Thursday, April 30, 2009

Interconnection


I am often touting the efficacy of our interconnection not only to each other, but also to nature herself.

For too long we modern humans have taken for granted, ignored and abused the very nature that feeds, cures and shelters us. We forget there is a symbiotic relationship between all life and we are all in service to each other.

The native peoples of the world see it differently. They acknowledge with thanks the life they take for food. They vocally appreciate the plants they take for medicine and sustenance and they are careful not to take all so that the nature kingdoms and the phylum families can replenish what is harvested.

Modern mind has forgotten that appreciation is a viable communication link between species and kingdoms and that giving thanks connects all of us to the One Source of All That Is.

The Findhorn experiment surprised science years ago, that a new age community working with nature divas and angelic spirits and compost could grow unusual plants, fruits and vegetables in the inhospitable climate of Northern Scotland.

Findhorn’s secret, if you need to call it that, was to acknowledge a plant kingdom and diva caretaker existence, listen to their needs, and say, “thank you.”

I bring all this up to offer a consideration.

What if the occasional story of a Dolphin saving a human from a shark attack, of pet dogs protecting a lost child in the woods with the warmth of their bodies, or of a food source appearing and sacrificing its life in time of great hunger, what if all these unusual happenings are nothing other than a way to get our attention to acknowledge our interconnection to all things?

What if disease is a way to get our attention?

What if? I’m just asking!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Barbecue


It's been hot enough the past few days here in the East to think it was summer. Temperatures were in the 90's. When it gets that hot most of us start thinking about cooking outside and the proverbial barbecue.

A Barbecue is generally an outdoor social gathering in which food is roasted over an open fire, unless it rains.

Today some merchandisers use the word to signify a flavor, such as a barbecue sauce. Some have even shorted the name to initials. BBQ stands for Barbecue. The word originally comes from the Spanish. It was a term for a wooden framework supporting meat or fish to be smoked or dried over a fire.

It took New York City to make the barbecue a happening. It was during the Presidential campaign of 1876.

That year, the Republicans roasted two oxen, nearly two thousand pound of meat. It took two days to cook them and 800 loaves of bread to make them into sandwiches and over 50-thousand people heard five republicans speakers tout the virtues of Rutherford B. Hayes.

It was some barbecue. Hayes won the election.



Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A Photo Op?


I know the big story is Swine flu, but if you were living in New York City tell me you would not be emotionally affected with an FAA antic on Monday.

An aircraft, a large 747, albeit escorted by a fighter jet, sauntered down the Hudson River over, or at least very near ground zero, flew near skyscraper height and nobody really knew it was going to happen.

The FAA called it a photo op. Good gracious, now we’ve got idiots working for the Federal Aviation Authority. Somebody there doesn’t have his or her tray table uptight and locked.

What is wrong with the FAA bureaucratic dunderheads? The mayor of New York didn’t know about it. The people in the standing towers of Wall Street and lower Manhattan were not warned that this was to happen. It is no wonder thousands rushed to the streets in panic with memories of September 11th swirling in their wake.

A photo op? A large jet flying low over lower New York City, what were they thinking?

I’m a pilot. I have flown that Hudson Corridor dozens of times on sight seeing and business flights. If I’m in an aircraft or in a building looking out the window and I see a 747 flying low and even with a fighter jet nearby, I’m thinking hijack and attack.

You know what it was? The Defense Department wanted to update their photos of the Presidents plane with National Monuments in the background; the Statue of Liberty in this case.

You know what the official email to the New York Police Department said? "Information in this document shall not be released to the public or the media."

Dumb, double dumb.

Somebody at the FAA and the Defense Department ought to get their butt kicked.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Garbage Man


Sometimes casual conversations provide a lesson in humility.

A number of years ago I was a known public figure by virtue of being a local television anchorman in a large metropolitan market.

I was on the air delivering the news each weeknight at six o’clock and eleven O’clock and did so for many years.

On weekends, I would choose to get away to the mountains for relaxation in a reclusive environment. Sometimes my family would join me and other times I would go alone.

Late one Friday night after a newscast I drove alone to a mountain cabin, I stopped at a roadside tavern to pick up a six-pack of beer. I ordered the beer and said to the bartender I’d have a short one since I was only a few miles from my destination.

As he poured a small glass of draft with a creamy bead on it the guy next to me said, “I know who you are”. I introduced myself and said, “thank you for tuning in from time to time.”

He said, “You have an interesting job.” I agreed with him. Then he said, “I do too.”

“What do you do?” I asked.

“I’m a garbage man.” He replied. Before I could say anything, he continued. “ I see more wonders of nature hanging off the back of a garbage truck than most people see in a lifetime.”

I listened with wonder and attention as I sipped my beer.

He said, “You know, there is one spot in all these beautiful mountains were you can see seven mountain tops from one spot. Not very many people know where that is. I’ll show you sometime if you’d like?”

I said, “ I would.”

We never did connect again. I’m sorry we didn’t for I would have like to have known this fellow a lot better.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Tulips Talk

















Good Morning All,

Another wonderful lesson from nature. It is amazing what she says to us if we but listen.


Tulips Talk
© 2009 Rolland G. Smith

Friday brings poetic thoughts of
Things I’ve seen and others shoved
Aside this week waiting spring
With colored grace that flowers bring.
A single Tulip near my porch
Ascends alone as crimson torch
To be the one by teaching all
That it sustained long past the fall.
I read its thoughts within the red
And vowed to spread the message said:
It matters not where you abide
As long as you subside your pride
And be your light upon the earth
As blessed within God’s love and mirth.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Racial Supremacy


Every so often there are reports that supremacist groups are using the Internet to spread their racists message. Invectives of hate, bigotry, and prejudice, are wrapped in the darkness of anonymous cyberspace.

Just the preposterous proposition of superiority, let alone believing that one race is better than another, belies the gift of common intellect and the inner awareness of our interconnection. The intolerant extremists, who spread the festering lie of supremacy, defile the truth of simple observation and intelligent investigation.

Every race has its greatness in history, in culture, in the discovery of beauty through the arts and especially in individual achievement. Race does not and cannot give its members an advantage. Race does not make one smarter or stronger, only the grace of the divine within each of us can do that and even then it is an individual choice to embrace that gift and then be the evidence of it in daily action.

It is called character. Character, the essence, the heart, the spirit of a human being is the only criteria that determine one’s hierarchy.

-0-

Note to those who choose to leave a comment on these posts. If you'd like me to respond please leave an email address. Just posting a comment does not leave me an avenue or address in which to respond. Thank You. RGS


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Waiting


Some thoughts on waiting.

I’m reading a wonderful book entitled Waiting for Autumn by Scott Blum. I recommend it as a delightful story filled with allegory and fantasy, but take it as a delightful read and wonder at the possibilities it offers.

The title engendered thoughts about waiting.

Someones always saying to us "wait a minute" or "wait up" or "Wait for me". So we do! We wait for a minute, or ten or a half hour.

Several years ago a systems analyst fed all kinds of waiting data into a computer and concluded that normal people get very abnormal when waiting in line. They get angry and irritable.

It's not just the line around the block that does us in. There are other kinds of lines, the ones formed in our mind. Waiting for someone to pay us the money they owe. Parents waiting for teenagers to get home.

In some of the bigger cities you can pay people to do your waiting for you. Some supermarkets now show commercials on a television monitor as we wait in line. Apparently it works. They say when we wait we get bored. With boredom we eat. It's no wonder wait and weight sounds the same.

When the computer added and subtracted all of waiting data it came up with a surprising statistic. In an average life span we spend up to five years, just waiting.

Wait a minute, will you. I want to check something and then go back to reading my book.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Torture


There are some folks who think that force, a.k.a. torture is a viable means to get information that may save lives, prevent an attack or enable the capture of alleged conspirators before they can execute terrorist’s acts.

The other side thinks no matter what, torture is inhumane, unethical, un-American, cruel and just plain wrong for a cultured and modern society to embrace.

We all know that the George W. Bush administration approved torture, although they won’t call it that, to elicit information from detainees in various secret and known prisons around the world.

Methods of torture:
1. Stress positions
2. Sleep deprivation
3. Small space confinement with insects
4. Nudity and degradation
5. Simulated drowning or water boarding

The US government through its Central Intelligence Agency conducted these acts and more with an understanding that it was legal and approved by presidential authority.

Some people are calling for accountability; so are some countries.

President Obama has said the CIA will not be subject to prosecution and we need to put this behind us.

Mr. President I disagree. We need to put this in front of us and address it, confront it, acknowledge it and prosecute it if need be so that it never happens again.

Past actions that America’s leaders sanctioned through illegal and immoral authority need to be adjudicated not abdicated to the dusty files of alleged wrongdoing and government cover-up.

Who is potentially culpable here? Let’s start at the top. Bush, Chaney, Rove, Rumsfeld, and former assistant attorney general Jay Bybee who is currently sitting on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. He was responsible for the legal parsing of language that enabled the excesses at Abu Ghraib, and Guantanamo.

Culpability also extends to any individual who tortured even though they were told it was OK to do so and that includes the military and civilian doctors who monitored the prisoner abuse just short of death.

Morality, ethics and humane decency come from within, not from authority.

"I was only following orders", does not work in the United States of America.

Monday, April 20, 2009

American Courtesy


President Obama is getting criticism and flack for the courtesy and politeness he extended to Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez at the three-day meeting in Trinidad of Western Hemisphere leaders.

Mr. Obama said that the United States, with its overwhelming military superiority and need to improve its global image, can afford to extend such diplomatic "courtesy."

It reminded me of a handshake in September of 2000 that the then President Bill Clinton did with Cuban Premier Castro. Criticism erupted.

The encounter took place at a U-N luncheon. It was the first time they had met.

Clinton said he'd been talking to a large group of people when he turned around and saw Castro. He says the Cuban dictator had "apparently come up and waited."

Cuban-American leaders were sharply critical, saying the greeting conferred legitimacy on Castro's dictatorship.

The questions asked then and even now with the Obama/Chavez exchange - is since when does courtesy confer legitimacy or support or friendship? Since when does being polite diminish the sanctity of democracy or even remotely condone the dictatorial or obstructionist actions of other leaders?

It should not be necessary to remind all ex patriots that America's grace comes not from effrontery or insulting actions, it comes from an open heart and an open hand, both of which encourage discussion that could lead to a positive change that violence may never accomplish.

President Obama's courtesy to Argentinean President Chavez drew criticism from Senator John Ensign, a Republican from Nevada. He said it was "irresponsible" for Obama to be seen "laughing and joking" with the Venezuelan president. That’s partisanship talking not common sense.

Let America welcome and talk to all the scoundrels of the world. Let them see that the evidence of democracy is not fear, not coup d’├ętat, and not dictatorial. The call of freedom rings loudly by open example. It is not smothered in the abyss of mistrust and fear.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Life's Boat















Good Morning,

My thanks to photographer Claude Charlebois for the inspiration of this poem. You can find his works at www.charlebois.ca.

Life’s Boat
© 2009 Rolland G. Smith

There! In the boat. My destiny;
My future cast afloat.
Dare I swim and try to see
What’s in the auger boat?

The sea is me and I am bold
To stay within its brine.
My body’s young, my spirit’s old,
And knows the path sublime.

Most do not know the Indigo
Are here to change – refine,
The way we stage our love tableau
Among our humankind.

That’s all I know without the boat
To tell me what’s in store.
The distance is Poseidon’s moat
And keeps me near the shore.

It’s deep and dark to brave the tide
And see my future clear,
So I will stay and play life’s side
Despite the knowing near.

But like the boat that points her prow
To ocean swells unknown.
Again in life I’ll live the NOW,
A choice that I have sown.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Italian Quake


Some thoughts today on the earthquake in Italy.

Somehow it doesn’t seem real. It’s a half world away. We watch the pictures of destruction in disbelief and see rescuers digging for survivors or a loved one to mourn. We report the dead in numbers, not names. We can repair buildings, and roads, but the bodies that held the names are gone forever.

All we can to is embrace the Italian people in our hearts and send relief supplies. Grief is such a painful personal hurt. Sorrow is more universal in its heartache, for it acknowledges on a higher level the collective loss to humankind. How many of the dead numbers were potential scientists, poets, leaders or parents of genius.

Empathy is not only the capacity to understand another’s feelings, it is the willingness to comfort, to cry together and to share the strength of life when so many see nothing but despair and lost hope. Care lets those who hurt know they have not been forgotten by a loving spirit as it manifests itself through a helping hand, a hug or a shared tear.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Bo


There is much to do about Bo the Obama’s new dog.

I am constantly amazed, disappointed and aghast at the ignorance and arrogance of some Americans.

The media has chosen to place the dog on the front page in the newspapers and in the first section of the television broadcasts, and the Internet blogs are full of comments about what the Obama’s should and should not do. Frankly, everybody, it’s none of our damn business.

During the campaign, candidate Obama said if he gets to the White House, he promised his daughters they could have a dog. Presumably to be folksy, he said it would probably be a shelter dog, but one who would not cause an allergy reaction to the kids.

I have had pet dogs most of my life and there are very few hypoallergenic dogs that come from a shelter. With double coated fur you get allergies from dander; with singled coated hair you don’t get as much dander.

Most of the hypoallergenic dog breeds are pedigreed and purebred and not shelter mutts. The Poodle, Bichon Frise, Havenese, Maltese and the Portuguese Water Dog are considered hypoallergenic, “hypo” meaning less, not “non”. There is no such thing as a non-allergenic dog.

Back to the plethora of Internet comments regarding Bo.

One writer wanted to know why President Obama didn’t get a white dog. Really, some idiot said that!

Another said Obama broke a promise to get a shelter dog. Still another said the family doesn’t even want the dog. How he knows that is beyond reason and then he added, “But O is NOT the typical U.S. president coming from Indonesia and a religion that views dogs as filthy animals”.

Get a life guy or better yet get a dog. Their unconditional love may teach you something.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Somali Pirates


When you have nothing and life is bleak with no prospects of a decent living; when you need to feed your family or even to have some hope of personal survival and a future; when you come from a “living-off-the-sea” heritage and all your historic fishing spots have been depleted by the large international commercial fishing conglomerates from China, Japan and India; when your elders and government are mired in tribal sectarianism, ancient histories of mistrust and graft of their own and anarchy prevails, what do you do?

You become a pirate!

The leaders, the elders, the powerful in Somalia continue to choose war and fighting over cooperation, communication and common sense for the survival of their people.

Many of these Somali pirates are youngsters who are taught to be criminals. It is unnatural and sad when fourteen and sixteen year olds only see a future through extortion and the sites of an AK-47 or an RPG.

Millions in ransom monies are paid to get personnel, cargo and ships back into service. Where does the money go? Here’s the probable breakdown.

30% goes to the elders to sustain and support graft and piracy. 30% goes to re-arm with weapons and ammunition and maintain boats. 30% goes to the pirates themselves to support families and self. The remaining 10% gets lost in middleman fees for ransom negotiations. Altruism does not exist in international clandestine negotiations.

Considering all of what’s wrong in Somalia, a concluding truth is - you don’t have to be in a boat to be a pirate.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Sniper Fire


There are still a number of details missing from the rescue of Captain Richard Phillips of the container ship Maersk Alabama.

What we do know as of this writing is that a U.S. Navy Seal sniper team took out three of the pirates on board the life raft. A fourth pirate is in custody because he was on board the USS Bainbridge negotiating.

At the outset we civilians need to understand this is a very difficult shooting environment. The snipers have the high ground, so to speak, since they were positioned higher on the US Navy ship.

The ship rolls and pitches depending on the wave swells of the sea. So does the little lifeboat even though in this case it was being towed in the smoother wake of the destroyer. It is still a very difficult shot.

Many years ago as a reporter for WCBS-TV, the CBS owned and operated flagship in New York, I did a story on sniper training at a regional facility in New York State. It was a privately run facility organized and commanded by a former member of the Green Berets.

I spent a few hours learning about the sniper weapon itself, the type of ammunition used depending on the target, how the sniper learns to judge the wind, the distance and the pull of gravity and then adjust his or her sites for it. To say nothing of several other important factors, including nerves, that are intrinsic to an accurate shot or as they say, a confirmed kill.

At one point in the filming of my story, I was asked by the commander if I would join him five hundred yards down field from the sniper position. There, in the middle of the field, was a four by four post, seven feet tall, stuck in the ground. On top of the post was a gray cement block.

I stood below the cement block interviewing the commander when the block exploded, and then I heard the shot. I’ll never lose my respect for sniper training and their nerves. I’ll bet Captain Phillips feels the same way.

Somali pirates still hold about 260 hostages, including nearly 100 Filipinos, on 17 captured vessels.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Easter


This weekend culminates the solemn and holy observance of lent with the joyous time of Easter Sunday.

The truths of a teaching Jesus amplify the redemptive belief of the crucifixion and remind us that choosing joy is also part of daily living.

His death on the cross was a Divine choice of unconditional love not an action to engender sorrow or retribution.

In this world of dangerously passionate certainties, in these times of fear and protection, let us not forget the many lessons of the Cross.

Jesus died teaching forgiveness. He preached that we should look at our world with compassion and love in our hearts, not with the narrowness of a blinded and dispassionate ego whose wants can only be filled by creating lack for others.

Through his own suffering, the Anointed One asked that we choose love as the celebration of life as the way to honor the Divine within ourselves and others.

Have a joyous and happy Easter.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Dancing


Yesterday a rant. Today a rave!

Dance is the visual, coordinated movement of the universal spirit into the rhythm of time, percussion and musical vibration.

Over the last several months at various train stations in Europe there have been planned dance performances where seeming ordinary passengers, passersby and visitors react to a song being played on the buildings loudspeaker system.

The music starts and one, then two, then dozens of individuals and couples start to dance to the music in the middle of the large station. It looks like it's impromptu, spontaneous, but it is wonderfully coordinated, planned and performed.

In Liverpool, England it was to the music “Shout” and then to a waltz. In Antwerp, Belgium it was the Julie Andrews song Do-Re-Me from the Sound of Music.

You can access both videos on You Tube. Here is one link:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vq6b9bMBXpg

In both cases the train station managements were participants and allowed their floor space, as well as the public address system, to be used.

For the unsuspecting passersby it was an experience of awe, involuntary toe tapping, clapping, smiles, body movement and surprise.

Everybody stopped to watch. Who would expect such grace, form and choreographed movement to happen in the middle of a busy train station?

It was infectious and delightful to see and a profound reminder of our universal spirit that is attracted to the Oneness that we are. It may well be the harbinger of harmony of the new generation.

Marshall McLuhan the Canadian media analyst and author once said:

“Art at its most significant is a Distant Early Warning System that can
always be relied on to tell the old culture what is beginning to happen to it.”

It’s true.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Commercial Child Abuse?


Today I am on a rant!

Have you seen the stop smoking commercial in which a little boy, perhaps three years old, is walking hand in hand with his Mother?

They appear to be in a large busy hall, perhaps a train station or something like that. People are walking to and fro.

All of a sudden in the commercial, as the Mother walks with the little boy, she disappears and you see the child looking all around for her, but with fear growing in his down turned lips. He breaks into sorrowful, deepening sobs looking for his Mother as people pass him by.

The commercial is meant to emphasize that smoking will kill you and leave your young ones and family alone.

I have no quarrel with reasonable stop-smoking advertisements.

I do have a major quarrel with the director of this commercial and the people who paid for it. I am especially upset with the parents who allowed their child to be placed in a situation where he did not know he was safe, where cameras filed his obvious state of terror.

This child was not acting. No child that young could put on such a realistic performance. This was real. This child was traumatized and abused. It appears that for the sake of money paid to them - I repeat - for the sake of money paid to them, the parents allowed their child to be terrorized and abused.

Shame, shame, shame on all involved in this commercial. Child abuse is not always physical. It is too often mental and unacknowledged by society.

It makes me want to take up smoking in protest!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Holy Week


Some thoughts on Holy Week.

It is often hard to embrace the centuries old message of Easter when we are mired in seeming fear and worry from terrorists and terrorist’s threats. When we are occupied with concern for our service men and women and their safety in so many fields of harm and when we struggle just to meet the daily needs of our families in these tough economic times.

Easter for Christians around the world is a time of renewal and rebirth, not only of one’s faith, but also of the joy and peace that is supposed to come from the practice of that faith.

In general, it seems to me that many who profess to practice their faith, no matter in what religion it is structured, more often they talk a good game, but come up short in honoring one’s God with tolerance, non-judgment, and unconditional love. Me included.

Opportunities of selfless and Samaritan acts of grace go by the wayside when quick judgments, dogmatic bickering, and historic ethnic hatreds rule our everyday actions.

There is good and truth in all faiths, all religions. It is man who creates the differences and the conflicts in order to worship the same God of many names. May your week be blessed.


Monday, April 6, 2009

Spirit









I am once again drawn to an emailed PowerPoint presentation with extraordinary photographs.

What do you see in the photograph of this child?

I offer a singular consideration.

O’ Innocence be thou forever vigilant and embrace my heart with the full empathy of life.

Let no one strike the thought from my mind as I age and grow and increase in the wonder of the universe.

Let me gaze upon the world each day as a child and accept the disappointments of life as spiritual growth and karmic experience. Disappointments are the seeds of wisdom and when planted in the furrowed thoughts of action they will sprout into forests of good works and flowers of needed compassion.

I know that within the experience and illusion of time there is the evidence of grace, the joy of expectation and the acceptance of truth in every smile, in every sigh and in every tear.

Let all us children acknowledge the Source, and the All That Is that gazes with love at our beginnings and endings for both are the unconditional gifts of the Divine.

Spirit Diver
© 1995 Rolland G. Smith

I saw my soul, before its birth,
Upon an image deep in space
And dove, from high, down to the earth
To breathe again the breath of race.

Through a tunnel I did steal
Into a womb of warmth and love.
A strange forgetting I did feel
While on the passage from above.

My leap was silent till my cry –
Awakening in birthing strife.
That must be when I said good-bye
And died into the new of life.

When I awoke with earthly breath
And density to comprehend.
I knew that birth is like a death.
Each is the same, there is no end.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Borders


Good Morning All,

Thank you for tuning in to this blog from time to time.

During the G-20 meeting this week in London, I wondered if those who flew to the summit looked down at the earth from their five-mile high altitude and did they know where one country ends and another begins. The thought reminded me of a poem I wrote a couple of years ago and is now included in my new book, "Stone Wisdom".


Borders
© 2005 Rolland G. Smith

Tell me when we cross the border
if you can tell five miles high.
There are no walls , no wired fence
to hold the thoughts of difference.
The earth is one as people are,
but fear holds fear within the mind.
Illusion then is concretized
And the Oneness unrealized.

Have a peaceful weekend.


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Tell Me The Truth










I saw this photograph on an emailed PowerPoint presentation. I could not resist moving my mind inside the expression.

I don't know who the photographer was or I would have given him or her credit. It is a powerful image of the outward expression of the soul and this is what I heard.

Listen with me.

"Tell me the truth.

Are we not ONE?

Why is your heart closed when mine is open?

Why am I hungry when you are full?

Why do I see dying young as normal and you see it as a surprise?

Can you help me to laugh like you do?

If I love you will you love me back? Forever?

I am you and you are me. Is this not true?

Tell me the truth!"

April Fools


Some thoughts on April Fools Day.

Will you get fooled? All Fools Day has been around for centuries and nobody is really sure of the origin. Some of the early references come from the middle ages and many countries embrace the practice of pranks and jokes today.

Perhaps one of the best April fools jokes ever perpetrated on the public came from the BBC on April 1st 1957. Their television news show Panorama announced that because of a mild winter and the elimination of the spaghetti weevil, Swiss farmers were enjoying a bumper spaghetti crop.

Producers had tied cooked spaghetti to dozens of trees and made it look like the strands were growing from the branches. Viewers could see Swiss peasants harvesting spaghetti, laying the strands in baskets and then placing them into the sun to dry.

The host of the program Richard Dimbleby, a respected anchorman, stayed serious throughout the hoax story. His voice never cracked a smile or gave a hint of a wink.

Viewers were fooled and hundreds of people called the BBC for information on how to grow their own spaghetti trees.

In British understatement they said they should "place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best."

 
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