Small Town, Big Benefit: Making Simple Changes In Your Hometown

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On our home turf, we can make significant changes so that we benefit. These changes could be environmentally-friendly or could be quick ways to save money. But when we want to spread this out further, and make changes to our community or our hometown, therein lies more of a challenge. But are there ways for us to make significant changes, turning our small town into somewhere with huge benefit?

Inspire Non-Digital Literacy

Everybody has an abundance of used books lying around, and while the modern approach to reading is very much on a device, if we can collate all of our used and unwanted books, and create a free library, it becomes a fantastic way to inspire and improve literacy. It can also be part of a wider literacy project that can get people off the streets and into a welcoming environment.

Redesigning The Streets

If you live in an area that’s not particularly attractive, it doesn’t take much to completely make over the small areas so that passers-by can feel the inclination to stop and wander around. While there are many places prone to vandalism, if we can take positive steps to look at the more unattractive aspects of our town, whether it’s a bus shelter that’s been vandalized too much or a local park that desperately needs a new set of swings, by redesigning the street by fixing the smaller parts, rather than tackling the massive projects first, it will serve to improve the overall aesthetics of the place.

Embracing Sustainability

Everybody’s trying to do their bit for the planet now, and one of the easiest things that we can all do is plant a tree. So, you need to check your local rules before you start being trigger happy with your trees, but see if there are any initiatives near you that give away free trees to plant. In addition to this, there could be planting services around. As well as planting trees, you could start to make the most of one unused area of land and turn it into an allotment where people can congregate to grow their own fruits and vegetables. For those people that don’t have much money, this could be a lifesaver, as well as being a fantastic way to fight mental health issues in a small community.

Encourage More Conversation

It can be argued that we live in areas that don’t have a community spirit anymore. Perhaps we need to encourage more social aspects of our locale, and as much as we can encourage community-oriented events, if people don’t necessarily have the inclination to go into these, perhaps we can work on it in other, less obvious ways. A bench is a very simple thing, but when people sit down, a conversation may or may not begin, but over time, this will encourage people to be a bit more sociable and to share. But you don’t have to purchase metallic benches to get the most out of this, but rather, you could upcycle pallets and turn them into makeshift street furniture. You can then put these on the corners of streets near bus stops, and hopefully, there will be a little bit more in the way of community interaction.

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Hope for Family Caregivers Who Give So Much

Originally posted by the Silvernest Team on their blog, Apr 9, 2018 1:52:56 PM

The Support and Engage (RAISE) Family Caregivers Act offers some help for family caregivers

By Carol Marak

Back in 1998 through 2007, my sisters and I cared for our parents. Our mother lived with several chronic diseases, and father lived with Alzheimer’s disease. We were among America’s 40 million family caregivers. At the time, I was working full-time but both sisters were retired.

It’s difficult to combine caregiving and working because both are full-time. I’ve often heard the saying, “There’s no leaving the job at 5:00 PM, an employee will always bring the workday home.” I found out as a caregiver, the same goes for elder care, “A family caregiver never leaves the worry and stress about parent care in the home, they’ll bring the concerns and issues with them to work.” That was my story. It was difficult to separate the two.

Each day, I prayed to win the lotto so I could be with my parents, since their care demanded a lot of assistance. I asked HR for Family Medical Leave but was rejected. Back in early 2000, HR didn’t get how elder care was such an issue, however, they could relate to child care much easier.

In June of 2017, I praised Congress for passing the bipartisan Recognize, Assist, Include, Support and Engage (RAISE) Family Caregivers Act.” Hooray for families! And on January 22nd, the US President signed into law the RAISE Family Caregivers Act. It’s the first step in creating a national strategy aimed at the relatives and partners who provide care.

How the Support and Engage (RAISE) Family Caregivers Act can Help

One of the goals of RAISE is to increase financial security for family caregivers — it’s a much needed support for those of us giving care. I know the types of financial supports I’d like to have seen back in my caregiving days, like earned credits in Social Security if I took a leave of absence. Also, work-related strategies like telecommute, or part-time and flexible hours would have been a big relief. But that was early to mid-2000’s. Today, employers and HR departments tilt in favor of elderly caregiving.

Here are other examples that the Seniorcare.com Aging Council hope to see in the near future:

Advice from home care experts

How experts feel the RAISE Act can help

  • “Provide a Social Security earnings credit to family caregivers who take unpaid time away from employment, either by leaving their job or reducing hours. This prevents future Social Security benefits from being penalized due to caregiving. 2) Expand government programs that pay family caregivers. 3) Expand benefits programs and tax credits that help with out-of-pocket caregiving expenses.” Connie Chow, DailyCaring.com
  • Many family caregivers give up jobs to be able to care for an aging or ailing family member. Being able to access Medicare or another medical insurance program would allow them to take care of themselves as well as someone else. Further, if a caregiver, usually a woman, stops working, her retirement is jeopardized. Most programs for the elderly/caregivers are for those who qualify for Medicaid, thus eliminating benefits for those who are over the Medicaid limit and they are the ones who need help the most.” Donna Schempp, LCSW At Home with Growing Older.
  • “One of my clients who works for a large law firm has a HR department that does many of the phone calls and research family caregivers often need to do during work hours.” Margo Rose, BodyAwareGrieving.com
  • “A lump sum policy can be used to pay relatives or partners providing home-based custodial care. Since Medicare does not pay for custodial care, we recommend lump sum first diagnosis (cancer/heart attack/stroke) insurance and/or a whole life policy. A whole life policy that has accumulated cash value can also assure financial security for family caregivers and allow seniors to remain in their home.” Maureen Fitzgerald, Ph.D., BestMedigapRate.com
  • “The problem with the current support services and financial reimbursement for caregivers is that it all runs through the Medicaid system. You have to be already impoverished to get the little bit of help offered. Opening Adult Day Care centers and offering financial help through unemployment insurance or social security to people above the Medicaid limits would go a long way to provide financial security. It doesn’t seem possible though with Social Security already under attack.” Caren Isaacs , GetHealthHelp.com
  • “Financial security will become a major problem in the United States given current demographic predictions. Individuals are outliving their retirement savings and have, in general, not saved enough for the astronomical cost of home care. I believe that advanced planning is advised so that as many contingencies are covered as is possible. Working with a professional financial planner as early in the aging process as is practicable would be wise.” Marci Lobel-Esrig, Silverbills.com
  • “One of the biggest issues that arise when relatives and partners step in as caregivers is that they typically have to give up some earning capacity. They’re investing hours to care for loves ones and sacrificing compensation as they do. There must be formal measures in place to help make up for that lost income, and it would seem that tax incentives and tax credits would be a natural place to start.” Wendi Burkhardt, Silvernest.com
  • “Education! Every family should understand the financial implications associated with caring for an elderly or disabled loved one. Education should at a minimum include estimates of realistic costs associated with care, general information about the differences between Medicare and Medicaid, and the importance of purchasing long-term care insurance well in advance of any potential need.” Eboni Green, CaregiverSupportServices.com

The RAISE Family Caregiving Act is finally here and one that America’s first responders in elderly care are eager to see what’s next.

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Simple Eco-Friendly Changes You Should Know About

We are living in a great time, every year there are more products created that make it easier to live a greener, more eco-friendly life. And who doesn’t want to get in on that action? Let’s face it, the world needs some help, and we are in the position of knowledge now, we know what is good and what isn’t. From cleaning supplies to toothbrushes and shampoo bars, there are a million little ways that you can cut back and make changes that will have a positive impact on both you and the planet.

You don’t have to change your life completely to be able to make an impact either. Changing a single product in your routine will work, of course, the more, the merrier though!

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Why You Should Swap

The idea of eco-friendly products can seem like a bit of a minefield, but the truth is, they tend to be more simple in terms of ingredients and usage – once you are used to it of course. They have less of an impact on the planet, and in some cases, they even make significant contributions. Like the companies that plant trees, recycle and donate to green charities if you buy their goods. Going ‘green’ can be more economical too.

Hydrate and Reuse

Reusable water bottles. The chances are you aren’t drinking as much water as you should be anyway, but by getting a few reusable water bottles, and setting timers on your mobile phone, you’ll be hydrated and happy in no time. This cuts out the need to buy water bottles on the go too. Simple and effective. You can buy ones that are slightly more expensive that have reminders built in.

Clothing

Ditch the fast – fashion market and opt for more eco-friendly alternatives. They might cost a little bit more in price but they will last for a considerable amount of time and not only that, there are some cutting edge fabrics and designers. Coconut leather anyone? You can also check out a lyocell material consists of cellulose fibre. Tencel is being seen more often in high street stores too. It is produced in a sustainable way and is very versatile.

Straws

There has recently been a bit of backlash over a well known fast food chain swapping from plastic to cardboard. But, wouldn’t it be better if you were to carry your own mental straws instead? They’re easy to clean, usually come in a range of colors and designs and the best part is you won’t ever need to use a single-use plastic straw with a paper wrapper again.

By putting your money where your mouth is, you are making an impact on the world around you, and there is no ‘too small’ in this case. Taking control of what you use, and how you use it matters a great deal. There is an eco-friendly alternative to almost anything, it simply takes a spot of research and knowledge about the difference it makes.

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Simple Money Saving Ideas ( That Are Great For The Environment Too!)

The thing about saving money is that often, it’s not just good for your pocket, but it’s also great for the environment too, something that is becoming increasingly more important these days. In fact, there are some simple tactics you can use to make sure that both you and the earth are better off. Read on to find out what they are.

Buy used

First of all, when it comes to saving money going for an item that has been used or pre-owned can really help you save money.

Of course, the key here is to know that the thing you are buying is in good condition and will do the job that you need it to. What that means is that you need to scrutinize it before purchase, or alternatively be sure to get your used item from a reputable vendor like the one you can see when you click here that offers used car transmissions. After all, if you don’t from someone you can rely on you could end up paying out more for a new part if it’s not up to doing the job.

Additionally, buying things like used car parts can be better from the environment because it means new ones don’t need to be manufactured. This being something that saves physical resources, as well as energy in production and transportation too, as long as the parts are working efficiently.

Insulate

Next, if you want to save money in your own home, it can really help to insulate. This is because insulation can help you to maintain a comfortable temperature in your residence, whether that is cool in the summer or warmer in the winter.

Of course, the less energy you need to consume to heat your home, the better it is for the environment as well, so insulating isn’t just good for you bank balance, but for the Earth too.

Recycle

We live in a disposable culture, where we tend to buy new items as soon as something breaks, and then throw away the old ones. Of course, that isn’t a suitable model either for the planet or of our own financial stability, as always buying new things, it can cost a great deal of money.

To that end, something that can be useful both financially and environmentally is to recycle as much as possible, as well as buying things that are designed to last a long time.

In fact, it is entirely possible to swap out plastic items from glass ones that have a much longer life in the home, and so are much more environmentally friend because they can be quickly melted down and made into something else if they get broken or are usable in their current state.

Recycling at home can save you money, as well as help to save the environment.

Don’t forget that you can also choose to recycle item within the home to save you having to buy brand new things too. Something that can conserve money and also prevent our landfills from filling up with trash and polluting the environment as well.

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Recycling For The Greater Good

Photo by mali maeder from Pexels

When people think about recycling, they usually think of the bins, the tin cans, and the cardboard and while that is an essential part of recycling, it is also just the tip of the iceberg. There are loads more things you can recycle, and the benefits are endless. Recycling can help you to declutter your house at the same time as doing something good for the environment.

Start with small things such as batteries. Did you know that batteries can be recycled? There are several shops including Ikea which will accept your old, duff batteries limiting the number of batteries being dumped with other trash as they contain some heavy metals and toxic chemicals.

While it’s nice to have shelves full of books, it can also add clutter to your house. While there’ll be some of personal value to you that you can’t bear to part with, many of your books could be donated to second-hand bookstores, to the local library, local shelter or to charity. Or you could even make some money by selling them on Amazon.

Even if your car is a load of scrap, it can still be recycled at a junkyard. A vehicle will be crushed and then sold as scrap metal, which can sell for a high price these days meaning that you could get a tidy sum for an old banger, depending on the metal. Remember to clean it out thoroughly before it goes in though. Check all the cracks and crevices as you never know how much loose change or jewelry you might find and don’t forget to check the glove box either.  If your car is in too good shape for the scrap heap, then you could always take it to used car dealerships and buy from there also.  

As people upgrade their phones, as they must have the latest model – there are loads of phones and devices getting thrown away each year. Then there are all the ones which have been dropped or smashed, plunged into water or just lost then that’s another load going into the trash…so try not to add to it. If you’ve finished with your phone then have a look at companies who will buy used phones off you, some for parts and others to be wiped and sold on for someone else to use. Otherwise, if you’re feeling generous, you could donate your unwanted phone to Hope Line. Just make sure you wipe your phone of any personal data (numbers, notes, etc.).

The same goes for computers and other electronics. While most recycling centers have specific areas for your old televisions, computers, and fridges, there are different ways to get rid of your things and do-good while you’re at it. There are places which will accept used computers and electronics such as Best Buy or Cex and they might even pay you for it. Then there’s donating to Computers For Schools or the National Center for Electronics Recycling. Just make sure you wipe the hard drive to make sure there is no personal or identifying information left on the computer.

Both inkjet and laser printer cartridges also come with recycling instructions in the package. Just remember that before you recycle, to put the cartridge back into its original casing. If not, put it in a plastic bag.

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How Is Science Helping To Improve Reproduction?

Science has helped humans come on leaps and bounds over the past hundred years. We are now able to use and create technology that is incredibly advanced. Not only does it make our lives a lot more convenient, but it can also make them a lot healthier and safer as well.

There have been so many tech developments in the world of healthcare and medicine over the past few decades that humans have never been able to lead such healthy lives. Not only that, though, but reproduction and having babies has also been made easier for some couples as well. For some couples who have certain fertility issues, it could have been extremely difficult for them to conceive a baby naturally. These days, though, many of these couples are now able to start a family thanks to new scientific methods.

That’s just one of the ways science has helped to improve reproduction – read on to find out about some others!

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Improved Diagnosis Of Fertility Issues

Doctors can now diagnose fertility issues in people a lot quicker these days thanks to scientific improvements in the diagnostic process. Any men who are worried about their fertility can now go to a fertility clinic and take advantage of their computer aided sperm analysis service. As these computers aren’t that advanced just yet, some fertility clinics still get a laboratory andrologist to take a look at the sperm to see for themselves. However, the use of the computer analysis still speeds up the diagnosis process so that men can get the treatment they need much quicker. Scientific advancements have also shortened the diagnostic time for women as well, and any female fertility problems can be swiftly picked up.

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Better Treatments To Help Reproduction Problems

When a fertility problem has been correctly diagnosed, it is them important that the couple get the necessary treatment that will allow them to conceive. After years of research, there are now a few different treatments that can help improve the rates of reproduction in couples who do have some issues. Even though IVF has been used by a lot of couples for some years now, many scientific developments over the past decade or so have slightly improved this whole process.

LGBT Couples Have The Chance To Be Parents

Thanks to the development of medical procedures like artificial insemination and IVF with a donor egg or sperm, LGBT couples are now able to become parents if they wish. All they need to do is find a willing donor who will donate the sperm or the egg that is needed. More often than not, it is usually a close friend who donates, but there are now agencies that match up couples and donors. The artificial insemination can then be done at home – this is known as the turkey basting method. However, for better success rates, this should be carried out in a hospital where science can be used to improve the chances of the process working.

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The Risk Of Certain Diseases Can Be Reduced

Have you heard the term “designer baby”? This has been a bit of a buzzword for the past few years or so and it has become quite a controversial topic as it is thought that this new science could be misused by some couples. There is now scientific methods that give scientists and doctors the chance to alter the DNA and genetic makeup of a fetus at the point of contraception. Even though this can be used for a lot of good, such as removing any potentially dangerous genes that could result in the development of a life-threatening disease, it does mean that simple things like the sex and eye color of a baby can be altered. Many people disagree with using this technology for changing non-dangerous features of a baby, like hair and eye color, as it is just the same as playing God. Using this kind of science to create a technology isn’t legal in most countries just yet, but that might all change in the future.

Some Health Conditions Can Now Be Spotted Very Early

Of course, there are some health conditions that aren’t genetic and changing the genes of a baby might not be enough to prevent them. But recent developments have helped scientists come up with ways to spot these potential conditions while the baby is still in the womb. If these are spotted at an early stage of the pregnancy, then some treatments could be carried out during the pregnancy to try and help the baby, depending on what the health issue is. If there are no treatments that can be administered during the pregnancy, then at least doctors will have a head start on treatment as soon as the baby is born.

Endangered Species Are Being Helped To Reproduce

It isn’t just humans who are being helped by new and improved scientific process and technology in reproduction. A lot of animals have benefited from many recent developments as well. For instance, many endangered species that used to struggle to reproduce, such as pandas, now have an easier time conceiving. Some fertility treatments that are used on humans, such as IVF, have been trialled in certain species with positive results. Not only that, though, but other treatments and methods have also been used to try to encourage more sexual activity between animals as well.

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Science Can Prevent Reproduction For Couples Who Don’t Want A Baby

It’s also possible to look at things from the other side of the coin. Thanks to science, couples who do not wish to conceive and have a baby can now have sex without worrying about the implications. There are now many different methods of contraception, including the pill and hormone injections, that will make it almost impossible for them to conceive. These are great for couples who aren’t yet ready to start a family or just don’t want to have kids at all.

As you can see, there are many cool ways in which science is helping reproduction!

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10 Things You Can Swap For A Sensationally Sustainable Sleep Space

Everywhere you go in life, there are people trying to make things better for the planet and for those who inhabit it. There are some out there who don’t go out of their way to be overly green because they don’t believe that they’re going to make any kind of a difference. They also believe that being eco-friendly in the home means that speciality products need to be purchased. It is, however, not difficult to make excellent swaps to be eco-friendly without breaking the bank and without putting yourself too much out of what you’re already used to. Being greener in your home takes patience, education and breaking bad habits that you have. For example, you may install a recycling bin in your kitchen to help you to manage your waste without having to really think about it.

Everything that we throw out from the kitchen ends up back in our food; it’s cyclical. The amount of trash that we are expected to throw away is already alarming and if you consider that this is not an individual issue, that’s a lot of garbage to consider. One day, this could be catastrophic. The thing is, turning your home into a haven of green space can be done gradually room by room. Start with the kitchen with managing your waste and work your way to the roof with the installation of solar panels to help you to reduce your electricity bills. Taking steps toward tweaking every room in your house is exactly how you can make small steps toward a more efficient, eco-friendly life. The best thing is that your transition into a better lifestyle can make you feel better as a person especially with all the new hacks and products coming out to help your lifestyle change positively.

One of the rooms in the house that you can change to be more sustainable is – surprisingly – the bedroom. We spend a third of our lives asleep, so it makes total sense that we should want to start there for a healthy and comfortable sleep space. With the ten tips below, you should be able to cultivate the most sensationally sustainable sleep space possible.

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Organic Bedding.

A bed made of organic materials can be an expense that you may not have planned for or even considered. It’s also something that can be rather high when you’re not expecting to spend any money. So, to compensate for this, you could invest a little cash in organic pillows and mattresses. The coverlet and the duvet that you use can be in the best organic material that you can find. These can give you a healthy and safe environment to sleep on without breathing in any chemicals. You could start with the use of an organic mattress topper first, if you’re worried about spending out too much in one go.

Natural Sheets.

Having the right mattress is important, but having natural sheets made of organic cotton is something that you should never skimp out on. All you have to do to know whether you’ve made the right choice on your sheets is whether there is a Fairtrade label on the tag. The conventional cotton options still use pesticides, but if you choose products that are Fairtrade, you can be safe in the knowledge that the creators were treated fairly with the planet in mind.

Eco-friendly Curtains.

The windows are the eyes of the bedroom and when you’re making your window dressing choices, you should do what you can to pick curtains that are eco-friendly – like your bedding. They may cost that little bit more, but the way that you hang curtains and dressing on the windows can also have an effect on the energy expenditure of your house. Curtains at the window keep the heat locked in, so you should do whatever you can to ensure that this is the case. Organic curtains are the way forward.

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Sustainable Flooring.

If you are choosing to renovate the entire bedroom, you should think about replacing the flooring in the home. You could choose to be quirky with your choices, going for cork or bamboo as light and sustainable flooring options. There are even recycled floors in the way of metal, glass, and rubber which are continuing to gain popularity at the moment. Of course, you may not be able to afford to replace the flooring in your bedroom, especially if the flooring that is in there is already quite new. Don’t make swaps just for the sake of swapping; make a point of the right choice when you have the money and the indication to replace the floor.

Paint.

The fastest way to change the look of your bedroom is to give the walls a lick of paint. A lot of people love to give the whole house a freshen up every few years, and if you look at the label and find Zero-VOC when you choose the next colour, you’ll know that the seal is intact enough not to release any chemicals when you open the pot. Paint is a toxic substance, so it can help to know that you’re not adding anything toxic to the world around you.

Furniture.

It feels like a good idea to head to a chain store and make a huge purchase of furniture at a knock-down price. However, those furniture packs that you buy may carry a far heavier burden than the delivery cost! Sustainable furniture means knowing who has made your furniture in the same way that it means knowing who makes your sustainable clothing. Checking out antique stores and second-hand stores can help you to find the best options for you at a better price than buying brand new sustainable furniture, especially as brand-new furniture carries a far higher price tag.

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Home Made Cleaning Products

As mentioned earlier, you spend a third of your life in your bedroom. Having a space that is clean and tidy is so important and not just for your physical health, but your mental health, too. There are plenty of tips on the internet out there, though, that can give you cleaning hacks and products that don’t include harsh chemicals for you to breathe in throughout the night. You can have a squeaky-clean sleep space without impacting your health while you rest.

Nature.

The best thing that you can add to your bedroom to make it as green as possible is – of course – nature. Tall plants or vases of fresh flowers can be natural air purifiers for your bedroom. Walking into the bedroom and breathing in the nature around you and feeling calm as you do so is a great way to enhance your sleep. There’s no need for plug-in air purifiers when you have nature’s air purifiers to do the job for you. It’s so easy to take care of plants, too, just check out this indoor house plant guide to find out how.

Thrifty Décor

The rest of your bedroom needs to be filled a little; there’s nothing worse than walls full of blank space in the bedroom. Vintage bedroom items and works of art can be found in second-hand and thrift stores. There are fantastic vintage sellers on eBay and Facebook Marketplace if you don’t have anything in the stores local to you. Décor can include rugs, artwork, wall murals and mini tapestries, so get your creative hat on!

Lighting

Lastly, you need to consider the lighting in your bedroom in a big way. The bulbs in your lamps and main ceiling light may be a total drain on your electric supply and the energy that you use, so think about switching to LED lights. These use a lot less energy than others and you can find them in all shapes and sizes. You should also consider keeping curtains open throughout the day for natural light. Bedrooms should be soft in the light in them as they are a place of sleep and rest, which means needing as much darkness as possible.

You can see by the ten tips above that you won’t have to take much time starting out on the most sensationally sustainable suggestions for your bedroom. Your bedroom can be the eco haven you have so desperately wanted to have and it doesn’t have to be too expensive to get you there. The smaller change that you make for your room can help you to inspire the bigger changes that you implement throughout the rest of the house, too, so that you can have a home that is increasingly green.

The more you change about your home, the healthier it will be as time moves forward. You can be the change that starts in the bedroom, just take it one step at a time. Apply a budget to your house, too, because once you get started with making green swaps, you’re going to find it hard to stop!

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