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Monday, December 22, 2014

 

Wild and wet 2007

Well that was a hairy couple of days. I mean the rain fell so hard around here that it might have made your head bleed. Good job I was wearing a hat, then. Street patrols got pulled Friday and Saturday because the Roads were more like rivers and the rivers more like tide races.

I saw the weather front coming in on Thursday evening while walking the dog; ait first made it's entrance as a thick band of musclebound cloud followed by a solid sheet of dark grey decorated only with far off lightning flashes. Double timed it home and battened down the hatches just as the first heavy rain hit. Dog went and hid in a corner, poor mutt. I gave myself a stiff whiskey and an early night.

At work on Friday we busied ourselves shooing people out of the levels of car parks that were threatening to become lakes. This didn’t stop one guy deliberately moving the cones we had used to block off the affected car park and getting stuck in the rising waters. Silly bastard. Four or five other cars just sat there as the waters rose, leaving them stranded up to their wheel arches, their owners fuming quietly in the downpour. A number of the guys, including me, were sent home early because otherwise we wouldn’t have got home at all on Friday. All this and the last day of School run insanity.

At home water started seeping under the front door and into the cellar, threatening to soak the electricity meters and blow our power supply, so I spent a while making an improvised seal with a few tea towels and stood duty with a mop and bucket. Fortunately our cellar didn’t flood, but one of our neighbours wasn’t so lucky, as far as I know he’s still bailing, and his cellar had supposedly been sealed against this sort of thing. From the sound of things from elswhere around town, our little area came off lightly. Others weren’t so fortunate. What price waterside property?

What didn’t help was my phone going off non-stop all afternoon. “You all right?” Comes the voice of my Mother in law, who was at her home in the far, and much dryer, southwest watching the dramatised version on the news.
“I can’t talk now, got a bit of a situation on my hands.” I really had to finish what I was doing immediately or no light, heat or Internet this weekend.
“Oh can I help?”
“Not unless you can get here via the floods inside an hour and help me close a few gaps.” I tried to sound casual, but it’s hard to be insouciant when you can see a very real risk of an electrical fire if you don’t do something about it quickly. I’m afraid I might have sounded a bit sharp over the phone as I don’t suffer fools gladly when things get a little tough. Oh what the hell, she can cut me out of her will if she wants to.

Mrs S had trouble getting home as all the roads were gradually closed by the rising waters, but she made it and so did the kids, which pleased me greatly. On my way out to her in a rescue mission that in the end wasn’t needed, I saw water fountaining up from under heavy cast iron drain covers and whole streets inundated by the light brown waters. I had to turn back five times from places where the water was completely impassable. Most of the back roads that ordinarily were dry had been completely submerged in places to a depth of a metre and over at more than one point. Abandoned cars that had tried to go through the floods too fast ended up blocking the shallowest parts of the rapidly deepening waters, and so my possible routes to collect my wife. All the time, the rain hammering down and the nagging worry in the back of my head about the electrical distribution board downstairs.

A worrisome time. Fortunately for us the rain stopped and we, like most of our neighbours escaped inundation. We had a pizza and a bottle of wine between us to celebrate our good fortune. That was nice.

Anyway, the news is that I’m packing this parking enforcement lark in. Although it’s not a bad life out on the streets and car parks, my problem is like so many before me I’ve begun to suffer quite badly in the foot department because of the long distance walking in heavy boots. The pain, even chewing painkillers five days out of six, has had me almost in tears at times, and that doesn’t happen very often. Even my Doctor has recommended that I resign to save any further permanent damage to my feet. “You need a different job.” Were his precise words I as I recall.

Following his informal advice I have submitted my resignation. I think it is well past time for me to look for some different (And softer on the old plates) streets to walk, while I am still able to do so. Wearing heavy work boots to cover an average of 17 miles per working day has done my feet no good at all. So much for ‘elf & safety culture.

How do I feel about finishing with the job? Mildly miffed of course, but there’s a whole other world out there and I’m off to see it. The only issue that leaves me with is what to do about the blog? Keep adding bits about my own particular take on the world? Bin it? Leave it as an archive? I haven’t decided yet.

On this subject, I was chatting online to Merys of “I am not a drain on society” recently via google and I broached the news of my impending retirement. She’s in my neck of the woods this weekend and we’re going to bring our significant others and have a natter over coffee or something. See how I feel about the blog then.

That was then.  June 2007.  Today is 20th December 2014.  A lot of water has flowed under many bridges since.

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

 

Time to move on

And so, the end is near, well it's here actually. I've got to the point where posting here on "Walking the Streets" about expat life in Canada seems, well, inappropriate; so I have elected to shift all my writings on various subjects to here.

Why? The well of Parking Enforcement stories has run dry, and the newer stuff just doesn't fit into the category any more. The Wordpress blog doesn't fit either. Ergo the new location, and a slightly new look with some nicer gizmo's and tidier HTML. Visit me sometime.

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Emergency plan

Western BC, especially over here on Vancouver Island, expects everyone to have an emergency kit and 'escape route' planned in case of forest fire (A real risk) earthquake (Real risk) and Tidal wave (Possible risk). This is not unreasonable as we sit neatly near the 'ring of fire' around the Pacific Ocean where earthquakes and suchlike are not unknown. Mrs S and I were discussing how fast we could get out and to safe(ish) ground within five minutes of a warning.

Being as we have already roughed it all the way across the great divide and back, cooking over camp fires and sleeping in our Windstar, we reckon that we could be up and out of the house, fully kitted up within two minutes without too big a problem. Rations and water for 72 hours the lot. Our neighbours are already so equipped.

All this being said and done, we might never need it, but it's nice to feel that you can cope if there's a real problem. However, when I go back to the UK to see my mother in January 2008, I may find myself frisked everywhere I go if this report is anything to go by.

'Fortress Britain'? I have but one comment to make. It's no good living in a stronghold if the enemy is already inside. To dig out one of the most appropriate flat pack cliche's; door, locking, stable, bolted, horse, the, the, it's, good, no, after, has.

Britain didn't need this kind of thing during the years the IRA were chucking bombs around on the mainland, so what's the point now? It'll be a nightmare to enforce, financially and physically and the nutters will only have to be lucky once, but the security services will have to be lucky all the time. Feel safer now?

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

 

The road less travelled


What Path Do You Take In Life? For Guys and Gals! Pics and Lengthy Results.



B:

You take the Road Less Travelled. Who wants to go where everyone else has already gone anyway? You look for the hidden paths, ones most don't see and don't care to venture down. You go boldly and stand proud discontent with what's been put in front of you, determined to find a way perfect for you even no one else will take it with you. You live as you want and not for others, but be careful not become selfish. Others may need you and you should be there for them, especially the ones close to you. You tend to be the leader in most situations and people listen and trust you not lead them astray. Your firm in your opinions and beliefs and unwilling to change yourself to suit other people. By the same token, you can be stubborn to a fault, change isn't always a bad thing you know. Everyone changes and grows, you shouldn't try to stay exactly the same or you could be left behind. Then again, you may change frequently. Some people change to fit in, you my little non-conformist, may change to be set apart. It's great to be different, but it's also just as great to have things in common with people, even if those people are in that "crowd" you seem to have a vendetta against. Don't try to be different, just be who you are, whoever that is and you'll be unique all on your own. So make some time for people, let yourself blend into the crowd every once in awhile, you may just learn something about them and yourself you never knew before.

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I love my dog.......but

Afternoon walk with dog (Off leash) down to the shoreline to see what the storm had done at the waters edge. Dog (See centre of poor picture below) goes out of sight while I'm doing a spot of beach combing. Dog is not required to be on a lead in this area, so I'm quite happy to let him run free.
Stopped to watch Sea Otters fooling around in the water a couple of hundred yards away and didn't notice that Dog had gone his own sweet way. Spent a short while replacing a few rocks in the home made beach stairway (It's a sort of a local thing, everyone who uses the path helps fix it) so I could easily return to the woods from whence we had arrived. I was so busy that I did not worry that Dog was nowhere to be seen. Usually, he never strays far from me, so I didn't concern myself overly with his absence.

A quarter hour later, having finished what I was doing, I set off up the steep slope home. Called dog repeatedly, worried somewhat if some of the more carnivorous local wildlife had invited him for an informal lunch. I couldn't hear or see anything of him, which was less than usual. Swore under my breath at the disobedient animal, then climbed the track and strode down the short lane to our house, hoping that the stupid animal was okay. Went to the back door and called him. No response. Called for Mrs S repeatedly. Neither responded. Turned the air a pale shade of cobalt with my language, shut the door and quickly retraced my steps.

Mrs S was coming up the other path from where we had been beach combing, obviously worried sick because dog had arrived home without me. We returned home, glad that everybody was fine. "When Dog came back on his own, I thought you'd fallen down the cliff." She said. "I waited. but it was getting dark."
"No, the damn animal buggered off without me." I responded, and gave her a hug for caring.

Dog has forfeited post walk biscuit for running off home without me and worrying Mrs S sick. I hope he understands why.

On the lighter side, it could have been worse, I could really have fallen and been unable to call for help. Even so I was carrying my phone to call for help if need be. We're out at the edge of civilisation here, and the downside of living here is that there are Bears and Cougars around, and even I would be an easy lunch for one of them had I really been hors de combat. As Mrs S remarked. "There's a lesson here."

Yeah, keep an eye on the dog, and don't let him prance off on his own to worry everyone else to death. I do love my brain dead mutt, but sometimes, just sometimes.........

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Monday, November 12, 2007

 

Debris

Woken up in the middle of the night by a huge thunderclap at the height of the storm we’ve just had. That, as we say over in BC, was a doozer! Dog was fretting like nobody’s business all night, and I think something moderately large and feline was stalking around outside. I found what looked like wet pawmarks on the wall outside his room late this morning, so mister Cougar had probably been trying to find out what was nice, juicy and edible inside the two-legs box thingy. Mister Cougar will get a big headache if he pulls that stunt because this particular two-legs has got a large axe inside the door.

Largish fleabitten moggies notwithstanding, the fun is over. The skies are blue, and everyone is picking up the pieces, especially the logging company. On Saturday we saw this pootling down the straits. Today half the log boom was scattered all over the bay making navigation difficult. Phones and power are down further south, but otherwise no panic. We had our power cuts in the early part of Friday morning, and here’s me needing my beauty sleep more than anyone else.

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Speed doesn’t kill?

Pootling around the pages of the Torygraph’s motoring section as I am wont to do on a lazy Sunday afternoon, I came across an article based on a book excerpt about scare stories called “Speed Cameras, the twisted truth”. As everybody knows, the sensible Canadians ditched speed cameras and have very effective Police patrols (I know this from personal experience). This means that the Police have enough Traffic resources to stop suspect vehicles and catch ‘impaired’ drivers before they can do serious harm. They also nick you for speeding or if your vehicle is in an unsafe condition, but that’s part of the law and they enforce it fairly.

I’m adding a sidebar link to Mr Smith’s “Safe Speed” web site, because I’ve read what he says, checked the statistics from several sources, and find merit in his arguments. He is not arguing for no speed limits, only for the rest of the Highway Code to be enforced properly, and not by cameras but real live coppers who can keep the lid on the downright anti social and stupid simply by their presence.

To be honest, I’ve always wondered about the bald assertion that speed kills in ‘over a third’ of all RTA’s (Road Traffic Accidents). Not that speed doesn’t kill, but the actual figure is running at more like 12.7% (Including ‘probable’ and ‘contributory’ deaths) than the 35% I’ve heard quoted by the ‘Speed is really, really bad’ lobby. The major causes of death on the UK’s roads appear to be what used to be called ‘Driving without due care and attention’ and what they call over here ‘Impaired driving’ (Drink or drugs).

Mr Smith also came in from a slating a while back from the Guardian’s George Monbiot (For whom I have little respect – See sidebar for ‘Autorantic Moonbat’) who apparently called Paul Smith’s side of the argument “The road rage lobby”. Monbiot can’t have read Safe Speeds web site content, which far from being the irresponsible organ Monbiot outlines, is a very sober and structured set of articles arguing for a return to less two dimensional means of Traffic Enforcement than speed cameras.

As an ex-parking enforcement officer I can recall seeing people deliberately driving the wrong way up one way streets, vehicles climb the kerb while their drivers were talking on their mobile phones, pedestrians made to scatter on crossings, and all because a lack of actual on street enforcement. Of course we parking plodders would call the incidents in to CCTV when we saw them, but 90% of the time you didn’t even get an acknowledgement. We did used to help with the odd drunk driver giving one or two of our number a mouthful. On five out of six incidents where we called in “Driver very abusive, breath smelled strongly of alcohol.” we heard that the culprit had been caught and booked for Drink Driving. That felt good. I’ve (As I’ve probably mentioned before), lost a lot of close friends to people who thought it was safe to drive while rat arsed, and really have no love for anyone like that.

As a keen motorcyclist, I recall a number of my friends fell victim to the ‘SMIDSY manoeuvre’ and took a header over some fools bonnet as a result. Sometimes they didn’t survive, and all because the car driver wasn’t paying proper attention. I’ve known court cases where the bench have sided with the errant driver just because the injured party was riding a motorcycle. I can only account for my own relatively unscathed survival in twenty plus years of riding (In most weathers) to sheer paranoia, good road instincts, and simple good luck. Oh yes, and paying close attention to the tenets outlined in the Police riders manual ‘Roadcraft’.

As for speed alone being the cause of any misfortune, it doesn’t kill as many as by those so blind they should not have a licence (Poor eyesight). Nor does it kill anywhere near as many as those who drink, drive whilst on medication (I include ‘just a dose of Night Nurse’), illegal drugs, or drive whilst ill, and who amongst us hasn’t done that? Nor does it kill as many as those who basically are not paying proper attention to what they are doing, the impatient, the careless, feckless and occasionally utterly idiotic.

Besides, I’ve always reckoned that the best places for speed (Sorry, Safety) cameras is actually in urban and suburban areas. Say for example at pedestrian crossings and junctions where people routinely ‘jump the lights’ and block junctions. They have such cameras in situ here in BC, and no one complains because the sane folks hereabouts reckon that jumping a red light is about as safe as slapping a hungry Grizzly across the nose with a wet hanky. Yet certain idiots still persist in doing it. Jumping the lights, that is. You don’t tend to find much left after a hungry Grizzly Bear has finished with someone.

What the hell, you can’t tell someone who just won’t listen. Especially if they support the current UK governments position.

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Saturday, November 10, 2007

 

Just a poppy

Bought my poppy to show rememberance and respect for those who have served their country. You will note I chose the red option as always (Used my new phones camera, you can tell, can't you?). As always I shall observe the two minutes silence.

Someone (Can't remember who, they were just being an arsehole) once insisted upon telling me with a wagged finger under my nose no less (a high risk strategy on his part), that the red poppy 'glorifies war' and is therefore a bad thing. I choose to disagree. To me it is a symbol that we remember all that our parents did during wartime so that we can have the life we have. It's about the guys who get hurt on duty and need help. It's not about glorifying anything. Wearing a red poppy on rememberance day is just to say thanks.
 

So it's not just me then

Well, well, well. All this climate change hysteria surfaced again on Thursday with the founder of the US Weather Network calling it a ‘Scam’. I’m inclined to agree, even though dissenting voices like these seem to be few and far between. At least those that get the serious column inches in the mainstream media.

There are even rumours that there is some sort of semi official policy aimed at repressing the dissenting voices. The scuttlebutt coming out of the back door of academia tends to indicate that this is the case. I keep running across people with friends and family in and around academic circles whose stories all have this in common; If you want funding for any type of University research, then inserting ‘ as pertaining to Global warming’ or ‘as affected by climate change’ in your bid for funding is all but essential to get that research moolah. Rather like research into proving smoking leads in many individuals to the development of heart disease or various Cancers was once almost impossible to get. Those who held the purse strings, the vested interests, the politicians, were not interested because they didn’t want it to be true. Thus it seems to be with any ‘unfashionable’ postulation, whether there is truth in it or not. Now I can’t ‘prove’ this definitively because I personally don’t know anyone who wants funding for climate or other scientific research. All I have to go on are the anecdotes that keep filtering out which contradict the fashionable view.

Similarly, published scientific studies that contradict the “Omigod! We’re all going to drown / die of sunburn / be eaten by wandering Polar bears because the evil Americans and their SUV’s have melted the world’s ice!” propaganda tend to get rubbished, sidelined or ignored.

The regular press tend to bury them, rather like the story that the man who founded the US Weather Network who called ‘Global warming’ a scam. On the Daily Telegraph website, around 08:00 9th November 2007, this story was front page news. When I finally kicked Mrs S off our elderly laptop and logged on just before 23:45 9th November 2007 it had disappeared. To find it in the archives you had to know what you were looking for to find the story at all. Searching with the keywords ‘Climate change’ and ‘Global warming’ on the old Torygraph’s web site couldn’t find it. Almost as if it had been shunted off into a side room like an embarrassing Great Aunt.

Delving a little deeper I found this little gem of scientific analysis; no pseudoscience, no anthropomorphism, no Gaia, no ‘statistics’, just pages of data and analyses, which although hard to understand (To me at least), seem to contradict the version foisted on us by the politicians and mainstream media and point to much lower levels of change than we are constantly being told are occurring. The final paragraph of page 19 being the kicker. Don’t take my word for it, read it for yourself, and for those of you who find all this data confusing, that is where key points such as this can be found;

“the climate system may be considered in near steady state to applied forcings”

So all those in the higher latitudes thinking of turning in their ice skates and skis for sun loungers should not perhaps be in quite such a hurry. The ice and snow will be back shortly. With a vengeance. Remember the Ice Storms of 1998? Ice storms aren’t new.

Other sources which challenge the new orthodoxy may be found here, here, here, and here.

Like anyone who has spent a good deal of their time outdoors I hold that the Earth is a dynamic organism where change is the only constant. Stuff happens in cycles. Examples are strewn all through recorded history. The comparative warmth of the Roman period, the Medieval warm period. The exceptional European winters from 1550 to the 1680’s when ‘Winter Fairs’ were held on the frozen river Thames. Anecdotal evidence from a Chinese exploration fleet that found little ice in the polar regions around 1276. Change isn’t new. Very little of it is to do with human activity. We are almost incidental to our world’s climate.

Look at the fossil record and tell me if the Dinosaurs or Trilobytes, or any one of the species that suffered mass extinctions had a consumerist lifestyle. No? Well there’s a surprise.

To quote the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam;
"The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ, Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line, Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it." Anthropocentric? Hah! Mankind as a species isn’t that important. Ten million years (A twitch in geologic time) and all we’ve ever been will be odd fossils for the next intelligent species to come along. Deep time will see to that.

As for ‘reducing your carbon footprint’, ‘Carbon offsetting’ and all the stealth taxation riding on the back of the hysteria – doesn’t this all sound suspiciously like the newly established political class flexing it’s muscle? I will go even further and suggest the following; Man-made climate change is a fairy tale invented as a tool for political repression which goes as follows; “Stop having fun right now or we’re all going to die and it will be all your fault!” On the other hand this suppression could all be a massive cock-up, which knowing my fellow humans as I do, seems far more likely. Discuss.

Now I’m off to walk my dog and watch the Sea Otters. If I’m lucky an Orca or Sea Lion might be passing down channel pursued by one of the ‘Whale Watching’ boats.

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Thursday, November 08, 2007

 

Naked greed and hatred

Ahem, I am caving in here to commercial pressures and put a little 'PayPal' button on the sidebar so that any dear, sweet, (Hurls breakfast - sorry about the mess) reader who feels charitably inclined towards this poor old, knackered (Coff, and even more pathetically, coff, coff) ex-enforcement officer can make a direct donation towards keeping this bog alive. I've tried putting stuff up for sale, writing a book and Google's Adsense, now this. Spare a penny or two guv'nor(s) and I'll keep the rabid drivel even more rabid. Hells bells, I'll even (Oh dear God the shame of it) do request items.

Tell you the truth, I've had a day. Immigration were not sympathetic and said bluntly about Mrs S's updated and activated Social Insurance Number; "Oh dear, they shouldn't have done that." The 'They' being Services Canada. Apparently, according to Immigration, even though the Tax people said that the opposite was the case, until our Permanent Residency application is processed (An event I am told which is three years in the future), my wife cannot use her SIN number to get a job. We have to still go the long way round, despite the fact that she is officially a 'Landed Migrant' and the SIN cards legitimacy has never been questioned by anyone else.

Now if you'll forgive me, I'm not a little miffed about this. I've put a lot of emotional capital into this emigration thing, and to be constantly rebuffed in this manner is something I thought I'd left behind on the streets of England. At about half past eleven this morning I announced to Mrs S; "Sorry love, I've lost the will to live." and went and sulked in the car reading John Grisham's 'King of Torts' while she went to the other two appointments she had arranged for early afternoon.

All the extra immigration rules that have come in since the events of 9/11 have made the lives of us ordinary folk just that much harder, and I not only blame the politicians for tying the hands of the security services and Police, but I also blame Osama Bin Laden and his fellow travellers for declaring a pointless war on the West. If it hadn't been for that egomaniacal half wit, Mrs S and I would be well on our way to being citizens of Canada right now.

When he dies and is buried, should the opportunity arise, I intend to take a pilgramage to his grave, and then I am going to piss all over it. I suspect I may have to join an extremely long queue. This is not because I have anything against Islam as a religion, just that particular cunt. Then when I die, I am (If there is such a place) going straight to Hell and volunteer for a job as a demon just so I can torment that motherfucker and all his little friends for the whole of eternity. He'll be there, no one can kill that many and go anywhere but. It'll be worth it.

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Flat packs

This afternoon has been spent trudging around shop after shop looking at bits of furniture. We're still trying to keep within budget, which isn't easy as the value of the Canadian Dollar or 'Loonie' has been skyrocketing against the US Dollar. This is good for the Canadians as they can buy more gasoline even while the world price is at an exceptional price. With the price of gold likewise high, this means the Canadian gold mines are doing better than brisk business.

All the good news like near full employment and booming business rather passed me by this evening as I was driven to my knees building flat pack furniture. Most furniture in Canada, apart from bed, sofas and the like comes as a flat pack. Tables, chairs, bookcases, shelf units the lot.

Mrs S was sitting watching while I simultaneously cooked the dinner and built two shelf units, all the while making helpful comments like "Does it have to go in that way?" or "Mind your fingers!" or "I didn't want it there." Divorces have been occasioned by such imprecations and I'm sure it was Mrs Crippens constant carping about the wallpaper and Dr Crippens prowess as an interior decorator that led to her untimely demise.

No matter, the apartment is furnished, the Windstar insured, and we're off to see the immigration people tomorrow. My wife wants to be told (For about the fifth time) that she can stay in Canada without having to leave the country every six months, and yes she can take a job. Sometimes I wonder if she's not looking for someone to say no. This is driving me ever so slightly crazy. If when she gets told everything is okay tomorrow, she goes looking for yet another opinion it's going to be "Pass me the straitjacket love, I'm going to invoke the repatriation clause of the travel insurance about mental health."

Then they can flat pack me in the hold of a 747 and drop me out at 35,000 feet because I'll have lost the will to live.

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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

 

Business as usual


Life must be terribly hard in the managing evil empires business. One minute you're commanding the massed fleets of the evil Empire against the rebels, the next busking with a violin in Victoria BC. Showbiz, eh?

Hi ho. It's all part of life's rich tapestry.

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Location: British Columbia, Canada

Exasperated expatriate expostulations all the way from British Columbia, Canada. As if anyone really cared. Oh, I also watch Icelandic Volcanoes and seismic activity. Don't ask me why.

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