|A Mirror into Ken's Past -- 1984|
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I had two classes I had to complete. I was burned out on school. I was also determined that by gawd, I was GOING to finish -- after all the work it took to get to this point I HAD to finish. It actually looked like I would. I started trying to do interviews when the University brought recruiters in ...
The classes were Computer Science classes. They weren't easy, and I just barely pulled them off. If it weren't for Kent Widmayer, a fellow student in the department, I probably wouldn't have made it. If I'd blown that semester I might have just given up on College, which would have been pretty stupid. I think part of the reason they were harder than they should have been (besides my being burned out) was that the Computer Science department was new and they were still working the system out. Some of the instructors seemed to have something to prove. The class on comparative languages (comparing computer languages) was fun, but it was hard. The other class (I think it was "Data Structures") was a real bitch.
There were a couple of girls on the campus I remember that I was sort of sniffing around, but I can't remember names. One was blonde with dark eyes, and she was very nice, very cute, very bright, but that just wasn't going to happen (she wasn't interested, I think -- I was also a bit older than her which didn't help). She was friendly, and seemed to enjoy hanging out, but I wasn't her "type", I guess.
I had decided to try soft contact lenses again. Right after graduation (within a day or two) when I was wrapping things up at my job, I tore one of the lenses taking it out of my eye so I could clean it. I think my eyes are just too dry for them, and I gave up on wearing contacts.
When Spring Break came up I decided I should try to hunt for jobs in Anchorage (I was TIRED of Fairbanks and didn't want to live there after graduating). I went and did some job hunting. I didn't do very well. I made arrangements to spend most of my time in Anchorage with Kylson and his lady Robin. We did a lot of singing and stuff (Kylson LOVES to sing). That was fun. I met a young girl named Tammy who was hanging out with Kylson and company. We flirted a bit, but nothing happened.
Tammy came to Fairbanks for a weekend a couple of weeks later to spend it with me. That was a surprise -- I got a phone call from the airport in Fairbanks -- Rick and I went to pick her up. In theory this was so she could extend an offer to join the new SCA household which Kylson was forming. While the offer was real, it was really an excuse to get together with me. I didn't mind too much.
Kylson wanted a household of people who enjoyed singing, among other things. I fit that bill. I played guitar at events and sang at the drop of a hat ... it was FUN. I remember one SCA event, probably the previous summer, where I pulled out my guitar to tune it up and to just do some finger-exercises. People gathered and started singing along with some piece I was warming up with, and an impromptu bardic happened. I was completely blown away by this, and the autocrat was a bit miffed as it messed with her plans for the event. I hadn't meant for that to happen, but what the hell? I went with the flow and we had a bardic for awhile ...
I was thrilled and honored to be asked to join this household. It also meant that when I moved to Anchorage I'd have a group of folk to hang out with. I really thought that a lot of this came from Robin (Kylson's lady), but as it turns out (I found out later from her) it was his idea completely. The household name is "Quid Non", which is pseudo-latin for "Why Not?" I still consider myself a member of the household, although I haven't lived in Alaska for a long time now.
Another person who helped me out a bit was Curvin (Metcalf?). He was a computer jock, as it were. I knew Curvin from his last year or so in Fairbanks. He was a senior systems person when I worked for the UACN. He let me use his condo for the first month after I graduated while he was on vacation in Sweden.
Gadzooks, zounds, and all that! I actually did it! I graduated! I was almost surprised. In the last couple of weeks before graduation I had to convince the registrar's office that I really did have enough credits in English to graduate (I took one of the theatre classes that I didn't need for my Theatre Major, and said "This is English, right?"). I sweated hard enough to get there, I put myself through hell ... but I did it! My transcripts weren't the best looking, but at least I completed the course.
Before the ceremony I hunted around to find someone with a recording of Alice Cooper's "School's Out" -- I needed to hear that really bad. Luckily someone I knew had it. I don't know if I still have the tape, but eventually I got a CD of his greatest hits that has this on it. That song really spoke to me after the long seven years it took to graduate. I was 27 and was just graduating with a Bachelor of Arts. Mom told me at one point later that dad was really proud that I had done this, because it was something he hadn't done. I never heard it from him though. None of my family could afford to come to Alaska for graduation, but it didn't bother me at this point.
The Graduation Ceremony was a typical one. It was long -- just getting through the titles of the Doctoral theses was took a huge amount of time (the PHD graduates from the Geophysical Institute had the really long titles -- trying to describe the way they had studied the northern lights was almost amusing). I didn't care about the length. I wanted to do the ceremony -- I felt I deserved it after all I put myself through to get to that point. I vaguely remember that Cindy (see above) was in the graduating class, and that she looked my way a bit sad (I assume because nothing happened between us). I think Beth graduated this year as well.
I remember going out to dinner with a BUNCH of people at one of the good restaurants in town. I can't remember who were there besides Rick and Tammy (who came back to Fairbanks for this), but I am sure a lot of other people, possibly Lee and Rob, were there.
I was given a beer glass (one of the tall flute type glasses) with the UAF logo on it from the UACN systems folk as a graduation present. I still have that.
My Great Aunt Grace sent me a graduation present of a check for $500 (I think that was the amount). I used some of it to get to Anchorage, some of it to buy a bicycle (sure couldn't buy a car with it!), and the rest to keep me going after I graduated. I also had money from the UACN -- my final check and all that.
I left most of my stuff at one of my ex-gamer's houses (Jim Schneider) and moved back to Anchorage, taking the stuff I absolutely had to have.
The jobs were scarce. I hate job hunting (ok, most people don't like it, but still ...) The Student Loan people were quick, too. Almost immediately I started getting payment coupons and paperwork. Luckily, they were fairly forgiving of times when I was jobless, and I have since paid off the loan.
During everything that went on that summer I met up with a bunch of the SCA folk in Anchorage. They were my major outlet for something to do, people to hang out with, and keep from feeling totally alone. Kylson was great -- if I needed to get out, he was there, even if it was just to go to his house and hang out. Kylson and Robin made sure I got to events, movies, dinner, whatever. We went to dance practices that were happening each week, other activities/gatherings happened. I met a lot of folk very quickly that way.
I started getting back involved in the SCA in Eskalya, which was a real trip. Things had changed dramatically during the seven years I'd been in Fairbanks. Heck, I'd changed a lot in those seven years.
After a lot of searching, applying for jobs, pounding the pavement, I got a part time job doing some data entry at some small company. I think I worked there for a couple of weeks, tops. During the short amount of time I was there I met up with a guy who was a teacher at a newly formed vocational school in the Mountain View part of Anchorage called "The Alaska Computer Institute", and he asked if I needed a better job. I jumped at it. I started there as a Teaching Assistant -- working in the lab. They were teaching Cobol, RPGII, JCL (operating system on the mini computer) and that kind of thing. What did I know about RPG? I had taken Cobol in College, but promptly forgot it as I found better programming languages to play in. Well, I picked this stuff up pretty quickly, and really enjoyed what I was doing.
Tammy and I were dating heavily. Tammy was much younger than I was and I think she was really enjoying the mind-games that some young women really enjoy pulling on people. She was doing a good number on me. You would think that I would have learned better over the years ... She was really attractive and unless she was pissed off (which was only about half the time -- she had a hell of a temper and it took almost nothing to set her off) was very sweet. She was Trouble with a capital T for a long time ... even after we broke it off later that summer.
About three weeks after moving to Anchorage I ended up moving into a condo with Dave (SCA: Griffinus Silversun) and Scott (only peripherally involved in the SCA, if that). Dave worked for Honeywell and had a huge condo. Tammy and I had sort of officially broken things off. She was seeing Scott (Dave's roommate), but Scott didn't want a serious relationship with her. I didn't realize when Dave made the offer for me to move in there that Tammy had moved in as well, and Dave didn't realize it was a problem. Luckily it was a fairly large place, she was staying in the loft, I was in the downstairs area.
It was a bit uncomfortable but it meant I wasn't at Curvin's when he returned. I liked Curvin, but I don't think we could have dealt with each other as roomies. Dave was really a nice guy and very outgoing. He'd give the shirt off his back to help you out. He let people stay in his condo as long as they needed to, without paying rent, which was nice, especially at this point in my life.
Somewhere in here I got the rest of my stuff from Fairbanks, probably with the help of Rich (who owned a beat-up Suburban) -- I honestly don't remember much of that trip. I had gotten a pretty hefty amount of stuff over the years -- mostly books. I had boxes all over that den at Dave's place. Good thing he never really used it for anything. And I did try to keep things fairly neat.
I remember helping Mary Helms cater a wedding ... that was strange. We worked the kitchen, we carried things out for people to eat. After it was over Mary took us all to dinner (and she had a fairly large crew) at a really nice restaurant, gave us bottles of champagne that were left over from the wedding, and paid us the amount she owed us (and it was pretty good for an evening or afternoon's work).
Tammy played a lot of head-games but somewhere in there I decided I didn't want any more. I know that this REALLY pissed Tammy off. She didn't want to just let me go, even though she was trying to have a relationship with Scott. I also think that since I was the one who broke it off it upset her. I am reminded of a routine in the comedy series "The Boys in the Hall" -- the routine was something like "The girlfriend from hell." The one thing that is relevant is "Why did you stay with her?" "The sex was good!" I think that sums up the relationship with Tammy.
After I tried to break things off with Tammy, I let someone else play headgames with me. Sherry Ostendorf (SCA: Armana Goldenwood) ... lovely woman, older than Tammy, and she was better at the games than Tammy. I never slept with Sherry ... gawd knows I tried. Sherry's boyfriend Dave (not the one who's condo I was staying at) didn't know what to make of all this. Sherry was trying the "courtly love" thing on me -- love for love's sake -- nothing pysical besides some really great necking. Dave never knew for sure if anything was happening, but I think he suspected. Different headgames, but headgames all the same.
I found a weird side-comment in my diary written in the margin near one of the discussions about all this foo: "Beautiful insecure women are dangerous." I don't think I'm quoting anyone but myself here. The comment was added at a later date at some point when I was flipping through it.
I met Rich Myrick (SCA: Aldwin Longwalker) that summer, as well as Ed Branscum (SCA: Alaryn Aecanstaef) and some others. Rich was a pretty funny guy. We got along pretty well, and started hanging out a lot. He was someone I could talk to about the whole Tammy and Sherry thing. While Rich didn't have a lot of experience in this area, at least he was a good sounding board. Rich was in the Air Force at the time, but he really didn't like the job much. I think he had quarters on the base, but he spent a LOT of time in town.
One guy (who's real name I can't remember, but his SCA name was Myrddin Brandeal) messed with me at one of the weekly dance practices. This was at a point where I was still really newly returned to the Anchorage group, and over the seven years I had been in college, a lot of new folk had joined. Dance practices were usually in mundane (non-SCA) clothes. Myrddin was one of these new people. We were dancing one of the flirting dances, and he cut me out. Now that wouldn't have been so bad, I was used to that, but he cut me out in a way that really messed with me -- I couldn't see a graceful recovery from it. I wasn't actually angry, was quite amused by it, although a bit confused. Myrddin didn't know me at all, had no idea who I was. I walked up to him after that particular set was done, grabbed him by the lapels of his leather jacket, and half-picked him up, saying "Don't confuse the peers!". I shook him a bit and then turned around and walked off. A bunch of people got a good laugh at that. (If you're in the SCA, it's kinda funny -- if not, don't worry about it, at the time it was really funny, but it might have been a case of "you had to be there".) He was a bit dazed and wandered off (he may have gone to find out who the hell this guy was ...). He was a good friend of Ed's, and he hung around Sleeping Dog Manor (see below) a lot. (Last I heard he was living in the Seattle area ...)
On a sad note, Rich (SCA: Aldwin) passed away of a heart attack in September 2001 ... he will be missed.
Late in July, Rich, Ed and I moved into the basement of Jeff Brown's (Kylson's squire's) parents' house. It was a huge place. There were two bedrooms (Ed and I claimed those), a room that had a bamboo curtain to close it off from the rest of the apartment that Rich used as his bedroom, a large dining room, a large living room, and a decent sized kitchen. Rich's bedroom was also right next to the washer/dryer.
This place became over time "Sleeping Dog Manor", as in "Let sleeping dogs lie". We had a great time there. The apartment was sort of in the center of things for a lot of folk, so people dropped by all the time on the way to or from work, and so on. I had taken on another apprentice along with Alicianne, Daemus, who was a good artist. He drew some sleeping dogs around some calligraphy I did for a sign that we placed in the window of the front door to the apartment.
I got the job at the Alaska Computer Institute around this time. The only drawback was the distance -- I took public transit for some of it, and Rich gave me rides to work some of the time. It was all the way across town, and Anchorage is not a small place. It doesn't have a huge population, but it sprawls real well, and there are lots of parks. There was some time before I got my car the next spring that one of the students from one of my classes, after she graduated (and before she got a real job) actually drove me to and from work. I was pretty oblivious and didn't realize that she did it with an ulterior motive in mind. She was cute (Ros, cannot recall what that was short for). She wasn't tall, but attractive, really red hair ... very bright, with a biting sense of humor (something I've always found attractive for some reason). Ros and I never got any further than that because I was so oblivious. Thinking back on things, it probably wouldn't have worked out anyway, she had no interest in the SCA, and I have a feeling our personalities would have clashed.
In that same class of students (that Ros was in) were some other young ladies that I flirted with, and they flirted with me, in the off-hours. I did everything in my power to avoid letting any of that affect their grades -- they really did earn the grades they got, and the flirting never went any further than that. This includes the night they graduated and had a big party at someone's house. I got a ride home with these ladies and got a good kiss out of all three of them, but that was as far as that went (darn it -- they were cute).
I went through a lot of angst over Tammy and Sherry. It was pretty dumb. My diary is full of this stuff -- pages of it. Sheesh. Oh well. It takes some of us a LONG TIME to stop letting people play with their heads like that.
I spent the fall working, doing SCA, generally having a pretty good time. Things had started to mellow, as I'd gotten Tammy (mostly) out of the picture, and Sherry and Dave had left for California.
At ACI I spent a couple of months as a full instructor, temporarily. I really enjoyed that. It didn't hurt that my pay jumped dramatically during that time.
One thing I hadn't realized was that first year (up to the end of December), I was a contractor -- no taxes were being taken out of my paychecks. I am sure that someone told me this, but it sure didn't sink into my fuzzy brain. This was a problem a couple of years later when the IRS put a lein on my checking account! That couple of months were great, because I was able to do a bunch of things, got an American Express card, and a nice TV (which I had for years until it died). I also was able to pay for a trip to the states for the really big SCA event in January in California (12th Night).
I don't remember exactly when, but Greg and I got in touch -- my old buddy from high school and early College. So we got together for lunch and it was awkward. We'd grown so far apart we had so little in common anymore. That that was the last time I saw him. I was always sorry for that, as we had been so close for so many years.
That fall had a weird SCA event where the Baron of the local group (Eskalya) tried to destroy it. I hadn't been sure about Rich (who was the local seneschal/chapter president) as Seneschal -- he'd been pretty laid back up until that point, not doing more than was absolutely necessary. He stepped up to the plate and had the problem resolved the day after that event. It was pretty astounding. I gained a lot of respect for him that day.
In the SCA I volunteered to take on the office of the soon-to-be-Principality Herald from Aryana, who had that job for many years. She was definitely fried. We both worked together on cobbling together ceremonies by checking out the ceremonies for other Principalities and modifying them for the use of ours. This was important because in January, we were to become a full Principality. Aryana (Kayren is her real name) is one of those people that I always got along with. It was a bit tricky, since she was Kylson's ex-wife, and he made no bones about how he felt about her and I was in his household. I have never really let folk tell me who I could be friends with, and I don't think Kylson ever tried that.
A young woman (Jenny Downs) attached herself to me, but really only as someone to cuddle with. She was 17, still in school. We hung out, necked a bit, but that was it. If she'd been older ... At least she wasn't trying to play headgames with me. Okay, I felt sort of like a protector (keeping some of the sharks away from her), rather than anything else, but I did like her.
Sundays, when SCA events weren't happening, Quid Non (Kylson and Robin's SCA household) would get together and hang out. We often spent a lot of time at Kylson and Robin's place, but Sundays were special as they were specifically household (and some folk who were "associated" with members of the household). We often sang, as Kylson loves bardic circles, but sometimes we just hung out. Robin usually would cook up dinner, and we'd be there into the evening usually, just being with household members and having a good time. This was important to me -- when I moved to California I found I really missed it.
One thing that members of the household found truly amusing were the rumors that we had orgies at these Sunday gatherings. We were friendly, but not that friendly ...
That Christmas I had enough money that I went and had tshirts made up for my SCA household Quid Non. They were done by an artist in one of the malls who did airbrush work. They had the individual SCA name on the back, the name of the household, and what eventually became the household badge (or something close to it) on the front. I still have mine, but it's thin from being worn a lot, so I don't actually wear it. I'm just reluctant to throw it away. I think I had something like 8 shirts made ...
This is hard, as there were a LOT of people in and out here, and I know I won't remember them all.
Pam -- someone I met in email when I was in school in Fairbanks. I finally met her and her sister (who's name escapes me completely). Nice young women, but not a lot in common. I just wanted to mention them ... I went out with the two of them for dinner once, and spent some time at the computer center hanging out with them, but we never really had enough in common to hit it off. I remember Pam's (older?) sister was a bit thinner, a bit shorter than Pam, a bit more shy, and had LONG blonde hair that she kept in a huge braid. I always liked long hair ...
Michelle Thibault -- I also met Michelle in email. Shortly after moving to Anchorage we went out with Mark (who had moved to Anchorage). She was more interested in Mark, so that didn't go any further. She and I wrote real letters after she went off to College (she was fairly young), and I saw her once when she was in the Bay Area before she went back to College and her fiance. Lovely young woman ... I didn't realize how young she was for awhile there.
Lots of SCA Folk
I cannot remember everyone, and some had more impact on me directly than others so even if I do remember, I may not mention them. If I forget or don't mention folk, I hope they don't get upset ...
Kylson White and Robin ... -- I cannot remember Robin's maiden name, but it doesn't really matter, she and Kylson married eventually. At this point they were living together, had a nice little apartment, and were some of the best people. Without them I am not sure I would have made the transition back to Anchorage in as good a shape as I did. They were wonderful. They're still really great people. Kylson would do just about anything to help you out if you're a friend, and probably even if you're not. I cannot say enough nice things about Robin. (SCA Names: Kylson Skyfire and Anne of Bradford) They were (and still are) the heads of the household Quid Non.
Matt and Kayren Kittrick -- Matt had been one of Kylson's best friends. I won't get into all the details, but Kay had been Kylson's wife. When Kay left Kylson she and Matt got together. They were always nice to me, and we always got along. They were the heads of another big household in the SCA group in Anchorage. Their household was always larger than Kylson and Robin's. (SCA Names: Brendan Shimmeringstar and Aryana Silknfyre) They're both in the Seattle area now. I always liked Kay, and was sort of attracted to her -- she was not tall, but had gorgeous black hair, a great laugh, was very bright, and very intense. I think the intensity was a bit daunting to a lot of people, but I've always sort of been attracted to women like that, even if only as friends in many cases.
Eric Wagner -- Eric now lives in Sacramento with his wife of quite a few years Krystene Wagner. He was one of those folk who we saw a lot of, popping through Sleeping Dog Manor, and is one of the nicest guys I've ever known. SCA Name is Eric Bearsbane. We used to call him "Bearsbrain" ... just a joke.
Aveloc -- that's his SCA name, his real name is Harvey (something) (sometimes with SCA folk, that happens -- you only learn their SCA name, or never use their mundane name ...). At the time he was a lot of fun, although a bit of a spazz. You never knew what he was going to do. I think he always meant well, but didn't always know how to do the right thing. He's living in the Seattle area, and in the SCA isn't real popular. I'm sorry to hear about that (and I won't go into the reasons ...).
Jeff Brown -- SCA name was Donnan the Truehearted. His parents were the ones who owned the house that Sleeping Dog Manor was the basement of. He was always a really nice guy. Was Kylson's squire when I met him, eventually became a knight, and was the second Prince of Oertha, with his girlfriend Reia (Kareina Talvi Tytar). I don't think he's doing SCA anymore, he married someone else, and Reia is now in California with another of Kylson's former squires.
Jenny Downs -- She was a very sweet and very bright girl. Her sca name is (was, she's dropped out completely now) Vanora Gyldenheart. I talk a bit about her above, no need to repeat myself.
Beth Hayward -- I talk about her elsewhere, but wanted to at least list her here, as she was important to me. That last semester of college, I used to come up to her dorm room and just sit and talk for hours ... it was quite pleasant. Her SCA name is Sorcha Caremon -- she wasn't in the SCA at this time, but she's since gotten very heavily involved.
Sharron Albert -- Sharron, SCA name of Morgana yr Oerfa, was (and still is) one of the driving forces in the Fairbanks SCA group. We had a friendship that was always a bit weird. She drove me to events in Anchorage sometimes when I didn't have another ride, and we mostly got along. When the Principality started to come into effect, she and I had a falling out (no need for details), but I think that's so long in the past that it's not an issue anymore. At least the last time I saw her in Alaska at an event there was no animosity there. <g>
Tania Opland -- Tania (SCA: Danpira Snowsong of Skyhaven) was one of those truly gifted musicians -- she made it all look easy. (Which was truly annoying to those of us who had to work at it.) She was always very nice, a lovely girl, but a bit ethereal -- I think she spent a lot of time in her own head. I mentioned earlier in this bio that I had a bit of a crush on her, but nothing ever happened there ... She's not active in the SCA as far as I know.
Adam (Moles?) -- (SCA: Adam Elfchaser) -- Adam is someone I met through the UACN in email, and we used to have long conversations about the nature of the SCA. He was in Juneau, and eventually we met and had a pretty good time chatting and stuff. I don't think we agreed on a lot of things, but that's nature.
Tim Weiss -- (SCA: Wolf Federweiss) an interesting character, to put it mildly. He lived a couple doors down the hall from me in the dorms the last year or two I lived in the dorms. He was a talented individual, but seemed to have a problem with remembering that the inner-voice needed to be filtered sometimes before it became the outer-voice. (I realize I've had that problem on and off over the years, but he really personified it ...) I was at least partially responsible for him getting into the SCA in the first place. He used to take notes in class in calligraphy (sheesh!), and I noticed this one day in some class we had together. I talked to him after class about the SCA, and ...
Mary Helms -- (SCA: Sharane de Kondrack) Mentioned elsewhere in some detail. Mary's household was still going strong at this point, was probably the largest in the SCA in Anchorage. She took in "strays" -- people who didn't have anywhere else to go, which meant she had an interesting mix of people. For reasons we don't need to bring up, Mary is no longer in the SCA.
Martin Cose -- (SCA: Fyodor the Friendly) Mary's boyfriend. She never married him ... dunno if that was just a generic decision by both or what. They were a couple until he died of cancer. Martin was always a joy to be around ... sigh.
Rich Myrick -- (SCA: Aldwin Longwalker) Rich was a good friend for the time I lived in Anchorage, although a guy who seemed to be sort of directionless most of the time. He seemed to not want any responsibility at all. That said, he was helpful in ways you could not expect. He would do anything for a friend if it was possible and not expect anything in return. Rich was one of the nicest people I ever knew. When I first met him he was in the Air Force, his job was pretty dull -- he refueled planes. He ended up actually being fired from the Air Force (dishonorable discharge). His father paid for him to go to the Alaska Computer Institute, and sent him a Kaypro computer with a cheap printer. I think I used the computer more than he did. After he graduated he got help from his father to pay for rent because he didn't really want to work. I don't want to say much here, because he was a bit frustrating in the "responsibility" area, and I'm trying to remember the Thumper Rule. I do know that I always liked him despite my frustrations. He died in September of 2001 of a heart attack, which was a shocker, since he's younger than I am (but he didn't exercise, didn't really take care of himself, so I suppose it wasn't that much of a surprise ...). I was quite saddened to hear it.
Chris Opland -- (SCA: Fanchion Mountaintamer of Skyhaven) Tania's older sister. She was always a nice young woman, but I honestly think that she was always in Tania's shadow. Tania is the one who had the guts and initiative to try things, and had the talent to get away with a lot. That's ok. Chris, last I heard, was still married, with children, and was quite happy. I don't know if she's still in the SCA at all.
Anne Clark -- (SCA: Alicianne de Montfort) My first "apprentice" in the SCA (an "official" student). Anne was an interesting one ... she had a pretty hard life, but I think she brought a lot of it on herself (like I should talk!). When I left Alaska in 1986, I released her as my apprentice. She eventually got the Pelican for her work with the heralds and such.
I am sure there are others. It's really hard to remember everyone. And as noted, some folk had more of a direct impact on me than others. It doesn't mean I didn't care about all those folk who came and went here, but ...
A Few Photos
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