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31 posts from February 2009

February 09, 2009

Pet Peaves by Lisa Daily

Don’t you just hate it when someone tells you they’re going to do something, and then they just blow it off?

Like for instance, a certain tart  (whose initials happen to be LD) who was supposed to post this morning by like, 5 am EST, but was so wrapped up in her own life and pile of kleenexes last night that she forgot?

Don’t you just hate that?

Here are my other pet peaves, in no particular order:

*Friends who interrupt your stories to tell you theirs, and never give you a breath to finish yours before the conversation is over.

*Husbands who put pizza boxes next to the trash, if the trash is full. (Note to husband: next to the trash is not the same as in the trash. If the trash can not contain your refuse item, TAKE OUT THE TRASH.)

*People who think they can improve your driving by honking at you.

*Computers that pretend to be human when you call customer service

*Telemarketers of any kind

*People who tell stories about how mean or snippy or power-crazed they were with another person they encountered that day as if this were an accomplishment

*Candy wrappers that stick to the candy

*The fact that there are only 24 hours in my day, and I need at least 8 of them for sleeping or I get really cranky.

What are your pet peaves?


We've Got A Winner

We've Got A Winner

by Harley

After extensive vetting, including a look at her DNA, her astrological chart, her last ten years of taxes, and confirming that this contestant had no domestic help that she was paying under the table, we have a Virgin Contest Winner.

It's our own Ramona. And not just because it was her birthday recently. She had not one, but two wonderful entries in last week's Virgin Contest.

#1. Hello? Sex tape with Daniel Craig?
#2. Go on American Idol and sing the first chapter of the book.

While the first was pure gold, the second one also captured my imagination -- picture this, sung to, just as an example, the 007 theme song: 

   "''Members of the jury, have you reached a verdict?' When Judge Roberto Cohen spoke, the fate of Western civilization hung in the balance. Or so it seemed. Judge Cohen had a voice like Moses must've had, resonant with significance and authority. He pushed his bifocals up his nose and stared at us."

Can you envision the faces of the American Idol judges? 

Okay, that's it. For further proof of Ramona's genius, check out yesterday's blog. Talk about only coming here for the sex.

Happy Monday!

February 08, 2009

Safe, Secure and Sexy

Safe, Secure and Sexy

by TLC favorite Ramona Long  Go to fullsize image


I have this thing about money. I hate it.

Not “hate it” as in, I hate having it and/or spending it or donating it to good causes. I like those things. I just hate talking about it.

Money talk is uncouth. Bad manners. At antique shows or the flea market at the fire hall (great source of vintage jewelry!), if an item is not marked, I walk past. I’m incapable of asking, “How much is that?” And haggling? Fuggedaboutit.

When I had babysitters, I paid with a sealed envelope. Forking over bills seemed so rude, especially to the darling girls who’d already endured the horror of watching my children.

I do not even know my husband’s salary. I want to know. I probably need to know. But I can’t bring myself to ask.

(And touching money? *Shudders* The term “filthy lucre” ain’t just whistling Dixie.)

I am not alone. Few people openly discuss how much money they do or do not have, or where they got it or where it’s going, which is good, because chances are, you have more than me and you’re doing more fun things with it, and I just don’t need to know that.

So, imagine my joy when I went to the bank to open a new checking account and the girl asked, Do you want to sign up for our ultra secure, paperless program?

This bank is going green. Everything is debit card and online. The reward is a credit of 10 cents for every debit purchase or online bill payment, up to 10 dollars a month. That’s 120 bucks a year of FREE MONEY. You save paper and not touch bills, which are perks that germaphobic tree-hugger types like me love.

I signed up. At home, I received email instructions for online banking. Like everything else in post-9/11 America, it’s heavy on security, safety and paranoia. I’m not being critical. I may not like talking about money, but I sure as hell don’t want anybody stealing mine.

I chose an ID name, a PIN  and two different passwords. I selected a personal image (from a dozen offered) and typed in a personal phrase (“I like pie” was their example). Every time I log on, my personal image will pop up, followed by my personal phrase. If they don’t, my security has been breached, and I’m to call 911. (Not really. I haven’t read the fine print of what I’m supposed to do. Probably hyperventilate and call the bank, don’t you think?)

Then came security questions that, in theory, only I can answer. Bankers have a thing for pets and grandmas. Maiden names and high schools get attention, too. I answered, hit Send, and was rewarded with an email congratulating me on completing the process.

I felt good. Secure. My money was protected by a moat of personal questions only I could answer. And then I looked around. My grandmother’s photo sat on the piano. My high school yearbook was on the bookshelf. My dog was snoring at my feet. Anyone who knows me fairly well, and has semi-decent investigatory skills, could crack those security questions in about ten minutes. My kids would look at the images and say, Mom would choose that one. My husband could guess my favorite phrase in no time.

Aren’t most crimes committed by people known to the victim? Aren’t you warned not to choose “Remember your passwords?” if you’re working from a shared computer? What’s the message behind that? That the people most likely to rip you off are the people living in your house!

After all my hard work, my money was not secure at all. It wasn’t my fault. I followed the instructions. It was the go-green bankers, and their wrongheaded notions about security.

Dogs? Grandmas? High schools? Those are not personal questions. Not even weight is a personal question (because you lie.) No, if banks genuinely want to protect their clients, they need enter the one area people guard most closely of all, especially from their family.

They need to ask about our sex lives.

That’s right. Except for your weight (because you lie), what do you keep most private? What you’ve done, who you’ve done, where you’ve done, and how many times you’ve done it.

I called the bank. The girl didn’t understand my problem, but she wasn’t married or had children. (I asked. At that point, I felt I’d earned the right to interrogate her a little.) Finally, she suggested I write to security services and pass along my suggestions.

That is my plan. I think it is my duty as a citizen, so I am asking for your help with coming up with good security questions that only the questioner can answer. Keeping in mind that the combo of names and numbers is extra secure, here’s what I’ve got so far:

The name of your first lover, followed by the number of total lovers you have had.

The location of your first sexual encounter (example: luxury hotel, parents’ garage, helicopter), followed by your age at the time.

The name of your fantasy lover, (example: I don’t need to write this, do it?) followed by the number 007.

The name of your first illicit lover, followed by number of the hotel room.

The name of your spouse’s illicit lover, followed by the number of rounds in a Glock.

The name of your favorite sexual position, followed by the number of positions you have tried.

The model of your first personally owned vehicle, followed by the number of times you’ve done it in a car.

The name of the same-sex person who temps you to bat for the other team, followed by his/her phone number.

The flavor of your favorite condom, followed by how many come to a box.

Any others?

For privacy reasons, I suggest you all just email me the answers. And your PIN numbers. ;-)



February 07, 2009

Bodice Ripper

Bodice Ripper

by Kid of Tart, Catherine Christopher

As Nancy may have mentioned once or twice  on this blog, I had a baby this past summer.  In preparation for the stork’s arrival, Hubby and I went to Lamaze classes, baby care classes, and breastfeeding classes.  We needn’t have bothered with the additional breastfeeding class, because Baby Care Basics turned out to be You Must Breastfeed class, with a throwaway segment on swaddling.

The social pressure to breastfeed is enormous.  The hospital where I delivered employs two full-time licensed lactation consultants, at least one of whom visited me every day.  One of them was a man.  This did not stop him from having opinions and offering advice and critiques of my breastfeeding.  The nurses kept track of how often my son breastfed, and each feeding was rated on a 10-point scale.  (He did well.)

And the pressure didn’t stop when we were discharged!  Conversations with perfect strangers include my son’s name, age, and feeding habits.  A little old lady asked me in church, “Are you nursing?”  A woman I know isn’t able to breastfeed her newborn – somehow, the two of them just never worked it out.  She feeds him formula, and when little old ladies ask her in church, “Are you nursing?” she just lies.  “Yes.”

After two months of maternity leave, my breast pump and I went back to work.  I was lucky – I had my own office with a door I could close.  And close it I did, four times a day, for half an hour at a stretch.  I typed one-handed while I pumped, and my emails became more and more like a teenager’s text messages as I attempted to save keystrokes.  My pump was quiet enough that I could talk on the phone while it chugged away, but I found that the more distracted I was, the less milk I could produce.

I read this article in the New Yorker with fascination – Even if we agree that Breast is Best, is it the nutritional content of breastmilk that is so beneficial, or is it the cuddling that occurs during breastfeeding?  If the latter, should I have switched to formula and thus gone home at 5 instead of 7?  And why are organizations like NOW fighting so hard for workplace “lactation rooms” where women can pump in peace, instead of fighting for mandatory paid maternity leave?

Well, the issue is moot for me now, because Hubby got a new job and we moved and I’m a stay-at-home parent now.  (Maybe we don’t fight for better maternity leave laws because the issue becomes moot after just a couple of months.)  I breastfeed my son whenever he’s hungry, and I will say that I’m glad not to be washing bottles day and night.

My new dilemma is breastfeeding when I have an audience.  We have folks over for dinner a lot, and I do like to venture out to the mall now and again.  When the heir gets hungry, should he and I seclude ourselves upstairs so that no one is aghast at a naked breast?  I refuse to do this – If our society demands that I breastfeed, it cannot also demand that I do so out of sight.  Plus, I get lonesome.  The baby’s not much of a conversationalist, especially with his mouth full, and I hate having to leave the party.

Should I rip open my shirt without apology?  I have trouble with this one, too.  One of Hubby’s coworkers came over to watch the Super Bowl, and I don’t want to scuttle things at the new job by flashing my nipples at a man I met just a few moments before.

I have a little road trip coming up this weekend, and a road trip is the hardest of public breastfeeding dilemmas.  We are going to have to stop and feed the baby along the way, but where to do it?  The side of the road?  A McDonalds dining room?  I’m just looking for a place that doesn’t make anyone uncomfortable – me, the baby, or those around me.  But of course, I cannot control whether other people are made uncomfortable by the presence of a breastfeeding mother.

So, if you’re a mother, did you breastfeed?  Why or why not?  If you’re sitting in a McDonalds while a woman breastfeeds her baby, are you appalled?  And why don’t we have better maternity leave policies in this country??


Check out Catherine Christopher's blog, Zen Hostess, for tips on entertaining subjects.

Contest Update

Contest Update!

Now hear this. We have a winner for Harley's Virgin Contest, but cannot announce the results until we have completed background checks. We must verify that the front-runner is not an employee or a close relative of an employee of The Lipstick Chronicles. This involves DNA testing. Please stay tuned. And check back shortly for the Actual Saturday Guest Blog, which you will love. 

February 06, 2009

Beat the Winter Blahs!

Beat the Winter Blahs!

By Kathy Sweeney

Blog Winter Blahs Okay, the Inauguration is over, the Super Bowl is over, and the reality of winter is setting in.  According to our [cough/wimp/cough] friends in Florida and Texas, it's even cold there.  Cold weather means several things: 
  • Too many clothes required
  • Actual shoes - and - heaven forbid - socks even!
  • Shoveling 
  • A constant mess with the floors because of the snow/salt/mush/slush 
  • More darkness - shorter days and less sun period.   
So what to do?  Well, you could just get depressed like everyone else, eat Oreo Cakesters by the case, chase them with hot chocolate and those real marshmallows, pull up the covers and wait for the thaw. But you know, there are those pesky things like jobs and kids and other family members and friends, and you just can't check out for two months, even if you have enough Xanax to really coast.  Not that any one really does.  Unless, you know, you really need some.

Okay, moving on.  Ideally, we'd all pack our swimsuits and sandals and take a nice Caribbean Cruise together.  Bummer- since none of us won the big lottery this week, I guess that's out.  But we're a very clever bunch - I mean, look at all the great bumper stickers we designed!  So today we're all going to pitch in and share our survival tactics for weathering the big chill. No limits, except, especially this year, it has to be low or no cost.

Here we go:

Blog Mamma Mia sing_along Have a Movie Night.  Me?  I'm having a Mamma Mia Sing-a-Long party. Yes, yes, I know. Pierce Brosnan and the singing - but the beauty of the sing-a-long is that you get to appreciate all that is good about the man while drowning out his voice with your own friends'.  A few younger friends are having a Sex And the City Movie night.  Meh.  Unless there is extended scene coverage of that outdoor shower, I've seen enough.  You don't even have to buy the movie - just rent it and have popcorn, or have everyone bring food and/or potent potables to share.

Go to a Bookstore and soak up the ambiance.  Naturally, you should try to buy at least one book - but paperbacks only cost about as much as fancy coffee.  And you'll feel better just being around books and the smart people who read them.  Here in Pittsburgh, it's Mystery Lovers - and you can see great authors too! Like T.C. Boyle - big time author and a great speaker too, or Jacqueline Winspear - or - brace yourselves - our own HARLEY JANE KOZAK on April 7th!!!   

Blog Belushi There are the three promo holidays - Valentine's Day, President's Day and St. Patrick's Day - where you don't have to be in love, in the oval office, or Irish to get drink specials or a great deal on a new mattress.  Just saying.  Especially with St. Pat's day, just being out among the insane can be a riot.  Unless, of course, there is an actual riot.  To be safe, avoid "Yo Mama" (modern translation: "Your Mom") with this crowd.  Oh, they love their mothers.  And their booze. I know, I'm part Irish.

Blog Will Farrell Bush On March 14, find a friend who has HBO, or if you have HBO, have a party and have everyone bring something to eat and drink.  Why HBO?  They are going to air a live performance of Will Farrell's Broadway Show, "You're Welcome, America: A Final Night With George W. Bush."  No further explanation is required.

Trying to get some exercise?  Hi-jack your kid's (or your friends kid's) Wii and play sports indoors.  They even have new snowboarding game.  You can rent the whole system or just a game.

Go see live music.  I mean it.  You can see some great local talent in your neighborhood tavern for little or no cover charge.  Or, if you want to splurge, go see a musical or the symphony, or a jazz band.  But don't go see a disco band.  It will make you sad.  And you might end up getting a really bad haircut.

Okay, my calendar is starting to fill up.  Now it's time for all of you to share your secrets to beating the winter blahs!

February 05, 2009

Luxury Becomes Necessity

Luxury Becomes Necessity

by Nancy   Go to fullsize image

Long ago, I owned a car with a manual transmission and windows that I cranked up and down with a handle.  But eventually I got lazy about using the clutch (we live in very hilly country here in Pennsylvania) and I finally caved in and bought car with an automatic transmission. Then along came the push-button car window, and I upgraded again. Trouble is, once you upgrade, it's almost impossible to take a step back, isn't it? 

We've all allowed ourselves a few luxuries as time goes on, right?  But the issue with luxuries is that after a while . . . they become necessities.

Take housework.  Sure, I used to clean my own house.  But I discovered I was putting off my writing every single morning to make sure my house was immaculate. I ran the sweeper on the carpet EVERY DAY.  Which is a time-honored procrastination technique, but also nuts  When I finally took note that my book was due in four weeks and I still had a couple hundred pages to write, I realized I needed a cleaning person to break the cycle of my behavior. (Also to finally get rid of that bathtub ring once and for all.)  Now that that particular deadline is past, I still have a housekeeper.  But Patty is no longer a procrastination-busting luxury.  She is a necessity. I can't imagine getting along without her.

Likewise, heated seats in my car.  And if you own a car with electric windows, can you really go back to cranking your windows by hand when you get to the Dairy Queen drive-up? I blame those dastardly German engineers who keep dreaming up more stuff that eventually I can't live without. Now, of all things, it's a heated steering wheel.  Let me tell you, this winter that heated wheel has been heavenly.

          Go to fullsize image

Laptop computer instead of a desktop?  You bet. Cell phone instead of pay phone?  Hell, yes. Air-conditioning instead of propping open your windows with those collapsible screen thingies? Of course.

My brother hasn't made his own breakfast since he was fifteen and discovered Pop Tarts.

Are we spoiled Americans? Yes, we are, and I'm deeply ashamed.  But who would employ Patty if I didn't? And what would German engineers be creating if not heating steering wheels? (I shudder to think.)  Am I keeping the global economy rocking all by myself? I don't think so.

Help me feel better about myself, please, gentle readers.  What was once a luxury to you? And now you can't imagine muddling through without?

February 04, 2009

Killer Cold

Palm tree

Killer Cold

By Elaine Viets

Recently, I woke up under a pile of blankets, bathrobes and two cats. The Fort Lauderdale temperature had plummeted to 29 degrees. Weather forecasters called it an "Arctic cold front." I called it freaking cold. It felt like two below.

Go ahead, TLC readers who live in seriously cold climates. Laugh at me. You’re probably hoping it warms UP to 29 degrees. You didn’t wake up with a 15-pound cat wrapped around your head like a fur turban. I’m a weather wimp.

Sometime during that freezing cold night, Don turned on our furnace, which spewed out dust and cold air. That’s when we remembered it did the same thing about three years ago, when the temperature dipped below freezing. We decided then not fix it, because the repairs would cost $500 for something we’d use maybe three days in a decade. Instead we piled on the blankets and forgot all about the furnace until the next cold snap.

Later that same cold day, I ventured outside in a heavy jacket, jeans and a sweater. I would have worn gloves if I could have remembered where I stashed them.

"I love this weather," said a young woman in a swimsuit, dancing in the pale sunshine. "It’s so nice and warm."

"Where are you from?" I asked. (I was polite and didn’t ask "What planet are you from?")

"Upstate New York," she said. "It was below zero when I left home. I went to the beach this morning and two men asked if I was a tourist. How did they know?"

"Because you’re not wearing a winter coat like the full-time residents," I said.

Tourists are easy to spot in South Florida. Even when the orange trees wear a coat of ice, tourists think the weather is warm. They sit outside in restaurants when the locals shiver indoors.

Florida is not the most fashion-forward state, but tourists wear bright, brand-new clothes and even brighter sunburns. Sometimes, it hurts to look at our extra-crispy out-of-towners. They tell me a tan (actually second-degree burns) are a status symbol back home.

Tourists drink funny concoctions with little paper umbrellas, then wander across major thoroughfares, where they risk becoming road kill. They have an alcohol-induced affliction known as "vacation brain," which causes otherwise sensible grownups to play in the traffic.

When I lived in St. Louis, the tourists were easy to spot there, too. They were the ones who hopped in the airport cabs and said, "This is my first visit to Saint Loo-ey."

Wolfish cab drivers, hearing that "Saint Loo-ey," knew they’d been given a sweet little sheep. They would immediately offer to take the trusting visitor the "scenic way" to their hotel. This was a long, out-of-the-way sweep past the Arch, adding about $30 to the cab bill. In certain tourist bars, "St. Lou-ey" could add a couple of dead presidents to your tab.

Next time you’re in my hometown, remember, only young Judy Garland says "Saint Loo-ey." We say "St. Louis."

One more thing – never give a French-looking street name the correct pronunciation in St. Louis. After a century or so, the locals have twisted the name so a French person wouldn’t recognize it.

"Gravois," which winds through large sections of South City, is pronounced "Gra-VOY" by the locals. "Gratiot" goes by the inelegant "Gra-SHIT." If you can’t bring yourself to say that, just make a sound like a sneeze.

What are the signs of tourists in your city, TLC readers? I’m sure you have some. Signs, I mean. And tourists, too.

February 03, 2009

Pork, FBF's and Deadline Insanity

Pork, FBF's and Deadline Insanity

By Sarah

As some of you might have noticed, I was not around for the month of January because I was applying the finishing touches to THE PENNY PINCHERS CLUB, out in July. That's a polite way of saying I Pennypincher was madly rewriting most of the book after my editor pointed out its major flaws. I have a new editor and even the technology she used to edit it was new - and better - but still I managed to have an out of body experience during those magic moments when I was so in the groove that the real world fell away and out of the corner of my eye I saw the glowing orb.

Glowing orb? Damn, right, glowing orb. You wanna make fun? I'm telling you, it was there. A bright white light off to my right. So light, I didn't need to turn on the electric overhead. If anyone else has seen this phenomenon, please let me know because, otherwise, I might want to seek psychiatric counseling.

While I wasn't seeing glowing orbs or responding to my editor's notes (Kat seems snarky here when she trips her mother on the stairs. Recast?), I was, of course, procrastinating by reading the New York Times where I found two articles that cannot be missed. The first will kill you. The second might slay the New York Times. Let's start with the first.


Otherwise known as the "Bacon Explosion" was invented by Jason Day and Aaron Chronister. Why? To drive their doctors nuts, I assume. The recipe, which was Twittered and blogged about extensively, has zoomed around the internet feeding all those closet fat aficionados who might jog and scarf down yogurt by day, but who secretly long for grease-dripping, sizzling smoked bacon and sausage by night. It is, hands down, the grossest recipe ever (aside from haggis or kidney pie) and I can't wait for Charlie to make it during sugaring season when there's nothing much to do but watch the sap drip into the boiler. Why not smoke a pig in the meantime?

Second, is the story that might slay the New York Times. It's about a couple of women who started a blog as a support group for other women who - brace yourself - have "suffered' during the financial crisis Banks600 in that their Financial-guy banker type boyfriends have cut up their Neiman cards and cancelled their spring trips to Martinique. I know, you're sobbing. But, wait. Take a second and LOOK A THESE CHICKS!

The women have even developed a color-coding alert system, similar to the one created by our own Department of Homeland Security, based on how the DOW did that particular day. A day in which the Dow plummeted 400 points, for example, might be coded red, meaning it's a good day to stick with your girlfriends and do laundry, while a "green day" (no pun intended with the band) could mean a dinner out with your FBF.

Great stuff, right? Except, I'm pretty sure it's a joke. Go to the "US" section and read about the daba girls, puzzle over the mixed comments that range from "when will HBO buy you out?" to "I, too, am married to a banker and man do I hear ya." Read the blog and tell me what you think. We'll discuss.

So, that's what I did with my January break, other than write a book and nurse a couple of kids back to health and shovel out from a few snowstorms. Now, with the book in and approved, I'm filling out financial aid forms for Anna's colleges and hitting myself over the head. Why, oh, why, didn't I think about writing a Sex and the City spoof about surviving the recession?

What say you?


February 02, 2009

Virgin Contest


Virgin Contest

By Harley

(Go, Steelers!)

The world is divided into 2 kinds of people: those who enter contests and those who don’t. I’m in the latter category. Which is odd, since I think of myself as both lucky and gullible. But I’ve just never believed I’d win the lottery, or hear the Millionaire ring my doorbell or that the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes truly exists. (It does exist, but the odds of nabbing a recent $10 million prize were 505,000,000 to one. That means if you entered every day, it would take you over a million years to have even odds of winning.)

Maybe I’m sweepstakes-indifferent because I’ve spent my professional life pursuing acting and novel-writing. Talk about contests. Long shots. Cattle calls, slush piles, competition. If we’re all given an allotment of luck at birth, I don’t want to squander mine on bingo, I want to save it up for a shot at the New York Times bestseller list.

However, life’s not always about me, me, me, and it’s been recently brought to my attention that other people love contests. Adore them. And that some of these people are readers of my books, or potential readers of my books. Aha! Clearly it’s time to brush up on my contest skills, because I have a new book, A Date You Can't Refuse, coming out next month.

.Date you can't refuse.rev

Therefore you, gentle reader (or violent, belligerent reader) of this blog will get first crack at my first real contest. My virgin contest. (There was a contest in 2004, but my friend Carol organized it and all I had to do was ship a copy of Dating Dead Men to 2 nice girls in Sweden.)

Here’s the deal. A Date You Can’t Refuse once again features my heroine Wollie Shelley, greeting card designer and serial dater who, for reasons I never even try to explain, encounters corpses with Jessica-Fletcher-like frequency. In this adventure, Wollie is sucked into working at a place called MediasRex, a Los Angeles-based media training organization.

Among other plot details, for those who OCHFTS, there is sex at a major department store.

So anyhow. In the spirit of this media-related plot, I thought it would be fun to enlist your genius in devising an escapade that would bring me and/or Wollie to the attention of the national media. Not that I’m desperate to sell books or anything. I just think it could be . . . useful.

So that’s it. Tell me your best attention-getting idea. It could involve octuplets, it could involve nudity (Josh), it could even involve virgins, if only to justify the title of this blog. It should almost certainly include one or more Steelers. Anything that will land me on the radar of Anderson Cooper, into the hands of anyone on Air Force One, or onto the pages of STAR magazine.

The judging will occur in an undisclosed location, the results tabulated by the firm of Price Waterhouse and the winner will be announced Friday. Or Saturday. Whenever Me, Margie tells me to announce it.

The best, most ingenious idea will receive -- money? No, no. How about a signed, limited edition Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) of A Date You Can’t Refuse? Suitable for reading, framing, or selling on eBay once I become the Dan Brown, the James Patterson, the Herman Melville of dating mysteries.

No contest entry will be rejected on the grounds of cheesiness, illegality, or impracticality.

Let the games begin.

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