Dawn Pisturino's Blog

My Writing Journey

Holiday Wellness

The holidays can represent the most joyous and spiritual time of the year. They can also be the most stressful and unhappy. How can we enjoy the holidays and maintain our balance?


We all have our own expectations of what the holidays should bring. And as that special day draws closer, the excitement builds. So does the stress. Did we buy enough presents? Did we spend enough money? Are the presents we bought good enough? How will we ever get them all wrapped, the cards mailed out, and the decorations put up?


It all seems very overwhelming. But maybe, in truth, we are doing too much. Is it really necessary to spend all our savings on presents? Is it really prudent to run up the credit cards and spend the rest of the year paying them off? The long-term consequences of our holiday actions can be just as stressful as the holiday itself. Sometimes it is better if everyone agrees to celebrate Christmas in a more spiritual way and to forego the abundance of gifts. This can be very liberating for everyone involved, for everyone feels the economic pressure at Christmas.


This year, try to keep things simple. Spend less, do less, and share more of the responsibility with others.
Decorating the Christmas tree, putting up lights, and decorating the house are family events which should provide the opportunity to share special moments with one another. It should be fun — not an annual chore.


Writing out Christmas cards can be done in quiet moments when the kids are asleep. Sometimes, this is the only communication we have with distant friends and relatives.


Show gratitude for blessings received during the year by donating to charity. Ask other people to make a donation to charity instead of buying a gift. In this way, the gift benefits more people.
Simplify expectations. Don’t expect everything to be perfect or to run smoothly. Don’t expect to receive the most expensive gifts or the greatest number of gifts. Don’t expect anything at all. Go with the flow. Find inner peace rather than outer chaos.


Seek to serve others during the holiday season. Concentrate on family bonding and growing closer to God. Enjoy the peace of Christmas and extend it to others by offering tolerance and forgiveness.
Christmas can be a dreaded stressful event or a wonderful opportunity to bring peace into your life. Simplify. Relax. Enjoy the spirit of the holiday. 

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Dawn Pisturino, RN
November 2006; December 14, 2021

Published in The Bullhead City Bee, December 22, 2006. 

Published on Selfgrowth.com, December 4, 2011.

Copyright 2006-2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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Thanksgiving Dinner from the 1950s Housewife

Thanksgiving menu 1950s style

Clear chicken or turkey soup

Bread sticks

Salted almonds

Celery

Olives

Roast turkey

Giblet gravy

Chestnut stuffing

Mashed potatoes

Brussel sprouts

Jellied or whole cranberry sauce

Romaine salad with French dressing

Cheese plate

Hot mince pie

Bonbons

Coffee

~

How to make chicken or turkey bone soup

“Never discard the bones of turkey or chicken as they always will make a delicious soup. Scrape the meat from the bones, break the bones, pack in a kettle, and cover with cold water, adding a small onion. Cover closely and simmer very gently for three hours. Strain and cool. One-half hour before it is to be served, return to the fire, and for every quart of stock, add one cup of the cold meat, season, and keep hot till needed. This soup may be greatly improved by adding to it, three minutes before serving, ten oysters to each quart of soup.”

Chestnut Stuffing

1 quart chestnuts

1/4 cup bread crumbs

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons cream

Salt and Pepper

1/2 teaspoon onion juice

Shell and blanche chestnuts and cook in boiling water until tender. While hot, rub through coarse sieve. Mix with remaining ingredients. Makes 2-1/2 cups.

~

Formal Table Settings and Service

Housewives of the 1950s set their holiday dinner tables with their finest china, bearing the most exquisite designs. If the dinner was served in courses, a different design might be used with each course. All the dishes used in one course would match.

Place Plate – 10-11 inches across. This was the base plate on which the dinner plate was set.

Dinner Plate – 10-10.5 inches across, used to serve the meat and side vegetables.

Entree Plate – 8.5-9.5 inches across, used to serve an entree, salad, or fish. May have been used for dessert if the fingerbowl was brought in on it.

Dessert Plate – 7.5-8 inches across, used for dessert or salad. Used for the cake plate at tea.

Bread and Butter Plate – 6-6.5 inches across.

Soup Plate – 8-8.5 inches across with a broad, flat rim. Or a bowl could substitute.

Cups and Bowls

Cream Soup Cup – A low, broad cup with two handles, 4.5-5 inches wide and about 2 inches deep. Used for purees, bisques, and cream soups.

Boullion Cup – Looked like a tea cup with two handles that was used for clear soups, consommes, and bouillons.

Chilled Cocktail Bowl – A low, broad bowl inside a separate container. The bowl would be used to serve grapefruit, shrimp cocktail, and other chilled foods. Crushed ice would be packed around the bowl.

Glass

Colored glassware was very popular in the 1950s and would have matched the colors in the china dishes. Crystal glassware was preferred for formal dinners, either etched, cut, or rimmed with gold.

Goblet – The main component of the glassware setting. Two other glasses would have been set alongside the main goblet, usually a claret glass and a champagne glass.

Sherbet Glass – A medium sized bowl on a short stem used to serve sherbet, ice cream, and other frozen dessert.

Finger Bowl – a low, broad bowl used to dip the fingers in water.

Silver

Polished silver gave an air of sophistication to the table setting. Besides the usual dinner knife, fork, and spoon, the 1950s hostess might have provided an array of cutlery including a butter knife and smaller knives and forks for fish, entrees, salad, and fruit.

A List of Useful Serving Pieces

2 or 3 tablespoons

2 or 3 dinner forks for serving

Medium sized carving set

Butter knife or butter pick

Gravy ladle

Sugar tongs

Pie or tart server

Cold meat fork

Olive spoon or fork

Berry spoon

Jelly server

Preserve spoon

Long-handled fork and spoon

Pickle fork

Pierced server

Salad dressing ladle

Lemon fork

Asparagus server

Entree server

Cake fork

sardine server

Ice tongs

Ice spoon

Sugar spoon

Sugar sifter for powdered sugar

Ice-cream knife or server

Cheese server

Melon knife

Grape scissors

Linen

The 1950s hostess preferred white linen damask for a table cover at dinner. The napkins always matched the tablecloth. Monogramming was very popular in the 1950s.

Centerpieces and Decorations

Flowers were popular centerpieces in the 1950s. The colors had to blend in with the rest of the color scheme. Candles were usually white or natural wax color. The candles were lighted before the guests entered the dining-room and were kept burning until after they left the room.

From The American Woman’s Cook Book, 1950

~

Sounds like a lot of work! A lot of serving to do, and a lot of dishes to wash! But the 1950s housewife took pride in setting a well-appointed table. She derived satisfaction from pleasing her guests. Of course, we all know that that does not always work with family.

Most importantly, however, Thanksgiving is and was a time to spend with family and friends and to be thankful for what we have. Washing dishes is a small price to pay.

Thanksgiving Prayer

Lord, source and giver of all things, we give You thanks and all the glory on this Thanksgiving Day for the splendor and majesty of creation. We give You thanks for the blessings of family and friends: both those gathered around this table and those who are present only in our hearts. We give You thanks for this food, prepared by loving hands, and for the graces You provide to nourish our spirits, souls, and bodies so that we may continue to serve You passionately. Help us to be faithful stewards of all we have been given. May we reflect Your love and that which we have received to all those we meet, especially the less fortunate in our midst. Amen.

Practice Gratitude – Conversation Starters for Around the Table

Name two things you are thankful for this year.

Who are you thankful for, and why?

What part of nature is inspiring and beautiful to you?

What is something that makes you laugh out loud?

What is an unexpected blessing you’ve received this year?

Choose someone you are with and share three things you admire and appreciate about that person.

What is something you love about your family?

How are you going to practice gratitude this year?

Have a Safe, Happy, and Blessed Thanksgiving this year!

Dawn Pisturino

November 4, 2021

Copyright 2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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Angel Art – The Archangel Michael

Artwork by Luca Giordano

Michael means “who is as God.” Among Jews, Christians, and Muslims, he is the highest angel in the hierarchy of angels. His occult name is Sabathiel. In Islam, he is known as Mika’il. The Zoroastrian book, Avesta, portrays him as Saosyhant, the redeemer.

As chief among angels, he is revered as the “angel of repentance, righteousness, mercy, and sanctification.” He stands guard over the nation of Israel. He is a known enemy of Satan. As the Prince of Light, he leads the angels of God against the angels of Satan in the Dead Sea scroll, The War of the Sons of Light Against the Sons of Darkness. In the Last days, he is the fierce angel who will finally slay the Dragon (Satan).

In 1950, Pope Pius XII affirmed Michael as the patron of policemen. Today, he watches over all first responders. He has been identified as the angel who stopped Abraham from sacrificing his son, Isaac, although this act has also been attributed to other angels, such as Metatron. Jewish tradition describes him as “the fire that Moses saw in the burning bush . . . ,” although some scholars attribute this to Zagzagel. Michael may have been one of the three angels who visited Abraham in his tent. Religious lore credits him with assisting the other three archangels – Raphael, Uriel, and Gabriel – with burying the body of Moses. In fact, Michael has been identified as the angel who fought with Satan over Moses’ body.

Islamic lore describes him as bearing wings “of the color of green emerald.” His body “is covered with saffron hairs, each of them containing a million faces and mouths and as many tongues which, in a million dialects, implore the pardon of Allah.” The Qu’ran claims the cherubim were created from Michael’s tears. The Persians regarded him as the sustainer of mankind.

Catholics pray for Michael’s heavenly intercession as St. Michael. They regard him as God’s warrior who protects the faithful from the Devil’s wily snares. As the angel of death, prayers to St. Michael request his intercession in a good and holy death. Fra Filippo portrayed him as the messenger who announced to the Virgin Mary that she would soon be taken up into Heaven.

Michael’s feast day is September 29th (the Feast of the Archangels).

Prayer to St. Michael, the Archangel

Saint Michael, the Archangel,

Defend us in battle!

Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil;

May God rebuke him, we humbly pray;

And do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host,

By the power of God, thrust into hell Satan and all evil spirits

Who wander through the world for the ruin of souls.

Amen.

(1932)

(Eastern Orthodox Church icons) – The Eastern Orthodox Church celebrates Michael’s feast day on November 8th.

This painting by Cesare Nebbia tells the story of the four apparitions of Michael, the Archangel, that allegedly occurred in Southern Italy many centuries ago.

Apparition #1: A wealthy landowner, named Gargano, in the 3rd to 8th century C.E., lost a bull, became angry when he found the bull grazing near a cave, and shot a poisoned arrow at him. Miraculously, the arrow turned around and shot him instead! The local bishop ordered three days of prayer and fasting. On the third day, Michael appeared to the bishop and ordered him to “dedicate the cave to Christian worship.” Since the cave had been used by pagan worshippers in the past, the bishop did not honor Michael’s request.

Apparition #2: Michael allegedly appeared again in the year 492 C.E., but scholars have determined that the apparition actually occurred later, inspiring Duke Grimoaldo I to defeat the Greeks on May 8, 663 C.E., who had attacked the Sanctuary of Gargano. May 8th is now celebrated in the Roman Catholic Church as the Feast of the Anniversary of the Apparitions of St. Michael, the Archangel.

Apparition #3: After the victory over the Greeks, the cave was finally dedicated by local bishops to St. Michael. But Michael is reported to have said, “I founded it, I myself consecrated it.” When the bishops arrived at the cave, they found Michael’s footprint in a crude stone altar that was already erected there. Since then, the cave has been called the “Celestial Basilica” because Michael consecrated it to himself!

Apparition #4: In 1656, Michael ordered Bishop Alfonso Puccinelli to bless the stones of his cave. Michael carved the sign of the cross and the letters “M.A.” onto the stones. He then told the bishop that “anyone carrying the stones would be immune to the plague” that was ravaging southern Italy. The bishop’s city was cured of illness. The stones, known as St. Michael’s relics, are now used in exorcisms.

In popular culture, Longfellow wrote, in The Golden Legend, that Michael was the spirit of the planet Mercury who brought patience to mankind. In the Hollywood movie, The Bishop’s Wife (1947), Cary Grant plays Michael in the form of a mysterious assistant who suddenly appears to aid the Episcopalian Bishop Brougham.

Dawn Pisturino

September 7, 2021

Copyright 2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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Angel Art – The Archangel Gabriel

Artwork by Gaudenzio Ferrari

Gabriel means “God is my strength.” In Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, he is regarded as the angel of “annunciation, resurrection, mercy, vengeance, death, and revelation.” His primary role is that of God’s messenger. His most important task in the New Testament was announcing to a young Jewish virgin that she would soon become the Mother of God’s Son, Jesus Christ (known as the Annunciation).

Islamic tradition names Gabriel (Jibril) as the angel with “140 pairs of wings” who revealed the Qu’ran to the Prophet Muhammad.

Gabriel has sometimes been identified as the angel who destroyed Sodom and Gommorah. In Jewish tradition, he is featured in the Book of Daniel as the angel who rescued Hannaniah (Shadrach), Mishael (Meshach), and Azariah (Abed-Nego) from the fiery furnace. (After the exile to Babylon, Daniel and his fellow chamberlains were given Babylonian names.)

Joan of Arc testified that it was the archangel Gabriel who inspired her to embark on her great mission to save France from British domination.

Literary figures such as John Milton portrayed Gabriel as commander of God’s angelic forces in Heaven. Longfellow wrote about him as “the angel of the moon who brings man[kind] the gift of hope.”

In the Catholic Church, Gabriel’s feast day is September 29th (the Feast of the Archangels):

In the Eastern Orthodox Church, November 8th is Gabriel’s feast day:

(Eastern Orthodox Church icon)

In occult circles, wearing an angel Gabriel talisman modeled after the Grimoire of Armadel, brings the wearer success in business and love, the blessing of many children, and magical powers.

Dawn Pisturino

September 1, 2021

Copyright 2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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Angel Art – The Archangel Uriel

This painting by Leonardo Da Vinci, titled “The Virgin of the Rocks,” depicts the Virgin Mary, John the Baptist, the Child Jesus, and the Archangel Uriel.

Uriel means “fire of God.” In Catholic tradition, he was the angel that stood outside the Garden of Eden, after the expulsion of Adam and Eve, holding the revolving fiery sword. His feast day is celebrated on September 29th (the Feast of the Archangels).

In 1 Enoch, Uriel is the angel that “watches over thunder and terror.” In the apocryphal book, The Book of Adam and Eve, Uriel is the angel of salvation and repentance. II Esdras, an apocalyptic writing often included in the King James Bible, portrays Uriel as the angel who interprets Ezra’s dreams. Uriel has sometimes been identified as the angel who wrestled with Jacob at Peniel and helped bury the bodies of Adam and Abel in Paradise; as the messenger sent by God to warn Noah and his family about the flood; and the angel who destroyed 185,000 Assyrians in II Kings 19:35.

Occult literature names Uriel as the angel who brought alchemy down to earth from heaven, although many sources attribute this act to the angel Metatron.

John Milton, in Paradise Lost III, refers to Uriel as the “Regent of the Sun.” Dryden portrays him “as descending from heaven in a chariot drawn by white horses.”

The Eastern Orthodox Church celebrates Uriel’s feast day on November 8th:

(Eastern Orthodox Church icons)

Dawn Pisturino

August 30, 2021

Copyright 2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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Angel Art – The Archangel Raphael

Artwork by Bartolome Esteban Murillo

The name Raphael means “God has healed.” The Archangel Raphael is mentioned in the Catholic Book of Tobit and 1 Enoch.

In The Book of Tobit, he disguises himself as a traveler and helps the son of Tobit, Tobias, pick up some money and take it back home to his father. He binds the demon Asmodeus, cures Sarah of a curse she has been living under, and heals Tobit of blindness. The happy result is that Tobias and Sarah get married and prosper. The Catholic Church regards Raphael as the patron of travelers (especially pilgrims), the blind, happy reunions, sacred marriage, nurses, doctors, and pharmacists, and matchmakers. In Italy, Raphael is the protector of sailors. He is a known enemy of Satan.

In 1 Enoch, Raphael was appointed the healer of all disease and wounds. He incapacitated the armies of Azazel and threw them into the fiery pit.

Jewish tradition regards Raphael as one of the angels who visited Abraham. He was appointed by God to heal Abraham after his late-life circumcision and to save Lot during the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Christian tradition tasked him with stirring the waters in the pool of Bethesda (John 5:2-4).

Muslims call Raphael Israfil. On the Day of Resurrection, he will blow the trumpet that calls the dead back to life:

Raphael’s feast day is September 29th in the Catholic Church (the Feast of the Archangels):
The Eastern Orthodox Church celebrates his feast day on November 8th:

(Eastern Orthodox Church icons)

Dawn Pisturino

August 29, 2021

Copyright 2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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WRITERS: MIND YOUR MANNERS!

weneedyoubadge1

A MESSAGE FROM JON BARD, MANAGING EDITOR OF CHILDREN’S BOOK INSIDER:

“If you spend a fair amount of time online, perhaps you’ve noticed it:

People are becoming ruder. And angrier. And more entitled.

Really, I’m simply amazed at some of what appears in my e-mail inbox. Folks with whom I’ve never corresponded are sending me demanding messages such as “SEND ME THE EBOOK!!!!” and “I WANT TO GET PUBLISHED. TELL ME WHAT TO DO!”

People (non-customers) send us long, detailed questions out of the blue and expect immediate responses. If they don’t get one, we often receive an abusive message as a follow up.

And then there’s the magic words that many people seem to be using as a justification for curt, nicety-free missives:
“Sent via my iPhone.”

Look, I’ve been doing this a long time, and I’ve got a pretty thick skin. So I raise this not to prevent my feelings from being hurt, but rather as a cautionary message about how *not* to sabotage your writing career.

As a 21st century author, your ability to communicate is paramount to your success. Editors, agents, bloggers, book reviewers, distributors, promotional partners and readers are just some of the people who are important to your career. For goodness sake, treat them with more respect than “Here’s my new book. Write a review!”.

Here then, are my tips to help you be seen as a courteous author worthy of consideration:

• “Dear”, “Thank you”, “Please” and “Sincerely/All the Best/Yours Truly” aren’t archaic leftovers from the distant past. They’re still as important as ever. Use them. Please.

• Composing a message from your phone or tablet is not an excuse for overly-direct curtness. If you have a business message to send, wait until you have the time to write it properly.

• If you’re contacting someone for the first time, make the effort to introduce yourself, and clearly state the purpose of your message.

• If someone doesn’t get right back to you, don’t fire off an angry e-mail accusing them of ignoring you. Perhaps the message got lost. Maybe they’re on vacation. Perhaps they’re ill. Calmly send another friendly message restating your request or comment.

• Remember that you’re dealing with human beings. In our case, every piece of e-mail is read either by me or by Laura. We don’t have a building full of underlings to take care of that for us. When you send us kind words (and many of you do — thank you!), it feels great. When you’re rude or angry, it stings. Treat me with respect — I think I’ve earned at least that.

The vast majority of you are nothing but gracious in your communications with us. That bodes well for your future success. Keep at it, and gently work to correct those who aren’t minding your manners.
For the few of you who may have let your etiquette slip, please take heed of the points I’ve laid out, and make a resolution to make the online world just a little bit more courteous.

That’s it — venting over! Onward….”

THANKS, JON!

Dawn Pisturino

 

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TOO MANY BOOKS, TOO MUCH COMPETITION

stack-of-books

 

In an interview with the blog SIX QUESTIONS, John Raab, Publisher/CEO/Editor-in-Chief of Suspense Magazine, answered the following question:

“What can you truly expect to get out of your writing?”

“I feel that many authors have false expectations and think they are writing the next NY Times Bestseller. Here is the problem with that. Just because your book is not high on a list or selling that great, doesn’t mean you can’t write. Authors have to remember that anybody can now publish an EBook on Amazon or Barnes and Noble. What does that mean? That means that readers now have to navigate through thousands of more books to find one they like and readers only have a certain amount of money to spend. If you don’t have thousands of marketing dollars behind your work, then you have to spend triple the amount of time marketing to fans than it took you to write the book. Writing the book is the easy part, getting paid from it is the difficult part. Authors should expect to not retire off their work, but instead write for the love of it, because it is your passion. Writing and music are the same thing, you see a great band in a bar and say ‘They are better than anything I hear on the radio, why aren’t they signed?’ Writing is the same way.”

Is it true? Are there too many books on the market? Writers don’t just write for the love of writing, they write to make a living. But if thousands of self-proclaimed authors are flooding the market with books, how can someone achieve that goal?

For myself, I stopped buying books because I was tired of wasting my money on mediocre crap that was marketed as best-seller material. A slick cover and a wide audience do not a-book-worth-reading make. Extensive marketing will not salvage a poorly crafted commodity. Readers might buy from you once, but they won’t come back again.

The book market is, in fact, overwhelming. Every time I go into Barnes & Noble, the stacks of unread (and unbought) books makes me want to swoon.  Scanning through Amazon and Goodreads makes me feel the same way.

The books shout in my head: READ ME! READ ME!

It’s the same on Facebook. Thousands of self-proclaimed authors scream at me: BUY MY BOOK! BUY MY BOOK!

Millions of blogs and online publications float around in Internet outer space, vying for attention.

TV, movies, and video games also provide tough competition. And to top it off, a recent poll suggested that only 75% of the population ever reads a book (print or digital.)

So, what’s a writer (and reader) to do in an age of information overload?

1. Write the best damned book you can, using original ideas.

2. Don’t write derivative material because thousands of others are doing the same thing. We don’t need anymore books about vampires and wizards unless the slant is so original, and the characters so unforgettable, that the world just can’t live without them.

3. Define your goals realistically. If you are only writing out of love for the craft, then be content to do so. But if you dream of making a living as a writer, then treat it as a business.

Personally, I think the publishing industry bubble is going to burst, just like the dot.com bubble and the housing bubble. Too many books means too many choices and a flattened market. After all, people don’t have the time or the money to spend on reading all the books out there. And traditional publishing houses depend on blockbuster best-sellers to keep themselves afloat.

I will continue to write because I love to write. But don’t be fooled: I want to make a living off of my writing as much as any other writer. The question is: can I beat the competition?

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Writing short fiction has definitely improved my writing. I wholeheartedly agree with this advice.

The Author Chronicles

Now that I have more time to write (Toddler started preschool), I have been trying my hand at short stories. This is a new format for me, but I am enjoying learning the new skills for this format. Even as a novelist, I am finding many benefits to exploring short fiction:

1. Experimentation.

I can play around with things I would not be able to with a novel-length work. For example, if I want to dabble in a genre I usually don’t write, I can test it out quickly. If I have a new or existing character I want to explore more in-depth, I can concentrate on just them.

2. Practicing one particular writing technique at a time.

When dealing with a novel, it is often hard to go back and look at things such as dialogue, to make sure each character sounds different. Even when doing a dialogue pass…

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Bree Ogden, literary agent extraordinaire, is making herself available for all you aspiring authors out there! Check out her class!

this literary life

I’ve had enough experience with writers to know that they almost always feel like this when writing their query letter:

Writers Block

 

Because they know that agents are like this almost every day:

slushpile

 

 

You want agents fighting over your query and manuscript like it’s the freaking Ring of Mordor. If you are stuck, feel like you just can’t figure out how to write that winning query letter, think about signing up for my LitReactor.com class THE ART OF THE QUERY LETTER.

Being a literary agent myself, I know what grabs us, what immediately turns us off, what makes us laugh in good spirits and what makes us laugh in disgust. Often times, you’ll think that your clever opening will win you a manuscript request, when in reality, it’s the thing that makes us hit the “trash” button.

During the course of my class, I will help you:

  • Learn how…

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