Monday, February 28, 2005

Little Victories and a Validation of Faith

About a year ago The Divine Mrs. M lost her glasses.

This was the second pair to be lost.

The being lost part kinda bothered me because it's not like we have a few hundred to throw around. And God knows I would never lose a pair. I've had glasses since I was about 7 and haven't lost them once! Although I do carry the scars caused by a father threatening me over my potential to loss them.

Her eyes aren't too bad so she was able to function just fine. What really bothered me was that when she drove at night or watched tv or tried to see something that was just a little too far away, we would squint...and look just like her mother. Arghhh! That is bad.

We didn't go out and get a new pair because she kept insisting that she would find them. "They are somewhere. I know they are," she would tell me. She searched the car, she searched the bedroom, she searched the basement. She searched everywhere. "Did you find them?" I would ask. "No," she would reply, "but they are somewhere. I know they are." This again made me go Arghhh!

So today, she drove out with Daughters No 1 and No. 2 to the Licking Valley Girl Scout Council headquaters (tee hee). Since she's a troop leader, every so often she heads out there to pick up cookies or paperwork or to drop something off.

On this particular trip she said yes to Daughter No. 1's request to visit the gift shop. In the gift shop, The Divine Mrs. M noticed a little shelf that held a pair of glasses that were just like her lost pair. In fact, it was the lost and found shelf and those were her pair of glasses.

We celebrated the little victory. I like celebrating those. We don't have to fork over a few hundred bucks! Yeah!

It was also a validation of her faith. I - notoriously - have very little (see here and here). She was right. They were somewhere. She knew they were. And they were found.

How do people do that? How do people just know something without being able to prove it? I don't live in that word. I want to. It seems to bring peace to many people. It has usefulness. These aren't stupid people. But my mind just doesn't allow it. I can't flip that switch. Maybe it's a maturity thing on my part or maybe faith is just an evolutionary survival tactic to dupe the mind into carrying on against all evidence.

I don't know, but how do I get me some of that?

Stay You.
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Saturday, February 26, 2005

The Saga of Howard's Hair

Okay, so Katie wants a pic of the hairdo. If you want that then you need to read through The Saga of Howard's Hair.

It starts out as a nice story. As a kid I had nice red hair grown long in that care-free sure-we-have-gas-lines-and-we're-losing-to-the-Ruskies-and-we-just-got-whipped-out of-Vietnam-Bad-News-Bears hair. It was reddish. It was nice. I remember people saying, "What pretty hair that boy has."

Then the unthinkable happened. I developed a rash on my scalp. I was 10 so the headshaving was no big deal, but then the fro grew in. Apparently puberty got itself an early jump on my head and changes were occuring. Not good changes.

First it darken. My God, the hair grew back a different color. This was darker than before. I now knew what Conrad meant by Heart of Darkness. At a certain length it also began to curl. Heavily. And man was it thick. This was bad. First, we lived in the south and I was a skinny white kid with an afro. What's a cracker to do?

Furthermore, this was the hayday of the feathered hair. Remember Matt Dillon? Scott Baio? Andy Gibb? Parted down the middle, feathered back just above the earlobes. That was the look. My hair had no part; it didn't feather, it curled. I looked like Albert Frickin' Brooks. I was an outcast. Neighborhood children started refering to me as "Brillo-head."

Then it got worse. The stuff was dry. At that you by now pre- & early teen year, I hadn't touched much hair. I didn't know that it was bad. It scratched my hands in the morning when I brushed it.

Then it got much worse. In the 7th grade I developed a horrible case of dandruf. With my jet black hair, the smallest flake stuck out showing me for the leper I was.

I tried to accomodate. I bought Head & Shoulders and the flakes eventually disappeared. But I still had this black, brittle-dry, curly mess. I only made it worse by going to the worst hair places. My embarrasement drove me to back-alley barbers who were untrained and unlicensed by the state of Indiana. These were my lost weekend years.

One day high school friend Dawn Tatum was over and berated me for my hair. She demanded that she see my shower. "You shampoo with this," she yelled. "This is crap." After calming down she went on to explain that all of my family had oily, fine hair and had bought the shampoo to deal with those problems. But that same shampoo only compounded the problems of my dry, thick hair. It made it more afro-ish and more dry. She prescribed something new. That night I bought it from a Korean grocery story on the other side of town and within weeks thicks were looking up. The scales had fallen from my eyes.

I was still getting cheap cuts, but the brittleness had stopped and my hair felt downright luxiours. Also, styles were starting to change. The 90s were upon us. My non-featherable hair didn't stand out so much. Then slowly, standards in hair dropped so much that I looked almost normal. Thank You, Grunge Music!

During my twenties, I went through a period of substantial hair loss and the afro look started to go away. I also started to prematurly grey. This lighted the look. Now at 34 years old, I'm going to a decent barber. Hair-wise, I'm a bit of a catch now. I'm one of the few men in their 30s not fretting about hair loss and fertively looking at adds for hair implants. God owed me and he came through - after I was married. I still can't get a comb through my hair, but a brush now does a little more than just push it around.

So not that you know the story, you can see the results:
This is the top of my head. See! No balding.

But things are greying and there's a tad bit of receeding hair line. However, notice the enticing sweeping waves.

The Saga of Howard's Hair continues...

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Friday, February 25, 2005

Stereotypes are Useful

Stereotypes are useful. They can often be wrong, but most times they are right on the money. They are stereotypes for a reason, after all.

What got me on stereotypes was a radio call in show I tuned out of quickly. Idiot Caller was bemoaning stereotypes and how stupid they are. Well, they aren't. They help in life and business.

An example from life: The stereotype of Cincinnati is racist city with racists cops. Remember our riots? My office is on the west-side where most of the cops come from. It's working class and blue collar. I've lived in a few cities and I can tell you, I think that Cincinnati is the most racists of all. I know a few cops and - ok, yes, they do seem alot more racist than what I think is acceptable. If I'm a black guy and two white cops pull me over that stereotype sure does help. I turn down the my rap music, I speak clearly, I say "yes, sir" and "no, sir" or I'll get my ass beat.

An example from business: Up until a few years ago my firm obtained clients from a series of seminars aimed at parents with college bound kids. I spent alot of time speaking to these people away from my family laying the foundation for my still nascent business. So I learned quickly. First off, I could tell by how the kids answered the phone if they were a) public school kids, b) Catholic school kids, or c) homeschooled. Remember, this is in a decent suburban area of Cincinnati. Public school kids were barely able to speak on the phone and almost always screamed at their parents in the other room that someone was on the phone. Moooomm! Some dude's on the phone. Very nice. Catholic school kids weren't overly polite but had the basics of manners - please, thank you, your welcome. Furthermore, you could understand them. They could speak above the level of chimp. If you left a message they at least faked like they wrote it down. Homeschool kids acted like professional secretaries; crisp, clear, and mannered to a disconcerting level. This knowledge was a deciding factor in spending a few hundred bucks a month to send my Lutheran daughters to Catholic schools.

How'd I use that in business? If the public school kids were especially egregious, I knew their parents had bupkis in the way of funds to invest. Most were ok, but had a hard time answering questions and setting times to meet. "We're just soooo busy," they would whine as I heard the tv in the background. Catholic school kids parents were organized, had files ready and most importantly, they could give you a yes or no to most questions. Do you want to become a client? They had no problem saying no. To pay the $5,500k per kid for school some worked 2 jobs but never had a problem with being too busy. Home schooling parents finances were almost always a total and complete disaster. I wanted to call the governor and get a declaration it was such a disaster. Go figure?

Because stereotyping is so sensitive so some I won't even tell you the group that always stands me up. They are none of the above. When I set a meeting with a person of this particular group, I know I can book another meeting at the same time because they will always - always - always stand me up. I don't know why and I don't care. But you can only be stood up so many times for a 7 pm meeting when you could have been eating dinner with your kids before you start to stereotype. I stereotyped and saved myself alot of wasted meetings. That's good for me.

Stereotyping is useful. To deny yourself of the life tool of stereotype is to deny ourselves learning from our experiences. That said, stereotypes are useful, but not always right. I live in Kentucky. Most people in most of the world hear "Kentucky", they think banjos, they think Ned Beatty and then they think ass raping hillbilly. There's no ass raping around me, but I'd honestly go into Harlem wearing a Klan hood than go into some of these hollows in Kentucky. Some of those guys are rough.

Update: I just reread this post and it kind of sucks. It'll have to do. I'll spend the weekend coming up with something better. Enjoy.

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Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Stewardship: We Are Made To Serve

That was the headline of my daughter's school's newletter. We Are Made To Serve?

This just doesn't sit well with me - this Christian guilt. O.K., so I'm not very religious and I don't take all that stuff too seriously. Heck, if you do you'll end up doing something crazy.

So I was made to serve? God created me in his image to serve other people? Him? And if I don't what is my penalty? And if I'm made to serve, doesn't that make me....a slave?

Good ol' Ayn Rand went into this much more completely than I can (there's a reason I named Daughter No. 1 Dagny), but no man (or newsletter) has any claim to me. I work and create for myself and those who I choose to work for (wife and kids). If you want to make some claim on me, my work, my production, you are making a claim to my very essense. That's slavery. You can beat me with a whip, or in the name of Jesus or with secular humanist demands that I care for others and play We Are The World, but it's not going to make me pick your spiritual cotton.

Maybe I'm overreacting. This is why I don't appreciate liberalism. It operates on the premise that I must work for others. I owe others something. If I don't pay up, it's off to the gulag. It's just not an outlook that works for me and - I think history shows - an outlook that is congruent with human nature.

So I had a school board meeting last night. Did I bring it up? No. I sat there and talked about the budget and building issues. Was it because I didn't want to get involved in a theological discussion with the 2 priests and 3 nuns that were in the meeting? Partly. Was it because I didn't want to cause too much of a stink being the only non-Catholic board member and new? Partly. Was it because I didn't want any retribution - intentional or otherwise - against my daughter who loves the school? Most definitely. So I'm a cowardly blogger. Oh, well, I've been worse.

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Monday, February 21, 2005

Input Needed for Real Estate Roundtable

On March 3 at 6:00 pm I will be doing a Real Estate Roundtable for The Sunday Challenger. Any topics that you - my regular beloved readers - would like to see me address. Here's who I have coming: a real estate agent, a mortgage broker, a real estate attorney, a home inspector, and my local property valuation administor (government official who taxes us poor souls in Kentucky).

If you had these guys at your disposal what would you ask them about the home buying process?

You guys really helped me out with the CPA roundtable. Did you see that? Here it is.

Thank you in advance. Also, I hope you got a chance to read my story on O'Neill's Barbershop that I posted earlier today. Katie has asked for before and after pictures. I think that's ok for tomorrow's post, but you'll have to listen to The Saga of Howard's Hair.

Stay You.

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O'Neill Barbershop

Here's a story I did for the Challenger on O'Neill's Barbershop.

I know Jim from my church and The Divine Mrs. M. finally beat me into going to him about 6 months ago. I had a long tradition of going to $10 haircut places. Great Chops, she called them. Guys, don't go to these places any more. I thought they did fine, but after getting a decent haircut, the difference is tremendous.

Jim is a professional. He is always thinking about ways to make his business better and service his clients better. I'm not discounting barbers, but not many in my experience do this. Not many people in any field do this. I know I've failed many times. But if you wake up every day and think "what can I improve on today" you will make a nice life.

Anyway, my hair looks better. I pay him alot more than other barbers I've gone to. He's worth it.

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Wednesday, February 16, 2005

I'm a Malthusian on American Society

The long dead economist Robert Malthus was not a happy guy. About the only premise of his that I remember from college is his prediction that populations grow geometrically (2, then 4, then 8, then 16) but agricultural production only grows arithmetically (1, 2, 3, 4). His conclusion: Mass starvation on a global scale.

He was proven wrong and I hope that I am also.

In the last couple days post, I moved more into the camp of a Malthusian when looking a our society. Here's what I mean:

The woman who got killed while trying to kill another woman for her baby came from a horror of a household. I'm sure her mother and raping father did also. I read about these families all the time, have known them growing up, and am distantly related to a few of them. They scare me. I stay away from them.

My concern is that these families never have just 1 kid. They have 4 or 5. They rape, damage, abuse these 4 or 5 and then release then onto society. These kids in turn do these same. So the dysfunction grows geometrically.

Healthy families (I'm generalizing here, but believe I'm right) tend to limit themselves nowadays to replacement quotients of 1 - 3, usually 2.

The Malthusian in me comes out when I look at this and realize that the numbers just won't hold up. Soon the nut cases are going to far outnumber the healthly people, or do they already?

It seems that there's nothing promoted on tv but white trash. I remember growing up groaning when Donahue was on because he always spoke so boringly. It was always politics or something of great cultural import. I click on Springer and the dysfunctional are paraded before us for entertainment. Where societal norms at least ostricized these people and relegated them to background of society, now they are raised up. It seems that the freak show quality is in every bit of entertainment.

Are abused kids in turn abusers? Definitely not. The human animal is amazingly resilient and as parents we get far better kids than we deserve most of the time.

But how long can we keep going on creating fatherless or parentless or abusive families in this society, hold them up for our entertainment and not feel the Malthusian consequences?

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Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Katie Smith Was Little Once

The other day I wrote about a local girl killing a woman who tried to kill her and cut out her gestating baby.

Here's the sad story of Katie Smith who was the psycho in that story. It's a powerful read. This stuff is going on. Now. Near you.

How did a woman so desperate for a baby, for something to love, that she planned on killing another woman and cutting out her baby end up dead in a pool of blood in her apartment?

As is usually with questions like these, the answer is "thank daddy"
Chapman first met Katie Smith after the Kentucky Cabinet for Families and Children investigated conditions in the Smith family home in Independence.

Cabinet officials removed Katie Smith and her three younger sisters in the late 1990s. Independence police were already familiar with Tim and Cindy Smith's address, as it was a frequent location for trouble calls.

"Tim Smith never worked. He stayed home with the kids. We were over there all the time. -- He'd be drunk and come to the door naked. -- That home was one of the most disgusting and filthiest homes I've ever been in," Chapman said.

"But Katie, growing up, was the caregiver of that home -- taking care of the house, feeding everybody and getting her sisters ready for school because her parents were
unable to. -- And then later she was ostracized by her whole family for disclosing the abuse."

Katie Smith told Chapman that for about five years, until she was 12, her father forced her to perform oral sex on him."
I've got alot to write on this but will leave it to another day.

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Monday, February 14, 2005

Northern Kentuckian Kicks a Little Psycho Ass

Sometimes I really like living in Northern Kentucky. We made it onto Good Morning, America!Here's the nice story about Sarah Brady from Fort Mitchell who almost had her baby cut out of her womb and ended up killing the pycho that came after her.

I know that I just picked on people that get themselves into trouble, but I'll side with this lady this time. By the news stories I've read, heard, and watched, she truly was tricked into going to a stranger's apartment. Honest mistake, sometimes people get killed by honest mistakes.

I'm glad that she and her baby are doing ok. I'm glad that she killed the lady that planned to kill her. In fact, Ms. Brady was on local radio today asking for prayers for the dead psycho and her family. Not bad.

However, I wish Sarah would be as tough on her boyfriend, Scott Hanlon. They've been dating nine years and Sarah's nine months pregnant. What's it take to say "I do"? And don't tell me Sarah might not want to get married to this guy. She does. All women want to get married. This guy doesn't have to so he won't. That's the way it works. I'm a guy. I know.

So that's my Valentine's Day Post. Enjoy. I'm off to deliver flowers and kisses to the three women in my life. And if anyone ever comes at them with a knife, they'll cut you! That's the way things are done in Northern Kentucky...along with the illegitmate babies.

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Wednesday, February 09, 2005


Here's the kid's bedtime routine in our house:

1. They go upstairs to put on pajama, brush their teeth, and wash their face.
2. They then pick up their room. When they're done, they tell us. We then go upstairs.
3. We read them books. 7-year old Dagny sometimes likes to read them to us.
4. They each have their own Beatle song. Dagny gets Helter Skelter sung as a lullabye. She's declined hearing these over the past years, but asks for it when she's really tired or had a bad day. Harper gets Get Back which she calls Jo-Jo. Sometimes I mix it up with If I Fell.
5. They get told they are Pretty, Special, and Smart each night. Lights off. That's it.

This happens just about every night. We do get off track but I think it's important for the kids to have regularity, routine, ritual in their lives. I think it's important for adults also. Why introduce the stress of the unexpected? Life will bring that to you. Especially in the home, there should be security and comfort. I don't want to move. I don't want to job hop. I don't want the kids in day-care that changes every few months. I just want peace.

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Tuesday, February 08, 2005

I'm Not Surprised

I easily tire of people. Not being around them, but just hearing and reading about how people behave. I find it hard enough to get up, work, pay the bills, and build a life. I don't have the ambition or drive to complicate it further.

Just from my local mid-western paper in the last couple of days: Here's a recent local story about a known rapist who raped again - two 17-year olds. Here's another one about a 20-year old raping and killing a 3-year old while her mother was in jail. About once every two weeks or so, the Artemis system (big display signs over the freeways letting you know about bad traffic) displays an Amber Alert. When the news clicks on it's always the father that grabed the kid.

I'm tired of it.

The common thread in the above three instances (almost always for Amber alerts) is that the victims knew the attackers.

In story number one, a sentence reads:
"Investigators said Mustin took the teens to his home in Northside Monday night and raped them at knifepoint."

Did they go willingly to his home? Most likely, it's to intice than control two teens. Most likely, he promised them something and when they didn't like what he had to give them, he got rough.

From story number two:
Stull, of Newport, said Bailer was watching her children over her objections. Stull said her husband, Henry "Jason" Stull - the father of her child - was living with Bailer's mother. "I told my husband not to let him baby-sit them," Stull said. "I already knew he was weird. He was 20, but yet he sat around with little children playing videogames."

Good God, the father let this creep watch his kid - his little girl. He's got no other job but to protect her. Please don't tell me the father didn't get some wierdo vibe from this guy.

From my Amber Alert example, this little fact:
The largest number of missing children are “runaways”; followed by “family

I read "runaways" as teens escaping massive abuse, but family abductions means more people you know.

None of these victims deserve what they got and the criminals won't get what they deserve. We're too kind. These kid's pain is caused by the actions of their protectors. Why doesn't a father teach a 17-year old girl not to go to a 23-year old guys house? At 17, 23 is pretty old! Why does a father let his kid alone with a 20-year old child rapist his jail bird wife thought was creepy? Why do mothers and fathers drag their kids into the psychosis of a relationship?

I'm just tired of it. I'm tired of the pain and suffering they are causing. What's more, I'm tired of organzing society around this group. I've had these people in my life - as family and as friends - and I run from them. I do what a have to to not be around these people. In my experience, they don't hide from you. A creep loves to show his creepiness. There's not many Ted Bundys out there. Let's help the harmed and let's put down the victimizers.

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Monday, February 07, 2005

Welcome Back, Iraqi Predictions, I Irritate Local Republicans

I did miss blogging. It helps me clear my head, mellows me out a bit, and it's just nice to communicate with people. During dinner and between meetings last week I would always start to wonder: Has Katie and Jeremy learned that the hip bone is connected to the leg bone yet? Has Crystal been totally Crystal Clear in her thinking? Has Sara wore in public that I "Heart" Reagan Shirt that I know she keeps in her bottom drawer? Where's Joann been and why am I not there instead of this hotel in Canton, OH? I looked at the little game controler on the hotel TV and thought "what the hell is that?" Joe would know. And out course, what pair of pumps is Madame Butterfly wearing? Finally, what does da Goddess think about all this democracy in Iraq?

Thanks all.

I have one big prediction in follow up to the Iraqi elections of last week. It's based on the fact that Israel seems to be the whipping boy for the left for the past 25 years. Oh sure, it is the only long time democratic outpost in the middle east - but they seem to think it's evil. I read an article somewhere by David Horowitz who laid the distain of the left on the fact that when Israel started out it was suppose to be a Socialist Utopia. When the went slightly rightward, the Left chucked them. Another reason was their leaning toward the USA stand during the Cold War. That did it.

On a similar basis, I think that for the next 25 years or so, Iraq is never going to get a break from the left. It's Bush's baby and anything Bush is bad. These memories are long. Afghanistan has been claimed by all and it will be lauded. Iraq is going to be picked apart for every and anything that goes wrong like an unwanted bastad child that was left on the doorstep of an already unhappy family.

No article in the Challenger this week, but I did dash off a quick letter to the editor. Now this diatribe against a Republican will get me in trouble. Here and here are the original articles I responded to. For those of you who don't remember, I am the former vice-chair of the Republican party and an acquintance with those involved. They are very nice people and I stepped down for business and family reasons. But my own State Senator Katie Stine led the effort to seat the lady I don't think should have been seated. She always has a friendly word and has invited me into her home several times.

Let's see if I get a phone call from anyone on this. tee-hee.

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Sunday, February 06, 2005

I'm Back and Kicking Ass

O-kay, I needed a break. Not from you, my blogloved readers, but from work. Things have just begun to crush me.

I last post about Grandma's Old Chevy and had every intention of keeping up through the week. The Iraq elections seemed just ripe for blogging, but then....

Well, the whole month of January is kicking my ass. I made two resolutions for 2005. The first was to seriously grow my business. As if by magic, things started clicking. Clients called, referrals called, some people called just out of the blue. I've been working late most nights. As of right now I'm terribly behind. But it's how the money is made. I have two seminars I'm working on filling. The first if a client appreciation dinner on February 17th. Anyone reading this who will be in Cincinnati that night is invited. I'm having a guest speaker so I'm off the hook except for getting my people and their friends there and paying the tab. I expect about 40+. The next one is March 17th and I'll be the guest speaker for a prominent mortgage broker's client appreciation dinner. Both of these should generate new clients which also means lotsa meeting and follow up work. Cool!

The second resolution was to get to the gym 3x per week. This one is with The Divine Mrs. M also. We've done pretty good since joing the gym a few years ago, but during November and December, out 3-4 x per week dwindled down to 1-2x per week. Not good. As of today, we've hit just about every other day. If I get home around 9:30 (happened several times), I put on the gym clothes and get there for 1 1/2 hours. It's gotta be done. So between work and kids and gym. Blogging is coming in last. Sorry.

But here's my excuses....

I spent Saturday running around for work. My work. My business. Half the meetings cancelled because of an ice storm that had hit and the rest of semi-productive. I then spent the rest of Saturday at the library with Daughter No. 1. I can't remember Sunday, but it was kid stuff because I was leaving and they needed Daddytime.

On Monday I prepped for a trip to Akron Ohio. Yes, Akron. Yes, oh, hell, it sucked. My firm has bought the business of a retiring advisor and this trip was to throw two retirement receptions for him and to meet his people.

The first night - Tuesday - was in Canton (see just south on map above). Home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame! I haven't watched football in about 4 years so I'm not all that impressed (hence, my blogging during the Super Bowl). Our hotel was near the hall, but I didn't see it. Did I mention the hotel? What a hotel! Just kidding. Since it's right by the aforementioned hall it was decorated in every available spot with pro football crap, eh, memorabilia. Heck, go here for a virtual tour. We stayed in the Dan Dierdorf Room which has a picture of Dan Dierdorf in the Dan Dierdorf Room. How cool is that?

The next two evening were in Akron proper. Or rather in two places meeting with people constantly. The first was a another Sheraton. This one is pretty nice. It is built along side a river and the river turns into some rapids just behind the hotel. Go see the pics. That glass protrusion sticking out. That's the large, expensive, and tasty restaurant. I had the lobster bisque one night and a stuffed chicken wrapped in prosciuto the next. As for Sara, say you're with me and she'll hook you up.

Whoops! Time to get the kids to bed. Sorry I missed you. Sorry about the writing. No time to proofread.

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