Thursday, March 29, 2012

Like Shakira, My Hips Don't Lie

I'm probably a bit premature in getting excited or celebrating, but I was able to run on the treadmill for the whole of this week. Why is this a big deal? Because I haven't been able to run more than a day on a treadmill, or even more than a mile outside, in more than a year. I've been relegated to the elliptical because of my hips. My poor arthritic hips.

I gained quite a bit of weight before moving to LA (like 30 pounds from my lowest  to what I stepped foot into town carrying). I'm sure the extra lbs didn't help in the crusade, but my hips were in agony for months. Even without the running or constant working out, I would be stiff in the mornings and near tears at night. Not fun. And if I actually pounded the treadmill, the pain was worse.

So I gave up the running. Which was sad, because --and I'll be the first to admit this was a shock to me--I actually like running. Used to HATE it. "I only run when chased," I'd say. Frequently. Without being prompted for my opinion. But at the beginning of the great weight drop, I walked outside and then when I needed a challenge, I started jogging. I really loved being outside in the mornings and having the time to zone out and think about things. I even miss having to bundle up because I was freezing cold, and then getting home and sweating in 10 degree weather.

And while I can't run outside here in the mornings (I mean, I do live in LA. It's a nice neighborhood, but I'm not crazy), I can do the treadmill. At least now. And so until my hips kick in (or they don't), I am back to pounding the treadmill. To be honest, the past few mornings, stepping off and having that weird floaty feeling that's a combination of the endorphin rush and the adjustment to walking on a stable surface has been a highlight of my day.

Never thought I'd think that 5 years ago.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Friend Dilemma: I Need Your Noggin

I'm reading a book called MWF seeking BFF because it jumped out at me. I can relate. I'm married, in a new city and have friends--just not many that live within five states of me.

I've enjoyed the book and was really considering doing the whole "friend quest" exhibition in my own way. When I really started putting myself out there in Nashville, I met my writer friends, found friends outside of work, hell--I met my husband. All because I made a new year's resolution to not turn down any offer to do anything socially (unless I was already booked or felt like I could be in danger). A year of saying "yes" meant some awkward hang outs, but also some new memories and people that I really love.

I thought it might be that simple here. Just say YES to every invitation. But it's not. For one, there aren't many invitations. I don't know if it's a difference of not being in the South or being older now or what, but the invites to hang out haven't exactly flowed in LA. And then there's the husband factor. I already know a night with him will end up in a good time about 99% of the time, so that seems like a safer bet. But even with these factors, I know that I need to have more friends here. I'm just a social person. It's how I roll.

So here's the friend dilemma: I work 45 miles away from where I live. It's causing some unforeseen consequences that could be affecting my social life --or maybe I'm just not looking at things the right way. But to lay it out for you, typical first friend meetings happen over drinks or the like on weeknights. And herein lies the problem.  Here's how I currently see scenarios happening when I do get invites and want to meet new people:

  1.  I can't meet people who live/ work in LA at a specified time after work unless that time is like 8 or 9 p.m. Traffic here is everything everyone says it is and more so I could get home at 6 or 9 p.m. depending on the day.
  2. I have a hard time hanging out with work friends because if I choose to stay around here, I can't have a cocktail because I have to drive an hour home. 
  3. If I don't have a cocktail, I don't want to stay past 8 because it takes me an hour to get home.
  4. I get up at 5 a.m. every weekday morning because it takes me an hour to get to work (if I'm lucky) and I have to workout in the mornings or it doesn't happen. So this means I get sleepy by 10 each night.

Okay, people. You're smart. Help me with my friend dilemma please. Am I just being ridiculous or can you see my point? Either answer is acceptable-- with some explanation.


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

What the WHAT?!?! (aka Adult Acne)

Can you count the zits on my
face? I'm not smiling so you
can see them all. And because
I don't love acne.
How the hell did I get these zits? And before anyone out there starts it, I'm not pregnant. And I hate that after the age of 25, every time something bizarre happens to my body and I make it public knowledge, I actually have to answer that question. It's almost as bad as being in a bad mood and having to constantly defend against the "Are you on your period?" question.

So, strike that from your list: Not pregnant. And yet, here I am 30-something years old with a huge breakout of acne on my face. And those in the picture are a) covered with make-up and b) from a pic shot yesterday before Mount St. Ashley really erupted. That doesn't even touch on the fact that I cut bangs especially because I could cover my forehead zits (and there are two--TWO--of them covered in that pic, too).

I never used to get zits as a teenager. Well, at least not like this. I'd get the occasional flair up, but it would go away. My brother, on the other hand, had the misfortune of having severe acne to deal with. I would taunt him when I was 13 with "At least I don't have ACNE!". He would then reply "I didn't have any either. Until I turned 14." He was manacle like that.

And before you get on my case about being so mean to my older brother, you have to realize that growing up I felt like of the two of us, I completely got the short end of the genetic stick. My brother is tall, always been naturally thin, exceptionally smart, rarely seemed like he had to try to gain friends, and generally was my hero. So as someone square in the middle of losing my battle against weight gain who had to study math for hours to get good grades, and who was teased mercilessly by girls for "having the bought the same pair of shoes" as another in the clique (true story), I was happy to have at least ONE advantage on him.

And here I am years later as a pizza face. The only thing I can attribute it to was that I bought a new foundation primer. It's the same brand as the primer I was using, but this version had "radiance" added in (aka shimmer-but the nice kind, nice like stripper glitter) and didn't come in oil-free. Chef encouraged me to suck up the primer as a loss and go get my old oil-free stuff. So I did. Today.

In the mean time, I'm stuck with a crippling case of adult acne that I would love to stay home and bury my head in a bowl of astringent until it clears up, but no such luck. And I watch those ProActiv commercials with new interest now. I hear them and perk up, but then I hear them say "In 90 days, my skin cleared up!". Um, my skin usually clears up in 90 days. That's not what I call great results. Am I wrong?

I gotta go preserve my sexy.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Hunger Games: Not So Much A Winner

The Hunger Games: Not
so much a winner
Like half the known world, I was excited for The Hunger Games to come out this past weekend. I knew it was going to be popular, so I went ahead and hedged my bets and got Chef and I sinner showing tickets. It was still pretty full for 10:15 on a Sunday morning. We went to ArcLight Hollywood and sat in the Dome, which apparently didn't open until 10 a.m. so there were a lot of people in the cold, rain waiting for the damn doors to open. In defense of the theater, it's not cold and rainy enough in LA to think ahead on that one, but I digress.

I may be the only person in the world that didn't like The Hunger Games. Let me rephrase that: Chef and I may be the only people in the world that didn't like The Hunger Games. Look, I realize that movies based on books rarely live up the books, but I also curb my expectation to match that reality. It'll never be as good in my head as on the screen. And I'm okay with that. But this wasn't just that.

Also, I like taking Chef to movies based off books because chances are good that I've read the books and he hasn't. So, there's a fresh perspective from someone else on why things did or didn't work out in the movie when they are clearly explained in the book. Here are some of my top highlights of things that aren't placed in any sort of context in The Hunger Games (movie):

  • Why Peeta was partnered with the careers in the beginning
  • Why Katniss plays up the romance with Peeta during the Games (it was there, but not explained enough where Chef knew why)
  • The names, stories or any kind of way to identify the other tributes (other than Rue). The name "foxface is literally uttered one time. Cato gets like 3-4 mentions. We could've gotten this with a creatively written montage of their pre-game interviews, but we didn't.
  • Why we should care about Rue. I cried in the theater but only because I knew the book version when Katniss was thinking of Prim as Rue. 
  • Any of the other stylists, and some significant time with Cinna.
  • Any kind of fear of Snow. 
  • What the hell each of the districts produces
  • Why the Capitol is so rich (this gets brushed over).
There's more, but honestly it just makes me sad. I realize there's a challenge when the book is written in first person and half the movie takes place in a world where you can't really say your inner monologue aloud because the world is listening, but come on. The script just didn't work for me. They could've cut at least one uttering of "May the odds be ever in your favor" with some actual dialogue that moved the story forward. It could've been done. It just wasn't.

It doesn't make me exceptionally hopefully for the next two movies. Chef said "Was the first the worst of the books?"  No, it was the best. "Oh, I was hoping maybe they had better source material for the next ones."

Yup, that about explains it. 

Friday, March 23, 2012

I Haven't Slept Well all Week: Hoosier Edition

I haven't slept exceptionally well this week. I'm not sure why. I fall asleep fine, but wake up at 4 a.m., a full hour before I normally get up.

I am fairly certain my sleep-time drama has nothing to do with the Hoosiers, but maybe it does. Maybe I'm freaking out on the inside. Either way, it'll be settled tonight. Until then, I'm gonna console myself with this video on loop. (Knowing I might have to console myself again after the game).

I just wish for a good game from both sides tonight. One where the Hoosiers still have a chance to make a shot at the end to win (Or tie--I'm not that picky).

Go Hoosiers!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Words and Phrases that Makes No Sense Out of the Workplace

Is Mila trying to increase
her ROI here?
I used to look at things happening in my corporate jobs with a sense of cynicism and sarcasm. Unfortunately, the longer I'm in the "business world," the more I not only don't notice these things, but I actually do them myself. And I don't like that. I need to remember how to be a real person, if not inside the hours of 9 to 5, at least outside.

So here's my list of words or phrases that have completely weird or irrelevant meanings in real life (and by "real life" I mean the actual lives we live when we WANT to live them, not the life we live to earn money to support that life):
  • Vision: outside of work, if someone used the word "vision" I assume they're a psychic or have just taken some psychotropic drugs.
  • "Think outside of the box": What is this box to which you are referring? And why does a cliche meaning to not be a cliche warrant a cliche? (did you get that all?)
  • Pain point: typically an elbow if I've hit my funny bone (which is actually a nerve) or my knees. Because they are pointy and I have bad knees.
  • Return on Investment (ROI): I have decided to measure my love for my cats based on their return on investment. I will use the dollars we spent on them in their lifetime and measure that against the amount of love and joy they give me. Since Khubla is a shelter cat with no health problems, he's looking like the cat with the best ROI right now. Wonder if this works with kids. . .(and if it does, I wonder if my parents ever derived my ROI. Hmmmmm)
What're your corporate words or phrases that bug you?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

But I Really Want That Brownie. . .and iPad and Shoes...

A "lava stone"--one of my
guilty pleasures. It's a fried ball
of rice with avocado, spicy tuna,
and some caviar.
It's pretty damn good.
I'm having a hard time denying myself lately. And while that means food most of the time, it also means anything my heart is desiring at this moment. (And to be honest today I'm desiring a trip to Vegas or Nashville or Indianapolis or anywhere my friends are that I can be away from the work world for a few days). Most of the time my bank account severely limits my ability to follow through on my desires, but I got my tax refund back so I have a little money to play with. And by "play", I mean go into an Apple store on Friday during my lunch break and buy a new iPad.

The iPad, by the way, was not only a fairly impulsive (at least for me) purchase, but I bought a nice red case and felt absolutely no guilt about it. That doesn't usually happen. If I ever actually get to the point of pulling the trigger on a purchase, I usually regret it until I convince myself that I needed the item. (Like I needed the iPad because I was more likely to write if I could type away on it without having to open a laptop off and burn my legs--and no, my iPad has yet to burn my legs).

For the food front, I've been eating like there's no tomorrow. Well, not really, but it kind of feels that way. And it's a vicious cycle. I try on clothes that I can't fit in to, get depressed that I can't fit into them and then console myself with a cookie. Or a side of fries instead of salad. And while a few of these choices can be a good thing, I'm making them all the time and my ass is paying the price. I know better. I know I know better. But it still happens.

So, for a while I'm going to stick to trying on shoes and getting back to making good choices. I should probably go all-out psycho strict on this for a while before I loosen up. Hope I'm up for it.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Still celebrating a Sweet 16 with the Hoosiers


I was so loud cheering last night that Chef told me twice to keep it quiet so that the neighbors didn't call the police for domestic violence. I get a little loud. But you have to cut me some slack because it's the first time in ten years that the Hoosiers have been in the Sweet 16. So I can't just act like I've been there before. I've forgotten how it feels, and I'm not that cool.

It's something that I've known for a long time. Most of my life, really. My name is Ashley and I've never been cool. I'm also fairly certain that I will never be cool. I might be witty, or smart or slightly nerdy (I'm not full on nerd and doin't think I can go there either) or funny or odd, but cool is not something people would use to describe me. And I'm okay with that. More than okay, I like it like that. But the problem is that I live in one of the most self-proclaimed cool cities in the world. And cool seems to be important. Or at least extremes. Los Angeles is a city of extremes. Extremely pretty or thin. Extremely stupid or flippant. Extremely cruel or harsh. Extremely fake. It's alas extremely beautiful and lovely and fun.

I still love LA, but I'm having moments when I'm having a hard time finding my exact place here. It happened in Nashville too. I went through a period at almost the same time in my stay there when I wondered if I really belonged. The answer to that is the same as the answer to my LA life: yes, but feeling comfortable in anything takes time. . . Even your own skin.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Reasons Why I Don't Want Peyton Manning to End Up At Tennessee

My friend and Nashville resident,
Patty Clements, sent me this
screenshot from the media coverage
of the Pope, I mean, Peyton's visit.
My Nashville friends will probably not like this. Most have been letting me know Peyton's whereabouts in town while he's been there. Frankly, I'm a little surprised he got a direct flight from Indy to Nashville because I never could (Yes, I know he probably has a private plane. I'm kidding). Here are my selfish reasons why I don't want Peyton to end up with the Titans.
  1. He'd have to play the Colts twice a year. And while that may only be four games, it would be four very painful games for my psyche.
  2. I couldn't imagine cheering for the Titans when they aren't playing the Steelers or Ravens. Those were the only two games I cheered for them on. Unless the Colts needed them to beat the Jags or Texans for a division purposes.
  3. I don't live in Nashville anymore. How can he move to town when I've moved out??
  4. If he signs with Denver, he will have to play in San Diego at least once and Oakland at least once, which exponentially improves my chances of seeing him play.
  5. It would kill me to not work with the Titans any more (who were fabulous) when I would have had the chance to meet Peyton. The highlight of my time working with the Titans was meeting David Thornton, because he was a former Colt.
So, since Peyton reads my blog, as I know he probably checks in daily (why wouldn't he?), here's my plea to him: Please pick the Broncos. Sorry, Nashville friends!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

And I Thought It was Hard Sleeping With Pixie Bobs

Try a rescue panther! Chef and I are loving some of the new Geico ads. Well, I'm not sure if Chef loves them, but he knows that quoting them will crack me up.

How 'bout some Ronald TONIGHT?! This is one of my friends' go-to karaoke song. I will never look at it the same way again.

Monday, March 12, 2012

March Madness Leads to One Shining Moment

Yesterday I was huddled up on my bed watching the bracket breakdown. It's an annual tradition. Typically, I sit there with pen in hand and fill out a bracket that I've printed out or that was printed in the newspaper, but this time I just watched. I no longer fill out paper brackets. No longer use my trusty pink highlighter to show my brilliance or my sad red sharpie to strike through my shame. It's all online now, and I'm finally okay with that.

Chef watched the first few minutes to see where IU fell (or rather to see how excited I was when I saw where IU fell), but then he was done. "It's kind of like watching the weigh-ins to a UFC fight," he said. And he was sort of right. But unlike a UFC fight, there's not the drama of who's not going to get in.

This year was fairly drama free. I was hoping against all hope that Northwestern would finally get in, but I knew the odds were stacked against them. Everyone likes to root for an underdog, though. Or Under-wildcat as the case may be.

Now it's just a countdown until my favorite time of year. And it starts so early here on the West Coast. but there's a blessing to that too, I guess.

Gotta go fill out my five brackets. With Purdue, IU and Murray State all in the tourney, it's gonna be an interesting year.Wish me luck!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Free to Say Stupid Stuff, Not Free of Consequences

I've long been an advocate of free speech. Being in communications and having a passion for it in all forms, it seems like the cornerstone of a free, thriving society is the ability to say what's on your mind. It's a great thing. And I support even idiots speaking their minds. But what I also support is people saying stupid stuff and then having to deal with the consequences. You have the freedom to say anything. That freedom does not extend to being free of those consequences.

So watching sponsors and people vote with their dollars (the most powerful of all votes) and saying that calling women on birth control prostitutes and sluts, or even criticizing the character --not the content--of someone whose an outspoken advocate for an issue, is not acceptable.

I was watching as the list grew longer, but I have to say that I was proud when the American Heart Association was added. Not that the AHA was paying for ads on Rush Limbaugh. To be clear as a former employee, I can tell you that the American Heart Association does not, as a rule, buy ad time. There's a tiny budget used years ago for a larger campaign, but unless something changed dramatically, they were never buying ads. They are also very conscious about remaining party neutral, so again, having ads on a politically charged show is not like them.

However, when Rush Limbaugh offered free ads on his show, they declined. And in that declination gained my support even more so. It had to be hard to decline free advertising to a show with millions of listeners. But to even have an implication of misogyny for an organization that has a whole campaign around women's heart health (Go Red For Women).

Hat's off to the AHA yet again for making the right move. And hat's off to Saturday Night Live for actually making me the thing that made me aware of that. LOL.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Reasons I Love Jon Hamm

It's not that unusual for people to love Don Draper and I admit a certain draw to his character. But I honestly have started to love Jon Hamm lately and here's why:

  1. He was on the Gilmore Girls back before he was really famous.
  2. He's not afraid to be an idiot to be funny. He was good on SNL, but I really loved him on the Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret
  3. He just gave an interview where he blasts Kim Kardashian and other idiots who do nothing and make a ton of money for being stupid on TV. That makes me love him even more.
  4. I can't get think of the term "lap nap" without smiling.
  5. He's not bad looking.
He might be my new celebrity crush. At the very least, it has me really really looking forward to the next season of Mad Men. I hope Friends With Kids is good. I wonder if Kristen Wiig keeps writing parts for him as her boyfriend for a reason. Hmmm. Smart woman.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

I Wore It More than Peyton Manning Did :(

Listening to one of the
Colts' 14 losses this year
The inevitable is happening: The Colts and Peyton Manning are parting ways officially. The handwriting has been on the wall for several months now, but the plug has been pulled. And I'm a little sad.

Peyton did a lot for the Colts, Indianapolis and even Indiana as a whole. Before Peyton came along, the closest the Colts came to a championship was the year of Captain Comeback (aka Jim Harbaugh) took the team to the 1995 AFC Championship game (and lost to the Steelers). If you were to ask anybody in Indiana which pro team in the state would win a championship, most would've said the Pacers. I think some would've bet the Boilers won an NCAA championship before the Horse brought home a Super Bowl.

Celebrating one of the TWO
But then came Peyton. He changed the attitude and helped the team gain in popularity not just because of how good he was, but because of how good of a fit he was.  I firmly believe that pro teams thrive best when their team members reflect the values of the community the team is in. For example, Meta World Peace (aka Ron Artest) did not reflect the blue collar workings of the Hoosier state and didn't last. He ended up in LA, and that seems to be a good fit (at least while he was good). But Peyton is hardworking, methodical and makes the most of every ounce of talent he has. That's a perfect fit for Indiana.

Back when I first got the jersey and
thought: "Man, I'm never gonna need
another Colts jersey!" Idiot.
And while I firmly believe in planning for the future and will cheer on Andrew Luck, a part of me is sad to see Peyton move on. And also sad that I got the Manning jersey after the 2010 season ended, which means that I actually wore this jersey more than Peyton did this last year :(. We'll miss you, but thank you, Peyton!

Monday, March 05, 2012

A Little Goes a Long Way

There are few things better in my book than the daydream. Being able to zone out for a moment (or sometimes longer) to picture yourself where you might not be able to without a little imagination. Sometimes my daydreams are about jobs I'd love to be in or things I want to achieve or, probably a little more sadly, about things I might buy for myself or others when I get the wealth that comes along with the things I want to achieve. (Hello Louboutins). Sometimes it's just a few moments to let my mind wander to what my book characters would be doing or saying or dreaming about themselves.

But one thing that helps make those daydreams that much sweeter is the possibility that they'll come true. Maybe I'll finish the book and people will love it. And it'll get published and I'll feel the glow of authorship. Maybe I will get a pair of Louboutins without my Midwestern guilt kicking in when I think of how many regular pairs of shoes I could buy with the same amount of money.

The one thing that makes a daydream better is hope. Isn't amazing how a little hope, the thought that life doesn't always have to be the way it is OR that life can be just the way it is for a while longer, can carry you through so much? And I don't necessarily mean the type of hope that carries religious connotations, but just regular, secular hope. The realization that things can change at any moment. That there are very few things that can't be achieved if you don't give up.

When I think of this, I think of a story Chef told me recently when I was lacking some hope. It was about Alan Rickman (aka Severus Snape). Rickman had a successful graphic design business that he sold to make a go at acting. He was doing fairly well in theater productions in London and got great acclaim for a role in a production called  Les Liaisons Dangereuses. The play was a huge hit and lots of the actors got to reprise their roles in the Hollywood version. Except for Rickman. When Dangerous Liaisons came out as a movie, his role was given to John Malkovich. BUT the work got him noticed and eventually landed him his break out role in Die Hard. He "broke out" at 42, after 10 years of hard work.  

And that's why I am determined not to give up hope. Because my daydreams might not come to fruition for a long time. Maybe never, but whose to say that what I can imagine is even as good as what'll end up happening. Just have to hope....and work really hard. 

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Almost as good as meeting real celebrities. Okay, Maybe not

Chef decided a few weeks back that he wanted to us to venture to Madame Tussaud's and see some waxy celebrities. So today, we took a trip down to Hollywood & Highland and had fun hanging with the faux celebrities. The only thing I was disappointed about (aside from the fact that they have Jennifer Aniston looking at Brangelina from across the room) was that there was no Matt Damon.

My right leg is tone enough to launch a twitter account, too.

Looking down Hollywood Boulevard.

Can you guess who this is? Hint: He looks slightly better  as a vampire.

Classic Marilyn

Love her in wax or on celluloid

Apparently I was trying to look like a wax figure myself with Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

Okay, I was so creeped out by Hannibal Lecter that I didn't get too close. That's Chef in his face.

Me and Forrest. He didn't share his chocolates.

Took this one with Rocky for my Rocky. 

He's got the red shirt on, so it must be Sunday. 

This is me letting Kobe know that my backdoor is definitely a foul. 

Down Hollywood Boulevard just a few minutes later.

I love Meryl Streep. Even in wax she's gorgeous and way more talented than the other wax figures.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Is the Pope Catholic? And does he hate women? Same answer to both.

I can't assume that the pope hates women, but I have really been struggling with this whole birth control debate. Growing up Catholic, I know that they have to remain hardcore about their beliefs (they being the clergy), but I would think that that would also include the belief of protecting children and telling the truth--and we know how those have turned out lately.

So the Catholics (which technically I was confirmed into, but I consider myself non-practicing) are against being made to offer birth control to their employees. They don't, however, have a problem offering Viagra. And this is what absolutely kills me. Erectile dysfunction is what people consider a "medical ailment," so it is covered by insurance now. Can someone point out one case of erectile dysfunction that has caused death? And I mean direct death, not some angry repressed middle-aged man who beat the hooker who made fun of him.

Birth control pills have been shown to prevent not only babies but also ovarian cancer, pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility, not to mention cysts and painful periods. Being on the pill does not make you more promiscuous. It makes you responsible and isn't personal responsibility something we all strive for?

Aside from the larger debate, it just pissed me off that the people make this decision are men. Men who would't let women testify at the congressional hearing (how is okay that NO women were allowed to give testimony--I find it impossible believe that NO WOMEN were qualified to talk about birth control-- REALLY?!?!?)  and when they were given the chance to testify, one big loudmouth calls her a slut and a prostitute. Just so I'm not accused of taking things out of context, here's the whole quote:
"What does it say about the college co-ed Sandra Fluke, who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex, what does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex. She's having so much sex she can't afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex. What does that make us? We're the pimps."--Rush Limbaugh on his show, February 29, 2012.
I wonder if Rush thinks it's okay for us to pay for his Viagra or if he pays for that full price. What about all those painkillers he's addicted to?

At least I can say that the bill still stands. So suck it.


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