Friday, January 27, 2012

Weekly Ketchup: All Kinds of Ranting, Devious Ways to Keep Your Kid Busy, and Toddlers and Tiaras Craziness


For those of us here in Autism World, it's an exciting / freaky time, what with the possible changes to the autism diagnostic criteria in the Fifth Edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual Mental Disorders (DSM-V). The New York Times successfully freaked us all out with a study about how those changes might impact people with autism, but after a cold hard look at the proposed changes, I (and several other people) are calling bulls**t on that study.

In my opinion, the DSM-V criteria may actually be more inclusive.  See my post at Strollerderby on Why I'm Not Freaking Out About the New Autism Diagnosis Changes.

I mentioned this on my Facebook page, but in case you missed it, I happened to have a meeting this week with a psychiatrist and a special education coordinator for our school district. I asked about what would happen to kids with existing PDD-NOS diagnoses, and Asperger diagnoses, for example. I was told that all of those people would now just be re-classified as "Autism Spectrum Disorder."  At least in our district, no one will lose educational services, which are supposed to be based on need, not diagnosis, anyway. I know that's just one district, but it's positive, so I thought I'd share it.

All that being said, there's no denying it's all very, very worrying to parents of kids with autism, and adults on the spectrum, too.  In an effort to explain to the rest of the world why we're all so worried about the proposed changes to the autism criteria in the DSM-V, I ran What Happens If You Lose Your Autism Diagnosis? on Redbook.

(Image courtesy of NickMom.)
Also related to autism, I wrote an update about the Caring for Military Kids With Autism Act (HR-2288) for Strollerderby, Situation for Military Kids With Autism Is Shameful. I went a little bonkers over this, so if you're in the mood for a really good rant, check it out.  There is a Congressional briefing on Tuesday to educate legislators about some of the barriers and difficulties faced by military families trying to get help for their kids. Seriously, we owe these families better. I called my Congressperson and told him so, and he's sending a staffer to the briefing.

In funnier stuff, over at NickMom, I had:




I also came up with a brilliant Etsy
business idea: crocheted merkins!
You could call it CrotchCrochet.
You're welcome.
And, of course, right here we all got to learn about the latest in merkin fashion with Merkins: Because Untamed Va-Jay-Jays Are So 2010. You know, as much as I don't like to judge what kind of crazy s**t people do in their bedrooms, I'm going to go ahead and say that ripping out all of your pubic hair, to replace it with someone else's hair, and paying over $200 for this, is just about the stupidest thing I've ever heard of.

OMG, wait! I almost forgot! I also had a thing over on Strollerderby about a Toddlers & Tiaras mom suing several media outlets for sexualizing her five-year-old daughters. Obviously, being on Toddlers & Tiaras wouldn't have done that in the first place, right? And it certainly didn't happen when she let her daughter be videotaped singing LMFAO's "Sexy and I Know It."  For more on that special brand of crazy, see Toddlers and Tiaras Mom Sues Media For 'Sexualizing' 5-Year-Old.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Merkins: Because Untamed Va-Jay-Jays Are So 2010

Way back in 2010, I wrote a post called My Weekend Shopping: Vodka, Enemas, and Untamed Va-Jay-Jays, which brought you, among other things, the news that Brazilian bikini waxes were so old school that it was now totally rad to leave some of your pubic hair alone. (Certainly not all of it, or anything.) That post also detailed some of the other popular crotch trends of 2010, including vajazzling and not using the word "vagina" on the cover of Cosmo.

So imagine my delight when a helpful reader named Susan brought to my attention the following headline from TMZ: 'NY Housewives' Star Cindy Barshop: 'The Merkin Biz is Booming!'

First of all, you know any fashion trend brought to you by TMZ is going to be full-on awesome. Secondly, the word merkin is enough to send me into fits of giggles.

Merkin. Merkin. Snicker.


A merkin, for those who don't know, is a pubic hair wig. A toupee, if you will, for your crotch. According to Wikipedia (thank God SOPA is dead, right?):
The Oxford Companion to the Body dates the origin of the pubic wig to the 1450s. Women would shave their pubic hair and wear a merkin to combat pubic lice, and prostitutes would wear them to cover up signs of disease, such as syphilis.
Well, that's hot.

So, according to TMZ, there is now a trend for women to have all of their pubic hair waxed off (ouch) and then replaced with fake pubic hair.

Oh, but not just any hair. I did some research on this, y'all.  The best ones are made with human hair. Sometimes it's dyed fun colors and sometimes it's left, um, "natural." Because it's totally natural to glue someone else's hair to your crotch.

"Real" Housewife Cindy Barshop, who owns some kind of waxing/vajazzling/merkin shop, says that the newest merkin trends are fur and feathers.

"Carnivale Bikini," for the Vegas Showgirl
in you.
(Image: Completely Bare.)
 
Let me just say that again: According to Ms. Barshop, people willingly shell out $195 to have all their pubic hair ripped out and replaced with feathers. This is called the "Carnivale."  She also offers the "Foxy Bikini," starting at $225, in which pubic hair is replaced with glued-on fox fur. The fox fur is available in several different colors.

Because you really want to add more crazy to this story, enter PETA. Huffington Post reports that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, have unsurprisingly slammed the trend. What is surprising, however, is their use of obscenity in their statement. They chose language so foul that I don't even use that word, and I swear like a drunken sailor.
"Foxy Bikini," described by Gawker as "nightmare porno
from the id of Dr. Seuss."
(Image: Completely Bare.)

But back to the merkins. I'm sure you immediately have all kinds of questions, just like I did. Happily, I've already researched the topic, to save you from getting your computer all infected with viruses that are surely found on the websites I've been to in the last 24 hours.  Here's a summary of my research:

  • You glue the things on with something called "spirit gum." Spirit gum is waterproof, but I'm guessing the feathers and fox fur are not. Sadly, Cindy Barshop's website does not offer any advice on care and maintenance of the merkin. I'm sure your local dry cleaner has more information on the proper way to clean and store all your fine merkins.
  • Spirit gum comes off with spirit gum remover (sold separately). That sounds painful, but once you've had all your pubic hair ripped out, maybe nothing else hurts in comparison.
  • There is an unfortunately-named designer of expensive and really beautiful handbags named Lauren Merkin. If I had $200 to blow, I'd totally spend it on a Merkin clutch rather than a Barshop crotch-wig. Added bonus: I'd be able to say things at the next PTO meeting like "have you seen my new Merkin? It's snakeskin."
  • Tip: If you get bored with gluing your merkin to your va-jay-jay, you can always use it as fake chest hair or a fake goatee. Top that, Hints from Heloise.
  • Etsy has a really disappointing selection of merkins. I was hoping for all kinds of crazy-ass crocheted nonsense. And there was like, one thing made out of felt that looked like a preschool art project. So for those of you who are crafty: there's a big business opportunity for ya. You're welcome.
  • If you were going to craft your own Merkin, I'd like to recommend Martha Stewart's line of "glitter eyelash" yarn from Lion Brands. Martha is totally affordable and always tasteful. Plus, then you could advertise on Etsy as selling exclusive Martha Stewart merkins. You might not even get sued!

Martha Stewart Yarn 'n' Omnimedia: For all your merkin needs.
(Image: Lion Brand Yarn.)
I normally don't like to be too judgmental with people's pubic hair; I mean, if you want to have all your hair ripped out, go nuts. However, I am going to go ahead and say this: if you're spending $225 to have all your pubic hair ripped out, and then replaced with pink fox fur, you might have too much time and money on your hands. You could totally DIY this at home for like, 1/50th the cost.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Weekly Ketchup: Kidney Transplant, Porn for Preggos, and Mommy Apps

Here's what I did and where I was this week:

Here on SRMM, I had Not Enough Ketchup in the World: 12 Foodie Trends for 2012, which clearly demonstrates why I'm not a food blogger.

At Strollerderby, my week was dominated by the story of Amelia Rivera, a three-year-old New Jersey girl with Wolf-Hirschhorn Syndrome. Her mom, Chrissy Rivera, says that Amelia has been denied a kidney transplant by my beloved Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, solely because Amelia is cognitively impaired. My original story is here, a second update is here. If you've been following along the whole time, you probably just need my latest installment, which corrects some mis-information that's out there about Amelia's story, and lists some big names that have thrown their support behind her cause.

If you're moved by Amelia's story, please consider signing the change.org petition asking CHOP to reconsider its transplant decision. If you're not already an organ donor, you can register with your state at organdonor.gov.

Amelia Rivera (family photo).
To balance out the sadness of Amelia's story, I also ran


Over at Redbook's blog, I had a post called 8 Mommy Apps I'd Actually Pay For (my favorite idea being iNap).

I didn't have any big posts for NickMom this week, except that I contribute to NickMom's daily "Take 5" column that gives you a motherfunny look at the daily headlines.  My fave this week was from Thursday, because who doesn't enjoy a good serial killer joke?

By the way, there was a post over at NickMom that I didn't write, but I think is hilarious: A Guide to Your Fellow Facebook Moms: The Oversharing Mom by Margaret Ables.

Finally, thank you to everyone who has emailed me their concerns about the New York Times report about the new proposed changes to the DSM-V diagnostic criteria for autism.  I'll have something on that in the next day or so. I'm still processing the trauma of reading them. I was so kind of okay with the original proposed changes (which I reviewed her last January) but I'm pretty horrified by the new proposed changes.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Not Enough Ketchup in the World: 12 Foodie Trends for 2012

All the media outlets are abuzz with their predictions for 2012, and one of the favorite things to write about seems to be food trends.  For those of you who don't know, "food trends" are things that excite people who don't have to make the same dinner every night for their picky, OCD-ish kids.

Here are twelve of the most insane food predictions for 2012, and why they will or won't work for my family. They're probably also twelve reasons I'm not a food blogger, but whatever.


Image: Quick
1. Black Food 
Several sources cite black food as being a major 2012 food trend, and we’re not talking about squid ink pasta. We’re talking about “health water” that’s black (because that certainly doesn’t remind me of the Plague). It’s even come to the mainstream (if anything European can be considered mainstream) at the European fast food chain Quick, which presents the Dark Vador Burger. I guess misspelling Vader is also trendy. My family is dying for these things to come to the U.S. I’m on board too, because I don’t need much of a reason not to cook.


Image: Wikimedia Commons
2. Squirrel Meat
CNN reports that squirrel meat may be a food trend for 2012, because it’s ecologically sound. Well, sure. I mean, there are about 20 of those obnoxious little bastards in my backyard right now. As a mom, all I can say is that this is an excellent way to mess with your kids. 
“Mom, what’s for dinner?” 
“Squirrel nuggets.” 
“Fine, I will never complain about your cooking being boring again.” 
“WINNING.”


Image: I have mad MSPaint skillz, yo.
3. So, therefore ... Black Squirrel?
OMG! We have a black squirrel in our backyard, too. We call him Darth Squirrel. I bet if I mash up the squirrel trend and the black foods trend, I could be on Top Chef.  Remember, people: black squirrel. You heard it hear first.


Image: Wikimedia Commons
4. Creepy “Odd Bits” Cuts of Meat 
Good Housekeeping enthusiastically proclaims “odd bits” of meat to be a trend for 2012. “Tongue, gizzards, pigs' ears, tripe, chicken livers, beef heart, pork belly, lamb neck, oxtails! Yes!” Um, no. As hard as this economy is hitting my family, I’d rather just eat spaghetti again, thanks.



Image: Simon Howden
5. Blood
The James Beard Foundation giddily sees blood pancakes, blood cups, sauces thickened with blood, and chocolate -blood ice cream in our future for 2012. You know what? I don’t care how much your tweens love Twilight or how much you love soft core porn True Blood. That's just nasty. 



Image: Wikimedia Commons
6. Toadfish
Fox News, always an arbiter of even-handed reporting good taste, predicts that over-fishing of traditional choices will lead us to find some more exotic fish for dinner. Among them: paiche, fugu, and toadfish. My plan: after some whole toadfish shows up at our table a couple times, my kids will be all over the salmon they're rejecting now.


Image:  Danilo Rizzuti

7. Moss and Lichen
Chef and author Rozanne Gold, self-proclaimed creator of food trends, predicts that we'll soon be eating moss and lichen. Of course, I just said that people will eating squirrels with Darth Vader helmets, so it turns out that anyone with access to the Internet can say they create food trends.



Image: Joseph Valks
8. Rabbit and Goat
Huffington Post says rabbit and meat will be on our plates for 2012. Before you get on board with this, you should know that when you buy rabbit to cook, it looks like a rabbit. There is no mistaking a bunny leg when you see it, with or without fur. Also, there is probably no stopping your husband from grabbing said bunny leg, and making it "hop" across your counter. I know this, because once, for an allergy test for my son, I had to cook some rabbit meat. The butcher included in the package the teeny, tiny little organs. What the hell? I almost passed out. I was actually grateful my son turned out to be allergic to rabbit. 
Fatal Attraction Bonus: My husband picked it up for me on the way home from work. He brought it into the kitchen, holding up the bag, and said “I will not be ignored.”



Image: Wikimedia Commons/Project Guttenberg
9. Whey
Bon Appetit says whey will be trendy for 2012. Finally, the kids can understand what the hell Miss Muffet has been eating.



Image: Jeroen Van Oostrom
10. Cookies for Breakfast
Bon Appetit also says "cookies for breakfast" are hot. Bon Appetit doesn't have autistic kids, obviously, because cookies are not for breakfast. Just like orange juice is not for lunch, pancakes are not for dinner, and sandwiches can only be eaten between the hours of 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Plus, thanks to Little Dude's extremely black-and-white thinking, if I ever did convince him that special healthy cookies were for breakfast, he would then apply that information to all cookies. I would have to call the cookies something completely different. Like flat muffins. It all just seems like too much work for me at 7 in the morning.


Image: Matt Mendoza
11. Mismatched Dishes
Oh! I can do this one! HuffPo also says mismatched dishes will be at all the coolest restaurants. Turns out I have been on the cutting edge this whole time, with my mix of "fine china" from IKEA, Target, and Dora.



Image: Wikimedia Commons
12. Some Extremely Complicated and Expensive Appliance
Foodies are all so excited they could pee, because some extremely complicated machine called a sous vide is now available for home use.  Apparently the deal is that you vacuum-pack your food, and then cook it in an "immersion bath" of hot water. Dude. Isn't that how you make frozen creamed spinach? You throw the plastic baggie in a pot of boiling water? Not impressed. For that kind of money (home sous vide machines cost between $300 and $800), someone could just deliver food right to my door and I wouldn't even have to cook.  For months.


Friday, January 13, 2012

Weekly Ketchup: Smartphones, Autism Studies, and Rectal Valium

While I wasn't writing about important topics like Rectal Valium here on my blog, I was whoring myself out on a bunch of other sites!













  • I also covered two Girl Scout cookie boycotts. The first story is about some Scouts in Ohio who are refusing to sell cookies, protesting their camps being closed.  The second story is about a teen Girl Scout who, apparently going for her "Prejudice" badge, who posted a rant on YouTube about transgender kids being allowed to participate in Girl Scouts.  She seemed to be speaking on behalf of an organization called Honest Girl Scouts, who are an early front-runner in the competition to be 2012's Douchebag of the Year.  Apparently they believe that Girl Scouts of the USA has a "pro-lesbian agenda" and are particularly galled by the fact that world-renowned author and feminist Betty Friedan, who founded the National Organization of Women, was a member of GSUSA's board for 12 years.  Horrors!

That last story ended up being my favorite one of the week, because it totally backfired and now tons of people are ordering more cookies, because they just realized how awesome, inclusive, and progressive the Girl Scouts organization really is. Thanks, Bigoted Teen!

Also, when I discussed at dinner with my kids about the girl who opposed allowing transgender kids in Girl Scouts, my daughters immediately pointed out that posting a bullying rant on YouTube is not following your Girl Scout promise. We talked about what it means when you promise to be "considerate and caring," and to "respect myself and others."  Then the three of them recited their Girl Scout Promise, and then my heart exploded.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Rectal Valium

Valium savings bank via Amazon.
I seem to have walking pneumonia. Walking pneumonia isn't the serious kind, where you get to take a nice little rest in the hospital.  It's merely the annoying, make-you-feel-like-crap-but-you-still-have-to-go-about-your-day kind. If you'll recall from my super-scientific graph on NickMom, moms don't really get to have sick days.

Last night I was texting with my awesome friend Tina, whining about my lame-ass illness.

Tina has a son who is profoundly disabled. He has cerebral palsy and mito and seizures and all kinds of stuff going on. He also has a stomach virus right now, so his seizure meds aren't really working so well.  Regardless, Tina is freaking hilarious and awesome and non-whiney.

My smartphone isn't all that smart, so I can't just show you a screen-capture of the conversation, but it went like this. Watch as my Nyquil high takes me down a path of something that probably only I think is hilarious.

Me: Whiney, whine, whine. (Not what I actually wrote, but might as well have.)

Tina: Aiden had 3 seizures on Monday. Now I'm getting an order for Valium to be administered rectally. Yay me. ::rolls eyes::

Me: Poor kiddo. The least the docs could do is write a scrip for oral Valium for you, then.

Tina: Meh, I already have my Xanax.

Me: I can think of a few people who could use some rectal Valium, actually.  Of course, Rick Perry would have to remove that giant stick he's got up there first.

Tina: To clarify, the rectal Valium is only to be administered if a seizure lasts more than 5 minutes.

Me: Oh, well that certainly makes it easy to administer, doesn't it?

Tina: Exactly.

Me: "Rectal Valium" is going to be my new catchphrase.

Me: If I was starting a new blog tomorrow, I would call it "Rectal Valium."

I assume during this time, Tina got bored with my Nyquil-induced insanity, and turned off her phone. Subsequently, I passed out.

This morning, the exchange is staying with me.  You know the concept of "it could always be worse"? Sure, I may have annoying pneumonia, but I don't have to attempt to rectally administer Valium to a mid-seizure child. Now, every time I feel like I've got it bad, I'm going to think: Rectal Valium.

It's a multi-purpose phrase, though.  Because also, every time I see Rick Perry in the news, I'm going to think: Rectal Valium.

Uptight mom at PTO?  Rectal Valium.

Remember the time I had you thinking about untamed va-jay-jays all day? I'm pretty sure now you're going to have the phrase Rectal Valium running through your head for the rest of the day. You're welcome.  I look forward to hearing about how you manage to incorporate this useful phrase into your conversations.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Autism and the Immune System: Gahhhhh Why Don't They Always Listen to the Moms?

I'm kind of crushing on Tan Jun, Ph.D., M.D.,
the team leader on the amazing new
research coming out of University of
South Florida. (image: USF)
Yesterday, some news broke about research results showing a link between autism and immune system function.  I immediately linked it on my Facebook page, but I wanted to share it here, as well. Here's the article, from the University of South Florida's Rashid Laboratory for Developmental Neurobiology.

When it was first suggested that Little Dude should be evaluated for autism, I retreated to total denial reached out to my friends who have autistic kids. Some of these moms were moms I had originally connected with because their kids had so many food allergies, something all four of my kids had struggled with.  (See my DNA Double Helix of Crap for more on that.)

When I started sending e-mails out, I realized that all my autism mommy friends were also my allergy mommy friends.  Now, not all my friends with allergic kids have autistic kids, obviously.  But I think that all my friends with autistic kids have allergy kids. Some may have a handful of allergies, and some have extremely restricted diets.

I emailed Little Dude's pediatric allergist, and asked him what the f**k was up with that if there was any research on a link between allergies and autism, and if not, could he please get on that. He replied right away, because he's awesome like that, even though he's the chair of one of the top pediatric allergy departments in the country.  He said that although they see a lot of autistic kids with allergies, there wasn't any scientific evidence of a link, or one causing the other.

I did conduct a completely unscientific poll here on the blog, which showed that a full 70 percent of my readers' kids with autism had food, medicine, or environmental allergies.  Most had a combination of those.

Yesterday I emailed him the study from USF. His response this time was something along the lines of "I know, I know, we're trying to get research funding right now."  Which probably translates to "Of course I read that, you crazy lady, now leave me alone so I can get back to helping kids."

This study out of USF is amazing. To me, it's the most important, and most helpful, autism research to come out in ages. It offers the possibility of actually answering a lot of questions about autism, and it offers the possibility of a blood test for autism.

I wrote more about my view on this research for StrollerDerby today, hopefully bringing more awareness to the mainstream about why this kind of research is so valuable to families like ours.  You might want to check it out, because it has stuff like this:

My crappy DNA, personified: See how the asthma guy is gasping for breath?
And the autism guy
is actually looking away from the camera?
It's uncanny, I tell you.
(Original Image by StockPhoto; Added Nonsense by me.)
Click here to read my post for StrollerDerby on Babble!

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Good News and Bad News for SRMM

Yes, I'll be mixing
 my ADHD meds
directly into my
coffee to  keep up
with all this.
2011 was a pretty exciting year for me, writing-wise. I started blogging for Redbook Magazine's online site The Motherboard. I was named to Babble's Top 100 Mom Blogs list. I got in on the ground floor with Nickelodeon's new, hilarious, NickMom project.

Starting today, I'm also writing for Babble.com's Stroller Derby, which brings you parenting news throughout the day.  I'm going to do my best to bring special education news, and particularly autism news, to the forefront.

Of course, sometimes I'll just be bringing you nonsense, like today's slideshow post: 8 Celebrity Trends Moms Want to See in 2012.  Because when 2011's biggest celeb trend was marriage break-ups, it's time to change tracks, Hollywood.  How am I supposed to explain the news to my kids when Hugh Hefner and Crystal Harris displayed the best relationship judgment of the year?

I know.  All such fabulous news.  So where does the bad news come in?

Don't worry, I'm not shutting down the blog.  In fact, I'm going to need the therapy of writing here more than ever.  The bad news at our house is that my husband, the Absent-Minded Professor, was laid off from his job right before the holidays. Because, you know, Merry Freaking Christmas, right?

Merry. Freaking. Christmas.
Yes. The job we moved back to Pennsylvania for.

As always, we're trying to stay positive. We enjoyed having Daddy home for the kids' winter break, for the first time ever.  Having the Professor home also means lots of things are getting done around the house: he pulled the stove out and cleaned behind it yesterday.  So that's an up-side to the immense stress and guilt the poor guy has going on.

With all the insanity we've had over the last two years, I don't regret any of the decisions we've made.  As parents, and as a couple, we continue to make the best choices we can, based on the information we have at that time.  Moving to Texas was a great experience for our whole family; moving back to Pennsylvania brought me back to an immense support network of friends.  At the time the Professor took this job, it seemed like a good choice.  It was a good choice.  And there's not a lot we can do, as two people, to fix this economy.

Don't go feeling sorry for us, though.  I'm in a great marriage, to a man I adore and who adores me.  I have four amazing kids, who may be nuts quirky, but are healthy and happy.  We're grocery shopping at the cheapest of the cheapy-cheap food stores, but we have food.  And friends. And family.  Life is good and I'm grateful for the problems we have.

My hubby is sending out resumes right and left, and we're optimistic that he'll find a good job soon.  In the mean time, I'm going to do my best to bring home the bacon (::drool:: ... delicious bacon...) with my little writing projects.

Thanks for reading my blog, and for checking out my writing all over the Interwebz.  Without you, believe me, none of these places would be interested in my writing.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Six Headlines I'd Like to See in 2012

Gahhhhh the headlines were depressing in 2011.  Here are a few I'm hoping for in 2012.

1. 2012's Must-Have Fashion Accessory: Noise-Cancelling Headphones
Sensory dysfunction is the new black!



2. Researchers Stop Studying Things Any Mom Could Have Told Them for Free
Instead work on developing better ADHD and autism screening tools for girls.






3. Politicians Stop Dumping Money into Obnoxious TV Ads
Saved money is donated to public schools; restores special education, arts, textbooks, teacher salaries.



4. No Child Left Behind Ends to Tumultuous Applause
Teachers no longer have to spend 95% of their time "teaching to the test;" my kids' anxiety over standardized testing recedes.







Special education classroom aide bully Kelly Chaffins of Ohio.

5. Standards, Training, Pay Raised for Special Ed Classroom Aides
Schools finally able to hire people who don't think stuffing kids into duffel bagsshoving vinegar-soaked cotton balls into kids' mouths, or verbally abusing kids is a good idea, instead of the douchebags who appeared in the news in 2011.






6. Generic Adderall Shortage Ended Forever
Pharmaceutical companies finally have heads out of asses. Related news: Asshat college students buckle down and/or use NoDoz instead of blackmarketed ADHD meds, thereby freeing up the supply for my kid who actually has ADHD

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