I'm gonna say this right off the bat, I really miss y'all! My friends, social media associates, church members, choir members, musician friends, family and everyone else...I miss y'all! I miss being able to go where we would normally see each other and shoot the breeze, handle business, buy groceries, eat together after randomly seeing each other or promising to do better calling or coming by to see each other in passing...yep, I miss the 'convention talk', too!
I miss seeing you on social media. I miss watching shows together and establishing a comment thread on our timelines that would take the whole week to read. The kids are getting bigger, but they're bored. School isn't what it was last year this time. We're not looking forward to back to school sales, what would they matter, anyway? By the time kids return to school, they'll be in different pant, shirt and shoe sizes. No need to spend the money now.
I miss that. I miss the awkward glances from the organ at church when something funny happens because I have a view on one else has. I miss my schedule! Wednesday was hump day for real and by 10 PM on Wednesdays, I already had Friday in my view. I miss that, now I don't know what day it is. Who cares what time it is, There's really nowhere to go and I'm all Zoomed and Facebook LIVE'd out! I'm tired, too.
I stopped fighting sleep but it's not normal sleep. It's sleeping in that's winning. I love naps and I cannot lie. Long naps, power naps...I love 'em! A good day may hold more than one of each in store! That's where we are, as we enter month five of the Coronavirus pandemic. Yep...almost where we started. Right at the beginning with this administration fumbling through the dissemination of public health information, save the death toll of 150,000.
Lord Jesus, can we please get a cheat code or something? Because I know this country MUST learn or achieve something before all this is over, I'm not as impatient as it may seem. I know that God didn't cause this plague, but He certainly allowed it. Because He allowed it, we have to do our parts to not only survive in it but learn the lessons of it. In fact for many of us, this is our greatest chance to learn life and spiritual lessons for real, this time! This is our chance to end generational curses and struggles and burst through the doors of destiny that await us.
This is a chance to reset our minds because by the end of the first quarter of 2020, many of us had already fallen away from the resolutions and goals we set for the year. This is our chance, to save some money for a change. If you're like me, a gas fill-up lasts nearly a month. Because, there's only so much gas you can burn driving to the grocery store and your favorite restaurant. Oh, you've gone to the mall, too? How was that? It's a good thing I grew up when the Tandy Center was still a thing here in Fort Worth. The normally bustling Hulen Mall eerily resembled the Tandy Center in the late 90's. Stores are open, but they're not full and there aren't many people in the mall. I don't have to be a financial analyst to be able to tell that profits are down at these stores and in the mall. Many stores have simply chosen not to reopen and those employees are now without a job and have been since before the economy opened up.
It's a sobering reminder that what you have is not guaranteed. The embargo on evictions has also lifted and many Americans will be forced to move from their homes because of their inability to pay rent. Worse yet, there may not even be anywhere for them to go once they're displaced. It's a lot to take in, but that's where we are in America. The land of the free and home of the brave lies in desolation. Sure there's hope but optimism must first pass through the gate of realism. We can't hope for something that doesn't match the reality of what we currently see. What I mean is, we can't simply ignore the situation and wish for better days. Our wish for better days has to consider that our "better" days will too have been battered by the pandemic of 2020.
Every major industry has been affected. Sports is making a return, but Coronavirus infections are already derailing a young Major League Baseball season. The Washington Nationals have decided against traveling to compete in a weekend series against the Miami Marlins (at least 17 players and coaches have tested positive for the Coronavirus). NFL and NCAA players are already opting out of the forthcoming season and the NBA season that re-started in "the bubble" is now on the bubble as players adjust to travel stipulations and face the threat of the spread of Coronavirus.
I miss what became known as normalcy. I really do...I miss it so much that some days, I'm off. There's no work done, not even a sentence written and I'm just unable to can. Of all the things I miss, it's probably regular human interaction. I communicate through music and there are many songs that come to my mind over the course of the day but recently I've found myself singing "I'll Be Thinking of You" by the late Pastor Andrae Crouch. The song sums it all up for me...
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As a person who regularly asks questions, I know that many of the "softball" answers are already floating around so I try to dig deeper into the story being presented. If I'm interviewing a person on a press tour, I try to avoid asking the same question. This not only makes the interview unique, it adds depth to the experience for myself and the person I'm interviewing. This depth isn't always easily achieved however. Depth is predicated upon location, time constraints candor and a respectable level of transparency. Occasionally, I get a list of questions and topics that are off limits that I must do my best to avoid at all costs. That recent divorce? NO. "That video"? Don't even think about it. Wardrobe malfunctions can sometimes be ice breakers if you can extract some level of comedy from the moment, otherwise act as if it never happened. TMZ (the outlet that broke the news about the helicopter crash) has become infamous for reporting "news" you don't want the public to know, including in the moment death announcements. Though infamous for it, TMZ and its brand of reporting has earned a respected place in journalism that seldom others can co-opt-no matter how hard they try.
Because many of the artists I've interviewed often have their manager on the phone (who patches them into the call with radio hosts, etc) the threat of calls being interrupted or ended at their discretion looms heavily. In person interviews are no different. The manager or publicist could step in and end the interview when off limit topics are broached in the interview. Talent is quite often coached up to handle the "gotcha" topics being inserted into the interview and can handle them but publicists lay out clear cut guidelines for the interview before hand.
As journalists, we have a power few others have. We can get people to open up and share what they may have never been comfortable sharing with anyone else. and, Our reporting as a healing salve can help bring closure to painful situations that affecting people everywhere.We have the privilege of being the first to know and the last to leave scenes and situations that become the news we report. Our stories can bring joy, inspire hope, shed light, lift spirits and sometimes even cause pain. Along with this unparalleled power comes the responsibility of being objective. Over the years, objectivity has given way to bias. Bias is blinding and even when profitable, fails the audience we wish to serve. Many of these stories will tell themselves, if we allow them. Along with this power and responsibility comes the dichotomy of being the "bad guy" that starts or in this case ends a conversation.
Gayle King finally got around to asking whether or not it was fair to even ask about it considering the fact that Kobe is now dead. If anything good came from that exchange, Lisa Leslie's response is the ultimate good. While the internet has been filled with emotional responses to the interview, I must say that the timing of the line of questioning is poor. The bodies of Kobe and Gianna were released to the family on this week and no plans for a memorial had been publicized when this interview went to press. Emotions are still very raw and to invoke any ill will or to speak evil of any of the nine who lost their lives in that helicopter crash goes against any journalistic integrity.
Watch More of the Gayle King and Lisa Leslie Interview
(the segment in question begins at the 3:10 mark)
Not off-limits, but off the record
So what creates the quandary about Gayle King bringing up the rape case? It's not uncommon for a journalist to become the "bad guy" in hopes of a desired outcome. What good comes from this interview? Hopefully, finality. I believe that by asking one of Kobe Bryant's closest friends and hearing them speak finitely about it and with finality, we have an end to the conversation surrounding the rape accusation. Lisa Leslie's response was heard around the world, finitely! How anyone could even attempt to dredge it up after this interview shows a lack of decency, character and a disdain for truth.
For a while, I wondered if I'd answered correctly. Maybe there is a way to identify your life's purpose without asking God. What about people who don't believe in God...their lives have purpose too, right? Sure does and the bible tells us that God yet has a purpose for them-even as an unbeliever (2 Peter 3:9) But..there was one answer that proved elusive for me. "What did I leave out?" I continued to ask myself, but today the answer perfectly came to me!
As we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I must say that a person in pursuit of their life's purpose will find either purpose or the trail to discovering purpose in their service to others! When we seek the reason we exist, part of the answer is discovering in asking yourself the question, "how can I serve humanity?" Jesus gave us part of this when He said that all 10 of the commandments from God were summed in two commandments:
Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. Matthew 22:35-40
January was a month of time...time to get things right!
The government shutdown spilled over into the new year, and once the shutdown ended there was still time in January!!! Did your shutdown end in January? Even if it did, shake it off and get into the game! February is here, January is (finally) gone and we are moving ahead! Got it? We won't sit on the sidelines watching the calendar flip, we're going to get up, get busy and get to it!
This morning it happened, I cracked open O.S. Hawkins' "VIP". I'm only into the first section of the book, but with it I made a realization. December 2018 was a month where I let it all hang out! The good, bad and ugly! I closed emotional chapters unapologetically and sought out what was best for me. I also made the decision to become my best self, also unapologetically. I decided that I will do a better job staying in touch but will also let some connections end, as they must.
In December for possibly the first time in my life, I asked: "what about what I think?" What about what I bring to the table?" And, "what about what I want?"
For years, living the life of a believer I tried to do my best at not pleasing everyone but accommodating everyone. I haven't done it successfully, just ask my wife. She's the marker by which I judge the aspiration to be accommodating. I have failed miserably in that area and can finally see myself doing better.
Still, I've gone years making room for everyone else-as most of us do. It felt selfish to finally ask myself what I wanted and put it first for a change. My latest rant was one where I communicated like a grown man was a bit uncomfortable because of the situation. It was a hard conversation but I had to speak up and own what I felt. It felt good, though not reassuring.
The Lord has quite a way of keeping us in check, though! Putting yourself first can be healthy, but as most of us know through history, it is almost always destructive. So here I find myself on the third day of a new year...reading about not my own importance, but my influence!
Did you see the piano falling over on me, like I did?!? God also has a sense of humor! To me, this read is not about how to assert my importance, but how instead leverage my influence! Oh yes, that mirror on the wall isn't telling me how beautiful I am, it's appraising my true obedience to God!
You will never be as important as you think you are if you're never able to influence anyone! I've perused Dale Carnegie's "How to Win Friends and Influence People" in search of various leadership methods and to enrich everyday engagement. Hawkins' book however has stung me in the worst way! As a writer, influence is my currency. Much of what I write is from the perspective of influencing people to do what I wrote about (watch a show, listen to a song, purchase a product), or to shape an opinion based on my influence on the reader.
Many of us seek to become influencers. Whether it's achieved is up to you and God! Hawkins shares in his book that God has given all of us something by which we'll achieve or increase our influence (2 Corinthians 10:13.15), it's our job to see to it that we do it! Guess what else I found out...that's what's important to God!
FRUIT! If you want people to eat from your table, you have to extend the invitation. What is the invitation? Is it you proclaiming your importance? NO! I've noticed that people want to see an unseen invitation before they ever acknowledge any level of "importance", perceived or otherwise. Our life speaks, our work speaks and so do our results! Many times, if people have to ask what you do, you're not as important as you think you are! Also, if you're the most "important" person in the room, you need to get out more! If you are regularly in "the room" and are seldom taking notes (written or recorded), you need some new rooms! For most of us, our importance will be derived from our our presence in the room- the fact that we're in the room and influence on those on the outside. The other side of the coin is: SERVICE. Fruit and service...we all want to feel wanted and even needed. I get that. But here's the deal: Your service to the world, should be just that, but it should also be appealing, appetizing even. The fruit of your service will ultimately yield not the importance you desire, but the influence you have been entrusted.
Well, it was fun feeling important! It was fun watching the phone ring and send the calls to voicemail...but back to work I go! Not back to doing what I was doing, but to work doing no, proving the "good and acceptable, and perfect will of God (Romans 12:2) in my life. In this way, through my newfound influence, I can provoke others to good works (Hebrews 10:24)!
The excruciating pain of creating in open spaces...
Even if the masterpiece is only viewed as such by the artist, the process of creating in that space is second to none. So, what about creatives with no creative space? What about those without the benefit of silence amidst life’s noise? They, we…me seem a little mixed up!
Deadlines are missed, projects are unfinished and well…people don’t know what to think! In fact, it looks as bad as what people’s imagination can muster up! Mystery becomes the main ingredient for a creative creating with creative space. This goes beyond having a quiet writing space or studio to play or record vocals.
That proverbial cabin in the woods is a respite. You get to be messy there, unkempt…vulnerable without judgment. In the cabin in the woods, you’re there alone mainly because house guests are disruptive to the creative process. But what about the creative without the privilege of clandestine conception?
We have to hold it together and keep working. Of all the things in our hands, our work-life balance can never succumb to our creativity. Can you imagine trying to create a cabin on main street?
Most people can’t, but there are creatives out there who can testify to just how moronic such a thing could be. With that in mind, I can confess that I have been creating with no cabin in the woods!
Yep, I’ve been distant. I’ve been checked out so to speak. Assignments are piling up on my desk…well, they’re already piled up on my desk. And, I have to go back as far as almost two months to try and catch up with phone calls and emails.
It’s not frustrating, infuriating, or overwhelming. It’s actually exciting! One day, I’ll have that cabin in the woods experience, but this go-round has been without it. What I love is the process. The late nights, early mornings, the metamorphosis…I’m changing!
Normally, the person that emerges from the cabin is completely different. They’re rejuvenated, refueled and ready to share in the new season following a hibernation of sorts. But this has been more like a cocoon. You can see the shape of the caterpillar in the chrysalis but only once the transformation is complete can you behold the beauty of the ornate creation that emerges.
So yeah, you see me but you don’t! I know this has been hard on my colleagues and even readers and listeners, but I have an assignment that must be completed in time!
In order to be able to become a butterfly, the caterpillar has to fall apart completely, decompose
down to its very essence,
devoid of any shape or consciousness.
It literally dies. There is nothing left of it. - Kirstin Vanlierde
Read her full article: “Chrysalis -- or why the caterpillar must die” here.
I was an adult before I understood it and experienced its meaning. As I battled through feelings, experiences and emotions that stopped me in my tracks, I decided to not only pursue purpose for me, but for others!
Because I know firsthand what it's like to know that there's more to life and not be able to achieve it, I want to help yo break through the barriers in your way and access your God-given purpose like the winner you are! It's amazing to me that so many people have lived and died having done nothing of substance. The graveyard is one of the richest places in the world, except its inhabitants can do nothing about it!
I thank God for every day of life, and I intend to live each day to its fullest extent! I can remember days when I knew God had gifted me with something extraordinary but I let doubt and procrastination take root and it wilted away and died with no effect. Are you living that life? Are you watching all God has given you dry up? WHY?
There's so much more to life when we live with an understanding of why God made us who we are! Before the age of 10, someone has made fun of us, called us fat or ugly, someone has told us we couldn't do something and believed them...but what if we were already empowered to live a thriving life before negativity set in? Regardless of your financial status or social pedigree, you have a purpose!
God created you for a reason...His reason! You owe it to yourself to discover why! I'm inviting you on this journey with me. We're connecting with God's purpose for our lives so that we can experience this life in great detail! For some of you, purpose may lead you off your job, it may even give you the confirmation to seek a higher position or return to college. Whatever the outcome, understanding your life's purpose will make YOU better! A better husband or wife, a better son or daughter...whatever you are and wherever you are will be affected.
Are you ready? If you want to join the journey with me, sign up below! There is no cost, and not even a requirement of time. All I want to know is that you're committed to experience your best life, starting now!
I also discovered that the way to bring the good out of bad situations is to stay focused and not let the trouble become a distraction. No matter where you begin your journey of purpose, please know that God has a sure and certain plan for your life!
If God be for us.
If God, before us.
Business owners, is it God's plan for our businesses to succeed? I believe so and we have to double down in challenging times and moments of discouragement when we want to give up. I'll share the latest moment in the life of my business when I had to double down on the belief that my business is destined to succeed! My success is God's plan and as Job too discovered: no plan of God's can be stopped!
Remember when I said something about business and how/why to not take things personal? I had seen a tremendous drop-off from email subscribers among people that I actually knew and some that were actually engaged. I continued supporting them and their ventures but noticed that they were no longer on my mailing list. These were friends, associates and media colleagues. We all disseminate our news via email so I was bothered to see that they’d unsubscribed from my list. I couldn’t figure out why and I was really bothered by it, to the point that I didn't send out another one. I couldn’t shake the feeling, so I started writing.
Though most people want to see you doing good, some will change when they see you doing as good as they are and will do any/everything in their power to keep you from doing better than them! I don’t change, though. Can you imagine walking into a venue or into an event only to be greeted by that glance that says: “what are you doing, here”? “Who told you about this?” or to see them actually trying to block you from working…? It happens and has happened all this year!
I’ve been doing this media thing (lol) for only 5 years. I understand that I’m very new and I’m still paying my dues (thanks to those who won’t let me forget this), but I’m not a nobody. Still, I get the treatment of a traitor or somebody who doesn’t belong! As the word says, I come in through the front door (clear credentials and motives) and not a thief or robber coming in through an open window or back door. It doesn’t keep me from those moments of wondering what it is with people…I just don’t get it, sometimes.
Some people are jerks not by nature but by virtue of self-preservation. The moment you are perceived as a threat, they enter into self-preservation mode. In this mode, they stop helping and supporting you and sometimes unwittingly and other times purposely work to try and destroy you. The stupor of self-preservation is one many don’t wake from. For this cause, close working relationships suddenly turn cold: you are now competition and everything you do will be perceived as such. Because you’re viewed as competition, they will try to keep you down.
Self-preservation manifests in other ways, some people change when they feel they don’t need you anymore. Suddenly, you’re dead weight and need to come back when you get on their level. In this life, you won’t always get what you put out, still put good out anyway.
Some people are still here and still around because they’re nice to people. They speak, they return phone calls, when they can’t make it and have to decline, they do so tactfully. Let us not forget those who will support you in their absence with a donation or monetary gift to let you know they see you and appreciate what you’re doing.
There’s a lof of smoke and mirrors in this industry but when you clear the air and pull back the curtain, you realize that the “Wizard of Oz” is more powerless and afraid than you are, he just got there (OZ) first…
I prayed about it and this was the answer:
The reason, you’re unstoppable is because you didn’t start it! I have scripture to back it up, too! Let’s go to Philippians 1:6, in it the Apostle Paul says: “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ…” Simply put, I didn’t start “it”…so don’t take issue with me. As Brian Courtney Wilson said in his latest album: “God is doing a GREAT work in me!”
I’m sharing this to encourage all believers who happen to be in the same space with their great work. It’s fallacious for us to use our light to try and outshine others. We are all fruit, not the root! People will undoubtedly be people and even believers fall victim to insecurity and the treachery that surfaces among colleagues and associates in the same field. Instead of making a bad thing of the good thing God has begun in me, I want to use this piece to pull us all up…level up!
We should view this work, whatever work we do-that great work as unstoppable! He has given to each of us a measure of faith (Romans 12:3) with which to work that great work…nothing we do emanates from us, rather it processes through us! In theory, we can’t be stopped. However, part of the human condition is that we often times will be stopped by offence, disagreement, discouragement, envy, insecurity and other opposition of the great work.
I want you to go forward in full confidence today and never let another obstacle block the path God has laid out for you!! I am unstoppable and so are you!!!
Check out Trisha Alicia's new single, "Great Things"
A few months ago, I needed help from a few of my friends. They all came through in CLUTCH situations. I mean, they saved my hide...well the SMG hide! For real! As a business owner, I take great pride in the work done and services rendered. As many of you know, getting the business of people you know is sometimes the hardest thing to do. So, when I was called upon to provide a service, I was honored and nervous.
Nothing went wrong the day of service but when I got home...when I got home...I fired myself! Because there was no one else to hire, I had to jump back in and do some hard work! Majority of what I needed to do was foreign to me so I asked my friends for help! Whaddayaknow...they came through!
I didn't take their help for granted and let them know how grateful I was and reflecting on it again, I still don't know how I ended up with such great friends!
One of my best friends in the media field constantly shoots me good information. In fact, she told me to do this...well, some of it. If I ever get courageous enough to do it, I'll finally do what she has been urging me to do forever! But, on our side of the velvet rope, you discover that relationships last as long as assignments and are sometimes only as good as your placement on the carpet.
I'm grateful for my friends in business, music and media! I never take them for granted and I'm encouraged by their willingness to help me...especially in the middle of a crisis! Boy, was I in a meltdown! I have a number of amazing people in my life that have blessed me, my family and my business tremendously, but in this particular instance, these three people kept me afloat!
Thomas Robinson did some amazing photo editing that helped me stay in the city! Not joking, I made some rookie mistakes that...just, ugh!
My website was down and Antwon James and Denisha Delane let me cry on their shoulders and walked me through every possible solution we could try. It took nearly three weeks but we got it together and the website was recovered. Another boneheaded mistake by yours truly.
They didn't have to help me, but they did and I'm telling you all about them!!! I hope you have amazing people in your life as well. If not, pray and ask God to release helpers to you! You can start by being one!
Facebook's Mea Culpa Takes The Site Back to Its Social Roots
Over the last few weeks however, Facebook has been the source of death notices. Within the last two weeks, I've discovered that two of my good friends, passed away...first thing in the morning! It's unbearable as you struggle waking up to clear your eyes good enough to see that someone has died since the last time you closed your eyes.
Death is inevitable, but how and who are always factors that shake us to our core. With each of the recent deaths, I had no chance at goodbye. About two weeks before that, an industry colleague passed away suddenly and I had intentions of reaching out to him asking about media work. He was exceptional at what he did but didn't yet work with gospel artists, I was going to ask if he would take on a gospel artists or two and recommend a few artists to him. He was moving the needle for his artists and I wanted him to do the same for a few artists in dire need of direction and industry help...but he's gone now.
Facebook is a number things to a number of people. It is a diary, a sounding board, a bully pulpit, a virtual meetup, job board, garage sale alternative and much more. For me, it has been the obituary notice.
This week, the world lost Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain to suicide and in the wake of those tragic losses, we have begun "those" conversations again. We don't know everything and there's only so much a note can say, but I do want to say this to all of you reading this: If we're connected on social media, let it be a lifeline!
I don't know the ins and outs of mental health issues and don't claim to be one who does. I do have experience as a friend and a listening ear. This week, I have seen longtime friends, social media connections and colleagues all confess to bouts with depression and thoughts of suicide and to that I was oblivious. There have been cases when I reached out and was rebuffed because of my Christian viewpoints though I never condemned or judged them.
Let's face it, sometimes we want to choose the help that comes to us. That is understood and I would never violate a person's choice, which is why I have chosen in many cases to pray for them without even announcing it.
I don't know what's on the other side of the screen when I see a post. Some see much more than a post, a cry for attention, help or just someone to care. With many of our social media connections, they're all there. What I'm asking you to do as you read this, take a moment and appraise your friends list on and off social media.
Who can you call? Who's listening? Where is the help you need? Suicide is one sided and while the victim may do it for release of their troubles on this side, it leaves pain and heartbreak to those of use left behind in their absence. I heard Kirk Franklin say something so poignant years ago. He said: "you don't have to do life alone!"
Lean On Me
"Please swallow your pride
If I have things you need to borrow
For no one can fill those of your needs
That you won't let show."
Living through it and surviving a dark season is sometimes as simple as shining a light on it. I believe that the people who know you need help will do all they can to help you, that's what I believe. I know depression and other mental health issues cause most of its sufferers to retreat and isolate, but I'm begging you...please don't go and stay in that dark place by yourself. Vulnerability is sometimes the key that unlocks the help we need. How can you get the help you need if you won't ask or even tell anyone that you need it?
Prescribed medication works wonders and you need people to remind you and encourage you to trust medication's part in the process. Let's talk about it, maybe not on social media, but talking it out has great benefits.
"How can I help?" is a tremendous conversation starter. I may not have any of the answers, but I will look high and low to help you find the answers you need. Your support system is only a click away.
Today, I'm praying for my social media friends and their families. I may not know what pains you or what's burdening your heart, but I care enough to let you know that I'm praying for you! Not every person believes in God and I understand that as well. However, there's an innate power that friendship and connection possess that I don't ever want us to undervalue.
With that being said, I want you to know that and know that you are special to me! We need you, we want you here with us and I promise to be the best I can if you need me! I'm think of you and praying for you. You don't have to do life alone!
Yep, I Said It!
When I have something to say, I often say it. Many times, I try to find the best way to say it. Other times, there's just no easy way to say a hard thing. My journey in life has made me a person with much to say and the person people least want to hear it from.
If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, did it make a sound? Whatever you'd call what I say: "a tree falling in the forest", "the voice of one crying out in the wilderness", "uneducated noise" or whatever...I'm ready to step to the mic. Hear me as I roar (as gently as possible! LOL)
2018 National Football Championship
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Cabin In The Woods
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