Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Where are you and where are you going?
Hristo Botev
Posts: 180
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2018 3:42 am

Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by Hristo Botev » Wed Feb 06, 2019 12:48 pm

What a load of horseshit.

Not trying to evangelize on your page Suo, but a Catholic perspective: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1buybmnQ0nQ

Gravy Train
Posts: 91
Joined: Mon Dec 01, 2014 10:59 am
Location: Texas

Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by Gravy Train » Wed Feb 06, 2019 3:59 pm

Even if it's not exact science it seems pretty spot on. 10+ years of a very happy relationship with the rare bump, and now with a 16 month-old and another on the way I can safely say we're both the unhappiest we've ever been in our marriage. I do all of the negative things in the "fighting style" part, minus name-calling... heh. Thanks for posting this. I've been trying to be more mindful of being so negative wrt marriage.

So far, I don't regret the kids at all, though. Honestly. The depth of emotions I've experienced with them has been unparalleled in other areas of my life, and I have a new respect for myself after surviving pregnancy, labor, and those first awful sleep-deprived months. Plus, watching DD toddle around and babble is probably the closest I've ever come to a "religious experience." We can do it, Suo, we can hang in there.

suomalainen
Posts: 733
Joined: Sat Oct 18, 2014 12:49 pm

Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by suomalainen » Wed Feb 06, 2019 7:07 pm

@hristo meh. What's horseshit about it? You think people are lying about their subjective experiences wrt marriage and kids? Or that they "shouldn't" be unhappy? Next time your wife is unhappy, reminder her that she shouldn't be, given all the blessings she has in her life, see how that goes for you.

Re: your video, he argues against "private desire" (or freedom or choice), but what is the alternative? Compliance to "higher values"? Whose? If you say "god's", then I will ask you "well, how do I find out about those?" and you will reply "listen to father whatshisname" and I will reply "but then how do I know that what he says are god's values and not his? All I can know is that his brain is causing his vocal chords to vibrate and his lips to move in a certain manner to make certain sounds resulting in words and sentences" and you will be unable to provide me a satisfactory reply. If you reply "you need to have faith", I will ask "in what" and you will say "in god" and I will ask "how do I know anything about god in order to have faith in it?" and you will reply "listen to father...."

In any event, my post wasn't an argument regarding a "should" - I don't think people should or shouldn't have kids. Having kids, if it aligns with your values, is a valid choice. Not having kids, if it aligns with your values, is also a valid choice. What else can you do but act according to some human's private values (yours or your priest's or whoever's)?

What that infographic conveys is that if you do have kids, just know that your happiness, by some measures, will probably go down for a period of time. If that's an important consideration for you in deciding whether to have kids, great, consider yourself slightly more educated; if not, great, it's easy enough to ignore.

@gravy Once they're here, there's nothing else you CAN do. Keep on keepin' on.

bigato
Posts: 2169
Joined: Sat Mar 05, 2011 12:43 pm

Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by bigato » Wed Feb 06, 2019 7:33 pm

Yeah, science! I'll take it over risking my retirement and happiness

Peanut
Posts: 390
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by Peanut » Wed Feb 06, 2019 9:23 pm

33% are as happy or happier after kids though? Not an insignificant number. (How) do those people overlap with these:

From Forbes 2016: According to a brand new survey from Bankrate.com, just 37% of Americans have enough savings to pay for a $500 or $1,000 emergency. The other 63% would have to resort to measures like cutting back spending in other areas (23%), charging to a credit card (15%) or borrowing funds from friends and family (15%) in order to meet the cost of the unexpected event.

Augustus
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Joined: Sat Apr 02, 2016 10:15 am

Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by Augustus » Wed Feb 06, 2019 9:48 pm

Peanut wrote:
Wed Feb 06, 2019 9:23 pm
33% are as happy or happier after kids though? Not an insignificant number. (How) do those people overlap with these:
Money sure helps, but the main cause of unhappiness after being a parent is lifestyle change. You'd have to spend a whole lot of money to come anywhere close to fixing that. I'm thinking 4-10k/mo in caregiver salaries. Things like being able to go to sleep, or have sex with your spouse, or going to a restaurant, or watching a movie, or reading a book, become much more difficult and are no longer spontaneous exercises.

Some people are fine with the lifestyle change, some people are willing to spend the money or have a relative move in to help. But it's never going to be the same as before.

There is also probably a LOT of grass is greener mentality. My childhood sure seems nice for example, no work no responsibility, but I remember not liking it as much and thinking it was much harder at the time.

I sure am having a lot of happy irreplaceable moments with my kid though. I don't look back and get wistful thinking of the time I sat on my ass and binge watched a TV show in my 20s. I do that practically daily with kid memories.

I'd be curious to know if it's a matter of extremes. I have happier moments and unhappier moments post kid. Before it was just kind...relaxed? The highs are higher and the lows are lower now.

suomalainen
Posts: 733
Joined: Sat Oct 18, 2014 12:49 pm

Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by suomalainen » Thu Feb 07, 2019 12:12 pm

@peanut and @aug, I dunno. "Happiness" is a squishy concept, which I think makes it very difficult to study. Hence the "probably" after "it's science." But I'm sure money can make things easier or the lack of it can make things harder. As a friend is fond of saying: "Money doesn't buy happiness, but it sure makes misery bearable."

I agree with @aug tho. Having kids isn't "better" or "worse" (and in a disagreement with @hristo, I don't think it's "more meaningful" or "more godly" or "more virtuous" or "serving a higher value" or anything along those lines). It's just different. I like to complain about the hard parts here, because (1) fuck it, it's my journal, if I need to vent, I'm gonna vent; you can laugh at me or with me, your choice, and (2) I'm in a really hard (for me) stage. My happiness didn't go down immediately after having my first kid. I was in the 33%! (Just let that fact simmer for a bit, but not too long - it might just blow your mind.) Yes, waking up early all the time and changing diapers and all that stuff was hard and exhausting and all that, but, you know, I didn't really care about that.* I LOVED the little pitter-patter of feet that @gravy mentioned in @cmonkey's journal, I think it was; I LOVED reading books while he sat on my lap; I LOVED rolling around on the floor with him; etc. MY happiness (wrt the kids) didn't take a nosedive until the kids became sentient assholes. Non-sentient robotic demanding needy little assholes who inadvertently gave as much as they demanded? Fine, whatever, on balance I was wrapped around their dirty little fingers. Sentient, purposeful, ungrateful, "should know better" princely assholes that deliberately try to fuck you over so that you do absolutely everything for them and they want to give nothing in return and they push back on every. single. request. so you end up fighting/arguing (even if nicely and politely and all that) over every dumb thing because you simply refuse to give in to them and let them become spoiled entitled little shits like every one of their fucking douchebag friends? :( :x Dat make daddy sad.

Whew. That felt good. In any event, I wish I could enjoy them more at this stage, but it's just so much mental and emotional work with very little given in return. But, I just can't let it go. I *HAVE* to try to be a good dad to them - teaching them respect for women (their mom), the value of work, that TANSTAAFL, etc., etc., etc.

Anyway, we've actually been doing pretty well at home the last few months, but I get glimpses of being able to turn off that part of my brain that is CONSTANTLY thinking about the kids. And it makes me weep. With grief for my babies who are no more. With joy for the (hopefully) unencumbered future. And yet at the same with grief for my babies who will soon be off on their own annoying their spouses instead of me. Life is change, man. And changing from a fantastic thing (babyhood) to a hard thing (adolescence) is fucking hard. And yet, I still love them. I'm proud of them in a way you just can't be proud of a non-sentient robot. I (sometimes) like to be with them. They are growing into fine young men (rant above notwithstanding).

Damn, this turned into...whatever this was...

* And that's what makes these happiness studies so difficult to interpret. What "happiness" means to me and you can be vastly different. I was exhausted, but would still have described myself as happy with my kids. They were the focus of my life at that time - my pride, my joy, all that. I had a t-shirt with my baby's face on it that I wore proudly to my law school classes for *#$% sake.

Peanut
Posts: 390
Joined: Sat Feb 14, 2015 2:18 pm

Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by Peanut » Thu Feb 07, 2019 2:26 pm

Ah, I wasn’t clear in referring to the article. The 33% is specifically the percentage of people who are evaluating their marital happiness post children. And I was implying that eliminating pressing money worries may help your marital happiness post kids as married people famously fight a lot about... money and kids, often as a unit.

I find the baby years quite difficult compared to the subsequent stage, but I recognize adolescence must present a new set of difficulties. My friend says, “little kids, little problems...big kids...,” well you know how that ends. I also think it’s probably a lot harder to feel like you’re a good parent when you’re the parent of a teen versus an infant, and that self-image can affect your subjective well-being (what the philosophers call ‘happiness’). Perhaps parenting and thus marital disagreements gain more force then too.

Augustus
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Joined: Sat Apr 02, 2016 10:15 am

Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by Augustus » Thu Feb 07, 2019 4:02 pm

That was very emo suo. You have changed!

Agree though, there is so much that goes into parenting. Can't really break it down into a one dimensional happier/not happier or good/bad. It's just a whole lot more complex than that. Even the suffering seems to make the good parts even sweeter. Hence the eye-rolling irritating phrase to not parents "you'd understand if you had kids." But it's the truth! You just can't really understand it until you do it. I am overall happy with my decision to have kids, it changed me for the better, and added a ton of depth to my life/experience.

suomalainen
Posts: 733
Joined: Sat Oct 18, 2014 12:49 pm

On Self-Awareness

Post by suomalainen » Sat Feb 16, 2019 7:35 am

When I had my first baby, I was fascinated by the child-parent communication structure. When a baby laughs, it's just the greatest thing in the world - the pureness of it just melts my heart. When a baby cries, you *know* with absolute certainty that the baby is crying for a reason, and to get it to stop crying, you just have to somewhat mechanically cycle through the very short list of reasons why it might be crying. First, 'cuz staring down a butt crack is so fun and easy, you pull back the backside of a diaper and peek to see if there's shit down there. More advanced is when you can just feel it by giving the diaper a little squeeze. If it's full, you change it and see if the crying stops. If that's not it, you calibrate yourself to the current time, the last feeding time and the last feeding volume. If the time was long enough ago or the volume small enough, you try feeding it. If that still doesn't soothe the beast, you think about the last napping time and volume and maybe try to get it to fall asleep. Still not it? Maybe you run through other potential discomforts like teething or an earache or whatever and you work through it. Worst case scenario is that you hold/comfort the thing for hours through the night while it wails and wails until the medicine kicks in or it cries itself out and falls asleep or whatever. Everyone's miserable, but at least you know you've tried everything and there's nothing else you can do but comfort the uncomfortable.

TLDR; babies are born "self-aware" communicators. They don't know what's wrong; they can't tell you what it is; but the second they're displeased, they tell you. Mercifully, their list of needs is short, so it's pretty easy to figure out.

Adults, on the other hand, lose this ability - hence, the kick the dog syndrome. Irritability with your wife is clearly due to that one poor interaction today with your boss on this one annoying task that's been taking far too long. Oh wait, no, that wasn't my point. Point is that we sometimes lose self-awareness and act in ways disconnected from an understanding of what's really going on. That's why marriage therapists will tell you to HALT. Never have a "discussion" with your spouse when you or they are feeling: Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired. Practice that self-awareness and take care of the underlying basic need before you try to move on to advanced emotional dynamics.

Boy, this is getting long - such a long set-up for such a simple story. Anyway, I've said before that I loved being the parent of babies - there's just something so satisfying about being needed and wanted so rawly and purely, and the bonding that occurs with such pure attachment is so strong. After 8-10 years of babies, however, I was ready for the thing to be able to just tell me what it wanted with words and accurate self-awareness, forgetting, of course, that not even many adults are capable of this much of the time. In other words, it is required to teach kids to be self-aware of their emotions and how to put those emotions into words and requests. We've been working on that with each of our kids in turn and last night, even though I heard rumblings of this for a few weeks, my twelve year old asks me:
Him: Dad, can we go to the community center tomorrow and play racquetball or swim or something?

Me: Sure, buddy, any particular reason why?

Him: It just feels like I haven't seen you for a while and I want to do something with you.
Heart, melted.

Jason
Posts: 2341
Joined: Mon Jan 30, 2017 8:37 am

Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by Jason » Sat Feb 16, 2019 9:35 am

You better take him. Because when you die, this will be the memory that causes him to completely lose his shit.

7Wannabe5
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Sat Feb 16, 2019 10:53 am

That's why marriage therapists will tell you to HALT. Never have a "discussion" with your spouse when you or they are feeling: Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired.
I thought the "H" was for Horny.

Sweet interaction with your son. Just hang in there for 15 more years and maybe you will even get "Hey Dad, I haven't seen you in a while. How about I buy you a beer."

Jason
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Joined: Mon Jan 30, 2017 8:37 am

Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by Jason » Sat Feb 16, 2019 12:34 pm

Unless he turns into a douchebag like the guy in The Cats and The Cradle song.

Augustus
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by Augustus » Sat Feb 16, 2019 6:48 pm

You actually had to do visual inspection of waste products? For posterity, I suggest to all future parents: the sniff test. By the end I could even sniff the difference between spilled apple juice, melted ice cream, and soft serve from a distance of a foot or two.

Glad you're still getting some joy out of your current stage. My daughter, who I have read a bed time story to almost every single night for the last 3 years or faced the wrath of 20 minutes of wailing, told me for the first time to get out of her room and leave her alone, coincidentally my wife was also pissed off at me too, leaving me, for the first time in 3.8 years, alone and unwanted. I extrapolated this feeling of abandonment into the future and it feels pretty shitty. After all the effort I've sunk into this endeavor, in the future all I'll get out of it is a big middle finger while I wallow in the misery of loneliness and the unfairness of it all.

The good news is, I have very strong defensive mechanisms, I ended up thinking: well, if that's how this ends, fuck em, I'll just go surfing in my bitchin van conversion. :lol:

suomalainen
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Joined: Sat Oct 18, 2014 12:49 pm

Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by suomalainen » Sun Feb 17, 2019 9:41 pm

@7w I think “Lonely” is a euphemism for horny.

@jace ha. Nice reference.

@aug get the wife back on her rocker, dude. And yes, balancing the kids’ need for independence against your own...instincts for continued intimacy that began when they were tiny little helpless things is extremely challenging. Good luck with that transition.

7Wannabe5
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Joined: Fri Oct 18, 2013 9:03 am

Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Mon Feb 18, 2019 5:26 am

I would fire any therapist that used lonely as a euphemism for horny.

suomalainen
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Joined: Sat Oct 18, 2014 12:49 pm

Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by suomalainen » Thu Feb 21, 2019 8:28 pm

Meh. There are lots of “lonely” young men out there. Polite society and all that.

suomalainen
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Joined: Sat Oct 18, 2014 12:49 pm

Release Me

Post by suomalainen » Thu Mar 07, 2019 11:50 pm

I've been thinking about this post for a long time. Let's see if I can pull it together since, as I write this second sentence, the thoughts that have been coalescing have only hinted at the barest outline of a picture.

1) I've sort of fantasized about a "life of freedom" for quite some time. In some sense, this is actually quite ironic in that I *knew* that I was digging myself into a hole when I borrowed $210,000 to finance my law school education and yet did not want to participate in the typical law school activities like law review nor did I envision myself being a biglaw lawyer for very long. "It's a hole that looks a lot like a typical lawyer hole, but *I'm* gonna be different!" Having dug myself out of that hole, my fantasies turned from not working biglaw to simply not working.

2) In connection with my fantasy of not working, I had this fantasy of "living free" in a vanlife/travel/nomadic sort of way. I totally ate up @spoonman's journal in 2014 until he stopped posting. I followed some vanlife blogs after that. Then I got hooked on @c40s journal. I fantasized about doing a build-out of a van and having cool adventures, etc. And then something happened. I don't know if it had anything to do with my general mental health improvements or if something else happened, but during one of my day-dreams, I thought to myself something like: "ugh. I'd want to take a shower. I'd want to shit in a flush toilet. I'd want to do something other than camp." A few weeks later, this train of thought pulled into the station:

I met a woman and her daughter in a ski lodge when I was in Colorado visiting my parents with DS2. She asked if she could sit next to us. She pulled out carefully prepared meals of sandwiches and a berry salad and some carrots or something like that. Clearly she didn't want to pay the high-priced ski lodge food prices. We got to talking and she said she and her daughter were locals from the Denver area and had stayed in their van in the parking lot the night before. "That's awesome, tell me more!" I said. So she described their van and how they use it to go skiing, etc. On the way back home, I start thinking about this conversation. "Well, shit, I could do something like that. She drives a couple of hours to the mountains to go skiing in winter and hiking in summer. I'd have to drive a couple of hours to do the same where I live (smaller mountains tho). I could totally do this." Then I thought about how much a van would cost; how much a conversion would cost; how often I'd go and what the amortized cost would be per trip; how much the taxes would be; how much I'd enjoy having the thing in my driveway all the time; etc etc etc. And then I realized: I don't want to shit in a bucket all the time. For a short period of time, sure whatever. But I'd eventually tire of this now-expensive thing and I'd have to get rid of it.

3) I read this article on how much free time people need to feel happy, which pegged it at 2.5 hours / day for people who work and 5 hours / day for people who don't work. Yes, people need free time. But people also need something to do. People need people to do it with (masturbation jokes aside). A desperate focus on escaping a full-time job misses the point. The problem is not the job (unless it's truly a shitty job).

And that's when #1, 2 and 3 coalesced - the real genius of this forum is the journal section. For the price of a few hours of consistent reading for several months or a year, you can live vicariously any number of lives - unscripted and somewhat unfiltered. You can follow someone's journey from inkling of an idea to a decision to a plan to execution to consequences. And every single journal leads me to this conclusion: nothing lasts, not even *my* fantasies. I will, with absolute certainty, get tired of any lifestyle I choose once I become adapted to it. The bloom came off the fantasy. A drastic change in lifestyle is not a solution to a current problem - it is your next problem.

4) I've continued my reading into meditation, having recently slogged through a dense book on the intersection of psychology and meditation. I may post some of my reading notes here some day, but I don't have the energy to try to condense my 6 (!) single-spaced pages of reading notes into something consumable by people with short attention spans. :lol: Burn. There's also another more popular-style book on meditation that I'm reading now which is also autobiographical which makes it a bit more readable even if it has fewer mineable sections. Anyway, one thought from the dense book stood out above all the rest: it was this idea that when you're at work and something annoying happens, like let's say you're put on hold or you're waiting for the stupid copier to finish printing out your document, rather than getting annoyed that you're being held up, use that time for yourself. Steal that 2 minutes from your employer and give it to yourself. Meditate for those 2 minutes: look inside your body and see if there's any tension held anywhere; check your heart rate and breathing and blood pressure; listen to the sound of the hold music or the copier and any background noises that you typically filter out of consciousness. That moment, right there, is a stolen moment in personal service in a day otherwise devoted to serving someone else. That moment, right there, is David Foster Wallace's water. That moment, right there, is where life happens.

5) Enhancing the thought from #4 and otherwise fulfilling a new year's resolution, I've been run/walking every day at work. There's a little out and back on a road on our corporate campus that's roughly 2.7 miles. I run when I feel like it and I take walk breaks as needed. I've had such foot and lower leg problems that I'm determined to just get out there even if it's a 2.7 mile walk. The point is just to get outside. Once I read and stewed on #4 for a while, I came to see how wonderful that 30-40 minutes could be. Here I was, at work, and I could take 30-40 minutes off in the middle of the day (around lunch) and I could completely put aside work and just focus on me. I've been able to put aside the monkey in the machine from time to time and it'll be a few hundred meters before I realize that I haven't had a single thought for a time - just a complete sense of blankness can occasionally settle over me. Most of the time, however, I focus on the music I'm listening to, or I try to focus on the sun or the trees swaying in the wind or really anything that keeps me in the moment of my surroundings and prevents me from being in my own head. The result is that instead of working a solid 8 hour day, I see that I'm really working 2 hours and then taking a few minutes to myself and then working another 2 hours, etc. I don't need to be in a van in a national forest for months at a time to notice beauty in my life and to be at one with nature - things that are important, beneficial and nourishing to me; I can do it 30 minutes at a time on the same damn stretch of corporate road that I've run on literally hundreds of times.

6) I realized I am over-committed - at work and at home. Over the last few months, and this is no exaggeration, the free time I had to myself was exactly 30 minutes a week. Far, far less than the 2.5 hours a day that the above-reported research suggests I would need. I was fraying. So, I take the personal time I need during the day at work to refresh per #4 and 5 and we've cut back on kids' activities and I've been playing racquetball with a new friend (and it looks like a third will be joining us).

And there it is - my own little slice of nirvana. Frankly, being a skeptic, I don't know how long this will last. Something will change, or break. Perhaps meditation is the sort of thing that one does not tire of in the way that one does not tire of eating. Who knows? For now, though, I am at peace having found a way to put to rest the twin spirals of stress-rumination and its anti-corollary fantasy-escape-rumination that have hounded me mercilessly since getting hit by that car. The answer is as simple as paying full attention to the program, getting bored with it, and changing the channel. Who knew?

FBeyer
Posts: 1067
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Re: Release Me

Post by FBeyer » Fri Mar 08, 2019 5:55 am

suomalainen wrote:
Thu Mar 07, 2019 11:50 pm
...it was this idea that when you're at work and something annoying happens, like let's say you're put on hold or you're waiting for the stupid copier to finish printing out your document, rather than getting annoyed that you're being held up, use that time for yourself. Steal that 2 minutes from your employer and give it to yourself. Meditate for those 2 minutes: look inside your body and see if there's any tension held anywhere; check your heart rate and breathing and blood pressure; listen to the sound of the hold music or the copier and any background noises that you typically filter out of consciousness. That moment, right there, is a stolen moment in personal service in a day otherwise devoted to serving someone else. That moment, right there, is David Foster Wallace's water. That moment, right there, is where life happens.
...Something will change, or break. Perhaps meditation is the sort of thing that one does not tire of in the way that one does not tire of eating...
Incidentally I don't mind waiting in line, waiting for the bus, being put on hold, waiting for water to boil, etc anymore. There is an eerily calm place to rest wherever you are.

The trick is to realize you have that option and to recognize the opportunity when it presents itself.

Quantummy
Posts: 16
Joined: Thu Jun 14, 2018 10:39 pm

Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by Quantummy » Fri Mar 08, 2019 6:22 am

Suo thanks for this post and the journal. This is helpful insight and articulates what I think about. Once dreams become reality, one sleeps again with new dreams. If you can optimize your current reality, then perhaps you don't set expectations too high for the next set of circumstances/goal.

Parenting through adolescence can indeed be difficult- the "fun" sometimes feels like doing a triathlon....every day. Spouse and I have more than 4 and have our moments of happiness and our moments of not. If we were to take a survey, each of us could have vastly different results at various times along the parenting path. With "empty nest" within binoculars range, we find ourselves eager for the next Safari.

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