School Resource Officers: I Just Want Our Kids To Be As Safe As We Were

I remember my first year of teaching. It was 1st grade in a low income area serving a population of students that were currently homeless. It was one of only a handful of public schools in the country dealing with the educational crisis caused by homelessness. I was a bright eyed, bushy tailed teacher ready to change the world. I remember those years in that school so fondly. I loved most minutes of it. Even though it was in a very “rough” part of town, I never, ever felt unsafe at school. I think a big part of the reason why was because of my friend Kathy. Kathy was our schools resource officer. According to the National Association of School Resource Officers:

School-based police officers (also known as school resources officers) are specially trained, carefully selected, full-time law enforcement officers who work in schools as their primary assignments. SROs are much more than armed guards. They develop relationships with students and staff and participate in the education of students.

Kathy would come to work each morning dressed in her police uniform, armed, and ready to work with the kids. Most lunch hours you could see her turning rope for the girls or joking with the boys playing basketball. She liked the little kids but she had a special bond with the older kids. She ran the schools DARE program, she made her presence known when the office had custodial issues with parents (mostly just by being in the office making copies nearby), she had lunch with the teachers to catch up on who may be struggling or learning which kids needed some extra attention. She was a part of our schools team. She was a friend to the teachers and the kids. The kids at this school were especially distrustful of police officers, but they all eventually warmed up to Kathy. We never once had a violent incident in the 5 years I worked there.

As an ardent supporter of The Constitution I have been watching the 2nd Amendment battle ensue over the last few months. I was anxiously watching as President Obama apparently signed 23 Executive Orders and I was very happy to have the beginnings of the new CComprehensive School Safety program introduced:

Make our schools safer with new resource officers and counselors, better emergency response plans, and more nurturing school climates. The Administration is calling on Congress to help schools hire up to 1,000 more school resource officers, school psychologists, social workers, and counselors, as well as make other investments in school safety. We also need to make sure every school has a comprehensive emergency management plan so they are prepared to respond to situations like mass shootings.

And then I went back and watched the press release from the NRA to make sure this is what I had heard from NRA’s CEO Wayne LaPierre:

I call on Congress today to appropriate whatever is necessary to put armed police officers in every single school in this nation

I really couldn’t believe my eyes when I read this was released from The Office of the Press Secretary

white house seeks to fund school resource officers

Stop the presses! In essence, both the NRA and President Obama agree that our kids deserve to be better protected and one piece to that puzzle is putting more armed police officers in our schools. Traditionally School Resource Officers are exactly like Kathy, armed. In his social media fireside chat Vice President Biden stated that individual schools would be allowed to choose if their SRO is armed or not and if that money is better spent on school psychologists, social workers, or school counselors.

The white elephant in the room is that the program is starting with roughly $150,000,000. in funding for 90,000 schools. Vice President Biden goes on to state that he is aware this is not enough money to fully fund these programs but it should be seen as federal seed money to jump start a local plan of action. Again, I applaud the effort that local control is their stated end goal. Here is the whole chat if you would like to watch it:

It’s refreshing to see some areas where the 2nd Amendment folks and the greater gun control folks have some common ground: Keeping our kids safe by using something as tried and true as officers in schools. It works. I have seen it work. Sure, someone is bound to say in a comment that it didn’t work in Columbine. No, it didn’t. Nothing is guaranteed and one or two resource officers in a busy high school may not be able to stop a school shooting monster. But who is to say how many lives School Resource Officers like Kathy saved just by being armed in the office while an irate non custodial parent tried to bully the Secretary into releasing a kid, or how many times her hoop side chats gave her valuable information on possibly unsafe plans, or how many kids went from being afraid of her to looking at her as a trusted adult in their lives?

I don’t believe that creating more legislation that places restrictions on law abiding gun owners is the answer. For the most part, the gun owners I know are the ones dropping off their kids at school and heading to a PTA meeting after picking up Starbucks for their kids teacher. We are your neighbors, your friends, your co-workers, and your fellow Americans. We are not the next mass shooter (praying there never is one).

We already have enough laws that criminals are able to work around. The most important, of course, is that murder is already illegal. If someone is willing to break that law, I am not sure whether fighting as a nation over 10 or 12 round magazines matters. The equipment is already out there and criminals don’t care. There is no way the government could possibly ever confiscate them all, because really, only law abiding citizens would turn them in (if they even would based on their personal beliefs about the Constitution). No one really even knows who has what guns. The government would have no idea where to even start looking in some states that have not ever maintained registries.

I don’t care if you want to call them armed guards, or Officer Friendly. The politics behind the semantics mean little to me because I know this: schools need more resources to not only protect our children now but to prevent future incidents like these by providing better guidance and access to mental health care. I would like to see us put most of our resources into finding ways to address the current mental health crisis in America, and that should start in our schools and homes and churches and communities. I am tired of the blaming, showmanship and ugly politics behind all of these gun related issues and I am happy to see the President taking positive steps to meeting the NRA at least part of the way on this one particular piece of a gigantic, ugly puzzle. It’s never going to be easy but I hope that we can see their example and attempt to find common sense solutions in our neighborhoods with the ultimate goal of protecting our nations children.

Don’t forget, your voice is meant to be heard. If you have an opinion on this, write to your representatives about gun laws. They want to hear from you.

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Creating A Support System for Personal Emergencies and Disasters

Sadly, many of my friends are going through their own personal emergencies and disasters: loss of a job, death in the family and even a good friend starting breast cancer treatments as a single mom. Thankfully, I feel blessed to be a part of each of their support system as I know they would do the same for me if the situations were reversed. Each personal disaster that I see my friends go through brings me back to the heart of what this site is about: preparing for the unexpected. Too often “preppers” are painted with a Doomsday brush. But really, the majority of us that prep are more trying to be ready for those unexpected bumps in the road that involve your own family.

How to create support system for personal emergencies

This post is about creating  and sustaining your own personal support system. I am blessed to have a group of friends who would be at my door in seconds with meals for my family, rides for my kids, or a mop to help me clean. I know. I have seen them do all of that for members of our group. Many churches organize groups like this as “relief societies”, mine is an informal network of friends. It doesn’t matter how you find your group. The point is you need to either make one or get involved in one.

Sit down today and walk through your average day in your head. Now, imagine, you had to have an emergency surgery and couldn’t be there. Make a list of all the possible things you could need help with and who could be there to fill in for you. If you are relying on a spouse, remember, they are going to need help helping you!

  • Who is going to get the kids up, dressed and feed them breakfast in the morning? Can your spouse take a few days off? Do you have vacation time or sick time set aside for that? Or extra money put away to cover the time off? Could one of your parents help? Are the kids old enough to do it themselves if that just meant pouring cereal (have some extra on hand?). Have you taught your kids how to make themselves very simple meals like scrambled eggs?
  • How will they get to school? Do you have a back up like a carpool group? Or a neighbor? If they ride a bus do you know your neighbors well enough to look after your kids at the stop? If you homeschool do you have independent lessons they can be working on? Or learning activities like puzzles or a fun computer game that they can do until you are better?
  • Who will cook dinner? Do you have a nice stack of take out menus around? Do you have freezer dinners (hint: I am posting some great recipes for this weeks Sunday Skills)? What about your support group?
  • What about your pets? Do you have enough extra food around for them? A neighborhood kid who could walk them and clean up after the dog in the yard?
  • Do you have someone who could take over your role at work? PTA? Church? Really wherever people count on you…do you have a backup?

The above questions are meant to get you started thinking about who you could count on for back up for a short time. But what happens if your emergency is a bit longer? I have a friend with 5 kids who broke her leg in multiple places this year. Her recovery process is likely to be 6 months. What if you needed help for that long?

How to Create or Find a Support System

The old saying “To Have a Friend Means You Must First Be A Friend” comes to mind. Have you volunteered to bring dinners, give rides, or otherwise help a friend in need? Do you check on your elderly neighbors regularly? Offer to take them to the store or pick up things for them? Same thing for the mom with a new baby! Creating an attitude of community caring in your life will go a long way when its your turn to need help. If you belong to a church, talk to them about spearheading a committee for this. How about just talking to your friends and creating a circle of people that want to give and get this type of support? For the friend with a broken leg, we used the service Take Them A Meal to plan out who could help with dinner. My friends used a simple spreadsheet in google docs when I needed help this summer. It’s not hard. It’s about being there. And about understanding that no matter how prepared we are, everyone needs help now and then. Make a support network part of your prepping plans!

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Prepping With Potatoes

Potatoes are cheap, store well, and are easy to find thus making them a great friend of preppers. Recently 10# bags of potatoes have been on sale for $1.99 in my area leading me to search for many ways that prepping with potatoes can be done. Here is how I have been using these sales to further increase my food stores.

Prepping With Potatoes – Dehydrating and Freezing

For both dehydrating potatoes and freezing potatoes you want to par boil them first. That means you want to boil them until they are soft but still firm. You need to be able to grate them into hash browns for dehydrating so you do not want to boil them until they are too soft. See what I did here?

Dehydrating pototoes-step one, boiling Big mistake. I should not have cut them. This was my first time dehydrating potatoes for hash browns so I followed the advice on one of my favorite sites, Dehydrate2Store. The next time I do this I will peel them first with my apple peeler and leave them whole and hope that makes it easier for me. Cutting them in half allowed them to boil too softly which made grating them a bigger chore than it should have been.

I used half of this batch to dehydrate shredded potatoes into hash browns. I had mixed some yellow potatoes in which the 10# bag of russets because I had a few sitting around that I did not want to go bad. I store these in vacuum sealed jars. I don’t like the bags or mylar for these because they are pokey. These are considered a long term food storage option if packed in mylar with oxygen absorbers, estimated to last 20 plus years.

dehydrating hash brown potatoesI experimented with half of the batch doing what Nasreen of suggested on our facebook page (you are friends with us there, right?). Nas shared that she typically stores her potato bumper crop by:

I like to scrub them, dice them up and shake them with paprika onion powder salt & oil. Then I freeze them to make homefries with later. I haven’t had an issue with browning while freezing. The oil is just me being lazy. Then they can go straight into the pan & cook without having to do anything else.

I did this as a trial so I skipped the foodsaver bags but here is how mine looked. If it turns out well after tomorrows breakfast I will make a new batch and freeze them in foodsaver bags.

prepping with potatoes: homemade home fries

Prepping With Potatoes-Storing and Growing

I was telling Tammy about this post and she reminded me that she had a great post on how to store potatoes through the winter on Parker’s blog. Click over to see how she uses cedar shavings to keep them fresh.  I have also seen some great ideas on building root cellars on Pinterest that I will share next week.

I often take gardening classes in the winter and a few years ago one of the skills I learned was how to grow potatoes in garbage cans. Potatoes are one of the easiest plants to grow and you can use a standard garbage can or 5 gallon bucket. Ideally you want to start with organic ‘potato seeds’ which is really just cut potatoes revealing the eye’s to start the plants. In a non ideal situation though, any potato you have can be cut into “seeds”. They take roughly 140 days to produce plants but one eye can be quite prolific. It would be best to always have 1-2 (or more) containers going in rotation.

prepping with potatoes: growing potatoes in containers

If you are unfamiliar with growing your own potatoes, this is a great video to get you started. Remember, growing food takes practice. You can’t expect to become a master gardener in one season and with the cost of food going up like crazy it makes sense to start growing as much of your own food as possible! This is one you can do in a small amount of space with a big impact.

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Write Your Representatives | Today’s Sunday Skill

Being politically active and letting your voice be heard is an important part of preparedness. Following the news and subscribing to political grassroots organizations serves not only as an early warning system for civil, financial or political unrest but as an opportunity to have your voice matter. Believe it or not, our governmental officials ARE listening to what we have to say. If nothing more, your letters, calls and emails count in a tally on the pulse of how their constituents feel on any particular matter. It takes just a few minutes to write your representatives and let your voice be heard. 

Write your representatives - NRA banner

Voters that would not like to see any further restrictions placed on the Second Amendment can click the above banner to use the NRA website to easily contact multiple members of the government. By simply typing in my zip code I was able to get the contact information for both the President & Congress PLUS the Governor & State Legislators. I like that you can use the NRA form to email on any subjects, not just gun control issues. It’s very handy.  Next week I will probably use the form to let share my views on increasing urban homesteading freedoms. Another way to find the contact information to write your representatives is to the Directory of Representatives and write each individually.

How To Write Your Representatives:

  • Obtain their contact information as discussed above.
  • Be clear and concise about the subject you are addressing. Use specific titles or numbers of bills involved if possible.
  • State what action you would like them to take while representing you.
  • Explain how or why the action is important to you.
  • Be respectful and polite.
  • Refer to yourself as a “constituent” and clearly identify yourself and give your full contact information for credibility.

I hope that you use today’s Sunday Skill to let your voice be heard. We are coming upon such pivotal times in our political landscape and it is important to not only be paying attention to the conversations but participating in them. In addition, I suggest involving your kids in helping you create letters and help them understand the importance in standing up for what your family believes in on the larger political playing field.

Happy Sunday!

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Buying Junk Silver As Part of Your Prepping

When people talk about buying junk silver they are referring to US dimes, quarters, half dollars and dollars minted through 1964. These coins were produced with 90% silver and 10% copper. They have an “intrinsic value” which means the metal to produce them actually has value unlike a paper dollar bill. The penny has always been copper or steel (for one or two war years) and the nickel is made of nickel and copper so they are not being referred to when people discuss the $1 face valuation of junk silver. A dollars worth (4 quarters, 10 dimes, etc.) of coins add up to .75 of a Troy ounce of silver, but because of wear it is accepted to use .715 as the multiplier. Generally you get the most silver for your money when buying junk silver as the premiums typically are the cheapest.

junk silver dollar signDon’t let the name “junk silver” fool you. They are designated “junk” because they don’t have value to a collector. They do however have melt value as a precious metal and that is what makes buying junk silver a great investment for emergency preparedness. Precious metals will always have value, even when the paper dollar does not. Most financial experts agree that everyone should have 10% of their investment portfolios in precious metals. People that feel we are on the very edge of the fiscal cliff believe in keeping a much higher percentage of their money in something as reliable as precious metals.

The Process of Buying Junk Silver

Junk silver is typically sold in $1 face value increments. The easiest way to learn the value of junk silver is to use a silver coin calculator since the price fluctuates. You can go to your local coin shop or buy online at places like APMEX, Gainesville Coins, or Provident Metals. All three have good reputations among preppers. Right now APMEX is selling $1 silver coin bags for $25.84 with a credit card and Provident is selling it for $25.28. Gainesville appears to be sold out at the moment. The more you can buy the better price you will get.  They all ship usually USPS in inconspicuous packaging and you will likely have to sign for your shipment.

Do you have junk silver laying around your house?

Keeping junk silver is something that most Depression-era people tended to do so it is not uncommon to find old quarter and nickles tucked away in drawers at Grandma’s house. She wasn’t nutty for keeping random nickles and dimes.

Also, there are still pre-1964 coins in everyday circulation. Always check your change in hopes of finding a little silver. It’s getting harder and harder to do but it happens. Some people even go to the bank and get $100 in quarter rolls, check them and cash back in all the silver they didn’t find and start over. Its a treasure hunt for them.

But for emergency preparedness, you are better off buying junk silver and then adding anything you find to your bags.

*Thank you to Beau for help with some of the research and wording for this article.



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Stocking Up On Over the Counter Medicines

Stocking up on over the counter medicines should be a top priority for any beginning prepper. OTC medications are often inexpensive and easy to accumulate because they are widely available. Over the counter medicines can be lifesaving in an emergency situation and I encourage you to make sure you store each of the following in addition to the Physicians Desk Reference or a nursing guide to drugs which you can frequently find at the Goodwill for less than $1. Remember-I am NOT a doctor. These are things I personally store for my family and am sharing so you can determine what might be right for yours.stocking up on over the counter medicines

  • Aspirin-Aspirin is a known blood thinner, pain reliever and fever reducer. One of the first things an emergency department will give anyone with chest pains is chewable aspirin to help prevent a heart attack. It may also be able to replace drugs like coumadin in an extreme emergency. Do some research on if this is a good option for your family members.
  • Ibuprofen-Pain, anti-inflammatory and fever.
  • Acetaminophen– Pain and fever. If someone is ill enough, you can often alternate acetaminophen and ibuprofen to keep them more comfortable and bring a fever down faster.
  • Loperamide-In a situation where water and food may not be the most sanitary, Imodium (loperamide) could save lives by slowing down digestion motility and reducing water loss.
  • Senna-natural laxative.
  • Omeprazole or Ranitidine– acid reducer. In an emergency you may be eating foods that you are not used to. These will help control stomach acids and make the transition more comfortable.
  • Diphenhydramine- this antihistamine commonly known as Benedryl can be lifesaving in the case of an allergic reaction. Also, taken in higher doses can be used as an effective sleep aid.
  • Cough suppressant– or whatever type of cold medicine works best for your family.
  • Multivitamins-In an emergency, you will likely not be eating the most well rounded meals. Multivitamins can keep you healthy and fill in the nutritional gaps.
  • Potassium IodideRead direct from the CDC
  • Triple Antibiotic Cream-prevent infections from scrapes and cuts.
  • Miconazole cream or powder-treats fungal infections like jock itch, athletes foot, ringworms or vaginal infections.
  • Hydrocortisone cream– treats red, itchy rashes like poison ivy, eczema, and diaper rash.
  • Temporary Dental Filling-found by most toothbrush displays. Alternatively, clove oil can be used to soothe toothaches.
  • Bandages- all shapes and sizes from large dressings to small blister types.
  • Eye drops
  • Saline Spray
  • Vaseline
  • Burn Gel

Stocking up on over the counter medicines in pill form is best when possible but also make sure to have liquids for any children you may be caring for. I find that buying most of these at Big Box stores makes them ridiculously cheap. For example, yesterday I saw 350 Imodium generics at Sams for less than $4. You are likely to be able to get significant quantities to get you started on the list above for roughly $100 and that will be worth its weight in gold should you ever need them and not be able to run down to Walgreens.

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How To Turn Off Water To Your House: Todays Sunday Skill

There are many reasons that you would need to know how to turn off water to your house: broken pipes, frozen pipes, and outside water contamination are just a few. For today’s Sunday Skill you will need to find where the water comes into your house. If you have a house with a basement, it is probably there. Mine happens to be housed in the basement next to the sump pump. If you have a single story house in a warmer climate, chances are your water shut off is in the garage or near your washer and dryer. This is what my water shut off valve looks like. Your valve may look very different than mine, it could have a lever, a screw or a hose bib.

How To Turn Off Water To Your House

As you can see in the picture, I took a sharpie and wrote on the concrete so that anyone in the house would know exactly which levers to turn and how. You could always create a nice looking direction sheet to keep near yours. Mine is in a closet so it didn’t matter.

How to Turn Off Water To Your House Video Instructions:

I’d love to have you check in by leaving a comment if you have done this simple prepping project and any hints you have for others trying to complete this weeks skill!

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Flu Preparedness Supplies: Are You Ready?

Admittedly, its a little late in the season to be talking about getting together your flu preparedness supplies. However, every time I open my facebook page I am finding another friend lamenting that the flu has just hit their home. It starts with the littlest one throwing up in the middle night and quickly spreads to all the other kids. Just as mom has the final load of sheets in the washer, bam, the all too familiar wave of nausea hits her and dad. All across America this scene seems to be playing out. If you have been lucky enough to escape it thus far, today is the day to get prepared for the flu! Having sick kids is really hard, but having sick parents trying to take care of sick kids is the worst!

flu preparedness supplies

I keep my flu preparedness supplies in a separate bucket in the storage room. I do this because my kids are little gatorade hounds and it isn’t something that I normally keep around. If they get even the smallest hint it is in the house, it will be gone! I can’t tell you how many times I would get the flu and crawl into where I knew I had gatorade stored to find that one of the boys happily stole it for basketball practice. By having a dedicated flu kit I know I always have what I need put away.

My Flu Preparedness Supplies:

  • Powdered Gatorade (easier to store the powder, lasts longer, and I can mix it as strong or weak as needed)
  • Ramen. I don’t know why but when I turn the corner and start to feel better I crave chicken flavored ramen. Probably the high sodium in a dehydrated body.
  • Ginger tea and manuka honey
  • Peppermint tea
  • Hard peppermint candy (helps sooth stomach and get rid of bad tastes in mouth)
  • Peppermint essential oils
  • Ginger Ale
  • Homemade canned broth
  • Motrin and Tylenol (don’t take aspirin)
  • Immodium
  • Zofran (ask your doctor for a prescription to keep in the house)
  • Jello
  • Garbage bags for throwing up in
  • Paper plates and cups. More sanitary and just plain easier on a sick parent.
  • Crackers
  • Frozen peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. These are a super easy, bland lunch to  keep around for healing tummy’s and worn out parents. Obviously I don’t keep these with the kit.
  • Otter pops (throw them into the freezer as soon as you open the kit)
  • Freezer meals for people that are not sick in the house
  • Emetrol
  • Disinfectant wipes
  • Masks and gloves for containing the spread of germs.
  • Extra laundry detergent
  • Shelf stable probiotics for the mending process. We like the Jarrow brand.
  • A new movie, book or video game to entertain those kids that always seem to bounce back quicker than we do!

No one can predict when the flu will hit your family but being prepared for the fact that it will should make it easier to get through. What is in your flu kit that I didn’t mention? I am always looking for new ideas!

*List created with Tammy from

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Emergency Radio Review: Ambient Weather WR-111A

An emergency radio is an essential part of every households disaster and emergency preparedness supplies. I decided to do a video review of my new favorite emergency radio after purchasing the Ambient Weather WR-111A from Amazon. I hope it helps some of you looking for a new model or gets you thinking about buying your first! For roughly $40 this one can’t be beat in my opinion.  This little guy is perfect for a bug out bag, a car and any household. I love that it can be charged by both a hand crank or solar power, serves as an emergency phone charger and has a 3-LED flashlight.

The link above does provide a really small commission to the site if you purchase it but I don’t have any relationship with the company. Just was really impressed with it for the price and hope if you don’t get this one, you do at least have one model for your family.

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Are You Preparing For December 21?

The much discussed Mayan end of the world prediction date of 12/21/12 is just a few days. Are you preparing for December 21 any differently than you normally prep? Have you felt an urgency to step up your prepping regime in anticipation for Friday? Or are you just starting to think that perhaps prepper’s aren’t so crazy and you better get stocked up in the next 4 days?

Even with such assurances from NASA many people are feeling uneasy with the date fast approaching.

Question (Q): Are there any threats to the Earth in 2012? Many Internet websites say the world will end in December 2012.

Answer (A):The world will not end in 2012. Our planet has been getting along just fine for more than 4 billion years, and credible scientists worldwide know of no threat associated with 2012.

Mayan Calendar ImagePreppers by and large view this as another Y2K. The real threat of the day will probably occur from people acting crazy and wanting to make something of the day. I am not worried a meteor will end the world but I am concerned that some idiot will choose it as a great day to wreak more havoc and evil on the world. It’s certainly not unthinkable that local man-made havoc will occur. We are not I hiding in our bunker but I also am not planning to go to crowded places that I don’t need to be. That just makes sense to me.

I don’t need to prep for Friday because I am by and large prepped for something to happen on any given day. But if the Mayans have pushed you to freak out and start preparing for December 21 I am so happy to have the excuse to get you here! Not specifically to my site, but to the preparedness movement that is underway!

This site focuses on prepping out of the panic and fear and getting you to a place where a silly date on the calendar doesn’t stress you out. Here is where I suggest beginning preppers start:

I must say I have had some uneasy feelings lately more than usual. It has made me consider plans for more long term sustainability. I can’t say why that it is but it has stirred some more plans and preps for longer term water storage and the ability to grow more food. Maybe its the Mayans reaching out from the past to remind us that there is no way we can continue on the path we are on. Or maybe its just my feelings about the political and fiscal unrest happening not only in the US but most of the world. Whatever it is, I am grateful for the reminders that prepping is an important part of my lifestyle and something we need to be constantly vigilant about.

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