My Son is Graduating College Today

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Call me sentimental, but I’ve always loved graduations: the way they tie up loose ends and signify new beginnings, the chance to reflect on the past, and celebrate the future. I feel bad for the graduates of 2020. Schools closed 2 months ago. Students finished (what they could) their education on line.  When I graduated I can still remember handing in my last paper.  I remember getting together that night with a few others who were graduating and having a little barbecue in front of our apartment.  We had an opportunity to share what came next. Grad school, Law School, Work, Summer jobs, Internships. Even the fear of “What’s Next” was exciting.

Like the final months of their education, 2020 graduation will be online and virtual.

We will be ok, we will get back to normal. We, as a society have rebounded from much worse.  I hope at that time…

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A Season of Hope. There is Beauty Out There- if you look.

The world is filled with beautiful and amazing things. You need to slow down to see slowdown and notice. It may be a flower growing in a trash filled vacant lot. It may be the white helmet volunteers in Syria. It may be a young girl with autism in Northern Ireland with the voice of an angel.

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Girl With Autism Sings A Stunning Rendition Of ‘Hallelujah’

It’s not just good because she’s dealing with autism … It’s good because it’s good — really good.

This 10-year-old’s rendition of “Hallelujah” would have given Leonard Cohen himself chills. Turn the volume up and give it a listen.

 

Kaylee Rodgers, a student who has autism and ADHD, sang the solo part for the famous tune during her school choir concert at Killard House School in Donaghadee, Northern Ireland, and the performance went viral.

Rodgers’ voice is stunningly beautiful ― and she exudes confidence while she sings with her classmates. Tracy Rodgers, Kaylee’s mother, told the BBC that Kaylee’s music teacher, Lloyd Scates, played a huge part in nurturing her special talent.

“She always loved singing, but it wasn’t until she started at Killard House School that she really came into her own,” she told BBC. “[Mr. Scates is] like her safety blanket ― he’s amazing.”

Killard House principal Colin Millar told ITV that Kaylee was very shy when she started at the school. She “wouldn’t really read out in class,” he said. So “to stand and perform in front of an audience is amazing … It takes a lot of effort on Kaylee’s part.”

Go and find beauty in the world today.

Peace.

A Season of Hope. Winter Solstice

The winter solstice has been celebrated in cultures the world over for thousands of years. As the shortest day/longest night of the year, this start of the solar year is a celebration of light and the rebirth of the Sun. We have all completed one more official journey around the Sun.

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As the Winter Solstice has arrived, it is a time to consider yin and yang, darkness and light – and the exquisite balance that exists between all things. After weeks of shortening days, we have been affected in a number of ways by the scarcity of light and the growing darkness. Though we may have experienced sadness or slowness as a result of this winter season, we must also remember that the darkness is necessary in order to experience light.

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Many of us gather with our friends, family and loved ones, and no matter what tradition we observe for this holiday season, we begin to create our own light – the light of the love we feel for those we care the most about. It’s also a time for remembering those we love that are not with us- those who are separated from us by miles or death or simply the loss of relationship.

Many of the customs, lore, symbols, and rituals associated with the Solstice have survived into the 21st century so let’s see how we can join in this ancient celebration to bring love, light, joy and meaning to this season.

ENLIVEN YOUR SURROUNDINGS with the color red. The color of the sun is energizing, and symbolic of love, courage, warmth, fire. Wear red sweaters, scarves and hats, light red candles, bring in red flowering plants (the red poinsettia is a great one). The color red has a powerful effect in the darkest days of the year to lighten your mood and create a festive, heartening atmosphere.

ADORN YOUR HOME with sacred herbs and colors. Decorate your home in holiday colors red, green, and white. Place holly, ivy, evergreen boughs, and pine cones around your home, especially in areas where socializing takes place. Hang a sprig of mistletoe above a major threshold, an evergreen wreath on the front door to symbolize the continuity of life and the wheel of the year. Bring in a Christmas tree with colored lights.

CONVEY LOVE to family, friends, and associates. At the heart of the Solstice was the custom of family and friends feasting together and exchanging presents. Continue this custom by visiting, entertaining, giving gifts, and sending greetings by mail and/or phone. Play games, enjoy children, roast chestnuts over an open fire (what fun). Consider those who are and/or have been important in your life and share appreciation.

HONOR THE NEW SOLAR YEAR WITH LIGHT. If you have an indoor fireplace or an outdoor fire circle, burn an oak log as a Yule log. Decorate the inside and/or outside of your home with electric colored lights.

PARTY HEARTY on New Years’s Eve, not just to welcome the calendar year but also to welcome the new solar year. Celebrate and remember how much the sun means to our planet earth, bringing heat, and light.

CONTRIBUTE TO THE MANIFESTATION OF MORE WELLNESS ON OUR PLANET Donate food and clothing to the poor in your area. Volunteer time at a social service agency. Put up bird feeders and keep them filled throughout the winter to supplement the diets of wild birds. Donate funds and items to non-profit groups, such as churches and environmental organizations. Meditate for world peace. Work magic for a healthier planet. Make a pledge to do some form of good works in the new solar year.

CELEBRATE As you think about setting goals for next year, take some time to write down and celebrate everything you have accomplished this year. Keep your focus on your successes. Be careful of negative self-critical thoughts coming in when you remember the goals you did not achieve. Put those on your list for next year.

CELEBRATING keeps our focus on the positive and attracts more for us to celebrate. Take this energy of celebration with you into the new year and keep it with you throughout the whole year.

However big or small the occasion, look for excuses to be in a state of celebration. You can celebrate failures too. They open doorways for something new to come in. Your positive attitude will make sure you attract more positivity and goodness.

A Season of Hope. Unexpected Gifts

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This time of year is a weird time of year for me. I miss my friends from when I was growing up. I miss my current friends who I simply do not get enough time to spend with. I miss my family in NY and I miss my own kids who are busy with their own lives.

It can at times seem hopeless. But when I stop and look around- there are many reasons to have HOPE.
On tonyretrosi.com I have been writing that this is a SEASON of HOPE. It started off as a challenge to myself a few years ago. Could I come up with something hopeful to write every day for the month of December?
Since then, I have written and re-written these posting them. Editing them, reposting them.

Every now and then you get an unexpected gift. It could be a coffee, a note, or even just someone forwarding something to you that brings a smile to your face.

The other day I got a FB message from a friend out west. A young women who I met at a clinic I was doing. She had seen some of my “Season of Hope” postings and wanted to pass something on.

It made my day and I truly appreciate it. I look forward rtf seeing her again and I wish her well.

Thank You H.

I hope you have a great holiday.

Peace

 

What she sent me:

Look these guys up. A lot better than Greta and actually making a difference.The ocean cleanup is a super cool program! And has already been in effect for a few years and already making an incredible difference! It’s really cool I wanted to share some good news! Happy holidays!!

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A Season of Hope. TSO Old City Bar

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“Old City Bar”

In an old city bar
That is never too far
From the places that gather
The dreams that have been

In the safety of night
With its old neon light
It beckons to strangers
And they always come in

And the snow it was falling
The neon was calling
The music was low
And the night
Christmas Eve

And here was the danger
That even with strangers
Inside of this night
It’s easier to believe

Then the door opened wide
And a child came inside
That no one in the bar
Had seen there before

And he asked did we know
That outside in the snow
That someone was lost
Standing outside our door

Then the bartender gazed
Through the smoke and the haze
Through the window and ice
To a corner streetlight

Where standing alone
By a broken pay phone
Was a girl the child said
Could no longer get home

And the snow it was falling
The neon was calling
The bartender turned
And said, not that I care
But how would you know this?
The child said I’ve noticed
If one could be home
They’d be all ready there

Then the bartender came out from behind the bar
And in all of his life he was never that far
And he did something else that he thought no one saw
When he took all the cash from the register draw

Then he followed the child to the girl cross the street
And we watched from the bar as they started to speak
Then he called for a cab and he said J.F.K.
Put the girl in the cab and the cab drove away
And we saw in his hand
That the cash was all gone
From the light that she had wished upon

If you want to arrange it
This world you can change it
If we could somehow make this
Christmas thing last

By helping a neighbor
Or even a stranger
And to know who needs help
You need only just ask

Then he looked for the child
But the child wasn’t there
Just the wind and the snow
Waltzing dreams through the air

So he walked back inside
Somehow different I think
For the rest of the night
No one paid for a drink

And the cynics will say
That some neighborhood kid
Wandered in on some bums
In the world where they hid

But they weren’t there
So they couldn’t see
By an old neon star
On that night, Christmas Eve

When the snow it was falling
The neon was calling
And in case you should wonder
In case you should care

Why we’re on our own
Never went home
On that night of all nights
We were already there

THEN ALL AT ONCE INSIDE THAT NIGHT
HE SAW IT ALL SO CLEAR
THE ANSWER THAT HE SOUGHT SO LONG
HAD ALWAYS BEEN SO NEAR

IT’S EVERY GIFT THAT SOMEONE GIVES
EXPECTING NOTHING BACK
IT’S EVERY KINDNESS THAT WE DO
EACH SIMPLE LITTLE ACT

The point is – it is never too late to make a difference. Not just on Christmas Eve, any day. WHY NOT TODAY?

Peace

 

 

Season of Hope. The Psychology of HOPE

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Talent, skill, ability—whatever you want to call it—will not get you there. Sure, it helps. But a wealth of psychological research over the past few decades show loud and clear that it’s the psychological vehicles that really get you there. You can have the best engine in the world, but if you can’t be bothered to drive it, you won’t get anywhere.

Many have proposed lots of different vehicles over the years. Grit, Conscientiousness, self-efficacy, optimism, passion, inspiration, etc. They are all important. One vehicle, however, is particularly undervalued and underappreciated in psychology and society.

That’s hope.

Hope often gets a bad rap. For some, it conjures up images of a blissfully naïve chump pushing up against a wall with a big smile. or Don Quixote tilting against windmills. That’s a shame. Cutting-edge science shows that hope, at least as defined by psychologists, matters a lot.

Hope is not a brand new concept in psychology. In 1991, the eminent positive psychologist Charles R. Snyder and his colleagues came up with Hope Theory. According to their theory, hope consists of agency and pathways.  The person who has hope has the will and determination that goals will be achieved, and a set of different strategies at their disposal to reach their goals. Put simply: hope involves the will to get there, and different ways to get there.

Why is hope important? Well, life is difficult. There are many obstacles. Having goals is not enough. One has to believe that they can accomplish their goals, amidst all the inevitable twists and turns of life. Hope allows people to approach problems with a mindset and strategy-set suitable to success, thereby increasing the chances they will actually accomplish their goals.
Those lacking hope, tend to adopt mastery goals. People with mastery goals choose easy tasks that don’t offer a challenge or opportunity for growth. When they fail, they quit. People with mastery goals act helpless, and feel a lack of control over their environment. They don’t believe in their capacity to obtain the kind of future they want. They have no hope.

It seems that performance can be enhanced in the short term by reminding people that they have the motivation and the means to pursue a goal. This “situational hope” could potentially be useful in the future as a means of short-term intervention to enhance performance. By reminding people before tests or situations in which performance and achievement are required that they have the will and the ways to do well, possible potential can be better utilized.

Athletes had higher levels of hope than non-athletes. I have seen that among my gymnasts, the state of having hope predicted outcomes beyond training, self-esteem, confidence, and mood.

I like to think that current ability is the best predictor of future success. Important psychological studies show that ability is important, but it’s the vehicles that actually get people where they want to go. Oftentimes, the vehicles even help you build up that ability you never thought you had. And hope—with its will and ways—is one of the most important vehicles of them all.

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Season of Hope. Remember that if you are reading this- you’ve got it pretty good.

We can call get so engrossed with our own lives and problems that we forget that others may need a helping hand. Not just this year, not just this time of year but every day, every year.

For the most part our biggest issues are overeating during the holiday season. Finding time to workout, making time to cook and buy presents.

We can help others. We can extend a helping hand. Take a minute to help someone. We will always be one world and we must be a world full of hope. That is what I want my legacy to be.

In 1984 I was in my first year of college.  Bob Geldof and Midge Ure formed the supergroup Band Aid  to raise money for anti-famine efforts in Ethiopia by releasing the song “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”  On 25 November 1984, the song was recorded at Sarm West Studios in Notting Hill, London, and was released in the UK four days later.[4][5] The single surpassed the hopes of the producers to become the Christmas number one on that release.

Looking back it seemed like an obvious hit but at the time, it was a risk and a chance taken to help others.

The group reunited with current stars in 2014 to bring help to the Ebola Crisis in West Africa.

 

You don’t need to be a superstar to help those around you. You can get involved with groups within your community.

Habitat for Humanity, No Kid Hungry ,  The Salvation Army and one I just learned about in my town, The Community Toolbox 

GIVING, like politics starts local. You do not need to think big to have a big impact.  One of my employees travels with bags of sandwiches that she gives out to people asking for money at the side of the road. She has passed this lesson on to her daughters.

I fully believe that no man stands so tall as when he stoops down to help another.

 

Season of Hope. New Friends

WHAT A PERFECT TIME OF YEAR TO MAKE NEW FRIENDS!

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One of the most important and yet least understood areas of psychology concerns the role of friends in our lives. It is often awkward when you are at your spouse, partner or GF/BF holiday party. They know everyone, they are in on all the jokes. Find another awkward looking person at the party at strike up a conversation. You already have something in common, you would rather be somewhere else.

As I was finishing up school in NY I was invited to a Christmas party at a friends house. He gave me his address and I headed over there. I pulled onto the street saw cars were lined up down the street. I parked my car and followed a couple up the street into to the house. I walked in was welcomed, my jacket taken, a drink put in my hand and directed to the food. I made small talk and joined in some humorous talk. Looking around the party I realized I didn’t know anyone. I searched for friends and a wave of dread came over me when I realized, I AM AT THE WRONG HOUSE!

The host came in and asked if I needed anything,

Me, “No thank you, what a great party!”

Host, “You are at the wrong place aren’t you?”

Me, “ummm, yeah- but this party seems pretty great!”

Host, “I’ll get your jacket and you can sneak out the back door. I think the party you are looking for is 2 houses down.”

Me, “Thank you so much!”

I snuck out the back door (drink in hand) and went to the party that I was invited to. It was an equally fun party.

The next week I was getting a coffee and the guy in front of me looked familiar. Yep- The host of the party I crashed. We laughed, had a coffee together and had dinner and drinks a few times before I left for New Hampshire. I am NOT a tremendously outgoing individual.  At work it’s easy for me to be social because we have a shared experience. At parties, it’s much more difficult for me. I do not particularly enjoy “small talk”. I can never understand how my wife can go up and just start a conversation with someone.  (ANYONE HAVE ANY HELP FOR ME HERE?!)

I have been pretty lucky to have made some great friends recently. I look forward to dinner and drinks with them. We always laugh and each night, no matter how casual, is memorable.

I am thankful for these friendships and look forward to sharing this holiday season with them.

When it comes to happiness, your friends are the key.

I’ve tried to distill Friendfluence into what I believe are its most important lessons.

Here are 15 reasons to appreciate your friends:

Friendfluence is the powerful and often unappreciated role that friends—past and present—play in determining our sense of self and the direction of our lives. Whether you realize it or not, your friends have shaped who you are today. You are even the product of the friends who are no longer your friends.

Friends can give you vital life skills.  There are many perks of friendship include sharpening your mind, making you generally happier, knowing yourself better, becoming inspired to reach your goals, advancing your career, helping you meet romantic partners, and living a longer and healthier life.

Childhood friendships start your learning process. Early friendships play a vital role because they occur while key developmental changes are taking place. They help teach us some of those important life skills but also shape our life “narrative.”

Teen friendships shape your later romantic bonds. Though parents spend much of their time worrying about who their teenage kids are with, these relationships are a training ground for the later long-term bonds that will evolve through adulthood.

Friends can help you define your priorities. People tend to pick friends who are similar to them. This fact falls under the general proximity rule of close relationships, in that like tends to attract like. Because we fall prey so easily into this similarity trap, it is important to try to stretch yourself to learn from some of those opposites.

Having friends can help you get more friends. People tend to like others who have a reputation for being nice and helpful, and they like people who like them. If you want to be the type of person who attracts new friends, these qualities will help get you on your way toward building your social group. Once you have more friends, you’ll be able to enjoy some of those perks of friendship.

Close friends support you through thick and thin. To take the most advantage of friendfluence, put effort into your closest friendships. Although being friendly can get you more friends, you don’t need hundreds to help you through life. You may have to prune your friendship tree as you get older to be sure that you give enough attention to the ones who will really matter for your well-being.

You’re less lonely when you have friends.  Loneliness is painful, especially when you are living with loneliness for a prolonged period of time. This is yet another reason to put time, energy, and attention into finding and cultivating a close circle of friends.

Your online friends can steer your thoughts and behaviors. Although online friends are qualitatively different than your in-person friends, they shape you nevertheless. They can also be your source of life support.  Of course, your online friends can also make you miserable too, especially if you get caught in the “friendship paradox” (the fact that most people on Facebook have fewer friends than the average number). If you can avoid having Facebook envy dominate your life, you’ll have more rewarding connections with your extended friendship community.

Friends matter to you, regardless of gender. Although much is made of the difference between male friends, female friends, and male-female friend pairs, all share the qualities of having the potential to influence your life. If you restrict yourself to one certain type of friendship, you may be missing out on bonds that transcend gender boundaries.

Couple friendships can help your own relationship. People experiencing similar life events can often provide the most valuable support to each other. Unfortunately, some couples withdraw from their friendships when their relationship turns serious. You can benefit both from maintaining your separate friendships, but also from sharing with the couples who are experiencing transitions such as becoming parents, raising teenagers, and helping older family members.

Friends can also help you alleviate your work-related stress. Even though you may be stretched to the limit time-wise, the investment you make in these friendships will be worth the psychological benefits.

Friends can give you a reality check. Who but your closest friends will tell you that your new purchase is ridiculous? What person you meet on the street will let you know that your latest romantic interest is going to bring you heartbreak? Because friends know us so well, they are able to see things that we can’t, and aren’t afraid to share their dose of reality with you.

Banding together with friends can help you effect social change. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to fight for a cause, raise money for charity, or even just make a few small improvements in your community on your own. Friends are the first step to building successful social movements. Facebook provides one way to enlist the support of thousands of people. At a less grandiose level, people are more likely to engage in helping and altruistic behavior at the urging of their close friends.

Being a friend helps your friends. Friendfluence works in two directions. Not only do you benefit from its many perks, but by being a good friend you are helping those closest to you.  If you are aware of how you’re affecting your friends, you’ll work harder to stay close to them which, in turn, will benefit you as well. Being a good friend also includes asking them for help when you need it.

Giving someone the gift of being influential can be one of the greatest joys you pass on to your friends.

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Go make a new friend today. At least try.

Season of Hope. Reconnecting

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Whether it’s a yearly holiday letter, greeting card, or email, the holidays remind us of our long-time relationships. Some people are very fortunate to remain geographically and emotionally close to their “oldest” (or longest) friends. Like many my ADULT life (I am still in denial about being an adult) has me pretty far away from the people I grew up with. In our very mobile society the odds are that you no longer live in easy traveling distance from the people you were closest to in childhood, adolescence, or even college.

An old friend never can be found, and nature has provided that he cannot easily be lost.

Samuel Johnson

There is something great about reconnecting with old friends. It helps to remind you of where you were. Even though you can’t go back in time and relive those days, it is nice to ground yourself once in a while. Good for the soul.

Wishing you can go back will be pretty hollow, but looking at that notch in time is a good way to evaluate your place in time- in the “now”. There will always be certain memories you wish to forget. Awkward times, painful experiences and there are also things you wish you could put in a highlight reel, those things you were proud of – the accomplishments of goals and desires you have had over the years.

Then there are those very special memories with those genuine friends and family that if you could “bottle” the feelings of comfort and joy, you would open that bottle frequently and drink that in.

I look forward to seeing  cards and letters from old friends or even their Facebook posts this time of year.  It helps me drink in those memories of the time we have spent together. Last night I was out at the Breckenridge Distillery for drinks and dinner with my family and saw a photo on the wall that I had to send to my friend Jeff. Yes, we played D&D.

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Many people who knew YOU also want to know how you are doing. Send them an e-mail! A lot of people feel it’s awkward and a little nerve racking to try to get back in touch with a friend they haven’t spoken to in a while. What often happens is someone will want to drop an old buddy a line, but then they’ll think, “It will be so weird sending them an email out of nowhere. How will they react to it? Will they wonder why I’m writing them now?”

This time of year there is nothing abnormal or weird about reaching out to an old friend. You just have to put your self out there and go!

My personal story, I grew up in upstate New York. Spent most of my life in Rome, NY then High School in Cortland. Although I was only in Cortland 4 years. They were important years. Difficult as it was trying to “fit in” with others who had been together since preschool. I did manage to make some connections and feel very lucky that I am still in touch with some of them.

My first 2 years of college had me at a 2 year school in Utica. There I made a few connections and I wish I had stayed in touch with some of these people. As odd as it is the person I am closest to from that time is also the person who lives furthest away in Iceland.

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Finishing up my college career at UNH I find myself still living in the area and therefore occasionally running into people I went to school and grad school with.

Through out all of this there was my “Gymnastics Family”. Guys I did gymnastics with. Girls I coached, and those I coached with. Recently we lost a member of my gymnastics family. Dave- we miss you every day.  

I could make a list of the people who I have lost contact with that I wish I could see or hear from more often. But it would be better to say-

I miss you all. If I have lost touch, please send me an e-mail!

A Season of Hope. Chaos Theory

A season of hope.

As the days get shorter and we are facing  long dark and cold nights. The solstice is just weeks away and the days will become longer. This time of year even the smallest gesture can change the world.

In chaos theory, the butterfly effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions in which a small change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state. The name, coined by Edward Lorenz for the effect which had been known long before, is derived from the metaphorical example of the details of a hurricane (exact time of formation, exact path taken) being influenced by minor perturbations such as the flapping of the wings of a distant butterfly several weeks earlier.

The idea, that small causes may have large effects in general and in weather specifically, was used from Henri Poincaré to Norbert Wiener.

 

In The Vocation of Man (1800), Fichte says that “you could not remove a single grain of sand from its place without thereby … changing something throughout all parts of the immeasurable whole”.

 

Yes, one small act you do today can change the world tomorrow. In the 2000 movie Pay It Forward A young boy attempts to make the world a better place after his teacher gives him that chance.  It makes me upset that because of Kevin Spacey being basically a terrible human being that this movie will not be shown again. Who knows, maybe the powers that be will reshoot it with a different cast. The assignment: think of something to change the world and put it into action. Trevor conjures the notion of paying a favor not back, but forward–repaying good deeds not with payback, but with new good deeds done to three new people.

 

 

The other day I was speaking to a UPS driver at a coffee shop. It was a VERY snowing day in New Hampshire. I just asked how he was doing.  He said going was slow but not too bad. He then related a story of how at one of his stops he trudged upon the sidewalk to see a basket of snacks for him and other people making deliveries.  That small gesture changed his day.  

YOU CAN CHANGE SOMEONES DAY! Today, Tomorrow, whenever, Slow down! Hold a door open for someone. Buy someone a coffee. Heck, buy EVERYONE a coffee!F9389564-C2D2-4BB7-ABAA-6D6917305430

There are so many opportunities to make the world better. Do it.

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