Thursday, February 26, 2004

Live and Learn 

Hey today is my 6 month anniversary of blogging. I am not sure why a partial year of existence is celebrated but I've seen it done a few times. I guess it has something to do with the term "web years".

As I look back, all I can only say is, "wow, I suck." Actually, it has been a great experience.

Six months ago I working for a company I detested ( i was part of the management team which sold our division to this stupid company. For some reason they wanted me to come and work for them - yuck!). I couldn't quit, or else I would lose all the incentives I was awarded. So I had to suck it up and come to work each day and "look busy"...nothing better than playing on the internet to look busy!!

I left the company last month, and now I'm looking for a new job. I have a long severance package so I am engaging in a low-impact job hunt. However, after one month, I am quite bored, so I have been spamming my resume and making crank phone calls more frequently than ever.

Six months, and I still have very little idea about how the whole blogsphere works, but it's still a great place to come and relax for a few hours each day. So , thanks everyone. I have really appreciated the education/therapy.

At least I am a lot better off than one of my previous bosses. He retired and is flying around the world on a charter jet getting educated by historians and cultural guides. This sounds like a great life, problem is, he's still a pompous ass.

Monday, February 23, 2004

It's the End of the World as We Know It 

Not really. With reports like this, however, it makes you wonder.

Forget about how the report got linked, that's just political finger pointing. Focus on the world shaking domino-like effects of a dramatic change in temperatures. It starts with floods, causing food shortages, causing job disruption, causing economic hardship. Then it skips to local disorder, spirals to regional containment, and jumps to national unrest.

Ok that's a bit of scare-mongering. But environmental disasters, especially those that tax our natural energy supplies, are the things that scare me the most. After seeing the effects of El Nino, I realized there is little anyone can do from a preventative perspective.

Also, anyone who was in NYC during the electrical power outage this summer, knows all too well how fragile our energy network really is, and how unprepared the public is for these types of issues.

Friday, February 20, 2004

Blog Iran 

I don't think that not voting, as a practice, is a good idea. However, like siding with Schwarzenegger, sometimes you have to be unorthodox to get results.

I fully support the people's movement, and the chance for true democray in Iran.

What I'm Thinking 

"We live as we dream, alone."

Man, Joseph Conrad really could turn a phrase.

Voice in the Wind 

This article will likely not be heard over the droning Democrats do about how Bush is stealing jobs from Americans. But you can't expect them to listen anyway; it doesn't suit their vision of America.

They see an America which reacts to international terror and a troubling world economic climate by wrapping itself in a cocoon, hoping others will deal with the turbulence appropriately. Then, after it's period of self-nurturing and beautification, reappearing to glide easily through the blue skies of a trouble free environment.

It's a bit simplistic, but the shoe fits better than ever!

She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not 

At first I thought she was just a fair weather friend, who wanted to tell the truth, who HAD to tell the truth. I bet she thought, 'gee, wouldn't it be cool to see my name in the WSJ.' How else would the prosecution find a witness to testify that Martha was acting on inside information?

Now, I wonder just what kind of wacky people does Martha associate with anyway?

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Google Traffic 

I get tons of google traffic. Almost any search with the world Buffalo in it, and my site seems to pop up.

I track them back, if the are interesting:

Buffalo+Long Island+wide right
Buffalo+IMAO..etc etc

I stumbled into this article. It's a couple of years old, about the movie Route 66 (which I loved), and guy that wrote it Vincent Gallo. If you have time, it gives you a good look into the cluttered, but somewhat clever mind of an artist.

On the homosexual community:
"But, what's happened with that community in New York is that they've been so desperate for mainstream acceptance that they've pandered to the heterosexual mainstream to the point where they've developed their own complexes.
"The homosexual community is homophobic. They're disease-phobic. They have blond, buffed-up, hairless icons on the covers of all their magazines. They all dress in designer clothes. There's no real interesting scene in that way. They've become so obsessed with their mainstream public persona that they've started to make such a strong issue out of their identity, that they've, at any cost, supported things that work for their agenda, even if they suck.

On fellow movie maker Spike Lee:
..his political point of view panders to insignificant, unsophisticated people. He incites reactions from very ordinary mainstream people. He's never tried to have a sophisticated concept and vision about the changing evolution of mankind.

On not going to college:
"In college, ya know, education is convoluted and panders to the lowest common denominator. College is not there as a right of nature. It's a business. And I know that I could never have been as extreme and as efficient through that type of system. I know it. Because I've lectured college classes, ya know, and I know how one has to accommodate students. It has to be within a certain rhythm."

He's definitely out there, but in some strange way I feel like I can relate to a lot of what he says. Maybe it's because we both grew up in Buffalo around the same time, and left around the same time.

We had totally opposite experiences, lives even, but we got to same conclusion on a lot of issues. This is very scary.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

The Tao of Two 

The visionary.

If you really want something just keep saying please

Nobody likes to be made to share

If you go to bed too early you might miss something

No is temporary, but yes is forever

Caution is a byproduct of experience

If whining never worked no one would do it

You control your own mouth, and what goes in it

Everyone gets a kiss goodnight before bed

If you want someone's attention keep saying their name louder and louder until you get it

It's great to get presents

Tomorrow is a long way away

The dark is truly scary

On enemies: retaliation needs to be swift and severe

When you see someone you love act really excited

New toys are good

Use two hands

Delayed gratification is over-rated

Pushing the elevator buttons does not make you a "big boy", knowing which ones to push does ( this works on adults as well)

Kisses make boo-boos better

The greatest satisfaction comes from doing something yourself

Everything will be yours at Christmas

When you wake up in the middle of the night, and life's answers are not apparent to you, always call for Mommie. Daddies don't come as fast.

The end.

Living with the Enlightened 

I have them for 3 days straight. It's a long story, but in the end, a very short straw.

Tomorrow I will publish the Tao of my 2 yr old son. Yes, he has a Tao. Let me just whet your appetite with today's discovery.

"the best part of food, is what's on the inside."

OK, that's reasonable enough, since you've got sandwiches, doughnuts, peanut M&Ms, tacos, etc, etc.

The problem is the definition of "inside". Apparently, my little Buddhist only sees things in one dimension. No matter what I put in front of him, he eats (rather attacks) the center portion, from the top down. The "inside", means the area within the perimeter of the serving. Hence, each of the family repasts' has been ruined by his "enlightened" manner to achieve nourishment.

He ate a hole in the middle of the piece of toast I gave him for breakfast. He also ate a hole through the middle of his pancakes. Similarly, he ate a hole through the center of the cheeseburger he had for lunch.

He resembles a woodpecker stabbing a tree limb searching for the bug hidden deep beneath the bark. Each meal ends up with is face covered in food.

He even ate a hole through a slice of pizza. A hole right in the center. He liked it, so he proceeded to eat his way OUT toward the crust and tip of the slice!

Isn't anyone normal in my family.

Sunday, February 15, 2004

A look inside my mind 

From Ted, Want to play? Go here

Your Brain Usage Profile

Auditory : 37%
Visual : 62%
Left : 60%
Right : 40%

jim, you are somewhat left-hemisphere dominant and show a preference for visual learning, although not extreme in either characteristic. You probably tend to do most things in moderation, but not always. ( true)

Your left-hemisphere dominance implies that your learning style is organized and structured, detail oriented and logical. Your visual preference, though, has you seeking stimulation and multiple data. Such an outlook can overwhelm structure and logic and create an almost continuous state of uncertainty and agitation. You may well suffer a feeling of continually trying to "catch up" with yourself. ( true)

Your tendency to be organized and logical and attend to details is reasonably well-established which should afford you success regardless of your chosen field of endeavor. You can "size up" situations and take in information rapidly. However, you must then subject that data to being classified and organized which causes you to "lose touch" with the immediacy of the problem.

Your logical and methodical nature hamper you in this regard though in the long run it may work to your advantage since you "learn from experience" and can go through the process more rapidly on subsequent occasions. ( very true)

You remain predominantly functional in your orientation and practical. Abstraction and theory are secondary to application. In keeping with this, you focus on details until they manifest themselves in a unique pattern and only then work with the "larger whole."

With regards to your career choices, you have a mentality that would be good as a scientist, coach, athlete, design consultant, or an engineering technician. You can "see where you want to go" and even be able to "tell yourself," but find that you are "fighting yourself" at the darndest times.

( this is pretty much right on. I am dyslexic, so I need to diagram things out before I can truly trust that I understand them. I then need to organize that information so I can retrive it correctly later on. I have a very quick mind and I'm decive, but I can get lost in details at times. Hence I do find myself always trying to catch up.)

Friday, February 13, 2004

Happy V-Day 

If you've ever wondered what it's all about, go here...it's a bit confusing though. I guess no one knows the exact origins of this special day...but who cares, it involves chocolate!

Have a good one....tomorrow!


I was never very superstitious. I don't test fate with ladders, or mirrors, or black cats, but I never give Friday the 13th more than a fleeting thought either. Especially since today is my son's birthday, and I have more important things to do, like make sure I bought all the pieces to his highly conveted Power Rangers outfit.

Another type of supersition is being on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

The latest team to get the "cover jinx" is St Josephs. They, along with Stanford are amazingly undefeated late in the college basketball season. No team has gone undefeated for an entire season since Indiana in 1976. I don't believe the jinx at all. Actually, I think St. Josephs has a better chance to end the season undefeated than Stanford, mainly because of the weakness in their remaing schedule.

My question is, why doesn't the "cover jinx" apply to the most recent athletes to grace the cover?

How come shes not jinxed?? Shouldn't she be afraid of getting fat, or getting sun damaged hair, or getting over exposed, and not making another cover, or...

getting bad tan lines?
getting sand in her suit?
getting rock marks on her butt?
getting her suit stretched out?
getting a cold?

getting, gettin', gettin'...it's gettin' hot in here!

What was this post about?


It's here. I know it was announced way back in November, but it's finally here.

Yesterday, United Airlines launched "Ted" it's low cost carrier. Isn't it a beauty.

Of course this guy had something to do with it; after all, it's his name tattooed on the side of a large flying object.

Don't believe me? Get this, Ted makes special flights out of his hometown airport. Now that's service.

Thursday, February 12, 2004

Spanning the Globe - Updates 

I have been away for a while, so apologies for the age of some of these topics, but I wanted to catch you up on my opinions...because you are better off for knowing !!!

1) The Breast. I predict that before I die, I will see live sex on TV. It's not that I'm hoping for it, since it's a lot better to perform than watch, but it's a natural extension of a long standing trend. First Elvis' hips, then Playboy, then HBO, then the internet ( eg Paris), it just keeps moving closer and closer.

I don't think people should get all upset about it. If you don't like it turn the other way, or voice your disapproval to the sponsors.

As for the "stars" doing it..you get the audience you deserve. I would have been really "offended" if Timberlake ripped off Janet's face, and she starting espousing her opinions on education, politics, religion or other topics of importance.

2) Bush's military record. Look at a first person account of the facts and then ask yourself, why are we even discussing this?

3) Kerry. I don't care about the Hanoi Jane picture. I had my picture taken with Johnny Bench, that doesn't mean I'm a Communist. ( ie reds)

The cover of his book was a disgrace, but so what? He's against the Vietnam War, so were lots of dim-witted people.

The thing I don't like is the bald face manipulation of the facts. Either you are a dove or a hawk on military issues. He is a dove, plan and simple. The fact that he is a decorated war hero is more telling of his ability to follow orders in some Forrest Gump like fashion, than his identity as a patriot.

If he had such strong convictions against the war why did he go in the first place?? Oh , he figured it all out after he got home and saw the pseudo intellectuals campaigning against the war and, big surprise, he followed right along.

Update: One day later, the WSJ sums it up pretty good.

4) the Nets. They are looking good, but the real stregnth is still out West.

?Donde al Coche? 

Never rent a car in Europe. Never. It seems so easy, especially in countries like Spain were they drive on the right side of the road, literally. The taxi drivers make it look easy, but it isn’t. Even if you are a battled scared veteran of the NYC cross-town traffic, or have dueled your way out to the Hamptons on the Long Island Expressway, you just can't image the utter confusion that can occur, and the deep hole of helplessness that can follow.

My experience.

Got a nice little 4 door sedan delivered to the hotel. "Yes I know how to drive a stick" I quipped, "just give me the keys". The Avis guys are always so confused by their own paperwork. After 15 minutes I needed to break free of the pamphlets and the search for maps and guides, mainly because I didn't want to get trapped in his form fitting world.

My wife and I jumped in and I started getting acclimated. I put the seat back, got the mirrors aligned, grabbing the stick shift I found first, second, third, fourth, and fifth. I pushed down to slap it into reverse. Nothing. OK. I looked at the little diagram, which indicates some movement left to get reverse. So, I push down again. Nothing. Harder. Nothing. All my fuckin' strength. Nothing.

"We can't go unless I can find reverse," I muttered (although I did think about going anyway and figuring it out later, but luckily I had already committed to getting it resolved now).

I got the hotel clerk to jump in and try it. As he shifted the car seat, the head rest and buckled the seat belt, I was tempted to say "are thinking of buying it?", but I held my tongue and showed no emotion when he lifted up on a little ring on the shaft of the stick shift and pushed the lever to the left and back.


So off we went, looking for the only highway to Barcelona..."just follow the signs, can't miss it".

Missed it.

Well, not exactly. We followed signs to Barcelona, but somehow we found the one other road that does go there. It's a beautiful windy road up a mountain range that sits next to, and sometimes over, the Mediterranean Sea. It started out so picturesque. See?

But after a few turns, maybe twenty, my passenger started to have trouble reconciling her mind's thoughts with her stomach's. Either that or she has a funny way of sightseeing.

Test number one....pull a U-turn on a two lane way highway, with the line of sight being no more than 50 feet in either direction. Since I got reverse down (actually up) I felt pretty confident. Low and behold my timing was perfect and I flipped-a-bitch, no problem.

Woo hoo, this isn’t so hard. I can't believe those other idiots we were with paid Euro 50 for a one way taxi ride into city, while I rented the car for Euro 60 for a whole day.

Painfully, we backtracked and ultimately found our way to Barcelona. All my passenger needed was some water and ham flavored potato chips! (sorry about that, I had no idea that was a picture of a ham.)

I parked in one of the underground lots, which were plentiful. The parking was tight, but I'm used to NYC spacing, where you park so close together that you need to exit though the driver’s side window.

The problem was navigating the streets. I couldn't even do it on foot with a map, so in the car after a long dinner was trouble. Those damn circles, which are everywhere, are death. Getting on them is ok, but to exit you need to basically kill someone, which almost happened. A lot. I saw a few other cars have problems with it, so I didn't feel bad about "getting aggressive". Since I didn't have one of those "L"s plaster on my car I figured I would just blend in.

Then I went down a one way road, the wrong way. Luckily, the first vehicle I encountered was a motorcycle. What pissed me off was that they guy showed no emotion or even attempted to signal my mistake. I had to wait until I saw the headlights on the second car before I truly got the gist. Another u-turn, featuring a masterful use of the reverse gear, and we were back to blending in.

We made it home that night by retracing our entry route. Outside of few pit stops (one whilst on the correct highway) to check the map, we made it safely. Although we didn't take one wrong turn, the lack of signs on the highway, or rather lack of signs that make sense, was worrisome and was a harbinger of trouble to come.

The next day was a bit better. Quick trip into the city, found a lot, did our sightseeing. Had a little trouble using the automated payment system, but got lucky. I spotted one of those courtesy phones and actually got someone to come and remedy the situation. Image that!

I was feeling really good about now. Although a short drive anywhere was lengthened by our inability to properly navigate the little streets and alleys. Three rights and a left usually got us back on track. Our travel patterns resembled a dog settling into his favorite position for a nap on the rug.

Our last stop was the Old City. We reserved a whole afternoon for this historic section of town. We were circling the busy little area, as usual, and were not having any luck finding an open public parking lot. I saw a passenger car pull out of a spot on the street. I motioned to the driver, in a sort of “are your leaving? and if so, can I have your spot” way. She gave me the “come on” wave, and as she pulled out I maneuvered into the spot with a fare amount of authority.

We came back to the car 3 hours later. As we walked around the corner I said “I hope are car is still there”. Sure enough, it wasn’t. Our first thought was theft, which was not convenient, since I foolishly left my passport in the backpack, which was in the car. It was then that we noticed a little sign with the words To-To on it. Guess what To-To means?

Helpless, hopeless, and low on cell phone batteries, we headed into the nearest business to try and get some information. Quickly, we adapted to the settings....?donde al coche, amigo? Huh? The puzzled looks pushed us back into English, and as luck would have it, back to the exact spot of the parking infraction. Much to my relief, I saw a little green sticker plastered to the curb. Thank god, instructions! (I was starting to get a bit worried since losing your passport is bad, and losing it this way was “embarrassing-story-told-over-and-over-again” bad).

Following the instructions, we took a cab to the Municipal lot which was one of the busy places I have ever seen. Tow trucks were pulling cars into that lot ever 3 minutes. Like planes landing at Newark, they were stacked up on the highway waiting to take their turn to pull into the underground garage.

I read the listing of fines on the wall which ranged from Euro 25 to Euro 300. If money could fix this I would be fine, but it wouldn’t. For some strange reason I left the rental agreement in the hotel room. I was getting light headed and sweaty as I relived the process of taking the rental papers out of my backpack and putting my passport in. I’m sure had a good reason for doing that, and one day, God will tell me what that reason was.

No papers, no car. “But I have an American Express gold card….look.” Thankfully, mercifully, the guy let us go. But it wasn’t easy. Lots of calls to the hotel, to Avis, faxes back and forth, etc. Even after we paid, Euro 160, thank you very much, the guy was still asking us if the rental papers were in the car!!?!

Finally, with a disgusted face, he waved his hand and said “just go”. Delightedly, we went. I didn’t worry what kind of stupid jackass he thought I was, I had my car, my passport, and I was headed home.

Not so fast. Dun, du, dun, dun.

The route home was going to be “freelance” since the Municipal lot was no where near the main part of town. So we plotted a route and with the confidence of last night’s success “just stay the course”, we headed into rush hour traffic looking for C-32.

I won’t, actually I can’t, go into to many of the details for emotional reasons. Let’s just say I never in my life felt so helpless, so weak, or so feeble (and this is from a guy that just left his passport in a towed car while traveling in Europe!!)

There were plenty of signs for C-32, but ever time we tried to exit and head toward it, either the an exit was closed, or we exited too early, or too late. The Spanish highway authority has adopted a process of putting exit signs either directly after the targeted exit, or two exits head.

It was completely frustrating to see highway C-32, at least 6 times, but never being able to get on it. To make 6 exits, and six times guess wrong. To travel next to it for miles, hoping an on-ramp would drop from heaven. It was like someone was playing a hoax on us. We half expected to see Ashton pull us over and yell…”you’ve been EURO-PUNKD”.

After making the Jewish Star over the outskirts of Barcelona, lightening struck. No we didn’t run out of gas, we saw signs for C-32 right in front of us. In a fitting tribute to the experience, we needed to have the nerves to NOT exit on the first unmarked ramp but use Spanish-telepathy and take the second unmarked ramp to join or fellow C-32er’s and find our way home.

Anyway you look at it financially, emotionally, spiritually, or just for safety reasons, please, never, ever, ever, rent a car in Europe. I hope this has helped at least one person live easier because of our suffering. I will die happy, knowing my pain was not wasted.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004


OK lots to talk about, but not too much to see. I hate my digital camera. It only has 3x optical zoom, so it's not great for capturing anything, unless it's 10 feet in front of you. Hopefully, that has shaped your expectations.

We stayed in the city if Sitges, which is about 20 minutes outside of Barcelona, painted onto the rocky shores of the Mediterranean Sea. The view from out hotel tells the story.

We spent the better part of Sunday wandering around the small down of Stiges enjoying sangria and topas. The town was quite small, but quaint. Lots of churches and statues dating around 1300 to 1400. It's mainly a summer resort place. The harbor was stacked with rental sailboats lashed down for the winter. Many of restaurants and hotels were either undergoing repairs or closed due to lack of visitors.

No pictures of Stiges, but you're not missing anything. Although there was one thing that made me wish I slipped the camera in my pocket, a sand-sculpture made by some local artists. It was a beautifully crafted sculpture of two women, wrapped in a blanket, sitting back to back holding a bible. The detail was incredible. At one point we saw the artists using toothpicks to sculpt the hair, you could almost see every strand.

The next day we ventured into the city of Barcelona, which had some interesting artists as well. This must have been two ply!!!

We did the touristy things: looked at all the Antonio Gaudi's architectural splendors convienently located on Passeig de Garcia ( a main shopping thoroughfare). Casa Mila was fanastic. It really looks like flowing water. I wondered what it would be like to live in a building with such presense. It's so unique, I couldn't stop looking at it..."is that really an apartment building?"

I snapped a few other shots, but I really can't do the buildings justice. These are better.

Next was a stop at the The National Art Museum of Catalonia. It's a great building on top of Montjuic overlooking all of Barcelona. They have installed several outdoor escalators to make the trek up the hills easier, if not accessible. They've done a great job keeping the grounds natural, but not primative. We took in a great exhibit of Fortuny.

We skipped over to the site of the Olympics, and grabbed a caffe con leche at the Olympic Stadium....remember the Dan vs. Dave show that never came off?

We did a few more museums...the Picasso, the Museum of Modern Art, and a bit of shopping..but the main attraction was the Barcelona Cathedral. This building was backed with tons of history ( in 1493 Indians were brougth back from America and baptized there), and was so beatifully constructed it's not surprsing that it took 600 years to complete. They had a crazy little courtyard orginally established for agricultural purposes, but now sprouting palm trees. The juxtaposition of the gargoyles, the magnificnet spires, the cyrpts, and the palm trees was like some sort of time warp.

The food was fantastic. We went with top rated resturants and stayed with the standard Spanish fare, paella, fish, secallona. They use quite a bit of salt, but otherwise ever meal was spectacular. The late dining, 9pm, wasn't a problem for us and actually helped make the days feel longer.

The people were great. They were all eager to help the stupid Americans. We quickly mastered the "habla espanol?", and depending on the response you proceed in English in either a fast or slow pace.

But for reasons I will explain tomorrow it was good to be home. Hint: donde al coche?

What I did on my January Vacation 

If you remember, I made this trip. I have complete report, which I promise to post tonight. For now the winner in the "guess the phrase repeated most often" contest was...

not him
not her
not her

..it was "?Donde al coche?"

For you non-spanish speaking people, like me, that means; "where is the car?"

Needless to say, my advice for anyone traveling in Spain, do NOT rent an automobile. A train, or a taxi or a hitch-hiking with Ted Bundy is safer.

Return of the Red Eye 

I'm back in action after a terrible two weeks of "post-European-traveling-with-nothing-to-do-and-loving-it" blues. In reality, I'm just finding it hard to get motivated to find another job. So, instead of doing anything about it, I did doing nothing, if that makes sense.

However, after careful consideration of life on earth and the purpose for my existence, I have decided I am too smart and have too much to offer the business world to sit back and spend my days reading, playing with my children and doing errands for my wife.

I have decide to pour myself, full throttle, into the job hunting world ( yes, I am mixing metaphors but they're somehow connected through water, right?). It's an endless array of phone calls, which will be equal parts, interruption and annoyance, to the listener. I will counterbalance this with my wit and charm, and promises to stop calling once I do get re-employed. Actually, it's fun to re-connect to old colleagues and chat up the network, something I never did while I was spending 14 hour days completely and utterly focused on my mission, whatever that was.

I'm convinced that this experience will cure me of my singled minded pursuit of success in the office, and embed the need to ensure that I nurture my overall career, business friendships and outside interests. ( I have always kept my family #1 priority so that remains intact).

So it's almost like this is a penalty I have to pay for not maintaining my business network. Whatever the cost I will pay it. Whatever the boredom I will bear it. Whatever the shame I will face it. Because having a career that is mentally challenging is interesting, financial rewarding, and sets a good example to my children, and lets me by me.

And having a fully functional network of business colleagues attuned to your professional situation, allows you line up new opportunities fast!

Sunday, February 01, 2004

Back in the USSR 

It's really is good to be home. Especially after traveling for 37 hours straight, including an overnight stay at Heathrow Airport trying to sleep in a chair. Not fun.

More on the trip later, first a quick look at the extent of my domestic travels. I've got the lower 48 pretty much covered, except for the northwest, which I heard was beautiful.

create your own visited states map
or write about it on the open travel guide
( Actually, I more proud of the fact that I have been to each of the counties in New York State, and I know them all well!)

But a world traveler I'm not. Mainly I did a backpacking thing through Europe, and worked in the Latin America derivatives business for eight years, but haven't had the international but bite me.

create your own visited country map

So perhaps a trip to Asia/ Australia would help even out my experiences.

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