Karma's When I Feel Like It Blog

July 27, 2010

First Bite!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Karma @ 9:41 pm
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Just a quick post today for a first of the season.  I finally picked cucumbers from my garden!
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I actually tried using this as an exercise from the book I’m reading, Understanding Exposure, using a small aperture to try to get my garden in focus behind the cucumbers.  I’d thought I had it when I looked at it on my LCD, but as you can see here, the garden isn’t clear.  I think this was at f22.  I still have much to learn about lenses and such; I’m wondering if the garden isn’t clear because I was using the 55-250mm lens when I should’ve been using the 18-55?  I’m only just realizing now that aperture minimums and maximums are at the mercy of your lens.  I had no idea I couldn’t stop down past 5.6 when the lens is zoomed out.  I guess those numbers on the end of the lens should’ve clued me in.  But I digress…

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I made quick work of my first cuke and chopped it up to have with dinner last night.
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Delicious!

I’ve also picked zucchini and cayenne peppers from my garden –  so far, so good.  But for me, the real prize of the summer veggie garden is still to come, and by the looks of things coming very soon:
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(Side story about this blog post.  When I was writing this post in my mind, that picture of the tomato was where the post ended.  Unfortunately, as I sat down to write this evening, I realized the picture of the tomato that I took yesterday was in fact unfocused.  Dedicated blogger that I am -maybe a wee bit perfectionist? – I hiked out to my garden in the dark to get a focused picture of the tomato.)

July 26, 2010

Stopping By Plants on a Sunny Morning

Filed under: Uncategorized — Karma @ 7:38 pm
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…. with apologies to Robert Frost.

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Whose plant this is I think I know

The house is beyond the deck though

They will not see me stopping here

To watch the flies before I go

 

Hummingbirds must think it queer

To stop with a human near

Between the garden and the bush

The brightest morning of the year

 

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I give my wings a little shake

To get her to make a mistake

The only other sound is that

The camera shutter make

 

Hydrangea leaves are dark and deep

But I have many nymphs to keep

And miles to go before I sleep

And miles to go before I sleep

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July 23, 2010

Visitors

The butterfly bushes in my yard have gotten quite large this year and they have become the spot for meeting visitors to my yard, including the elusive hummingbird, who has been taunting me on a fairly regular basis now.  Lucky for me, butterflies seem to be happier to hang around and pose for a few pictures!  While I’m still waiting for a traditional monarch shot, I’ve gotten a few other interesting pictures, starting with the Great Spangled Frillitary a few weeks ago.

After the GSF, my next visitor to stay for a portrait was a Tiger Swallowtail:
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It stayed around long enough for me to take a bunch of shots.  These were my three favorites.  I don’t remember how much I was thinking about the white balance and exposure compensation and ISO this day;  I just remember excitedly clicking away.  Is it just me, or is there something about dSLR’s that makes you just want to shoot again and again and again?  Maybe its because I’m new to them. 

 On this same day, another critter that I discovered for the first time only two years ago, appeared for a sip at the butterfly bush.  Its called a hummingbird moth.  Have you ever seen one of these before?

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They are the size of a moth, sip from flowers like butterflies, and have wings that move as fast as, and allow them to hover like hummingbirds.

I danced around the butterfly bushes and the deck taking photo after photo of this fast-moving Pipevine Swallowtail.  It would land, I would focus, it would move.  I went up and down the deck stairs, to the tops and the bottoms of the butterfly bush chasing this butterfly around hoping for a nice shot.  Its movement was quite erratic and the wings rarely stopped moving so I found it challenging, but ended up with a few shots to share:
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After I chased it around for a while, and realized it seemed happy to feed at my bushes for a while, it dawned on me, uh, Karen, why not try a fast shutter speed?  Oh yeah, I can do that easily now…
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Stop-action on those crazy fast wings!  Yahoo! 

While this last one isn’t perfectly focused, I thought it had a bit of a moody, “artsy” feel to it with the edges of the wings in focus, the body blurred and the blue sky background:
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I’m still hoping that my camera-shy hummingbird will make an appearance one of these days while I am outside with the camera at the ready, but for now I’m happy that at least the butterflies gave me the time of day!

July 22, 2010

An Imagined Conversation

Filed under: Uncategorized — Karma @ 11:05 am
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Bella: You should really come in, dear, the water is lovely

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Edward: Oh, I don’t know if I really feel up to a swim today, darling.

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Bella: You know you want to sweet’ums!

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Edward: You know I’m helpless when you look at me like that, honey!
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**shuffles feet**

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Bella: Pretty please, with sugar and bugs and bread crumbs on top?

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Edward: Alright, lovemuffin, if you insist.

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Bella: See dear?  Isn’t that nice?  Now we can swim over and see those lovely girls passing out the bread crumbs!

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Edward: Breadcrumbs?  Well why didn’t you say so?  Let’s go!

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Edward: nom, nom, nom!

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Bella: Aren’t you glad you listened to me, love of my life?

Edward: You always know best, sweet cheeks.  Although the neighbors are a bit noisy…

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Jacob: Hmmph!  At least I don’t say things like sweet cheeks!

July 20, 2010

Hubby’s Birthday Dinner

Filed under: Recipes — Karma @ 9:06 pm
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Today’s post will be a departure from my norm.  I felt the need to share this recipe because it was really delicious and my whole family loved it!  This is a highly unusual occurance.  My younger daughter has always been picky beyond picky.  For a while in her past there was exactly 3 dinners she would eat without a fuss: chicken nuggets, fish sticks or grilled cheese.  Thankfully, she has recently expanded her palate and has been more willing to try new things.  My older daughter started out picky as a toddler (what toddler isn’t?) but came around to trying new things at a younger age.  She has developed true carnivorous tendencies over the years and prefers beef and pork to chicken.  So, since this meal was actually chicken, the fact that it turned out to be a crowd pleaser was rather amazing.  This was a bit of a cooking adventure for me, so luckily I thought to take pictures along the way.  It all started out with this:
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Saturday was hubby’s birthday and I gave him this book as one of his gifts.  He enjoys cooking.  He had to work Saturday night, so we planned to have his birthday dinner Sunday.  I asked him what he wanted for his dinner. ( The rule in our house is that you do not have to cook or do dishes on your birthday.)  He found a recipe in this cookbook for Bayou Rotisserie Chicken.  It sounded very good, but alas we have no rotisserie for our grill or elsewhere in our house.  But we do happen to have handy-dandy beer can chicken roasters.  You’ve heard of beer can chicken, right?  The concept is that you stand a whole chicken upright on a half-full can of beer to roast it.  The vapors from the beer are supposed to keep it moist inside and standing up you don’t scortch any side of the chicken.  We’d done that in the past, but the chickens aren’t always stable on the can of beer.  The roaster has a platform for support and a cylinder for holding the beer can.  So I decided to do Beer Can Bayou Chicken.  You have to do smaller birds for them to really balance on the beer cans, so I did 2, 4 pound birds.  Hubby’s mom was joining us for dinner as well so we had plenty of meat, plus drumsticks and wings for the girls – their preferred parts. 

Six to eight hours before you want to start cooking, the chickens get marinated in a brine of these ingredients, plus water:
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Mix ’em all up and pour over the chickens in a large ziploc bag:
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After brining, pat the chickens dry.  Smear them all over with dry rub made from these ingredients:
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The dry rub looks like this when you are done mixing:
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Next step, open 2 cans of beer, pour out half of each into a glass, serve to hubby ( or yourself if you care for that sort of thing.  I prefer a Mike’s Hard Lemonade myself.)  Place cans of beer into beer can roasters.  Slide chickens on to the beer cans like so:
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( Cue “Sledgehammer” by Peter Gabriel.  Didn’t you just love that video?  Hubby wanted to help pose the chickens with their wings out for this picture!)

Place chickens for off-set cooking on the grill.  We had the middle two burners on medium and the outer four on low.
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I ended up tenting the chickens with tin foil after about half an hour when the skins were browning quickly.  I also turned the two outermost burners off for a bit when it seemed to be getting a wee bit too hot (and by wee bit I mean the edges of the chickens were on fire!)  After about an hour and a half we had this:
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(Well, we had two of them, actually, but I forgot to take a picture before the first one was cut up!)  Hubby literally high-fived me when we had a little taste of that crispy skin!  That dry rub was delicious!  I filled out the meal with native corn-on-the-cob, homemade broccoli slaw and grilled zucchini, picked fresh from my garden.  It was quite the meal to be proud of, if I say so myself!

To finish off, cake of course!  I didn’t make this.  This lovely speciman came from our local Big Y:
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That’s chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting and fudgy swirls.  Man, that was good!

For those of you who’d like the recipes, here ya go:

For the brine:

8 cups water

1/2 cup kosher salt

1/2 cup bourbon

1/2 cup honey

1/4 cup lemon juice

1/4 cup hot pepper sauce

6 cloves garlic, minced

For the dry rub:

2 tbsp brown sugar

2 tsp paprika

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp onion powder

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1/4 tsp black pepper

The book also calls for 1 tsp of thyme (didn’t have it) and 1/2 tsp allspice (hubby doesn’t like it).  This was delicious without either of those, but feel free to give it a shot if it would make you happy!

Who wants to come to my next cookout? 😉

July 18, 2010

Dog Days

Filed under: Uncategorized — Karma @ 4:12 pm
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Like everything else this summer, the dog days seem to be early too.  Usually, at least here in New England, the humid, sultry days of  summer show up around the last week of July to the first weeks of August.  For the last few weeks around here, the average temperature  has been human body temperature and the humidity level has been pea soup.

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Daphne here shows the average activity level that anyone has been feeling up to performing.  I took advantage of the opportunity to practice focusing on a sedentary object at different zoom levels.

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Doesn’t she look soft and fluffy?  I think I’m seeing new levels of clarity with my Rebel buddy.

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“It’s getting a little too hot out here, Mom.  Let’s go back inside so I can lay on an air conditioning vent.”

Okay, Daph.  Whatever you think is best.

July 17, 2010

Thinking, Learning, Blooming

Filed under: What's Blooming — Karma @ 3:29 pm
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I want to start by saying thank you to all the photographers who have been reading this blog and giving me advice, especially since I got the new camera.  I’m spending time thinking about shots when I compose them.  I’m trying to remember what I have learned from the many awesome photos I’ve seen on your blogs.  I feel like I am beginning to bloom with my photography skill.   The zinnia above shows one of my better attempts to fill the frame with the zoom lens and keep the shot in focus.  I’ve unfortunately realized that just because a shot looks focused on the LCD, it doesn’t necessarily mean it is focused!

I’ve been thinking about composition.  I remembered Scott’s post about looking at any picture two different ways when I took these daylilies.  I thought they told a little story about daylilies: past, present and future. But I couldn’t decide which way looked better.  What do you think?
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I’ve been thinking about white balance and exposure compensation.
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I’m learning to take chances and to try to focus on the details.
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I’m looking for the beauty and interest in everyday things.
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I may be a late bloomer, but I hope that I am blooming and growing.
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(P.S. Happy Birthday to Hubby today! 🙂 )

July 15, 2010

New Photo Assignment Time!

Filed under: Photo assignments,Travel — Karma @ 10:26 am
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It is time for another photo assignment over at Scott’s place!  I love photo assignments.  I love the creativity involved in coming up with the shots, and I love seeing what everyone comes up with.  This time, Scott has generously given us almost two months to get our assignment done, even longer if you consider the early hints he’s given us along the way, beginning with a sneak-peek when he recapped May’s exposure assignment.  The new assignment is a travel photo essay.  He didn’t want anyone to worry when they heard the word “essay” since our common enthusiasm is photography, so he followed up with a post explaining exactly what was meant by photo essay and has included some great links for inspiration on the assignment page.

When I first saw that it was going to be a travel photo essay, I lamented that I didn’t have any exotic travel locales in my foreseeable future.  The last time I actually boarded a plane was 5 years ago when we took the girls to Disney World.
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(Goofies at Epcot’s Flower and Garden Festival)
Since then, my travel has been limited to the New England/ New York area.  Not that I haven’t had some fun destinations and photo opportunities!

Back when Shrew was actively blogging, Jennifer, Renae and I joined her for a beautiful time in Newport, RI:

(L to R: Shrew, Renae, Jennifer)

Mason, NH has become a regular destination for Jennifer, Renae and I as well.  We try to go a couple times a year to a lovely little place hidden away in the woods called Pickity Place where you will enjoy a wonderful luncheon made from the freshest ingredients, many grown right there in their gardens.

(The gift shop at Pickity Place decorated for autumn)

New York City has also become a fairly regular travel destination for me.  For the last few years, a bus trip to NYC for the day has been arranged for a very reasonable price through my work.  I’ve taken advantage each year it has been offered.
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(Central Park as viewed from the top of Rockefeller Center)

Of course, Cape Cod, a mere two hours away, is fairly regular destination.  My mom lives there, so my sister, girls and I make regular visits.  Hubby and I have the anniversary trip as well.
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(Race Point Lighthouse, Provincetown, MA)

Mystic, CT was another fairly local destination I had the opportunity to enjoy recently.
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(Sailboat docked in Mystic Harbor)

I’ll be doing my travel assignment for Scott when I go on vacation with my family in August for our annual week at the beach in Maine.  When we were children, virtually every summer our parents took us on vacation to Maine.  For many years, we went to Hills Beach in Biddeford, Maine, a little known gem of a quiet vacation place.  When condos started taking over the cute little cottages we used to rent, my parents started looking for places on Cape Cod instead.  After many years of taking my family to Cape Cod for our summer vacation, I yearned to return to the place of my youth, and started searching the internet for the possibility of finding a cute little cottage on that beach, and I was lucky enough to find a tiny place with this for the view:

Unfortunately, this sweet little place has gotten uncomfortably small for my daughters who had to sleep in a tiny loft.  Fortunately, I found a place for this year’s vacation just a few houses away that was still within our vacation budget.  I can’t wait to see what I will gather for this assignment with my new camera!  I’m looking forward to seeing what all of you will come up with as well!

July 14, 2010

Here Come the Critters

Filed under: Uncategorized — Karma @ 3:51 pm
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I still have some photos that I took with my old camera that I’ve been wanting to share; one of those blog posts that had been stacking up in my head over the last few weeks.  Before the fervor of the new camera took over, I’d been wanting to share some shots of a few “wild friends” that I’d taken recently.

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First, I like to think that the adult rabbits I see hanging around the yard eating the dandelions might be one of our baby bunnies from the spring.  This rabbit and I did a little “dance” around the yard as I tried to quietly approach and get a shot of the face, but I always ended up with a shot in profile.

Next up, Tracy and I were having a conversation about whether this was a red squirrel or not.  She thought maybe it was a juvenile gray.  I watched for it for several days, and eventually became convinced it was a red, but wasn’t able to get a picture.  Finally, one morning I got this one:
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and this one:
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The sun was behind the squirrel, and I was pleased with the way it lit up the tail.

I told the story in this post about the pictures of a male cardinal that I have been missing.  I still haven’t gotten a nice close-up, but not for lack of trying and missed opportunities.  On the morning that I took this cropped shot…
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… the cardinal had been sitting on my shepard’s hook that holds several hanging baskets of flowers in my backyard.  I had my camera with me outside, but by the time I had it on it flew up to this near-by tree, singing sweetly the whole time.

Another recent visitor to the yard was this one:
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I think this chipmunk popped up to the deck perhaps in search of some of the peanut butter crackers I’d been leaving out there in hopes of luring the red squirrel back for a closer shot.  Not wanting to squeak open the sliding glass door and scare it away, I took this through dog-nose smeared glass.  I should really think about getting the Windex out!

This last shot I am sharing because it is an unusual scene for the middle of suburbia.  It was taken during a walk with Teddy and Daphne, so I didn’t really have the chance to nicely compose, but it came out okay for having 130 pounds worth of dog waiting on the leash.
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Goats.  Yep, goats.  I remember the first time my girls told me there were goats living at a house on the street around the corner, I didn’t quite believe them.  Why would you have goats?  Maybe they like goats’ milk cheese, I really don’t know.  But here they are.  Teddy and Daphne were pretty sure they were some sort of unusual dog breed.

I think I still have a few pictures from the Olympus waiting for their chance to be featured.  Most likely they are flower shots, perhaps of some blooms that have gone by, so they will get their chance before the Rebel completely takes over the show.

July 11, 2010

First Shots with the Rebel

Filed under: Uncategorized — Karma @ 9:15 pm
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I am positively giddy with photo glee!  I spent some time today reading my new camera manual and taking some practice shots.  The shots are faaaarrrrrr from perfect, but for my first time out, I’m pretty darn happy!  I prematurely sounded the alarm to Brian this afternoon when I couldn’t figure out the whole situation with lenses and zooming and my macro lens, but with a bit more time thinking things through and some reassuring words from the FunkySlug, I happily clicked away.

Here’s a sampling of how things went.  I started out with the 18-55 lens and quickly discovered that this was the closest I could get to a miniature dahlia in one of my planters:
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Hmm, not quite as up close and personal as I am used to getting with flowers.  I switched to the 55-250mm, stepped back and zoomed in, and got this:
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Definitely better, but I wanted closer!  I attached my Raynox DCR-250 and got this:
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and this:
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Please forgive my lack of sharp focus here!  I was hand-holding the camera here when I should’ve been using a tri-pod.

Question now to you seasoned photographers: what size lens should I ask for for Christmas to get somewhere in-between?  I’m looking for frame-filling flower picture shots. 

Again not tack-sharp here, but I was pretty impressed with the magnification of this beetle.  In real life it was about 1/8″ long:
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That is a single blossom of butterfly bush that it is resting on.  To give you a frame of reference, one of these was its seat:
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The rest of the fun I had today was without the macro lens.  Teddy, who recenty got a post all of his own, was engaged in one of his favorite summertime activities today, “attack the water coming from the hose.”  Plants cannot be watered or pool toys be rinsed in this yard without also having to water the dog.  He insists upon it.  I joyfully snapped picture after picture of Teddy, thoroughly enjoying the complete lack of shutter lag and waiting for the camera to be ready again to take another shot.  I got a few shots (again not totally perfectly focused) very easily that I would have worked very hard for back when I was doing Scott’s exposure challenge.  I cheated a bit for today and used the “P” setting, which in this camera means it will choose the shutter speed and aperture for you while you pick ISO and play with manual focus.  Here’s what I got:

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This last shot cracks me up!  He looks so fierce and vicious, but that is the polar opposite of his personality.  Apparently, garden hose monster is a villian that must be vanquished!  When I got done laughing at this picture, I was kind of proud of what I captured.  All in all, not a bad first day with a DSLR!

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