The path to success is a squiggle

Success- whatever that is, is not at the end of a predetermined linear path of must-do steps. It is much, much more to do with having made our own path to getting there- wherever that is we find ourselves in where we can say.
I’m okay with this,
I’m okay with me.

Fine article by Madeline Levine at on how, as parents we get in our kids way by insisting success means but one thing, and that they must follow the path, stay on the path, or else.

The Atlantic:

Kids Don’t Need to Stay ‘On Track’ to Succeed


A 10-year-old boy sits quietly on the sofa in my office, his legs not quite touching the floor. I ask whether he’s ever thought about what he’d like to do when he grows up. With no hesitation, he perks up and exclaims, “I want to run a start-up.” He doesn’t even know what a start-up is, but he does know, in exacting detail, the trajectory he will need to take to become wildly successful in running one. Not yet finished with middle school, he has charted the next 15 years of his life: He plans on applying to the most competitive high school in town, hoping that this will increase his odds of going to Stanford. He knows he will have to serve time as an intern, preferably at Google. He is intent on being a “winner.”

My young patient’s parents, teachers, and community are all likely to encourage this way of thinking, but they are only making his future chances of being successful less likely. In the enclaves of privilege in this country, part of the culture is more and more centered on a narrow notion of what success looks like and how to attain it. Money is overvalued, and character undervalued. The 10-year-old sitting before me is the logical outcome of this culture. He wants to be a winner, but knows nothing about the kind of work he’s signing on for.

Even if parents ascended a relatively smooth track from school to career success, it’s misguided to assume that what worked for them will be right for their kids, too. (See: the parents who push their kids to apply to their alma mater, for instance.) Encouraging children to follow a linear path makes them cautious and competitive, when what they are most likely to need are curiosity, a willingness to take risks, and a talent for collaboration.I’ve talked with people from all walks of life whose stories seem to show that it is rare to go from point A to point B without multiple detours. One of these people is Steven Kryger, who has lived a life full of sudden reversals. The first in his family to attend college, he started out at the University of Pennsylvania as a computer-engineering major before transferring to the Wharton School of Business. “I don’t think I even knew what ‘business’ meant,” he told me. “I never had any firsthand experience, because I didn’t know people in the business world.” After graduation, Kryger moved to the San Francisco Bay Area, where he got a position in Macy’s executive-training program. He initially enjoyed the position, but soon started to find the job unfulfilling.

“I started thinking, What would I really love to do? I figured being a fireman or law-enforcement officer would be a lot of fun,” Kryger said. So in 1988, he became an officer on the Oakland police force.

On January 20, 1993, while searching a house with his team, Kryger was shot in the thigh by a suspect. The bullet severed his femoral artery, vein, and nerve. Surgery and months of rehabilitation saved his leg, but he needed to wear a brace for physical activity. “The police department wouldn’t let me go out on the streets in that condition. They offered me a whole bunch of other positions, but I knew I wouldn’t be satisfied if I had to stay inside a building all day.” At 32, he switched careers again.

Thinking of the “amazing high-school coaches” who inspired him, Kryger met with the assistant superintendent of his school district, who advised him about the courses he’d need to complete in order to coach and teach math in the public­-school system. It took three more years of college, plus another year when he was teaching high school during the day and completing his own studies at night. But he kept at it. Two decades later, Kryger is the athletic director at Menlo­-Atherton High School, where he also teaches four math classes and coaches the boys’ varsity lacrosse team.

Kryger’s story is similar to that of Nate McKinley, who overcame a set of internal challenges before settling on the job that would become his career. McKinley started out following the path that had been set for him by his father, an international busi­nessman. He majored in global studies, with a concentration in business, choosing his classes at his father’s suggestion. After graduation, he worked at a financial institution before switching to a securities-lending start-up. At first he found the job exciting, but his enthusiasm waned after a year or so, and the three­-hour round-­trip commute seemed longer and longer. Eventually, McKinley told me, he decided he wanted to try something more challenging: “A friend brought me an old apple press, and I made my first batch of hard cider. It was revolting! So during my commute on the train, I would read about yeast, fermentation, and the hundreds of varieties of apples. My next batch of cider wasn’t gross; it was actually drinkable.”

McKinley persisted, and soon he had batches of five-gallon jugs of fermenting cider in his basement. A year or so later, he was ready to let others try his brew: “At our annual Halloween party, we had a tasting and encouraged the neighbors to bring apples to press and to have a taste. People liked it!”

McKinley was still working in Boston from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., but he often stayed up past midnight making cider. Soon he was making his first sales, to a local farm stand and a brewery. A year after McKinley went retail, he was laid off from his day job. “Although it was scary, it was a blessing in disguise. I could finally dedicate myself to my passion.”In another year, McKinley’s cider was on the menu at seven local restaurants, and his retail sales had expanded beyond nearby liquor stores and specialty shops to stores on Cape Cod. He was producing 5,000 gallons of cider annually, with plans to double production the following year. His wife, Tessa, told me, “He’s happier than he’s ever been, and as our kids make their way through school, I can’t think of a better role model.”

What exactly constitutes success is, of course, open to a world of meaning. Financial independence is one way to measure success, a sense of doing meaningful and fulfilling work is another, and raising a healthy family and contributing to one’s community yet another. Sometimes these varying definitions converge; sometimes they don’t. One of the patterns that I see regularly among people who consider themselves successful is real passion about the work they do: the kind of passion that makes them work harder than others, welcome mistakes and even failures as learning opportunities, and feel that what they do has impact. While money may be inherited, real success always has to be earned.If a linear progression tightly tied to grades, SAT scores, admittance to selective colleges, and high-­powered internships for well-­known companies were in fact the path taken by most successful people, we still would have to weigh its value against healthy child development, but at least we would have some evidence that our kids would one day benefit from all of the aggressive preparation, coaching, and tutoring. However, reality—that is, real people following real trajectories—suggests that this particular template is only modestly accurate. More often, a meandering and unexpected path is what leads to success.

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Mad Fer Movies – Film Series 2020

Mad fer Movies?
Three movies – one each month for three months.

Free screenings at UoT Robarts Library on St George.

That’s the giant concrete Turkey-wot-didn’t-vote-for-you-know-what looking building.
Media Commons, third floor.

All welcome.

Each screening will be followed by a conversation /dialogue, maybe a sojourn to a bar of coffee shop- your choice.

One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest

Dir Milos Foreman

FRI  21st Feb 2020
2:30pm to 5:30pm




Dir: Alejandro González Iñárritu

Thur  19th Mar 2020
6:30pm to 9:00pm


Patch Adams

Dir: TomShadyac

Thur  9th Apr 2020
6:30pm to 9:00pm



pdf Version: Mad Fer Movies



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Hearing Voices Workshop #1 Accepting Voices – Thu 30th April 2020

This introductory and foundational workshop will open doors of new understanding, in non-diagnostic non-categorising ways, a range of human experiences like difficult-to-hear voices that get called names like “psychosis”.

This workshop is designed especially for those who work in health and social services but open to all. Indeed it creates a richer experience when we can come together and learn with and from each other.

The world, society, and culture we have created for ourselves and each other is not fit for humans. Join us, be part of creating one that is.

Hearing Voices Workshop #1″
Accepting Voices

Thursday 30th APRIL, 2019
9:30am to 4:30pm

@ Inner City FHT
69 Queen St E

These re designed as small group, interactive workshops.
Spaces are limited.
Register Online now at Eventbrite.

Full description below…

Limited Spaces Available.

Tilt your universe blow your mind and / or gain a whole new perspective on experiences that we’re taught to fear and to believe that we can’t possibly understand. This workshop will show you tat you can understand, and in  simple, human terms.

We’ll be joined by some cool folks working at the intersections of trauma, psychosis, homelessness and in a system that many can see is overwhelmed and creaking at the seams.

No amount of more of the same will ever be enough so how do we do different?

You can start here.


“You gave me a whole new way of thinking about voices”

“I’m not quite sure what I learned nut I feel like my whole Universe has been tilted”

“Eye opening, Stunned”

Who needs to attend this workshop?

“Everyone working in mental health.  Scatch that:  EVERYONE!!!”

This workshop offers a beginning, an introduction to a non-diagnostic, non-medical,  human experience perspective understanding of the kinds of experiences – like difficult-to-hear voices- that are often categorised as “psychosis”.

A key part is making connections between pain, trauma psychosis powerlessness and disconnectedness we can experience when we find ourselves feared and discarded by society.

Hearing Voices Workshop#1

Accepting Voice
Thursday  30thAPRIL   2019

9.30am to 430pm
4th Floor, 69 Queen St East
[Queen n Church]

Spaces are limited
and registration is required.

Worker          $200
Community  $150

Register Now

Online at Eventbrite:

Click on the BIG RED BUTTON  or the link below to go to register now.


Full description below. There’s also a [pdf] printer friendly version.
Poster Only:           HV Workshop#1-Accepting Voices-Poster-APR2020

Full Workshop Description

Do you…?

  • Work with people who hear voices and who struggle with their experience of that?
  • Have someone in your life who hears voices and struggles with difficult experiences that get called “psychosis
  • Feel limited in your ability to understand and support them?
  • Feel frustrated at how the story that voices must mean illness limits us – not only the lives of people who hear voices, but all of us?
  • Feel weary of the notion that we must fear ourselves and fear each other?
  • Want to understand connections between adverse events, trauma , injury woundedness, pain and diffcult-to-hear voices.
  • Want to minimise the trauma you deepen or generate in your work with those who face being rendered powerlessness and disconected from society?
  • Feel ready to learn more, ask yourself “what else can I do?”.
  • Want to know more about how you can be part of the future, join us in enacting a world that understands ?

Are Ready to “tilt your universe”?

If so, then this workshop might help you tilt your universe and emancipate yourself with very simple and very human ways to understand and begin to act to support a person who struggles with difficult experiences that get called names like “psychosis”.

Our aim is that you can feel more confident in your ability to offer yourself as a one-person safe space to people who hear voices and struggle.

Note: If you’re looking for a workshop on how to diagnose and categorise your friends, family and colleagues and what dehumanizing names to call yourself and them, then know that this is not that workshop.

Our aim is that you can feel more confident in your ability to offer yourself as a one-person safe space to people who live with experiences that get called names like “psychosis” and that can be difficult to live with and more difficult to talk about.

Join us in enacting a world that understands voice hearing, supports the needs of people who hear voices and regards them as full citizens.


This Workshop is part of a structured and modular approach to learning, and is a  first step that is designed to offer a basic grounding but also foundation for further, deeper learning and practice in supporting people who struggle with experiences like difficult-to-hear voices that get called “psychosis”.
Participation in this workshop is prerequisite to other more advanced and learning opportunities, eg…

  • Working With Voices
  • Starting and Sustaining Hearing Voices Groups In Your Community
  • Carnival des Voix [running your own]
  • Working with Maastricht Interview
  • Facilitating Voice Dialogue

Note: If you prefer a print version of this description, try the pdf version:


Full Workshop Description

Workshop #1 Accepting Voices

This unique and innovative workshop offers you a non-diagnostic understanding of the kinds of experience like hearing voices that are that are sometimes called “psychosis”.

We offer you simple,  everyday language to show you how you can understand such experiences not as “disconnected from” but intimately connected with reality and in ways that can be overwhelming, painful, frustrating, sometimes terrifying response to the reality we share,

It also offers a framework you can use to connect and draw from your own experiences to help you truly empathize and understand how better to support people who might be undergoing such difficult experiences.

You’ll leave feeling more at ease with both yourself and your ability to offer yourself as a one-person safe-space to people who struggle.

Join us in enacting a society that understands voice hearing, supports individuals who hear voices and views them as full citizens…

What you can expect and connect yourself with a community of people doing just that.

This workshop will enable you better to …

  • Understand hearing voices [and other experiences] as a normal human experience, that can become problematic when a person is left to struggle without support.
  • Share simple data and stories about just how common it is to hear voices- how it is not in itself a problem and many people do – some cultures regard it as bringing great benefit.
  • Peer through and beyond diagnostic frameworks – resist the urge to catalogue and categorize everything you witness as “symptom”.and instead.
  • take an interest in the person struggling with their experience of voices and other experiences called “psychosis” as a human being having a hard time.
  • Begin to accept even the most difficult of human experiences as something that can be understood, explored and even valued.
  • Look within your own experience and relate with different experiences like hearing voices, visions, unshared beliefs.
  • Explore how you can be at ease in your role and be more real with people who have difficult experiences.
  • Offer yourself as a one-person safe-space to people who struggle with experiences like hearing voices.

Who this workshop is designed for…

We believe the hearing voices approach is emancipatory for all.

If, in your work, you work with you come into contact with people who hear voices and who struggle with that; and you have experienced how that can leave you feeling uncomfortable or worse, then we think you’ll find this one day workshop useful.

So, if you’re a doctor, nurse, social worker, community worker, housing worker, peer support worker, psychologist, therapist, police officer, etc. then it may be for you.

Families, carers, everyone. 
The workshop is also highly suitable for you if you love, live with, care for people in your life who hear voices and struggle with that – and you have come to realise the limitations of an approach that limits understanding to illness-brain chemicals and you are curious about how else you may understand, and what else you can do…

Workshop design…

This is an intensive workshop covering a lot of ground, together we will :

  • Gain insights from people who hear voices, and from others who work with people who hear voices.
  • Learn how we can think differently about voices and other experiences that are sometimes called “psychosis”.
  • Explore how, as workers, we can accept ourselves and each other, relax and enjoy our work: the better to offer support for people who hear voices.
  • Interact – with deep personal reflection,  shared sense-making and dialogue.
  • We will also share some simple, practical approaches that you can use in your practice on return to work.
  • Connect with resources and both local network and the global hearing voices community.

This workshop is designed to leave you feeling more competent and confident in your own ability to offer yourself as a one-person safe space for people who hear voices.

You will not become an expert in one day but you’ll have a good basis for starting and feeling more comfortable – and more human – as you do.


Please feel free to help us let people know about this workshop by printing, posting, distributing, however you can with your networks…

Or, hand to your worker, colleague, or boss, and ask…

“Q. When are you going to do this training?”

Printer-friendly poster [pdf]

HV Workshop#1-Accepting Voices-Poster-30.APR.2020



About the Presenters, Facilitators, Designers

Kkevin-healey-action figureevin Healey hears more voices than you can shake a stick at, so many that even his voices hear voices, and has done so for longer than either he – or they -care to remember.

Founder and coordinator of, Toronto Hearing Voices group, Anglophone Canada’s longest running, and of the Hearing Voices Café.

Creates and delivers innovative, taboo-busting talks, trainings and workshops that enable people to find new language, and simpler ways to understand surprisingly common human experiences that we’ve made fearful and taboo, so making life even harder both for those who struggle and also for the rest of us to understand.

Shows how we can make simple sense of trauma, pain, psychosis, taboo, and butt-hurt voices, and how they interweave and interconnect our inner-struggle with living in an outer-world that is fast becoming unfit for humans who built it and in which we keep creating results that nobody wants. 

After you’ve heard him talk you may join those who say they don’t hear voices but now wish they could.

Also Coordinator for the Toronto branch of ISPS-US International Society for Social Psychological Approaches to Psychosis.

Picture1Dave Umbongo
For many years Dave would only say only one word, now he authors articles at and moderates online support groups for voices to talk directly with each other round the world, and he coaches and co-presents in workshops for approaches like voice dialogue.

Enjoys creating memes: out of things voices say, about living in a universe that mostly comprises what he refers to as The Weird, and his own wry observations on the human obsession with calling each other horrible names, categorizing and crushing each other into boxes that don’t fit.

Voices have stories too: His favourite pastime is pretending to be a jelly bean, second is remarking upon how “voices” and “humans” behave in ways that are often very much the-one-is–like-the-other. Dave doesn’t really have a bio – like other superheroes he has an “Origins Story”, and like “The Truth…”, at least some of it, “is Out there…”

Mark Roininen
Mark has many years experience as “worker” with a major social services agency, and has worked with many who struggle with the kind of experiences that get called “psychosis”.
He shares his personal perspective of how being confronted with his own dark side enabled him to relate more simply and authentically with difficult experiences of the people he works with, in-process, freeing himself from merely following “the script” and playing “invisible worker” so that he can be both more professional and more human.
His ability to share stories of his own experience of learning how to do this work offers others hope that they can too.

About Hearing Voices

  • Hearing voices is intentional, ordinary language descriptive of a range of human experiences that in Western cultures has been mystified and made taboo, and that we have been taught to fear – and yet which are also remarkably common, likely much more common than you think.
  • Hearing Voices as Approach also refers to broadly emancipatory ideas and ways of working that accepts such experiences as very real and meaningful- if sometimes difficult to live with, and that seeks to share ways we can learn to live with such difficult experiences and support and connect with each other.
    This approach also includes many other similar experiences that can be hard to live with and harder to talk about and make sense of.

When we learn to put aside our fear of both ourselves and each other we generate possibilities, to create new roles, to connect with each other, and to find richer experiences of being human and co-create a world that’s easier to live in for all of us.



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Backpacks – Trevor Boyd


Trevor Boyd


My life is like this backpack I carry with me,

The content inside it brings complexity.

My classmates all have them, but none are the same.

Each has its own items, each attached to a name.

These backpacks get heavy, they never are light,

These backpacks impacted by everyday life.

Today for example, while sitting in class,

a question came to me, that I was afraid to ask.


I wondered if this teacher, standing in front of me

has pre-conceived notions of who I should be.

And what about the kid, who lives down the street,

comes to school every day with nothing to eat.

Her backpack is empty of physical things,

but packed with the feeling embarrassment brings.

Barry in my class, he sits next to me,

his backpack says Mary haunted by ‘HIS’ story.


He sits in his class with his shoulders up straight

but walks by the restrooms wondering what door to take.

My best friend and I sit together on the bus.

She has two mothers which can cause a fuss.

Bullies poke fun at her from one stop to the next,

By the end of the bus ride, her backpack’s a wreck.

They call Johnny names, cause he can’t read or write.

Though they’re only words, they keep him up all night.


And what’s even worse, they push him around.

His backpack went flying, and fell to the ground.

What I saw come from Johnny’s backpack that day,

was anger, self-hatred, self-harm and dismay.

As I helped Johnny up I whispered in his ear,

I’ll lighten your load, pass the backpack here.

My school is full of backpacks, no one is alike.

So how can YOU help make these backpacks light?

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Acceptance – Alex Jadad

“I’be been reflecting a lot”

Alax Jadad physician, on how he learned from both his grandfather and father – both physicians…

What if…?

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Crisis: Every two hours someone in Canada dies of Opioid Overdose

Why do people hear voices?

Three in four of all humans will at some point in their lives- often around distressing and overwhelming  life events.
It might be more informative to ask why do some people NOT hear voices?

Hearing voices is not the issue-that some people really struggle IS.

Why do some people struggle with difficult-to-hear voices?

For many who do struggle the voices we expect them to hold inside speak to the pain they also must hold inside because they can find no one willing or able to share in the burden of that pain.

Why do people take opioids?

To relieve the unbearable pain of living in a world that has cast them aside, condemns them and wants them to go away.

Why do so many people die of opioid overdose?

Because the supply of opioids is unreliable contaminated and poisoning and killing people whose only relief is the opioids they can buy on the streets. Sometimes, often,  people are buying other drugs but which have been loaded with cheap to make synthetic opioids.

What is harm reduction ?

Harm reduction is a broad approach that asks – how can we do less harm? It can be applied to anything, especially in healthcare and social services.

Harm reduction is bout reducing the harm caused by judging people for needing to use drugs to relieve the pain, offering safe supplies that help reduce infection, and deaths, to give people a chance to stay alive long enough to maybe one day find other answers.

Harm Reduction saves lives.

Recent report outlining harm reduction efforts in BC showing that harm reduction halves the number of deaths in some of the most vulnerable populations in our society.

Maybe its time to give a shit.


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The shape of stories- Kurt Vonnegut

I shared this with a friend the other day  we laughed a lot together.
Much wisdom and food for though t in here too.


When you share your story,
make sure its you who is holding the pen.

Kurt Vonnegut on the shape of stories.
Many, I suspect, will be fimiliar to you.

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Hearing Voices Cafe – Toronto 2020

Hearing Voices Cafe

Coffee and That Jazz
72 Howard Park Ave

6pm to 8pm.
First Monday of each month
– except when its the second monday because of holidays.

For those willing to open themselves to listen, willing to be changed by what we might hear, and to learn from and with each other.

Please note:
If you re looking to be told what to
or for solutions or fixes…

We don’t “advocate” anything:
except maybe, that is:
listening to many different perspectives
and making your own choices about your own life
– and having the grace to allow others space to do likewise.

If you come to preach or judge or prosteltise or victimise, dehumanise, then…
please, save your breath.

We especially welcome those struggling to support loved ones who from time to time finds themselves overwhelmed by life,
you’ll be able to connect with others in a similar place.

Please help us share our Poster below
Printable pdf version: Hearing Voices Cafe Toronto – Jan 2020

Posted in Abuse, Event, group, Ideas

Memorial 1000 – Toronto – 12noon Tue Jan 14th 2020

At least 10, 000 people will spend tonight and every night without a home in Toronto.

Fundamentally there are simply too few homes – for all of us- in Toronto.
Toronto has not invested in any substantial way in social or affordable housing for 25 years now, during the same period the City’s population has doubled.
This affects everyone living in the city..

Many who do have housing are only a step or two away from losing their home too.

Units are being built – not for folks to live in but as investments and use as financial surety on world money markets. one third of all homes listed for resale in Toronto have never been lived it.

People who live home less or on the streets die younger, often alone, often not recognized, nor even identified. people without homes are rendered “invisible” by the label “the homeless”. Sadly most have already been labelled invisible by being part of some other group similarly rendered not part of society, not part of the future envisaged by politicians we elect- hence by us. Time we changed and time we insist our politicians change and make housing a priority.

Join with others in Toronto homeless memorial, second Tue each month to remember the lives of those lost. At the homeless Memorial, Holy Trinity Church, trinity Square, next to Eaton Centre.


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Four kinds of Invisibilities – Lewis Gordon

Lewis Gordon

“This issue of invisibility is a very strange one.

A lot of the people who are being called “invisible”
have to be first identified,
and then be informed or told they are invisible, or a zero
so we have a kind of “bad faith” at work:

First you have to say they are not really there
then you have to find them
and then say that they are not really there

This kind of phenomenon is connected to something  that has emerged in what Lewis Gordon calls the “euromodern world”
[one of many kinds of modern.]

What the euromodern world has done, in its concept of modern,
what modern is about,
is to say that there is a future
and in that future
some people belong to it
and some don’t

Now, if you think about it
if some people belong to the future

And some people don’t
then in the present, if you have no future
then what is the status of your present?

And if that’s the case then what is the status of your past?
in a way you become retro-actively de-legitimized
if you don’t have that future
and that is the framework that sets the context for the kind of invisibility that I’m going to talk bout

There are many others but I’m just gonna focus on four kinds:-

1st  The Invisibility of quantity, linked to racial invisibility
Is, in effect, to say “those-people-should-not-be-seen.
So if we see any then that is “too many.”

2nd The invisibility of Time linked to land- Indigenous invisibility
There are vestiges of indigenous peoples all over the continent, yet this is this is a settler society, and as such it treats the future as settled. And if the future is settled then it means that the absence of indigenous peoples here and being linked to the land means that the envisioning of the future land is  land without them: in effect an idea that you can only be a native American if you belong to the past.

3rd Invisibility linked to voice – specifically connects to Women
A lot of women’s literature talks about having a voice “in her own voice”.
In many examples what brings legitimacy is the voice of a male. You cannot be political in society without speech and without speech you don’t have a voice. But the tricky thing is even if you have voice but you’re not heard – your voice s is useless if you’re not heard.
So if you’re seen in a way that makes you not seen, imagine in a way that makes you “not reality” then they simply hear noise from you, bu they don’t listen., then you’re invisible as a voice.

4th How these all come together around knowledge
All of these come together in n epistemological invisibility.
The knowledges of each of these invisibilities -“zero sums” – that knowledge doesn’t matter.






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