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Goodbye, WordPress!

If you’re looking for me, I’m not here anymore! I decided to head over to tumblr for the simple reason that it seemed more visually appealing. It also turns out you can follow people and other fun stuff. This is my new blog. http://tracilawrimore.tumblr.com/

December 26, 2010 at 7:15 PM Leave a comment

GOD IS FREAKING AWESOME

So, at Midtown Baptist Church, every year around Christmas for a few weeks they have something called the  | giv |  campaign.  Every year it’s something different, though that might change, since we’re so young.  The church is quite young in several ways.  This company of believers has only come together for a few years, and more than 2/3 of the congregation is made of college students, which means not  only are we young, but we don’t have a lot of money.

That makes this a little more awesome.  The  | giv |  project this year was to fund a halfway house for ten girls for one year in India.  In India, almost 1 million children are exploited in the sex slave industry.  Little girls are raped daily many times, and often their parents sell them into this torment.  We got the opportunity to watch God work and be a part of saving 10 little girls.  Obviously, I was elated.  To do this, we had to raise $20,000.  This was a step above last year, but if everyone who was registered as a member gave $35, we would make it.

There were a lot of informative and tough sermons over the past few weeks.  You know the ones, where they say stuff that we like to forget, like how Jesus said to sell your things and give them to those in need.  As in, sell your stuff.  Give up what you have.  Naturally, they encouraged us to do this, and they said they knew there was one thing each of us thought of that we didn’t need but were still holding onto, and before he even said that, I had something in mind to sell.

I was debating with myself over even telling this story since I really don’t want to sound like I’m bragging.  This wasn’t as much of a sacrifice for me as it might sound, but the ending of it is funny, so I’ll clue you guys in.  The thing that I decided to sell was my Nintendo Wii and all the accessories and games that I collected over the past two years to go with it.  INTERLUDE:  Word to the wise, if you’re ever looking to sell your video games at Gamestop, DON’T DO IT.  They’ll rip you off.  I’m still a little miffed at how little I got for how much I sold.  It ended up being only $150, but I was still happy to give my share.  I just wish I could have gotten more so I could have given more.

Anyway, the week before the pastor who was speaking had been ripping on guys who play video games too much (he told them to get jobs rather than level up their character on World of Warcraft).  I remember him saying specifically that he really wanted to get a note from someone saying they sold their Xbox and that they don’t miss it, so as I was putting the money into the envelope, I decided to give him a little treat and wrote “Sold my Wii.  Don’t miss it.”  I was in a hurry, so it really wasn’t my best handwriting.  I even wrote it upside down, but I figured it didn’t matter.

Turns out the pastors loved it and even pinned the envelope up on the bulletin board, but that’s not what makes this story funny.  One of them decided to mention in his message my little envelope and how the campaign was going.  He ended up saying, “I say ‘he” because the handwriting was awful and I figured it had to be a guy.”  So my face is turning red and my sister’s trying so hard not to crack up she’s almost crying, but I thought it was all in good fun.  My sister is friend’s with the pastor so naturally she told him it was me, and he was completely embarrassed and had to mention it again this week.  I should probably tell him in person that it’s really OK, it makes for a funny story.  I’ve known for a long time that I don’t have handwriting as pretty as most girls seem to have, but now it’s confirmed that I write like a dude.

Anyway, here comes the grand finale.  Toni and I came back to Columbia this week for the Christmas gathering, and I was really anticipating it because they would announce how much money we raised.  I really wanted us to reach our goal because this issue really touches my heart.  We act like slavery doesn’t exist anymore, but it does.  It’s not legal, but it still exists around the world, and it kills me because we can stop it but we don’t.

It turns out that we reached our goal within one week, specifically $24,000.  Over three weeks, we raised more than $64,000.  I’ll let that sink in for a minute.  600 people raised almost $65,000!!!  That’s more than $100 per person!  This is a group that’s mainly made up of college students, who, whether or not they actually are, think they’re broke!  THIS IS GOD, PEOPLE.  Showing pictures of starving children can’t inspire this kind of giving.  There’s nothing in us so good to do this.  I’ll say it over and over again, praise God, King of Kings, Lord of Lords!  We get the privilege of seeing Jesus do work, and it’s amazing even just to watch.  To be included in it is just awe-inspiring.

And the story isn’t even over.  Apparently someone in Delhi, India, where our money was going to go, actually paid the full $20,000 before we could.  Yeah, they beat us out in our generosity, whatever, but now this organization has so much money, and they know exactly what they’re going to do with it.  The original $20,000 is going to setting up an outreach building in the Red Light district that they desperately needed.  Our money goes to funding the 10 girls as well as going into a fund to help build a permanent halfway house-type building that will house 18 girls, which they also desperately need.  I think two of the leaders of this project are going to visit us in May to give us an update on their goings on and such, and they’re looking into making our relationship an ongoing thing.

I don’t even know what to say.  This is just too amazing.  I almost started crying on the spot.  God is beyond wonderful, beyond description.  There’s so much sin and suffering in the world that gets ignored, and it makes me so angry at the injustice and brokenness and how even in a recession, we all have so much more than we need.  But it’s things like this that remind me that God cares for he broken and the needy and the suffering, and He’s doing work and will continue to do work.  Nothing gets past Him, He’s almighty.  He’s setting the captives free, literally and figuratively.  No, not even figuratively, sin is slavery.  Jesus doesn’t just change our actions but our hearts.  What else can cause a family to decide that they were too excessive in their wealth and give up a car to the church to give it to someone who needs it, who gave it to a single mom?  Yeah, that happened too.

OMG GOD’S SO GOOD.  Just thought y’all should know.

Also, The Princess and the Frog is a great movie.  You should see it.

December 21, 2009 at 12:48 PM Leave a comment

Bathing and sleeping are for chumps

We went to DIsney Sea and it was AMAZING.  However, I have other things to report before this, so you’ll have to bear with that first, or if you’re really impatient you can scroll down.

First things first.  This is our last week on campus, and we’ve had (I think) during this whole trip a total of five people come to Christ.  I consider this a huge victory.  Please keep praying for Japan in general and all the Christian missionaries here.  We’re so understaffed and the progress is slow.  The people here need God, but they don’t know it.  It’s obvious that they need something, because the dark side of Japan is the suicide rate.  It’s more than 30,000 people per year, and the number keeps growing and the age range younger and younger.  They’re spiritual rotting, so please pray for them that God will start a fire here like in China.

Anyway, on to less serious business.  On Wednesday was the last Family Night, and the Family Team (aka Andrew, Sammy, and moi) planned what was hopefully to be an epic evening.  We went for Shabu Shabu first, which is a type of Japanese cooking/restaurant/playing with your food.  They give you raw beef and pork, and there’s a boiling pot of water and some type of sauce in front of you.  You can set the temperature to whatever you want, and you take the meet in your chopsticks, set it in the pot, and move it around until it’s cooked.  Sounds fun, right?  Well, it definitely is, as well as delicious.  Great decision.

After that we went to karaoke only to realize that we left Kimi at the restaurant.  Gen sprinted back to find her, but apparently she had gone to the bathroom and during this excursion, we got up and left.  Oops.  Anyway, Gen found her and we got about an hour of awesome karaoke in.  It wasn’t so much a bar but renting a private room (hopefully soundproof) with a round, big booth facing a TV where the lyrics flashed.  Because it was just our team I felt a little more bold in singing, but there’s something you must know about me.  Whenever I sing karaoke, which as rare as it is this always happens to me, I end up picking a weird song just to be funny.  It has so far ended up backfiring in my face almost every time by the song being completely inappropriate for a Christian setting in a way I couldn’t imagine, from that time in high school at church camp where I scared off another youth group to this time.  This time the awkward song was She Bangs by Ricky Martin, which Gen was gracious enough to sing with me.  Unfortunately, I didn’t know the lyrics enough to realize that “I’m wasted by the way” is actually a line in the song.  Everyone else thought it was funny, but daggommit I’d rather be funny that embarrassing.  Whatever, it was still a fabulous night.  We ended the night with Disney songs, which for some reason Gen knew every word to without even looking at the screen.  It was awesome.  I conveniently/COMPLETELY accidentally forgot my camera for this affair.

Oh yeah, something happened before this.  As the girls came back from campus on Wednesday, we came in to find a bouquet of flowers and a note, apparently from the boys.  Reading it revealed that they had a creative group date planned for Friday and requested our response as soon as possible.  We were trying to think of a fun song to sing that said “yes” to them, but we couldn’t figure anything out and they were getting restless.  We decided on this.

Pretty clever, eh?

Pretty clever, eh?

They were being pretty secretive about what the date entailed, so by Friday we had no clue other than that we had to dress pretty formal.  So we got all gussied up and were ready to meet the boys downstairs when low and behold six handsome gentlemen met us at the front door to escort us to our dinner!

the guys

At that point they herded us onto the trains to head to Mitaka, where we had a candlelit dinner at the Student Impact center.  The boys cooked, entertained, the works, and we felt so special.  The dinner was very nice (though I really missed ranch dressing during the salad portion), and they even wrote us a poem and performed some skits of how project would be without us (in short, they would probably die.  It’s encouraging to know that their very survival depends on us).

All the beautiful ladies all gussied up.  It was actually coincidence that we were all wearing dark colors.

All the beautiful ladies all gussied up. It was actually coincidence that we were all wearing dark colors.

Poor Heather stayed up really late the night before, so she was ready to drop.  Andrew on the other hand sees an awesome photo opportunity and goes for it.

Poor Heather stayed up really late the night before, so she was ready to drop. Andrew on the other hand sees an awesome photo opportunity and goes for it.

Demon tomato eyes!

Demon tomato eyes!

Our dinner.  Totemo oishi!  See, I'm just going to let you figure out what that means.

Our dinner. Totemo oishi! See, I'm just going to let you figure out what that means.

They even got a cake.  What a bunch of sweethearts.

They even got a cake. What a bunch of sweethearts.

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By the end of the night we were all pooped.  Aren't they precious?

By the end of the night we were all pooped. Aren't they precious?

Next comes what I had been looking forward to for most of project….drumroll please!

DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN……….TOKYO DISNEYLAND OMG OMG OMG!   Well, Disney Sea to be technical, but it’s a part of Tokyo Disneyland.  I’ve go to tell you, it did NOT disappoint, Saturday was amazing.  It was probably the first Saturday when EVERYONE on the team went somewhere together, other times we were missing at least one or two, which made it twice as fun.  We had to get up at 7 AM, but after having to get up at 4 AM for Tsukiji fish market, that was nothing.

So here’s something of note to report.  If you read my last blog post, you’ll remember that I mentioned that I wasn’t sure if I was overestimating how big Tokyo was before or whether Tokyo was just truly big in terms of area but not “big city”-ness (aka big buildings, bright lights, Time Square-esque).  I have to say that neither are the case.  On the way to Disneyland, I finally saw it.  BIG TOKYO.  Unfortunately we were moving so I couldn’t get very many pictures, but let me tell you, Tokyo.  is.  BIG.  In every sense of the word, and I can say that in confidence.  I will say that most of Tokyo is made up of small buildings and smaller residential/tiny shopping areas, but for downtown Tokyo, think of the biggest buildings and most stuff you can think of and you won’t be far off.  Just thought that needed to be said.  Wouldn’t want to mislead you all in to thinking that Tokyo is ONLY made up of a giant grid of suburbs.

So we finally made it to Disneyland, and there are two parts to Tokyo Disney.  There’s the equivalent of the American Magic Kingdom, or Disneyland, and Disney Sea, which is an ocean themed park that surprisingly doesn’t seem to have any rides that actually get you wet.  It’s appropriately named at least because there really is a lot of water around, and it’s right next to Tokyo Bay, which is super nice for someone who has lived next to some form of water all her life like me.  I don’t like swimming in the ocean, but there certainly is a bond there.  It felt like home.

We made it!

We made it!

So we arrive at the park, but beforehand we’re given a bit of warning as to what it will be like.  They said picture Disneyland or Disneyworld in America, then imagine it 100 times more crowded.  This was a disturbingly accurate portrayal of how it actually was, but as always, Japan is efficient (or on most of the rides, anyway), so I don’t think the waits were much longer than a lot of rides in America.  We got fast-passes for most of the popular rides and split up in between them for other things.

We haven't even gotten into the park yet and this is the sight that greets us.  A little intimidating, but it's freaking Disneyland.  Nothing could harsh my good mood that day.

We haven't even gotten into the park yet and this is the sight that greets us. A little intimidating, but it's freaking Disneyland. Nothing could harsh my good mood that day.

We got our tickets!  I was so psyched!

We got our tickets! I was so psyched!

Anyway, specifics.  Japan seems to be really good at two things:  Making things super cute (even things that really don’t need to be cute but I won’t get into that….) and making things super scary.  They focus on the cute, but holy crap they do a good job at the scary too.  I’m talking about the Tower of Terror.  It was fun comparing my experience from what I remember at Disney World in Florida to my experience there, and I’ve come to the conclusion that FLA makes it creepy, but Japan makes it pretty scary, or maybe I’m just a jittery person.  It’s completely possible, seeing as I’m not a huge fan of freefall rides.  For some reason I really like the first big drop on roller-coasters, but I just don’t like rides where all you do is go up high and fall.  So anyway, I was a little nervous before we even got to the ride.

At every Tower of Terror ride, they usher you into this room where they tell you the story of the hotel/tower/whatever (basically scare the living bejeezes out of you in preparation for the ride).  The story behind this one was that this was the residence of So-and-so Hightower, who was an explorer and collected a bunch of freaky stuff.  He received this freaky tiki doll as a gift, and afterwards, he of course disappeared.  They decided to play his last words on a phonograph, but even before this, you know some crazy junk is about to go down because you see the culprit himself, the tiki, on a stand in the front of the room.  The speech goes well enough in the beginning, or at least I think it did considering that I didn’t understand a word of it, when suddenly, BOOM!  Lightning strikes the portrait of Mr. Hightower in the front of the room, and he’s suddenly in the painting looking very distraught and holding Mr. Freaky Tiki.  I remember Kylan translating what he started screaming then, which was “THE CURSE IS REAL!  THE CURSE IS REAL!  GET OUT!”

At this point the Tiki’s eyes start glowing and move towards us, and his mouth moves up into a really creepy grin.  I think at this point he said something along the lines of “I’m gonna get you,” or at least something along those lines, when he’s struck by lightning and disappears.  The special affects were amazing, so as scared as I was I was equally dazzled.  Props to you, Disney Japan.  You outdid yourself.  So after that ordeal it was time to calm down on a refreshing elevator ride, which really isn’t that different from the ride in Florida or any other Disneyland.  They do the thing where they show you a mirror and you can see yourself, and then they transform the mirror into your ghost selves and junk.  The main difference is the story, which I had my eyes covered for most of, but what I hear happened was the tiki shocked Mr. Hightower with lightning into another elevator and then decided it would be a great idea to come after us next.

At that point it’s pretty much the same.  You go to the top, they open the doors and show you Disneyland from above, then drop.  At some point they took a picture which dagommit everyone was prepared for but me.  Sadness.  Oh, well, Tim’s ginormous hands were covering my face, anyway, so I guess it doesn’t matter.

5194_1214894894999_1307611913_31352838_8101742_n

There were a lot of other fun things there too.  While waiting for the Tower of Terror my group went on what was basically a kiddy boat ride.  It looked like bumper boats, but sadly we came to realize that we couldn’t control them.  However, it was still decently entertaining, and what made it really fun was watching the guys freak out like it was actually an exhilarating ride.  It made me want to scream and put my hands in the air.

JAPANESE GOOFY OMG

JAPANESE GOOFY OMG

IMG_2013

This brings me to another culture point.  I like Japan, but the differences have also made me appreciate things about American culture, too.  I’ve mentioned American loudness before, which I think other cultures interpret as being obnoxious, but….well…..being obnoxious is fun.  I like to think of it as being more open and expressive of the great time we’re having, but anyway, to the point.  Japanese people do scream on rides.  They’re not so quiet as to not make any noise, but they only scream at the points where the rides are actually exciting, exhilarating, and/or scary.  This seems to make sense until you think about Americans on rides.  I’ve noticed that we scream and freak out before we even get up the first hill and don’t stop making noise until we’re about 20 feet out of the ride’s exit.  Obnoxious?  Dude, it’s Disneyland, it’s a crime not to be happy and show it.  So yeah, I like that part.  I like being really dramatic and wigging out before completely necessary on rides because it makes it more fun.  Just a little bit of my opinion.

There were a few roller-coasters at Disneyland and a few other amusement rides, just like at any other Disney park.  One of the roller-coasters actually had a loop in it, which I personally thought was impressive for Disney.  That one was an Aztec themed ride, and it was pretty good at throwing you for a loop (see what I did there? :P).  At one point they throw you through a cool, refreshing mist, and you see another mist cloud come up at the end of the ride only to think “Oh, that’s going to be nic-HOT!  OH MY GAH HOT!”  It was freaking steam.  Not cool, Disney, not cool.  Something funny about that ride is that beforehand when they were announcing the warnings in various languages, including English, they mentioned that you should not ride if you are fatigued or suffering from lack of sleep.  This was quite funny/confusing to us considering that every single one of us was severely lacking in sleep (some had even stayed up until 4:30-6:30 in the morning a night or two before writing encouraging notes to each other…..it was a required thing, but we went all out….a little more all out than was initially intended, apparently).  Tim in his infinite wisdom mentioned that being sleepy makes you more likely to throw up.  I did not know this, and was wondering if anyone could confirm it.

In Japan, water is on FIRE.

In Japan, water is on FIRE.

For lunch my small group split off to have American for lunch, which was delightful.  They park is split up into several different sections, and one is American-themed, semi-colonial Cape Cod, specifically.  I think they did a good job of making it actually look like something Massachusetts would set up to celebrate it’s heritage, so another bravo for Japan.  So we had burgers and chicken sandwiches and coke, which were all delicious, though I think I confused Sammy on why I ordered a burger with lettuce and tomatoes only to take them off.  It’s not that I wanted them in the first place, I just don’t like to take the trouble to figure out how make a special order that they might possibly take off something I want, namely the cheese, when I could just as easily just wipe the burger off with a napkin to have minimal aftertaste.  No harm done.  In America, though, you BETTER GET MY SPECIAL ORDER RIGHT, FOOL.  YOU SPEAK ENGLISH.

IMG_1998IMG_2000

It was sooooooooo good.  No matter that I've been living off McDonald's for the past week.

It was sooooooooo good. No matter that I've been living off McDonald's for the past week.

Mickey coffee stirrer = instant souvenir.

Mickey coffee stirrer = instant souvenir.

Blinded a few Japanese people to get this shot.  Whatever, I'm American, aka rude and can get away with it.

Blinded a few Japanese people to get this shot. Whatever, I'm American, aka rude and can get away with it.

We found Japanese Pluto outside and of course ran over some Japanese children for the photo.....just kidding, gosh, we let the kids go ahead of us.  I think a granny actually cut in front of us with her kid.

We found Japanese Pluto outside and of course ran over some Japanese children for the photo.....just kidding, gosh, we let the kids go ahead of us. I think a granny actually cut in front of us with her kid.

After lunch we had a lovely reunion at 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, which wasn’t actually under the sea but did a decent job of making you think you were.  This ride was fun because I hadn’t heard any description of it and thus had no idea of what to expect.  Everyone else was pretty excited too, and as we made a turn in line we started giving each other high fives, which in turn got other Japanese tourists excited.  They wanted to join in on the high-fiving fun, and we happily obliged, and I felt all fuzzy inside from the cultural bonding moment.  The actual ride consisted of completely enclosing us in a six person “submarine” and sending us under the sea.  It was pretty realistic, I think, and they made everything looking like it was swaying underwater.  They gave you control of these little lights that you could use to search around in the darkness (it was pretty dang dark, too).  There were a few scary parts where a Kraken came out of the darkness, and we encountered fish people, but the ride was slow-moving enough that I could take a video.  If you have facebook and are/want to be my friend, I put the video up on my account.  Unfortunately it was so dark that you can’t really much of anything, but our reactions are pretty funny, though you might want to turn down the volume before viewing.

Disney Sea's big fake mountain.  It was so pretty!  I'll show you a better shot.

Disney Sea's big fake mountain. It was so pretty! I'll show you a better shot.

EPICALLY HUGE.

EPICALLY HUGE.

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea was actually inside the mountain.  Pretty nifty.

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea was actually inside the mountain. Pretty nifty.

Preparing to descend into the abyss!

Preparing to descend into the abyss!

After that I think we split off for dinner.  We were going to go on a gondala ride, but I think they were closed at that time, so while others went out for Mexican, I went out for curry with Gen, Andrew, Heather, and Jeremy, who I personally don’t get to see enough of.  WE NEED TO HANG OUT MORE.  HINT HINT.  Another culture point.  Apparently America is an oddity in that it supplies free refills, and Japan and most other countries do not enjoy this luxury.  THIS IS NOT A MATTER OF “IT’S NOT WRONG, JUST DIFFERENT,” IT’S WRONG.  WE MUST SPREAD THE AMERICAN SPIRIT IN THIS MATTER.  This might just me being bitter that I had to pay for two Cokes, but yeah, power to the free refills.

After that we still had a little more time to kill before the lovely fire and water show, so we decided to go on Sinbad’s Awesome Adventure, which turned out to be a Asian/Arabian/English? version of it’s a small world.  It was basically getting in a little boat and following the musical, animatronic adventures of young Sinbad and his pet tiger (ADORABLE, BTW).  I put a question mark beside English because for some reason Sinbad and his brethren lived in Arabia (I think?  I don’t want to be culturally insensitive, but I’m really not sure), but they sang in Japanese, and apparently wrote in English.  Odd.  Anyway, despite not having a clue what they were singing the entire time, the ride was actually interesting.  Japan proves to be superbly skilled at making robots, and they were very lifelike in their movements.  Some things did bother me a bit though, namely the “good” giant and whale.  Good lord, those things were scary looking!  Maybe I was just a fearful child, but I have no doubt that if I had ridden that as a child I would have wet my pants.

After that I got some postcards and an AWESOME Donald Duck t-shirt (I got the last small :D), and then we sat down to watch the fire and water show on the lake.  Heather rubbed Amy and my back, and it was glorious.  The show was really interesting.  It was set to the Italian music “Bravissimo” or “Bra-vi-shi-mu” Japanified.  The only thing is that the drama of the, well, drama, was slightly downplayed by Mickey being the one who introduced it.  I have to be honest, Japanese Mickey’s voice is even more retarded than American Mickey’s, and that’s saying something, though I’m sure they think the same of ours…..Anyway, the show was really impressive, with fire and water shooting all over the place.  I’d have some video, but unfortunately my camera died at this point.

This is saddening because of what we did afterward.  All I can say is that we got to be little kids again.  There was a place we hadn’t explored yet, which was basically this replica of a medieval, which ended up being ridiculously entertaining.  We entered to find a little pool where you could control a little electronic sailboat, which we of course used to our full advantage to smash into each other’s boats.  We then went outside to find a playground, which we enjoyed and took pictures on.  We climbed upward into the towers, where we found a couple of cannons.  Ah, the cannons, they were so much fun.  You could pull the fuse on them, and they would make a huge noise and shoot smoke out, which we did several times each and took the opportunity to make fun, dramatic poses.  All the while we’ve decided to speak in cockney British accents (at this point I know Gen was glad that he missed this) because dagommit, how can you not get into the medieval spirit?

The rest of the castle was pretty fun.  There was a replica of a “flying machine.”  You know, one of those things they try to make you think DaVinci invented that has wings that flap and bicycle pedals?  Hopefully one of my teammates will post pictures that I can steal soon.  There was also a planetarium, which was really fun because you could turn these leavers to make the planets rotate and orbit.  We made them all align, and I noticed that Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto (IT’S A PLANET, DARN YOU) were missing, but I realized that it was because they hadn’t been discovered yet in the time period that this castle is supposedly in.  Pretty sneaky, Disney.

After that was kind of rushed.  We explored a little bit of the giant American ship (Titanic photos, anyone?) and tried to shop a little bit, but the park was just about to close and it was time to go.  I was a little disappointed because I meant to shop a lot more, but I didn’t find where the best shops were until I was leaving.  Oh, well, I’ll just remedy that when I go to Disneyland in California 😀

Signing out, see y’all later.

June 23, 2009 at 6:31 PM 1 comment

Hello world!

So, this is my first post.  I’m mostly going to use this blog to update all my friends back in the States on my awesome adventures when I travel to Japan this Summer.  Enjoy.

April 22, 2009 at 12:35 AM Leave a comment


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