I Am Absolutely Perfect, of course, and You Are, too!

I am not sure when it started, but I remember being surprised and delighted at first. I think I was at a restaurant ordering lunch, and I chose what seemed to be a basic cheeseburger with coleslaw on the side instead of fries.

“Perfect!” the young server proclaimed with a beaming smile.

Perfect? I asked myself as I smiled back. My choice was “perfect?” It’s just a cheeseburger, right? Or…maybe the burger part comes from a grass-fed Angus cow that was never given a drop of growth hormone or antibiotic. Maybe the cheddar comes from some high-end cheese maker in Wisconsin or Vermont. Maybe this burger is a local favorite and tourists are just unaware of how perfect it is. Ooooh! What if the bun is made of sourdough? Yum!

That was the beginning. From then on, it seemed that almost every time I ordered food at a restaurant, inquired about an air filter at a hardware store, chose new all-season tires, selected a local craft beer, or thanked someone for being helpful, three words kept surfacing: “perfect!” “absolutely!” and “of course!

For example: “I think I’ll have a glass of Riesling, please.”

Response: “Absolutely!”

Absolutely? With an exclamation mark? What happened to “okay” or “sure” or “alright?”

Or this: “Thanks for adding lemon to my water.”

Response: “Of course!”

Of course? Why not say “Sure” or “No problem?”

Here’s what I think happened. Restaurants and the retail industry in general decided that customers needed to feel more welcomed and “special.” If done right, that would lead to more five-star online ratings, generous tips, and repeat customers. Complimentary capitalism at its best.

Staff were trained to enhance their customer service vocabulary, and for a while, consumers like me smiled, felt kind of special, and likely tipped a bit more.

Then it took off. From McDonald’s drive-thru windows to five-star dining establishments…from department stores to specialty craft shops to big box stores…our requests and inquiries were routinely met with responses like “Perfect!” “Absolutely!” and/or “Of course!” They still are and it’s getting stale.

After a recent doctor’s appointment, I had to schedule a follow-up visit.

“So, are we seeing you again soon?” I was asked.

“I need to schedule an appointment for early February.”

“Of course! What day of the week is best for you?”

“I’m retired, so my schedule is quite open.”

“Perfect! Do you prefer early morning or a bit later…in the afternoon sometime?”

“Probably any time after 9 a.m. would work. I like time for morning coffee.”

“Absolutely! How about 9:30 on Thursday, February 3rd?”

“Sure. That works.”


Yeah…that’s me. Absolutely perfect in my choices of food, wine, beer, air filters, tires, and now dates for doctor appointments.

It’s probably just me being a Boomer, but after a few years of hearing words like “perfect,” “absolutely,” and “of course” used with exclamation marks everywhere, I just grit my teeth now, probably much like my parents and grandparents did when they had to listen to everything being “groovy” and “far out.”

Let’s move on, especially from the overuse of “perfect” and “absolutely.” When used so often with so little genuine meaning or sincerity, they now feel cliché and trite.





“You’re welcome”

The simplicity of these words feels good. They make me feel special enough.

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Photography Hobby – Olbrich Botanical Gardens, Madison, Wisconsin

September 12, 2021

In late July I visited Olbrich Botanical Gardens with some family members. These photos were taken with my Samsung S20 Ultra.

Olbrich Botanical Gardens is a must see for anyone visiting the Madison, Wisconsin area.

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Wisconsin Time – First 36 Days in Middleton

Sunday, September 5, 2021

This is what August first looked like:

Boxes Arrive

Thirty-five days later I can say that all boxes have been unpacked, broken down, and placed in recycling bins. I became very familiar with the apartment elevator which took me from the first floor down to the underground parking area which is where the trash/recycling room is located. Fortunately, there are carts which residents use to transport trash, recycling, groceries, and large packages.

Now it’s just a matter of getting a few pieces of furniture and organizing all the stuff I took out of the boxes. Just taking my time with all of that.


Just prior to August first and shortly thereafter, I had great fun with three sets of visitors.

Stepdaughter and granddaughter enjoying some kayaking time on Lake Wingra, late July 2021

Son-in-law, granddaughter, and stepdaughter at Olbrich Botanical Gardens, Madison, Wisconsin, late July 2021
Son and youngest grandchild greeting the beautiful cottonwood tree on the campus of my apartment complex, August 2021
Son and youngest granddaughter enjoying some weaving experience at the Children’s Museum in Madison, Wisconsin, August 2021

Gal Pal Patti from Missouri and cousin Bob from Madison, dinner in Middleton, August 2021
Me with cousin Bob. We have reconnected after decades. It’s nice to live in the same area. We are the last of the core family group we grew up with.

First Impressions of Apartment Living

** I am not the oldest person living in this apartment community. There are plenty of seniors, some with walkers and canes. Thus, it’s a nice mix of seniors, a few young families, plus middle-aged and young working professionals. Very few college students.

** I am probably the friendliest person around. I say “Hi” to everyone I pass, especially other dog owners. The dog owners respond. Others, not so much. Too bad for them.

** It’s quieter than I expected. I hear no voices as I walk down hallways, no TV’s either. Good soundproofing. We all hear dogs who will bark for one reason or another, but then, we are the only building of three where dogs are allowed. I do hear thumps, however. From above. There is a child who lives up there, one who frequently bounces, jumps, runs, and tumbles all over the place. A future Olympic gymnast? It isn’t disruptive. I’m just aware of it and very glad I don’t have to be the one to tell that child it’s time to go to bed. That said, I hear no voices from above. No scolding, no laughter. Just a active kid being a kid and parents who seem to understand. Glad I’m on the first floor. That way I don’t have to be concerned about someone below hearing me thump around.

** There isn’t much diversity in this area. In the apartment complex itself, I have seen a few families of Indian/Pakistani origin. I am on a first name basis with Tiffany, a young black woman, and her son, Odin, plus May or Mae, the pug Tiffany adopted from an animal rescue. There is also a black family with a new baby. They are my parking area neighbors down in the garage. They are friendly and speak with an accent. I’m not sure if they are originally from Haiti or Nigeria or….

And then…

This is Molly. She lives next door and her owner, Branden, is very nice. Molly will be staying with Cinnamon and me for a few nights later in September while Branden and his girlfriend go away for a couple days.

And this is Matt. He helped out and took care of Cinnamon a few times when the weather was very hot and I had visitors. Plus he and his uncle delivered a nice dining table I bought from people relocating to the state of Washington. He played rugby for Indiana University.

Cinnamon giving me that “Don’t You Dare Go And Leave Me” look.

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Wisconsin Time – 19 Days into Extended Stay at Hotel

Monday, July 19, 2021 late afternoon


Overall, the stay at the hotel has been nice, but I am restless to move on and begin making my new nest. That said, Cinnamon and I do have many comforts of home here and then some.

Living room area

Office area

Kitchen area – there is also a full size fridge and mini table
Not a usual comfort of home…but a nice bonus to have on hand

A Big Thanks to that GPS Lady

With the help of technology, Cinnamon and I have driven around and located a few things…

…like my cousin, Bob

A grocery store that’s a bit expensive…

and an art fair featuring Wisconsin artists and crafts people. I visited early and the crowds were just starting to arrive.

Mystery Neighbor

Directly across the hall from me is another suite. The day C and I arrived, there was a sign that read: HITTING THE SNOOZE BUTTON. Back in the day, it used to be called “DO NOT DISTURB.” So every time C and I went in and out of our suite, I tried to be quiet and not let my door close loudly.

What interested me was that the snooze button sign was always there, day and night. Plus, I never heard anyone enter or leave that suite. I never heard a sound from it…no voices, no muffled tv sound, no snap of a kitchen cabinet, nothing. Of course, it became my first week mystery. Who is in there, and why don’t they ever leave the room?

Then one day I saw this:

and within hours the trash was removed and the snooze sign was gone. A day later I heard cheerful human voices entering and leaving the suite across the hall.

12 Nights to Go

I’m counting the nights now. In 13 days, moving chaos will begin again. I have reserved a U-Haul in Mt. Horeb where my stuff is stored and hired a couple of gig movers. At 4:30 p.m. on August 1, they will pick up the truck, load it, drive it back to Middleton, and unload it. I’ll be trailing behind to unlock the storage unit and make sure it is totally emptied before I secure it for the owner. The guys will drive the truck back to Mt. Horeb and leave it off for me. I’m hoping to be asleep by midnight, regardless of whether or not I find sheets for the bed.

Fingers crossed that 1) the U-Haul truck will be ready as reserved, 2) the gig guys show up, and 3) we get to Mt. Horeb and back without incident.


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Wisconsin Time – Moving On Up Day: June 30, 2021

Friday July 2, 2021

Looking back over the past several weeks, it’s hard to believe I actually purged, packed, and cleaned all that I did. But I did, and yes, I’m tired. I’m catching up with naps.

Since my apartment won’t be available until August 1, I’ve temporarily set up camp in an extended stay hotel where I’ll be foraging among bags, plastic containers, and suitcases for this and that. This month will also give me time to learn about the Middleton/Madison area, become familiar with streets I’ll be using, and spending time with Cousin Bob.

It took the two guys a couple hours to load the truck, but when they first walked into the duplex, they were delighted to see everything packed so well.

Truck arrival

The two men assigned to my move were Nik and Will, young men working as movers during a very hot summer. They were a delight.

Nik – the lead mover, driver, master of multiple copies of multiple forms, lover of up beat music, and wearer of black nail polish on his left hand. I forgot to ask if he is a musician.
Will – college wrestling athlete, majoring in philosophy another interesting area I forgot. Shared a lot about his life when we had down time requiring a wait. Has a girlfriend. Sorry about the closed eye photo, Will.

These two fellas worked tirelessly and efficiently. My few items of furniture were carefully wrapped, and items were placed in the truck in a very organized and logical manner. Everything made it to the storage place without incident.

Like me, they were impressed with the lush, rolling landscape of the south central Wisconsin area.

Sixteen-year-old Cinnamon…always ready for a car ride. Little did he know….

“Ussie” Photos

I learned the other day from pal Patti that when cell phone photos are taken of oneself with another, such photos are referred to as “ussies” instead of “selfies.” Right. What do I know? Unfortunately, due to various constraints, I wasn’t able to get ussies of all my pals before relocating to Wisconsin. Will make an effort to get more when I go back down to Columbia MO for a visit this fall before I’m locked in with a Wisconsin winter.

Warning: These are unedited photos where cell phone technology captures all the marvels of aging, creping skin which others and I fret over. We suffer from looking one age, but feeling twenty, maybe thirty years younger. And I know we are not alone.

I asked the waiter to take a family photo during a recent brunch outing. The camera angle makes all the young people look a lot larger than they really are. Honest!! I’ve apologized. From left: son-in-law Paul, granddaughter Laura, Paul’s mother and my gal pal, Kathy, me, granddaughter Kaylin, son, Adam, and stepdaughter, Caryn.

Kaylin and I sported sun hats during a recent walk.
With Gal Pal and dear friend, Bonnie M.
Susan stopped by just before the moving truck arrived. She brought two yummy cookies from Uprise Bakery for me to much on during the trip.

Took this photo when I stopped by Susan’s to bring a houseplant she agreed to inherit. She went with me to Middleton WI in early May to apartment hunt.
Patti and I have been friends since the early 80s. Oh, the stories we could tell!! She plans to come for a visit in early August and help me unpack/organize what I have left to do. Of course, we’ll mostly do tourist stuff.

Gal pal, Gail, who was an important role model for me during the years I managed my Mom’s care.
A bit of a fuzzy “ussie” photo with gal pal Lynette, fellow gardener, funniest gal of my gal pal group, and reassuring confident who also managed the care of elderly parents and lived to tell about it.
Neighbor Debbi who, with her husband, is becoming a serious gardener. I was happy to have them adopt a lot of perennials I had planted. Very thoughtful neighbors who are always ready and willing to help.

Missing are photos of other important Columbia MO pals: Neveda, Betsy, Mary Kaye, Bonnie H, Pam, new neighbor, Marcia. I’ll attempt to get “ussies” with them when I visit and then add them below.

My son, Adam, made sure that granddaughter Kaylin and I had a few overnight visits before I left Columbia. We had a lot of fun drawing on the driveway with chalk. Unfortunately, the frequent heavy rains washed everything away so quickly. But not the above inscription. I wrote our names and then Kaylin ordered the tracing of hands. It’s a photo with lots of special Kaylin memories.

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ADRIFT in an Economic Sea

by Gail Hauswirth, guest commentator

Saturday, June 12, 2021

I have a penchant for structure. I like knowing “if this, then that.” In my mind, predictability is the bedrock of morality and a functioning society. Equal justice means we all adhere to the same laws, and when we transgress, we face the same punishments.

Some laws are codified and some are inherent in the functioning of our society. Some of our laws are simply cause and effect, which then become axioms. If I eat too much, I will become fat. Or, we eat healthy foods first because dessert will spoil our appetite.

Most of us are taught such laws and rules of conduct as we grow up. This helps us navigate life with minimal embarrassment or conflict. Even most of our sciences are based on proven or accepted laws. Our progress has depended upon accepting what our previous generations had proven true and building upon those foundations. I find all of this comforting and rational.

Even the dismal science of economics is replete with laws: supply and demand, time value of money, marginal utility, to name a few. All rely on a predictable relationship by which we make sense of our economic system. And because money drives so much behavior, economic rules bleed into behavioral norms as well, so it’s not just the money which is at stake.

I understand traditional finance rules, and have based my own investing and saving on these rules. I relied on predictable outcomes for my financial decisions. While the free market has long been nipped and tucked by government intervention, I believed that the central architecture of our capitalistic system was both structured and highly predictable.

I am now at an age when my earning years are at an end, and I just rely on the savings accumulated over a lifetime of working and savings. But now, suddenly I am told that being a “saver” is of no value. Negative interest rates say, “Sucker. You should be a gambler…that is where the rate of return is.”

I remember the days when it was lamented that our savings rate was too low, and we were told that we should look at market fundamentals before investing ANYTHING in the stock market. Now, however, we are told we don’t need to understand the fundamentals. The analyst has a “pick” that is a sure winner. Book value, price/earnings ratios, and income statements all suddenly seem superfluous. Have we lost our way in the greed of the moment, or have our system’s axioms been a cruel hoax from the beginning?

I do not have answers to these questions. I do not know if rationality will return to the market, or if our economic system will ever be rational again. Perhaps this Monte Carlo will endure, and we will continue seeing prices soar based on emotions and the belief that this auction is never over.

How does this ever unwind? If it doesn’t, everything ever taught about the economy’s rules must be rewritten. But if by some chance, the old, rational rules reassert themselves, a terrible price will be exacted. Human suffering will be immense.

It must then be asked why we ever thought we could escape the inevitable, inexorable, invisible hand of the market.

Gail Hauswirth

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Wisconsin Time – Preparing for the Move: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Monday, June 7, 2021

Everybody’s fleeing!!

Well, not really. The Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, a U-Haul truck pulled into the cul-de-sac and was parked to receive stuff. When I woke up Sunday morning, there was another one.

Busy, busy, busy around here these days. I’m not doing the U-Haul gig. Two Men and a Truck will move my stuff up to Wisconsin. I’m lazy.


Received an email a couple days ago from the assistant manager of LeSilve, the apartment complex I liked the most. They had a new opening in the building that allowed dogs and cats, would send me photos, and if I liked the apartment, leasing paperwork would be sent. I enjoyed seeing the photos and a video clip, sent a “yes-I’ll-take-it” email, and I felt very grateful and fortunate.

No balcony or patio. Better yet–a four season sunroom!!! With this being Wisconsin, I’ll get much more use out of the sunroom.


Chaos. The kind that comes from purging, packing, and having a garage sale.

The kitchen chaos station. It drives me crazy.

Living room mixture of stuff to be moved and stuff to sell at the garage sale

Hallway. Oh, there are my old slippers!


A fun moving sale. I invited a few pals to bring stuff over. It was great meeting folks and chatting away. I failed to convince anyone they needed some 1960s era men’s handkerchiefs in original packaging…leftovers from cleaning out my dad’s bureau. I had his 1940s era slide rule and instruction book out on a table, but someone suggested I look up its value. I did and took it back into the duplex.

Some of the leftover items will be taken to Goodwill. Others I will put outside on a sunny day with a “Free” sign, like the two baskets in the photo above.

Meet My New Best Friend

I have a love/hate relationship with my smart phone. It’s mostly hate because 1) it interrupts me too often with texts from well-meaning friends and family, and 2) I keep misplacing the damn thing.

Honestly, I will have it in my hand one minute, set it down, and then when I need it, a major search gets underway. I get pissed off, start mumbling, and I end up knocking on the door of my new neighbor, Marsha, and asking her to come over and call my phone. “I know it’s in there. If I hear it, I’ll be able to find it. I’ve looked everywhere!” I plead.

Went through that scenario twice in one week, and I said, “That’s enough. Surely Amazon has a gadget that helps you find your phone.” Indeed. There are several, actually. I ordered the one pictured above. My phone now sports a red plastic thingy on the back. When I press the red key icon on the remote device, my phone beeps. It’s terrific. The remote control gadget sits in a little stand and stays in one place in the living room. If I find that I want to have the same assistance finding other things, there are three more color thingies I can attach to things. It’s humiliating enough to need help finding the damn phone. Why do I get the feeling that I am preparing myself for assisted living?


Having to inform important entities about my change of address.

Being stuck with website chat beings programed with a set number of responses, none of which answer my question; all of which raise my blood pressure.

Being stuck on multiple levels of phone trees because a website chat function didn’t help me, so I have to sit and listen to music I hate and reminders to keep holding.

(Hats off to the websites that employ actual humans to chat about inquiries.)

Knowing I will have to go through all of this again. My cousin, Bob, agreed to be my interim address for important mail while I reside in an extended stay hotel during July. I move into the apartment on August 1, so by the middle of July I’ll be back at it.

At least it’s a simple process to have the U.S. Postal Service forward mail to a new address. Thumbs up to their website.

Almost Done Packing

I am creating bins of things I’ll need to have on hand while I’m staying at the extended stay hotel: Stuff for the dog. Stuff for my photography. Stuff needed for office/laptop functioning. Bathroom stuff. The pharmacy. Clothes and shoes.

Meanwhile, cabinets and drawers are almost empty. The garage has been cleaned out. I’m just about at the stage where I just throw unrelated things into boxes and tell myself I’ll figure it out once I’m in Wisconsin.

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Wisconsin Time – Found Some New Roots

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Gal Pal Susan and I went up to Wisconsin on May 5, and returned to Columbia, MO on May 10. After the long drive up there, we celebrated Cinco de Mayo at Compadres Mexican Restaurant. We returned to the hotel room and binged on HGTV programs because neither of us has access to that channel here in Columbia (by choice). Never turned on the news even once. Just binged on home improvement shows. Fun!

We had a very productive first couple of days as we scouted out Middleton, my target area for relocation. There were four appointment tours scheduled, but once we saw the area where my favorite two choices were located, that was it. I canceled the other two tours.

Lady In Waiting

The housing market is hot everywhere these days, including the rental market. I decided to apply to be on the waiting list for an apartment at LeSilve apartments. The apartments there are a bit older, more traditional, some are large, and the mature landscaping was so lovely when compared to newer urban styled complexes. I’m on the waiting list for a 2BR 2bath unit, my application has been approved, and now I’m back in Columbia purging and packing.

Took some photos with my phone outside LeSilve apartments:

Instant love when I saw this tree

There are heated underground assigned parking spaces in addition to parking lot places.

I will vacate my duplex on/by June 30 and situate myself in an extended stay hotel in the Middleton area until an apartment comes available. It could be later in the summer; thus, I decided to go up, stay in a temporary place so I could enjoy the summer up there, become familiar with roads, and learn typical routes I will take to various places.

Tourist Time

Because the decision about an apartment was made so easily and quickly, Susan and I then had time to be tourists. We had dinner with my cousin, Bob, on Friday at Porta Bella in Madison. Before we left, we had some Chinese food with him in Middleton on Sunday at Taigu. Because of COVID, they only prepared for take-out, but we were able to sit inside and have our meal.

Up Close and Personal with Frank Lloyd Wright

On Saturday, Susan and I spent some time doing drive-by stops at homes designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Because these are private properties, we could not see much of the designs except for the Unitarian Meeting House. Susan has a degree in design, so she was busy taking all kinds of photos. I just walked around, but stopped dead in my tracks when I saw this front porch, located across the street from one of the FLW designed homes.

For both of us, the highlight of the whole visit to was the tour of Taliesinhttps://www.taliesinpreservation.org/, Frank Lloyd Wright’s primary residence for 48 years. This large estate has a fascinating family history and ongoing support these days to preserve all that can be preserved. Susan was very familiar with his work; I only knew the name and the fact that a few of his students designed some homes here in Columbia.

We came away from the tour pretty mesmerized by the genius and originality of Mr. Wright, plus the acknowledgement that he had a huge ego, was a bit of a narcissist (according to our guide), and spent a ton of money on original Asian art. His was a life fully lived, touched by love, ambition, and tragedy, and motivated by continual experimentation. Fascinating.

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Wisconsin Time – Relocating to Wisconsin

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Twelve weeks ago, I had no idea I would be relocating to Wisconsin. But after Mom passed away on March 2nd, I started thinking, “Now what?”

One evening a group of us were talking about traveling, and gal pal Gail mentioned having an interest in Portugal. Toward the end of the discussion, Gail said, “I just want to have one last adventure.”

I’m attributing part of my decision to relocate to the seed Gail planted in my brain.

A few weeks after this gathering, I was an elderly orphan. I remember asking myself, “Well, what’s your next adventure, Jenny?”

“Leave Missouri and move to a blue state. I’ve been here over 40 years and although I’ve enjoyed most of it, I need a change.”

As it turned out, blue states are farther away than I’d like, so I settled on the swing state of Wisconsin. It is near where I had my developmental years in northern Illinois, and I have a first cousin, Bob, who has lived there since his college days in the 70s. I remember visiting him there and becoming quickly infatuated with Madison. In recent months, we have been enjoying weekly chats on Zoom.

Another plus to the Madison, Wisconsin area is water. One item on my bucket list is to spend my final years near lakes. There are two large lakes right there, plus the Lake Michigan of my childhood is just a leisurely drive to the east.

I am going up to the Madison area to look at apartments with gal pal Susan. I am not ready to move into an independent living community for 55+ folks. I prefer to be around people of various ages, and the small city of Middleton, just west of Madison, is my target area. I like the suburban feel there and the easy drive to Madison for all that it offers. https://visitmiddleton.com/

So that’s the plan. My last adventure will be to create a final chapter for myself in a vibrant, progressive area of Wisconsin near lakes, parks, trails, and many other venues of interest. I’ll come back to visit friends and family here in Columbia, Missouri, but I am also expecting friends and family to come up and experience Wisconsin…in the spring, summer, and fall, of course. Winter is a whole other matter. Winter will give me an excuse to shop for long underwear and more substantial outdoor clothing, and it will give me an opportunity to practice “Hygge,” a lifestyle popular in Denmark and Norway where winter is far more severe than in Wisconsin.

And yes, I’ll be scouting out potential assisted living communities for the future. But for now, I’m betting on having a few years of active, independent living near lakes, and a first class university with first class medical care right there.

It’s a good thing I like snow.

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Photography Hobby: Icy Sunset Pond

March 29, 2021

Several weeks ago we had a somewhat brutal (to me) cold snap. Local ponds iced over and folks stayed inside. I drank a ton of homemade hot cocoa.

There is a very small pond in my area at a nearby park called Louisville Dr. Park. The park is not large, but it has a shelter for gatherings, a basketball practice area, a walking trail, a children’s play area, and plenty of open air space for sunny picnics. It’s even starting to collect a few memorial benches.

Eventually, the temperatures warmed up a bit and ponds in the area lost their iced armor. I took my camera over to Louisville Dr. Park at sunset to see what I could capture. It was interesting to see how the light changed.

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