sophista: by raptureicons (pic#5293609)
Almost 10 months since my last update! I'm not sure anyone reads my blog these days, so this will be mainly a picture post for THE MEMOREEES.

In a nutshell:
  • I'm currently working three jobs (two of which I am pretty sure I am not qualified for), on top of the doctorate, plus a slew of other side projects and unpaid positions that eat my time like I ate Doritors when I was pregnant (I ate A LOT of Doritos because it was one of the few things my morning sickness could tolerate. Like I ate it for breakfast, lunch dinner. I ate Doritos in the bath.)
  • Willa turned seven. OMG. I am well aware that in my last, she turned six. She is all kinds of grown up now.
  • I moved to a new apartment. It was traumatic, but I built a bridge (it had a troll underneath it and everything) and got over it. Now, if I have to move again, I will seriously lose it.
  • I saw my childhood BFF this year after not seeing each other for about thirteen or fourteen years. She's a bio (ecology) professor now with two kids! It was surreal and wonderful. She and Alec talked about scanning chameleons brains at one of the rare, small mammal MRI machines at Alec's lab. 
  • I've caught up on a whole lot of TV this year, too. Downton Abbey, Walking Dead, The Strain and Big Bang Theory. Also still loving British comedy variety shows like Would I Lie To You. I have some kind of intellectual crush on David Mitchell, especially when he's anywhere near Rob Brydon and Lee Mack.
  • I am soon to publish three things (fingers crossed!). Sadly, none of it is fanfic or original fiction.  A neuroscience paper on PTSD (co-author), an Australian Government Office for Learning & Teaching report (co-author) and a chapter in a handbook (sole author <-- very exciting!). I not qualified for the first or last ventures, but when opportunity comes knocking....!
  • I climb walls every Friday and am getting the hang of it. Only took me six months! Hope to move to outdoor, lead climbing. We have a very eclectic climbing crew, which includes a marine biologist, a volcanologist and a detective.

There is a gang of sulphur-crested cockatoos that live where I currently live. When I first encountered them, we were all, "Oh, they're so pretty and tame!" Well, a few days later after they decimated the poor gum tree outside my apartment and tore apart the fly screen over my kitchen window, it became pretty apparent that this was some kind of thug gang that threw a hissy fit unless you kept feeding them. The thing is that they only ever want to eat bread, and they're NOT supposed to eat bread, but refuse to eat all other foods the internet says they should be eating. This is what happens when humans intrude on the space of native animals. Cockatoo thuggery.

I saw my beautiful little sister again after five years! It was pretty emotional for us (and we managed to get quite a lot of fun stuff done in her 2.5 weeks in Sydney!). This photo was taken at the OBar & Lounge, located a stomach churning distance above the city...and it revolves. Views are phenomenal, but it's not for folks with a fear of high places!
This was taken in the Australian summer, at the Blue Mountains in New South Wales (the State where Sydney is located). It seemed a travesty that I hadn't been there before given I've been living in Sydney for the last 17 years. So Alec took me and a girlfriend. We had an amaaaazing time, but man, the climb down was hard (there's stairs, but they're steep). My knees were jelly after the third hour. 

This is Dr Willa, Kid Scientist. Taken at our much-loved and missed, old apartment. RIP, old place *sniff*

So sue me, I take pics of food. This was a particularly excellent breakfast at a cafe in Hyde Park, Sydney City,

Willa at our local Climbing Gym. She's pretty good!

FatFat on my couch. It's warm now, which means Alec will shave him again. LOLs will ensue!

I saw Steven Pinker at the Sydney Opera House's Festival of Dangerous Ideas! And then......

I fell down the stairs AT THE FRIGGING OPERA HOUSE and this happened :(

Which is why I bought these boots this weekend for Zedtown 2014, in two weeks. Spent $100 on them, but they'll save my life. They will serve to brace and support my bad ankle quite nicely. Still haven't worked out how I'm going to run away, though.

But I'm sure these strapping blokes will help me :D Here is 50% of my team this year (which will include other ladies!). This photo was taken just this past weekend, on a training and recon mission to Sydney Uni.

Willa's Year 1 class went to the NSW Art Gallery. I was one of the Helper Mummies. This was my assigned seven kids to mind. I lost ZERO! :)

One of my BFFs turned 30 so we threw her a party befitting her awesomeness. I went as our favourite, rum-loving anti-hero.

I saw Coriolanus, staring this guy^^. No, not live at the Donmar in London! Rather, they screened a live taping of the play at the Dendy Theatre in Sydney (at an ungodly hour of the morning) as it was being performed in London. Quite convoluted in terms of screening organisation, but it was a sell-out show. The theatre was FULL of teenaged girls. It was very confusing for some of the blue-rinse, pearl-wearing, Chanel jacketed Shakespeare fans who were in attendance. How to explain Hiddleston to them?

Me, on a wall. About to straddle a stalactite in a most inelegant fashion. 

This, folks, is Jaqueline Fine, a character from the Eldritch Horror card game. WHY DOES SHE LOOK LIKE MY TWIN? We may never find out. Now I know how Homer felt!

Willa tries her hand at Harry Potter fanfiction.


Taken on the morning she came with me to a work conference in the nation's capital. Dapper!

THE MOST WONDERFUL GOZLEME IN THE WORLD. We regularly travel to the other side of the city to partake in this delicious, cripsy, warm, spinachy, meaty, cheesy, chili-oily goodness. 

We have a picnic by the marina and play ball. AND EAT ALL THE GOZLEME.

I live in a very beautiful city. This is under Sydney Harbour Bridge, taken on our way to Luna Park (amusement park by the harbour).

This is what we did for Willa's 7th - an art exhibition featuring her 'life's works'. There was faux champagne, canapes, art critics, the lot. It was a blast! Sold some pieces too.

Like so. This is my favourite piece. I don't know what it's officially titled, but I call it, 'Woman After Having Children'.

Seven years old now. WHERE HAS THE TIME GONE, I ASK YOU?

This is what Willa does for fun, to scare me. At night. After I've watched yet another horror movie. I LOVE YOU TOO, WILLA.
Aaaand then there's Zedtown in two weeks. Will let you know how we go!
sophista: by querita (pic#5293600)

Jeez. Not sure anyone still reads this blog, but what the heck, here be recent happenings, for posterity and because I feel so bad I haven't updated LITOZA in ages!

It's not a case of laziness or a missing muse as much as Work, Family And School Ate My Brain And There Was Not Enough Grey Matter Left Over For Creativity. 

Honest! I've written about half of Chapter 23. It's coming along, I promise. And I have no intention of abandoning the fic, it's just that finding the time is very difficult.

I did a bunch of things over the last three months. The fact is that a lot of it took a lot outta me. Here it all is, in no particular order.

(1) My daughter turned six. Naturally I took her and five friends to Luna Park. Ye Gods! Thank the Nine Realms that two other mummies came with me to help with the kid wrangling. As it was, I lost my voice only a little. BETTER THAT THAN LOSING ANY CHILDREN. Nah, they were great. Most excellent, well-behaved little girls.

And sooooo cute!

(2) Co-organised an academic conference (and survived to tell the tale). I don't know how people in event management do this on a regular basis. I'm pretty sure our entire organising committee lost weight from stress! It was worth it, though. My boss did a great job. We ended it with a harbour dinner cruise on a private vessel. I am pleased to report that none of our delegates went overboard amidst the revelry (though we did break into 'The Lion Sleeps Tonight' during dinner...until I hid the microphone and when that didn't work, hid the batteries). I delivered a 50-minute presentation to a room full of experts that also contained the 'founding father' of my field (and somehow managed NOT to pass out). Seriously, I have MAJOR public speaking anxiety that I suspect only prescription pharmaceuticals and extended CBT will alleviate. In my case, I jumped in the deep end and learned how to swim. It worked. 

(2) Was made co-chair of an amazing organisation in my field (still coming to terms with the wow of this). I think this may mean I finally need to get some business cards printed.

(3) Dealt with my daughter's unexpected school-related anxiety. Any parent knows what I'm talking about when I describe how gut-wrenching it is to have to separate yourself from your distressed child. Horrible.

She's heaps better now, but damn, it took A LOT of work and she's the bravest little girl ever. We did lots of practice runs to school, made checklists and there was cake involved after a successful day. Everything's better with a slice of cake!

(5) Co-wrote a neuroscience paper with 'Alec Mercer' (the real one). He's like, REALLY smart. And pretty cute, too. But don't tell him I told you ;)

(6) I was on the event photography team at the Australian Museum Eureka Science Awards (like the Australian science 'Oscars'). Here I am on the left, pictured with Australian food blogger extraordinaire and photography guru, Simon from The Heart Of Food. Red carpet, dinner, champagne and scientists letting their hair down to celebrate their colleagues. I was in heaven! 

(7). Wrote another paper in my field and signed a publishing contract with Springer to co-edit a volume of works from the above-mentioned conference. Still pinching myself. We have some wonderful authors contributing chapters. I have a boss who is very generous with opportunities and two doctoral supervisors who are the most amazing and brilliant women. I don't know why people like these seem to have so much time for me, but I am most fortunate.

(7) I killed zombies and then became one myself at the second annual Humans vs Zombies survival game (my daughter was livid that she couldn't go). THIS WAS EPIC. This was the most fun I have had in..well EVER. Eight beautiful hours of blood, guts and adrenaline. Three hundred humans to begin with, three anonymous 'origin' zombies (so you can't trust even your team mates), teams in SWAT gear, teams in camo, men in wedding dresses, Italian Generalissimos, Nerf guns and swagger. My team brought the swagger, ahem :) I tried to channel Linda Hamilton, though it turns out I have the fitness level of stale lamington. On my team were two bankers and our resident neuroscientist. No brains were dissected in the course of the game, but we did crap our pants and run a whole lot (see previous comment about lack of fitness). Still, not too shabby for our first time playing against what were essentially 296 young, fit, university students. We were part of the final 40 survivors, dying about half an hour before evac. That deserves a pat on the back, I'd say! 

(9) And finally, this isn't something I did or had much to do with, but Australia got a new Prime Minister and I am sad to report, it's not this 'Tony'.

Tomorrow, in my capacity as the project manager for the grant project I'm working on, I'm off to Canberra (Australia's capital) for a research showcase. No presentation required this time (phew!). Just a Q&A session (eeek?). My wee little one is coming with me and we got a pretty flash ride! It's as close to a holiday as I'm likely to get this year. I ain't complaining because ROOM SERVICE!

Anyway, in summary, for those following LITOZA. Chapter 23 will be ready soon. Here is an unedited snippet:

It was thirst that did it. For a while, she drifted in a neutral place where her senses occasionally registered light or muffled sound. Eventually, however, her thirst forced her to awaken. Her tongue felt as dry as cardboard. She sat up against mismatched pillows. One pillow was more of a cushion, really—covered in brocade with twisted, red piping. Wherever she was, it was clearly not meant to be the medical treatment center of Amarov’s fleet. There was nausea and dizziness, but it was not overwhelming. It was almost a disappointment not to be afforded at least a few minutes of disorientation, which would have given her time to acclimatize to…well, things.

So many things.

She knew she was on a ship in Amarov’s fleet, and perhaps in some kind of scientific laboratory, seeing as the site had not been fully prepared to treat patients. It was pointless to avoid inspecting her wound—the gunshot was not going to go away and neither were the stitches, which she now examined. They were neat and healing very well, covered under sterile, transparent film. She was wearing a, white nightdress that seemed to consist mostly of frills and flounces. It was huge, but it was clean and made of cotton. It would do. 

Photo Credits
Zedtown 2013 Photo by Jeremiah Yaoenberg at Sydney University.

sophista: by wendleberry (pic#5293603)



LITOZA is updated to Chapter 20. I wrote most of it on my laptop as I sat in Dubs’ piano teacher’s living room, during lessons. She probably thought I was working (LOL).

Thanks to anyone who voted for me in the recent 2013 Hpfanfictionpoll awards. I have a hate/cringe relationship with DB, but am nevertheless stoked that it picked up a 3rd place award for ‘Best Legacy Story’. Unsurprisingly, ‘The Fallout’ won, which is exactly as it should be.



At the moment, I am on the final stretch of a Federal Government-funded research project (into the effects of radioactive spider-bites on teenaged boys).

Haha, no. Kidding (or am I?). No, seriously, it’s not that.

In addition to managing this project, I’m working on interviews right now, which have to be transcribed and coded and then it’s report writing for all of September. Am also on the organising committee for an academic conference in October, not to mention my thesis proposal defence is in mid-November. I have broken my panic bone. I am incapable of panicking, it seems. I don’t know whether this is a good or bad thing.

My PhD is freaking backwards! I’ve already begun collecting most of my data in less than a year, so I’m not sure what I’ll be ‘defending’ at the defence, considering the actual data collection will be all done by then. This is the benefit of being part of a larger research project. My PhD is just one, quarantined section of the larger study. People ask me what I think I’ll be doing in two years. I have no idea. I say, “On vacation!”

And as I am writing this, an email has come in confirming a book deal with Springer! The contract is being prepared as we speak. I cannot tell you how thrilled I am about being a part of this. No, not fiction, this is an academic volume. If it goes to plan, I will be a co-editor and contributing a chapter, or perhaps more. I am woefully underqualified (not even being a post-doc!), but my co-editor is a tenured professor.

Exciting times. I, I know that I can't be as ambitious or as career-driven as I would like to be, because at the end of the day, I am a sole parent with a 5-year old who is my life's priority. Everything is a juggling act right now. All these balls in the air and I feel like the sligtest misstep will cause it all to come crashing down. I constantly worry about losing my job or getting sick. I can't take off on conferences because I have Dubs to look after. I can't pull all-nighters all the time because I'd be rat-shit the next morning for Dubs.

And she deserves better than that. So, I'll finish my doctorate and then take whatever job comes. Can't be too fussy or feel too badly about missed oppurtunities.  


Today I noted that I have become such a creature of habit that I barely have to place my coffee or lunch orders at the places I frequent. The service staff knows what I want. This means that I can get away with a grunt to convey either ‘good morning’ or ‘hi there’, and they, in turn, barely have to speak to me.

Last month, I tried to remedy this accidentally anti-social state of affairs by actually speaking. The results were 20% successful, 80% amusing.

“Hello! I’d like a—”

“Eye-fillet steak. Well-done.”

“Er, yes, and also an—”

“Iced tea. No sugar.”

Next week, I’m going to ORDER THE CHICKEN. Just to throw them off.

Dubs is going great. Light of my life, etc. She’s such a goober. Just like her mother. Two goobers in a goober pod. She’s started piano this year and had her first recital just recently. I was so proud I could have exploded from it.

This is evidence of our goobering.

This is a photo of the fort W and her friend built in W’s bedroom last week. I miss forts.

Alec has set up residence in downtown Stressville as he’s about to turn in a meta-analysis this week on the neurocircuitry of PTSD. There are some super interesting (read: harrowing!) cohorts in the literature, which includes 9-11, Tokyo subway sarin gas attack and Indian Ocean 2004 tsunami survivors.

I pointed out that you can get 
meta-anal from meta-analysis, though the less time humanity spends thinking about what ‘meta-anal’ could possibly be, the better.

Here is a photo of Alec and his breakfast, in the calm before the meta-analysis storm. Now, THERE IS NO TIME FOR BREAKFAST or blazers. Only tears of stress and sweat pants that haven't been washed in two weeks. 

This is Lord Willoughby’s t-shirt. I approve of both Lord Willoughby and his immaculate taste in t-shirts.

This is some black sparkly lip gloss my sassy friend Jan sent me.
THANKS, JAN! Now I  too can sparkle in the sunlight.

This is a photo from an AMAZEBALLS Game of Thrones (card game) themed dinner party.

The menu included: Dorne Berries, Kingslayer Parmigiana, Daenerys Dragonfire Peppers, Alchemists Black Fire Battle Salad (lol), and Wildlings shortbread cookie men. And there was honey mead, which if you’ve ever had it, you know is just so delicious.

Alec and I were in House Lannister. I am mildly disturbed by how much this agreed with us. We kept trash-talking the two members of House Stark. "Don't lose your head over this next move, ahahah!" and the like.

sophista: by the mc garage (pic#5293604)
It's been so long since I've updated the ol' blog that I don't know where to begin!

Perhaps with a heartfelt, I Hope Everyone is Well? 

Work is work. It was quite stressful just before Christmas as a PhD deadline coincided with about three research project deadlines. I was running on fumes for a while, and then the Christmas break happened and it was just marvellous! I had such a relaxing break, even if the last few days was spent on statistical analysis. The enjoyment spilled over into January, where I have finally started to feel like I might be able to pull all this off! There have been a couple of hiccups with the research project (invariably my fault, being the Project Manager and all), but nothing that we haven't been able to bounce back from *fingers crossed*.

In any case, here is the last 2.5 months, more succinctly told via pictures (as often is my wont!)

had to finish a literature review. The required word count was about 2000 and it ought not to have taken longer than a couple of months to compile and write. But you know me... I spent A YEAR and ended up with close to 16,000 words. Classic Concorde Fallacy. In the end, I culled it down to a more sane 6000-words. I have to write a 20k lit review for the research project. I'm just siiiiiilightly panicked about that! I'm meant to be working 14 hours a week on this project, which on the face of things seems like a lot of time. But considering I have to manage all activities, write reports, conduct/oversee data analysis, administrate, run about eight focus groups and undertake 30 interviews...I would by lying if I said I wasn't anxious about getting it all done. And done well. At least the PhD heat is turned right down for now. No thesis deadlines for the foreseeable future and thank Glod for it!

Dubs graduated from preschool. My wee little girl is a big, wee, little girl. This makes complete sense to me. In a couple of weeks, she starts 'big school'. There was also a visit from Santa on her graduation day. How cool is Santa, to have known exactly what she wanted? 'He' (i.e. us) gave her an edible zombie head ;) She had a lot of fun eating its brains. 
Christmas was spent at Alec's family's home and it was frenetic, which is about normal, I think! I only had Dubs back with me from 3 p.m. on Christmas day, so Alec and I had a relatively quiet and peaceful start to the day. I made salads this year--a wonton & prawn salad and a teriyaki salmon, rice and black quinoa salad. Oh, and a warm artichoke dip, served with a French stick. Of course, Mr Food was a machine on the day. There were deep fried, school prawns served with a salt and pepper dip, chicken satay, Turkey spring rolls, baked turkey, cooked prawns...
The highlight was undoubtedly Mr Food's eight-hour smoked, beef brisket, which is not traditional Christmas fare, but our Christmases are very untraditional anyway. The brisket was even better two days after, where I had it in sandwiches with plenty of mustard, or for breakfast with scrambled eggs. I could have continued eating it for daaaaays. Aside from her gingerbread treats, Alec's SIL's also made a trio of Christmas trifle (Mojito, strawberry and Christmas flavoured--with Christmas cake, brandy custard, fruit mince and candied ginger). Besides being utterly delicious, the serving size of these tiny trifles was genius--it was just right after a heavy, day-long lunch. 

Over the blissful holidays, I caught up with friends--one of them was a girlfriend from high school back in Singapore. She married an Australian guy and they have a pair of adorable boy & girl twins who are close to Dubs' own age. The couple, who are based in Singapore, undertook a clever house-swap with some Australian friends. This translated to an invite to visit them at their 'place' for a kid-friendly NYE. The house was big, beautiful and packed full of toys as the family that usually lives there have three kids of their own. Alec and I spent a gloriously relaxing warm day with the kids in the pool, or on the trampoline, or playing dress-ups. Dubs also spent some time bangin' away on a piano (see below, she wants lessons now)! We had dinner and then busted out the sparklers for the 9 p.m. harbour fireworks. The children lasted all the way to about 11 p.m., just missing out on the always spectacular Sydney Harbour midnight fireworks. They spent the last hour awake watching Hairspray on TV while us adults were making the most of the cool evening breeze out on the deck. 

On Boxing Day, it's tradition to head over to our good friend, Lord Willougby's cool, bachelor pad for his annual Boxing Day barbecue. I had Dubs with me this year, which turned out to be fine because there were other children there. Dubs, proving that she is more forward-planning than her mother, brought along a wheelie bag stuffed full of toys and craft. The kids had a blast! The company was fantastic and the food was great. The kids (and adults, alike) went truly bananas, however, when his lordship brought out a chocolate fountain (which was served with bananas...and strawberries). To give you an idea of just how much food there was, the leftovers we took home consisted of a lobster and four Balmain Bugs! My contribution to this event was a farfelle, spinach and asparagus cold salad with prawns. 
I took the seafood home and used it to cook dinner that evening. This meal went down in history as the nicest risotto I have ever had the good fortune of making. It was mainly due to the fine stock produced from the discarded shellfish portions. I ended up creating a light risotto with huge chunks of lobster, Balmain Bugs and prawns dispersed throughout. Alec went back for seconds and thirds, the next day. 

And those were the main events for December 2012, pretty much! Other bits and pieces include...
 Dubs' first PC. Big day :)

This (yummy) Jurassic dinner landscape.
I guarantee will result in 100% of all the vegies consumed 100% of the time ;) 


Watching Star Wars for the first time at Lord Willoughby's, whose home is something of a movie theatre to begin with. Would have been an ace day if she didn't fall asleep half way through A New Hope!
We shaved Rockenroll all over, except for his 'mane', because of the heat (and because of the LOLs)

Here be my mother's OTTER, Colin Raju. He enjoys cuddles and playing with shoes. Uhuh.

 Sunday night--fun with liquid chalk...until it gets on the walls, on the carpet, on your sheets...

And that's it from me! HOW THE HECK ARE YOU?! :)
sophista: by raptureicons (pic#5293609)
First of a regular instalment entitled:


OK? Good. 

Number #1. No Light No Light (X-men)

This is just all kinds of well done. I've noticed that Florence & the Machine is very commonly used in song vids because the music is just so dramatic. 

sophista: (pic#5293440)
It looks like there's no way to rescue all the missing comments on my imported entries from LJ. But DW have provided a tool to delete all imported content and basically start the import all over again. I'm in the middle of doing that. Hopefully my next import attempt will take, and all the comments will come across, too.

One of my bffs, the fabulous 
Eveeleva, has nominated me for something called a Liebster Blog Award activity (Iva, if you're reading this, sorry it took so long). This activity involves posting 11 random facts about yourself, and then answering 11 questions from the person who nominated you. 
Read more... )


Nov. 10th, 2012 08:45 pm
sophista: by raptureicons (pic#5293608)
This glass of red wine is probably too full. I might have stopped after the 3/4 way mark. 

But I didn't. 

I had started folding my clean laundry, but gave up halfway and dumped the whole lot on my desk.

Dubs' hair really needs a good combing out since we started using this new shampoo that doesn't de-tangle as well as the previous stuff. But I'll tackle her curls tomorrow morning.

I really should have some dinner tonight. Red wine is not dinner. Especially not red wine in a disposable plastic cup...

But you know what? BUGGRIT. Yesterday was a trial. The next three months is going to be oh so hilarious! interesting. I work very hard, study moderately hard and our guinea pig is still alive after one year. 

Tonight, I declare that all the above DESERVES A GOLD STAR.

So I'm gonna take this here cup of red wine, and I'm gonna have a shower in the dark while attempting to drink it. And then maybe I'll write some more, or just watch Robin Hood: Men In Tights again with Dubs. It's her new favourite movie. That fact alone is UNQUESTIONABLE proof that we are related.  

Wherever you are, you've done well to get to this point in your life (because whinging and white whine and entitlement aside, being can be challenging). Robots have it easier (unless they're Replicants). Some days, I wish I could just turn off my 'emotion chip'. Like Data

It's Saturday night. Treat yo' self!


Nov. 9th, 2012 01:30 am
sophista: (pic#5139054)
Man, I really need to get my sleeping patterns sorted.

All my LJ journal comments are still MIA. No idea how long it'll take. Once those come across, the import will be complete. Oh, and I seem to be missing all my icons as well.

sophista: by wendleberry (Default)
Spent  Sunday afternoon hanging out at bwaaaaaine labs! SO COOL. My inner science geek had a blast. .

Last week, we launched rockets. We shot off about six of them in total. It was a bloody miracle that only one got caught in a tree. Here is a STUPENDOUS MOMENTOUS MIRACLE PHOTO WORTHY OF NEW SCIENTIST MAGAZINE, taken by the other kids' mummy on her iphone. I mean, considering how fast these rockets go, this is one hellovah great shot, right?!!

And then tonight, we put together the ant farm that Lord Willoughby gave Dubs for her fifth birthday. You can see the eggs in the far left corner. Dubs is waiting for a Queen to be born because I told her that she's the Lady Boss Ant and will have fairy wings and will be generally awesome. 


Oh, and I also updated LITOZA to Chapter 6. Chapter 7 is one of the reasons why I was so keen to go visit the Bwaaaaaine Labs.
sophista: by wendleberry (Default)

Hello Dreamwidth, I HAVE ARRIVED, and lookit who I brought with me! (eheheheh)
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