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August Photo a Day Challenge

>> Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Tomorrow is August 1st so that means it's time to talk about the Photo a Day Challenge hosted by Chantelle at Fat Mum Slim. I started this daily photo challenge back in the middle of March. Since then I've seen many of my online and face to face friends join me in the fun. This is my montly reminder about the challenge and chance to encourage you to give it a try if you haven't. It really is a lot of fun and even more fun with people you know,

Every month Chantelle posts a list of subjects or prompts for each day of the month. This month Chantelle's post includes some extra ideas if any of the prompts have you stumped.

This is the list for August and Chantelle's instructions:

click image to view larger version

Joining the photo a day challenges is super easy and just as much fun! The first rule is, there are no rules. It’s all about being creative and just getting involved. Everyone is welcome to play along. Yes, even you Aunty Nancy.

Questions previously asked by photo-a-day photo-takers

What on earth is this photo a day?
Each month I reveal a list of daily prompts. All you have to do is use any camera you have {iPhone, Smartphone, Digital, DSLR, Polaroid … seriously anything that captures photos} and use the daily prompt as inspiration. For example if the day one prompt is ‘peace’, just take a photo of something that represents peace to you.

Why would I want to play?
Did I mention it’s fun? It is. It really is. It makes you take a little time each day to stop and take notice of what’s around you, as well as be a little creative. There’s also a rockin’ community of photo-sharers that like and comment on each other’s photos. Oh, and Pink {the singer, not the colour} played along in June. All the cool kids are doing it.

How do I share my photos?
This is the fun part. If you’re into sharing, then you have a few options. Just share to whichever social media platforms you like. The photo a day community is shared across Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Flickr, Blogs, Tumblr and more.
If you’re sharing on Instagram or Twitter – make sure you use the monthly hashtag {ie #photoadayaug} so that people can find your photos.
If you’re sharing on Facebook, you can share on your personal page, on your business page {if you have one} and/or over on my blog’s Facebook page. You can find it here.

I like to be nosey. How can I see other people’s photos? Please.
Once you’ve shared your own photo, why not check out everyone else’s pics? Check them out on the social media platforms mentioned above. Like them, love them, leave comments and enjoy being part of the photo-a-day community.

My dog was sick. I lost my iPhone charger. And I forgot to take a photo yesterday. What do I do now? Am I failure?
Never. Photo a day is all about having fun. So you skipped a day, so what? It doesn’t mean you have to fall off the photo-a-day bandwagon completely. You can either just pretend yesterday didn’t happen, or you can take two photos in one day. If you skipped a whole week, then just decide whether you want to make up some days or just start on the current day. Remember, there are no rules. By the way, I hope your dog gets better.

My choice is to participate in this challenge using only photos from my phone. Between Instagram and a few other photo appilications I have lots of options for editing photos on my phone. I have enjoyed seeing what I can do using just my phone and apps.

If you’d like to check out my previous photos they’re on my Tumblr blog at at Whimpulsiveness

I'm also now using ShutterCal too. You can see all my Photo A Day photos in a calendar format.

One of the great things about this is the flexibility. For me, using only photos from my phone takes a lot of pressure off for the photos to be perfect. That helps me to just relax and have fun with it.

I have created a Google Calendar for those who would like to have the daily prompts in their google calendar. Here is a link to the Instructions for subscribing to that.

If you've been participating I hope you'll continue. Please let me know where you are sharing your photos so that I can find them.

Here are a few of my favorites from the July Photo a Day Challenge. Click on the individual photos if you want to see a larger version.

July 1st - self-portrait
July 12th - texture
your addiction
July 17th - your addiction
July 18th - plate
July 20th - eyes
July 23rd - mirror


Confessions of a Serial Reader – The Ones With The Extra Stuff

>> Monday, July 30, 2012

Confessions of a Serial Reader

By extra stuff I mean the short stories or novellas or the related but not technically part of the series stuff.

Do you read them?

For me the answer to that depends on both the series and the format. I think ebooks have made the related short stories more accessible. I don’t have o buy an anthology of stories that only has one I really want to read. I can often get the short story for free or a reasonable price. Even without an ereader I’m much more willing to read a short story online or on my phone than a full book.

I have also used the extra short stories as a way to give an author or series a trial run to find out if I want to bother reading the books. Again availability as an ebook makes this a nice option.

These are a few of my series with extra stuff and my thoughts.

Silent Night
JD Robb’s Eve Dallas series has many short stories an novellas that have been published in various anthologies over the course of the series. I haven’t read any of them and don’t really have any desire to do so. I like the books but am quite content to do without the extras.

Precious and the Monkeys
Alexander McCall Smith has some childrens books featuring a younger school age Precious Ramotswe from his No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series. I seriously doubt I’ll ever read these. There is also a collection of short stories with one featuring Precious Ramotswe that I’ll probably skip too.

The Hangman by Louise Penny
Louise Penny did a novella featuring Inspector Armand Gamache and some of the recurring characters from her Three Pines series. This was a simply written story aimed at adult readers as part of a literacy program in Canada. I was able to get a copy of The Hangman from my library and enjoyed the story despite not being truly the target audience.

Plan B by Joseph Finder
I read a short story by Joseph Finder that introduced me to Nick Heller. I liked Plan B enough to put the series on my TBR list.

A Touch of Dead by Charlaine Harris
Charlaine Harris has a collection of short stories related to her Sookie Stackhouse series. I got A Touch of Dead from the library and liked them well enough. One contained a major piece of the ongoing story that explained why I felt a little lost at the beginning of Definitely Dead. I liked the rest of them well enough but was glad I got the book from the library rather than buying it.

I have several other short stories related to my current series on my nook and computer. I also have at least one related series on my TBR list that I haven’t started yet. Harlan Coben has a young adult series featuring the nephew of Myron Bolitar. I’ve heard good things about the first book in that series and hope to read it myself soon

What about you? Do you read the extra stuff? Have you read a short story that prompted you to read a series? Does a new series with a bit of a connection to familiar characters interest you?


Weekend Update June 29, 2012

>> Sunday, July 29, 2012

Weekend Update

Since my last update:
I finished both The 500 by Matthew Quirk and Mallory’s Oracle by Carol O’Connell this week. I liked them both quite a bit.
My plan for today is to start two new books. I’ll be reading The Prophet by Michael Koryta. The Hubster already read and enjoyed this one and because of that I know that football plays a part in the story. This is good because I’m getting antsy for college football season to start and a bit of a football fix will be nice.

I’ll also be starting the next in The Unwritten series of graphic novels. The first one was great and I actually have then next two out from the library to read (Inside Man and Dead Man’s Knock). I’m looking forward to immersing myself in these stories again.

Other than books and reading:
My ereader issues have been happily resolved. My replacement nook arrived on Wednesday and is working perfectly. I do appreciate good customer service.

It’s been a busy but pretty quiet week with nothing out of the ordinary on our schedule. It’s actually been kind of nice to have a weekend with nothing on the calendar. Yesterday The Hubster was able to get us to the BBC broadcast of Friday’s Olympics Opening Ceremony. We on the Pacific coast were several hours behind everyone else in getting the NBC broadcast and after reading the twitter stream of the east coast watchers we decided to avoid the NBC version. Thank goodness for proxy servers and The Hubster’s knowledge in getting that set up because we really enjoyed the BBC coverage.

One thing we did last Sunday was set up our new wireless printer. The Hubster had to work around Abby’s “help” but he got it all set up. It’s nice to not have to fire up the desktop in the den just to print something.

Abby helps
Abby "Helps"

Step 6 is nap on the instructions
Step 6 is nap on the instructions

Hope you’re having a great weekend.


Blind Goddess by Anne Holt

>> Friday, July 27, 2012

Blind Goddess by Anne Holt

Blind Goddess by Anne Holt

Genre: Mystery
Publisher: Scribner
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 343
Source: Library

The Short Version:
In the first of the Hanne Wilhelmsen series the Norwegian detective takes on a case of two seemingly unrelated murders that lead to a web of corruption and a complex drug trade organization.

Why I Read It:
I read the eighth book in this series last year because it was the first to be translated and released in the US. I knew I’d be reading more and was happy to see that the next one released here was the first in the series.

The Book:
From the publisher:

A small-time drug dealer is found battered to death on the outskirts of the Norwegian capital, Oslo. A young Dutchman, walking aimlessly in central Oslo covered in blood, is taken into custody but refuses to talk. When he is informed that the woman who discovered the body, Karen Borg, is a lawyer, he demands her as his defender, although her specialty is civil, not criminal, law. A couple of days later, Hanse Olsen, a lawyer of the shadiest kind, is found shot to death. Soon police officers Håkon Sand and Hanne Wilhelmsen establish a link between the two killings. They also find a coded message hidden in the murdered lawyer’s apartment. Their maverick colleague in the drugs squad, Billy T., reports that a recent rumor in the drug underworld involves drug-dealing lawyers. Now the reason why the young Dutchman insisted on having Karen Borg as a defender slowly dawns on them: since she was the one to find and report the body, she is the only Oslo lawyer that cannot be implicated in the crime. As the officers investigate, they uncover a massive network of corruption leading to the highest levels of government. As their lives are threatened, Hanne and her colleagues must find the killer and, in the process, bring the lies and deception out into the open.

My Thoughts:
Having read a later book in the series it was great for me to go back the beginning and read the first in the series. I hope that the remaining books are translated and released her in order.

Hanne Wilhelmsen is a crusty yet likeable detective. Hakon Sand is the prosecutor but the two of them have a good working relationship. It’s a character driven story and a good solid police procedural. I enjoyed that the pieces of the puzzle gradually fell into place and that initially unrelated things became intertwined.

It's part police procedural and part political intrigue type thriller. Interspersed between the sections about the investigation are sections with the unnamed perpetrators giving the reader a viewpoint broader than that of the detectives and prosecution.

The investigation plays out over a fairly lengthy period of time and the Hanne and Hakon's frustration grows with each dead end or death of someone connected with the case. These two and the lawyer Karen Borg are all interesting and complicated characters. Hakon Sand has feelings for the married Borg who is troubled enough all on her own. Wilhelmsen is a tough no nonsense character who I like despite her crustiness (in part because I'd already experienced the character at a later point in her career when I read 1222). She is greatly humanized by her relationship with her significan other. A relationship she keeps extremely private.

Holt knows her stuff. She spent two years working for the Oslo Police Department, had her own law firm and also served as Norway's Minister for Justice. That experience and expertise allow her to give a sense of realism to her characters and the story.

I will most definitely be watching for the next book in this series to be released in the US. It's due out in December. In the meantime I recommend this first one for fans of Nordic crime fiction or just good crime fiction in general.

4 stars Rating 4/5


Wordless Wednesday #145

>> Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Wave Action
Yachats, Oregon

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For more Wordless Wednesday, click here


Where in the World Are You Reading?: My Local Bookstore

>> Monday, July 23, 2012

Where in the World Are You Reading is a monthly themed Meme jointly hosted by Trish at Love, Laughter and a Touch of Insanity, Lisa at Books. Lists. Life. and Kailana at The Written World.

Where in the World Are You Reading

Click on any of the links for the posta that explain the details of the Meme. It's never too late to join in so please consider doing so.

The theme for July is Your Local Bookstore so this post is about my local bookstore. You can see the other posts for this month at this post on Trish's blog.

I'm lucky enough to live in Portland which is the home of Powell's Books. I love Powell's and I did a post last year about their famous downtown location Powell's City of Books. However when I shop for books I typically shop at Powell's location in Beaverton at Cedar Hills Crossing because I live in the western suburbs of Portland and it's much closer to my home and my regular shopping route.
Powell's at Cedar Hills
Note - as always - click on photos to view full size then use your browser back button to return to this post

This is a 'smaller' store than the downtown Powells' but small is most definitely a relative term. While small in terms of Powell's it's downright huge compared to many bookstores I have visited.
Powell's Cedar Hills Map
Does your local bookstore come with a map?: Even though unlike the main Powell's store this one is all on one level, it's still sometimes difficult to locate the shelf numvber the in store lookup computer points you to.
Powell's Cedar Hills

I love Powell's. I'm there on a regular basis. Sometimes it's just to browse, other times I'm on a mission. Sometimes I'm there to sell my books back.
Powell's sell your used books

One thing I appreciate about Poeell's is that as a local Portland resitdent I can order a book from their website and have it sent to the Cedar Hills store to pick up with no shipping costs.

This is just one aisle of my favorite section.
Powell's Mystery Section

Many booklovers who visit Portland area make a trip to the downtown Powell's but I can usually be found at their Cedar Hills Crossing location.
go to Powell's

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Weekend Update July 22, 2012

>> Sunday, July 22, 2012

Weekend Update

Since my last update:
It was a weird week for reading. It seemed like every time I sat down to read I either only had a few minutes or I had ereader troubles (more about that later). So I’m still reading The 500 by Matthew Quirk. It’s very reminiscent of Grisham’s The Firm but about Washington DC power brokers. I’m enjoying it during the rare moment I actually had to read it this week.

I’m also reading Mallory’s Oracle by Carol O’Connell. I’m only about 70 pages in but I’m liking it a lot. This is the first in a series that’s been on my TBR list for a long time and I’m very glad I finally got around to reading it.

On audio I’m listening to Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir by Jenny Lawson (The Bloggess). It’s alternating between truly laugh out loud hilarious and surprisingly touching in the moments where she talks about her miscarriages and anxiety disorder. She reads it herself and I think that’s a good choice for this book. I’m not sure anyone else could possibly be right for this book.

Other than books and reading:
I mentioned above that I had ereader issues. My nook Simple Touch (which I love) has been randomly freezing requiring a reboot. It was becoming more and more annoying but I have to say I was very pleased with B&N’s customer support. I was able to get some advice via online chat the other day with some steps to try to resolve the issue. When the problem cropped up again I was back online and chatting with them yesterday. They’re sending me a replacement so all should be fine soon.

It was a busy week with nothing much noteworthy happening. We had great get together with some friends yesterday for a BBQ down near Eugene – complete with wild turkeys and deer wandering through occasionally.

I did catch this with my phone the other day from my office. A pretty morning in downtown Portland.

morning in downtown Portland
Add caption

This week’s Abby Antics happened on Tuesday. I was working from home and she was exploring behind the TV in the den.
When she came out the other side she wasn’t sure how to get out.
possibly stuck Abby
"I may or may not be stuck between the TV and the file cabinet"

I was laughing so hard I wasn’t sure the pictures would turn out.

Hope you’re having a great weekend.


Audiobook – The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection by Alexander McCall Smith

>> Friday, July 20, 2012

The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection by Alexander McCall Smith

The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection by Alexander McCall Smith

Genre: Fiction
Series: #13 in the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series
Publisher: Recorded Books
Publication Date: 2012 Recorded Books (Book originally published 2012)
Length: 10 hours, 30 minutes
Read by: Lisette Lecat
Source: Library

The Short Version:
Precious Ramotswe comes to the aid of friends as one of the garage apprentices and also her friend Mma Potokwane find themselves in need of her assistance.

Why I Read It:
I have been and continue to be a fan of the audio versions of this series and I try to keep current.

The Book:
From the author's website:
In this latest episode in the beloved, best-selling series, the kindest and best detective in Botswana faces a tricky situation when her personal and professional lives become entangled.

Precious Ramotswe is haunted by a repeated dream: a vision of a tall, strange man who waits for her beneath an acacia tree. Odd as this is, she’s far too busy to worry about it. The best apprentice at Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors is in trouble with the law and stuck with the worst lawyer in Gaborone. Grace Makutsi and Phuti Radiphuti are building the house of their dreams, but their builder is not completely on the up and up. And, most shockingly, Mma Potokwane, defender of Botswana’s weak and downtrodden, has been dismissed from her post as matron at the orphan farm. Can the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency help restore the beloved matron to her rightful position?

As wealthy and powerful influences at the orphan farm become allied against their friend, help arrives from an unexpected visitor: the tall stranger from Mma Ramotswe’s dreams, who turns out to be none other than the estimable Clovis Andersen, author of the No. 1 Ladies’ prized manual, The Principles of Private Detection. Together, Mma Ramotswe, Mma Makutsi, and their teacher-turned-colleague help right this injustice and in the process discover something new about being a good detective.

My Thoughts:
I've said it many times before about this series but I just enjoy listening to Lisette Lecat's narration so much that I just can't imagine reading the print versions. Her voice characterizations of the regular and visiting characters are just a delight to my ear. This is a series that makes my driving around town time much more pleasant. I truly appreciate that she is the one who has to figure out and pronounce the names and places because I'd surely butcher them if I tried to sound them out to myself.

Although my library classifies this series as mystery fiction I hesitate to call what Mma Ramotswe and Mma Makusti work on as cases. This really isn't much of a mystery story. It's much more an ongoing story of Mma.Ramotswe and her family and friends as they live their lives in Botswana. By now with the 13th book the characters are old friends and I enjoyed another visit with them

I love Precious Ramotswe's love for her family, friends and country. I laugh at Grace Makutsi's constant reminders of her 97% final score from the Botswana Secretarial School. I was thrilled for Mma. Ramotswe to be able to meet her unwitting mentor when Clovis Andersen arrives in town. His total surprise at finding himself in a mentor role just adds to the fun.

Don't expect much of a mystery. Do expect to be transported to small town Botswana with a kind hearted main character and some oddball regulars in the cast. I haven't read any of the print versions but I highly recommend Lisette Lecat's audio versions.

3 stars Rating 3/5 for the book

4 stars Rating 4/5 for the narration

SoundBytes is a weekly roundup of audio book reviews hosted by Jen at Devourer of Books.


Wordless Wednesday #144

>> Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Yachats, Oregon

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15 Seconds by Andrew Gross

>> Tuesday, July 17, 2012

15 Seconds by Andrew Gross

15 Seconds by Andrew Gross

Genre: Mystery/ Suspense
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 323
Source: Copy provided by publisher through Bookbrowse

The Short Version:
When Dr. Henry Steadman is pulled over by an overzealous cop a bizarre series of events soon find him on the run and accused of two murders he did not commit.

Why I Read It:
From the Publisher:

15 seconds can tear your life apart . . .

Henry Steadman didn't know what was about to hit him when he pulled up to a red light. A successful Florida plastic surgeon, he is in town to deliver a keynote address at a conference when suddenly his life becomes an unrelenting chase to stay alive.

Stopped by the police for a minor traffic violation, the situation escalates and he is pulled from his vehicle, handcuffed and told he is under arrest. Several other police cars arrive and the questioning turns scary, but just as Henry is released and about to move on, a blue sedan pulls up and the officer is suddenly killed. As the car speeds away, there is only one suspect left behind–Henry. In that moment, his idyllic life becomes a free fall into hell as he becomes the target of a police manhunt, as well as being pursued by a cunning, unnamed perpetrator bent on some kind of vengeance.

When Henry turns to a close friend for help, and he, too, ends up dead, Henry realizes he's being elaborately framed. But in a chilling twist, the stakes grow even darker, and he is unable to go to the police to clear his name, without bringing on dire and deadly consequences.

My Thoughts:
I've enjoyed some of the books that Andrew Gross has co-written with James Patterson but this one was a disappointment. The fast paced and action filled story I expected was there but the believability of the events which initiated the story was missing. Although the author takes an event from his own experience and embellishes it into the story that is the basis for the book, he doesn’t manage to do it in a way that made sense to me.

The main character, Dr. Henry Steadman tells the sections from his viewpoint in an odd way. The tension and stress is told with exclamation points rather than action that draws the reader into the story. It’s filled with short simple exclamation point filled sentences that became annoying to me.

The confusing timeline in the first half of the book finally made sense but by then I didn't care. The second half included a ridiculous romantic angle and some pretty amazing (as in completely unbelievable) deductions by Steadman. It's not awful, but it's not one I can recommend.

2 stars Rating 2/5


Weekend Update July 15, 2012

>> Sunday, July 15, 2012

Weekend Update

Since my last update:
I finished both Gold by Chris Cleave and The Blind Goddess by Anne Holt. They’re very different but both were good. I’m now reading The 500 by Matthew Quirk. It’s a suspense thriller that reminds me of Grisham’s The Firm but with Washington DC power brokers rather than lawyers. So far I’m enjoying it. Later today I’ll be starting Mallory’s Oracle by Carol O’Connell. That one has been on my TBR list for quite a while and I’m glad to finally get around to reading it. I’ve heard good things about the series from folks whose opinions I trust

On audio I’m listening to Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir by Jenny Lawson (The Bloggess). She reads it herself and since all my audiobook time is when I’m in the car it’s like having her in the car with me telling stories. I’m enjoying it a lot. I find myself literally laughing out loud quite often.

Other than books and reading:
I mentioned last week that early July is family BBQ time for us. July 4th we always get together with The Hubster’s side of the family. My side of the family had their annual BBQ last Saturday.

That party involves lots of people and lots of food. We refer to it as the “Meatfest at Dad’s”.

Three grills and a smoker
This is the set up – three grills and a smoker

Making jambalaya in the driveway

and also my brother’s signature Driveway Jambaya

Driveway Jambalaya

I told you it was a meatfest.


My dad lives in Washington near Mt. Adams and the drive up and the scenery there is just beautiful.
Multnomah Falls
This is from the drive up - Multnomah Falls from a moving car with my phone.

Mt. Hood
Then on the way back we get this view of Mt. Hood

I can’t leave you without some Abby Antics. She experienced the paper shredder the other day and could not figure it out.
The paper goes in the shredder
The paper went in but it never came out.

but the paper doesn't come out of the shredder
I used up several pages of notepad just because she was so funny.

Hope you’re having a great weekend.


Audiobook – Casino Royale by Ian Fleming

>> Friday, July 13, 2012

Casino Royale by Ian Fleming

Casino Royale by Ian Fleming

Genre: Suspense
Series: #1 in James Bond Series
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Publication Date: 2000 by Blackstone (Book originally published 1954)
Length: 4 hours, 41 minutes
Read by: Simon Vance
Source: Library

The Short Version:
A quick fun book that has made me understand why so many people I know adore Simon Vance as an audiobook narrator.

Why I Read It:
Earlier this year after reading several discussions on Twitter I decided that the James Bond books might be good road trip books for The Hubster and I.

The Book:
From the publisher:
In the first of Ian Fleming's James Bond novels, 007 declares war on Le Chiffre, French communist and paymaster of the Soviet murder organization SMERSH. The battle begins in a fifty-million-franc game of baccarat, gains momentum during Bond's fiery love affair with a sensuous lady spy, and reaches a chilling climax with fiendish torture at the hands of a master sadist. For incredible suspense, unexpected thrills, and extraordinary danger, nothing can beat James Bond in his inaugural adventure.

My Thoughts:
Well that was a heck of a lot of fun!

No I haven't seen the movie. I've seen several Bond movies but not this one. A group of bloggers I know had been listening to the audio versions of this series and then watching and discussing the movies. Their chatter about the audiobooks sparked my interest. I'm always on the lookout for audiobooks that are a good length for The Hubster and I to listen to on various road trips. I figured we'd give this one a try and if we liked it we could continue with the series.

As far as the book itself goes, it was fun. Sure some of it is dated and unrealistic but it's such fun we don't care. That's why James Bond movies are still so successful. The story in this one was interesting and had an equal amount of surprises and predictability.

As for the audio production, I now 'get' the Simon Vance love. So many of the audiobook listeners I know just adore him as a narrator but I had never listened to a book he'd done. I can assure you that this one won't be my last. He is just excellent. His voice characterizations are spot on throughout the book despite having to tackle a variety of accents. His delivery conveys the right tone at the right time and makes the story enjoyable even in the places you'd think it shouldn't be. I never thought I could feel the tension of a high stakes card game by simply hearing it but Vance had us on edge and hesitating to turn off the ipod when we stopped the car.

Now we'll have to watch the movie.

3.5 stars Rating 3.5/5 for the book

4 stars Rating 4/5 for the narration

SoundBytes is a weekly roundup of audio book reviews hosted by Jen at Devourer of Books.


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