\ˈvər-chə-wəlˈdā-vəs\ Blogger, storyteller, flâneur. G.G. Davis, Jr's alter ego…

The Bobcat Blues

Feeling blue one morning, naturalist Ed Kanze heads into the woods and finds his thoughts full of bobcats. Listen here to what the cats had to teach him… Theme music written and composed by Josh Clement. (Mountain Lake PBS)

Kanze’s “Bobcat Blues” is a clever essay on how he and the bobcat are similar (as well as how they differ). It opens with a parallel that will appeal to freelance writers.

Bobcats and I have much in common. They are freelance creatures, solitary for the most part. They spend most of their lives out on limbs just as freelance writers do, hoping to sink their teeth into prospects that more often than not fail to materialize. ~ Ed Kanze (Mountain Lake PBS)

Kanze’s poignant closing thought and my friend Josh Clement‘s (@josh_clement) stealthy blues transformed this melancholic reflection into a poignant, infectious and semi-philosophical soundtrack for my days’ work. Hope you enjoy the “Bobcat Blues”!


Befriend Failure

Stephen McCranie is a cartoonist.

Befriend Failure (Credit:

Befriend Failure (Credit:

My goal is to make good ideas easy to access, understand, and share. To this end, I create comics with heartfelt stories that are appropriate for all ages. I also try to facilitate the spread of useful ideas by drawing short comic essays about concepts and principles that have been beneficial to me. ~ Stephen McCranie

Delve into this always scary but always critical tenet for living a creative life:

The master has failed more times than the beginner has even tried.

This, McCranie believes, is the main difference between the beginner and the master.

It rings true for me, especially as I edge toward the exhilarating but risky launch of Wanderlust, the first in a series of short format memoirs. I’ve been writing and revising these chronicles for four years during which time they’ve evolved from a single-but-sprawling Year in Provence style narrative to a more intimate collection of extended essays exploring the notion (and artifacts) of “home”. Within months Wanderlust will tumble out of the nest and into the imaginations of readers. If I’m lucky.

It’s a scary/thrilling time. A time for confidence. And humility. A time to take a chance. To silence the critic within and risk failure. Come what may.

For the writer at least, and perhaps also for the reader, it is better to have tried and failed to achieve perfection than never to have tried at all. ~ Aldous Huxley (Preface – Collected Essays)

Befriend Failure (Credit:

Befriend Failure (Credit:

This cartoon was sent to me recently by a close friend. The cartooning – the “doodling” – would appeal to me, not the message, not the befriend failure theme. This is what my friend said. And perhaps she meant it. Probably she meant it.

And I loved the cartooning. I’ve poured over many of McCranie’s clever, creative reflections on universal, often philosophical truths. But I’ve returned to this one cartoon, “Be Friends with Failure“, again and again. Shoot for success, but befriend failure.

Befriend failure? What sort of asinine advice is that?!?! How about gun for success, shoot for the moon, kick some @$$?

Yes, yes, yes. But befriend failure!

Hasta la vista, critic!

One X-Ray and Two Tooth Stories

X-Ray of my Chompers on February 9, 2011.

X-Ray of my Chompers on February 9, 2011.

Sorry about the creep x-ray. And about the even creepier tooth stories I’m about to tell. If you freak out about going to the dentist, this post is not for you.

Try “Drunk Doodles” or “Schopenhauer’s Flâneur” instead…

I never really considered the relationship between teeth and stories until today. When my dentist took my annual mouth x-rays a couple of years ago, I asked him to email this image of my mouth. I no longer remember what possessed me, probably just curious if he would oblige, but today I came across the goofy grin. Two stories were immediately visible in the black and white x-ray.

Look at my two top front teeth. The x-ray suggests that I’m chewing bubblegum. Or preparing to shoot a spitball? The truth is that those two front top teeth were damaged long ago while riding a bicycle. My smile today comes to you courtesy of a long parade of capable dentists who repair my reconstructed front teeth every few years.

Wheelie Teeth

It was a summer day, and I was visiting a friend whose mother gave us permission to ride our bikes down to Rosemary Remington’s for ice cream.

My mother didn’t allow us to ride bikes on the road, so it was a particular thrill to peddle down the pavement. Freedom! There’s something about riding a bicycle on a peeve corrode as a child that is truly intoxicating. Add to that an ice cream cone and probably a chocolate bar. Cycling in the land of enchantment!

While popping a wheelie on the way back to my friends house I overpulled and smashed the handlebars into my teeth. I reached into my mouth and collected the fragments. I looked down into my wet hand, small pieces of broken tooth. I ran my finger over my two top front teeth.  I had broken a perfect upside down V into my still new “adult teeth”. Only my mother’s heart broke into more pieces than my own. Oh, to relive that single moment!

Wisdom Teeth

Tooth Stories: From x-rays to wisdom teeth and beyond...

Tooth Stories

Absent in this image are my wisdom teeth, all four. And while that gaping maw looks laid back enough about it now, I was anything but calm at the time.

For some reason, my wisdom teeth were not removed until I was part way through college. By the time our dentist decided I needed to have them removed, they were severely impacted. Apparently this is common enough, though less common is a roughly 20-year-old male who is scared to death of needles. I had known they were going to knock me out in order to extract the teeth, and I had been agonizing over the inevitable injection for days before arriving at the orthodontist’s office. Well, turns out the ortho had a solution for that too. I was strapped to the operating table and after wrenching and flinching each time he attempted to insert the IV, he placed a mask over my mouth and turned on the gas. Once I was mellowed out he slipped the needle into me without my knowledge or reaction. I remember him talking to me.

“So you go to Georgetown?”

“Um-hmm,” I mumbled through the mask.

“That’s where I studied orthodontia.”

“Really? I didn’t know there was a dental program,” I tried to say, feeling calm and far, far away. “When did you graduate?”

“We had to break the top teeth to get them out, but I have the bottom ones if you’d like to keep them”

What? What?!?!  That’s my one experience with anesthesia. Sort of like a sloppy film edit. Same characters. Same setting. But a half hour of footage was extracted in the blink of an eye.

The rest of the story involves codeine and a slooow recovery, but it’s less interesting than the half hour of my life that was edited out with my wisdom teeth.

Tooth Stories and X-Ray Storytelling

Did you ever pretend that you had x-ray vision as a child? Or maybe as an adult? I remember advertisements for x-ray vision glasses that could be ordered from comic books or bubble gum wrappers. Never tested that one out.

But imagine if we could use x-ray storytelling to spy under people’s prettied up veneers! Maybe we can. I try all the time. A stranger in line at supermarket flips her hair while closing her eyes for a moment longer than a blink. And suddenly my x-ray storytelling is conjuring up a narrative. Probably not an accurate narrative, but an intriguing and startling narrative. Maybe that’s the same way those comic book x-ray vision glasses worked too…

If I turned my x-ray storytelling on you, what tooth stories would I discover?

Re-Cycling: Le Flaneur by Hermes

Le Flâneur Town Bike By Hermès

Posh wheels for well-heeled velo-flaneurs!

Aloof. Alone. Leisurely. Urban. Introducing Le Flaneur by Hermes…

Really? Really!

Just when you thought flanerie (or at least the flaneur) was sacred. Or too niche to warrant much attention from the mass market. You were wrong.

Sorry. It’s time for recycling cycling!

Gastronomy of the Eye

Leave it to Hermès – purveyors of luxe French apparel, accessories and perfumery – to recycle the mystique of flanerie. As a bike. With a price tag north of $10k. You read that right. That’s a bit spendy for this flaneur, but if you’re in the market for a pedal powered Rolls Royce Phantom (or its carbon fiber equivalent), then you’re in luck.

Le Flaneur by Hermes

You want to knock around town in style but still burn a few calories? You might give Les Vélos d’Hermès a spin. Specifically, Le Flâneur, a town bike named for that wonderful French concept of a kind of loosely directed, multicurious wandering about Balzac defined it as “the gastronomy of the eye”. Le Flâneur combines an understated luxury–bull calf leather grips and saddle that will age to a fine patina–with technical touches like a lightweight carbon-fiber frame and hydraulic disc brakes. One doesn’t always need to suffer for beauty. (Forbes)

I’m certain that’s the first time I’ve read a bicycle review in Forbes.

Le Flâneur Sportif d’Hermès

Now if that elegant crème anglaise steed is too effete for your tastes, you can rest easy. Le Flaneur is also available in a sleeker model appropriately camouflaged for nocturnal flaneurs.

Le Flaneur by Hermes is available in a sporty version too...

Le Flaneur by Hermes is available in a sporty version too…

Famous for its silk scarves and ties, Hermès… [is diversifying with a] duo of handsome carbon fiber bicycles… Le Flâneur d’Hermès and Le Flâneur sportif d’Hermès. Each will feature a shock-absorbing frame, belt-driven transmission and hydraulic disc brakes, as well as a choice of eight or 11 gears integrated into the rear wheel hub. (

What luck!

Is Le Flaneur by Hermes Art or Bike?

While an inveterate and unabashed flaneur, I’m not sure what to make of these posh toys/tools. It would be criminal to pretend that Le Flâneur sportif is not a beautiful bike. It is. Minimalist, elegant and proud. I’d seriously consider hanging one on my wall.

Francois Dore, managing director of Hermes’ Horizons department, stated,”We set out to make a real bike, not a decorative object. It had to be simple, efficient, easy to use, pleasant and elegant”, according to WWD. (The Style of the Case)

Right. It’s not wall art. It’s a real bike, a tool for flaneurs on urban safaris. Besides, is a $10,000 honestly any more more ostentatious than a turtle on a leash? No. But then again, I’m not a turtle strolling flaneur…

I Want to Live: Praise for 12 Years a Slave

12 Years a Slave (doodle by virtualDavis)

12 Years a Slave (doodle by virtualDavis)

Almost 24 hours after watching 12 Years a Slave (movie) I still can’t shake it. The story and characters won’t let go. They’re both still gripping me in technicolor evil. And grace.

If you haven’t seen this Director Steve McQueen’s unflinchingly candid glimpse into the enslavement of free black man Solomon Northup, you need to.

TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE is based on an incredible true story of one man’s fight for survival and freedom. In the pre-Civil War United States, Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery. Facing cruelty (personified by a malevolent slave owner, portrayed by Michael Fassbender), as well as unexpected kindnesses, Solomon struggles not only to stay alive, but to retain his dignity. In the twelfth year of his unforgettable odyssey, Solomon’s chance meeting with a Canadian abolitionist (Brad Pitt) will forever alter his life. (Fox Searchlight: 12 Years a Slave)

The film is gripping and visceral. And fair warning, it’s also totally unfiltered and unforgiving. McQueen captures slavery in its least sympathetic and most complex iteration I can recall, plunging into it’s insidious, malignant effect, dehumanizing slave, master end every one in between. 12 Years a Slave is a genuinely immersive experience absent special effects or melodrama. McQueen deploys somewhat unconventional storytelling techniques such as an excruciatingly drawn out scene with Northup hanging from a noose, barely clinging to life, while life returns to normal around him. The juxtaposition of a slow-motion murder amidst quotidian chores and playing children is devastating.

While virtually every actor in 12 Years a Slave delivers a superb performance, Chiwetel Ejiofor as Solomon Northup is riveting. He manages to exude grace in the face of devastating events, transforming a demanding, almost impossibly complex character into one of the most powerful and believable film roles I’ve witnessed in years. Lupita Nyong’o, Michael Fosbender and Brad Pitt also deliver exceptional performances, but I’ll do them and the film injustice if I continue. Just see it for yourself. Here’s a trailer to motivate you.

Find 12 Years a Slave

Pinterest Hacked: Semi-Nude Fat Loss Pics Posted

English: Red Pinterest logo

Pinterest Hacked: Semi-Nude Fat Loss Pics Posted (Credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve been trimming the girth for a year or two, but this is too much! Semi-nude fat loss pics have swallowed up virtualDavis on Pinterest. Over night. Not cool. Fortunately a friend apprised me of the violation, and after purge, purge, purging the semi-nude fat loss pics (read, affiliate advertisements by an unscrupulous hacker) I’ve dug around to discover I’m not alone.

One board “Weight Loss: Loose Weight Fast” had 76 pins! (And, clever spammer, I think you meant, “Lose Weight Fast”, nest pas?)

And another…

Pinterest Hacking Pandemic?

Pinterest Hacked

Pinterest Hacked

Hope not, but a good wake up call to pincers and Pinterest that they are vulnerable and need to be proactive. Here’s their official advise for dealing with boards or pins on your account that you didn’t create:

It’s possible someone got into your account. You should reset your password to secure your account:

  1. Click the profile menu then click Settings
  2. Click Change your password…
  3. Type in your old password
  4. Choose a new password – make sure it’s complex!

After you’ve reset your password, you can delete any pins or boards that were added to your account. Unfortunately, we can’t restore deleted boards or pins. If you have trouble resetting, try from (Pinterest Help Center)

Pinterest Lessons Learned

At least some fat loss affiliate programs cater to (or tolerate) unscrupulous spammers. The kind who target creepers obsessed with semi-nude women. Fat semi-nude women.

Pinterest needs to develop an easier, quicker, smarter interface for deleting multiple images at once. This should not be hard. Git’er done. Please.

Mean people suck. And they make us calloused, which also sucks.

Semi-Nude Laugh Therapy

I’d be remising in closing this grumbly post without returning to my all time favorite analgesic. Humor. So let’s wrap with an example of the lighthearted souls who don’t take these sorts of “crises” too seriously.


Mike Lowery: Master Doodler and Illustrator

Mike Lowery, Illustrator and Doodler

Mike Lowery, doodling… and doodled! (Credit:

Mike Lowery ( is a master doodler illustrator. I must learn to be careful about calling illustrations doodles and illustrators doodlers. I get it. They’re different. And many artists who illustrate or draw consider the terms doodling or doodler to be pejorative.

I don’t consider doodling or doodler to be pejorative. In fact, I consider doodler a complement of the highest order, for to doodle is to break free. To be playful. To be curious. To explore. To express. Not all illustrators and artists doodle. But those who do doodle inspire the blazes out of me!

Mike Lower, Doodler

I would like to propose – with apologies offered in advance – that Mike Lowery is an especially inspiring master doodler.

And it turns out I’m not the only one who associates Mike Lowery’s capricious illustrations with doodles. For example, Jenipher Lyn (blogger, doodler and all around creative whiz) captured him in this aptly title post, “Mummies, DRY Humor and silly doodles, oh my!” And The oxford American made the doodle connection in an interview a little over a year ago.

THE OA: Did you ever consciously decide to be a cartoonist? Or were you always doodling and drawing all your life, and then one day someone paid you for your art?
ML: I’ve always worked towards the goal of doing illustration or comics or fine art…anything art related for work. There wasn’t any question that I would shoot for anything else. (Oxford American)

And sometimes even Mike Lowery makes the doodle connection:

Who Really is Mike Lowery?

So you’ve humored me long enough, endured my “Mike Lowery is a master doodler!” schpiel and now you’d like the unbiased bottom line. Right. Better pass the baton…

Mike Lowery is an artist living in Atlanta, Georgia… Mike’s work has been seen on everything from greetings cards to children’s books to gallery walls all over the world, and he is a Professor of Illustration at the Savannah College of Art and Design Atlanta. (Mike Lowery)

Mike Lowery is an artist, an illustrator, and a professor. But he’s also a doodler. Period. And a damned good doodler! I dare say, a guru.

Mike Lowery, Illustrator and Doodler

Mike Lowery, doodling (

It’s difficult to explain the near-cultlike following Lowery has achieved if you’ve never seen him perform — and I do mean perform. Even though he prefaces every presentation as being a simple matter of sharing some drawings from his diary, there is no question that the self-concious, deapan commentary he weaves through his slideshows constitute a high form of performance art. You’re never sure if Lowery’s actually that charming or completely aware of his own brilliance and putting on that aw-shucks demeanor entirely for his act — either way, it’s tough not to be taken in. Somewhere between the Still Life series, a collection of cartoons about an apple and a pear who are in a relationship, but live with a third-wheel banana, and the introspective robot who worries about whether his wife is right and they’re ready to have kids, a devotion to Lowery is born. (DCist)

Ah-ha, Mike Lowery is even a performer… See why I like this guy?

Is Whispersync the Bundle I’m Touting?

For ages I’ve been touting the incredible merits of an audio book / ebook bundle. I’ve conjured. I’ve ranted. But nothing. At last, this.

Now you don’t have to put a good book down… Switch back and forth between Kindle book and the Audible audiobook without ever losing your place. (

Audible claims that Whispersync for Voice fans are consuming more books, and reader’s / listeners’ are pleased with the enriched experience. I’m guardedly optimistic. And interested in your experience. Off to poke around and see what the punditry is saying…

iPhone 5S: Doodling Skeuomorphism

Don’t fret, friends, this isn’t an iPhone 5S perks and burps post. We’ll leave those to the gadget gurus. I’m actually pretty content with my iPhone 4S, but my 2 year contract is up (Or nearly up? Better check that!) and there are a couple of intriguing new iPhone 5S gizmos to tempt:

  • iPhone 5S has a better camera (real value to me)
  • iPhone 5S has a fingerprint sensor (hmmm… dubious/potential value)

But the most exciting iPhone-y newness getting hashed and rehashed in the scuttlebutt-o-sphere isn’t the iPhone 5S at all. It’s iOS 7. And the prospect of both wrapped up tidily together? Hmmm…

This software looks nothing like the old iOS. It’s all white and clean, almost barren… Above all, it completely abandons Apple’s formerly favorite design principle, skeuomorphism, in which on-screen things depict real-world materials… iOS 7 is more efficient to navigate, because nothing on the screen is eye candy; everything is a button, so you spend less time hunting for things.

Furthermore… Siri… responds faster, has a more realistic voice and understands new kinds of commands (

If only Siri could massage my shoulders. Of course my bride already resents Siri’s intrusions into our otherwise monogamous marriage, so massage could prove dangerous. I retract my wish and unrub the genie. Safe?

Honestly, the real inspiration for this post is the totally un-tech-geeky iPhone 5S doodle above. Genius! And learning about skeuomorphism is the icing on the cake. Perhaps you need a little help with skeuomorphism? I did. Try this super helpful skeuomorphism sketchnote by Eva-Lotta Lamm.

Skeuomorphism Sketchnote by Eva-Lotta Lamm

Skeuomorphism Sketchnote (Credit: Eva-Lotta Lamm, Core77)

Persuasion and the Art of Storytelling

Persuasion and the Art of Storytelling (Image:

Persuasion and the Art of Storytelling (Image:

Persuasion is not just for salespeople and their prospects… Often the most effective persuaders are your kids. Somehow they come by it naturally while you, the adult, has to work hard to find the persuasive path to success. ~ Kevin Daum

Kevin Daum (@awesomeroar), the best-selling author of Video Marketing For Dummies, knows a thing or seven about persuasion. He believes that really persuasive people share seven behaviors that guarantee their success when performed together.

Here are five of the behaviors that also lend themselves to the art of storytelling:

  • Listen “You can’t persuade effectively if you don’t know the other side of the argument.”
  • Connect “You’ll persuade people much more easily if they are open and aligned with your desires.”
  • Acknowledge Credibility “When you are persuading people, reinforce their credibility on facts and opinions rather than dismissing them outright.”
  • Offer Satisfaction “Give ground where you can and hold your ground only where it matters. Choose being successful over being right.”
  • Know When to Shut Up “Wearing people down is not an effective strategy.”

[Adapted from Kevin Daum. "7 Things Really Persuasive People Do." Inc. 5000. Aug 2, 2013]

Robert Dickman, author of The Elements of Persuasion helped bridge the story-persuasion divide in a Businessweek column by in August 2007.

a story is a fact wrapped in an emotion that compels an action which transforms our world… Take “All Gone.” We all told that one [as infants]. The fact was our bottle was empty. We wrapped that fact in an emotion—either annoyance because we wanted more, or satisfaction because we were full—and expressed it by crying or cooing. This compelled our parents to take an action—either getting another bottle or burping us and settling us down. Either way our world was changed. (“Storytelling and the Art of Persuasion“)

Despite my childfree choice and lifestyle, I’m a fan and student of children. (In fact, some would say that I’m still one myself!) As a lapsed teacher and a less lapsed uncle I’ve learned plenty from the most naturally persuasive storytellers in our midst. I suspect few would argue the fact that children, even infants, master the art of storytelling the moment they first lock eyes with an audience. Mom. Dad. Siblings.

The art of storytelling is initially almost the only weapon in our persuasion arsenal, so we polish it to perfection and maintain it meticulously without even realizing we are doing so. And we use it. Again and again. As son as we realize how effectively we can persuade (read “manipulate”) circumstances, we instinctively begin experimenting and honing our nascent art of storytelling.

The Art of Listening

While one mark of childish persuasion is the inability to listen, the stubborn insistence on shoving forward no matter how resolved and resistant the audience, savvy youngsters discover the art of listening early on.

People who know how to persuade… are actively listening when in persuasion mode. First, they are listening to assess how receptive you are to their point of view. Second, they are listening for your specific objections, which they know they’ll have to resolve. Last, they are listening for moments of agreement so they can capitalize on consensus. ~ Kevin Daum (7 Things Really Persuasive People Do)

I’ve argued elsewhere that the art of listening may be the most fundamental skill in effective storytelling. Children are the original A/B split testers, running different versions of their story past both parents (and any other relevant influencers) based upon their day-to-day assessment of their audience’s receptivity. Horse trading their way through a forest of objections and emphasizing the moments of agreement (no matter how few or stretched) are also early learned skills.

Create a Connection

Parents are impenetrable fortresses when the child is pushing a categorically unacceptable agenda. But parents will lower the drawbridge to negotiate when they detect overlapping objectives.

Really persuasive people… look for common ground to help establish emotional bonds and shared objectives. They show empathy for your position and make it known that they are on your side. ~ Kevin Daum (7 Things Really Persuasive People Do)

Whether you’re an ankle-biter or a seasoned film producer, the art of storytelling involves sidestepping antagonistic issues (at least initially) to forge a sympathetic dynamic between storyteller and audience. Once the drawbridge is down and you’re swapping pipe dreams and war stories on the grassy bank of the moat, watching ducks bobbing for snacks under bluebird skies, persuasive storytellers know that they stand a better chance of finding a receptive audience even to the “problem” issues.

Acknowledge Audience Credibility

Kids struggle with this. Heck, most adults struggle with this. Struggling to win over your audience by arguing the superiority of your experience, knowledge, facts, etc. mostly pisses people off. We all think we’re right. But this doesn’t stand in the way of persuasive storytellers.

When you are persuading people, reinforce their credibility on facts and opinions rather than dismissing them outright. Then they’ll be more likely to pay you equal respect in the exchange and be more open to the merits of your opposing view. ~ Kevin Daum (7 Things Really Persuasive People Do)

And if not, then you’re wasting your time. Move on!

Offer Satisfaction by Yielding

Kids struggle even more with this, perhaps because it’s tied to the previous issue. It’s about thinking big picture instead of getting tangled up in each element of your story. What’s the goal? Do you have to triumph at every turn to reach your goal? Usually not.

Smart persuaders know that they don’t have to win every little battle to win the war. They are more than willing to sacrifice when it helps the overall cause. They are ready to find the easiest path to yes. ~ Kevin Daum (7 Things Really Persuasive People Do)

Compromise along the journey, and you’ll earn the respect and trust of your audience, even though they may not share your views or goals. You are not trying to prove that you’re a genius. You just want to keep them hooked, curious, and sympathetic. By demonstrating that you may not be right about everything, you satisfy their need to object and resist. You demonstrate respect for their beliefs and needs. And you earn their confidence that you’re not trying to dupe them, just guide them toward a mutually meaningful conclusion.

Tell Your Story and then Shut Up

It goes without saying that one of the most pleasing rights of passage from youth to adulthood is learning this lesson. And one of the most aggravating forms of birth control is arguing with a kid who won’t shut up.

Successful persuaders get that you don’t win the battle by constantly berating people with an unending verbal barrage… They carefully support their arguments and check in with questions… [and then] they step back. ~ Kevin Daum (7 Things Really Persuasive People Do)

Frankly, this is my biggest shortcoming as a storyteller. I’m prone to blather on ad nauseum. Not good. Neither in written storytelling, nor in oral storytelling. I continue to work at this, but I’ve a long way to go. Which reminds me, it’s time to wrap up… I still have some growing up to do before I perfect the art of storytelling!


You see, I’m not good at shutting up. But I’m working on it. I promise. I close with a hat tip and deep bow to Kevin Daum (@awesomeroar) whose article I’ve read and run through the food processor to suit my present needs. Sorry if I’ve distorted your opinions and processed your article into the digital equivalent of potted meat. And thanks for the inspiring road map and cogent argument. You, sir, are a persuasive storyteller!

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