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Ease your mind with meditation: here’s how

in Awakenings/Contributors/Health by

By Brittney Hiller

What is meditation? Meditation has shown to reduce stress and anxiety, lower blood pressure, and create ease in the practitioners’ life. Meditation is simply, a moment for you to create space in your life that will encourage and enhance awareness as well as creativity.

{Doesn’t that sound YUMMY?}

As a yoga teacher, I practice meditation in many different forms, from transcendental (which has been deeply studied by Dr. Herbert Benson and taught to students at Harvard University), to visualization meditation. Recently, I have had the pleasure of speaking with many students whom have wanted more meditation in their life.

Here is ONE quick way to jumpstart your meditation practice, TODAY – like, right now. {yup, now, now}

For two minutes (you have two minutes), turn off Facebook and Instagram or the TV and voila’ you have created two minutes. Now, comfortably sit upright, perhaps in a chair or on a pillow on the ground. If you find yourself at a desk, perfect! Face your computer and begin with this easy step.

Place your index finger to your thumb. Now we are going to rotate out our fingers with our thumb, therefore the rotation looks like so,

Thumb to Index finger

Thumb to Middle finger

Thumb to Ring finger

Thumb to Pinky.

You got it!

Now with this rotation we are beginning to empower the brain to think actively, which is GREAT for creativity! The fun begins here, where you can create a mantra, a repetitive and uplifting phrase such as
PEACE BEGINS WITH ME.

See how we have four places with our finger to put in four words, and then repeat? Awesome!

Create a mantra that suits you best.

TODAY I WILL RELAX

I AM HAPPY TODAY

PEACE BEGINS WITH ME

I AM AT EASE

MY DAY IS GREAT

{You’ve got it now}

With each rotation of your fingers, you place a word.

Breathe slowly and deeply with each round and give yourself 2 minutes to do this. As I often encourage, truly notice HOW you feel before and then after. It is a small gift for you today, but I hope you take the moment and ‘Treat yo’ Self!’

Witnessing acts of kindness around town

in Contributors/Lee Scott/Voices by

By Lee Scott

This past week, I went into the grocery store to pick up a few things. Of course, the ten items on my list suddenly turned into 25. As I finished placing my groceries on the checkout counter, I noticed the woman behind me only had a couple of things.

“Go ahead,” I said “You don’t have much.” “Thank you!” she responded. After she checked out the cashier started to ring up my items. As she was scanning my groceries she said, “That was nice of you.” “No problem.” I said. Then she continued. “Last week, there was a woman buying her groceries and she didn’t look like she had much money. The woman in line behind her said, “Let me buy your chicken and ground beef for you”. The cashier said the young woman was thrilled and thanked the other woman.

I was taken aback as I listened to this story, but even more surprised when she added, “I see this kind of stuff all the time. People just doing nice things for other people.” I was mulling the story over as I walked back to my car and thought that I wish our politicians could talk to this grocery store clerk. It might bring their confidence level in America back up.

Later, as I was relaying the experience to my spouse, I started to think about all the other acts of kindness that I have received and witnessed since I moved here. For example, that person in line that coughs up some change when you don’t have any or the folks who buy coffee for the military personnel at City Java or the person that waves your car into line in heavy traffic.

But the lady who bought the chicken and ground beef will stick with me for a while. Because I remember being a young wife and mother living on a tight budget. Those were the days when I knew fifty ways to prepare ground beef for dinners. It would have been great to have someone pay for part of my grocery bill back then.

The next day, I went back to the store to ask Tonya, the Manager for the cashier’s name. Oh yes, that’s Kristina and she is right, “It happens all the time!” So good for you, lady at the Food Lion; that young woman will remember you forever. And good for Kristina for relaying that story.

Vitamin see: foods rich in vitamin C may help slow cataracts

in Contributors/Dr. Mark Siegel, MD FAAO/Health by

By Dr. Mark S. Siegel

What do grapefruit, broccoli and strawberries have in common?

They are foods loaded with vitamin C, which could help slow cataract progression, according to a British study.

Cataracts are a clouding of the eye’s lens that happens naturally with age. The condition is the leading cause of blindness in the world, according to the World Health Organization.

Researchers from King’s College London examined data from more than 1,000 pairs of female twins to see what factors may help keep cataracts at bay. They tracked intake of vitamin C and other nutrients from food and supplements. They also recorded how opaque the subjects’ lenses were at around age 60, with a follow-up on 324 sets of twins about 10 years later.

Women who reported consuming more vitamin C-rich foods had a 33 percent risk reduction of cataract progression over the decade, according to the study. Their lenses overall were more clear.

Although we cannot totally avoid developing cataracts, we may be able to delay their onset and keep them from worsening significantly by eating a diet rich in vitamin C. The researchers noted that the findings only pertain to vitamins consumed through food and not supplements.

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant. The fluid inside the eyeball is normally high in a compound similar to vitamin C, which helps prevent oxidation that results in a clouded lens. Scientists believe more vitamin C in the diet may increase the amount present around the lens, providing extra protection.

Because the study was done in twins, the team was also able to calculate how much of a role genetics versus environmental factors play in cataract progression. While environmental factors, such as diet, accounted for 65 percent, genetic factors only accounted for 35, indicating that diet and lifestyle may outweigh genetics.

The study, “Genetic and Dietary Factors Influencing the Progression of Nuclear Cataract“ will be published this June in Ophthalmology, the official journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

El Diablo is rolling again

in Contributors/Lee Scott/Voices by

By Lee Scott

It is that time of year again. My husband’s eyes widen in anticipation knowing that he can go and retrieve “el Diablo”. This is the name I gave our twenty-four-foot RV the first time I saw it eighteen months ago. It has distinctive red and black markings and can be seen from a mile away. We keep it at a storage unit not far from our home, but when it comes back to our neighborhood to get packed for a trip everyone notices. My poor neighbor Beth who has a perfect view of my garage is keenly aware when we are leaving on another trip. Even my new neighbor Elaine said “I see that Diablo has come home.”

El Diablo
El Diablo

El Diablo is only about the size of the average UPS truck. I tell my spouse that if he gets bored with retirement, I am sure he could get a job delivering packages. But because of her size, I enjoy driving her too. We tell people that we bought the RV to go off and see the USA, but the truth is we bought it because of our two old dogs. It is easy to travel with them in an RV. They can stretch out on their beds, drink their water when they need it and besides most of the RV parks allow dogs.

El Diablo has many good qualities. Besides being conspicuous in a crowded parking lot, she is also small enough that we can drive her just about anywhere. Her fuel consumption is not as bad as some of the larger RVs and she was not so expensive that we feel guilty staying at a “Pet friendly” hotel when we want. She has a small kitchenette, a queen size bed and a little bathroom with a tiny shower that my “big guy” aka husband refuses to climb into no matter what.

We have also discovered that having all of our clothes in one place when we travel is nice. Yes, el Diablo is not as fancy as some of those Class A RVs that you see on television. You know, the ones that the movie stars and football players own. She cannot even get admitted into some of those really nice RV campgrounds. But at night, when the lights are out and the only sounds I hear are the loud snores coming from my three traveling companions, el Diablo feels like home.

Time to do the Reconstruction Trail ourselves

in Bill Rauch/Contributors/Voices by
VOICES SMALL HOUSE

Photo above: The Robert Smalls House at 511 Prince Street in Beaufort is where Congressman Robert Smalls (1839-1915) began his life in slavery and where, after emancipation, he returned to purchase the house and live out his days.

By Bill Rauch

Budget negotiations are in full swing in Washington now for the last budget over which the Obama Administration will preside. And there is silence in Washington once again about the National Park Service’s proposed Reconstruction Trail here in Beaufort County.

Throughout the Obama Administration it has seemed that, as politicians like to say, “The stars are lined up” for bringing this modest proposal to fruition. Mayor Billy Keyserling working with Congressman James Clyburn and others seemed to be just the group to get for the city and county a National Park Service designation that would put a federally-funded plaque in front of The Robert Smalls House on Prince Street and in front of the Arsenal on Craven Street in Beaufort, another couple of plaques at The Penn Center and The Emancipation Oak on St. Helena Island, a plaque at the other Emancipation Oak on the Naval Hospital grounds in Port Royal, a similar designation at the site of the freed slaves community known as Mitchelville on Hilton Head Island, and at several other nearby places.

All these places, each significant in U.S. History during the years immediately following the Civil War, would then be gathered into a “trail” about which a brochure would be written and distributed by the National Parks Service. This simple mechanism would help bring tourists to the area to enjoy Beaufort’s restaurants and maybe even overnight in Beaufort’s hotel rooms that now fill up only two nights a week for graduations at Parris Island.

But the initiative seems to have run completely out of steam.

That it has is, of course, good news to some – like the Sons of Confederate Veterans whose representatives have lobbied effectively against the effort. But it is not good news to Beaufort’s business community. And it should be an embarrassment to elected officials who, in the name of business development, continue to spend hundreds of thousands of locally-raised tax dollars each year to support and promote Beaufort’s (NO) Commerce Park that they seem unaware is located in the heart of the AICUZ at the end of MCAS Beaufort’s main runway where the roar of F-35s climbing to 1000 ft. is deafening. There is a water tower painted in orange squares that stands next to the park’s entrance sign. Prospective tenants will inevitably be curious about military aircraft and they will soon learn that the Navy has said in its most recent Environmental Impact Statement that F-35 flights at MCAS Beaufort are expected to quadruple in the next few years.

But I digress…

Beaufort’s Reconstruction Trail had an auspicious beginning in 2000 in the waning days of the Clinton Administration. Then-Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt (Interior has oversight over the Parks Service) was seated next to Columbia University history professor Eric Foner at a White House dinner. A dozen years before, in 1988, Foner had brought out the big book on the Reconstruction period. According to Babbitt, he turned to Foner at the dinner and said, “You know professor, the Parks Service has parks, sites and trails all over the country that celebrate every twist and turn in American history, but there is none for the Reconstruction era. If the Parks Service were to designate such a site, where should it be?”

And without missing a beat the nation’s foremost historian of 19th century America replied, “Beaufort, South Carolina, the site of the Port Royal Experiment.”

In the weeks following that dinner Secretary Babbitt organized for himself and key Parks personnel from the National Parks Service office in Atlanta a tour of the significant Reconstruction era sites in Beaufort County. As the newly elected the Mayor of the City of Beaufort, I went on the tour, which is where I heard firsthand Secretary Babbitt’s story of the proposal’s conception.

There was excitement in Beaufort’s business community about the Reconstruction Trail then, but Secretary Babbitt had wisely cautioned, “There is not time for us to do this now. It must be the next administration.” And the next administration was of course two terms of highly-partisan George W. Bush who meticulously closed out Congressman Clyburn and the other Democrats.

But that was then. What of the Obama Administration and President Obama’s famous and real friendship with his long-time ally, Congressman Clyburn the primary sponsor of the Gullah-Geechee Corridor? With Beaufort Mayor Billy Keyserling doing “the ask” couldn’t this group find the money in the $3.8 trillion dollar Federal budget for a handful of plaques and a brochure?

Apparently not.

Okay, so maybe it’s time to get real and try another approach. Could the Beaufort County Council maybe ask the Beaufort County Preservation Review Board to seek a Beaufort County Accommodations Tax grant to hire as a consultant a preservation historian to identify the appropriate Beaufort County Reconstruction era sites and assemble a draft brochure that describes their significance? The consultant could maybe even put in some driving directions to help visitors find their way up the trail. Then next year maybe they can put in another proposal to buy and put up the plaques and print up and distribute the brochures. By that time maybe the city will be on board and they can go to their A-Tax committee to get a few dollars to promote the trail and sell some meals and hotel rooms.

After 16 years of waiting for Uncle Sam to do it for us, let’s just do it ourselves. It’s not like it’s such a tough job that it needs Seal Team Six.

County A-Tax grant applications, according to Beaufort County’s website, are due in September so there’s still plenty of time to get something going here don’t you think?

The elusive cell phone signal

in Contributors/Lee Scott/Voices by

By Lee Scott

Living in a large metropolitan city you normally don’t have a problem picking up your cell phone and chatting with someone at any time and any place especially in your car. The landscape is adorned with large cell towers to enable people to be connected. Oh, there are those times when you drive into a parking garage or a tunnel and the signal drops; but even that is changing as cell phone companies scurry to put repeaters in those areas so you never drop a call.

However, I have noticed that it is a little bit different living here in the Lowcountry, an area that is thankfully less populated. You can drive for miles looking at the scenic views and never see a cell tower. But that view comes with a price. It means that you will find yourself entering areas where there are no precious bars lighting up the phone. It is so strange to be driving along and one minute hearing a voice through the Bluetooth and then suddenly it disappears as you inadvertently drive into a dead zone. Of course, it does not take long after you move here to discover those special cell coverage zones where four or five bars light up on your phone. As a matter of fact, you have probably found yourself seeking those areas. I have personally discovered certain parking lots where I can pull into and complete a conversation before entering one of those “no cell phone service” zones. And sure enough, there are other people doing the same thing. You can spot them sitting alone in the car talking animatedly into the air.

Then there are communities where one side of the community has great coverage and the other side has none. You might even see a car sitting on the side of the road with the emergency flashers on and the driver’s hand sticking out the window holding up a cell phone, desperately seeking a phone signal. I confess to doing this myself!

But the good news is that we are not living in a large metropolitan area. We have beautiful views to enjoy and many places to pull over to make those calls. And I have discovered a spot where my phone calls are very rarely interrupted. Turns out my landline has excellent coverage.

Keeping my Gift Closet stocked and my heart open

in Cherimie Crane/Contributors/Voices by

By Cherimie Crane Weatherford

Like most growing up in the deep delectable south, pleasantries and poetic behavior is as expected as the humidity in the air we breathe. Not all standards of practice were enthusiastically enchanting, but intertwined deeply and artfully into all that I am nonetheless. The unspoken, unwritten laws of co-existence that were fiercely upheld by mothers, grandmothers and church leaders all over the Southern states.

One in particular still causes butterflies and post traumatic stress. The in-person apology, although completely foreign in today’s society, is the courtesy of choice by my gentle yet fierce mother. Slightly akin to a dead man walking, the longest mile or any other horrific showing of dread that is multiplied when forced to face your debts with the audience of your debtors. Regardless of offense, it was mandatory that all apologies be eloquent, sincere and in person. My life was forever impacted by the many merciless, collective mea culpa.

As if the in-person apology wasn’t harsh enough to win claim as the most difficult southern grace, the female ankle cross was a mighty contender. Often I wondered if Chiropractors and those that created southern customs were in cahoots. There is just no way a well meaning woman came up with this custom of contortion. It mattered not whether perched on a pew or teetering on a tailgate, my Momma could hear from 20 miles away even the slightest uncrossing of the exhausted ankle. No allowance was given for attire, function or injury, the ankle cross was necessary at all costs. Fear of the under arm pinch or the paralyzing ‘I will talk with you later stare’ kept ankles crossed stiffly in compliance all over towns and counties below the Mason Dixon line.

Not all southern manners were punitive in nature. Many have served me well. Like Mammaw’s cream infused grits,some things just stick with you. All the women in my family kept a Gift Closet. A small closet both highly regarded and protected filled with specialty soaps, delicate hand towels, crafted candles, beautiful note cards and always at the very top was chocolates and jams. As a child it seemed rather silly to imprison perfectly good presents for people and circumstances not yet revealed, especially chocolate. Purchasing these recipient-less presents was as high a priority as tithing on Sunday. The heart of a Southern woman knows well the importance of the timely gift. It never failed, it never ran low and it never discriminated. If one needed a gift, the closet was always ready.

What seems to be 100 years later, I open the door to my very own Gift Closet. One that I must constantly stock, protect from little hands and turn too when it is time. The gifts often go to an acquaintance, sometimes a stranger, many times a friend. It is always the perfect gift at the perfect moment. No matter where I am, I always seem to find something that belongs in my Gift Closet. Just as my Momma did with me, I shoo little hands away and explain the importance of the enigmatic custom. I wonder how many battles have been averted, hearts healed and days made by the simple contents.

What a difference we could make, if such a concept could be implemented in all aspects of our lives. Quietly tucking away, kindness, sincerity, generosity and thoughtfulness to have at the ready when life produces an opportunity to give.

I adore my Gift Closet and the simple humanity it represents. It is far less tumultuous than the in-person apology, far less uncomfortable than the ankle cross and far more important than even I previously understood. If you want to make your corner of the world a little brighter, keeping your Gift Closet stocked is a wonderful way to keep your heart open.

What we hear when we need to hear it

in Awakenings/Contributors/Health by

By Martha O’Regan

Even when you don’t realize you are searching for answers to life’s tough questions, sometimes answers appear in strange yet magical ways and wake you up. I have come to believe we all have an opportunity to ‘awaken’ to our purpose on the planet, yet too often life is so busy and noisy that we either miss the signs or misinterpret the messages.

Back in the day, not too very long ago, when I believed that I was ‘in charge’ of my life and that if I wanted something done, I had to do it myself, I put expectations on someone who didn’t come through for me on ‘my’ time, ultimately slowing down ‘my’ progress. My immediate reaction was anger along with a few words about incompetency and ‘ruining everything’ I was working towards! It was on a Friday and there was nothing I could do to ‘fix’ it, so I went home to take out my frustrations by playing in the dirt and pulling a few weeds. After calming down, I went inside to check my business voicemail, a message had come in about the time of my ‘upset’ that ultimately woke me up and continues to direct my life today.

A very robust female voice repeated ‘Clean House, Help Others, Trust God’ three times then hung up. The first was as a statement, the 2nd with a ‘duh, don’t you get it’ tone to it, and the 3rd was with the most joyful laughter I could ever imagine at the time. There was no caller ID or info from *69. I listened to it several times but because I was living in my ‘’I make things happen’ mentality, I wrote it off as an advertisement of some sort. As I shared the story with friends, I was surprised that no one else had received the same message. As days went on, I began to contemplate the meaning of this strange communication, settling on the literal interpretation because at the time, we were trying to get our home on the market, I was beginning a professional organizing business as an adjunct to my muscle therapy business, and seldom going to church…it made sense, I guess.

Fourteen years later, I continue to apply my ‘phone call from God’ to every aspect of my life including physical, spiritual, financial, political, environmental, emotional, and bio-chemical, continuing to find ways to simplify all areas (clean house), discovering ways to be in service (help others), trusting that there is a Divine plan unfolding (trust God), and realizing that I am not in charge after all….who knew?

Despite the great comfort and sometimes frustration in its simplicity, I have come to believe this message was not intended just for me but to be shared for others’ consideration. This timeless statement can be interpreted literally and/or figuratively depending on your personal circumstances as you move towards slowing down, taking care of your mind and body, while discovering your higher purpose in life. I continue to hear it from many perspectives depending on what I am seeking to learn in the moment.

As a culture, it is apparent we are going through a time of ‘cleaning house’, some due to external circumstances beyond our control and some by conscious choice, either way, we’re discovering that it feels better to release the attachments and all the associated ‘gunk’ than the pressure of trying to ‘hold on’ to it. It also appears we are becoming more compassionate, seeking ways to support efforts to be of service to those under-served in our community and beyond, not just through money but ‘hands on’ labor of love. And, regardless of specific affiliations with a church community, there is a sense that more folks are seeking comfort in a ‘Higher Power’ to show them the way through both good and difficult times, uniting us more deeply.

So, it is with great joy that I share my ‘phone call from God’ with hope that it serves a purpose for someone else. Live Awake….Have Fun!

A Beaufort family marks a milestone

in Bill Rauch/Contributors/Featured/Voices by
Osvaldo and Noris Mujica taken in 2016.

Photo above: Osvaldo and Noris Mujica taken in 2016.

By Bill Rauch

The patriarch and matriarch of one of Beaufort’s foremost families just celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary. Osvaldo and Noris Mujica came to Beaufort in 1962 with their three children, Ozzie, Omar and Lizette, and the Mujica family now 33 strong has flourished here since. A fourth child, Otto, was born here.

Theirs is a great American story.

Osvaldo and Noris Mujica on their wedding day in 1946.
Osvaldo and Noris Mujica on their wedding day in 1946.

The Mujicas came to the US on one of the last planes out of Cuba before the Cuban Missile Crisis shut down flights to the US. Osvaldo had been running Sumner Pingree Jr.’s ’s 65,000 acre cattle ranch, Hacienda San Andres, since as a U.S. citizen Pingree had been forced to leave Cuba by the rise to power of the revolutionary Fidel Castro in 1959. These were desperate times. As the Castro government, the communists, consolidated power in the 1959-62 period they nationalized more and more of the Pingree family’s ranch.

In its day Hacienda San Andres was the chief rival of Texas’ King Ranch as the world’s top cattle ranch.

Osvaldo Mujica, assigned by Pingree to run the ranch in his absence and the family’s adjacent 20,000 acre sugar-producing operation too, watched helplessly as the government piece-by-piece took over the majestic place. Yet he was clearly so inventive and so competent at running its operations that Castro ordered him to prepare to come to Havana and run all Cuba’s nationalized cattle operations. It was then in 1962, with the red handwriting indelibly on the wall, and after secret conversations with and firm assurances from Pingree, Osvaldo and Noris Mujica secreted their family out of Cuba to the US. With them were just the clothes they could fit into a couple of suitcases.

Exotically good-looking, smart and fun-loving – and with a brilliant and discreet father, and a doting mother — the Mujica children were popular from the moment they stepped out of the station wagon in Beaufort. Grown up and parents (and grandparents and great-grandparents!) themselves now, each of Osvaldo and Noris’ four children has achieved success in their own ways. Ozzie and Omar each ran automotive businesses here for many years. Lizette was a Spanish professor at the University of South Carolina until she came home to Beaufort two years ago, and Otto is All State Insurance’s catastrophe specialist for the Southeast US.

Sumner Pingree, a leading Beaufort philanthropist, lived for many years at his Bray’s Island Plantation in Sheldon. In those days Osvaldo and Sumner were like brothers. More than a plantation manager, Osvaldo functioned more like a chief of staff or consigliere for Pingree who was biding his time raising cattle and hogs in Sheldon, and shooting and fishing around the world, while he awaited the opportunity to return to Cuba and reclaim his rights to Hacienda San Andres. It was an opportunity that never came to him.

Sumner Pingree, Jr. died quietly at his home on Bray’s Island, a few days before last Christmas. He was 88.

Osvaldo had been with him in Cuba, at Huspah Plantation, at Bray’s Island while Bray’s was operated as a family-owned farm, and at Bray’s in the years after 1988 when Sumner transitioned the plantation to the outdoors-oriented community it is today.

Now, with the gradual re-opening of Cuba to US citizens, in the upcoming years there will be opportunities for those who left in the 1959-62 period to revisit Cuba. Some Mujicas may take the opportunity to visit as tourists, but probably not Osvaldo and Noris. “South Carolina is our home,” Osvaldo says. “People ask me what I would change about my life … and I say nothing … I’ve had a wonderful life.”

It’s time to enjoy the colors of spring

in Contributors/Lee Scott/Voices by

By Lee Scott

There is a strange transition taking place in my clothes closet right now. It happens each year. I discover that my black slacks and navy tops have migrated to the back of the closet and have been replaced with white pants and pastel colored capris. It always starts as a subtle change. I open up my closet and instead of my dark blue and brown dresses worn during the past few months, I begin to see the yellow, pink and green cotton dresses ready to be brought out. The winter clothes are somehow forgotten and the wool sweaters worn during January and February which were so important then are packed away as the cotton sweaters suddenly appear. Who knows what happened to my gloves that were only used a couple of times over the winter? My leather boots are lost in the back of the closet as the open toe shoes and sandals miraculously appear. It is actually fun to discover some summer clothes sitting in shopping bags, undoubtedly purchased at some year-end sale. Of course, to make room, I am required to give away the outfits that I have not worn in years. Even my husband starts rummaging around looking for short pants as the thermometer moves up. And the LL Bean fleece jackets he wears in the winter have disappeared.

This closet transition typically co-insides with the spring equinox which comes on March 20th. The equinox coupled with the daylight savings time change means that we get more of that South Carolina sun in the evening to warm us up and as we shed our coats and uncover our pale winter skin we put away our long sleeved shirts and put on our t-shirts. Even the straw hats hanging on hooks all winter are coming out of the closet as I am reminded of the strong southern sun.

Then of course, Easter time brings its own colors and the decorated eggs seem to reflect the colors of the clothes that are coming out of my closet. Light green shirts and pastel blue slacks are not just for golfers now. Even the grass in our yard is shedding its winter browns and coming up a nice colorful green. So go ahead ladies, take out those Lily dresses. Men, put on those pastel colored slacks. Spring is here. Enjoy all those colors.

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