Journalism

Just A Quickie…

By Kiki Keane

I hope everyone had a wonderful New Year’s Eve and I wish you all the best for 2013!

I know it’s customary to make New Year’s resolutions. I only have a few:

1) Redo the 50/50 challenge and actually finish! (I’ll be keeping track in the “Kiki’s 50/50” tab and on Goodreads)

2) Blog more often

3) Write!

4) Get a paying job

5) Try, try, try to get that paying job in journalism

6) Do my own NANOWRIMO

Ok. That’s it for today. I’ve got some stuff to do, but I’ll be back in a day or two with a decent post. Promise.

 

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Categories: Books, Celebration, Goals, Journalism, Life, Nerd | Tags: | Leave a comment

Dear Readers, My Apologies Once Again. From, A Very Broken Record…

By Kiki Keane

Sorry for the very long absence, folks. Obviously I have not accomplished all my goals. What can I say? The holidays, illness and general laziness got the better of me. I did, however, accomplish one goal. I finished Fall of Giants by Ken Follett. I also read Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John Le Carre.

There really isn’t much to say. Egypt had a MB Pharaoh, there was protesting, gun waving, death and then there was no longer a Pharaoh. A few days later there was a constitutional vote and the people voted yes and the Sura Council has started. Tharir still has its die-hards, but they are not winning any fans in this part of the city, especially since the square seems to be surrounded by thieves. (This what everyone is saying, anyway.)

Unfortunately, I missed reporting on much of the protesting because of a particularly bad bug I picked-up along the way. Saw most of it play out on TV, though. I had a very interesting flash back to my J-School ethics class. There was a particularly heated discussion about showing dead bodies (particularly babies) on the news. I don’t way it was heated since almost everyone agreed that it was, at the very least, hurtful to the families. Those of us who disagreed knew it was losing battle, so we let it go after awhile. I remember thinking that for a country that has free speech as its very first amendment we do an awful lot of self-censoring, especially in the  name of hurting someone’s feelings. Here, in a country that has no such thing as free speech, there is no problem showing dead bodies, uncovered and uncensored. Sometimes there is even a guy poking all the dead man’s bullet-holes for the rapt public.

I do realize that I have pretty much written the same blog post three times. I swear I’m going to rectify that. It will be my first News Year’s resolution!

New Goals:

1) Read Anna Karenina 2) Write at least 2 blog posts 3) TOFL homework 4) Write non-fiction 1 hour per day 5) Write fiction 1 hour per day

Hope everyone’s holidays were great. Enjoy your New Year celebrations!

Categories: Books, Free Speech, Goals, Journalism, Life, Media, Nerd, Procrastination | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

I Am A Lazy Procrastinator With A TV Addiction…

By Kiki Keane

So… I have been absent for awhile. Again. I think we have established that I am a lazy procrastinator with a TV addiction, so I won’t bore you with excuses. Nothing much has changed since the last couple of posts except that I have traded in forensics for a holiday movie binge. Also, I have a new kitten. Her name is Haniya. She enjoys sleeping on my lap and attacking feet.

Other than the above mentioned, it has been life as usual. “How can that be?” you ask. “You live in a country that has been in the news non-stop for weeks!” you might exclaim. “The man that rules your adopted country is being likened to a Pharaoh by, well, everyone! He made weird, ambiguous comments about Planet of the Apes!” you might argue. To which I can only reply with the following: I am a lazy procrastinator with a TV addiction. I will also add, though I hate admitting it, that awful parasite called Writer’s Block, which took hold of the fiction part of me ten years ago, has spread to the non-fiction part. Maybe I’m trying to hard or not hard enough. I don’t know. I take comfort in the fact that Fran Lebowitz has suffered from it for 30 years.

I decided to try and set weekly goals for myself again. I know what you’re thinking. Why bother? I didn’t finish a single one before, why would this time be different? It might not be, but I have to try something. And yes, I do know what Einstein said about insanity.

Goals for the week of 30 Nov – 7 Dec

1) Finish Fall of Giants

2) Work related writing 1 hour a day

3) Certification work 1-2 hours a day

4) Blog related writing at least 2x a week

5) Fiction related writing 1 hour a day

6) Clean something (you have no idea how hard that is for me)

Categories: Adventure, Books, Elections, Goals, Journalism, Life, Nerd, Procrastination, Work | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Finally Done With The Packing! Now On To The Panic Attack!

By Kiki Keane

Holy Moly! Rachel and I leave for Cairo in about 30 hours! I am finally packed. Everything. My whole life now fits in a large duffle bag, a much smaller bag, a backpack and a purse. Actually, it is probably entirely to much, but I figure I can dump as I go. Or, if I am really, really, really, really, really lucky, I will soon have an actual paying job and will be able to afford a small apartment or room in which I will be able to store all this stuff. (And accumulate more, of course!)

Anyway, with all the packing and unpacking I’ve been doing, as well as worrying myself to distraction, I haven’t really done much else. I’ve only paid a little attention to the news (how about that 48 minute speech by Bill Clinton?!) and bought a few Kindle books. Here are the few news stories/analysis I’ve noticed in the last week:**

Syria/Arab Spring: Analysis by Richard Engel

Afghanistan: A Suicide bomber kills six at NATO HQ in Kabul. This story includes a video about Prince Harry’s new deployment to the country.

Russia: This is just giggle worthy! Putin is all dressed up to lead some rare birds in flight.

Lebanon: The new smoking ban in enclosed public places has many Lebanese upset.

Mali: Islamists Rebels Seize Control of Douentza

China: Here are a few photos of a an HIV-postive boy in China and his teacher. He was denied admittance into the local school because of the disease.

And some “fun” stuff:

What does your bookshelf say about you? — From the Guardian

Mexico City’s Aztec Past Reaches Out to Present — From the New York Times

What is the point of exclamation? (Yes, I am well aware that I abuse the exclamation point!!!!!! I like it, okay?) — From the New York Times

Oh! This made me cringe. Huffington Post published this bit about the books that make you look hot. I would rank most of these titles at the very bottom of the “Makes You Look Hot List.” Actually, I would put them on “Not Even If I Were Desperate” list or the “Not Even If You Were George Clooney And Naked In My Bed” list. I might make an exception if it’s the Chandler, Hemingway or Murakami…maybe.

**Most of the news stories come from NBC.

Categories: Adventure, Books, Journalism, Life, Media, Procrastination, Punctuation, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

We Are Back! No, Really! We Are! Promise!

By Kiki Keane and Rachel Womek

Okay. We have been really, really, really bad at this whole blog thing as of late. Rachel is still in the process of moving into her new place and I have been busy reducing my life into a backpack and medium sized duffle bag and watching a truly terrible show called Femme Fatale. It’s like driving by a car wreak; you know it’s wrong to look, but you do it anyway.

Also, I would like to share some happy news. I will be working for Toonari Post. It is unpaid and I still have to go through orientation, but I least I will have a place to publish and an extra set of news credentials. Yay!

For our first collective blog in weeks we are going to share our new goals. I don’t remember what mine were, but it’s a safe bet that I didn’t do them. I swear I’m going to get better at this whole followthrough thing.

New Goals:

Kiki:

1) Read a fiction book 2) Finish one of the trip related books 3) Make a Visa decision (they still aren’t answering the phone or responding to email)

Rachel

I do not remember my previous goals either but it is a fairly safe assumption that I have completed few to none of them.  Here are my new goals:

1) Complete a book either fiction or non-fiction 2) Work on my credit card issue (the issue is I don’t have one!) 3) Complete the moving process 4)Relax a little bit

Moving is really no fun, I can only console myself with the fact that soon I will be in a new home. There are 5 or 6, no joke, FOR RENT signs up in front of my house so at least once a day somebody comes by poking their head into the windows and asking me 5o questions about the place. Couple that with the fact that the tiny widow air conditioner is so completely ineffective that I cannot sleep  more than a few hours a night due to the stifling heat and you have a very cranky Rachel indeed. Yesterday I rode the bus for an hour simply because it was air conditioned.

In Other News:

I (Kiki) thought I would have to avoid the news for the duration of the Olympics, but thankfully news organizations have been good about putting other news on their websites. So, I have been able to avoid that jock-fueled, Nationalist weirdness as I read/watch the news. Although, I haven’t been able to filter out the Olympics completely. As it turns out this is the first time that all nations taking part in the games have women on their teams and there are two Saudi Arabia women able to participate.

Here are some stories I’ve been following:

1) Syrian rebels finally got a couple of missiles and Assad is rallying the troops. Also, Foreign policy experts urge US to get involved in Syria.

2) Is Mali a haven for Al Queda?

3) Clinton will be making her first visit to South Sudan.

4) The situation is deteriorating in eastern Congo.

5) Violence nearly at two-year peak in Iraq.

6) Netanyahu told Panetta that time for a peaceful solution to the Iran nuclear dispute is running out.

This isn’t news, but I love this article (the book is about to come out). It’s a wonderfully articulate article (with lots of examples) about why some of the most touted “literary” writers are actually bad writers. He makes a very valid point: just because you don’t understand what the heck they’re saying, doesn’t mean they’re literary or that your stupid. Actually, it most likely means they are actually bad writers.

 

Categories: Adventure, Books, Goals, Journalism, Life, Media, Nerd, Uncategorized, Work | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Apologies But Life Avoidance Was Necessary, Or Why Are Women’s Sneakers So Annoyingly Colorful?

By Kiki Keane

I apologize for the long absence. Rachel has been busy getting ready to move into her new apartment and I have been very distracted by Blossom and Two Guys, A Girl and A Pizza Place. I had no idea they had been put on DVD. I became obsessed. It was real ugly there for awhile.

The daily 90s sitcom marathons were no doubt an exercise in avoidance. Between dancing along with Blossom and Six and swooning over Nathan Fillion and Ryan Reynolds (together!) I had little time to freakout over the Visa situation (no one answers phones or emails), the lack of decently colored women’s sneakers (Why is everything white or neon and pastel? Whatever happened to just plain black?), the lack of “modest” but attractive dresses (Why are the only options skintight and Daisy Duke short or grandma?), the lack of real jeans options (again, skintight or mom or grandma), the fact that my Amazon purchases for the trip have been delivered but have not actually been delivered (they supposedly arrived a week ago) and I am six weeks away from the biggest life change I have ever had (and I have had a few) and I have no idea what I am doing. I’m not someone who “wings it.” I am planner and worrier and a freaker-outer (silently) and there is just no way to plan this kind of thing. Not really. Not in any kind of detail.

Okay. Enough of the drama. How about some actual important drama? Forgive me if these stories are out of date.

Here is the latest on Syria: Richard Engel is in Syria and here are his reports for Nightly News on Tuesday and Thursday and on Today. Richard Engel’s analysis of the situation and on the Shabiha and the rebel’s justice. Al Jeezera’s latest on Aleppo. CNN’s latest on Damascus and Aleppo. Here is the latest from NBCNews. This one is a bit old, but just in case you haven’t seen it: Richard Engel’s Rock Center report on his last trip to Syria a few weeks ago.

Here is a bit about Iraq: There were a 103 people killed in Tuesday’s blasts and according to CNN, suspected Al Qaeda militants clashed with security forces on Thursday.

Here is some news out of Egypt: Morsy appointed a new Prime Minister on Tuesday.

Here is a domestic story:  A short NBCNews story on the massive synthetic drug bust that happened recently. I put it here only because one of the stores that was raided is a local one. I always find it amusing and annoying that the only time New Mexico makes the national news is for something bad.

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A Trip to the ABQ, Haiku, Tarantulas, Age Related Vision Problems AND The News

By Kiki Keane and Rachel Womek

Pardon our absence, but we have been busy social bees the last few days. Yesterday was filled with adventure (a trip to Albuquerque) and pain (Kiki had to get her Yellow Fever, Tetanus and Meningitis shots). We also ate more than any human being should be allowed consume. We went to an amazing restaurant called The Elephant Bar and had quantities of ultra delicious food that it surely had crack mixed into it. (Kiki wishes to state that the food was good, but would not go so far drug-laced.)  We also visited the mall, a great bookstore called Page One and Trader Joe’s, which we don’t have in our corner of New Mexico. We drove and drove. We passed the Very Large Array, which I (Rachel) very much wanted to see but alas it was too late in the day and we did not have the time.

Light filtering through

Blue-white cirrus clouds above.

Rio Grande gleaming.

I (Rachel) was very excited to find on my porch today a package of much anticipated tarantulas. Two Poecilotheria subfusca spiderlings which are, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful off all tarantula species. These guys are not for beginners though, they have precise temperature requirements and they possess a medically significant bite. I also got a freebie Phormictopus cancerides. For the sake of Kiki we will imagine I received a box of three precious kitties.

My (Kiki) day was not nearly as exciting. I got a new pair of glasses and then had to buy some reading glasses to use  when I wear my contacts. This is what happens when you age. Not only does your distance vision worsen, but have to correct the part of your vision that was perfect before.

On a less happy note: The News

1) Today is the anniversary of the genocide in Srebrenica

2) Women protested the public shooting of a woman in Afghanistan

3) Photographer and Richard Engel remember Marie Colvin

4) More on Syria

Categories: Adventure, Books, Journalism, Life, Media, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Chaotic Thoughts, Enduring Friendships, Change, Unlocking The Shackles Of Home, Spies And The News, Or Happiness Found…

By Kiki Keane

My thoughts have been chaotic lately. I fly from one lame thought to another, never staying long enough to get comfortable, which is kind of how I live my life and is a core part of who I am. You could probably call me a quitter. I mean how many novels and stories have I left unfinished, movies half watched, books unread? How many colleges and universities did I attend and how many majors did I have? How many friends have I happily let drift away because to keep them was to much work? How many places have I left because to stay was to be shackled? Why shouldn’t my brain work the same way? That is a long-winded way of letting you know that the following post will be about whatever things my brain chooses to vomit. You have been warned.

I was talking to my oldest friend about a week ago. We have known each other for ten years, which is no small feat considering my commitment phobia and that my longest previous friendship lasted maybe two years. One reason our friendship has endured is because I feel no real pressure to keep it going. For example, I know that I could (though I wouldn’t want to) go for a year or more without speaking to her and it would be no big deal. And if we should see each other again we would treat each other the same. Time and distance is nothing, really. Anyway, we were talking about how much we’ve changed over the years. She has seen me turn from a shy, rainbow scarf wearing, romantic, heart-on-my-sleave idealist complete with rose-colored glasses and a penchant for falling into one unrequited “relationship” after another and into the somewhat jaded, snarky, emotionally unavailable, relatively assertive, decidedly unromantic, eye-rolling, soon to be adventurer that is before you. And she’s changed just as dramatically. So, I guess it’s change that I’ve been thinking about. Not just how we change or that we change, but how we don’t. I’m still an idealist, I just understand moral ambiguity and grayness and impossible choices now. I still want a grand romance, I just don’t need it. I’m still nice, but I’ll be damned if I let you dismiss me.

We also talked about our nomadic lives. Neither of us can stay in one place long without experiencing depression, anxiety and, at least for me, physical pain. We even experience a kind of claustrophobia on behalf of others who have never experienced the freedom and happiness that comes from leaving behind “the fetters of habit, the leaden weight of Routine, the cloak of many cares and the Slavery of Home” (Richard F. Burton). Don’t get me wrong. I envy those who are content in their lives, those who don’t feel shackled and enslaved by obligations, family, friends and their local physical boundaries. I envy those who have never wondered what it would be like to ride a camel through the Sahara, or never needed to touch the Pyramids for themselves, or experience first hand the wars we see on TV and all that comes with it, or require nothing more than a picture or a travelers words to experience the greater world, or those who do not need to know for themselves why the wonders of the world are so…wonderful. I like to pretend that a nomadic life style is one of true freedom, but the truth is that every nomad is slave to the wind. Whenever it blows we are compelled to follow it to wherever it may lead us.

On a different note, I have also been thinking great deal about spies. Why? Because they are fascinating people and because I could never be one. I prefer fictional spies though, especially the outlandish ones, like 007. Of course, 007 may have been based on a real person. Geoffrey Gorden-Creed claimed to be the inspiration for Ian Flemings, James Bond. If he is to believed, I would say that my previous statement was wrong, or at least not entirely informed, as Gorden-Creed was perhaps more fascinating than his fictional counterpart, certainly a less discriminating seducer (if what he said is true than he would make Casanova look chaste). Here is The Daily Mail‘s article on him. Here is Alan Furst’s @Google talk. Lastly, here is Jennet Conant’s C-Span talk/reading about Julia and Paul Childs time in the OSS.

And not to disappoint, here are some news stories I’ve been keeping an eye on.

1) Richard Engel just got back from a trip to Syria and shared what it’s like there at the moment and also some analysis of what Clinton’s criticism of Russia means if anything.

2) Some DRC news

3) Libyans vote

4) New commitment to Afghanistan 

5) I may have shared this and this before, but the destruction of historical sites really angers me. I especially have a fondness for Timbuktu and grieve for the destruction that it has suffered the last few weeks.

Categories: Adventure, Books, Elections, Journalism, Life, Media, Nerd, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

On Leaving

By Kiki Keane

A family member recently asked me, “Why can’t you stay home?” I know she was really asking me, “Why do you insist on going to places that are so dangerous?” I have a number of set speeches, which I recite passionately and which she rejects with equal passion. But that question–“Why can’t you stay home?”–has been nagging me for weeks. After delving into my past I came up with the following: First, I don’t really have a home. I have moved 20 times in 28 years and I’m about to move again. I am both an island girl and a mainlander and I don’t really fit in either place. I’ve lived in small towns and small cities and big cities and foreign countries. When people ask me were I’m from I say, “Well, most recently…”

Secondly, I’ve got the bug. Not just the journalism bug, but the travel bug. I get happy looking at a map the way other girls get when there’s a shoe sale. I get this wonderful ache in my knees when I trace the outlines of countries on my globe. The only thing on my Bucket List are places (except for the item “Read Anna Karenina”, which I have never been able to get through). Leaving and the idea of leaving is so much a part of me that the idea of staying anywhere for a long period of time makes me claustrophobic. I get sick and distant and, at times, down right mean. I have to keep leaving because staying might actually kill me.

Third, I like that I can shed my past every time I go somewhere new. If I don’t like who I am I can leave that person behind like so much sloughed off skin. Travel lets you reinvent yourself and, if you do it right, you will be changed.

I’ll end with this: “For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

Some News Items:

Syria

Egyptian elections and the ‘coup’

China’s first woman in space

And here is Richard Engel’s latest Hidden Planet (North Korea)

Categories: Adventure, Journalism, Life, Nerd, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

An Accounting, New Goals, Syria And Punctuation Personality Types, Or Why Rachel Is Now Called Wednesday And Why Kiki Can’t Find The Glasses On Her Face…

By Kiki Keane

Apologies for our long absence. Rachel and I were busy (Rachel) and lazy (me). Well, that’s not entirely true. I’m going to take a dig at Rachel simply because she’s not here to defend herself. You see, Rachel has been busy this week, but there was a day were she could have blogged, but she decided instead to play Cards Against Humanity into the wee hours of the morning… Actually, it’s not much of a dig. Rachel would the be the first person to confess that she chose a game over blogging.

Anyway, enough of that. I am here for our weekly accounting. Rachel is busy running around and doing things that self-sufficiant adults have to do. Put simply, Rachel accomplished 1.5 out of 3 personal goals and is 1 for 1 in the collective category. As for me, I accomplished 1.5 out of 4 and a perfect 1 for 1 for the collective! In truth, however, things are little more complicated than that, at least as far as Rachel is concerned. Let me explain.

Rachel:

Rachel finished one whole goal, which was to watch two movies. She watched The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (Swedish version) and The Yacoubian Building. The other two goals (reading two books and being optimistic) were only half accomplished. Rachel read one book: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. As for her optimism… Well, she’s decided that I am the best judge. My ruling is as follows: 3 out of 6 days. She wasn’t optimistic in the strictest sense, but she did try to crack a few jokes while practicing Arabic. And there were a few moments were she wasn’t all doom and gloom. Some days I am tempted to call her Wednesday.

So you see, the tally isn’t exactly 1.5 out of 3. For all I know, Rachel might think she was pretty optimistic everyday. Until I learn to read minds (it’s on my Bucket List) I will have no idea what goes on in her dark, dark mind…

New Goals:

1) Read 1 book 2) Study Arabic 3) Cling to the remnants of her sanity

Kiki:

As always, I was a lazy lady this week. I think sometimes that I was born in the wrong class in the wrong century. I am much more suited to the life of country lady of yore. One who lays on an uncomfortable looking couch staring dreamily into the distance or being fed grapes by very handsome, very stupid man.

Moving on…

I watched The Yacoubian Building, which was my one fully accomplished goal. I even returned it to the library on time! I read one book, which was also called The Yacoubian Building (my halfway finished goal). I forgot to call the visa people. Every. Single. Day. I would only remember at night (like right now) when it was to late to call, which would cause a small panic attack (like I’m experiencing right now). So there went goals 3 and 5. I feel like I shouldn’t make “not panicking” a goal, since I panic a lot. Everyday. Sometimes multiple times a day. It’s hardwired into my DNA. It’s what I do. And I’m REALLY good at it. But, I hate it. So, I’m going to keep making it a goal and maybe one day I will successfully not panic. It’s funny though. I’m always much more calm when I’m traveling and have no idea what I’m doing. I only panic before I go…

As for reading 1984… well, I had to take it back to the library (I renewed it to many times) so I was unable to finish it. However, I will check it out again (and finish it!) as soon as I read one of the other library books I have stacked at the side of my bed. Which leads me to the half unfinished goal: reading a book relevant to my trip. Now, The Yacoubian Building is an Egyptian novel. So technically I could argue that I accomplished the entire goal, but that’s not what I had in mind. When I wrote “one relevant to my trip” I meant non-fiction and while I have read a good 200 pages of a couple of different non-fiction books about the Middle East, I didn’t finish a single one.

New Goals:

1) Read 1 novel and a book relevant to my trip 2) Study Arabic 3) Call the Visa people 4) Read two magazine articles a day 5) Not panic

Collective Goal(s):

1) Study Arabic together

Because I Haven’t Wasted Enough of Your Time…

I came across this today. It’s called Your Punctuation Personality Type, in which you can find out what your favorite punctuation mark says about you. It’s made up, of course, and I completely disagree with most of them because I see those punctuation marks differently. For example, I really love and abuse the ellipses. I like what it says or doesn’t say. I love that it leaves so much unsaid and that you, the reader, get to decide all that is in the … I think it shows a healthy respect for the unknown. This is what my personality type is according to the post: An indecisive and flighty person. You lose your train of thought easily. You are a follower and like to let other people take the risks. You often misplace your keys or spend ten minutes looking for the glasses you’re already wearing. Indecisive? Yes. It’s not because I can’t make a decision, but because I like adventure and because I really don’t care most of the time. Flighty? Maybe. I don’t forget the glasses on my face and I NEVER misplace my keys. Okay. I forget them sometimes, but only if I haven’t driven my car for a few days. Follower? Certainly not. Not unless there taking me to the ice cream shop or leading me to chocolate. I may not be a “leader,” but I’m definitely a risk taker. I am, after all, about to embark on a journey that could get me killed or imprisoned or just be an epic fail.

My other favorite punctuation marks are the parentheses and the exclamation point. I over use them. A lot. I don’t wholly agree with the personality assessment for these marks either, but they are half right. I am sarcastic, though I prefer the term “snarky,” and I am a very affectionate drunk, though I can sometimes be mean. It depends on what I’m drinking.

I also have great respect and am in awe, really, of the semi-colon. Mainly because it’s so powerful and so often misused.

Okay. Enough about the punctuation. How about some news? I’m only going to mention Syria because I have things to do and the sun is quickly setting.

It turns out that Syria’s regime is ‘wobbling’ and is descending into a civil war. Apparently it’s less like Libya and more like Baghdad. Here’s Richard Engel’s report on Nightly News yesterday and the bit he did with Andrea Mitchell today. Also, Russia seems to be giving the regime helicopter gunships.

Categories: Adventure, Books, Bull, Goals, Journalism, Life, Media, Nerd, Punctuation, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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