White Noise – Redux

I posted this on my blog in November of 2014.  Considering all that I’m seeing, watching and hearing, I thought it might be worthwhile to dredge it up and post again.  I’ve become sort of…what’s the word, disenchanted? Dismayed? Disillusioned? 

Assume what you will after reading.  You won’t hear a peep about it from me.  🙂

ORIGINAL POST, 2016 updates in italics:

On this blog,when it comes to certain topics, this is what you’ll get:



When I started http://www.donnaeverhart.com back in early 2011, my intention was to focus on what was happening with my writing, with occasional family stuff thrown in, a book review here and there, photographs I’ve taken (strictly amateur), and whatever else I could dredge up I thought interesting.  I knew there would be certain topics I would steer clear of, and to this day, I’ve held true to that conviction.  (2016 update – yep, still the same!)

Topics I am determined not to post about are my religious, political, or ripped from the headlines viewpoints.  And that’s because everywhere I turn, from the TV, to radio, to Facebook, to other blogs, and who knows where else, that’s what I already get.  What do I have to add to the fray?  Nothing that hasn’t already been said.

Anyone can do what they want with their social media.  I don’t care.  It’s their space, their time, just as this space is mine.  Sure, I’ve waded into debates on other sites here and there a few times.  With the last one, I decided never again.  (2016 update – I’ve forgotten about this. Must’ve been real important.)   To the best of my ability, I’ve chosen to ignore being drawn into what can only become an inflammatory conversation.  The few comments  I did make on other blogs never made me feel better, and I knew I wasn’t going to sway any opinions no matter how many facts I lobbed over the internet fence.  It is/was, in my opinion, time wasted.  Besides, too much can be lost in this sort of online dialogue.  Sometimes the hot button topics are just too sensitive and difficult to parse into words that will go out to be consumed without that personal touch of voice modulation (are they yelling?), gestures, (slamming a hand down?) and eye contact, (or not) and a myriad of other human interactions. 

There are some who are very good at sharing their opinions with the right sense of diplomacy, yet no matter how eloquent they may be, somebody’s gonna get pissed.  Somebody’s gonna disagree.  It’s a no win situation.  Call me chicken.  Call me weak.  Hey, maybe call me…smart?  I have viewpoints on all of it, but, do you honestly care what I think about religion, politics or the latest news event?  I doubt it – especially if my opinion differs.

My other point is, what does any of that have to do with my writing goals and journey?  Not a thing.  In my opinion, it would be a turn off if you came  to read about the usual stuff I’m blathering on about, and got blasted with my personal opinions.  It’s not relevant to this writerly space which I consider almost sacred.

In that regard, here will always be like white noise, because there are already more than enough sideline analysts and commentators out there.

Aren’t you glad? 

Here.  Here’s some cloud pictures to look at.  I do a lot of sky gazing.  Every time I look at clouds, that Joni Mitchell song comes to mind, but this stanza where she replaces “clouds” with “life” seems appropriate.

“I’ve looked at life from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
It’s life’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know life at all.”

~Joni Mitchell~




Landscape of Life

When I think about life events, I’ve considered how they might change a person.  I do this now, more than ever before.  What hits us most hard are the occurrences that mean we must conform to something new.  The death of a family member, friend or pet.  A divorce.  A marriage.  The loss of a job, or the move into a new home.  A pregnancy.  A new job.  All these and so many others permanently affect us as individuals.

With the more dramatic life events, I find death is the most difficult event to process.  In the past decade, maybe a little longer, I’ve had two co-workers and a brother in law commit suicide.  Three people.  It astounds me I know three people who took their life by putting guns to their heads.  I found the body of young man on the beach.  That was back in 2001.  My son and I were walking on the beach, talking.  Up ahead I noticed a strange looking object that seemed, at first, to be lying on the sand.  As we came a little closer, I could tell this brown and black object was in a tidal pool.  I thought it was possibly driftwood, then I had the horrible thought it was a drowned dog, like a German Shepherd.  I began running, and then slowed down.  Oh.  It was a person.  He looked like he was just floating there, for pleasure. Except, a wave came in, a rather large one, and it was the lack of reaction that made me start running towards him again.  A looseness which told me, something wasn’t right.

And, it wasn’t.

Later, I found out from his family he’d been fasting and praying after 9/11 and was too weak to fight the rip current from a recent hurricane.

As many know, in 2012, I lost my job at Nortel.  That same month, I signed the contract with my agent.  Veritable ups and downs.  Then, a few months later, I had to euthanize my dogs, Bella and Kiwi.  A friend’s child passed away at only six years of age when they had to make the horrific decision to take him off life support. He’d developed a fever which triggered seizures. The medical staff couldn’t bring him out of his drug induced coma because the seizures began again.  He had a twin brother.  What did this do to him?

And then there was Dad, who passed earlier this year.  And I watched my mother shrink, actually becoming smaller, frailer, afraid.  The paint strokes for that were broad and sweeping, dark and volatile, grays of depression, the ugly red of anger, all expressions of grief.  It covered me.  It covered all of us.

I am not who I used to be.  No longer am I that crazy, cut-up with a love for unusual shoes, dancing (even though I couldn’t, not really), that spur of the moment sort of person.  Nowadays, sure, I still joke around a little, but I’m more serious, and maybe I need the fashion police because I tend to wear flip flops (year round) and, haven’t seen a nightclub in almost twenty years, because I like being at home.  Some would call this getting old.  Maybe that’s it, but I prefer to just see it as who I am now.

The other day while I was running, the term “landscape of life,” came to me.  It stemmed from the thought we humans are a lot like wet paint on a canvas.  We shift our emotions, and ourselves in order to conform to pain, happiness, or sadness.  Sometimes we become different versions of the person we used to be, before things happened to us.  Like an artist who creates a mood on canvas by using various colors of paint or by incorporating different textures or a new technique, I think humans are like wet paint too.   Our moods, our persona, is the landscape, meaning we adjust and transform ourselves over time.  Maybe some aspect of our old behaviors are simply wiped away as we move beyond what we’ve experienced

I’d like to believe, and I hope, I can somehow use these life experiences when it comes to character development, or capturing a reaction accurately, turning it into a believable rendering a reader can actually relate to and feel.


Courtesy artistandstudio.tumblr.com

Even though we may have lived it and breathed it, putting emotions into words and onto the page…it still doesn’t come any easier, does it?

An Open Letter To Nestle Purina PetCare Co. and Waggin’ Train LLC

Dear Purina and Waggin’ Train,

You don’t know me.  You don’t know that you forced me to do the unthinkable.  The sort of decision I prayed I would never have to make.

On August 2, 2012 after monumental efforts to save her through fluid therapy, and after much suffering, we “let” Bella go.

On August 23, 2012, after days of aggressive fluid therapy treatments and ultimately significant, rapid decline, we “let” Kiwi go.

Let is such a polite word.  What we actually did was make the decision to euthanize them.  I still get sick thinking about it.  I still cry.  All these years later.

Bella & Kiwi

I realize I’m only one of hundreds of thousands of consumers who bought pet treat products made by each of you.   Great sounding treats like Duck and Venison jerky, and Yam Good.  I was so excited about these products because both of the girls tended to have skin issues, and my vet recommended a diet excluding chicken and beef.  They ate a prescription dog food by Innovative Veterinary Diets, Royal Canin Hypoallergenic, and to find a treat they could have meant so much.  I will readily admit, they loved them.  They begged for them. And I enjoyed seeing their excitement, tumbling one over the other at having a “TREAT!” as I used to squeal at them while rattling the bag.

And that’s part of what made all this seem unbelievable.  After reading article after article of other dogs becoming sick, I thought, “Oh no, what have I been giving them?”  I immediately stopped, only, by then, unbeknownst to me, it was too late.   They’d eaten them for 18 months, and then, just like that, they were gone.

Imagine that.

Think about it.

I sure have.

And, there’s this to consider too.  Bella and Kiwi came from completely different litters.  They began eating the treats at the same time.  They began consuming more water at the same time.  They developed incontinence issues at the same time.  They became lethargic at the same time.  Lost weight at the same time with no change to their regular food.  They developed renal failure at the same time.

Bella was only 12, and Kiwi, was only 11.  Both young by Yorkie standards.

I’m sure by now you’re probably sick and tired of the whole jerky treat saga, considering the latest Class Action lawsuit regarding Beneful, but I’m here and I’m writing this now because the Class Action suit involving jerky treats has recently been settled.  And because, like a strange, twisted reminder, August of 2015 is the possible timeframe for the payout.  How very odd it will be three years to the month since “the unthinkable” happened, isn’t it?  Maybe that’s just how I view it.

They are now, sadly, counted along with statistical numbers tracked by updates written and printed by various news media.  Statistics that seem way off by the numbers in the Class Action suit.  All along the reports said 1,000 dogs killed and 4,800 sickened.  If that’s true, what about the other 5,200 who made a claim within the Class Action suit?  Yeah, 11,000 claims.  250,000 separate views of it.  A quarter of a million people who went out and looked at it.  Not 250,000 combined or collective views – individual or unique views.  Why do I believe that some of these folks (perhaps many?) didn’t file because they figured what difference would it make?  If they lost a pet, it sure wouldn’t bring them back.

I suppose I circle back to the “girls” again and again every now and then because I still feel them with me.  Filing my claim was hell.  Re-reading all of the vet reports which discussed their bloodwork and the BUN, creatnine levels, as well as personal notes like “she’s not feeling so good today,” and, “still not eating.”  Remembering all over again how I felt they’d been cheated of time with us, and that we’d been cheated of time with them.

Some who read this might think I ought to just get over it already.  Some might wonder why I would participate – since it IS true, participating doesn’t bring them back.  It doesn’t matter, and I don’t owe anyone explanations.  Maybe I’m trying to feel “settled” myself somehow.  It hasn’t worked yet, despite the fact after it happened, I wrote to EVERYONE, like my congresswoman.  My senator.  The FDA. The Veterinary Medicine branch of the FDA, CVM.

This was simply one more avenue where I could be heard. To tell the “girls” story once more, no matter how it resurrected the heartbreak all over again.  I still dream about them.

And so, this was my voice, amongst and with the other 10,999 heartsick pet parents.

Can you hear us?


The Hunter



Low key, easy going, never cussed, rarely drank, steadfast, resilient, calm, even tempered, loving, compassionate, loyal, understanding, mechanically inclined, hard working, quiet, dog lover, reclusive, missed.


Davis, Claude pic YoungerDad

May 24th, 1934 – March 3, 2015

Self-Imposed Writing Challenge

Just for the fun of it, I recently took an online typing test to see just how fast I could get my fingers to work.  I’ve never done this before and I’ve never cared about the “official” number because it doesn’t really matter to anyone.  And by that I mean, the only typing I’m doing is on my latest project and no one’s screaming for it.

I found out I type about 65 words per minute and removing errors, that might be adjusted to 60 or 61.  I believe I can go faster – as if that matters – but, at the moment I’m using a rather old laptop with a space key that notoriously sticks.  I’d say in fairness to my brain and fingers, that’s what’s called a handicap like they might give out in bowling or golf.  Anyway, my curiosity regarding this was triggered by a blog I follow called Writers In The Storm.  They have a group of writers who regularly contribute, as well as guest bloggers.  A guest blogger recently put out a post about how to take advantage of writing fast and even came up with a formula for how many words one could do in an hour if you knew your wpm.

Huh.  Okay, so, if I settled for 60 wpm x 60 that would be 3,600 words in an HOUR.  Are they insane???  That’s WAY higher than my usual goal of 1,000 words per DAY.  That sounded completely unreasonable until she went on to say you could work in fifteen minute increments.  Oh.  Okay, maybe I can see doing it that way.  Hey, I’m all for trying something new for motivation.  And if I only stuck with it for fifteen minutes, that’s 900 words – better than what I’ve done most days lately.  She pointed out it’s also helpful to have notes and an understanding of what’s going to happen in the story before you begin.

In reality, this isn’t any different than NANOWRIMO which some of you might still be recovering from.  There are a couple of differences.  1) You are accountable to no one but yourself, and 2) the goal of NANOWRIMO is 55,000 by the end of the month.  Like I’ve said before, I’ve never participated in it, but that’s about 1800 words per day.  Not within a half hour.  I find this concept of fast writing intriguing because I know if I get into my story, sometimes my fingers can’t keep up with my brain.

Plus, I’ve experienced a positive result once before by doing something similar.  This was back in 2012 when my first book was on submission, and I needed a distraction.  We always hear about beginning new projects to take our mind off of worry, and the submission process was all so new to me then, I was trying not to act like a psycho every time the phone rang, or an email dinged into my inbox.  For my own sake, I needed to write another book, partly to subdue crazy me, and partly to validate I could actually do it again.

I remember beginning in early April.  By August, I was done.  A completed story around 86,000 words in hand.  This included editing.  By my math, that’s not very fast – no where near this level of “fast writing,” in the WITS post, and not even close to NANOWRIMO, but in my mind, it was still a blistering pace because it took me 18 months to finish the last project.

My main point is, I wrote it  “fast,” i.e., a consistent 1,000 wpd, with more some days, and less on others, but some number of words on page – EVERY DAY.  Was it any good, you ask?  Well, I sent it off to Caroline Upcher, the editor I used at the time, and two weeks later I got an email back.  I opened the review letter enclosed and my eyes immediately caught the word “wonderful.”  And, it got even better.  (some of you have who’ve been reading my blog for a while have heard this story before)  Turns out she was reconnecting with contacts in the publishing world in the U.K., and sent the ms to an agency there to read with the hope of maybe working out a translatlantic sale if a U.S. publisher picked it up.  The agent, Amanda Preston, of LBA, read it, and contacted her and said, ” I absolutely love it.”

That sounds pretty exciting, right?  And it was – at the time.  Very.  However.  I decided not to go on submission for a variety of reasons that are really neither here nor there in this moment, although I do dwell on what might have happened if I’d done that.  What this post is about is I do love setting goals.  Yapping away about it here means I’m about to buckle down and get serious.  Back in 2004 and again in 2006 I ran a marathon.  One of the first things I did when I made up my mind to run in them was to state it as a fact, “I’m going to run a marathon this year.”   Stating goals for all to hear is more likely to make it happen than keeping it to yourself.

And your eyes reading this is stating my goal.  I will plant butt in chair and achieve 1,000 wpd for the next ninety days. 

One way or the other.

*cracks knuckles, glares at keyboard.*

Have you set a self-imposed writing challenge lately?

2014 Is About To Be In The Rear View Mirror

I almost didn’t post this nifty little annual report, courtesy of WordPress.  Admittedly, blogging is not my strong suit.  I write differently here than in my projects.  (less f-bombs.  No.  No need to thank me.)  Here, I tend to keep things lighthearted, and not too thought provoking.  Maybe that’ll change.  Or not.  I have no clue.  When I did the overhaul of the site a couple months back, that was a good start, but I feel like I’ve kept the writing here more like the previous site.  Green, fresh, apple pie’ish.

Anywho, without any more beleaguered babbling, beware my beautiful stats.  Read’em and weep.  Or laugh.  Eye rolling accepted, but if I see you, I’m poking my finger into those glassy orbs.  You’ve been warned.

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 5,100 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

The Spirit Of Christmas

It’s starting to get a little crazy around here.  With only ten days until Christmas Eve, and shopping yet to be done, gifts yet to be wrapped, and a new writing project looming in the background, I’m feeling a little pinched.  And this one here, all he wants to know is, is it here yet?  If so, can someone please take this hat off my head?

Thank you very much.

Are you ready?  And, are you trying to write in between all that you have to do?


I Am Not Chuck

This isn’t the first time this topic has come up.  Yesterday, there was a bit of a debate on Janet Reid’s blog because of a simple question.  Whether to write about writing, or, more specifically, should writers blog about writing.  The Shark’s position is, not really.  Or, if you do, it should only be a piece here and there.  She says, “I think writing about writing is best done in small doses and infrequently.”  She states that writers need to attract “readers” and by readers, she means people more likely to buy your book – if you have books to buy.

She goes on to explain why.

And so, here I am.  Guilty as charged.  One piece of good news is, not every post I write is about writing.  And I’m not trying to teach writing – as if I could.  Some of you out there have probably spotted grammatical errors galore, and wondered how the hell I’ve managed to write books.  Well,I have, but more than likely with a lot of grammatical errors. The funny thing is, I’ve thought about changing things up.  Doing something different here.  I just don’t know what, so I haven’t.  Then I’ve had a couple folks say they really like the blog already.  And when I throw my own two cents into the fray, I think, hey, I am who I am.  This is me, my voice, my place to spew about whatever I want.  What’s wrong with that?

Well, nothing and everything.

For one thing, I’ve always wanted to attract more followers, or potential readers, whichever.  Doesn’t anyone who’s got a blog?  Someone in JR’s comments area said that people like controversy. Well. I’m not the controversial sort.  I’m a rule follower.  I’m the polite person who moves their cart out of the way of other shoppers – even if I was standing at the meat counter eyeballing those ribeyes first.  I don’t like making waves, or drawing attention to myself.  I’m a quiet person,with a ready smile.  I have opinions about everything, but I also have enough sense to know those opinions really only matter to me.   If the topic isn’t too incendiary, I’ll weigh in – like I did yesterday.  My stance about writers attracting readers was, writers are readers too.  It’s the second most important thing we do.

JR said Chuck Wendig’s blog is fine for sharing writerly stuff b/c he writes so “fierce.”  And, let me tell you, she’s right about that.  He could write about how to make vanilla pudding and make you think you’d just cracked open a book on culinary wizardry with his descriptive choices for the most mundane tasks.  It’s like the man has his own on board thesaurus plunked into his brain with a unique talent for using unusual words as a launch pad for each and every sentence.

I’m not Chuck.  I’m nowhere near his level of writing, and his style is very different.  Bold, brash, INTERESTING.

I’m debating what’s the best way forward for this blog.  Until I know, it is what it is, (and if you know me, you know I hate that phrase) but at this point, I don’t know.  I did this originally to provide myself with a social platform for the books that will hopefully be published one day.  The problem was not knowing there were already way too many of “us,” going about  it just like this and to stand out you gotta be like Chuck – not his voice – but, unique enough to not get lost in all the noise.

Big shoes to fill.

If you are a reader, (not a writer) do you care about the writing process, words per day, how ideas are born, or any other manner of writing?  Or, is this just white noise? 


I am not quite sure what to make of this book.

No doubt, in between the layers of a confusing narrative, there are bits and pieces of brilliant writing. I suppose if you have the energy to keep a thesaurus or dictionary by your side to look up the meaning of all the words McCarthy uses, you’ll do all right and maybe even love the story. Considering it has a rating of 4.2, (Goodreads) some do love it.

Me? I did not love it. I don’t like struggling to understand what an author is trying to say. When I read I want to be entertained and I usually read to relax. Often I felt frustrated more than anything, although there were moments when I laughed at the antics of one of the more lively characters, Gene Harrogate, a.k.a City Mouse or City Rat – it seemed interchangeable.

I tackled SUTTREE because I read CHILD OF GOD, and despite the need to get “used to” McCarthy’s style of writing, and the subject matter, I loved CHILD. The first sentence of the Prologue should have been a warning. Others have quoted it, but just in case you missed it, here it is:

Dear friend now in the dusty clockless hours of the town when the streets lie black and steaming in the wake of the watertrucks and now when the drunk and the homeless have washed up in the lee of walls in alleys or abandoned lots and cats go forth highshouldered and lean in the grim perimeters about, now in these sootblacked brick or cobbled corridors where lightwire shadows make a gothic harp of cellar doors no soul shall walk save you.”

Fine.  I get it. He (Suttree) is walking the city streets alone, early morning. He sees a cat. He sees homeless people here and there. This gives you a good idea of just what you’re in for if you decide to read on.  The entire prologue is like this.  You could skip it altogether.  It’s like McCarthy was…, I don’t know…, warming up?  Let’s move on to the first sentence of what we can consider Chapter One (no Chapters are identified) as the book begins:

“Peering down into the water where the morning sun fashioned wheels of light, coronets fanwise in which lay trapped each twig, each grain of sediment, long flakes and blade of light in the dusty water sliding away like optic strobes, where motes sifted and spun.”

That is the sentence that begins the story of Cornelius Suttree, bum/alcoholic extraordinaire. From the back of the book we understand he’s shunned his rich upbringing to live among the rabble rousers of Knoxville Tennessee, and ekes out a living running his little trot lines, making just enough selling carp and catfish to hear the jingle of coins in his pockets and keep from starving. If it hadn’t been for this brief explanation of what the story was about, I think I’d have been more lost than him.

Aside from McCarthy’s extensive knowledge of words – some I’ve never laid eyes on –  he also breaks rules a lesser writer like me must use. No quotations when people speak. (in an interview he said they weren’t necessary. I beg to differ – at least in this book) Very little comma usage, etc. Ho boy.

He also has a tendency to take common, everyday words and run them together, so at first glance it makes you back up, only to realize it’s just two basic words strung together. Some are in the quoted sentences above.

More examples:

And on and on.

The book is filled with nicknames for the other characters, like Oceanfrog, Trippin Through The Dew, Gatemouth, Jabbo, J Bone, Bucket, Boneyard, to name a few.

There were parts where I felt physically ill at his descriptions of Suttree being sick from too much alcohol, being urinated on, and the illnesses he contracted, like typhoid fever.  Somehow, I happily made it to the end. One thing was clear…, the book delivered on it’s ability to confuse me right on up to the last page. Here is the last sentence – which, trust me, contains no spoiler:

I have seen them in a dream, slaverous and wild and their eyes crazed with ravening for souls in this world. Fly them.”

And there you have it. I guess this is one of those works you’ll either love or hate, like the THE GOLDFINCH, GONE GIRL, or FIFTY SHADES.  Some loved those, others hated them.  I can’t say I hated this book.  I’m just glad I’ve finished it.

Anyone else read SUTTREE?  What did you think?

One Hundred Words

I’ve talked about this before.  Those addicting flash fiction contests run by Janet Reid, literary agent extraordinaire.  How hard is it to tell a story in one hundred words?  Doggone hard.  The last one, a couple weekends ago, was in honor of one of her clients, Jeff Somers, for the publication of his latest book, WE ARE NOT GOOD PEOPLE.

The rules are simple.  She will provide five prompt words, usually something to do with the reason for having the contest.  When using those five words, we can have a bit of leeway.  As long as the word is part of a larger word and appears “in whole” that’s okay.  The word “like” is okay as “likeness,” or likeability, but not lickety-split.  See?  And we, (we being the collective group who follow her blog religiously) are to write a story using those five prompt words, in one hundred words, or less.

When I wrote about this the last time, I think I mentioned what good practice these flash contests are at learning how to make your writing more crisp.  To learn how to eliminate useless words – or maybe words that aren’t necessary to the meaning of the story.   The overall process isn’t that far from how I write in general (Pantster that I am).  That’s sort of scary when I think about it.  Anyway, what I mean is, I begin to write – something – with no idea where it’s going. Eventually, an idea sticks. Sometimes, I end up with more than one version, and then I have to choose which one I like better.

That’s what happened in this last one.

Here are the five prompt words we had to use:

  1. spirits
  2. blood
  3. magic
  4. pants
  5. cat

Here is Version One:

Preacher Dan lifted the bottle of tonic and proclaimed its potency.

“Drink it!” he caterwauled, “your spirits will be lifted, what ails you will be gone!”

The crowd eyed the concoction doubtfully.

“It’s black magic!” some yelled, “prove it!” yelled others.

He hitched up his pants before reaching down to lift a venomous snake, antagonizing the serpent by waving a hand at its face.

It struck!

Preacher Dan showed them his hand, “Not a drop of blood!” and coins fell like rain into the little collection basket.

Hours later he counted the money one handed, his prosthesis resting beside him.

And, Version Two:

Sunday, under a big tent, Preacher Dan was busy cleansing spirits, urging followers to drink the blood of Christ. His gospel invoked speaking in tongues, a yielding of souls, complete and utter faith.

Doubters whispered, “Its black magic!”

He adjusted his ill-fitting pants, lifted a venomous snake in one hand while waving the other in its face.  

It struck!

He stood firm, unwavering, and caterwauled, “A miracle! A message from God himself! “

Believers now, the crowd surged forward, coins raining into his little collection basket.

Only when he headed to the next town, would he remove the prosthetic hand.

I had to choose one for the contest, and honestly, it was kind of tough, because I liked both equally.  However…, the version I chose was a semi-finalist out of ninety entries, and that was Version Two.

If I’d chosen Version One, what could have happened?  Same placement?  Or not?  This is why writers are torn over their words, why we shuffle them around ad nauseum, telling a similar story, yet different  This is why when we say, “it’s done,” we know it’s never really done, is it? 


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