“Where the Eff Have I Been” Part II… The Money Pit

So… we’re selling attempting to sell our house. Not the one we’re living in. The one we were living in before. We’ve been unable to sell it for about 2 years.

We had a tenant for about a year and a half. Honestly, they were great. They always paid their rent on time and kept the place up pretty well. We were still in the red about $200 a month between our mortgage and escrow payment and the rental income. But manageable. The last 6 months they were there, we agreed they would go to a month-to-month lease so we could put the house back on the market. And lo and behold, we got an offer on the house… An offer of about $30,000 less than what we were asking.

We went back and forth for weeks and finally came to an agreement, $115,000 with $5000 from us back at signing. So basically $110,000. On a house I paid $143,000 for. On a house that I still owe $104,000 to the bank on. With the realtor’s fees, lawyer and various incidentals, we’d be out of pocket about $1,500. We decided it was worth it to, as my realtor put it, “get the monkey off our backs.” So we took the offer, signed a contract and hoped for a closing date towards the end of August. Which would work out really well because the tenants gave their 30-day notice 2 days before we got the offer we eventually accepted.

Then the fun really started.

The buyers are getting an FHA loan through Wells Fargo. FHA loans apparently require you to jump through about 500 hoops before they will give you money. As the sellers, we had to jump through a bunch of hoops ourselves.

The first hoop… not too bad. Just had to make sure the siding and skirting was all in place and the front porch didn’t have any peeling paint. No biggie.

The second hoop… Here’s where the trouble started. The septic. The bank required the septic be pumped and inspected. So the guy pumps the tank ($280) and informs us that the tank is “crumbling” and needs to be replaced. $2500. No. Wait. $3000, the tank is oddly shaped and requires extra labor for installation.

About 2 hours after I got the call informing me just how much the septic would be to replace, I get a text from the tenant (who was just getting the last of his things out of the house and cleaning, because he’s nice)…

The hot water heater is leaking and flooding the room

Great. The Zen Master rushes over there with his wetvac and cleans up the mess and waits for the (after-hours) plumber. Hot water heater is done. Needs to be replaced. $1700. Closing is now set for 9/8.

Septic needs to be pumped again before the tank is replaced. Only $260 this time. Closing is now set for 9/15.

Inspection. Not bad.


Tie downs under the house are insufficient. Additional tie downs needed. $400.

Structural Engineer required to inspect the house and determine that the ramps and porch that are added on are not “compromising the structural integrity of the home.”

At this point I have received several collection calls from the mortgage company wondering why I haven’t paid September’s mortgage payment. Since the closing has now been pushed to 10/8, I bit the bullet and paid September. $1100, that we were planning on putting towards closing.

House itself is fine. Ramps and porch need retrofits to meet specifications. This time the buyer handles it.

Septic. Again. Requiring a scoping to make sure the pipes are ok. Everything is good, Septic company send the invoice with their report to the bank. Nope. Need a letter on company letterhead stating the septic is permitted for a 3 bedroom house and it is in good condition and will be sound given good maintenance. Closing is now 10/16.

Guess what? Septic is not permitted. Permit was never obtained because it was “Grandfathered in.”

So now I’m waiting on our realtor to argue with the bank and plead with the zoning office to try and sort this out. Closing is… I don’t even know if there will be a closing now.

We have no way to pay the mortgage on both houses without a tenant. At this point, if we cannot straighten this thing with the septic out, I will seriously consider letting the house go into foreclosure.

And the worst part? The buyers. They’re a 50+ couple who’ve never owned a home before with a handicapped son. The house is handicapped accessible so it’s truly the perfect home for them. They’ve painted inside and out, pressure washed and stained the deck, and did all the retrofits under the ramps and front porch. They’ve put as much into this as we have and they deserve this home. It infuriates me that the bank is making it so hard for them to buy their first home, all because it was the banks themselves who fucked up the whole housing situation in the first place.

So that’s caused a little bit of stress this summer. Another reason I haven’t posted I guess.

Anybody happen to have about $100,000 laying around and feel like getting this house off our hands?

Didn’t think so.


A Brief Rant

So here’s the news… Both Crazy Girl and my newbie BFF from work… Who still needs a Blog name… Let’s call her… Um… Newbie for now… I’m just not clever enough to come up with a good pseudonym for her right now. ANYWAY, Both Crazy Girl and Newbie are preggers. Due within a month of each other. Both unexpected. Crazy Girl is 37 and had basically just thought she couldn’t have kids. Not that she ever tried specifically, she just had a string of long relationships and wasn’t particularly careful about contraception. Newbie never wanted kids and had a one time spur of the moment “oops,” with her husband mind you, and got pregnant. So I get to live vicariously through their new motherhood and hold brand new babies again without risking death (literally) and getting pregnant again myself.

Crazy Girl is doing okay. Her man is a sweetheart and he has several jobs. He can easily quit one of them and take care of their new babe while Crazy Girl continues to work. Things will be tighter for them, but they’ll make it since Crazy Girl also has a huge family who are willing to come chip in and help.

Newbie? Not so lucky. She’s been spending the past few weeks trying to find daycare spots for December. She’s called about 20 or so. No spots. And the one or two that do have spots are charging $1000 or more per month.

So here’s the rant…

Newbie is college educated, as is her husband. She works with me, secure, decent pay… Job. Her husband is a teacher. Between the two of them, they make a very good wage. But due to the expense of daycare and the fact that our job has no maternity leave, just unpaid FMLA (all that means is you can be out of work for an extended period for medical reasons without losing your job), and she’s due in August, right when her hubby goes back to school, she may actually have to quit her decent-paying, middle class job and get a part-time job at night, just so they can avoid trying to get blood from a stone to pay for daycare and still be able to afford to live. Because they’d actually come out ahead that way.

How fucked up is that?

How is it possible that in this “wonderful, free country,” a country in which friends of mine have fought overseas for, a country that purports to be the greatest nation on earth, how is it possible that an intelligent, college-educated, working couple cannot afford to have a child? How is it possible that the only way Crazy Girl and her man aren’t in need of assistance is because her man is quitting one of his jobs to care for their child? In that respect, how is it possible that a hard-working family of four can’t survive with both parents working at minimum wage without food stamps, medical and rent assistance from the government. How is it then possible that Congress can take away these benefits from these already struggling families, middle class or poverty-stricken and complain about the “Welfare culture” in this country?

It’s unfair. And there’s nothing we can do about it. Because Our government is not For the People, it’s For the Rich. So if you don’t make enough money to buy a couple of votes, you are pretty much screwed.

I told you it was brief.

Enough is Enough

DISCLAIMER— IF YOU ARE OFFENDED BY FOUL LANGUANGE… OK, if you’re offended by foul language you shouldn’t read my blog at all. However, if you are additionally offended or sickened or enraged or whatever by ignorant comments, prejudice, racial slurs and epithets, you probably shouldn’t read this post. Although, technically, the whole reason why I’m writing this probably has to do with the way you feel about ignorant comments, prejudice, racial slurs and epithets.


Ok… So Donald Sterling is an asshole.

We get it.

That being said…

Was it really necessary to make such a fuss over some asshole, being an asshole and a bigot? All the fines and bans and forcing to sell his team crap… He’s a billionaire. 2.5 mil? Chump change. And he bought the Clippers for I think about 14 million. They’re estimating he’ll be able to sell it at about a billion. As for the ban, I don’t know the man and I can’t say how shitty that might be for him.

The fact remains… It’s a big bunch of bullshit.

I do not see how this being the leading story on NPR FOR FIVE DAYS could possibly be warranted.

I agree that the issue of race and intolerance is still a hot button in this country. I agree that we shouldn’t ignore stuff like this, especially when it comes to a prominent figure in a multi-million dollar industry that happens to employ a lot of prominent minorities.

But to spend this much time and attention on this is not making things easier. This is not “teaching a lesson” to bigots and assholes everywhere. Bigots and assholes are bigots and assholes and while I’m not saying they can’t change, watching some billionaire get fined a bunch of money is not going to make BillyBob in BumFuck, Georgia believe that “Those Damn Niggers” aren’t ruining life for him and all the other hard-working white folk out there. Or make Josh in White Bread, Connecticut change his mind that it was the fact that he was white that got him passed over for that scholarship and not the fact he got 900 on his SATs. Or make Officer Anthony in Queens, NY stop frisking hispanics simply because they’re brown.

The more we make a big deal about stupid crap like this, the more it stays on people’s minds. And while bigotry and ignorance is something to be mindful of to some extent, the best way to get it out the door is to stop making it an issue at all. People are going to be dicks. About everything. Not just race. People are dicks about anyone that is different. Different religion, heritage, sexual orientation, sex, appearance? Sure. Mental or physical disability? Yup. Income level? Mmhmm. Social standing? Ya. Level of education? The list goes on. Take a good look at your own life. I can guarantee there is something about you that someone, somewhere is a dick about. The more focus and time and energy we devote to those who are dicks about specific issues like race, ethnicity and sexual orientation? The more importance we give them and the stupid things they say.

They’re not important. They’re assholes. Period.

History is important. It’s important to see where we’ve come from. But it’s also important not to dwell there. Words hurt because you let them. Assholes say things about specific groups not to hurt them, but because they’re ignorant and they actually believe what they’re saying. There’s a difference between ignorance and malice. Beating a black man to death for dating a white girl… That’s malice. That’s horrible and that SHOULD be the leading story in the news for 5 days. Expressing the opinion that interracial couples are wrong isn’t mean, it’s stupid. And that asshole should be called on it, advised they’re ignorant and then attempt to explain why. Then move on. Ignorance turns to malice only if the person had the capacity for it in the first place. Just because you’re an asshole and you think interracial couples are wrong, doesn’t mean you think it’s okay to beat a black man to death for dating a white girl.

This isn’t the 60’s anymore. We have a black president. And no, that doesn’t mean there’s no problems. But don’t dwell on the ignorance of the past. You’re not going to change someone’s mind if they don’t want to open it. Be an example. Don’t preach. Get off your soapbox and introduce that asshole who doesn’t like interracial couples to your neighbors who’ve been happily married, upstanding members of the community for 40 years, raised 2 beautiful kids, and just watched their oldest grandkid graduate from Yale. Oh, and incidentally, he’s black and she’s white. Oh, and don’t forget to introduce them to that white couple across the street… Though you might want to bring a pound cake because she’s pissed off because her second husband/third baby-daddy didn’t pay child support on his other kid and now they’re garnishing her cash assistance.

Pay attention to the big stuff. The fact that Sterling was refusing suitable housing to minorities should be a WAY bigger deal than him telling his girlfriend not to be see with black guys. Honestly, it kinda just sounded like he was calling her a skank and then decided to add the racial stuff in there to really make himself a jerk. Prosecute people who commit hate crimes. Educate people who say dumbass things.

If you want to be offended by words like nigger, kyke, faggot, spic, chink, wetback… That’s entirely up to you. But the more we recognize and allow those words to mess with our minds, the more we keep people separated into groups and the farther we stray from just being people.

An Open Letter to A Random Mail Clerk

Dear Whoever Reads President Obama’s Mail,

I’m 99.75% sure that The President will never see this. But, I’m sending it anyway, because there’s that .25% chance that he will.

I wrote a recent blog post entitled, “An Open Letter To President Obama.” I have to say, it’s one of my better posts. When I wrote it, there was not an inkling of hope in my mind that He, or anyone that knew him, or anyone that knew anyone that knew him would read it. I write a small blog, I’ve been publishing for a year or 2, and I have about 100 subscribers right now. I don’t ever expect, want, or intend to be famous or anything of that nature. I just do what I do and get things off my chest. Most of the time, my posts are about me and my family and our everyday struggles in our everyday lives. We’re a middle-class, family of four. Myself, my husband, and my two daughters, 13 years and 18 months.

Occasionally, I write about other things, politics being one of them. This post was basically intended to be a statement, my opinion of the state our country is in. It turned out quite well, and after a bit of waffling, I decided to actually send it your way, in the hopes that maybe, just maybe, President Obama might hear what I have to say.

So here is my post, printed straight from the web. I’m writing this “intro” to (obviously) explain why I’m sending this random blog post your way. Since I try to protect my actual identity on my blog (to some extent at least), this is also me introducing myself, providing my real name and everything so you don’t think I’m a crazy person. Although, now that I think about it, you might deem me crazy anyway.


Anyhow, Thanks for your time.

My Real Name

My Town, Vermont


An Open Letter to President Obama

Dear Mr. President,

How exactly does one address you anyway? I’m thinking that from this point forward, I’m just going to say Sir. Mr. President is just too awkward and formal. Not to say that I shouldn’t be formal when addressing you, you are after all, the leader of the free world. I just mean… I’m just not a formal sort of person and, well… Yeah. Oh, and since we’re talking about me… Since I’m talking about me… That sounds odd… Since I’m laying out my own particular peculiarities before I get to the meat of my letter, I should probably warn you, I have a tendency to ramble (Duh). And I have a tendency to curse. And although I’m writing this and not actually speaking to you, I am not going to censor myself. First Amendment and all that.


Where the hell did I just go with all that?

Sorry. Where was I?


Dear Sir,

I’d like to start off by saying that I voted for you. 4 times. I did have to vote for you in the 2012 primary right? I can’t remember. I am still so proud to have voted for you. I am proud to tell my mixed-race-raised-by-a-single-mom teenager that I had a teeny tiny part in a massive (and long overdue) part of American history. But, I’m kinda hurt. Because I believed in you. I really still do, but I have to say, I’m kinda feeling like the robust “Yes We Can!” has turned into a meek sort of, “Ok, maybe we can. If it’s alright with you of course.”

I’m pretty sure that you intended (and still do, I think) to really help families like mine. Because we’re drowning here Bub… Sorry. We’re drowning here Sir. And you know, it’s not just us. Millions. MILLIONS of Americans are working their asses off and just barely scraping by. Deathly afraid of that pipe bursting, or that transmission breaking, or that medical bill that insurance just won’t cover. Because that’s all it would take to send their family hurtling into a vat of quicksand that they may never get out of.

We’re not poor. There are families out there far worse off than us. But we (the collective we as a country) do help them out, just a little bit. And still, they do need more help, because even the few who manage to get pulled out of the hole they’re in, dust themselves off, look around and realize, they’re in an even deeper hole. And this time, the sides are smooth and slippery.

And honestly? I don’t want a rope. I want it to be a hill, not a cavern. Something I actually have a chance of climbing up.

You know, I have a college education. Nothing fancy, just a BA in Psychology. I sometimes ponder going back for my Master’s, but honestly? Even if I could find the time, we can’t afford any more debt. But still, I have a college degree. I have a good job. Job security even, which a lot of people still can’t say, regardless of what record highs the DOW hit this week. My husband works hard too. No college, just a solid, blue-collar job and the best work ethic of anyone I’ve ever met. But together, we are barely making it.

We don’t live beyond our means. I bought my house when I was still a single mom, and I made sure I didn’t buy something I couldn’t afford. I bought the house before the housing crash, but I was (mostly) smart and I got a decent, fixed interest rate on a 30-year loan. You’d think that adding my husband’s income to the pot (although he doesn’t make as much as I do) would make it smooth sailing, but somehow, the storm keeps on blowing. We don’t have car loans, minimal credit card debt (although I’d much rather have none) and we budget our money very tightly.

I pay almost $400 a month for healthcare premiums. That would be my employer-sponsored health care plan. Which is a pretty damn good one as those things go.  Because of the SCHIP program, my children also qualify for Medicaid as a secondary insurance. Which may not last much longer given the way Congress seems eager to cut any program that actually helps real people. And I am SO thankful for the extra assistance because my oldest, Princess Punk, is Type 1 diabetic. Did you know that there is no such thing as generic insulin? Without the assistance from Medicaid, our pharmacy co-pays alone would break us. Even with the Medicaid, we still have $20 co-pays for each doctor visit. Between Princess Punk’s D-Monster and my own chronic health issues (which I really don’t want to get into), we spend about $100 a month on doctor visits alone. Plus co-pays for my medications which are NOT covered… And God forbid something major happens. Emergency room? $50. I’m still waiting for the bill for my recent surgery to repair my jaw. My surgeon was “out-of-network,” not because I was being picky, but because he was one of the few in the state who actually do jaw joint repairs and I don’t think any of them are “in-network.” It’s going to be a minimum of 2 grand. I still have no clue how we’re going to pay that. Oh, and I haven’t been able to do my post-op physical therapy either, each of those visits are $20 too and I already owed them $200 from before the surgery.

So that’s the healthcare issue…

There’s also the fuel thing… I spend a good $50 a week on gas. My husband, The Zen Master, spends $50 too. It’s not like we’re gallivanting around all over the place. I have a 40 mile round-trip to work every day. The Zen Master? 20 miles. Add another 40 at least once a week for doctor appointments. We don’t really go anywhere else. And we heat our not-very-energy-efficient-house with not-very-energy-efficient-kerosene. Oh, and the stove and hot water heater are propane. Plus electric. And water (not fuel, but still…). Altogether? And this is a very rough estimate… Maybe $4000 a year? And I love the idea of energy efficient homes and water heaters and insulation, but the reality for us (and I think 90% of other people in our “tax bracket”) is those things aren’t helpful for us. We can’t retrofit our house. Even if we could, there’s no way we could afford it. Do you actually know how much solar panels cost? I think maybe, if they were around $100, it would be worth it. $200 even. And that would have to be with installation of course. And buying a brand new house with all that stuff already there?                       …                                                                          Whew… Sorry, I had to stop and laugh a little bit. The idea of being able to scrape together enough money for a down payment, not to mention actually selling our hou…                             …                                                                OHMIGOD, it’s so ridiculous I can’t even breathe right now!

Let me just compose myself.

And the taxes suck. And I understand that we have to pay taxes, but I honestly don’t feel like I’m getting my money’s worth. Especially when all those guys out there making 3 and 4 and 100 times (I could go on, seriously) as much as me are getting more coupons than a Sunday Flier. How come I don’t get the 99% special? See how I did that there? Funny right? Maybe not… I’d like to know why I pay a fair portion of my income to the federal, state, AND local government and yet our roads have potholes that will break the axle on my car. No joke, my last car actually suffered that fate. And we have to pay out the ass (gross phrase, I know but I can’t think of a better way to phrase it) for health care. And my teenager goes to a school that, while safe, is not providing her the education she needs to actually excel in this world. She’s not a fantastic student, but she’s smart and she tries hard most of the time. The harsh truth is, she is a good, but average student and she is never going to get a scholarship unless it’s for soccer (maybe basketball, but not super-likely) and even then, she’s probably not going to get a full-ride. She’s a great player, but so are a lot of other kids and competition is fierce and funds are limited. And thanks to some extremely helpful family friends, we have a scholarship fund set up for her and my 18-month-old, The Peach. But right now, there’s maybe enough in there for 1 class and a textbook. And most people don’t even have that much. So my bright, funny, amazing kid, is going to start her adult life at least $50,000 dollars in debt. Assuming she could actually get enough loans to cover tuition and books and boarding and… you know… Food. Oh, and if she wants to go to grad school? I don’t even want to think about how far that would put her in the hole.

I really thought that you might save us.

Right now, I’m not feeling so saved.

I don’t understand why you can’t convince those other guys up there on that Hill, they’re really not helping us. And I think you need to convince some of the people in the same situation as me too. Because they voted for those guys, and I don’t think they understand that those guys really don’t have our best interests at heart. You know, US. Not you. I love ya Mr. President, and even though you were here at some point, you’re no longer one of US.  The Real America. The people that work 60 hours a week to pay their bills and eat beans for dinner because they can’t afford 1.99 a pound for chicken that isn’t half fat, skin and bone (that’d be the price when it’s on sale). But I think you remember US. And you understand. And maybe those guys on that Hill (Maybe. A few.) really do believe they have our best interests at heart. Maybe they do think that you can just pull yourself up by your bootstraps and that if your boss gets paid more, they’ll pay you more in turn. But that’s just not reality. I’m not naïve or ignorant, I know that there are some people out there that have done just that. People that have somehow found footholds in that smooth wall and managed to pull themselves out of this hole. But I can’t help thinking that they might have unintentionally (or maybe intentionally, who knows?) scraped away those footholds in their scramble to get out, and now the rest of us are stuck here.

So maybe you can restore my faith. In This Country. In Our Government. In You. Maybe you can convince those guys that they work for US and right now? They are failing miserably.

Because I’d really like to get out of this hole.

Sincerely, and with the utmost respect,

Mrs. Newlife

Wishful Wednesday

I am grumpy. I’m trying to figure out if this is a there’s-too-much-shit-going-on-in-my-life thing or a I-have-bipolar-disorder-and-PMS thing. So, me being me, I’m making a list. A list of the things that I’d wish for right now that would relieve some of the stress that is bogging me down at the moment.

  • I wish Princess Punk didn’t have diabetes. That’s a given I guess.
  • I wish that if Princess Punk still has to deal with diabetes, she actually pays attention to her blood sugar, takes care of her insulin and stops sneaking food into her bedroom.
  • I wish My Dad was nicer to my oldest daughter.
  • For that matter, I wish My Dad was nicer to me and My Mom too.
  • I wish The Peach wouldnt spit at me every time I say “no” to her. Seriously. somewhere between a raspberry and actual spitting but she does it every. fucking. time.
  • I wish The Peach was as happy to see me as she is The Zen Master and Princess Punk.
  • I wish The Peach slept in her own goddamn bed.
  • I wish I could actually fall asleep at night like a normal person.
  • I wish I would actually follow my surgeon’s instructions for a “soft food diet” so I don’t totally screw up the fact that that horrible pain I had for so long was fixed.
  • I wish that Princess Punk showed me, her father, and everyone else in her life a modicum of respect.
  • I wish that my income that I bust my ass for actually paid all my bills.
  • I wish I didn’t have to hold my breath when I swipe my debit card at the grocery store.
  • I wish Princess Punk didn’t ask for all kinds of expensive shit and then get mad when we tell her no.
  • I wish that every once in awhile, if the request was reasonable enough, we could afford to say yes.
  • I wish that it wasn’t raining right now.
  • I wish that I had some control over my brain so that when my husband tells me he’s dizzy, I don’t go into an elaborate scenario in my head where I end up a psychotic widow living in my parents’ basement.
  • I wish I was as patient as The Zen Master.
  • I wish that my skin had not decided that it was time for payback after going through my teenage years without a blemish. With interest. Compounded.
  • I wish that our government was closer to the one on The West Wing. It’s be nice if they all got their heads out of their asses and quit the bullshit and realized these are actual people with lives and homes and families that they are strutting and squabbling over like two chickens over a kernel of corn.
  • I wish our health insurance didn’t cost close to $500 a month.
  • I wish I could make it through one pay period with a more than a dollar left in my accounts (that’d be a cumulative total).
  • I wish we had cars that ran, reliably, on less than a tank of gas a week.
  • I wish our house wasn’t literally falling apart.
  • I wish my digestive system would give me a break for once. I’d really like some pizza.
  • I wish I would stop getting accusatory calls from the school nurse who seems determined to blame my daughter’s daily lunchtime blood glucose of over 300 or so on her being a liar and me being a shitty mom.

I think I’m done now. That didn’t really make me feel too much better. One more…

  • I really wish I’d stop being such a whiny crybaby and just suck it up.

Money Woes

I just want to put this out there,

I complain about our financial situation. I complain because it’s not fair. Because it’s stupid that in this country, a hard-working family of 4 are not able to make it through the month without some kind of financial fuck-up.

I don’t complain because I want a hand-out. I don’t complain because I want people to feel sorry for me. In fact, most of the time when I complain, I look back at my post and feel like a whiny asshole because we struggle but plenty of people struggle more.

And I complain because it pisses me off. Because I’ve worked really, really hard to be the person I am today. I have an education, a really good job that I excel at, a wonderful, mostly stable family, generally good health and I own my own home. 6 years ago, I was struggling in school, morbidly obese, a single mom, sponging off my parents, irresponsible and I couldn’t keep a job for more than a few months. I feel we shouldn’t have to get help. That we shouldn’t be struggling like this. Like accepting any kind of help is a step back to where I used to be.

Logically, I know that we do our best and we are not looking for handouts or being lazy or irresponsible. I look at my sister-in-law and it drives me crazy because she’s got 3 kids, gets child support and assistance for fuel and food (I think) and she smokes about a pack a day and drinks about a liter of soda a day. Not even looking at the fact that those are both really unhealthy life choices, she throws away a ton of money on that stuff. She works hard (seasonally like The Zen Master), but she gets a lot of help. She’s not lazy, and I love her to death, but sometimes I feel like accepting any kind of help will make me more like her than the person I want to be.

I chose a career that I love and thrive in but I knew was never going to give me a great salary. And I chose to marry for love and happiness, not financial security. And those are examples I want to set for my girls. Part of me feels like complaining or accepting help is showing them that they can’t pursue their lives the way they want to and still expect to make it.

So. Yeah. I think congress should reaad this.

Not that they’d pay attention.

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