Friday, December 06, 2013

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela has gone ...  so sad that he's no longer here with us, but talk about a life well lived! Very few people have made such a difference - I believe he truly changed the world.

I've seen lots about this on Facebook - including a photo of Mandela with a friend (must be such a thrill for Joe to have that photo now!) It's nothing really, but this is my Mandela story.

When Angela and I first came (back for me) to live in Sydney, back in 1988, we came from London, where there was a very strong anti-apartheid movement. So, we were looking around for a house to buy, and ended up buying one in 'Pretoria Parade, Hornsby'! Honestly, we had very nearly refused to even go and look at it. The idea of having Pretoria Parade as our address was just anathema to us! (And Angela's sister was living in 'Avenue of the Revolution' in the Caribbean!!) And then, when we saw the gorgeous little timber cottage, we loved it, but ... our compromise was to give the house a name that would stand in opposition to that apartheid connection and that name was 'Mandela'!

I went through old photo albums, and found this photo of the name on the gate (with a very young godson, who's now grown up and living in Portugal)!

Friday, November 01, 2013

Sunny day news

I got a new iPad Air today - I'm thrilled! As I'm going from the first iPad, the difference is immense! Half the weight, double the memory, and the new (to me!) Retina screen. It's smaller dimensions-wise but the screen is the same size. And so so much faster!

I'm gradually being given more of my 'old' yoga poses back, which is great. Fingers crossed that I don't come down with some other injury to set me back again!

And tomorrow is the first 'open house' - yes, my house is now on the market. Caused a large amount of panic and soul-searching when I got the real estate agents in and signed on the dotted line! I seem to be ok at the moment, but I'm sure there'll be more of that to come ... !

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad Air

Monday, October 07, 2013

Post Bali wrap-up

Back home now after a truly wonderful few days in Bali. My experiences last time (of being sick) had somewhat coloured my memory of Bali, and all those stupid worries I had about whether I was healthy enough to go and take on the intensities of a yoga workshop just made me scared to commit. I knew inside I was being pathetic (!) and, oh I am so glad I went. Bali is just a magical place. The people are so uncomplicated and happy. The way ceremony and their religion intertwines throughout their daily lives every day is just amazing ...

But - despite all of the beauties of Bali, this trip really was all about the yoga for me. Dena is such a wonderful teacher - the way she is just really clicks with me. (I think I've said it before, but she so reminds me of my favourite friend, Wendi!!) Another thing to look forward to when I move down to Ocean Shores is that she will be my yoga teacher down there ...

Anyway - I will have had 3 days at home before I go back to work tomorrow ... when I guess the normal day-to-day stuff will come back in and take over more of my consciousness - sadly! Going to a yoga class this evening ... it was a choice between choir practice (for the Messiah) and yoga, and I'm afraid yoga wins out over choir!!

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Yoga in Bali - happy times

It's now the middle of the 6-day workshop with Dena ... Well actually it's past that - just 2 more practices to go. And it's been such a lovely experience ... So unlike last time I was here (2 years ago) when I was sick the whole time and could only manage to struggle to the yoga practices and spent most of the rest of the day in my room feeling sorry for myself!!

Yes I've had to be careful, and I still only have a pretty restricted practice, but I feel I have taken on so much this time round. On the asana side, what Dena has been (what word to use? Teaching? Demonstrating? Encouraging? Yes, that's the best maybe) encouraging has manifested in a complete overhaul of how I do the sun salutes. They were a pretty sorry sight before! Two of the things she has talked about a lot is "conscious samistithi" and (her analogy) making the lazy players in the team do the work. In other words, not relying on the bits that are already flexible to do all the work. Specifically in this case, forcing my thoracic spine in the upward dog bit of the sun salutes and vinyasas to do some bending rather than my lower back. And the 'conscious stamistithi' (which I'm not going to elaborate on here - would take too long! Suffice to say - earth, stretch, protect!) can be carried into so many poses, and in this case chataranga - or my attempt at it!

So, even though I still can't do chataranga properly, and the backbend in my upward dog is pretty much invisible to the naked eye (!) I am putting the elements of sun salutes together a whole lot better. Dena did say the difference between this time and last was pretty noticeable!!

Apart from that, among many other topics, she talked about yoga teachers, giving respect to the teachers who do the 'hard work' with their students in their daily practice, and not to get seduced by the glamour of 'workshop teachers' who had a few good tricks and stories for 5-6 days and then were off elsewhere!!

We have been singing some lovely chants each day - one which really resonated with me had the words 'sat chit ananda' in one line. Premies will know what I mean. We used to use that as a greeting many many years ago!

Internet is hit and miss here. All the cafes and restaurants have free wifi, but the wifi at the hotel is confined to the restaurant and reception areas. And this evening it was pretty much non-existent! So I'll have to post this at breakfast tomorrow morning! I'll upload some photos to the blog soon, but have been adding some to Facebook anyway!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Ubud, Bali

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Almost there ...

Have been keeping it very quiet (blog-wise) but I have paid everything for the Bali trip, and it's now just 2 days till I fly off!

My practice is definitely getting stronger - managed to get through a led series of sun salutes at last weekend's class which always has more than 5 of each! But for a reality check - I am only now just about able to grab a finger in Marichyasana A for goodness sake! I guess that's what 12-14 months away from yoga does for you, but ... ! In fact, I'm not even really supposed to be doing that - Richard hasn't given me that pose back! But I am practicing certain missing poses 'on the side' so I can do a more straightforward practice in Bali.

Today's my last day at work. Tomorrow (my normal day off) I will be supervising the arrival of a large (4,000 gallon) water tank to replace one that rusted away ... Luckily there are going to be 4-5 people to do the 'manhandling' of it! It will have to be rolled part of the way as after that water tank was originally installed, a row of golden cane palms was planted in front of it. They have gotten huge! I've had a couple removed and the others thinned out. So there should be just enough room to roll the tank between the edge of the house and the palms!! Fun ... must remember to take a photo!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Tempting fate

I was tempting fate when I made my last post about all the 'progress'! I think it was actually the next day that I suddenly developed some kind of muscle strain in my back! In fact it is/was remarkably similar to what I had a year ago ... My osteopath tells me that it's muscles that attach to my diaphragm and the strain/whatever is caused by coughing!!! If only I could stop!!!

Again I am finding myself unable to do anything involving a forward bend ... not so much the going down as the coming back up - my back can feel really unsupported (and painful!) But it's worst at night. I've once again established a close relationship with Voltaran - after only a few weeks away from it!!!

So, I don't know how many times I've said/done this over the last few weeks - but I will make a final decision on going to Bali after I see my osteopath again this evening. I'm pretty sure I'm still going to go. I just don't know how I'll manage sun salutes etc etc. What a pain!!

I wasn't able to practice on the weekend - had visitors, but yesterday I tried again. Sun Salutes were difficult - I ended up have to kind of 'creep down' onto my hands & knees to get to the floor, and then on with the sun salute. (Only tried one!) I did manage to do padangusthasana although coming back up from it was difficult. The Prasaritas weren't so difficult - maybe the wide-angled stance helps ... Maybe when I do my lunchtime practice in the uni gym today things will have got a bit better!

Thursday, September 05, 2013


Things are ticking over ... my shoulder injury is largely fixed (fingers crossed!) and I am back to doing 'normal' sun salutes and vinyasas. The only weight-bearing pose that still gives my shoulder a hint of a twinge is purvottanasana, so I'm leaving that out for the moment.

Mind you - I'm only talking about the effects of the shoulder injury (bursitis) being largely 'fixed'. The year or so of no yoga still shows in my practice (and what my teacher will let me do) ... Because it's only 3-4 weeks till the Bali workshop I decided to take things into my own hands and start practicing poses at home that officially I haven't been given back yet. Really, just in an attempt to be able to practice all (or most) poses up to Navasana while I'm at the workshop, which isn't a huge practice anyway ... I expect my teacher probably has an idea I'm doing this ... :)

Things are moving along on the home renovation front! Swimming pool/pond is gone, replaced by a lovely big deck area. New water tank should be delivered just before I leave for Bali. Just a few more tidying up type things to do and then I guess I'll have to get the real estate agents in ... (Scarey!!)

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Melbourne trip photos

Looking out from Art Gallery Victoria
Looking out through the Art Gallery front entrance - and that's not actually rain on the glass doors, but a permanent water feature. Seems kind of appropriate for Melbourne!

Trompe d'oeille at Monet exhibition
Trompe d'oeuille at the Monet exhibition

Breakfast at a Melbourne coffee shop
Breakfast at a Melbourne coffee shop

Oh - and I did go to the Blackboard conference too - but the photos from that are either boring conference slides, or embarrasing conference dinner ones, neither of which will appear here!!

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Bali workshop booked!

Yeay - I gathered my courage and booked my flight to Bali for Dena's workshop in October! I still don't know what shape my practice will be in by then - don't even know if I'll be able to do normal sun salutes but really hope I will have got over most of the shoulder problems by then!

It's funny - I was so scared to commit, but now that I have I'm really looking forward to it - duh!! I realised/was reminded that you can't live your life worrying about things that might or might not happen ... just have to step forward and 'carpe diem' ... it's the only one we've got!!

Off to Melbourne next week for the Blackboard conference (LMS software I am involved with at work). Will be catching up with some Melbourne friends while I'm down there which should be nice - also hoping to do a bit of shopping on the day before the conference <grin>.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Yoga, baby niece, house-hunting ...

A lot has been going on! First of all and most importantly, Jo and Emma have had a baby girl in London - Charlotte! Lovely ... born the same day as that 'royal' baby! So happy for them - can't wait to see her, though I will need to - they aren't due back in Oz for a visit until January.

Progress (slow but steady) is happening in yoga. I'm still not doing proper sun salutes, but am now doing a deeper version of the one I was doing, and I've also been given back the initial (knee on the ground) version of parivrtta parsvakonasana.  It all felt great at class yesterday ... even my balance in UHP was (amazingly!) much better. But I better not get too excited about that - balance is a very variable thing with me!

Still haven't quite decided what to do about going to Dena's Bali workshop at the end of September. I will need to commit soon as the flights will all fill up. I guess I'm still wondering how much I'll be able to do if I go. But it's two months away, and I would hope that I'd have managed to get back a lot of my practice by then. (And even if I haven't 'officially' been given poses back, I expect I will be doing them in my home practices, and at the workshop!) Probably I'm scared of getting sick yet again and not being able to go. But I can't live my life like that! Hopefully I'll manage to book something this coming week!!

I also went down to Ocean Shores for a couple of days at the end of the week - to check out property etc. It was good - even though a lot of the houses are suburban brick-types, there are definitely some houses are are more my style, so I feel fairly confident I'll be able to find somewhere really nice ... We also had a lovely time going to the Mullumbimby farmers market on Friday morning - there are heaps of markets around there, and there is just nothing here (well, nothing that's not an hour's drive away!) I was also introduced to someone who runs a community choir down there, and then there's Dena's shala in the district ... It will be good ... :)

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Things are looking up

Although still suffering from a shoulder injury (bursitis apparently - developed/first appeared when I did that long drive down to NSW back in April!) things are ((fingers very crossed!)) getting better. I've been going to see my osteopath weekly for quite a while now, and last week she told me that she felt we had 'turned a corner' with the shoulder, and it was definitely starting to mend.

I had decided the previous week (ie. a week ago) that I just had to start doing yoga again, no matter how much modification I needed to do to the practice. So I went back to class last Saturday. My teacher got me doing a different kind of Sun Salute (no downdogs or anything that put any stress on the shoulder). I'd never seen this before - a bit like Surya Namaskar B, but from the utkatasana stage you step back and rise up into Virabhadrasana 1, then step back to utkatasana and repeat on the other side, then come back up to standing.

It felt so good to finally be back and doing a sustainable practice - by which I mean one that I won't have to stop doing again because I'm damaging myself again! I've managed to do 2-3 practices during the week, and this afternoon it's back to class. Hopefully it won't be too long before I can start to put back the ashtanga sun salutes, and then gradually the other poses/vinyasas that I can't do at the moment.

Apart from that I've been doing a bit of entertaining, again for the first time for absolutely ages! Had my aunt and cousins round for Sunday lunch a week or two ago, which went very well! I gave away various bits and pieces of Napier family 'stuff' that I'd brought back from Bowral (my Mum's house) for them. It was nice to share it around - and I've got heaps for myself already.

The proceeds from the auction of the contents of Mum's house have finally been sorted out/allocated to the respective beneficiaries. A mammoth task as there were two wills involved (my Dad's as well as Mum's) and in each will, different things were split between different people. And despite our best efforts, the sale list from the auction bore very little resemblance to the list we'd sent up to the auction! However, all done now!! Who knew there was so much hard slog involved in being an executor! But as I said to my nephews - I shudder to think what the solicitors would have charged if I had left that job to them <grin>

Monday, June 10, 2013

Distinct lack of progress!

Well, despite my excitement and good intentions, I didn't make it to yoga class last week, and didn't again this weekend - sigh! I started feeling not good again and - well, just another of the obstacles that have been in the way of my yoga practice over the past few months. I did do a very short practice today, and am hoping to manage to practice a couple of times at lunchtimes this week. It's no longer as easy to practice at lunchtimes now - the place I have to go to is further across campus, and it's not always available. But never mind. Will see how I manage this.

I'm still thinking/hoping to go to Dena's Bali workshop in October  and it's probably a good idea for me to have something to work towards! I seem to remember that the first time i went to one (maybe 3 years ago) it really made me put more into my practice. Both the teachers where I go remarked on it ... :)

Apart from this, I've been doing a Coursera course - Internet History Technology & Security - and it's great! No coding, but lots of really interesting history of the internet stuff. Only in the 2nd week, but last week was all about Bletchey Park (UK World War 2 code-breaking) and Alan Turing. Really fascinating - I am loving it!! Well recommended - and it's online and free!!

And if you haven't heard of Coursera - just google it and/or MOOCs (Massive Open Online Course ... !) The big buzzword at universities at the moment!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Fingers crossed - back to yoga!

Finally! I can't (and don't even want to!) begin to work out how long it's been. And it's been just one 'interruption' after the other! At the beginning of May after everything that'd happened I finally made a start on practicing again, and made it to one class. A couple of days after that I started to feel like there might be something going on with my knee - yes, the same one I had that meniscus tear in, just a couple of years ago. And sure enough, after a couple of days the knee started 'clicking'!! Horrors!! Luckily I happened to look back in this blog to when that happened last time, and discovered I'd noted down something my osteopath had showed me - how to walk without letting the knee click.

The added freakout for me here was that my osteopath had just gone to Vietnam on holiday and I couldn't get an appointment for a couple of weeks ... Still, I did manage to get a cancellation for just after she came back. And she said that it wasn't a tear again, but something I'd done must have just twisted the meniscus a bit or something! And finally, after seeing her again today she said it's ok to go back to yoga, but very very gently and carefully!! As if I'd be anything else - well, at least to start off with. I do tend to get impatient with being (as I see it!) held back, but ... :)

But I'm so happy now! I'll do a very light practice at home tomorrow, and then go back to class on Saturday afternoon. And maybe, if all goes well, I might try and go to Dena's Bali workshop later in the year - beginning of October. But I'm going to wait and see for a while first ... :)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Space Oddity - performed in 'real' outer space!!

Amazing YouTube video of Canadian man on the International Space Station doing a version of David Bowie's "Space Oddity" ...

Thursday, April 25, 2013

A road trip through NSW

Well, I'm back home after 2 weeks away ... I drove down to Bowral, NSW, to pack up my Mum's house. And with lots of help from family and friends, that got done (or pretty much so) in a few days. It was difficult emotionally, but we all did the best we could. House contents got sent to Sydney to auction, taken by family members, donated to St Vincents, etc. I arranged for a few large pieces of furniture to be shipped up to Queensland, and packed my (small!) car with boxes of mementos / stuff from the kitchen etc etc.

I had decided when I arranged this, to have a 2nd week off to 'de-stress', doing a slow roadtrip back home. So, first I headed off to Canberra (staying the night with an old friend - lovely to see her!). Mum had this silver tankard that had been handed down the family for a long time. It was made in Scotland in the late 1700s. And at some point, why no one yet knows, a depiction of a very early Australian painting - 'The squatters' hut - news from home' was embossed onto it. That painting is in the National Art Gallery in Canberra, and my nephews and I had agreed this was the best place for this to end up. The gallery was very happy to receive it!

After that, I drove to Mudgee to spend a couple of nights with relatives/friends ... not in the houses pictured below, although David & Clarissa do live in a very large barn converted into a wonderful house!!

abandoned house

old sheds

After a couple of days there eating and drinking, I then headed north and east to Coffs Harbour. That was the hardest drive - about 8 hours. But a friend from home has just moved there for 12 months to do a traineeship, and so I really wanted to get there and hear about how it's all going. She'd actually only had her first day of work, but Helen seems very happy about it. I'm actually very sad she's gone for the year, as we were 'yoga buddies'! We used to do yoga together most Sunday mornings (although different styles of yoga). But she'll be back in a few months, so ... :)

The next morning I headed up to Ocean Shores to spend the night with my friend Vic ... he always plies me with real estate ads to encourage me to move down there!!

And now I'm back home. After collapsing yesterday, today I have unpacked the boxes of things from the car, and found homes for most of them! And I've still got a few days before I go back to work - which will be for a 4-day week from now on!! Hoorrrayyyy!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Easter update

So nice to have 4 days off to relax, catch up with friends, and catch my breath with what's been happenng over the last couple of weeks.

Health first ... Well, I'm finally and definitely feeling better! I'm coughing a bit less, and - just feeling a different person. I'm on antibiotics (don't ask!!) that I'll have to take for a few days each month for a while - maybe indefinitely. But it is wonderful to feel so much better - just shows how much it was affecting my general health. Hopefully the cough will get down to a very small issue - if not at the end of this course of antibiotics, then over the next month or so. We shall see, but I am hopeful!

I'm still not able to do any yoga (or physical exercise putting any weight onto my arms) until next week - because of the skin cancer surgery. But then I'll be able to start my practice up again, which I'm so looking forward to!

And the other big thing ... my Mum's house sold at auction last weekend. I went down for one night for it, and although it was torturous - bids going up by $1K at a time, and only after the auctioneer got to "and for the 3rd and final time ..." umteen times! But it sold, and at over the reserve price, so that was great. However, that also means that I now have to go back down and clear the whole house out before the sale completes in early May. I'm going to take 2 weeks' holiday, and will drive down in a couple of weeks' time. I've got lots of people - relatives and friends, lined up to come and help with various aspects of this. But I do know it's going to be a difficult time for me. It's not the house I grew up in, but there are/will be so many memories.

I'm hoping to only have to spend a week or so packing/cleaning up the house, and will then have a week to visit friends and slowly make my way back up to Queensland ...

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Health issues - sigh!

Health issues have gotten on top of me over the past few weeks. It will all work out/be OK but I do feel like my life is a bit on hold at the moment!

Basically I'd decided at the beginning of the year that I just had to do something about the awful cough I've had for over 6 months. My haematologist arranged for CT scans to be done and referred me for a 2nd opinion to another chest specialist. This revealed that a lot of my coughing issue was not what the other specialist had thought (bronchiectasis, though I do have that), but a fungal lung infection! Which the (lovely) new specialist assured me was fixable! So I was really encouraged by that. Went off to have a bronchoscopy - so they could - a) work out what type of fungal infection, and b) clean out a lot of the 'stuff' in my lungs.

Then, somehow I'd thought I'd have the results in a week and could start treatment ... but when I rang after a week to enquire was told it would take 4-6 weeks to get results on the type of infection! This did not go down well, but I'm over that now, and hanging out for the appointment I have in 2 weeks ...

And again a month or so ago, I decided I had to do something about a couple of potential skin cancers on my arms, and following appointments I am having them taken off next week.

It all seems ridiculous but I have had at least one doctor's appointment every week for the past x number of weeks, and that continues for at least the next 3 weeks ... !!! I know it doesn't sound like that much when I write it down, but it really does feel like it's taking over my life, making health (or lack of it) the complete focus of everything! I hate it. I hate being sick! I hate not having lots of energy! (Whinge, whinge whinge!! Old Australian tradition!!)

And it's really played havoc with my yoga practice. I haven't been back to the shala this year! I just don't feel strong enough. And I cough so much (and so disgustingly!) in downdog it's pretty embarrassing! I am only managing to do 2-3 practices a week - most of them short 30-40 minutes at lunchtime. And then after I've had the skin cancers cut out next week, from memory you're not supposed to do any exercise for at least 2 weeks!! I can only hope that by the time that 2 weeks is over I will be on something to start killing off the lung infection. I have been told that it's a long process getting rid of fungal lung infections - so I want to start it as soon as possible!!

Anyway - I'm carrying on and mostly not getting too despondent! This too shall pass ... :)

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

I Wasn't expecting this!

I really wasn't expecting to be confronted by this sight again so soon - only 2 years since the last time the Kholo Bridge was flooded! This is the way I drive home (viewed from my 'home' side of the river!!) I went to Sydney for the weekend (will post about that later!) On Sunday I'd heard the news about ex-tropical cyclone Oswald (who chooses these names?!!) wreaking havoc down the Queensland coast. And I emailed my neighbour who confirmed that the bridge would inevitably be closed by the time I got home on Sunday night.

But I really wasn't prepared for the unbelievably scarey drive home I had. For starters - below is the Mount Crosby weir with one-lane bridge over the top. Which I for some unknown reason decided to drive over, in the pitch dark of Sunday night. (It wasn't in that state when I drove over it, obviously - must have happened later that night!)

Having successfully navigated that, I then headed up to the Lake Manchester Road - the back road to get home. And it was completely terrifying! (Before I go any further - there are no rivers crossing this road, only tiny little creeks. I knew there was virtually no chance of me getting 'swept away' or anything!) So it all started when I came round a corner and down a little slope, when all of a sudden I was in water with a whole wave of water washing up over the front windscreen - completely obscuring any vision! And all I could think to myself was - don't stop, don't take your foot off the accelerator. Don't allow any chance for the engine to stall! That was actually the worst of it - that wall of water! I still had to go through several places where big pools of water were completely covering the road, quite deeply. And there were trees down all along the way - luckily only covering half or two-thirds of the road.

And this was all at around 8pm at night - absolutely pitch dark, no traffic lights or anything out there! However, I did get home safely! And even better - this time around the electricity was still on, unlike 2 years ago when I lost power for 5 days ...

And now, 2-3 days later, those bridges are still the same, but I have managed to get in to work for the last couple of days on the back road. Most of those huge pools of water had completely disappeared the next morning. so it's not too difficult to drive ...

Another Kholo adventure!!!

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Happy 2013 to everyone!

I know it's been a while since I posted (my sister in London keeps telling me this!!) For no particular reason - I just haven't felt like it for a while. But now, at the end of the Christmas holidays (back to work tomorrow, sigh!) I guess it's time to pick up the metaphoric pen and paper again ... :)

Had a lovely Christmas, despite it being the first one I haven't spent with my mother for  many many years. I didn't know how it would go, but ... spent Christmas Eve with my aunt and cousins here in Brisbane. And then on Christmas Day I drove down to Mullumbimby (northern NSW) to spend the day/night with friends who were housesitting there. And really it was the best thing I could have done! No family ties or anything - just good friends, good food and good company! I spent the night there and the next day before I drove home we all visited some other friends who live on the coast near there ... it was lovely!

Since then I've been going to the movies with friends - saw Les Miserables (not my choice, but I have to say the end was incredibly stirring!) and the Hobbit (loved it and can't wait for the next part). Went to the sales and bought some clothes. And just generally hung around, reading and relaxing ... I managed to do some yoga most days - even if only sun salutes some days! Was glad to see from their website that class starts again this Saturday.

Oh, and I spent a lovely weekend down in Ocean Shores (northern NSW again) in early December with my friend Victor. It was just great ...

And now it's 2013 ... New plans for the future are evolving. I'm going to be taking steps to enable this during the year. It feels great to have a plan and be working towards it. Hopefully it will only be a month or so before I can start working 4 days a week - I am so looking forward to that!!

And I'm also planning an overseas trip for later this year. It's all very vague at the moment but I definitely intend to go to London/Europe. Will have to start making firmer plans on that in the next month or two (which will include a yoga workshop somewhere!)

Yes, it should really be a great year ... I haven't really bothered with New Year's resolutions this time round. It feels like my whole life is a new resolution - and that's big enough for me!!


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