Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Wednesday Night is Gumbo Night!

Ha, it's been over a week since I received  my callsign, "Beans" and I so ducked out of so many potentially bad callsigns like, "Mr. Wizard" (of which you were informed of earlier, ha!,) "Barney" and "Barfly" (may be a future story in there somewhere,) and much worse, so I guess I'm safe now, so far...  

And a quick aside to Memorial Day.  In Trimaris (most of Florida, there's a special fighting tourney held to determine the best fighter, who will be the champion of the people for a year.  Here's a photo of the Champion of Trimaris Award Plaque and Helm and accoutrements (helm is not to be worn, just shown) and the words that go with it.   This helm belonged to someone I only peripherally knew and who gave his all for all of us.
“This Helmet of Champions was made and fought in by Sergeant 1st Class Paul Ray Smith Brother to Duke Solomon Spite. Best friend of Earl Gregory Ahearne. Compatriot to many. Paul gave his life April 4th, 2003 saving the lives of over 100 of his troops in Baghdad in the War on terror, the truest embodiment of a Hero. On April 4th, 2005, Paul received the highest honor awarded in our nation, the Medal of Honor. Let this helmet inspire your tour as Champion of Trimaris. Let no dishonor ever befall it.”

Okay, back to Gulf Wars, the SCA war founded specifically not to create aggressions on either side.  Seriously.  “Gulf Wars, The War with No Enemies.”  It’s a real thing.  Some of the ‘wars’ I have participated in turned into generational grudge-frucks, with much cheating and backstabbing and nastiness (especially after the profit split from the event.)

Wait.  You thought only the LockMartBoeingBAEHaliburtonia-Bush-Trump-Hitler-Industrial Complex (and the UN, never forget the UN) made money on war, right? (insert ominous conspiracy music here...) Well, the SCA is weird.  Okay.  Serious now.  The SCA was founded in Berkeley, CA during the height of the 1960’s as a kinda anti-war, free-love, screw-the-establishment party in someone’s backyard.  Some of the founding members of the SCA later on became known as some of the creepiest stalker-pervs in Sci-Fi/Fantasy, but, well, Berkeley in the ‘60s.  (Now?  The SCA actively pursues creepazoids and sexpreds and drums them out.  Murderers?  Well, that’s another story (DukeAngus, cough, cough…))  Since then, the SCA has become a collection of some of the most liberal and conservative outcasts, freaks, geeks and jocks.  It has also gotten mostly away from the Berkeley birth crowd (some of them to jail, some of them to other groups, more and more of them to the Great Beyond.)

Events in the SCA are usually these organized weekend things, show up Friday afternoon, stay all day Saturday, leave Sunday morning (unless it’s a 3 day weekend or a war, where additional days are tacked on)(or if you daytrip, which is just as it sounds) where a group of people (hereafter called ‘crats’ as in Autocrat (the head of the group and one of the two people legally responsible for the event,) Reservationcrat (the person that does all the finances and reservations and is legally responsible for tracking the money,) the FeastCrat (head cook and person responsible for the supposedly medievalish menu for those buying Feast (usually included 2 breakfasts, lunch, dinner, maybe a ‘traveler’s feast (stew or some such) on Friday night for those arriving to the event Friday that bought ‘Feast’.  (We used to be restricted to $8.00 a head for a normal weekend for between 150 to 300 people, so, depending on the feastcrat, ‘feast’ could be rather, um, low quality or really friggin great (Mrs. Beans and Mr. Beans always produced celebrated menus and under-budget (if only by a smidge, but never over-budget),) Gatecrat (the head of the people who figure out who comes in and makes sure the rescrat gets paid,) and so forth, and so on.  Gee, for a medievalish group, they couldn’t have used medieval terms like, oh, seneschal, or Cook, or Head Guard, or…  Berkeley, remember?  Some things can’t be changed because… Tradition (yes, when this concept was brought up, often, me and my peeps would break out in the song “Tradition” which labeled us as the enemy and we suffered by being allowed to not attend stupid meetings that forced us to sing “Tradition.”)(Seriously, the Potty-crat is the head of the group that makes sure toilet stalls have toilet paper and plunge any clogs, seriously, this is a Thing in the SCA (which has no resemblance to the Viking Thing, which was an assembly of people for law purposes, or the VW Thing, which was a funky-looking Beetle (no, not Ringo, I said Beetle, not Beatle.))

An autocrating group (the SCA loves stupid made-up terms) would get an event weekend, get a campsite (anywhere from someone’s largeish back yard to actual campgrounds with full kitchens and cabins and sometimes a pool and all that stuff (one of the great things about living in Florida is there used to be lots of fully equipped campgrounds for us to rent, and we often left the places cleaner (especially the kitchen) and better repaired than when we found it.  Unfortunately, many organizations like Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, various church organizations or social organizations either got all pissy about us being on their site (and paying out the nose for the privilege) or decided to sell the land for development.  That sucks.)

Once a date and site are secured, then the group starts collecting money from two sources:  reservations (in the SCA, because we’re idiots, we call this pre-res.  Res is when you show up on the day and pay for that day.  Stupid idiots;) and formal territorial groups from their treasury (bank account.)

Territorial Groups?  What?  Well, the world is divided into  ‘Kingdoms’ with a two branch system of government.  The ‘Royal’ and ‘Peerage’ branch, where the ‘Royals’ are selected by armed combat (called Crown Tourney, for once getting the message correct and in a succinct fashion,) and the ‘Peers’ who are people selected for supposedly their prowess and strength in fighting (Knights) and arts/sciences/crafts (Laurels) and in admin puke stuff (Pelicans); and the somewhat legalish side headed by the legal representative of the BOARD (later story there) and all the admin pukes that proliferate that branch of power.  Kingdoms are further broken into administrative groups called Baronies (with ‘landed nobles’ as the crown’s representative) or shires, or other little groups.  Each with it’s own legalish branch of admin pukes.   That all get money from fundraising or putting on events (profit, it’s good.)
The Knowne World as of 2005.
East Asia is covered by the West Kingdom.  Stupid map doesn't show this, stupid map.

So.  The events go on, and hopefully at least break even and more hopefully make a profit.  Profits are split between whatever administrative groups pony up the front money in some sort of profit (or loss) distribution system.  Wars have gone bad in the SCA over who gets what percentage of profits from running the event.  Wars being popular, they also tend to make serious bank.  Thusly, arse-holes will try to have their group profit over other groups.  Bad blood.  Eh, it happens.  Not like this ever happened in actual medieval times, or in more recent history.

Other ways for a war to go bad is for one kingdom to cheat at fighting, which means there’s a serious amount of not-so-chivalrous not taking blows  or by getting pissy because your kingdom sucks and couldn’t win against a bunch of those foam sword LARP dudes that make normal geeks look like the Washington Redskins (seriously, in foam-sword larping, they throw a balled up sock as a ‘spell’, maybe of ‘funky feet’ or something, and they hit like pansies, whereas we SCAdians smite each other mightily with the same stuff you make furniture out of.  To each his own.  And every bunch of geeks has another bunch of geeks to look down upon.)

Now that I’ve rambled all over the map, I’ll get to the point.            

At Gulf Wars, there is much more to do than just fighting.  There’s shopping, lots of shopping.  You could show up at the event with street cloths and buy everything you need for a serious wardrobe, down to real jewelry, and furniture for your camp (called, well, an encampment) and a ‘period’ tent (one that looks like it might actually be medieval) and armor.  Blessed Armor.  That which keeps the bruises down.  Munitions Grade armor of all grades (munitions grade armor is ‘off-the-rack’ sorta fits stuff.   Custom armor is available, at more of a price, and requires a lead-time from days to years.) and all price ranges.  There’s even a guy there who sells aluminum (yes, aluminium, shields must hold up to thugs hitting it with axehandles) shield blanks of various styles and will even roll it in a press to put a curve on it if you want a curved shield.  You need to add the edging (to keep the shield from cutting the rattan shields and also from poking out an eye (yes, it is a thing that has almost happened))(old fire hose, or rawhide, or heater hose or garden hose... zip-tied or tied or glued on) and strappings and handles (leather tool belts work real well) and any decorations you wish (within reason, taste and within the rules, that is.)  Weapons, both the type you use for SCA fighting and real weapons, and all the accoutrements that go with them.  Cloth to make clothes from.  And so forth.  Even food from vendors is available, from semi-crappy to really damned good.  So with enough money, you, too, can be fully equipped in one day.  Think shopping mall, except all done from tents with funny dressed people.
Seriously, almost anything for sale as long as it's legal.  Wednesday is Midnight Madness Day!
And, crap, I miss this stuff.  Sucks being broke and old.

There are also art and history classes.  And classes on admin puke stuff, like how to run an event, current financial policies, the ins-and-outs of those silly designs on shields and such which is a part of Heraldry and which accumulates more geeks and weirdos than any other group in the SCA (and how do I know this?  Simple, I am a fully accredited (in the SCA) Herald Pursuivant-at-Arms, whooptie-frickin-doo) and such.

There are dances, and organized parties, and non-organized parties, and drunken parties, and drunks, and people barfing behind their period or non-period tents in their encampments because they’re drunk, and people whoring around, and generally no open use of drugs.  (Hard Limit in the SCA is what the local, state and national laws are of the location and the group are.  So those in Germany (Hello, Kingdom of Drachenwald!) or anywhere else in Europe (same kingdom) are subject to those laws in Germany and anywhere else in Europe.   We here in the USA are subject to our laws.

So…  Wednesday Night is Gumbo Night.  Why?  Well…  A story of a time in the past...

Used to be, a group of people from Meridies (Southeastern Kingdom, not Trimaris) and now from Gleann Ahben (they broke off from Meridies, first as a territorial ‘principality’ under Meridies, then as their own ‘kingdom.’  (Hey, if a bunch of kids from Rhode Island can be a Southern Militia group, then we’re allowed our own weirdness.)  So, used to be, a bunch of southern bayou dwellers would put on a big party Wednesday night at the War, and there would be gumbo provided.  Okay pretty-good gumbo, not my dad’s, just okay pretty good.  And lots of booze, provided BYOB.  So people would get drunk, eat gumbo, and then wake up the next day, Thursday, for the Ravine Battle. 

Thursday dawn breaks, we all wake up.  Breakfast is made, in one fashion or another.  Grumbling fighters start the arduous task of putting on the clothing that goes under the armor (which, unless one has brought lots of spares, or had access to a washer and dryer off site, are by now kinda seriously funky) (and may be everything from completely period clothing like some officer squid person I know who used to fly Hoovers (No, not Tuna, unless Tuna is/was in the SCA and is/was married to a squire of Subadai) to normal sweat pants and jeans, tshirts and such) and begin the more arduous task of donning funk-filled armor that one has been wearing for at least 3, maybe 4 days, collecting all their weapons and dragging their gumbo-filled and alcohol-poisoned bodies (for those serious hard-core fighters) to the Ravine, which is centrally located between the two large camping areas at King’s Arrow Ranch (a weird medieval/cowboy cross mixture during normal operating days) in beautiful Lumberton, MS (yes, it is actually pretty, in a southern, impoverished, still recovering from Katrina way (one town down south of Lumberton, they found alligators on top of the Wal-mart.  This place got totally hosed and had zero attention from the press.  Storm wiped out Gulfport (which recovered) and moved up the Pearl River just laying waste to the surrounding areas, and as of 2012 (last year I went) was still trying to get back on their feet.  Think poor, southern country folk during the Reconstruction Era and you’re not too far off even today.  Rural South has always been economically disadvantaged, and at prey to Washington DC and the Urban North.)

So, both sides, Trimaris (yay, there was much rejoicing) and its allies, vs Ansteorra (booo, okay, yay, meh.) and its allies, collect at their appropriate resurrection points at either end of the Ravine, which is a turf war/endurance battle over the control of 3 key points stretched across the middle distance of the Ravine, one in the center, one on either side of the middle up on the banks of said Ravine.

“Lay On” is called (SCA for go, fight, get it on, go to it, whatever) and the youngsters and more athletically inclined go running towards the center line, while the rest of us trudge towards combat. (Okay, I’m going to rag on myself here.  I was at one time known as the slowest runner in my area.  Seriously.  Same speed over or through mud, deep sand, shallow sand, rock, soft grass, hard prarie, concrete, asphalt, macadam, whatever.  Same damned plodding speed.  I ain’t fast, but I get there.  How slow? I seriously can walk almost as fast as I can run (this has been noted all my life) so I just tend to walk fast a lot.  Sure, like a fat cheetah lighting a fart, I can run kinda quick for 3-5 steps, enough for a good shield charge, but that’s it.  Once I get in the shield line, though, oh, boy, just try to move me…)  And so, this goes on, the forward and backward creeping of the line of combat by as much as 20 feet at some time, while a steady stream of increasingly tired and smelly fighters head out of combat to be resurrected (and get water and pickles and pickle juice and sports drink) and then go back to the line of combat and so forth.

For an hour.  Sweaty, stinking bodies exuding used alcohol and gumbo farts, kicking up dust, and all mixing into a miasma of funky smog, held in by usually a temperature inversion over the Ravine, so much that at the halfway point, unless it’s raining, there’s literally a smog barrier one would walk out of as one headed up out of the Ravine in order to resurrect.  How bad?  Think Los Angeles Smog in ’73 bad.

So,  this one particular year, the Gumbo and Alcohol Funk Smog was especially bad, as the Gumbo was especially good (and funky.)  About near the end of the whole hour, I was pushing my large shield in the shield wall and those rat-bastard Ansteorrans decided to try to charge not-so-little old me and my shield wall.  About 40 of them hit my section of the line, smashing down the less-good swordsman and knocking me down (without hitting me with any of their weapons) and I stopped the whole damned charge by pretty much my fat body and my huge shield (a large scutum over 4.5’ tall by 30” wide) serving as a large door stop.  Which resulted in 7 or more of them falling on me.  Think Rugby Scrum or an old-school pile-on football (American) tackle.  Me, with 7 or more fumey, Gumbo-farting yellow-jackets farting on my face.  I am slowly being asphyxiated by the most fulsome butt-blows and the weight of the masses on me.  Slowly, I see my life pass before my eyes, along with whatever everyone ate last night.  Think seafood dumpster on a hot summer’s day, with stale beer and booze, and urine, and, well, you get the point.

They finally got everyone off of me, and I got to take a deep breath of Gumbo-smog.  And then I said, forget this, I’m dead anyways, and went back to Resurrection.

Eventually the battle was over.  I think more casualties were from the gumbo-funk than anything else (heat exhaustion, dehydration, pulled muscles and such.)  Horrible horrible gumbo-funk.

I think they finally outlawed Gumbo Night, kind of like how the Church outlawed fighting wars on Sunday and Wednesday (against other Christians) and crossbows (against other Christians.)(Like that worked, not!)  Not that illicit, underground Gumbo cults didn’t spring up over the years, but officially, well, maybe financially, Gumbo Night was no more.  And we all breathed (the next day) better for it.


  1. Wow! Gumbo-funk, who knew there was such a thing?

    Illicit gumbo cults, I've been through the Louisiana back woods, lots of strange stuff going on back there. I guarantee!

    1. Yeah, well, gumbo-funk is real. Especially the more spicy one makes it. I like the smell of gumbo. I do not like the smell of used gumbo. There is a vast difference between the two.

      And having a Cajun dad, I'm kind of a Gumbo snob. It isn't Gumbo without Filet sprinkled on it, over white rice. Has to be a thin stew-ish texture. Gumbo of the type from around Abbeville, LA, not those more crude versions found in Nawlins or Baton Rouge...

    2. That's fancy people gumbo. Gumbo is whatever fits in the pot, even if you have to hit it a couple times to get it to hold still. You get down into certain areas farther south and it's served over potato salad, preferably made from leftover crawfish boil potatoes.

    3. Gumbo, like all great 'Ethnic' dinners, is a variation of 'Garbage Stew.'

      I love it when the Hoi-Poloi get all snooty over bouillabaisse, which is a fancy French word for 'Fish soup made from stuff that didn't sell today.' And the shocked looks when you tell them that interesting fact.

      Like, well, fried rice. Real fried rice is made from Leftovers.

      Or Mulligan Stew.

      Or Cottage Pie. Originally leftovers or, well, Garbage Stew.

      But it all tastes pretty damned good.

    4. Ahem...

      "Real" Korean fried rice is NOT made from leftovers. Just want that on the record. I am in a position to know.

    5. What I meant to say is the origin dish of many nationalities is, well, leftovers of one form or another, with some starchy extender.

      In the case of the famous French fish-head soup, it's bread. With Gumbo, rice or (blech) potatoes. Spain has that paella thing. Had real 'Vietnamese' fish-head soup, where they lovingly collected all the heads and made soup.

      The origins of the dish may be 'garbage stew' or 'leftovers' but the new, modern, wonder-dish is a complex recipe involving fresh ingredients, sometimes wildly expensive compared to the 'origins' and such.

      Not saying anything negative about national dishes. Just saying sometimes the origins of the dish are somewhat, well, sketchy, if you know what I mean.

      Mmmm. Fresh toe-sandwich. I seem to have a dose of that once a week at least.

      My dad's gumbo was definitely NOT leftovers or cheap ingredients.

      One of the nice things about our modern civilizations is that food is fresher, cleaner, better, of higher quality.

  2. An interesting post Beans, learned stuff about the SCA I never knew. Though at my age think I'll stick to firearms.....:)

    1. Thanks, always glad to pass off info to a captured audience. My experience with SCA fighting has honed what experience I garnered at the fists of my school-mates when I was a skinny, allergy-ridden smartass with full headgear (rather than a fat, allergy-ridden smartass with a full helmet.) That if it descends to hand-to-hand violence, you're gonna die, so you might as well fight as hard as you can to take as many of the bastards with you. At least wearing armor I mostly didn't get overly hurt.

      I prefer guns also. The ability to hit something farther away than spearpoint range is a nice thing, and pistols take up so much less room than a crossbow.

      There's lots in the SCA that doesn't deal with hitting people with round sticks of rattan. There's also light weapons, fencing, using heavier gear than 'professional' strip fencing, and not as controlled either. And there's brewing competitions (ha, got your attention OldAFSarge) and other stuff.

      But, yeah, sitting down under a cover and blowing holes in paper from a distance has it's own bag of fun.

    2. Huh? Brew? Where, where, where?

  3. Great post. Both informative on the workings of the SCA, of which I had no clue at all, and rather hilarious. So with a callsign like Beans, did you personally contribute to that episode of gastrointestinal warfare?

    1. To ask the question is to answer!

    2. Well, funny thing there. Growing up with a Cajun father, I did not know about bland, simple food that has great taste. No. Everything I ate was full of spicy flavor. I did not know that eggs, for example, did not need to burn coming out, and one did not need to use Tabasco sauce on almost everything (the horror.)

      So, once I moved out and did my own cooking, I toned down the spicy goodness. And discovered that my system was much happier. Though for some strange reason stress makes me toot the most foul oderific oily gaseous warfare class poots that stick and burn like napalm. Work made me drop these ass-bombs.

      At the SCA? No stress, all fun, some dehydration. My butt-trumpet was surprisingly quiet at the Wars.

      I got stuck with Beans because I wrote a post called "Looking Beans" about, well, looking beans before you cook them, and other things.

      By the way, Beans actually are not good for me. Seems I am one of those individuals who does not process protein from a vegetable source. So beans are mere flavor to me, some carbs and lots of fiber. I did not eat beans when at War as I did not wish to crop-dust my fellow combatants and kill them most unchivalrously.

    3. And let me explain just a little bit more as to my lack of tootage at wars. See, once you get all your clothing and armor on, you really don't want to have to hit the little blue castles, or jakes, or garderobes (those little rooms outside of a castle tower, way up high, yep, that's a period crapper, with a drop to the ground for disposal. Don't ever stand under one, especially don't look up while standing under one.) So I tended to eat IMAT food for breakfast and lunch. (IMAT = it makes a turd)

      Having to make the walk of shame under threat of explosive pressure is not fun. Story in there somewhere, and you may all hear it.

  4. Sounds a lot like some family (extended family) camping trips where friends and neighbors are invited along

    1. What, your camping trips broke out into hitting each other with clumps of wood? Sounds suspiciously like fun.

    2. Only when there weren’t enough campsites.

    3. Ah, the joy of listening to the tent next to you, the amorous encounters, the drunken stumbling, the drunken yarfin… Hey! That's MY TENT!!!

      No, never had any problems at all camping...

    4. better than having raccoons or black bears knocking on your tent me on that one!!!

    5. Or those funny smelling kittens... According to the people camped next to Mrs. Andrew and I when we spent a week in Cade's Cove in 1985. "But they were black with white spots," they said, "Skunks have stripes, cats have spots."

      Having to explain to some dear city dwellers from New York that different species of skunks have different patterns just totally blew their minds.

  5. A most droll post AW. As I got my understanding about the SCA from the book ' Dies the Fire ', you gave me much more information about them ( or, at least, the ones you hung out with ).

    Thanks for the post.
    Paul L. Quandt

    1. Thank you. Droll is what I was, what? Droll?

      Your best bet for a book on the SCA is "Murder at the War" as, well, it's about a murder, at a war. Go figure.

      The best way I can think of describing the SCA is it is a Fraternity/Sorority Chess Club. So, Jocks and Jockettes, all the way down to uber-geeks, and people who think they know how to sing.

  6. "Helmet of Champions" You eat Wheaties out of that thing? Doesn't all the milk leak out??

    1. Oh, no. All one ever eats out of the helmet is humility, self-composure, and an utter awareness of being in the presence of a fallen giant.

      And Wheaties is for weaklings. Scotch Eggs, cold Beef Cataline pie, or Arby's Roast Beef are the breakfast of Champions!

    2. "Scotch eggs"? Single malt or plaid?

    3. Beans - Norman beans to be precise...May 30, 2018 at 5:40 PM

      Dinna matter, they're lowlander Scotch eggs, so they're mere tools of the English.

      Rather than the midlanders or hilanders who were mere tools of the French...

      I aim to be an equal opportunity annoyer. Did I succeed?

      Says the person descended from lowlanders... But they were Norman lowlanders, so that makes it all better, right?

      I... think... I... may be digging myself into a hole here...

  7. Well, Beans, I've got to say this, you do bring a certain je ne sais quoi to this blog. Glad to have you aboard.

    1. Thank you. The voices in my head have been yammering for years to be heard...

  8. Beans - with an apology to everyone's eyes...May 30, 2018 at 5:47 PM

    Hey y'all. Beans here. Just wanted to apologize for the billboard sized font. My computer displayed things strangly, so trying to get the font of the post correct has been rather interesting. So, next time, I will not use "Largest" as the size font.

    Stupid blogger preview feature not really that helpful in previewing. Goo.. I mean, our benevolent over-masters who provide us with this wondrous tool may have a few tweaks to make.

    Will work better. And more pictures, maybe.

    Beans, Out.

    1. Beans - with yet another apology to you allMay 30, 2018 at 5:48 PM

      Okay, gosh darned it. Forgot you can't use much punctuation in the "Reply as:" box.

    2. Well, I was wondering about that...

      Pro-tip: if you're using a browser other than IE, you can set the default font for the browser itself. Blogger will use that as its default. Unless the benevolent ones broke that as well. FWIW, works in Chrome and Firefox. (And really, who still uses IE unless forced to? Like me, at work. "But it's secure!" IT whines.)

    3. I, on the other hand, enjoyed the font size. I could read it without squinting. Serif fonts, such as the default font for the blog ( ahem) get hard to read as it gets smaller. Webmastering 101, which I taught, says that a sans serif font such as, I don’t know, Helvetica, is much easier to read online. Scales better with zoom and is easier on old fart eyes. (Not that anyone on this blog currently fits that bill, but someday perhaps). Serif’s are those little extensions on letters that make them “cute”.

    4. BTW, Sarge, IE is NOT secure. No longer updated by MS and getting worse by the day. Brave, Firefox are my browsers of choice. Chrome for at work.Edge if I have to. IE for those obsolete apps we cant get rid of, cringing as I do so.

    5. So what is your opinion of MS Edge?

      Hey, now, stop laughing....

      As to fonts, I was taught to use serif fonts as they supposedly were easier to read. Hmmm. may have to re-evalu… wait, the comments are in a serif font. Ha. Blogger agrees with me! Ha! Ha-ha!

    6. Beans, beans, the musical fruit...


    7. Beans - Not so musical now, are weMay 30, 2018 at 7:43 PM


      I also know the secret "Comet" song, too.

      Comet, it makes your mouth turn green.
      Comet, it tastes like gasoline.
      Comet, it makes you vomit.
      So try some Comit, to vomit, todayayay.

      My past comes back to haunt me regularly.

    8. Did not know that one.


    9. Jingle Bells
      Batman Smells
      Robin laid an egg
      Batmobile lost its wheel
      And the Joker got away...

      Sometimes my childishness surprises me still.


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