Thursday, August 29, 2013

Fat Guy in a Little Coat

Robyn and I had the opportunity to go to Bear Lake with some friends this past weekend.  It was loads of fun, and I'll tell you more about it in just a moment.  But first, the tale of the fat guy in a little coat.

While we were at Bear Lake, Robyn and I were reminiscing about a trip we took to Bear Lake with my family in 2009.  We had spent the entire day in the lake, and that evening the whole family went out for pizza.

There was something funky going on with my body.  Apparently the lake had lowered my body temperature, and then the air conditioning in the restaurant formed the perfect storm that caused me to be cold.  I need to repeat that just in case you didn't fully comprehend.  I was cold.  That's not an occurrence that happens very frequently, or ever.  I'm the guy who wears flip flops in sub-zero weather.

Of course, I wasn't prepared for the possibility of getting cold.  It was August.  It was hot outside.  Luckily, I married someone who gets cold no matter how hot it is.  (One of my favorite quotes from Robyn is, "It's getting cold outside, yesterday it was in the eighties.")  Robyn was kind enough to loan me her jacket.  Much hilarity ensued, as I became the fat guy in a little coat.  But at least I stopped shivering.

I was the most precious fat guy in a little coat there ever was.
You may be wondering why I told you that ancient story.  Well, like I said earlier, Robyn and I were reminiscing about the time I had to borrow her coat.  Then, I actually looked at the picture.

It turns out I was a big dude back then.  I had like 14 chins or something.

Every time I look at a picture like that I am somewhat blown away.  I guess since I see myself every day, the changes aren't noticeable from day to day.  I look at myself and see how much further I have to go.  Perhaps I forget how far I've already come.

Here are Robyn and I from this past weekend.
I know Robyn is the cuter one in the pic.  But I have a surprisingly low number of chins.  I'm sure that doesn't excite the rest of you like it does me.  Sometimes I just have to stop and look at how far I've come.  Because I still have just as far to go.

Besides the realization that there is much less of me in the world, it was also a great weekend overall.

I know this post has multiple personality disorder, but I'm now going to transition from telling you I'm excited that I have less chins to telling you about our trip to Bear Lake.

We got there Friday night.  Utah has had some crazy weather lately with plenty of rain and storms.  Laketown was no exception and we lost all power that night.  Luckily, Robyn had brought some glow in the dark bracelets.  A dark house is perfect for just such a toy.  How awesome is that?

Yes.  Toys meant for 8 year olds are perfect for us.
The next morning I got up early to do my exercise.  There were no moose like last week, but I did see such wildlife as falcons, deer, and cows.  (The falcons and deer were wild.  The cows not so much, so perhaps they weren't wildlife, but just life.)  I also climbed halfway up a mountain.  I would have gone to the top but I was worried I wouldn't be back in time for breakfast.  (It's the most important meal of the day.)

I did get high enough for this view.

The water in the foreground is a little fishing pond.  Bear Lake is way in the distance.
After Breakfast we all spent the entire day at the lake.

I got to spend time with fabulous people.

A trip to Bear Lake is not complete until you hug a buoy.

It was a great weekend.  I think the relaxation was just perfect for Robyn after her first week back to teaching this year.

I feel relaxed just looking at this picture.  It's even better being there.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Is that Elvish on Your Wedding Ring?

There's a question I've been getting a lot lately.  People see the ring on my finger, and they want to know if The One Ring is really my wedding ring.

It's black.  That's how you know it's not really Sauron's ring.
The question has come in a number of different ways.
"Is that your wedding ring?"
"Is that elvish on your ring?"
"Is that the ring of power?"

But my favorite came from my sister.  She just pointed at my finger and said, "That's not your wedding ring!"

She's right, it's not my wedding ring.  But I have stopped wearing my wedding ring.

Don't worry, I haven't left my wife for some floozy from Mordor.  I'm still very much in love with my wife.  You should also know that my wife gave me the Ring of Power, and there are zero Mordorian females in this story.

The story actually starts before our wedding.  I had never worn a ring before.  When we picked out my wedding ring I chose the size that seemed the most comfortable.  Unbeknownst to me, I selected one that was just a little large.  It was fine most of the time, but when the ring got cold, it would abandon me.  Like the time it lept off my finger and rode on the outside of the car for 50 miles.

Last year, when we were going to Hawaii, I was terrified of losing my ring in the ocean.  Robyn and I decided to buy some cheaper rings for our vacation.  I bought something that was smaller so that it could stay on even in the water, but it also wouldn't be the end of the world if it fell off.  Naturally, I wanted the ring of power, but Robyn went with the Lord of the Rings theme as well.
Robyn went with Galadriel's ring

Here is me drinking from a coconut with the ring of power on.
So now let's fast forward to the present.  I have lost just over 50 pounds.  My ring that used to be slightly large but only fell off when my hands were covered in snow became ginormous and wouldn't stay on under any circumstances.

I realized my ring was just not going to work on our recent vacation.  I was walking down the street in Seattle when it made a run for it.  I was literally chasing my ring down the street in downtown Seattle.

After that, I became terrified that it would disappear any moment.
My sister-in-law shot this pic of me defending my ring as we got on the cruise ship.

When we got on the cruise ship to Alaska, my ring went into the safe and stayed there for the whole trip.  When we got home I dug up the ring of power from the year before and it became permanently fixed on my finger.

I figure when I'm done losing weight I'll get my actual wedding ring resized, but until that time I am wearing a ring forged in the very heart of Mordor.

So, now you know.  Yes, I am wearing a ring of power.  Yes, it says in Sauron's tongue that it is designed to bring all other rings and in the bind them in darkness.

And yes, I am nerdy enough to wear a ring that nearly destroyed everything good in Middle Earth as a symbol of my love for my wife.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Happy Birthday President Monson!

President Thomas S. Monson, Prophet and President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints turned 86 on Wednesday.  I know I'm a little late to the party.  I hope he won't mind that I wrote this a couple days late.
He's been a good looking guy for all 86 years.
You probably think I'm going to write something about the wisdom he has shared over the years.  That would be a good thing to do.  He has taught many great things.  Unfortunately, I'm too geeky for that.  Maybe next year.

It turns out I was thinking about his age and I just got to thinking about how much the church has grown in his lifetime.  I was curious, and you all know how much I like numbers.  I thought I'd look some up.  And since I was already compiling some numbers, I thought I'd share them with all of you.  Personally, I think these numbers are fascinating, but if you don't, you are welcome to skip this post and come back at a later time.  (Just promise to come back, okay?)

President Monson was born August 21, 1927.  There weren't any statistics published on that day, but there were some a month and a half later at General Conference.  So, don't be offended that these numbers don't reflect 100% of the church growth in his lifetime.  Any new growth between August 21, 1927 and October 7, 1927 totally won't be reflected here.  My apologies.

My main sources for this data were the statistical information given at the October 1927 General Conference, the statistical information given at the April 2013 General Conference and Wikipedia (naturally).

1927: 6
2013: 141
My wife and I at the Manti Temple, one of the 6 temples that would have been standing in 1927.
At the time of the October 1927 General Conference, there were 6 temples in operation: 4 in Utah, 1 in Hawaii and 1 in Alberta, Canada.  There was one set to be dedicated later that month in Mesa, Arizona for a total of 7.  It's funny to read the talks given at that conference.  I noticed several references to the "Canada temple."  Canada is a big place that currently has 8 temples with a 9th under construction, so it's funny to see them reference the singular Canada temple.

1927:  644,745
2013:  14,782,473

Little baby Tommy Monson could count himself among the first million to join the church.  At 644 thousand, the church had already come a long way from the original 6 members when it was formally organized on April 6, 1830.  In President Monson's lifetime, another 14 million made the decision to join as well.

Wards and branches
1927: 1,005
2013: 29,014
A ward building in Hawaii that my Grandpa helped build.
Wards and branches are congregations within our faith.  Wards usually have their own church building to meet in and are generally a few hundred people.  Branches are smaller congregations located in more remote areas.  They may or may not have their own building to meet in.  In 1927, there were 930 wards and 75 branches, but the current statistical data lumps them together, so I lumped both numbers together as well.  Interestingly, they actually announced at the October 1927 General Conference what new wards had been formed since the previous conference.  That would make for a long meeting today.

1927: 27
2013: 347
Me with my grandparents, when I was a missionary and they were too.
When members of the LDS Church choose to serve a proselyting mission, they are assigned to a geographical area (also called a mission).  This area is presided over by a Mission President who will give individual missionaries assignments to serve in a particular city.  Today there are 81,951 missionaries serving in 347 missions.  I couldn't find any data on how many individuals there were serving in 1927, but if we assume the same number of missionaries per mission, there would have been 6,372 missionaries in the 27 world wide missions.

It's amazing to think that in 86 years the church membership has grown by 2200%.  It's almost like it's some sort of stone cut out of a mountain without hands filling the whole earth.

I'm sure President Monson is thrilled to realize how many people have come to Christ in his lifetime.  I can't imagine a better birthday present than that.  Happy Birthday President Monson!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Twenty Nine States

I had the opportunity this past week to go to Durham, North Carolina. I was travelling for business and I went out there to meet with a client for a new project. I'd tell you all about the project I went out there for, but the truth is that you don't care. I'll just say that it fits in with my life mission to increase efficiency in the world.

The important thing about my visit to North Carolina is that it is a state I have never before visited.  That makes 29 states which have had the pleasure of having me set foot within their borders.

For your convenience, I have included this handy dandy map of every state I have visited.  Green means go, as in I have gone there.  White means meanie pants, as in, the people in those states never invite me over to hang out which is totally mean.
Is your state white?  Invite me over to fix the problem.
Most of my time in NC was spent working.  However, I did have a little bit of time to explore the area.  Here are a few of my experiences and observations.

Billions of trees
The first thing I noticed when I arrived in North Carolina was that there were so many trees.  I was in a big city, but it felt very rural, because everywhere I drove all I could see was trees.  I took a short walk from the office building where I was working.  I only walked a few hundred yards and I was in the middle of a forest.

I told my boss that we need to get a trail going through a forest at our office in Utah.
Driving through the city I was constantly amazed, but it wasn't until I got on the plane to go home that I really understood how many trees there were.
You wouldn't think there was a city in there, but there are 700,000 people hiding in those trees.
The Silent Sam controversy
I was told that Silent Sam is a landmark I need to go see.  It turns out, Silent Sam is very controversial.  Since he honors the UNC graduates who fought in the Civil War, some feel that he is glorifying the Confederacy, and by extension, slavery.
Silent Sam

To the sons of the University who entered the war of 1861-65 in answer to the call of their country and whose lives taught the lesson of their great commander that duty is the sublimest word in the English language.
To me, that plaque doesn't seem offensive.  It doesn't even mention the Confederacy or slavery.  However, I'm not taking sides in the controversy.  I'm just a cute little tourist.

A real southern meal
We went out to eat with some locals.  I was assured that if I wanted a truly Southern experience, I should order the shrimp and grits.

I've never had grits before, so I don't know what it's normally like.  If I'm being honest, the grits were kind of flavorless.  However, the gravy that was over them was absolutely delicious.  Of course, the shrimp was fabulous because it happens to be shrimp which is always fabulous.

Chapel Hill?
There is a "hill" in Chapel Hill, NC that has a bunch of chapels on it.  I assume that is where it gets its name.  However, if that "hill" were in Utah, it would be called, "flat area with some chapels on it."  I know that's not quite as cool of a name as Chapel Hill, but it would be more accurate.  To test how much of a hill it was, we put the car in neutral and let it coast.  There was a slight downward slope, however the car maxed out at 20 mph on the steepest part.  I'll let you decide if that qualifies as a hill.

Skinny on the plane
Okay, this really has nothing to do with North Carolina.  However, this was my first time on a plane since I began my weight loss journey.  For years, every time I've ridden a plane I've had to ask for a seat belt extender.  This time, not only did I not need one, but I had lots of extra room with the regular seat belt.

I sent the above picture to my wife when I got on the plane.  I was very excited.

Marriage tip:  Even if your wife is excited about your weight loss, a picture like this will not excite her at 5:45 AM. Her response when I sent this picture was short and to the point:  "Good.  I'm asleep."


Saturday, August 17, 2013

A Morning Stroll With a Moose

This weekend Robyn's parents rented a cabin in Park City and invited us to come spend the weekend with them.  We've had a lot of fun so far.  I just want to share a small experience with you from this morning.

I woke up this morning about 6:30.  I tried with all my might to go back to sleep.  Unfortunately, might doesn't really do much toward sleeping, so I utterly failed.  Since I was awake and no one else was, I thought it would be fun to go take a walk.

I found a little walking trail that wound around and lead me to the street leading up to Olympic Park.  I didn't really have any destination in mind, but I started to climb the hill toward the fancy ski jump ramp.

I was getting pretty close to the Park but I was also getting tired and debating when I should turn around and go participate in important activities like breakfast.

As I pondered many thoughts of breakfast in my heart, I saw off in the distance what I thought was a cow.  All I could see was the animal's backside sticking out from behind a tree.

I decided to walk closer to get a better look.  As I got closer, I noticed a smaller animal with big pointy ears near the alleged cow.  The smaller animal was about the size of a donkey, and the big pointy ears convinced me it was definitely a donkey.

As I got closer, my phone decided to announce my presence.  I had Runkeeper going, and it always tells me how far I've walked every ten minutes.  When run keeper made its announcement the larger animal stood up to its full height and turned to look at me.  It was definitely not a cow.  It was a mommy moose.  The "donkey" was a baby moose.  They both looked me straight in the eye.

I was in awe.  I have always wanted to see a moose in the wild.  I travelled all the way to Alaska, and really hoped to see a moose, but never did.  It turns out I just needed to be within an hour of my own house to see this guy.

Of course, I was aware that if the mommy decided to charge me, I could be badly injured.  Yet, I couldn't walk away.  I just stood and looked her in the eye while she stared right back at me.  The baby quickly lost interest in me and continued eating.  I was close enough that I could hear the sound of the baby pulling up weeds and chewing them.

Eventually, mom decided that she didn't like me this close to baby.  She decided to lead him away.  But, rather than take him into the woods, the two of them crossed the road in front of me.  Naturally, I took a video.

I was a little nervous as they were crossing the road. It actually felt like they were even closer than before. You can see in the video, that the mommy turns to look at me for a second, but she decided I wasn't a threat (luckily).
Aren't they just the cutest little family?

Of course, if you follow me on instagram you've already seen this picture.
After they walked off on the other side, I began to make my way back to the cabin.  Seeing a moose family seemed as good a final destination as any, and it was clearly breakfast time.

The only question I have is, "Who was the athlete?  Me or the moose?"

I called my wife and told her how cool it was, and that I get to cross "See a moose in the wild" off my bucket list.  Her first question was whether I got too close.  I told her I probably did, but I was still alive.  Besides, you only live once.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Life on an Alaskan Cruise Ship

I know you thought I was done posting about our Alaskan Cruise.

Well, you were wrong.

Remember how cute we were on the cruise?

I realized that I had posted about all of the places we visited on the cruise, but I hadn't posted about the cruise itself.  We had 3 full days at sea, and I'm not gonna lie.  As much as I loved exploring Alaska, enjoying nature and experiencing new places,  I also really loved the complete relaxation on the ship.

The first thing we did when we got on board was to explore the ship.  It was a big ship with all sorts of things to do, there were 2 pools, half a dozen hot tubs, shops, a library, a casino (complete with a husband and wife bickering about how much money the husband wasted on gambling), and of course lots of places to eat.

There was all that plus a plasma globe.
One of the first places we wanted to explore was the Broadway Theater.  We walked in and it was completely empty.  So, naturally, my sister and I did an impromptu performance.
This is what the theater looks like from the stage.

This is what our sweet dance moves looked like from the audience.

Another great discovery was the ice cream machine.  The first night it was in high demand, there were billions of people lined up.  But once we got into Alaskan waters, I didn't have to share it with anyone.  It was 50 degrees outside with lots of wind, and I was sitting there in my shorts and flip flops enjoying ice cream.  I got a lot of funny looks but it was truly joyful.

Another thing I really enjoyed was the relaxation room.  It was a room at the back of the ship where they played soft music and you could just sit and look where the ship had been.  Robyn and I kicked up our feet and did lots of reading in that room.
Just my feet and the ocean.  Don't you feel like you're there?

Of course, I couldn't talk about a cruise without mentioning the awesome food.  Every meal was amazing, but I had to include at least one picture.
Is there anything greater than cheesecake?

There were always good views while eating.  This happens to be the view of Juneau

DJ was our server, and he was the best.
On formal nights I was required to wear my suit coat.  My goal was to convince Robyn she needed it because she was cold.  Plus, it looked cute on her.
Of course, another important part of a cruise is the towel animals.  Every time you leave the room they somehow sense it and they go in and clean it.  I'll be honest, I felt the excessive cleaning was unnecessary.  But, despite that, the animals that appeared in our room each time were very fun.

Which one is your favorite?
All in all, the cruise was super amazing.  But I think my favorite part was that we could go up on deck at any time and check out the ever changing view.

And it certainly didn't hurt that I had a cute wife to share it with.
The moral of the story is that you need to go on a cruise.  It's relaxing, delicious, and amazing.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

My Tonsil Free Wife

Three weeks ago, Robyn had surgery.

She has had way too much strep throat in her life.  In addition, her tonsils have continually been infected and caused allergy like symptoms even though she's not allergic to anything.  She's been suffering through that for a long time and finally decided to break up with her tonsils.

We had just gotten back from our sweet Alaskan cruise.  I had a lot to catch up on at work, so I asked my mom to take her to the hospital for her surgery so that I could work.  I told her it was very important to document the process, she happily obliged.

They let Robyn wear a very cute hat.
If you're wondering what it's like to have surgery, here is a first person view.

Once she got home, it was my job to take care of her.  To be honest, it wasn't all that difficult.  I mostly functioned as a waiter.
She purchased all the necessary supplies beforehand.
My most important job was to keep her water cold.  Her throat would really hurt when it got dry so it was very important for her to drink lots of water.  The colder the water, the less it hurt.  I just made sure that her cup was always filled to the brim with ice.  That was my most important job, but it wasn't my only job.  I also took her order no matter what it was.  Normal waiters don't have to drive all the way to Red Mango, but I did.

Waiters usually don't get themselves a treat, but I did.
My second duty after being a waiter was to document Robyn on drugs.  I was kind of disappointed.  She didn't say very many funny things.

However, there was one amusing incident.  She told me, "We're gonna be so busy.  We have so many things happening."

I was a little confused because we didn't have any plans for at least a week, other than letting her stay home and heal.  So I asked her what we were so busy with.

"Just my mind."

Robyn has a pretty happening mind on painkillers.

She's mostly healed now. I no longer have to be her waiter.  So if you want to talk to a tonsil free woman, come on over.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Sometimes I Dominate Diabetes

I went to the Dr. this past week, to get my diabetes checkup.  I was really excited to have my A1C tested.

If you don't what what A1C is, it's the percentage of hemoglobin cells that are saturated with sugar.  It's the most important diabetes test, because it shows how well managed your blood sugar is.  5.7% is considered pre-diabetic.  7% is considered diabetic.  When I was diagnosed, mine was at 10.6%.

My goal was to be at 5.6, so that I could be a normal person.  I had my family make guesses as to what my A1C would actually be at.

As you can see, my sister, Jen and myself were the only ones who thought I would make my goal.  Also, I explained to my brother, Zack, that it is measured in tenths of a percent, so his guess was guaranteed to be wrong.  But he insisted on 5.92.

As it turns out, I didn't make my goal.  My A1C came in at 5.7.  So my sister, Mellen, wins.  I think this kind of guessing game is sort of like The Price is Right.  You want to get the closest without going over.  Because Jen can at least say that she believed in me too much.  The others went over, so they're not nearly as awesome.

I was disappointed that I didn't hit my goal.  But the Dr. thought I did fantastic.  In fact, he told me he thinks we should lower my medication.  I was way scared.  Doesn't he know that I'm managing diabetes so well partly because of my medication?  But, ultimately the goal is to get off the medication completely.  So, I agreed to lower it.  We dropped my Metformin from 2000 mg/day to 1000 mg/day.

He also said that since it's so well handled, we probably only need to get together once every 6 months.  My goal for my February appointment is an A1C of 5.6 or lower, basically stay where I'm at even though I'm on the lower dosage of medication.

Wish me luck!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Seattle, Washington

When our Alaska Cruise was complete, we returned to our origin, which was Seattle, Washington.

We had one last breakfast on the ship, and then made our way to land.  I left Robyn with the luggage and took a shuttle to where the car was parked.  We figured it would be easier for me to drive to her, so that we wouldn't have to load all of the luggage onto the shuttle.  That would probably have been true if I had any idea where I was going.

I pulled out of the parking lot and found myself on a one way street.  The one way street had signs saying that I was getting on some highway.  I didn't want to be on a highway, I wanted to drive back to the boat dock where my wife was located.  I was looking for a place where I could do a U-turn.  No such place existed, but as I was searching I wasn't exactly driving fast.  The guy behind me didn't appreciate my slow speed, he made some gestures that weren't exactly friendly.

I eventually got turned around and made my way back.  I was able to pick up my wife.  I didn't have to return to Utah in shame after losing her.

Once we got all the luggage loaded up, we drove to our hotel and just parked the car there.  We got an expensive hotel that was centrally located for everything we wanted to do.  Then we took on downtown Seattle on foot.

Our first adventure was at the Seattle Aquarium.  I took millions of pictures of various sea creatures but I'll just share a few.

They had different lights shining on the jelly fish so they changed colors.

I really liked this picture Robyn got of the Octopus.

I want to be Cthulhu when I grow up, but I'll settle for an Octopus.

They had an exhibit of Pacific fish.  It made me really happy to see all the fish I saw snorkeling in Hawaii.

I got to touch an anemone!  It was so cool, the tentacles were grabbing me and trying to eat me.
The next place we wanted to hit was the EMP museum.  It was about 1.5 miles from the Aquarium.  Our walk took us right through the Pike Place Market.  My original plan was to eat lunch somewhere inside, but when we saw the billions of people inside we decided we wanted something simpler.  We stopped at a Subway that we happened to pass near the museum.  That was sufficiently delicious (plus we had a fancy dinner planned for that night, but more on that later.)

The EMP museum was super fun.  We didn't spend tons of time with the music exhibits.  We were there for the geek stuff, (the science fiction and fantasy exhibits.)
I got to sit upon the iron throne.

Robyn had trouble with tribbles

The Dalek tried to exterminate me.

Sometimes I go at warp speed.
We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the Seattle Center.  We saw a laser show that was attuned to the Beatles.  It was pretty awesome.

Finally, it was dinner time.  That's where our fancy dinner came in.  To see where we were eating dinner we just had to look up.
We totally ate dinner at the top of the Space Needle.

Robyn is cute in space.

The view was fantastic.
The restaurant slowly rotates as you eat dinner, so throughout your time there you get the city view, the lake view and then the view of the sound.  The food was absolutely amazing as well.

Finally, after a day full of adventure we returned to our hotel room for a relaxing evening.

We stayed there for the location, but the view was pretty fantastic as well.
The next morning, we wanted to visit Robyn's grandfather in Bremerton.  We wanted to take the ferry, but we had quite an adventure getting to the ferry terminal.  Our GPS got us lost a few times, but we made it alive.  I've never driven my car onto a boat before.

Onboard the ferry, they let you get out of the car and walk around.  The ferry was an adventure in itself.
Robyn was super cute with the skyline in the background.
I had to use the bathroom, but when I walked in I was super confused because there were no urinals, but there was a giant sink.  I really wanted a picture of it, so I waited awkwardly until everyone left.

The sea gulls were flying the same speed as the ferry so it was like they were hovering.  People were throwing food in the air and they would have dog fights to see who could catch the food mid air.  It was pretty awesome.
 After I finished watching the sea gulls I noticed the jelly fish.  I was just looking over the edge when I saw a whole school of them.  They were pretty amazing.  I wanted a picture, but by the time I pulled out my phone they were gone.

Finally, we landed in Bremerton.  I didn't realize that other members of Robyn's family would be visiting her grandfather that day.  So, it was a special treat to get to spend time with lots of family.  Some of them I had met before, most of them this was my first time.  But all of them were super kind and super fun.

This isn't everyone that was there.  Some of them had already left when we thought to get a picture.
We spent the night at grandpa's house..  It was definitely special to spend time with so much family.  Grandpa even provided bacon for breakfast.  That is love.

Unfortunately, after breakfast we had to make the long drive home.

We got home about 1 in the morning.  I was so tired I wanted to cry, but I got to sleep in my own bed.   It's the best bed on the planet.
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