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I’ve Never Seen Star Wars – June
Monday 4th June 2018 9:11 pm

June is a busy month, so I'm going to listen to an album. Last year I chose the one that was top of the album chart. This year I considered the album that was top when I was born, but that would give away my date of birth. And I didn't much fancy it. But the current top of the album charts sounds interesting: it's The Greatest Showman soundtrack.

I've never heard of it, but I like songs from musicals. But I'd never thought of sitting down and listening to one, unless I knew the songs from it. So this will be different for me.


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I’ve Never Seen Star Wars May wrap-up
Saturday 2nd June 2018 5:34 pm

This month I was reading Jeeves and Wooster. My sister gave me Carry On, Jeeves. It turns out it's actually a short story collection, the first of which is when Jeeves first starts working for Wooster.

The trouble with it was that each story was very similar: One of Wooster's friend's has a problem, Wooster can't solve it, but Jeeves always can. It meant I could only really read a chapter at a time because otherwise it got quite samey.

The good thing about it was that I could just sit down and read a chapter and that was a whole story. Also, I enjoyed them. I liked all the slang that Wooster used (and Jeeves didn't). It gave a good sense of his character.

I am going to read more. My plan is to take one back and borrow another every time I visit my nephew. And also watch the series with Fry and Laurie because it's impossible to read without picturing them.

I'll give it 10/10.


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I’ve Never Seen Star Wars – May
Monday 7th May 2018 3:16 pm

This month I'm going to read a Jeeves and Wooster book. I know my sister likes them and I've been book shopping with her before where she's tried to persuade me to try them. And I can't remember any more why I wasn't keen. I haven't seen the Fry & Laurie version, just clips, so I don't really know what to expect.

I have borrowed the first book, Carry On, Jeeves, from my sister. It's red, which I like. Although obviously the colour of the cover doesn't affect the contents.


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I’ve Never Seen Star Wars April wrap-up
Sunday 6th May 2018 2:11 pm

Last month I watched The Death of Stalin. I saw the trailer ages ago, liked it, then failed to see it at the cinema. Turns out that was ok because I didn't like it as much as I thought I would.

It wasn't laugh out loud funny, but it was silly. The biggest problem I had was that although they introduced everyone by slowing the action and putting up their names and positions, I immediately forgot their names. So when they were plotting against one of them I was confused about who they were plotting against. And I just found it a bit slow.

I'll give it 5/10.


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I’ve Never Seen Star Wars – April
Tuesday 3rd April 2018 8:03 pm

After finding last month a bit busy trying to fit everything in, and the Commonwealth Games starting this week, I'm going for something that doesn't take too much time. I'm going to watch a film - specifically The Death of Stalin. It's an Armando Ianucci film that I wanted to see at the cinema, but I didn't realise was only going to be at my local cinema for one weekend. I thought of it every time I watched an episode of Discovery, because it's also got Jason Isaacs in it.


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I’ve Never Seen Star Wars March wrap-up
Sunday 1st April 2018 8:25 pm

This month I was learning AngularJS. Although it turns out to be more complicated than that. Version 1 is called Angular.JS, version 2 and above is called Angular. I googled to find a free course and ended up at codeschool. Mainly because they started by telling me what it's for. So I now know some Angular.JS and have established it's no use for work or me. It's okay, generally, but I'm not sure what all the excitement is about it.

Now I'm found an Angular course. Apparently it's quite different, but the basic principles are the same. And hoping at some point I'll discover what's so amazing about it.

In terms of learning it, it's so far not been massively different from any other programming language I've tried - I don't really learn it until I try programming in it. So I'll give it 6/10.


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I’ve Never Seen Star Wars – March
Thursday 1st March 2018 8:17 pm

This month I'm going to learn AngularJS.

It was frustrating me a bit that work has been so busy with project work that I haven't had time to do any programming. My programming to do list never gets shorter. And then I remembered years ago I was just starting on jQuery and I was talking to someone who was starting on AngularJS. Both of these are programming languages that could be described as Javascript (a programming language) with knobs on. This person said that Angular was better and that was pretty much the gist of the conversation from what I remember.

Having looked it up, I discovered that actually although they're both Javascript with knobs on, they're different knobs. With similar grammar but different words. I'm not sure how much I can learn in a month, given how much (little) French I (re-) learnt in a month, but I won't know until I try.


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I’ve Never Seen Star Wars February wrap-up
Wednesday 28th February 2018 9:29 pm

This month I've been listening to podfic. To find some I started off with the podfic tag on AO3 and put in a few fandoms that came to mind as unlikely to give me too many works to wade through. And then a bit of googling found me [info]podfic-love. Between the two I downloaded a few things from a few different fandoms.

I started with the shortest one I found and although I got to the end I lost interest. I ended up going to the original fic to read that to see what happened and it didn't grab me either. I tried another, didn't get very far through and was tempted to stop there. And I was struggling with the American accents. You can't tell what accent the podficcer has before you try and I find American accents really hard going on audio, for some reason.

But then it got to last weekend, I thought that it's close to the end of the month, I've got a load of podfic downloaded and I should try some more. It's just as well I did because I came across two I enjoyed!

(if you knew what i know) [PODFIC] by bessyboo
Fandom: Sarah Jane Adventures
Relationships: Clyde Langer/Luke Smith
Summary: And it really isn’t Luke’s fault that his best friend has a hugely inappropriate and aching crush on him, so Clyde should probably stop taking it out on him.

This isn't a fic I'd normally have read because I don't ship Luke & Clyde. And I wasn't sure about listening to someone with an American accent read it, because SJA is British. And yet I liked it anyway. I think it helped that it wasn't a strong accent. The only weird bit was the pronunciation of biro - I only knew what the word was supposed to be from the context.

[PODFIC] Not Exactly a Ring by kerravon
Fandom: The Librarian (Movies), The Librarians (TV 2014)
Relationships: Charlene (The Librarian)/Judson (The Librarian)
Summary: Author: "Charlene had always thought she was ready to give her all when the time came to protect the Library. Some things, though, there really is no way to prepare for. Giving her heart and soul to seal the Library doesn't turn out quite the way she expected, and Librarians, to a body, have the worst senses of timing in the universe. Judson/Charlene, tag to episodes 1x01 and 1x02."

I downloaded this one because I thought it sounded familiar - turns out I read it, back when The Librarians first started. So I knew I already liked the story. The American accent was stronger in this one, but it seemed to fit the fandom and the characters. Even if I kept laughing every time "library" was pronounced with three syllables. I think in the episodes I'm distracted from dwelling on it so much.

I've concluded that to like a podfic I have to like the fic and like the voice. With the former you have the summary to go on, just like fanfic. But there's generally no clues about the latter. And even then I'm clearly still fickle and don't know what I want. And although I can see times when it's useful to listen to podfic, they're the same times when I listen to podcasts. Except that podfic you have to concentrate on more because it's easy to miss things and then be completely lost. So despite having enjoyed two podfics, I don't know that I'll listen to any more.

I'll give this a 7/10.


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I’ve Never Seen Star Wars – February
Thursday 1st February 2018 7:15 pm

This month I'm going to listen to a podfic. I've never tried one because I hate being read to. I tried an audio book once and it drove me mad how slow it was and how much faster it would be to just read the book. But then I liked Jamie reading Belinda Blinked in My Dad Wrote a Porno. But I know podfic is a thing and I'm going to try listening to one.

Does anyone have any recommendations in fandoms I might know? Or know where I can find podfic recs?


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I’ve Never Seen Star Wars January wrap-up
Wednesday 31st January 2018 6:28 pm

This month I've been listening to the My Dad Wrote a Porno podcast. The premise is that a bloke called Jamie has a dad who wrote under the name Rocky Flintstone, a book called Belinda Blinked. Each week he reads a chapter, with comments from his friends, James and Alice.

And I've listened to the whole book in a month.

The book itself is self-published and you can buy it on Amazon. But it's awful. The way Alice described it is the way I feel about listening to it: between episodes I was keen to get to the next one, but as soon as I start I wonder why I'm putting myself through it.

The sex is written by someone you'd assume had never even seen a naked woman, let alone had sex with one, if it wasn't for the fact he has a son and therefore disproves that. It's definitely someone who doesn't understand anatomy at all. Quite apart from the sex, the dialogue is awful, the punctuation is awful and the plot is non-existent (so by definition is the only part that isn't awful).

If I was reading this book myself I probably would have made it to the end of the first chapter because I couldn't believe what I've reading. But there's no way I'd have made it further than that. It's the comments from Alice and James (and Jamie) that really make it fun to listen to. They point out the particularly awful bits in a way that's funny.

The best thing is that there are two more books worth of podcasts for this, so it'll keep me going for a while. I'm giving it 10/10.


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I’ve Never Seen Star Wars December wrap-up and 2017 and January
Thursday 28th December 2017 2:51 pm

I thought I'd get all this in one post, rather than do three separate ones.

This month I watched The Night Manager. I saw three-quarters of an episode and had to stop there because I was too tired to finish it that night. I came back to watch the rest the next day and my main thought was "do I have to?". Which tells you what I thought about it... I did finish the episode and then decided it meant I didn't have to watch any more. So I didn't.

I can see why people would look like - it's all about intrigue and who's up to what and if they're going to get their comeuppance. However, I didn't think much of Tom Hiddleston and really hated his character (the eponymous night manager). And looking at the blurbs for the rest of the episode, and given what had happened in the first, I suspect he was not going to get what I felt should be coming to him, and so I was going to be disappointed.

At least not watching the rest of the episodes has saved me five hours of my life. So I'll give it 3/10.

In summary this year I have done the following:
January: Instagram 6/10 (but given how much I've liked it since then, I'd increase it to 8/10 if I was scoring it again)
February: The Martain by Andy Weir 8/10 (I still need to watch the film)
March: Aldi 5/10
April: Rock Choir 8/10
May: Rogue One 2/10
June: Divide (Ed Sheeran) 7/10
July: Re-learning French using apps 7/10 (I should really get back into this, so I can be ready for Paris 2024)
August: Yoga 2/10
September: Morris dancing 10/10
October: Netflix 5/10
November: Avocado 3/10
December The Night Manager 3/10

I am going to carry on doing this next year. This year I purposely did things that were different. Next year I'm not going to make it quite so hard and just make it whatever I feel like. Having said that, in January I'm going to do something different: listen to "My Dad Wrote A Porno". Partly because as a result of needing background noise when Missy died, I got through my podcast backlog. So now I have time to add another for when I run out of current ones. I have heard of it and heard bits of it and it sounds like fun.


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I’ve Never Seen Star Wars November wrap-up and December
Saturday 2nd December 2017 7:24 pm

I'm putting both of these in one post, as they're pretty short (and late).

In November I ate avocado. I'm very glad I chose something that was quick to do and I got it done towards the beginning of the month. I had a teaspon-full, in case I didn't like it. Close up, I wasn't convinced about the colour or the look of the texture - it didn't really look natural. But the taste wasn't at all what I was expecting. I was expecting it to taste strong, but in fact it didn't taste of anything. I wasn't keen on the feel of the texture either, but thought maybe I could get used to it.

And then the aftertaste hit. I thought about writing this post at the time and perhaps I should have done because all I can remember is that it was strong and awful. I ate something else to take the aftertaste away and it didn't work. So I concluded that a teaspoon of avocado was all I needed to eat and I really don't get the appeal.

I'll give it a 3 out of 10, because parts of it weren't too bad.

In December I'm going to watch The Night Manager. It was on TV ages ago and all I know about it is that it's good and it has Tom Hiddleston in it (because anywhere his name is mentioned it has The Night Manager in brackets after it). I did go to watch it after it was on, but all the episodes except for the first were on iPlayer and I got the impression this was something best watched in order.


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I’ve Never Seen Star Wars – November
Wednesday 1st November 2017 7:34 pm

This month is always a busy month: work is busy, all the things I do regularly in the evenings are on every week, there's loads on telly to keep up with, and there's Yuletide to write. So this month I'm going to do something quick and easy.

I'm going to try avocado.

Someone on the radio series tried coffee, so there is precedent for just trying a food or drink. But it's something in the news as a lot of people (specially younger people) are eating. I keep seeing people eating it at work and I wonder what it tastes like. Also, some time ago I tried different fruits to try and increase my fruit eating repertoire, but I never did get round to trying avocado.


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I’ve Never Seen Star Wars October wrap-up
Tuesday 31st October 2017 9:46 pm

This month I've been using Netflix. Although it hasn't been for the whole month. The idea was to watch all of this set of Discovery episodes during the free month. Which meant that I've only actually had it for a week and a half.

So far I've watched Discovery and scrolled through some other stuff to see what was on there. It seemed to be mainly American stuff (didn't look to see if it was new episodes or all a series behind because it wasn't anything I was interested in), and old stuff. And some films, which surprised me - I thought Netflix only did TV. So for £6 (or more) it's pretty disappointing. I had to make an effort to find something else to watch because I felt that just watching Discovery wasn't enough of a test.

I half-like and half-dislike the fast forwarding. As you go it shows you screenshots, but there's no way of telling how far apart those screenshots are. I think fast forwarding and rewinding are at the same rate, which makes it hard to go back when you overshoot. But I can't tell. I'm used to my PVR where I can just press buttons to go forwards 1 minute and backwards 10 seconds.

It does keep track of what you've watched and how far into it you are. So you can get partway through something and then come back where you left off another time. And if you stopped at the end of an episode then when you go back it offers you the next one. It even works out that you've finished something if you stop at the beginning of the credits, which I was quite impressed by.

I set it up on my computer, added Discovery to "My list" so when I went into it on the TV, all I had to do is to select it, so that was easy.

So my experience was ok - it wasn't an amazing thing I have to have. It's useful that it's there for things that are only on Netflix (eg Discovery). I can understand why some people only have it and not a TV licence, given that they're very similar prices. But I definitely couldn't forego watching all the things I am currently watching on TV, the ease of watching from my PVR rather than Netflix, not to mention that you can't watch sport on Netflix!

I hate that I have to get it in order to watch Discovery. But at least it's available to watch - I don't have to have Sky for example, which is a lot more work and a lot more expensive.

All in all, I'd rate it a 5 out of 10.


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I’ve Never Seen Star Wars – October
Sunday 1st October 2017 5:35 pm

As mentioned in an earlier post, this month I will be trying Netflix. It's a busy month to suddenly have access to a whole load of TV (potentially - obviously it's impossible to say how much until I actually sign up). So unless I get ill (which I'd really rather not), the only thing I'm likely to watch on it is Discovery.

I realised the good thing about there being a few episodes up before I start, is that I can then watch those in any order I like.


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I’ve Never Seen Star Wars September wrap-up
Saturday 30th September 2017 7:43 pm

This month I tried morris dancing. I chose clog morris, partly because I liked the way it looked, partly because I liked the red in their outfits and partly because it was on a convenient evening. I really enjoyed it.

They only actually had two practices this month and I made it to one of them. Right at the start we learnt the polka step. Which looks easy when you see it, and I thought it was just a case of tapping one foot on the other side of the other (ie your right foot on the left of your left foot). But it turns out there's also two hops per step. And you're supposed to be getting your knees up. Which I found really hard when my legs already ached from ballet the night before. But I did manage to polka at a reasonable speed on the spot and going forwards. But completely failed to do it in any other direction - and we learnt a dance where you had to do it in every other direction (except sideways).

But I liked that it was hard. I had been thinking it might not stand up in the comparison to ballet, which is hard because there is so much to think about all at once. If all you have to remember is where you're going it's really easy in comparison. But I was thinking about where I was going and what I was doing with my feet and what I was doing with my arms.

I learnt one dance with sticks - they have two small sticks. The real ones have bells and ribbons on the ends and if I had one of those I'd have definitely hit myself in the head. On the plus side, holding those up was fine because it was never for as long as I've had to hold my arms out in ballet. I say I learnt a dance, I did have to be reminded of what I was doing, and my polkaing involved extra effort because I felt like I needed to add hops in order to move in the direction I should be moving in. But no one hit each other (with our bodies or our sticks).

I did also start another dance with what's called a sling. For practice these are basically just lengths of rope. That you then hit yourself with. Partly on purpose: at one point you have to put them over your shoulder and the only way to do that is to hit yourself in the back with them. And partly because I wasn't holding them high enough above my head to avoid hitting myself in the head. But I usually accidentally hit myself with things on a regular basis, so it all felt normal.

At least as a beginner we'd do a bit of a dance, then watch the non-beginners run through a dance, while we got a rest. Which we really needed by then. While watching one, someone told me she goes to the gym in order to be fit enough to dance, which I can believe. Especially when I watched one that involved polkaing all the way through.

The other thing that surprised me was all the general club stuff that went on. It's just the same as any club, and reminded me of fencing, which is the most recent place I've seen it. I realised I've missed that a bit, because ballet is classes and choir is set up a different way. The AGM notes reminded me more of Rotary and the sort of politics that goes on in any club.

I intend to go back. I'm not sure how well it will fit in going out three nights a week and when work gets busy in November/December. But at least it's something where it doesn't matter if you don't go every week. I just need to sort myself out a decent pair of trainers, because it turns out I've got really used to a sprung dance floor, and a school hard is really solid in comparison.

I'm going to give it 10 out of 10.


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I’ve Never Seen Star Wars – September
Sunday 3rd September 2017 12:57 pm

This month I am going to be trying morris dancing. [info]watervole found me a few local sides ages ago and the one I chose I remembered seeing at the local folk festival last year. I like that they have clogs. They handily meets on a day when I used to have choir, but don't any more. Although that's also the night after ballet, so the state of my legs will influence when in the month I get there - the first couple of weeks of term are always the worst as your legs get used to being in positions they haven't been in since the previous term.


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I’ve Never Seen Star Wars August wrap-up
Saturday 2nd September 2017 9:33 pm

This month I was trying yoga.

I have now found out what it's all about, which is one of the reasons I wanted to try it. It's about flexibility and stretching and relaxing. I have never been flexible and am perfectly happy with that so doing things to improve my flexibility doesn't interest me. Stretching I get, but since I'm used to the idea that you do it before or after something else, getting to the end of yoga made me feel like I was ready to do some exercise, but I'd just done it (sort of).

I don't find it relaxing. At all. In fact I find it the opposite. It's partly because there was so little going on - yes, there was a voice and music and something to look at and something to do, but none of it was that interesting. The other reason was when Adrienne waiting until we were in a pose and then telling me to pay attention to my body. The bits that hurt, hurt more when you think about it, so that's really not helpful. And one of them (I forget which) telling me to move a limb into a pose 'mindfully' which is the most meaningless phrase I've ever heard in my life.

But the biggest problem I had with it is that it made me dizzy. And it's hard to explain, but it's not a normal sort of dizzy either. It's dizziness with a side of that horrible feeling you get in your head when a plane you're on takes off. And it lasts all evening (I only ever tried yoga in the evenings). I thought I'd be ok because although some of it involved putting my head upside down, I'd done that at ballet - in fact I'd done that exact stretch at ballet. But I found it wasn't just putting my head upside down, it was putting it horizontally as well. Which I never really do in real life.

I ended up just doing poses that involved standing up. Which was better for my head, but they were a combination of ballet but with a whole foot on floor, and fencing. Literally a lunge in yoga is a fencing lunge. And there is some actual ballet in there - what was apparently a goddess pose is actually a plie in second position.

I did discover, through a conversation about yoga with [info]selenay that I'm really good at balancing. Which is interesting, given that I have a problem with my balance. It shows how useful ballet has been with that - I've had so much practise at balancing on tiptoes that having one whole foot on the floor is easy in comparison.

I'm going to give this 2/10, because it satisfied my curiosity, but it's just dull.


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I’ve Never Seen Star Wars – August
Tuesday 1st August 2017 7:53 pm

This month I'm going to be trying yoga. It's something I've seen cropping up all over the place (or at any rate, being mentioned by all sorts of people). So I was interested to see what it's like. [info]just_ann_now has given me links to videos so I can try it out at home.


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I’ve Never Seen Star Wars July wrap-up
Monday 31st July 2017 9:41 pm

This month I've been using Duolingo, Memrise and Lingvist to re-learn French.

I'm level 9 in Memrise French 1. I'm level 5 in Lingvist, where I know 418 words. Between the three of them those are the only useful stats I can find.

Duolingo is probably the one people know best, on the basis that I've seen various people talk about it and not the others. It gamifies the whole thing, which some people love and I can't stand. This is partly because it's been a big thing at work for ages and partly because I perversely want to not do what it wants me to. So it'll get all excited that I have a 6 day streak, I'll purposely break it. And I really dislike that if you get too many things wrong you can't do any more.

I dislike that it has so many screens and button presses in comparison to the others. When you've got an answer right the other two carry on to the next one, this one requires you to press to say that you want to carry on. Although it also doesn't let you go back. It does tell you in advance what you're going to learn and allow you to test out of it.

When I started it it would teach me some words, then do some things to help me learn them. Then it would teach me some words and test me on some others. Now it just goes straight to the testing. Which just seems bizarre to me.

I also take exception to it giving me a picture of a pair of trousers and telling me the French for trousers is pantalons, which I already knew, and then telling me that an alternative translation is pants. Er, no it's not. And one I had today where the English translation was "Letters, which ones" and I got it wrong because I translated it into proper English.

It also has a thing where you can speak the answer on certain screens. Which is fine an good, and as it says you need to learn to speak French. However, there are two problems with this:
1. It's asking me to speak English
2. It doesn't understand what I say in English

Memrise is the one I hated at the start. It was teaching me really basic stuff I already knew (like please and thank you) and I couldn't understand how it was all structured. I still find the structure a bit unintuitive, but I like that each session it starts with a review of the previous one before introducing new words. And I like that it has different ways of reminding me of the new words before I'm asked to type them.

The biggest problem with it is that I find some of it simple and then keep getting it wrong because I don't read it all carefully enough. So tonight, for example, it was teaching me fish (poisson) which I already knew, but it thinks I don't know it at all because I kept selecting poison as the French for fish.

So far it has just been words, not sentences (I'm sorry is the closest it's come). It's possible it's coming - I did start with French 1 after all, but I do feel a bit like I'm not learning anything useful.

Lingvist is the most restricted, but it acknowledges that it's only there to teach words and that it only has a few (European) languages. But I love the stats it gives you. It tells you how many screens you've done that session, how many you got right, how many new words you learnt. For every word you've seen it tells you how many times you saw it. When you learn a verb it gives you the verb tables.

It's much better than the other two at learning what I knew. If I keep getting something wrong it will show it to me more often, if I get it right, then it doesn't bother.

None of them are ever going to be as good as learning in a classroom with a teacher. In my first year of learning French, when I was 11, I knew a lot of parts of the body because we used to play Simon Says. Although after that year parts of the body never really came up and I forgot most of them.

I don't really know if I'm getting anywhere with any of them, but I have only been doing it for a month, which comes to about 9 hours in total (3 in each app). Which is nothing really, considering I last did French over 15 years ago.

Having said that, I have enjoyed it, in varying amounts and I will carry on, although not necessarily with all three apps. So I'm going to give it 7/10 for the experience.


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