Tag Archives: Italy

A Nokia comeback ?

So my year of study comes abruptly to an end.  It is extremely pleasing to have maintained a 100% first time pass record for all of my marine studies.  Those in the know, will be well aware how hard I have worked this year to achieve them all.

Earlier this week I overcame the last hurdle and passed my oral exam in Hull.  Very rapidly posted my documents off to get them upgraded and then at 6am the very next morning, got on a plane to Italy for a month of work.

Back to the grind for a month – while I continue the search for something .

I was also fortunate enough to be able to sit a speed awareness course.  You may remember I got flashed (sadly a speed camera – not a naked wench)  while driving up to Newcastle earlier in the year for two of my exams. It was an eye opener but not for reasons you may suspect.

There was a girl there that was telling a story about two guys that were crossing a road when they were hit by a car and killed.  She said the car was reportedly travelling at 50mph and she was shocked that a car hitting a person at 50 would be enough to kill them.  My thoughts – can people really be so stupid?

I blame Hollywood.  See, in the movies, you can be running a marathon, get hit head on by a speeding bus, bounce across the roof and over the side, brush off the dirt and finish the race while still setting a new world record time.  A bit like the A Team back in the 80’s – all those gun shots and no-one ever got hurt.  Makes the yoot of today think they are invincible.

Any road up – I am now more wiser to the operations of those new smart motorways – and I still have a clean licence.

Now, telephones – lets talk.  I dropped apple some time ago now and favour the Android system because of the freedom and options it gives you over iOS.  What miffed me though, was just how easy my Samsung ‘Gorilla Glass’ broke on my phone 4 times in one year.  Now, I am not generally a heavy breaker of phones.  In all the years with iPhone, I only ever broke 1 screen – in fact, I had only ever broken one screen since I got my first phone in 1995.

The Samsung replacements were not cheap either, nearly £200 for a front and £80 for a rear. Add that to the £750 purchase cost and you have a whopping £1310 over two years – if you ask me, that is taking the piss, plain and simple.

It gets worse – for each repair, expect to be without your Samsung for a full week.  That would be a real shitter if you didn’t have a spare.  You can’t walk into a repair shop with them, you have to courier them away.

I chatted with the guys in carephonewhorehouse about this. The spotty little oik had an answer for me – buy insurance at £80 a year! Now, I very nearly told him to fuck off but instead, I tried to explain.

I shouldn’t have to buy insurance for something when it is made with ‘Gorilla Glass’.  The name implies a significant inherent amount of strength – correct me if I am wrong.  I would never expect a phone glass to break while it was in my front pocket and I was laying on the floor.

They didn’t get it.  I wilted a little.

I had a cunning plan though………..NOKIA.

Remember them?  Those tech geeks from Finland are making a bit of a come back. I have been checking out their product for a few weeks now.  Their offering, a Nokia 6.1 plus comes with 64gb of internal storage, expandable up to 400gb, yep 400 – that’s enough memory to put everything I have on my macbook pro onto, 4gb RAM and a 1.8ghz processor.  16mp front camera and a 5mp rear will capture your wrinkles in every selfie.  It also boasts dual sim capability although I am not sure if that is at the demise of the expandable memory but time will tell because I ordered one.  It runs on Android so that means I can pick it up and it will work exactly like my Samsung – no need to learn a new operating system.

Do I sound excited?

Honestly, I am a bit.  The biggest part of that excitement is because of how much it cost.  I bagged all those specs, that will compete with any iPhone or Samsung for a fraction of the price.  Yep, my new Nokia rolled in via the postie at a tad under – yes UNDER …………………………….£250.

There is one downside – not splash proof.  My theory is at that price I can afford to buy a new one every 6 months for the next 2 years and still save over £300 on the Samsung experience across the same time period.

There was another angle I considered.  The new Samsung Note 9 with 1TB of storage and a Dex system and then when my Mac dies, I can do away with a laptop altogether.  Downside there is the Mac still works well enough even if I do believe it is on its last legs – the new Samsung is over a grand though – and as Mike Skinner so famously said – ‘A grand don’t come for free’.

Now based on my experience with Samsung after sales and the running costs – I opted for the Nokia – I will update you soon on the demise of Samsung.

And Finally

 

I found a little note tucked in my shoe of the morning of my oral exam earlier this week.  A little surprise from the missus as I was getting dressed for battle.  She likes to do that when I am travelling, just to remind me she is there – waiting patiently.  I thought I would share it with you.

 

 

 

 

 


I wish those fucktards would stay away.

But they wont will they?  Seems the BBC has employed more than their fair share – I guess that’s what you get for being politically correct? 5% of your employees must be one eyed lesbians, another 5% fucktards, 3% retired ice cream vendors with a dog named Patch who lost a testicle in the Vietnam War etc etc etc.

So the article in question – I was reading the news yesterday and saw a piece about an earth quake in Italy that had triggered an avalanche.  I understand that I may not be the sharpest tool in the box but this……?

Earthquakes cannot be predicted with precision but seismologists had suspected this particular area of central Italy would experience another batch of serious tremors sooner or later

Now, if there were an award for vague predictions, this would definitely get second prize.  Second only to a weather girl I watched once (on the BBC) who made the startling prediction that 2013 had a 50% chance of being a hotter year than 2012.  I hope her parents hadn’t invested too much in her maths degree.  To have the two options of hotter or colder clearly is a 50/50 situation, or in other terms 50%.  Turns out she had told us bugger all.

But sooner or later ?  Come on FFS – that isn’t rocket science.  It isn’t really even a prediction is it.  It’s reality.

 

Lightening the load a little.  My Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge experiment has been boxed for now.  I was trialling a very lush looking Samsung while here for two reasons.  I have been intrigued by the Samsung for a long time now and secondly, having a local SIM in a different phone meant that I could still use iMessage to communicate with the rest of the world.

As beautiful as the Samsung is, I have struggled with its functionality.  Not that Android is no good, my problem lies with the shite internet connections I have to suffer while working at sea.  I need to investigate more about how to use the phone at its best and that just isn’t possible with a sht connection.

So now it is boxed, fully charged and ready to try again when in blighty or sell on to a lucky bleeder that will get a £625 phone for a smidge over £400 I suspect.

I went back to the iPhone 6s after trying for hours to get photos off the Samsung onto a work computer so that I could order parts.  Certain that the flaw was the internet speeds but I couldn’t plug the Samsung into the Mac and draw the photos off and that pissed me off!!!!!

That said – I did really adore the Samsung – a very pretty phone and with an expanded memory of 232GB – plenty of music could be had if only I could figure out how to store it on the SD card !!!!!


I’m not racist but……….

It’s time to get a little controversial again I am afraid, so expect a good long read.  Make a cup of tea and get back to your screen as quickly as possible.  This is gonna take at least 30 minutes of your time.

Then, put your feet up and watch this little video of an Australian comedian debating gun control.  It’s in two parts but don’t worry, part 2 is directly underneath part 1.  When you are done watching, come back here and finish reading

 

 

 

So that’s Jim – a very clever guy, funny as hell and absolutely spot on with his remarks.

You know why I posted it right?  Another attack in America with 20 reported deaths. I, like the vast majority of the civilised population will wonder for just how long this can go on – certainly after Obama leaves office, I think there will be little hope of  any form of gun control for generations to come.  It’s a sad form of politics where the most powerful man in his country is powerless to make meaningful change.

Which of course leads me nicely into Brexit.  A step too far?

Well lets see.  At the head of the European Union sits an appointed board of governors.  This appointed board makes ALL of the decisions that affect all of Europe’s citizens, passes laws and membership requirements for all member states.  Below them in the heirachy are the MEP’s or Members of the European Parliament.  MEP’s are present from each country of the block and are voted for by each blocks citizens – but here is the cliff hanger – The MEP’s cannot propose, create or remove European law – that can only be done by the governors.

Tricky that, in a democracy! See, in whatever democratic society you live in, you have the option to vote in your representatives or equally vote out someone that has represented you badly.  So if someone taxes you too much – vote them out, if life is good, vote them in again.  But with the EU, there appears to be nothing you can do.  if you don’t like what they propose and enforce on you – there is nothing you can do to protest or show your distain.  That to me sounds more like a dictatorship than a democracy.

Now I have to admit that sometimes in a democracy, we need a little bit of a dictatorship.  See, all politicians, regardless of their colours want to get re-elected, they like the power and they certainly like the bigger pay packet that being in leadership provides. And this is where democracy fails us a little.  There are times when a government MUST, for the longer term good of their country, MUST make unpopular short term decisions with a view to a longer term win – but they rarely do. A single term in Parliament is not long enough to make good, future building changes for your public, it needs longer.  But who would re-elect a government that just increased taxes by say 2% to improve spending on healthcare or pensions?  Both in the long term good of the people but no one wants to pay for it.

So go back to the EU for a second, if they propose and implement something that 75% of the public dislike – nothing can be done to stop it – it becomes EU law and EU law MUST be complied with by ALL member states.

Some of this could be good too – we all drive cars now that have a standardised diagnostics socket on board so that not only main dealers can fix your car but also independents can too – they don’t have to buy one tool for Jaguar, one for Mercedes, one for Volvo etc – they all have to be the same.  But remember the oddities too – remember when cucumbers had to be grown straighter? or when they banned the UK from having different coloured fire extinguishers for different types of fires because they said it caused confusion?  Imagine that one – you are on holiday in Spain say, and there is a fire.  You have to read the extinguisher to see what type it is to make sure it is safe to use on that type of fire – BUT YOU DONT SPEAK SPANISH !

Nigel Farage once made a statement where he said something like –

‘If you think the EU is undemocratic, you have fundamentally misunderstood what the EU is about – It is Anti- Democratic’

Now that statement is absolutely cock on. He is 100% right.

Imagine for a minute, as individuals, we were not allowed to choose which bank we used, we were told which one we had to use, and the people that had the sole control on which bank we were forced to use,  were the bankers themselves.?

OK, so now you think I am a Brexit campaigner right?  Well understand my personal position.  Those of you that know what I am about, the essence of free movement around Europe has been the backbone of my existance for the last 11 years or so.  In those 11 years I have lived and worked in France, Spain, Italy, Belgium and Portugal (lets exclude time in America and the Caribbean).  The schengen agreement has been very good for me – the single currency has been superb for me – I have often complained about needing the £ and €’s in my pocket but always been mindful that anyone who gave up the pound would be committing political suicide.

So I have several personal reasons for staying in.  A house in another EU country for one.  A job that requires me to travel extensively within Europe for another.  If the UK left, would I need a Schengen Visa to live and work around Europe for another 10 years? I currently have my car with me in Mallorca – will I still be able to do that? What would become of my house in Portugal – could I sell it and take the money out of the eurozone?

Moving around Europe has been fun, enlightening yet incredibly frustrating at times too.  One thing I will always say is that going back to the UK is going back to a country that works, has great healthcare, excellent customer service, shops that are open when you can use them, a great Police Force and minimal corruption.

Now before you disagree with any of those statements – Firstly ask yourself how much have you travelled and experienced things outside of the UK?  I have seen a lot over the last decade – let me assure you, of all of the countries I have seen, The UK has THE BEST answers – thats not to say they are perfect but they are certainly the best of all I have seen.  Secondly – if you believe the UK is not all that, why on earth do you think so many Non UK Nationals want to get there ????

The big question for me is – how much does the EU want to dissolve the UK’s identity?  Hollywood could make a film about it – the critics would call it a magnificent work of fiction, all the movie wankers in Cannes would quaff on about how good it was.

Imagine the UK getting absorbed into the EU to a point that our identity is lost for ever.  Way back in the 90’s I was completing a staff survey at one of the best companies I ever worked for, a company called LeasePlan.  They were conducting a survey of ethnic backgrounds for diversity.  Way back then, one thing that stuck with me was when they asked me for my nationality and there was no option for ‘British’.  I spoke to the H.R. director who was a very good friend of mine and of Indian descent and asked her where my option was and she told me I was now ‘European’.  I marked ‘other’ and sent it back.

Think it is still unrealistic?  Ask your parents who voted in the 70’s for joining what was then the common market.  Back then it was just a trade agreement – already now, Brussels pushes laws and regulations at the UK.

I am often left with the feeling that the Eurocrats view the Brits as a troublesome bunch that just won’t come quietly.  I know they fear us though too.  Imagine, if the UK votes to leave, they will be shitting in their overpaid pants, waiting for the next country to call a referendum too.  As I travel, I talk to locals.  Where ever I am, the same fears apply.  When the euro came in, prices went up, salaries went down – everyone is worried about immigration – EVERYONE.

If the UK leaves, it will survive.  It is the 5th largest economy in the world. I don’t doubt that things will be a little tougher for a couple of years while deals are thrashed out, but it will survive.  When other countries see this too  – they will want out.  Sure, economists are predicting doom and gloom but remember, these are the same economists that FAILED to see the banking crisis in 2008.  It will be a step into the unknown to leave but also remaining will be an unknown step too – a step of not knowing how much control Central Europe will take away from this plucky little island.  And remember, once it’s gone, there is no way of getting it back.

Greece is not in the headlines too much anymore – but it is still there – absorbing huge amounts of EU money on a daily basis.

I spent a lot of time in Brussels over the last 5 years or so.  One thing that struck me was the sheer amount of EU money that is lavished there.  Diplomatic cars, special parking places, houses rented to EU workers, lunch allowances, drinks after work – all paid for out of EU funds.

Consider this for a moment.  Lets say Brexit happens, the EU throws its toys out of the pram and sets about making an example of the UK.  Will all of the ex-pats in Spain and Portugal have to return home?  If they did, it would kill those economies stone dead.  Would the UK in return then kick out all of the europeans on a tit for tat basis?  Maybe – but that would relieve the housing shortage right?  Doctors waiting times would plummet and maybe you could then get an operation within a few days of diagnosis.

So the EU stops all trade with the UK.  Something like 40% of our goods are imported from Europe.  Could they sustain such a  loss in sales?  of course not.  There would need to be a trade deal made – a deal that helped both parties, a mutually beneficial agreement.  How long would that take?  Well we know the EU is a big beurocratic machine that rumbles along slower than a snails pace but while their economies are suffering, it would also be in their best interests to strike a deal.

Will people stop flying to Europe?  Of course not.  Every time I fly into Nice or Palma my passport is checked anyway – EVERY TIME so what difference would it make to me?  Every time someone lands in the UK – their passport is checked – no difference there either.  If I have to get a visa, its not the end of the world.  I have a visa for America – it was relatively inexpensive and simple enough to get, fits nicely in my passport along with an expired Russian Visa.

If the UK had intelligence of a terrorist attack in Paris, would they withold that information – of course not.  Would the Germans warn the UK of an impending attack – Of course they would.

Politicians now need to give facts to the public instead of scare mongering or ‘Project Fear’ as it has been called many times. The Leave campaign needs to accurately publish the NET cost of EU membership rather than that all encompassing larger figure that they like to band around.  The public need to trust their instincts when listening to the tripe that falls out of many politicians mouths and learn to dismiss comments that are clearly unsubstantiated nonsense.

There is a lot of wiffle waffle being spoken and it is damn easy to spot.  Apply a little bit of common sense and you can easily work things out for yourself.

Personally, I am better off in but if you prefer to have a democratic, self governing land of opportunity you have to vote out.  Merkel’s career is done – her people are vastly annoyed with her open door policy on immigration and as for Hollande, well, it wouldn’t be the first time the French have laid down at the feet of the Germans would it?

And just because you voice a concern about immigration – IT DOESN’T MAKE YOU A RACIST.  Remember the story about the boy who cried wolf?  If people continue to misuse the ‘racist’ card it will be come so devalued that when it is genuinely need, it will be ignored by the masses – and that would be a very sad situation.  People have a genuine concern about the physical load exerted by huge immigration on services within their countries.  Let them voice their opinions and be heard.  Immigration is not a bad thing – uncontrolled immigration is.

 

Phew – rant over

 

And Finally

 

If you really didn’t think Big Brother is watching you – something very suspicious happened to me today……Apple.

So we have all heard the rumours that your smart phone microphone can listen to your conversations covertly and then target web & app adverts specifically from the conversations it has eaves dropped on?  Well, this is true.   A myth buster style trial took place a couple of months ago and it took some tech nerds just 3 days to build an app with readily available software that could do just that.

Imagine my surprise today when I pulled my phone out of my pocket to see a web page displayed.  Ok, sometimes I may forget to screen lock it, we have all ‘butt dialled’ someone right ?  But what I saw today was beyond spooky.  Yesterday I received a photo on my phone of some paperwork for my rowing machine.  Within that paperwork were the operators instructions and other stuff including the original sales receipt.  I zoomed in on the receipt to get the invoice date and displayed above that date was the suppliers name, Fitness Superstore.  Well bugger me, if the web page being displayed wasn’t for the same company.

Now, the receipt was a year and a half old, my phone is only a month old, I didn’t even know the name of the store I bought it from but could there be a spy in my software that scans my photos and directs me to those web pages?


Beardy Twats

Happily cycling along the coast road the other week between Monaco and Italy when I got overtaken by a group of 4 riders on road bikes.  Before you start munching off saying how I have been overtaken, remember, those road bikes are significantly more efficient than a dual suspension mountain bike on knobbly tyres and active suspension.  Never the less, I managed to pass these ‘cyclists’ on 3 occasions.  Sure, they might have been a little faster than me, but they kept stopping for a chat so I would pass them again.  No stamina these youngsters – but they did have fooking great big beards and were fully clad in road race lycra.  I doubt any of them were over 25 years old and they had beards thicker than the hair on my head – the beardy, lycra clad twats !

I did quit my job the other week so I have been off for a week now.  Heading to the States on Monday 5th May, and from there, sailing down to Rio de Janeiro for the world cup.  Once I get there, I swap out with the other engineer and get another month off.  The eagle-eyed amongst you will notice I said ‘sailing down to Rio’ – I am hugely pleased to announce that I am getting back on a sailing boat and plan never to return to a motor boat ever in my life again.  In fact, if you see me taking a job on a motor boat in the future, feel free to bend me over and give me a jolly good and rigorous fisting.

Today something really weird happened.  I was out yogging (that’s how posh people say Jogging!) in the forest.  The forest has really come to life since the last time I was here at the end of March.  The trees are full of leaves, the shrubbery is covering the forest floor again, it’s a real ‘thicket’ of activity.  I entered the forest, yogging at my normal pace, noticing the greenery on the trees and the pine and twigs on the ground. I had my music on but not too loud so I could still hear the background noises, the birds tweeting, twigs snapping under foot, rapists breathing heavily from the bushes, when a song came on.  Have you ever seen the film ‘Apocalypse Now?’.  I had just entered the forest when the Doors started singing ‘The End’.  It was a surreal moment that put me on full gook alert, checking trees for snipers, under bushes for tunnels, behind fallen trees for rows of punji sticks that might catch me out and leave me to bleed to death.  Not to worry, I had a full clip and only two clicks to yomp.

Staying with music for a moment, I had my phone playing music randomly the other day.  Well, I thought it was random, but it soon became apparent that it was scrolling through alphabetically by artist.  I can now officially confirm that I have 7 slightly different versions of Sonique’s ‘It feels so good’ in my iTunes library.  Not a bad running track as a single play item – after the 7th, I was ready to hang myself from a tree.

The Rangie has just cost me 500€ to have an oil leak fixed.  Here’s the thing, the seal itself was just 7€ but by the time the gearbox oil was drained, filters and gaskets replaced, it was a tad more expensive.  I never have liked parting with cash, especially when it is something I have the ability to fix for myself, albeit lacking the equipment to do so – but when I got seated and fired her up, I knew with was a love affair that won’t be ended easily – and certainly not over a 500€ garage bill.  In stark comparison, I just went to the local store for some milk and 2 bottles of Chimay Blue.  3ltrs of milk and 2 Chimays, a tad over 7€ – now that is something I can live with.  Beer, the same price as milk – no wait, let me re-phrase, top quality beer the same price as milk!

My new job awaits, a 46m sloop called ‘Pink Gin’.  I am looking forward to getting on board and getting stuck in.  We did a deal that gives me a minimum of 8 months work a year, the rest of the time is all mine.

And that’s about all I wish to share with you right now – I did negotiate christmas off this year so expect me to be around – annoying the crap out of you all.

 

Charlie Doesn’t Surf !!!!!

 

 

 


10k is the new 5k

I am almost home and dry, my watch will finish by 17:00 on Thursday 30th January and I am looking forward to my two months off (which ironically is also one of Underworlds greatest tracks). Will I miss Italy – not one bloody bit.

I have devised some plans that are guaranteed to piss of the Italians.

1.  Increase the tax on ice cream

2. Raise the price of fags by a euro

3. Enforce traffic laws

4. Make them all do ‘National Service’ in customer service jobs

5. Make them start and finish work on time

 

Of course, if any of those fail, we could always remind them that it was only a couple of generations ago that they stood shoulder to shoulder with the Nazis.

Why am I so annoyed with these muppets?  4 times now, I have come close to getting run over while on pedestrian crossings (with the green man lit) and when I say close, I mean ‘punching the bonnet’ close.  Two twisted ankles while running on the roads – for all the forest and cross country running I have covered, I have NEVER twisted an ankle – give me 3 months in Genoa and I get two. Contractors blatantly lying to me face to face, a lack of ability to achieve even the most simple task on time and/or to an acceptable level but most of all, their ability to make me feel like I need to apologise to them for their short comings.

So what next?  Egypt !  Seems to be a bit of a war zone at the minute but that has potential to turn into a huge adventure of getting out of a war torn country on foot, alive and sane.

Italy has provided me with some winning situations though.  I have broken my 10k record time twice now (once only 6 days after my 2nd twisted ankle) and yesterday I also beat my mountain bike top speed record and pushed the envelope (listen to my corporate speak) up to 44.3mph.  I also have 4 days left to break my 7k and 5k records which I fully intend to do unless I have another twist.

I gave a security guard a run for his money the other night, I came running in one of the exits to the shipyard and heard him get off his seat.  Next he was out of his gatehouse shouting at me to stop but I thought better of it.  I was against the clock and I was pretty certain he would be too lazy to actually give chase – and I was also hoping that if he decided to draw his gun, he would be as shit a shot as he was an athlete.  I never stopped, he never shot me, that has to be a win win situation.

Now, I have to get lucky again tomorrow night as I run the 5k and turn in past his gatehouse again I will be sprinting for almighty with plenty of Billy Big Steps – if nothing else, the incentive to dodge bullets should get me a good 5k time. As a minimum I will be running in a zig zag pattern until out of shooting range.

Come Friday morning, I will be road tripping again – Switzerland at first light and into the snowy Alps.  I will be trying very hard this time not to trip any speed cameras before hitting the dizzy heights of downtown Brussels and my first Belgian beer in 3 weeks.

I spotted 2 new adventures this week on the TV.   A 10 mile race up and then back down Snowdon and then a full marathon through Snowdonia.  I expect to be signed up for both of them before too long

Next race is scheduled for Saturday 8th February in Coventry as I hit the local Park Run again, Poopie Pants will be there, and so might my sister if she isn’t too busy looking into when she gets her pension book.

 

 


I change the key form C to D you see to me its just a minor thing……

Most probably the longest title I have ever used, and that statement reminds me of the great Eddie Vedder introducing his song ‘Elderly woman behind the counter in a small town’.  Not that I am comparing my greatness to Mr Vedder but I am curious as to why, in the last 3 days I have had 79 hits form Cyprus to my humble site.

Also had some from Canada and the States too.

So how is Italy? Something of a cluster fuck if I am honest.  The Italian mentality is to flatly deny anything is wrong, and when it is wrong, if you delay long enough – maybe, just maybe the problem will go away on its own.  Now, call me stupid but I have never had a problem go away on its own.  To make matters worse, the boat is italian built so has a shit load of problems.  On top of that, the guy I took over from really hasn’t done much at all, documented even less and I honestly think that he doesn’t intend to return either – he was very keen to leave me his gate pass when he left.

But lets not dwell on that – on Saturday I took Dion the first officer out for a cycle ride.  It was one of those rides where your legs are cramping on the way back and every little hill feels like a mountain.  46 miles and over 8000 feet of climbing later, we got back to the boat.  I say we, I mean I got back here first, had a shower and a coffee, got a little concerned that Dion wasn’t back and headed out to find him.  Thankfully, all was well.  Genoa to Portofino return in just over 4 hours and 17 minutes

So what next – now I have just 4 working weeks left until I break for christmas, Friday 20th December I will jump in my car and head back to Brussels, a short stop for xbox, belgian beer and a run in the woods before I hot foot it to Florida for some winter sunshine courtesy of Virgin Airlines and then head back to Belgium for a week more of xbox, beer and running.

What I am really holding out for – is the end of January when I get February and March off with pay………..and that saddens me.  There used to be a time where I lived and breathed responsibility of keeping a boat alive but now I feel that is slipping and I may be turning into an also ran.

 

 

I don’t want to be an also ran


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