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"amy welborn"

 

First, here are the links to all my London 2017 posts.

A general link.

Preparation

Day 1 – arrival, wandering and learning the city

Day 2 – Tower of London and the British Museum

Day 3 – Churchill War Rooms and more British Museum

Day 4 – National Gallery, the Globe, Lego-ish things, Southwark Cathedral, Borough Market

Day 5 – Greenwich, St. Paul’s and Harrods

Day 6- Wandering the city and then the Warner Brothers/Harry Potter Studio Tour

Day 7 – Natural History Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum, London Oratory, Tyburn Convent

Where we stayed and what we ate. 

P1010695

Now, some general observations about traveling to London, period, and specifically with kids – older kids, albeit, but still kids.

  • We can’t claim to be world travelers, at all, but we have done our share: Mexico (Yucatan Mayan sites as well as  a small town for mission work); Italy, both large cities and smaller towns, and Sicily; Barcelona and Madrid, Spain, France, both Paris and several small towns and some rural areas, and Germany – a small resort town in Bavaria.
  • I’d say that if you can deal with the size of it – if you are not intimidated by cities – London is one of the more comfortable experiences an American can have traveling overseas. The habits and expectations of living everyday life seem very close to what we know as regular life in the United States. There is, of course, the English language factor, but even aside from that, there just seem to be far fewer Secret Handshakes of Polite Living that the American tourist would be clueless about and be sniffed at for neglecting.
  • But London is ….big. Yes, it’s spread out, but it’s larger than New York City, and just as popular a tourist destination – if not more. There are areas of London that, in the last week of March, were chaotically crowded. I can’t imagine what it’s like in the summer.
  • London is a huge, metropolitan busy city, but really…the people I encountered here, both just in daily encounters and people working in shops, restaurants and attractions – were very, very nice. The level of politeness was extraordinary.
  • One of the reasons I had never put London on the top of my travel list is that I was under the impression that it was comically expensive. I didn’t experience that. Even doing the pound-to-dollar translations in my head, I didn’t feel I was paying even New York City prices for things. We stayed in an apartment, but I did look at a lot of hotels in my planning, and it seemed that there were very good values available, even for family groups. There is a lot of relatively inexpensive food available. Many of the big attractions are free admission, and there are deals (like 2-for 1) available for the others, and many have family admission rates, which helps.
  • Don’t be intimidated by the public transportation system – it’s easy to learn, and structured just like any other in any city – as long as you know the destination that’s at the end of the line you need to be on, you’re fine. Don’t be intimidated by the Oyster Card system either. It seems confusing, but once you get it – it makes a lot of sense, and is so much more convenient than all those stupid little slips of Paris Metro tickets. Just don’t forget to turn in your Oyster Card at the end for a refund of remaining funds and the card deposit. Like some people. Argh.
  • Also, as is the case in any city, the subways are best avoided during rush hour. Prices are higher, and crowds are insane. I for sure wouldn’t take a small child on the Tube at rush hour, if I could help it.
  • What should you do? It’s up to you and your family’s interests. My kids are experienced, patient and sometimes even interested museum-goers, so we do a lot of that, but London presents a good opportunity to do some relaxed museum touring, even if your kids aren’t keen on them– the major museums don’t charge admission and although they are not all right next to each other, as would be the case in Washington DC, it is easy to get around – so there’s no reason to declare a day British Museum Day! And spend five hours there…unless you want to. Do take advantage of the considerable online guides and offerings that all the museums have, decide what you want to see and don’t feel an obligation to meaningfully ponder every single object that is in front of you.
  • My blog posts outline what we saw – what do I regret that we didn’t see? We didn’t tour Parliament. We didn’t get to either the Tate London or the Tate Modern. We didn’t see any of the free concerts at St. Martin’s in the Fields. We didn’t see a play at the Globe, but that’s because I wasn’t thrilled with what I heard about the production of Othello then playing. Those are my major regrets, but I don’t regret anything we did do, so I don’t know how we could have fit all the rest of that in.
  • We enjoyed our time in London. We actually do prefer time in smaller cities – one of our best experiences was in Padova, Italy – but London is important, varied, interesting and is a great opportunity to experience a truly global, multicultural environment.
  • Just…..Mind the Gap!

"amy welborn"

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After last week’s 2-or so hours of “school,” we were back in business with our usually daily dose of…three or four.

(New readers:  Over the past few weeks, I have been attempting a “Daily Homeschool Report,” not because I think what we do is so great, but rather because I think it’s helpful for accounts of typical homeschooling days to be out there for people to find. More and more folks are considering homeschooling, and having this kind of information out there might help dispel some myths and encourage (or discourage!) some.)

Last week was atypical, as I noted before – since Monday was a holiday, we “lost” a day there. But it’s important to note that although the only “school” was a few pages of math, the 11-year old experienced plenty of education over the course of the week:  A 2-hour introduction to the pipe organ. A 1 hour boxing class. A 90-minute zookeeper class at the zoo.  2 90-minute basketball practices and a game.  A science session centered on demonstrations of weather-related science. A professional (abridged) live  production of Comedy of Errors. A live symphonic performance of Bach/Webern and Schubert. A piano lesson. A piano performance, during which he played Joplin (original form, not adapted) and Burgmuller. A 90-minute homeschool open gym time with loads of kids. Private reading time of The Fellowship of the Ring and Farenheit 451. Play time with friends and brother at home.

It was actually a very good week.

But let’s go back and look at today. I always include rabbit trails if I remember them, because that’s an important – and one of the most enjoyable – parts of homeschooling.

  • Prayer: Feast is Chair of St. Peter. I said he probably didn’t remember seeing it in Rome 3 1/2 years ago, he insisted he did. I explained why it was important, the role of the sede  – the bishop’s chair, and we talked about where it is in our cathedral.  He asked why bishops stopped being elected by the laity, so I gave what I hope was an accurate 60-second synopsis of the history of the selection of bishops, explaining that as processes are abused, they are reformed and new processes emerge.  We read the reading aloud, and did the intercessions.
  • Copywork was – as it always is on Monday – Scripture, in this case, a sentence from the Gospel, Matthew 16.
  • First rabbit hole was literally about rabbits. I remembered seeing some photos of Giant Continental Rabbit, so we gaped over the big bunnies for a few minutes.
  • He finished Farenheit 451 over the weekend. We will deal with it in more detail through this week, but I asked his initial impressions, which centered today on the end of the book.
  • Math was half of the problems on these worksheets – solving equations.
  • For history he read the first section of chapter   of the textbook from the Catholic Textbook Project, From Sea to Shining Sea. The focus of the chapter (11)  was the history of Catholicism in the early National period – beginning with Charles and John Carroll – an interesting link to the earlier question about the selection of bishops.
  • He then spent a few minute telling me about “The Fortunate Islands” – I had given him this book  – The Dictionary of Imaginary Places – for Christmas, so he told me about this entry, which seem to have been imagined in a 17th century French account.
  • Started a new chapter in Writing and Rhetoric, which begins the study of argument by comparing a quarrel to an argument.  Two excerpts  were read – one by a Quaker against slavery and a portion of Patrick Henry’s speech to the Virginia Convention. He had to narrate the argument that were being made. What followed were several literary passages from sources like Twain which he had to identify them as either quarrels or arguments and explain why.
  • Then some drawing/reading/music time – his pick. He read for a bit, drew for a bit, then told me the beginnings of a story he was imagining – ten minutes worth, at least.
  • Last Friday, we heard live performances of Webern and Schubert. We read a short bio of Webern from this book (accidentally shot and killed by an American GI two months after WWII ended!), read about Schoenberg, talked about 12-tone and atonal music, then watched/listened to a couple of videos of his music. The conductor on Friday had mentioned that he normally wrote rather short music, and we found that to be true.  Then we watched part of a wretched auto-voiced video bio of Schubert until we couldn’t take it any more.
  • We finished up with a few videos:  a few from The Kids Should See This: the one on the top in the bubble, the starling murmuration and the cracking ice on Lake Superior. Then a few SciShow videos: Why we sneeze, why we faint and how dogs listen to us and puffer fish blow up.
  • He then wanted to find some videos on Didgeridoos, so that’s what he did while I made lunch – and then it was time to get brother.
  • Time frame: 9:30  – 1:30.

 

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…& Shakespeare with Kids

Those of you who follow my daily homeschool updates know that we’ve been working our way up to a performance of As You Like It. 

Well, the performance was last night, so I’ll recap our prep and the performance.

First, this isn’t our first Shakespeare rodeo. One of the reasons I started homeschooling was that I was sick and tired of the stupid, dumbed-down literature curricula in all schools. Wasting time answering questions about stories written to reflect current fashionable concerns about diversity and self-acceptance…can we be exposed to some realness instead? Realness being an exploration of the tension, darkness, possibility and hope of the human condition, recognized as wise and illuminating by the human community, treasured and handed down to us via the cumulative wisdom of human tradition.

Over the past three and a half years, we have “studied” (in our own light way) and seen performances of Macbeth (two), The Taming of the Shrew, Twelfth Night, A Midsummer’s Night Dream, Julius Caesar (our first) and now, As You Like It. 

(Reference – boys are now 11 & 14 years old)

Five of the performances have been at the Atlanta Shakespeare Tavern, one (Shrew) at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival (which seems to be presenting less and less actual Shakespeare as time goes on…)  and one (the second Macbeth) at Samford University. 

My older son is now in school (9th grade), but because he is resigned to my fascist ways  he has become accustomed to my “teachable moments” mode of parenting, only made more intolerable   honed even sharper by homeschooling, he doesn’t blink an eye when told that in the evenings, we’ll be spending a bit of time going over and talking about some Shakespeare.

(Specific resources? The Folger Library. There are loads of other resources online. I don’t have a specific go-to source every time. I do find that searching for “Play name” and “study guide” gets you to some great resources offered by various theaters around the country – most of them tend to produce study guides directed at educators and families for every Shakespeare production they are offering.)

(Also – there are many reasons to be tempted to move to the San Diego area, but the fantastic Shakespeare Academy regularly threatens to put me over the edge.)

So in tackling a play, we begin by going over a synopsis – perhaps in a picture book or one of the collections. Then we start reading through the play – not all of it, but simply parts that are the most vital/well-known or that I think will be most engaging to them. We all take our turns reading. Some enjoy that more than others.

We also might do some memorization – although when both of them were homeschooling, we were more dedicated to that than we are now, unfortunately. If you are at all interested in delving into Shakespeare with your children, Ken Ludwig’s How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare is invaluable. 

Then, interspersed with all of that, we watch – if we are going to see a performance, we don’t generally watch an entire film, with two exceptions: We watched the Brando Julius Caesar and the Taylor/Burton Taming of the Shrew.  We watched a lot of the Patrick Steward Macbeth, which I really like, but honestly the way the three sisters are portrayed is so creepy, at the time (two years ago, I guess), I fast-forwarded through those parts since I felt they were too intense.

And then we do a lot of scene comparison – watching different ways in which the three sisters have been played in film, different version of Julius Caesar  – the RSC production set in Africa was spectacular and illuminating, for example.

The BBC animated Shakespeare tales provide an engaging summary as well. 

As I have said before, we’re not about plot analysis or making charts about protagonists or antagonists. We want the story, the language and the big ideas and small moments, and to connect with these characters because their stories are about living in this world, and we want to grow in wisdom.

All of us.

So with As You Like It.  It’s not a complex play – once you get the family relations sorted out – so we didn’t take weeks and weeks to prepare. We began last Sunday – I sketched out (literally) the family relations, ran through a quick synopsis, and then we read chunks of the first act. On subsequent evenings, we read chunks of the second and third acts, watched the BBC animated version, and I called it done.  They understood it all well enough to be able to enjoy those last two acts without study, so that was it.

The Atlanta Shakespeare Tavern provides a great time. I guess you would call it dinner theater, but we’ll call it an Elizabethan theater tavern instead. Evening shows begin at 7:30, seating opens a bit more than an hour before. Food and drinks are served until about ten minutes before the show begins (kitchen reopens at intermission with desserts). The food is okay, although not very my-kid-friendly. Last night we made do with chili – with extra chips – and the bread basket.

It’s a great, casual atmosphere. Tables on the floor level, as ell as a balcony.  Volunteers help with the dining area and tickets, but so do members of the company, so the guy you remember playing Cassius that one time might be clearing your table.

It’s an ideal venue for introducing children to Shakespeare performances. The audience tends to be very diverse – as Atlanta is as a city – and when there are comedies performed, there are usually a good number of children, so they can see that this is not just a grown-up-school- thing. This is a people thing.

I’m going to say that I think this performance of As You Like It was one of the best we’ve seen there. There were some new faces to us – the actor who did double duty as the wrestler Charles and Duke Senior was a particular favorite, as was Touchstone. Shenanigans and schtick happens, but you know what…it’s a COMEDY.

Some notes:

Playing Rosalind is like fulfilling a million different childhood dreams at once. At different points in the play, I get to channel a Disney princess, Hermione Granger, Carol Burnett, and even Ron Swanson from Parks & Recreation. But I also get to channel Dani, which didn’t used to feel like a dream at all. As Rosalind, I get to be weird and tall and loud and passionate, and I still get to kiss the kind, beautiful guy at the end. And if the audience is laughing at me, it probably means that I did something funny.

 

 

It was a busy day: They served retreat Mass at the convent at noon, then we jumped in the car and went straight to Atlanta…to Mass. (I knew everyone would be tired on Sunday, so I wanted to let them sleep in the morning. ) It’s a good education in understanding the differences between daily & Sunday Mass as well as the nature and reason for the Sunday (even in vigil) obligation.  We went to the Cathedral at 5 – the Irish pastor of which has that practice of opening a homily with an “amusing” story that has nothing whatsoever to do with the Scriptures, the season…anything. It is so weird. It doesn’t serve to bring us in, as I’m sure is intended, but is instead a distraction from Mass. Sorry.

The other weird thing – and please understand this is an enormous parish (5500 families) with a tiny church  – yes it is the Cathedral, but it was built in the 30’s when there weren’t that many Catholics in Atlanta – that only holds 700.  They have to do what they can do – and at 5, that means they have settled on having an English language Mass in the church and then a Spanish Mass across the hall in a multipurpose room. The English language Mass was no more than half full – the Spanish congregation looked packed out. Interesting.

So…Mass, drive, Mass, As You Like It, drive 2 hours back.

shakespeare tavern atlanta

Taken before the performance during the announcements. Phone was off during the show. I promise.

 

 

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Hurry, hurry. Late start (everyone stayed up late last night watching the game even though no one living here cared about either team, except in principled opposition. ) and it’s boxing day, so a focused day. Part of a day.

  • Prayer. Read the saint of the day from this book. Gospel for the day, read by him, Our Father prayed.
  • Had him find 1 Samuel in the Bible himself, as well as the passage (1 Sam 9:20). I often found that kids coming into 9th grade theology class from 8 years of Catholic grammar school education had no sense of the Bible as a whole, and no idea how to look up passages.  Had him summarize yesterday’s reading, then we read this passage aloud. Briefly alluded to Samson. Life would be a lot easier, honestly, if your two main Nazirites had more distinct names.
  • Copywork. Tuesday is poetry day. I have referred to this great site before – Garden Digest – which includes as part of its site pages and pages of month and season-related quotations and poems. It’s a fantastic resource, whether copywork is your object or not.
  • Trouble is, naturally, most of the January-themed poetry has to do with our frigid lives in the midst of icy, blustery, blanketing snow.

Ummm….

"amy welborn"

 

Well, it has been in the 30’s at night and in the mornings, so we did Shakespeare:

“Blow, blow, thou winter wind,
Thou art not so unkind
As man’s ingratitude;
Thy tooth is not so keen,
Because thou art not seen,
Although thy breath be rude.
Heigh-ho! sing, heigh-ho! unto the green holly:
Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly:
Then, heigh-ho, the holly! This life is most jolly.
Freeze, freeze, thou bitter sky,
That does not bite so nigh As benefits forgot:
Though thou the waters warp,
Thy sting is not so sharp
As friend remembered not.
Heigh-ho! sing, heigh-ho! unto the green holly:
Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly:
Then, heigh-ho, the holly! This life is most jolly.”

We read through it – actually he read it aloud. We teased apart some of its meaning, and he did the first 6 lines for copywork. Manuscript, then with just a bit in the cursive workbook – again, working for speed on that.

  • Math. More puzzles, then the next section on multiplication of positive and negative integers, here just getting across the point that value of your answer is going to depend on how many negative signs are in the problem – an even # will get you a positive answer, an odd, negative, of course.
  • History: Read a few pages from From Sea to Shining Seon the selection of Washington as Commander of the army and the beginnings of the Second Continental Congress. Read the equivalent chapter in The Story of Us We read those aloud, together, and discussed as we went along.
  • He finished up chapter 19 in Latin.
  • We talked about chapters 1-5 of Johnny Tremain, then he did some writing, using this Glencoe study guide. 
  • He added some detail to his BB-8 from yesterday.

And that was it. Pretty boring. Sorry. Very few rabbit trails today – we had a 12:30 deadine – that’s departure time for his homeschooler boxing class. And so that was it – timeframe, 10-12:30.

 

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Perhaps when I type this out it will seem to add up to a bit more than it does right now…

  • Prayer: Mass readings. Our Father, Hail Mary, prayers of petition.
  • Instead of copywork, on Fridays, he illustrates on of his previous copyright passages.  Today he chose John 1:45-46 and drew a truly dystopic Nazareth.
  • That took a while.
  • Then math. Reviewed multiplying negative and positive integers by watching this Khan Academy video and doing these Beast Academy worksheets. 
  • A lot of history. He read about Bunker Hill in From Sea to Shining Sea and The Story of Us, and we watched the relevant section in the Liberty! series. It’s really good! 
  • Then, er, I made banana bread. So chemistry!
  • Not kidding. From me the Insufferable Teaching Moment Mom. I printed this sheet on baking chemistry.  We reviewed the difference between physical and chemical change. Then (mostly) he pulled the banana bread together while we went over the contribution of each ingredient to the process.  And now I, too, understand the difference between baking soda and baking powder.
  • Oh, he also took the lighter to a small pile of sugar and some marshmallows, observed the change and then looked at the results under the microscope. And wondered if he could observe a flame under a microscope. Hmmm.
  • (Basically waiting on the worms and other dissection specimens to arrive so we can start that….enterprise.)
  • I had printed this sheet on “How to Read a Poem” out some weeks ago, but cannot remember the source. Sorry. We read it, then read some poems  – first from this John Ciardi book I have, and then from this great little book of American history related poems by Stephen and Rosemary St. Vincent-Bene’t

"amy welborn"

  • Finally, thanks to Kelly, I discovered a previously-unknown-to-me version of Twelfth Night, which we had studied a lot a couple of years ago – made for British television, but with Alec Guinness as Malvolio.  He knows Guinness mostly from Star Wars of course, but we have also watched Kind Hearts and Coronets and The Lavender Hill Mob.  We didn’t watch the whole thing, but I thought he would enjoy seeing Guinness in the part – a part they still quote all the time (I will SMILE…..), so we just watched his main scenes.
  • Lunch. More drawing of something. Some new kind of …Sith, maybe? Would that be a thing?
  • The zoo is between here and brother’s school, and we are members, so we spent an hour or so there, mostly interested in our friends the reptiles.

That’s it. Sorry no Virgil or fresco work today. Just acids & bases in banana bread, Caiman lizards and Godzilla In Nazareth.

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Another shortish day. I had a bit of work to finish up this morning, and he stayed up later than usual reading, so we didn’t really hit it until 10.

(We don’t do a  particular bedtime. Unless everyone is getting on my nerves. Older one know himself and knows he has a 6:45 rising time. The younger one knows when he needs to get up, too, and with that understanding, can read as late as he wants.)

  • Prayer: Mass readings.  Reviewed the apostles.  Talked about the interchange between Philip, Nathaneal & Jesus and what it meant. Pulled out the Bible atlas and reviewed the Palestine of Jesus’ time.
  • Copywork was John 1:50. Plus cursive.  The focus of cursive practice is now speed.
  • A bit more decimal review – division today. Flipped through the solids chapter of Beast Academy as review and then started the next chapter, which is on integers. Looking around tonight for supplement, it doesn’t seem to me that other math curricula do negative integers in 5th grade…is this correct? Read the comics & did three pages of work – basically adding and subtracting positive and negative integers, but in that uncanny, ingenious, building-to-complexity AOPS way.
  • Latin – finished up chapters 17 & 18 of this – reinforcing imperfect tense and parsing nouns, adjectives and verbs.  Did a bit of church Latin review, taking apart Dominus vobiscum. 
  • Finished watching the first episode of Liberty! which is really excellent.
  •  I had read about this IPad game, Atomidoodle, so I bought it. He played with that for a while and said he liked it. Basically, if it involves the highly-rationed object called a screen, they’re good.
  • And that was it for work at home. Really light day. Then we headed out to the library, where books on the American Revolution were checked out. Then to a piano practice room at Samford.  He takes his lessons there, so it’s okay, and it’s on the way to his brother’s school. Our piano is not the greatest – it’s a Storey & Clark my grandmother bought for me 40+ years ago, it’s been moved..how many times? 5? 6? I don’t know. And it was probably bottom-of-the-line. The action has never been good, and it sort of drives the kid crazy. So every once in a while, we go find a good piano for him to practice on. If he sticks with it another year, we’ll buy a new piano.
  • No boxing today, but basketball beckons….
  • (Later) Brother came home and said they would be starting Romeo and Juliet tomorrow in school, so tonight we watched that episode of the Shakespeare Uncovered series and read the prologue. See, when you just sit on the couch looking aimless, that’s what happens to you. Look busy, is my advice.

Oh, and he decided he wanted to measure Rocky. Rocky was really not having it. We think around 44″.

 

"amy welborn"

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(Mostly written on Monday)

(Phew! Last week was spent in South Carolina visiting and caring for grandson. Sunday  finished writing a book. Monday I wrote Living Faith devotionals. Next I have to set my sights on writing a Lent 2017 devotional. But…school!) 

Brother started back to brick n mortar school today, so we are easing back into it as well. It’s an early dismissal and I’m pretty zonked from finishing one project and have another for tomorrow (today, actually, but that’s just too bad….it will happen), so it’s review and talking about things and watching things.

  • Prayer. Talk about Elizabeth Ann Seton. Watch two videos here and here. Talked about the liturgical season, and how Lent begins in a bit more than a month.
  • Talked about January and leap years.  Read an article and watched this video.

 

  • Reviewed the last two chapters of Latin vocab. This is the text.
  • He recited Marc Antony’s speech – it was the major memorization project of the last couple of months. He’s got it.
  • Reviewed operations with decimals via worksheets and a bit of Khan Academy. Will do more tomorrow and then start chapter 2 in Beast Academy 5.  (Integers – will do a quick review of solids)
  • Watched a couple of videos on The Kids Should See This  – always dependable.
  • Now he’s reading magazines – the latest National Geographic and Muse. 
  • After that, he’ll start watching the PBS Liberty! series. Revolutionary War period will be the history focus for January.

(Time wise – all that takes from about 9:45 to 12:15. There’s a lot missing from the day – no writing, for example – but as I said, it’s an easing-into-it day.)

(And just after I typed the “no writing” thing, he came out from his reading and told me a story that had just popped into his head. I typed as he dictated almosts 400 words –  we printed it out, and it’s in a folder for his revisions and illustrations. So.)

And that’s it for today. I’m going to try to blog a daily homeschool report. There’s a growing interest in homeschooling, and it’s good to have as much possible out there showing the different ways people go about this thing.

Forthcoming in the next couple of months

  • Johnny Tremain and some other Revolution-themed novels. I started reading Chains last night, and it’s very good – that and its companion Forge will probably be on the list as well.
  • As You Like It and Romeo and Juliet. The former is being performed at the Atlanta Shakespeare Tavern and brother will be reading the latter in school, so we’ll join in.
  • Dissection. He *really* wants to do this, so Carolina Biological Supply, here we come!
  • Homeschool coop classes on drama and history of science continue.

Etc.

PS – I cannot emphasize to you how great a site The Kids Should See This is. The curation, as they say, is fantastic. 

 

 

 

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