Square Life Round World

I'm navigating through this round world while living a square life, and it fits exactly as it should.

A Lucky Thing Happened…

…and I’m going to Disneyland!!

 

Melanie, you just won a sweepstakes. What are you going to do next? I’m going to Disneyland!

 
Back in May, I entered a sweepstakes. I don’t remember if I got an email, saw it on Facebook or saw it on Twitter, but DirectTV was promoting the On Demand debut of Star Wars: The Force Awakens by giving away a trip to Disneyland to one of its subscribers. You could enter daily, and I had the best intentions of doing so. I even saved the website on my phone’s browser. Alas, I only entered that one time and promptly forgot all about it.

Until June 9. My phone blew up that day. An unknown caller called. And kept calling. And kept calling. I never answer calls from unknown callers, but finally, on my way home from work, I decided to take the call. The conversation went a little something like this:

Is this Melanie Adams?

Yes

Do you recall entering the Star Wars Awakens Sweepstakes from DirectTV?

Yes

You have been identified as a potential winner and I have some qualifying questions to ask. 

Ok

Are you a U.S. Resident?

Yes

Were you over the age of 18 on the date of your entry, May (something, I don’t remember), 2016?

Yes

I’m not going to ask you what it is but do you have a social security number?

Yes

I’m going to read a paragraph and I need you to answer yes or no. Do you work for any of the following companies? (Proceeds to read off all the Disney companies, PR firms and DirectTV companies)

No

So I can confirm this, what is the name of the company where you do work?

St. Jude CRH

That’s wonderful!

I have some paperwork that I need to send out to you. Do you remember the prize?

I hope it’s a trip because that’s what I entered for. 

Yes! A 4 night trip to a Disneyland Resort Hotel, park hoppers and air for you and up to 3 additional guests, a VIP tour guide and a $500 Disney gift card. I will be sending paperwork out to you tomorrow. Should I mail them or email?

Email

I have your email as (proceeds to read it out). Is that correct?

Yes

I will include a FedEx label for return and we need it back in 5 days.  Congratulations. 

And then I started shaking. Did that really just happen? As you can imagine, it didn’t take long for my skepticism to set in. I tried to tune up my spidey senses so I could make sure I wasn’t being scammed in some way. Remember when I said I saved the sweepstakes website on my phone? This came in handy as I began my investigation into the legitimacy of my sweepstakes win. 

I read the official rules word-for-word, and everything matched up with what I was told on the call. I noted the name of the company administering the sweepstakes, and that’s the company that called me. I looked the company up on the Better Business Bureau and confirmed the phone number the representative gave me to reach them with questions. I looked her name up on LinkedIn to confirm she works for that company. Satisfied that this was legit, the next step was for me to complete my paperwork and send my affidavit of eligibility back in. This was for real, y’all!

The thing about winning a sweepstakes, however, is that there isn’t much information out there about what to expect. I knew I was responsible for paying the taxes, and I’d calculated approximately how much that would be prior to accepting the prize, but I was clueless about how to actually claim it. I assumed it would be a quick, easy thing, but as it turns out, there was quite a bit of waiting involved. 

Stay tuned for more about that later. For now, though, I have the trip booked, and I’m so excited I can barely stand it. 

Have you ever won a trip in a sweepstakes?

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What I Ate (and Drank) at Epcot International Food and Wine Festival

Runners and walkers from all over the world will soon converge at Walt Disney World Resort for runDisney’s Wine and Dine Half Marathon Weekend.  The only fall east coast runDisney event is also not-so-coincidentally the final weekend of the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival.  Given that it’s fast-approaching, I thought now would be a good time to share what I enjoyed at this year’s Festival. 

 

Epcot International Food and Wine Festival

 
Let’s start with my faves beginning with a cocktail, shall we?  My favorite beverage just happened to hail from France, La Passion Martini Slush.  This comes as no surprise since the France Pavilion is known for their martini slushes. In fact, I’ve never met a French martini slush I didn’t like. They do them up right!  The Festival edition consists of Grey Goose Le Citron vodka and cranberry and passion fruit juices. Tre bien!

 

La Passion Martini Slush from France


Up next is my favorite savory item, the Grilled Beef Skewer with Romaine, Apricots and Feta Cheese. This one comes from the Chew Collective.  This is one that I would love to recreate at home. The beef was tender and full of flavor with a light marinade. The apricots were grilled and caramelized, and their sweetness was perfectly offset by the saltiness of the feta cheese. 

 

Grilled beef skewer

 
And my favorite dessert goes to the Ghirardelli Chocolate Raspberry Torte from The Chocolate Studio. This was a very generous portion that could easily be shared. Thankfully, I didn’t have to. This was a rich and creamy dark chocolate ganache filling a crisp chocolate crust with a few whole raspberries sprinkled in. Y’all, this was definitely one of the top ten desserts I’ve had in my life. 

 

Ghirardelli Chocolate Raspberry Torte from The Chocolate Studio

 
As I was basking in my chocolate heaven, wondering how on earth I was ever going to recreate this at home, I noticed this. 

 

Ahhhh…the recipe!

 
Um, that’s the recipe, y’all! Even better, it looks pretty easy. I will be attempting this. 

Also found in The Chocolate Studio was probably my biggest disappointment of the Festival, the Liquid Nitro Chocolate Almond Truffle with Warm Whiskey Caramel.  

 

It’s science!

 
It’s basically chocolate mousse flash-frozen right before your very eyes in a bath of liquid nitrogen, drizzled with warm caramel and sprinkled with an almond nougat crumble. Sounds delicious, doesn’t it? And it might have been had it not been my most anticipated dish from last year.  This was my very favorite thing last year. I craved it all year and was thrilled when I saw it back in the line-up. However, it didn’t live up to my memory and was quickly replaced by the torte. 

Rounding out The Chocolate Studio offerings was the Red Wine Chocolate Truffle. 

 

Red Wine Truffle

 
As you can see, this thing was coated in cocoa powder. Waaaaaaaaaay too much cocoa powder. The truffle within was a quality dark chocolate truffle with a smooth, yet dense center. I could not detect the red wine, however. I enjoyed it, although it’s not something I would repeat if given the chance. 

Back in France, I’m never disappointed, not by the food, the drink or the Cast Members. I had the Beef Bourguignon with Mashed Potatoes. Can’t you just hear Julia Child say, “boof?”

 

“Boof”

 
The beef was tender and savory with a rich wine sauce that I would have been perfectly happy drinking out of a glass. The potatoes were nothing to write home about, but nicely helped offset the richness of the “boof.”  

Since I mentioned how nice the French Cast Members are, here’s this gem of a CM handing me a St. Germain Sparkling Kir, sparkling wine with St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur. Doesn’t he look super nice and friendly? 

Such a nice Cast Member!

Brazil, in the spirit of the Olympics, was represented this year, and I tried this Crispy Pork Belly with Black Beans and Tomato. It was rich but oh, so tasty. 

 

Brazil represented with Crispy Pork Belly

 
To wash it down, I tried this Kaiser Brewery Xingu Black Beer. It was very dark and full of smoky flavor but very smooth. Yummy!

 

Black Beer

 
Rounding out what I was able to try at the Festival was the Loaded Mac and Cheese with Nueske’s Pepper Bacon, Cheddar Cheese, Peppers and Green Onions. 

 

Loaded Mac and Cheese

 
This was rich and creamy, with a bit of a kick. It was a very generous portion that I recommend sharing. 

With it, I ordered the Florida Orange Groves Mango Mama Wine. What a fun name! It tasted exactly as I expected, very sweet and light with a hint of mango. 

 

Mango Mama Wine

 
All good things must come to an end and such is the case with the Festival. I never get to enjoy as much of it as I want, but it’s always a joy. As I left the park one night, this was my sight. 

 

Goodnight, Epcot! Until next time!

 
I was reminded how lucky I am to live in a free country where all this fancy food is a real luxury, as is the vacation itself. 

What was your favorite Festival dish?

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Five Halloween Faves

Happy Halloween!

Halloween is my second favorite holiday. What’s not to love? Cute decorations, pumpkin everything, costumes, treats, candy. I love it all!  I want to share with you a few of the ways I’ve enjoyed the spookiest season this year. 

I kicked off this Halloween season, as I almost always do, with a trip to Walt Disney World Resort. While I decided to skip Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party this year, I still enjoyed the Mickey-themed Halloween decorations. 

 

Glowing Mickey in Magic Kingdom

 
I also enjoyed a fondant workshop led by celebrity cake artist Bronwen Weber, which you can read about here. I made sweet Halloween fondant figures while sipping Prosecco and eating cake.  There’s nothing scary about that, except maybe the quality of my fondant work! That tongue!

My Fondant Ghost

Cute Halloween leggings from LuLaRoe are also a favorite of mine this year. How fun are these?

 

LuLaRoe Halloween Leggings

 
I made a yummy Halloween dessert for a work party, Dirt and Worms. It’s a confection basically made of pudding, cream cheese and Cool Whip with crushed Oreo cookies and gummy worms. 

 

Dirt and Worms Dessert

 
Finally, today I’ll be celebrating with one of my favorite events of the entire year, Halloween in the Hospital. Each department at work has a booth, themed as we choose, and the patients and their siblings get to trick or treat. Can you guess our theme? Here’s a hint. I’m going to be a star fish. Look for photos on Instagram later today. I’m squareliferoundworld

I hope everyone has a safe and fun Halloween!

How are you celebrating? Tell me in the comments. 

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Why Square Life Round World?

 

Square Life Round World


Y’all may have figured out by now that I’ve changed the name of my blog. More changes are coming eventually, including a new look, although I don’t have a timeline to share just yet. I also have some cleaning up to do of my existing site to completely convert to the new name, so please be patient with me. I do have all of my social media user names changed to reflect the new name as well. But, why? Why the new name and what does it mean?

It’s pretty simple, actually. I’ve felt for a long time that I was trying to fit my square peg of a life into the world’s round hole in a lot of different areas. However, over the last year I’ve come to terms with a lot of what I think has caused me to feel that way. So, I’ve decided to embrace it. My life fits the way it should. It’s not necessarily the life I imagined for myself or the life I would have picked, but that’s ok. In some ways, it’s even better. 

I started My Glass Sneaker over three years ago as my voice while I made an attempt at becoming an athlete. I thought there would be people who could relate to my story, the story of an inactive, overweight person becoming, for lack of a better word, a runner, and there were. Well, the reality is, eight half marathons, one 10 nautical miler, two 10 milers and countless 5ks and 10ks later, I’m no closer to becoming an athlete than I was 5 years ago when I began to try. And that’s ok. I’m still healthier and stronger than I was, with a lot more stamina, and I now know that I can accomplish more than I thought I could. But an athlete I am not, and an athlete I will probably never be. Plus, there is so much more to my life than training and races, and those other aspects of my life felt out of place in My Glass Sneaker. I sort of lost my inspiration when there was less I wanted to write about that would fit. It became clear to me that I hadn’t lost my inspiration to write, just my inspiration to write for the blog as it was.  

I’m still running Disney, but there’s more to me than that.

I’ve also gone through a major career change in the last year and a half, easily the best decision of my life. I left a 15-year career in banking and finance to become a professional fundraiser. I enjoyed banking for many years. It was a great career. Until it wasn’t. And when it wasn’t, it really wasn’t. I stayed about five years longer than I should have, partly because I still had hope it could be good again and partly because I truly didn’t believe I was qualified to do anything else. But as my CEO at my current job always says, growth does not happen in the comfort zone. I’m so glad I was forced out of my career comfort zone because I have never felt as fulfilled in my career and in love with my job as I am now.  

#DoWhatYouLove #LoveWhyYouDoIt

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the role the Disney Parks Moms Panel has played in this. Here I am, a never-married, no kids Disney fan trying to land a role on something called a Moms Panel. I suppose it should have been intuitive that I was never going to fit, but it took me about 10 years to finally get the hint. 

You see, it’s not like I didn’t want to get married and have kids. I mean, that’s what most girls grow up thinking will happen. That’s what our bodies are made to do. But for reasons even I can’t begin to understand, those weren’t the cards I was dealt. And that’s ok, too. Sure, there are times when I’m envious of my mom friends. They get to help Santa, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy. They get to play with Elf on the Shelf. They get to go to school parties and field trips. They get Friday family movie nights and Saturday morning snuggles. Then there are plenty of times I’m not envious in the slightest. There are homework woes, ER trips, bad attitudes, and don’t even get me started on puberty, driving and dating. I have no idea how I would live through the last three. There are also divorces and custody battles. All things considered, I’m ok. 

So, I’m learning to, not only embrace the life I have, but also love it to its fullest. It fits exactly as it should, and I’m incredibly thankful for that. Sure, you’ll probably still see fitness posts sprinkled in every now and then. I haven’t completely abandoned movement. It’s just not the main focus anymore because my life is about so much more than that. Maybe, just maybe, readers will be interested in that, too. 

Have you ever felt you were trying to make something fit that just didn’t?

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Mix It! Make It! Celebrate It! Starring Bronwen Weber

Most people who are interested in attending the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival know about the kiosks located all around the World Showcase. For a few bucks per bite and sip, foodies can nosh their way around the World to their hearts’ content.  

Welcome to the Festival from the International Gateway

 

However, special events are also a huge part of the Festival. When I visited a few weeks ago, I attended one of the Mix It! Make It! Celebrate It! workshops. 

Admittedly, I didn’t do a ton of planning for this trip like I usually do. A few dining reservations and FastPass+ selections pretty much summed up all I put into it. About 2 weeks before the trip (last minute, much?), I began to peruse the list of special events taking place during my trip and found this new workshop. Even better, there was one with Bronwen Weber, celebrity cake artist from Dallas who frequents the Food Network. I was sure it was sold out, as all celebrity special events do, but thought I’d call just to be sure. Imagine my surprise when the Cast Member I spoke with told me spaces were still available. Sweet (pun intended)! 

Spaces were still available two weeks before the event.

Since this was a brand new event and I was visiting toward the beginning of the Festival, I couldn’t find out very much in advance about what I could expect for my $49. All the website said was we would leave with our very own edible masterpiece. What does that meeeeeeeeaaaaaannnn??? Still, I was optimistic that the Disney folks would do it up right, and I was not disappointed!

I arrived about 45 minutes in advance, and people were already beginning to line up. They started letting us take our seats 15 minutes prior to the event. I was lucky enough to score a seat at the front and center table, and I was thrilled. At each place setting was some colored fondant, a small pastry brush, child’s safety scissors, a skewer, a tiny bit of water, cornstarch and a cup for water.  

Place setting for the Mix It! Make It! Celebrate It! workshop.


There were also a few pages of instructions, which hinted at what we would be doing. They were hand illustrated by Bronwen herself, no less!  

Bronwen Weber hand illustrated our instructions.

Yet, I was beginning to wonder if I would find the value to be worth the cost. 

Soon after Bronwen took the stage, glasses of Prosecco were passed out.  

A bit of bubbly to set the mood

Ahhhh…much better! Then, we began to work on our masterpieces. Bronwen was an absolute doll, walking us step-by-step through each creation. We made a pumpkin, ghost and bat, all out of fondant.  

Fondant pumpkin made by yours truly

 

My ghost-my fondant skills are a bit scary!

 

My bat–clearly I don’t need to quit my day job.


I’ve never worked with fondant before because I don’t like the taste, and the workshop didn’t inspire me to change that. However, Bronwen was very entertaining and personable.  

Bronwen Weber and Pam Smith, Festival hostess


About halfway through the workshop, huge pieces of neopolitan cake were passed out.  

So delicious!

The cake was made by Bronwen and her bakers in her Dallas bakery, Frosted Art Bakery. I have to admit it was the very best cake I’ve ever had!

As the workshop concluded, bakery boxes were passed out to transport our fondant figures home. We also each received a packet of recipes from Bronwen and a bamboo cutting board featuring the Festival logo as a very nice take-away gift.  

Each attendee received this bamboo cutting board as a take-away gift.

My conclusion? I found the workshop to be, not only an excellent value, but a fun way to spend the afternoon. I can’t say that I will use any of the skills I learned (I use that term loosely), but I was thoroughly entertained. With so many of the Festival special events rising significantly in cost year-over-year, I say bravo to Disney for offering a new, high-quality, mid-level priced event. 

What’s your favorite Festival special event?

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Freebies at Disney

The words “free” and “Disney” are not exactly synonymous with each other. Quite the opposite, in fact. Using them together in a sentence will often incite laughter among Disney veterans. However, I received several freebies last week when visiting Walt Disney World Resort, and I thought I’d let you know about them.

First off, when we entered our room at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, these little beauties were waiting for us.

These little beauties were waiting for us in our room when we arrived.

They are a set of pins as a gift for tolerating all the construction happening at the Lodge as they build new Disney Vacation Club cabins on the property. Mickey in a hard hat is just too cute! Wouldn’t you agree?

The next day, this was placed in our room along with an offer to receive a $100 Disney gift card for attending a Disney Vacation Club open house and tour.

This in-room gift was accompanied by another offer.

So, naturally I had to take them up on that offer. $100 Disney gift card for an hour of my time (which ended up only being 38 minutes)? Yes, please!

Thank you, Disney Vacation Club!

And at the open house, they gave me this.

I received this Disney Vacation Club tote bag at the open house.

I also attended a Mix It! Make It! Celebrate It! This is a new offering as part of the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival. Attendees received this bamboo cutting board as a parting gift.

This parting gift was given to attendees of the Mix It! Make It! Celebrate It!

Technically, I did pay for this hands-on workshop, but I did not expect to receive a gift for attending and truly feel the cost of the workshop was worth it even without the gift.

Speaking of the Festival, as an Annual Passholder, I received this very nice glass tumbler for attending the Festival on three separate days.

Passholders can pick up this free glass tumbler for attending the Festival on three separate days.

In even more Festival news, all attendees can pick up a free Festival passport with stickers you can place on pages as you visit each location. In previous years, you had to wait in line to get a stamp, so I think this new method is much-improved.

All Festival attendees can receive a free passport.

Here are all of my freebies together as one big, happy family.

All the freebies I received last week.

Not pictured are the 3 extra fast passes I also received for each member of our party for attending the DVC open house.

And it didn’t end there! When I returned home, this gem was sitting in my mailbox.

I won this The Jungle Book combo pack from the Disney Parks Blog.

This was a Disney Parks Blog sweepstakes prize I won. They conduct a few fun sweepstakes throughout the year, and in the past, I’ve won several posters, a tote bag and now this!

What freebies have you received while visiting a Disney park?

Disclosure: This post does not contain affiliate links.

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runDisney Releases 2016 Race Schedule

runDisney released its 2016 race schedule, complete with registration dates yesterday. A few things to note are the races which have been the subjects of many rumors lately. 

 

The Wine and Dine Half Marathon Weekend is returning, thus squelching all rumors that 2015 is the last year. Almost certainly it will feature a new course due to the impending extensive construction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. One of the highlights of this race, the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights, is in its last year, however, so it will be interesting to see what changes the organizers have in store.  

 Notably absent for the second year is the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10 Miler Weekend. Rumors continue that this will return at some point in the future as another half marathon weekend, possibly with a challenge. It makes sense, right? 13.1 miles for a 13-story drop.  

 Currently, my only runDisney race plans for 2016 include Princess Half Marathon Weekend. Some friends and I have a huge girls weekend planned around that. After all, runDisney races are perfect for that. 

What are your runDisney race plans for next year?

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2016 Disney Parks Moms Panel Search Happy News

  Hey, guys and gals! I told y’all I’d keep you informed of any news. Monday night just before the clock struck midnight EDT, many of the 2016 Disney Parks Moms Panel hopefuls (myself included) found their inboxes filled with Bibbidi Bobbidi magical news that they had advanced to Round 2 of the search. I knew my Round 2 notification was coming, but it was enchanted, nonetheless. 

  

So, what’s next? This Thursday morning, Round 2 begins with a short video submission and more essay questions, due by the following Thursday. My heart is a flutter with anticipation of what the video topic and essay questions will be. I only hope that I am inspired and can let my best shine through. 

Do you have news to share, too? Are you advancing? 

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Hello October

It’s October! This is one of my favorite months of the year! So many fantastic things happen in October. 

First off, it’s my Birthday month! It’s the one day out of the year I expect the world to revolve around me. Ok, not really, but it’s a nice thought. Still, it’s a day when I do get to feel more special than normal. I’ll take it. I tried to find a photo of a birthday cake from years past, and do you know that I could not find a single one? This needs to be rectified! Who’s sending me cake?

It’s also the start of boots season.  

Boots

Yes, I’m totally wearing my boots today. I realize there’s no real fashion rule around when to begin wearing boots. I mean, I see them all summer long, even. However, I have a self-imposed rule about when to wear boots, and October 1 is when it starts. 

Halloween! Aside from the biggies of Thanksgiving and Christmas, Halloween has to be my favorite holiday. I love to dress up! I love candy! Plus, what’s not to love about glowing carved pumpkins and the colors of black, orange, green and purple? This year, I have several fun things planned for Halloween, so it’s sure to be a fun month!  

I’ll think about what I’m going to wear this year another day!

 

Did someone say sushi?

 It’s also Disney month! Yes, AGAIN!  

I’m coming for you!

This time I’m going primarily to visit a friend, who lives in central Florida. I can’t be that close to Mickey and not pay him a visit, right? 

Yes to Disney Halloween decorations

 One thing I don’t get into very much is pumpkin spice everything. As a food, I can take pumpkin or leave it. Most of the time I leave it.  

I may not care much for pumpkin spice, but I’m always up for pumpkin shaped sugar cookies. Yes, I made these.

 I am looking forward to so much this month! What are you looking forward to?

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St. Jude Walk/Run to End Childhood Cancer

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. All month long, you may have seen people changing their profile pictures on social media to #ShowYourGold or even superheroes.  

Showing my gold


On September 19 and 26, St. Jude Walk/Run to End Childhood Cancer events happened all over the country to coincide with Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. I participated in the Memphis event, and it was unlike any 5k I’ve ever done. 

First of all, it was a walk/run, with an emphasis on walk. This made it perfect for beginners and even people who aren’t active at all. There was none of the “fast people in the front, slow people in the back” business. It was not about racing. It was all about everyone coming together for one reason and one reason only: to raise awareness for childhood cancer. 

There were also so many people participating in teams and staying together as a team. Many teams had matching shirts made for the event. All that unification was a really cool thing to see. 

There was so much gold, too! Gold signs, flags, pom poms, headbands, shoelaces and even socks were everywhere! My floor made gold and black tutus to sell as a fundraiser so those were all over the course as well. I even wore a tutu for the first time. 

Traffic was crazy getting to the event so I knew the turnout was going to be huge.  

Stuck in traffic but I couldn’t wait to get there!


Despite allowing myself what I thought was more than enough time, I got there just in time for a photo with my immediate work team before heading to the start. 

My work team

I also got a quick Periscope broadcast in (@myglasssneaker). 

 

Ready to Walk/Run

The weather was great. It was a mild, overcast day, although more humid than I expected. I absolutely love downtown Memphis courses. 

I love running by the famous M bridge.

The scenery is gorgeous, although I always forget how hilly it is.  

Does this look like a hill? Because, it definitely is one.

 

The Pyramid, which is now home to Bass Pro. Except, the hospital and finish line is in the opposite direction. Shouldn’t we be heading the other way?

 

Finally, we are heading back toward the hospital!

   

The finish is in sight.

As a chronic back-of-the-packer, I really enjoyed being with the pack for the entire course. Once I was done, I stuck around for a few minutes at the finish line to cheer people on. I also did another quick Periscope broadcast from the finish line. 

It was a great day, and I’m sure it will be even bigger next year. Did you participate in an event in your area? 

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