Archive for December, 2016

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Well, it’s the last day of 2016. Did that go by quickly or what? It seems like only yesterday when we were all scared to death that the world would end in 2012. Thanks, Aztecs! And how about the whole Y2K scare in 2000? That was 16-years ago? Da hell? And who doesn’t remember the Cuban Missile Crisis? Wait. Never mind.

Anyhoo, as is our custom here at the World Headquarters of Shoe: Untied, it’s time to list our Top 10 Posts of 2016 according to number of views. Hey, maybe you missed one, or sometimes it’s just fun to read outstanding writing more than once, amirite? Click on the links, man!

Without further ado, I give you our Top 10 Most Popular blogs. Enjoy. Or not, we don’t really care. Note to self: Be nicer in 2017.

  1. Remembering Andy – Of course this one is at the top of the list. Andy’s friends alone would put it there. For you new followers, Andy was one of my best friends for over 50-years. He left us last summer, but his memory will remain. Always. As of today, 61,146 people have read my story about Andy.
  2. The Remnants of Old Route 50 – Now this one came as a surprise. I’d always wanted to take some photos of the old road because it’s interesting to me. I had no idea so many other people would be interested too. It has 50,022 views as of this morning.
  3. The Origin of the Bearcats and the Black & Gold – Another pleasant surprise. I figured the target audience for this one would be rather limited, but to my shock 44,430 folks have read about the origin of my beloved Paint Valley High School’s mascot and school colors. It is a fascinating story though, I have to admit.
  4.  Sara’s Last Wish – This was a pretty straightforward story about a very special young lady named Sara Embree. Sara worked for me when I was the Athletic Director, and there’s never been a greater fan of the Bearcats. To date 39,964 people have read about Sara. I hope in some small way it helps keep her memory alive.
  5. Regarding Beach Midgets – I actually posted this 3-years ago but reposted it last summer. It’s just a short, humorous story but for whatever reason people love it. And not one little person has complained. Yet. 39,516 views in this year alone.
  6. WE ARE PAINT VALLEY – This is a recent blog I wrote after we lost another beautiful, special young life at our small rural school here in southern Ohio. 35,245 views so far.
  7. The Craziest Game – A story about the wildest athletic event I’ve ever been a part of. It may be hard to believe, but every word is true. 34,230 people have read about it.
  8. 9 Things I Learned From watching “15 Septembers Later” – Another bit of a surprise, at least to me. The story was basically me reviewing the documentary “15 Septembers Later.” 33,156 people have read it.
  9. The Clowns Are Coming – Shoe: Untied has a long and sometimes horrifying history with clowns, and one actually threatened my life once. Sort of. The link to that story is in the post. Anyhoo, 31,153 people read it this one.
  10. Robbery Thwarted: Sparky 1, Bad Guy 0 – 31,142 people have read about my latest Sparky story. Spark is an endless source of Shoe: Untied material, and all you have to do is type “Sparky” into my search box to see why. In this Sparky Tale, my best friend took umbrage to somebody who tried to reach in my jeep and swipe my iPhone while I was in a store. Whoever it was got the surprise of their life.

So there ya go, 2016’s Top 10. I hope everyone has a happy and prosperous new year.*

*Especially me. 

 

Heavenly tasty goodness.

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Aww . . .

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Beautiful.

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You’ve all seen them. They’re a staple of picnics, frat parties and beach redsolocupparties. Hell, I use them at my house all the time. No glasses to clean, man!

I wrote earlier today about the death of their inventor, Mr. Robert Leo Hulseman. Yep, I’m talking about the Red Solo Cup, also known as The Ultimate Party Receptacle.*

*I totally just made that up.

But honestly, when you think about it, it really is a thing of beauty. Elegant really. It has a simple, sleek design, a bright and eye-grabbing color, and it’s disposable! Brilliant!

But did you know this?

  • The solo cup has interior fill lines for alcohol? Yep. 1.5-ounces for liquor, 5-ounces for wine and 12-ounces, for beer. True story. Oh, the company denies it because its inventor was a religious fellow but there’s no way that’s a coincidence. We know what’s up, Mr. Hulseman.
  • The company implemented design changes to the original shape over the years, like indented grips to hold on better and a square bottom to make it more stable when used in party games like Beer Pong. Genius, man.

Yes, although Mr. Hulseman is gone, the Red Solo Cup shall live on.

And hey, how many kitchen items have hit songs written about them?

Yep. Looks like Marvin Lewis is coming back to the Bengals.

Good God.

In a position where marvin-lewisyou’re judged by your success and accountability, of which he’s had none, he survives.

Marvin is 0-7 in the playoffs since 2003. To put that in perspective, the pathetic New York Jets have won 5 playoff games since then. Marvin has outlasted 7 head coaches in Buffalo and 8 in Cleveland despite winning the exact same number of playoff games. He survives, apparently because he’s taken his team to the postseason. Actually winning once you get there is clearly not a priority.

Marvin is in the top three in coaching challenges every year, and he’s been successful in only 37 of 83 challenges. Success rate? 44%. That’s awful. In 2007 he was 1 for 11. Woot!

Marvin cannot win big games, period. Your success in the NFL is based on playoff success, a fact that Mike Brown apparently is not aware of.

Marvin’s teams are undisciplined and out of control, and he stands there unfazed by it. Still, he survives. In last year’s meltdown at the end of the Wild Card loss to Pittsburgh his team became unglued, unhinged and embarrassing. He should have been fired immediately after that debacle.

Still, he survives. Much to the delight of the rest of the AFC, he survives.

Check out that Potoo, man. Eyes like you read about. Potoos are large nocturnal birds that eat insects. They range from 8-20 inches in length, and they have large heads and large, broad bills with a slight hook on the end. And oh those eyes, man. And get this – they hide by blending in with tree bark. If they sense trouble they just freeze and they’re hard to see. Gotta keep those peepers closed though, because they’re so big and bright. Oh, and they also make a haunting call, which you can hear if you watch the video below. Anyhoo, Potoo Bird.

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Incredible indeed.

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See that man in the photo? Do you recognize him? No? Well, that’s a shame because he should rank right up there with Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison and the Wright Brothers. That man, my friends, is Robert Leo Hulseman.

Robert Leo Hulseman died on December 21st, and I guarantee you’ve used his invention. Hulseman was the inventor of . . . wait for it . . . the Red Solo Cup.

We have lost one of the greats. Here’s to you, Robert Leo Hulseman.

 

Over 99% of Koreans lack a gene called ABCC11. The gene is what causes the body odor. Only 2% of Europeans have this same mutation.

 

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Neoplasms are tumors, but you knew that already.

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After walking 26-miles in the snow along a desolate stretch of the Grand Canyon over 36-hours, a Las Vegas woman is now safe at a Utah hospital and recovering from exposure.

Karen Klein was enjoying a holiday vacation with her husband and 10-year-old son when their car got stuck in mud near the North Rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona late last week.

Klein said she’d decided to be the one to go get help because her husband had recently been in an accident.

“I said, ‘I’ll go, I’ll just walk up to the main road. I’m a runner,'” Klein recounted Monday.

Unaware that the area is closed to vehicle traffic during the winter, Klein decided to walk to the nearest main road in hopes of flagging down a passing car.

Hours later, she found herself alone in the dark.

Over the next 36-hours, she ended up trekking almost 30-miles of snow-covered ground with no cell service, no snow boots and nothing but a small pack of cheerios to eat.

As far as places being closed, we just didn’t realize that these roads were closed and these visitor centers were closed,” Klein said. “My husband and I should have done a better job of planning.”

I posted that entire article to get to the last paragraph. Why? Because I love it when people feel the need to state the obvious:

My husband and I should have done a better job of planning.”

Gee, ya think?

Kudos to Karen Klein, though. That’s a girl with a can-do attitude.

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Hey, I taught all through the 90’s, plus I had a kid who was born in 1988. Hence, I remember all this stuff. Do you?

 

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A guy told his grandma he wanted 100 things from the Dollar Store for Christmas. Grandma doesn’t like to be challenged.

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Some dude bought this for his brother. Inside was a gift card.

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Guess who was in charge of getting mom’s Christmas present this year? Rachel.

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Tina is 24 and doesn’t live with her parents. This is what they got her for Christmas.

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This guy got his dad a blanket with his picture on it because he always wanted to give someone a blanket with his picture on it.

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Seth is 27 and still living with his parents. This is what they got him for Christmas.

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Jackson wanted beats for Christmas. His parents delivered.

The twist at the end was a nice touch.

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Yep, that’s 36-year old Richard Jefferson of the Cleveland Cavs throwing down on 26-year old Klay Thompson of the Golden State Warriors. Life is good, and Merry Christmas.

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What a song.

ADKX33 BOB DYLAN at Mayfair Hotel London 3 May 1966

Boy, was this a hard one. How to narrow down such a list? First off, I had to come up with some sort of criteria, and after weeks seconds of deliberation I came up with one. These are songs that I simply never get tired of hearing. They don’t have to have great lyrics, although that’s a plus.  Sometimes it’s just the melody or the tune, and sometimes it’s sort of undefinable. You like what you like, right? Hey, I’ve admitted my appreciation of Kelly Clarkson and The Osmonds before. I ain’t skeered. And as for all you high-falootin’ judgemental musical elitists who don’t think my favorite songs are up to your standards, you can go straight to hell. Merry Christmas everybody!

So in no particular order, let us commence. Click on the title to hear the song.

Caroline, No – The Beach Boys (1966)caroline

  • Just a heart-wrenching, sad, gorgeous song. Touches me every time I hear it to this day. Brian Wilson’s writing at its peak: “Where did your long hair go? Where is the girl I used to know? How could you lose that happy glow? Oh Caroline, no.”

So Very Hard To Go – Tower of Power (1973)

  • Those horns, man. The Tower of Power horn section is legendary. Once again, it’s a beautiful song about lost love. “Cause I could never make you unhappy, no, I couldn’t do that girl. I only wish I didn’t love you so, it makes it so, so very hard to go.” Seriously though, click on the link and listen to the horns.

Imagine, Take 1 – John Lennon (1971)

  • Sure, the released version is great, but this pared down outtake is simply stunning. Recorded at John’s house, you can even hear someone say, “Quiet in the kitchen, please” at the beginning. Note: I own a piece of the front door to that house. Not even kidding. Thanks, second wife.

Church of Logic, Sin and Love – The Men (1992)church

  • Just a blast of Rock & Roll that came out of nowhere from a completely unknown band. Released during the height of grunge but not grungy at all, it has everything – melody, a searing guitar, and cool but rather weird and enigmatic lyrics. I can’t get enough of this tune. On a related note, I got to know drummer Dave Botkin on FB and am happy to report he’s a pretty righteous dude. Love. This. Song: “The Thing ahead sixty miles, do not miss. Not for the squeamish or depressed, Not for the unbelievers, truly obsessed. Something you just don’t wanna miss. It’s the kind of place where space explorers could have landed around 1963 when Kennedy was in Life Magazine, And everything was aquamarine . . . aquamarine.

Dialogue Parts 1 & 2 – Chicago (1972)

  • In Part I of this song, the lyrics are a dialogue between two young people with different views. The first person (whose lines are sung by Terry Kath) is very concerned about events of the early 1970s, such as war, starvation, and “repression closing in around.” The second person (whose lines are sung by Peter Cetera) maintains that “everything is fine.” Musically, the song is also a dialogue between Kath’s rhythm guitar and Cetera’s bass. As Part I comes to a close, Kath’s character sarcastically endorses the other character’s worldview, saying “You know you really eased my mind, I was troubled by the shapes of things to come.” The response, which hints at an acknowledgment of culpability: “Well, if you had my outlook, your feelings would be numb – you’d always think that everything was fine.” Just an outstanding song, and both Kath and Cetera tear it up on their vocals. Part 2 is the whole band singing, “We can make it happen.”Awesome stuff.

Have You Ever See The Rain – Creedence Clearwater Revival (1970)

  • In my opinion the best song by the legendary Creedence Clearwater Revival. CCR leader John Fogerty has said in interviews that the song is about rising tension within CCR and the imminent departure of his brother Tom from the band. He said the song was written about the fact that they were on the top of the charts and had surpassed all of their wildest expectations of fame and fortune, but somehow all the members of the band at the time were depressed and unhappy. Thus this famous line: “Have you ever seen the rain, coming down on a sunny day?” It touched me deeply, and I still love it today.

Sitting Still – REM (1983)rem

  • Listen to that jangly guitar. That was the beginning of alternative music for me. It seems rather unremarkable today, but that sound led to the creation of bands such as Dinosaur Jr, Beck, The National, Pavement, and yes, Radiohead, Coldplay and Nirvana. Kurt Cobain himself said that Nirvana was heavily influenced by REM. REM created the model for alt music, and this song is vintage, classic REM.

Oh Girl – The Chi-Lites (1972)

  • Again, a song straight from an aching, broken heart. 70’s R&B as only The Chi-Lites, and lead singer Eugene Record, could sing it. A beautifully sad song of despair, and one of my favorite tunes ever.

Acadian Driftwood (Live from The Last Waltz) – The Band (1976)

  • Here’s what’s beautiful about music – that a Canadian song describing the forcible displacement of the Acadian people after the war between the French and English could have such an effect on a 20-year old kid from southern Ohio. Robbie Robertson’s lyrics were influenced by Longfellow’s poem Evangeline, which describes the deportation of the Acadians. Just a beautiful, haunting, intelligently written song that still touches me to my core.

Like a Rolling Stone – Bob Dylan (1965)

  • “How does it feeeel?” This was one of Dylan’s first “electric” tunes, and it still soars majestically today. Rolling Stone magazine named the song the #1 rock song of all-time, and that’s hard to disagree with. We used to discuss this song in my 8th grade Reading class because it was so well written. Dylan, man.

Do It Or Die – Atlanta Rhythm Section (1979)

  • I’ve always loved the mood a good ARS song could bring to the table, songs such as “All Night Rain” and this one. It’s an ultimately uplifting song about surviving, and I loved lyrics like this: “Do it or die now, stand your ground. Don’t let your bad breaks go gettin’ you down.
    Even when times get rough, and you’ve had enough, you still gotta try. Do it no matter what the people say, they don’t even know you.” Rodney Justo’s soulful, heartfelt vocals make the song even better.

Nowhere Man – The Beatles (1965)the_beatles-nowhere_man_s_8

  • It should come as no surprise that the four guys from Liverpool were the first to write a song that made me think. Before “Nowhere Man” I just liked music for the beat and the melody, never expecting to learn anything. Still, when I heard these lyrics I was mesmerized . . . “Doesn’t have a point of view, Knows not where he’s going to, Isn’t he a bit like you and me?” You know, I was just a kid but I knew exactly what they were saying – wake up, young man, and see what’s all around you.

One Step Up – Bruce Springsteen (1987)

  • There’s just something about this song that hits home with me. Something about a guy trying to find peace and to keep his head above water is sort of universal. “When I look at myself I don’t see, The man I wanted to be, Somewhere along the line I slipped off track, I’m caught movin’ one step up and two steps back.”

E’s Tune – E (1992)

  • One of my man Mark Oliver Everett’s early songs, before he founded the Eels. Who can’t relate to these lyrics? “Life’s just an ugly mess, The angry souls in such distress, Still there is a time when moments can be sweet, And it feels like someone’s smiling down on me.” Amen brother. This song strikes a chord with me on every level. Period.

Over the Rainbow – Eric Clapton (2002)

  • Probably my favorite song of all-time, and this is my favorite version. I am touched every single time I hear it. Sad and plaintive, but uplifting at the same time. It’s performed not particularly slow, but not fast either. Mid-tempo I guess. Whatever it is, I love it. Oh, and it’s performed live, folks. Love Clapton’s vocals on this one too. And oh, by the way, if it’s not played at my funeral I’ll come back and haunt all y’all.

We’re the Same – Matthew Sweet (1993)

  • Rolling Stone called this quite possibly the best song of 1993, and I couldn’t agree more. Just a pure pop confection of jangly guitars and gorgeous melodies. Matthew Sweet at the height of his powers. Sweet once said he was inspired to play guitar when he first heard “Sitting Still” by REM.

I Can Stand a Little Rain – Joe Cocker (1974)

  • This is a song about fighting back when you’re at your lowest, and the melody reflects that. It starts out slowly but builds to a crescendo towards the end, giving the listener hope that it’s going to be O.K.: “I can stand a little sorrow, I can stand it till tomorrow, I can stand a little strife, Just another taste of life, I can stand a little love, But when I’m on my last go-round, I can stand another test, Cause I made it before and I can make it some more.” Hell yes.

Looking for Space – John Denver (1975)

  • This song is about looking for the definition of who you are, by finding out where you are, not only physically, but mentally and emotionally. The lyrics are quite profound in a simple way:  “It’s a sweet, sweet dream, Sometimes I’m almost there, Sometimes I fly like an eagle, And sometimes I’m deep in despair. All alone in the universe, sometimes that’s how it seems, I get lost in the sadness and the screams, Then I look in the center, suddenly everything’s clear, I find myself in the sunshine and my dreams.” Another song that just hits home with me on an emotional level.

Oh, Shenandoah – Van Morrison (1998)

  • This is a traditional American folk song of uncertain origin, dating to the early 19th century, and it’s about the Missouri River. There are many, many versions, and the song has been covered by everyone from Bob Dylan to Bruce Springsteen to Tennessee Ernie Ford. However, I love this version by Van Morrison the most. Just a gorgeous song that I’ve loved since I was a kid, when I first heard it on a TV show called “A Man Called Shenandoah.” Every time I hear it I get hit right in the feels. Love this song.

Lay Down Burden – Brian Wilson (1998)brian

  • Another Brian Wilson tune, this is a song from his great Imagination comeback album in 1999. It’s another sad one about the death of his brother Carl, and again he lets us in on his innermost feelings: “So many years spent running away, How many times I wished I could stay, Too much emotion a hole in my heart, Feeling alone since we’ve been apart, And if I had the chance I’d never let you go, Just want you to know. Lay, lay me down, lay me down, Lay down burden.” Gorgeous melody and classic Brian Wilson harmonies as well.

I Will – The Beatles (1968)

  • One of the simplest songs Paul McCartney ever penned, yet one of the most beautiful. On the “White Album”, this tune was a favorite of mine and my best friends Tom and Andy. In fact, Andy sang it to us a few days before he passed away. I’ll never hear it again without thinking of him.

So there ya go. What are your all-time favorite songs?

Note: I lied. I listed 21 songs.

The man dressed as Santa Claus and walking along Stevens Road in santa-shot-pellet-gun-facebookSoutheast Washington saw three babies peering at him from a window, and he did what any Santa would do. Pumped with holiday cheer, he turned, waved and shouted the traditional festive greeting.

“Man, this is awesome,” Xavier Hawkins exclaimed on Christmas Eve morning, as he prepared to hand out presents to 800 needy children. “Oh, yes, Merry . . .”

But before the 50-year-old from Maryland’s Eastern Shore could say “Christmas,” a sharp pain cut through his upper back. The driver for the global moving firm Interstate, and Santa for seven consecutive years, had been hit with at least one blast from a pellet gun.

The wound was minor — a large welt — and Hawkins was quickly treated at a hospital and released.

Honestly, what kind of sick S.O.B. takes a shot at Santa Claus? That’s cold-hearted, man. Diabolical. Poor Santa just out there trying to spread some Christmas cheer and gets popped with a pellet gun. Good to know that a shot to the back won’t take Santa down though. Dude was Ho-Ho-Hoing even as they drove him away in the ambulance. That’s dedication right there.

Anyhoo, check out the video below:

When I first began coaching over 30-years ago everything was different, and coaching-1I’m not talking about the kids I coached.

I’m talking about me.

Everything was sort of black and white for me then, and there has since been a lot more grays. How did that happen? Experience, I guess.

I’ve always loved kids, ever since the first day I set foot in a classroom. Not once did I regret the profession I chose. But teaching and coaching, although similar in a lot of ways, can also be very different. Students are there because the have to be, players are there largely because they want to be.

You have to encourage kids in both the classroom and on the basketball court, and you have to push them as well. However, coaching takes place in a much more public forum.

In the beginning, I’m sure part of the reason I coached was ego driven. It was a way to replace my playing days, a way to compete in front of a crowd. There was that initial thrill of working the sidelines as the fans cheered for your team.

Over time, that changes.

I learned the game from a lot of old school, in-your-face style coaches, great men like Rick VanMatre at Greenfield McClain, Gary Williams at the University of Maryland and Bob Huggins at the University of Cincinnati and now West Virginia. By the way, I just checked and those three have a combined record of 1942 – 872, a winning percentage of .693. That’s nearly 7 of every 10 games they coached. Pretty damn good. I’m not nearly the coach any of those guys are, not by a long shot, but I’ve sure learned a lot from all of them.

You know one of the most important things I’ve learned in my 30+ years of coaching? It’s that kids can handle anything if they know you care about them. Seems simple but it’s true. If they know you love them they don’t take the criticism personally. They know you’re trying to help them.

Quick note – People aren’t completely rational when their relatives are involved, and they shouldn’t be. You can’t take it personally when mothers, fathers, grandparents, aunts and uncles criticize you. Love is blind, man, and it’s OK.

And as a young coach, if you feel like you’re going through a bad time or being criticized unjustly, go talk to another coach. They’ll top your story every time. We’ve all been there, buddy. Many times. It’s all a part of the game, and it’s all a part of coaching.

I’ve seen guys who thought they wanted to coach start and not last more than a few years, mainly because of the pressures that come with the job.

Of the 33-years I’ve coached, I’ve only just completed my 12th as a high school basketball coach. I’ve spent time as a coach at the Junior High, JV, Little League, and AAU levels. I’ve also spent a zillion hours as a college camp coach and scout, and I’ve been the international coach of a team from the Caribbean on the beautiful island called Montserrat.

And as coaching has brought me to all these places, to college campuses and incredibly exotic locations like the one in the Caribbean, I’ve also seen the game save lives. I’ve seen basketball take kids from the inner-city to the bright lights, and I’ve seen it literally give young players a reason to live.

That’s not an exaggeration, believe me. I can tell you stories.

Being allowed to coach is a gift, one of the greatest you can be given. And you know why? Because as great as all the wins are (and I’ve been on both sides, believe me), that’s not what ultimately makes it all worthwhile.

Ultimately, it’s about relationships.

It’s about developing relationships with your players, because that’s what lasts. Sure, you remember the big wins, the upsets where you won a big game you weren’t supposed to win. You remember those trips to The Convo, the ultimate goal for teams from our area. But what is lasting, what is important, is the relationships. In comparison, the victories don’t mean so much.

Not really.

I’ve loved every player I’ve ever coached, and I hope they know that. How could I not after everything I put them through? How could I not after they stuck with me through it all, through the tough practices, through the blood and sweat and tears, through all the wins and the losses?

Think about it. What would bring you more satisfaction and fulfillment, winning a District Championship or having a former player ask you to be the Godfather to his son?

No contest, man. And it’s not even close.

Honestly, Santa is terrifying, amirite?

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Great song.

u2comehome

Love it!

pvrim

Cute in a horrifying sort of way.

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