post the cap, but after I'd uploaded it to Photobucket I got presented with a new set of Terms and Conditions, including the following:

"If you make your Content public, you grant us a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license (with the right to sublicense) to copy, distribute, publicly perform (e.g., stream it), publicly display (e.g., post it elsewhere), reproduce and create derivative works from it (meaning things based on it), anywhere, whether in print or any kind of electronic version that exists now or later developed, for any purpose, including a commercial purpose.

You are also giving other Users the right to copy, distribute, publicly perform, publicly display, reproduce and create derivative works from it via the Site or third party websites or applications (for example, via services allowing Users to order prints of Content or t-shirts and similar items containing Content, and via social media websites)."


So I upload a photo I've taken, and they are allowed to make money out of it? I'm not happy about that. No wonder I keep getting desperate emails from them asking me to come back and use my Photobucket - people must be leaving in droves. I shall be checking my account tomorrow and deleting any original work. This will result in broken links, which is annoying.

So, anyone recommend a similar picture-holding site where they don't assert their right to benefit commercially from my property?





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dorsetgirl: (DG1)
I seem to be quite late to the party, but Matthew Graham appears to be seriously pissed off with Philip Glenister over his Radio Times interview.

He does seem to be even more angry about him and Ash being referred to as "the writers" than about Phil's claim to have originated the phrase "Fire up the Quattro". Which was a crap phrase anyway imo. Anyway, the tone of those tweets seems like something there's no coming back from!


As an aside, I screencapped the tweets and was going to post the cap, but after I'd uploaded it to Photobucket I got presented with a new set of Terms and Conditions, including the following:

"If you make your Content public, you grant us a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license (with the right to sublicense) to copy, distribute, publicly perform (e.g., stream it), publicly display (e.g., post it elsewhere), reproduce and create derivative works from it (meaning things based on it), anywhere, whether in print or any kind of electronic version that exists now or later developed, for any purpose, including a commercial purpose.

You are also giving other Users the right to copy, distribute, publicly perform, publicly display, reproduce and create derivative works from it via the Site or third party websites or applications (for example, via services allowing Users to order prints of Content or t-shirts and similar items containing Content, and via social media websites)."


So I upload a photo I've taken, and they are allowed to make money out of it? I'm not happy about that. No wonder I keep getting desperate emails from them asking me to come back and use my Photobucket - people must be leaving in droves. I shall be checking my account tomorrow and deleting any original work. This will result in broken links, which is annoying.

So, anyone recommend a similar picture-holding site where they don't assert their right to benefit commercially from my property?





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dorsetgirl: (Gene_draw)
I try not to have pet hates, because that way madness lies, or at least a very crabby old age. But one thing I really dislike is when people say “Your mileage may vary”.

Whut? After I’d seen YMMV a couple of times I looked it up and found out what it stands for, but that doesn’t begin to explain what it means. My mileage? Who’s talking about cars ffs? And even if we were talking about cars, of course my mileage is going to be different from yours. You have a different life from me, almost certainly living a different distance from work, shops and schools than I do. It would be more remarkable if my mileage were NOT to vary from yours.

OK, I admit, I do have a fairly unreasoning hatred of phrases which simply make no sense in the situation people are applying them to. (It may be relevant to note here that my ASD son tells me I take things too literally.)

Anyway. The phrase, if I’ve understood correctly in trying to work it out from context, seems sometimes to be used to convey the meaning “You may choose to disagree”. In which case, I have to wonder why they’re wittering metaphorically about cars when they could simply say “that’s just my opinion, of course”, or if we’re being cool and internetty about things, “imo”.

However, more commonly - and this is the second reason I hate the phrase - YMMV gets used as a conversation stopper. People use it to mean, “Here’s what I think, and I simply don’t want to hear what you think. Don’t bother answering. This conversation ends here.” And however cool they think they're being, that's just rude.




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dorsetgirl: (Gene_draw)
I try not to have pet hates, because that way madness lies, or at least a very crabby old age. But one thing I really dislike is when people say “Your mileage may vary”.

Whut? After I’d seen YMMV a couple of times I looked it up and found out what it stands for, but that doesn’t begin to explain what it means. My mileage? Who’s talking about cars ffs? And even if we were talking about cars, of course my mileage is going to be different from yours. You have a different life from me, almost certainly living a different distance from work, shops and schools than I do. It would be more remarkable if my mileage were NOT to vary from yours.

OK, I admit, I do have a fairly unreasoning hatred of phrases which simply make no sense in the situation people are applying them to. (It may be relevant to note here that my ASD son tells me I take things too literally.)

Anyway. The phrase, if I’ve understood correctly in trying to work it out from context, seems sometimes to be used to convey the meaning “You may choose to disagree”. In which case, I have to wonder why they’re wittering metaphorically about cars when they could simply say “that’s just my opinion, of course”, or if we’re being cool and internetty about things, “imo”.

However, more commonly - and this is the second reason I hate the phrase - YMMV gets used as a conversation stopper. People use it to mean, “Here’s what I think, and I simply don’t want to hear what you think. Don’t bother answering. This conversation ends here.” And however cool they think they're being, that's just rude.




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dorsetgirl: (sunset)
.
Almost every day I have something to be awed at Google about. Today it's their tribute to the late, great, Freddie Mercury, who would have been 65 today.

(Considering that the first few times I saw Queen, Freddie was this slim little thing with long hair and a catsuit, I've never really worked out how he looked less gay then than he did as a big butch bastard with a 'tache and a white vest, but there you go. Possibly because we simply didn't know then.)





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dorsetgirl: (sunset)
.
Almost every day I have something to be awed at Google about. Today it's their tribute to the late, great, Freddie Mercury, who would have been 65 today.

(Considering that the first few times I saw Queen, Freddie was this slim little thing with long hair and a catsuit, I've never really worked out how he looked less gay then than he did as a big butch bastard with a 'tache and a white vest, but there you go. Possibly because we simply didn't know then.)





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dorsetgirl: (Love_NINE)
.
So many episodes recently have been so fucking complicated that you need to take notes to work out what's going on, and I really can't be bothered. I don't do plot; I do relationships and character and emotion, and Rusty had that nailed. Steven likes to be more complicated and it doesn't really work for me. Tonight's episode was deep, and very interesting, but one of the things I liked most about it was that you could watch it and enjoy it for itself.

The Almost People - Spoilers )

All in all I thought it was a very well-done episode and I enjoyed it quite a lot. Congratulations to Matthew Graham - quite a sophisticated piece of work, I think. My only criticism would be that the "messages" - the deep thoughts for us to ponder over - were layered so thickly that they overpowered the story.
dorsetgirl: (Love_NINE)
.
So many episodes recently have been so fucking complicated that you need to take notes to work out what's going on, and I really can't be bothered. I don't do plot; I do relationships and character and emotion, and Rusty had that nailed. Steven likes to be more complicated and it doesn't really work for me. Tonight's episode was deep, and very interesting, but one of the things I liked most about it was that you could watch it and enjoy it for itself.

The Almost People - Spoilers )

All in all I thought it was a very well-done episode and I enjoyed it quite a lot. Congratulations to Matthew Graham - quite a sophisticated piece of work, I think. My only criticism would be that the "messages" - the deep thoughts for us to ponder over - were layered so thickly that they overpowered the story.
dorsetgirl: (DG1)
.
I was thinking only this morning that the world needs a new word. It's quite clear that many people simply don't care about getting their apostrophes in the right places, but I feel each error, and it hurts.

So I invented a new word. APASTROPHE - blatant misuse of apostrophes, causing damage to my brain (mild), and the writer's credibility (catastrophic).

I had originally intended to post a simple rant about this example, found on the website of my children's school:

"What areas of your childs learning would you like [the school] to focus on in the future?"

Ooh, I dunno, how about ... grammar and punctuation? YOU'RE A GRAMMAR SCHOOL, PEOPLE - GET YOUR OWN RIGHT FIRST!

And then I did some googling for something completely unrelated and came across this horror, which I simply had to share. Somehow the red text makes it even worse:




And finally, in the course of logging on to the parents' area of the school website, I was shocked to find that they hate me even more than I thought they did. I've never seen this screen before, and I can't say it makes me feel very welcome:



(btw, if you consider I've made any grammatical errors here - feel free to point them out, politely, for my mortification and your daily schadenfreude. I like to discuss and learn.)




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dorsetgirl: (DG1)
.
I was thinking only this morning that the world needs a new word. It's quite clear that many people simply don't care about getting their apostrophes in the right places, but I feel each error, and it hurts.

So I invented a new word. APASTROPHE - blatant misuse of apostrophes, causing damage to my brain (mild), and the writer's credibility (catastrophic).

I had originally intended to post a simple rant about this example, found on the website of my children's school:

"What areas of your childs learning would you like [the school] to focus on in the future?"

Ooh, I dunno, how about ... grammar and punctuation? YOU'RE A GRAMMAR SCHOOL, PEOPLE - GET YOUR OWN RIGHT FIRST!

And then I did some googling for something completely unrelated and came across this horror, which I simply had to share. Somehow the red text makes it even worse:




And finally, in the course of logging on to the parents' area of the school website, I was shocked to find that they hate me even more than I thought they did. I've never seen this screen before, and I can't say it makes me feel very welcome:



(btw, if you consider I've made any grammatical errors here - feel free to point them out, politely, for my mortification and your daily schadenfreude. I like to discuss and learn.)




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dorsetgirl: (Love_NINE)
.
I think I’m going off Doctor Who. Maybe it’s just over-familiarity and tension-fatigue but seriously,

Contains Spoilers )

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