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7 Signs Your Teen May Be Hiding Drug or Alcohol Abuse

 

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Being a parent is not always easy. It’s not all “sunshine and rainbows” all the time. The older a child becomes, the more challenges you face as a parent.

I think being a teenager in today’s world is a lot harder than it was when I was a teen. When I was a teen I felt pressure to have designer jeans and albums from the top of the charts. Sure, there were keg parties in the woods, but sampling your first taste of beer as a teenager seems a lot more harmless than what teens today are doing.

Social media is the biggest danger to teens, in my opinion. They are also faced with much more “bad stuff” than just a keg party. These days teens are pressured to try out and/or use a variety of drugs and alcohols. It’s not just pot and beer – it’s cocaine, meth, Vicodin, Adderal as well as glue, pens and household cleaners, not to mention Jello shots and hard liquor.

How do you know if your teen is using and/or abusing drugs?

Here are seven signs to look out for, compliments of TeenSafe (TeenSafe.com).

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Kimberly

*I was not compensated for this post. I posted this information for the benefit of site readers. 

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April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month – How focused are YOU when you drive?

 

Teen Driver

I’m a mom to two teenagers. Our daughter has her driver’s license, but we are not confident about her driving abilities. We feel that she’s easily distracted and the littlest thing causes her to panic.

We also have a 16 year old son who also drives. Oddly enough he does better than his older sister. I guess all of those driving games he plays on the computer really helped him.

We try to educate our children that when you drive you are bombarded with things that can take away from your focus – other drivers, animals, debris blowing on to the road, passengers in your own car… the list goes on.

For the time being we tell our kids they need to keep the music off and conversation to a minimum until they develop better driving skills and more experience.

Cellphones are a huge “no-no” when it comes to driving. We tell our kids to not only put their phones in the backseat, but also to turn off the volume or turn them off completely, that way they are not distracted by an incoming phone call or text message.

I’m not sure about other states, but here in New York it’s against the law to drive while talking on the phone. I cannot tell yo how many drivers I have seen who totally ignore the LAW and continue to drive while talking on the phone. You can spot those driver’s easily enough because you can tell by their driving that they are distracted by something.

Some people think they are getting around that law by making “hands free” phone calls via a earpiece, their car’s built in phone system or using the hands free option and speaker on their cellphone.

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Personally I think any kind of a phone call can be distracting whether it’s on your phone or done “hands free.” You should be 100% focused on your driving and the world around you and not chatting with your spouse about dinner or what to watch on T.V. that night.

If what you need to talk about is THAT IMPORTANT you should find a parking lot or a safe place to pull over and chat. Don’t chat when you are speeding down the thruway or in bumper-to-bumper traffic.

I never use my phone when driving. My phone is either in my purse in the backseat or side pocket on my car door (I have a small purse) or in my pocket. The only time you will visually see my phone when I am driving is if I need to charge it. Even then I place the phone in the cup holder in my car and forget it’s even there.

When you are not distracted you are better able to focus on what is going on around you so that you can deal with driving hazards. Take for example a recent incident with my husband. He went into the left lane to make a left hand turn. Someone coming from the opposite direction went into his lane thinking it was the turning lane to go into the diner. Had my husband not been 100% focuses on his driving he could have been involved in a head-on collision. Thankfully he was fully aware of his surroundings and was able to quickly get out of the turning lane before the other car hit him.

Another recent incident happened to me the other day. I was driving home from the store with my son when and elderly man with a cane stepped out into the road before me. I slammed on my breaks immediately. Turns out he suffers from dementia. Thankfully his daughter was with him to get him back on the sidewalk where they were walking.

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If was even slightly distracted I could have hit him!

Driving is not a right – it’s a privileged. As such you should give it your un-divided attention all the time.

Don’t talk and drive. It’s that simple. If you feel you might be too tempted, put your phone in the backseat or trunk. Or simply turn off your phone so you are not tempted to check to see if you have text messages.

The National Safety Council has a wealth of information and resources to help you not to be a distracted driver. You can find all the materials here.

The NSC is also asking drivers to take the pledge to drive cell free. I hope you will take a moment to take the pledge. You can take the pledge here.

The NSC is also hosting a FREE 1 hour webinar on Wednesday April 6 at 12:00 PM (EST) / 9:00 AM (PST). The webinar is about how car manufacturers are in an arms race to make vehicles as connected as possible – but at what cost? Research is showing that voice-activated technologies may be distracting, which means they are not a good alternative to using a cell phone while driving. Please click here to register for the webinar.

To see what others are saying please check out the hashtag #TakeBackMyDrive and check out @NSCsafety on Twitter.

Do you use your phone (hands-free or in your hand) when driving? Why or why not? Feel free to share your thoughts on this matter.

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Kimberly

*I have partnered with NSC to bring you this information. Although compensated the opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

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The 6 Dangers Teens Face on the MeetMe App

 

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TeenSafe, one of the most popular parental monitoring technology service, is developing a guide on everything parents need to know about MeetMe, one of the hundreds of apps teens use for socializing that have the potential to become dangerous.

In fact, in 2014 the San Francisco city attorney sued MeetMe  after three separate sex-crime cases that stemmed from conversations started on the app occurred in California.

MeetMe differentiates itself from other social networks because it introduces people to new friends instead of connecting them to existing ones.

Below are some quick facts about MeetMe and the dangers teens may face by simply logging on.

What are the dangers of MeetMe?

  • Members can be introduced to other users located nearby — You will be able to see profile pictures, basic information and choose to message MeetMe. Users can also browse through the newsfeed of people nearby.
  • Widely considered to be a dating app to find people nearby —There are games available for users to play that feed into the dating app reputation, including the Blind Date game, where users are asked to answer questions to be introduced to a match.
  • “Ask Me” feature — Anonymous questions can be sent to users, which are not monitored or censored, so the content can sometimes turn explicit.
  • No profile information is verified — Predators can easily pose as teens to befriend and lure other teens to meet in person. The fact that MeetMe matches users based on location elevates the possible danger.
  • Automatic public privacy settings – Unless teens log in to their accounts and manually change their privacy settings, the app will automatically have everything set up to be public, meaning any MeetMe user in the area will be able to view your photos and information.
  • Private messaging and photo exchange – These features introduce the possibility that your teen could be cyberbullied based on his or her looks, values, or comments made on the app, leading to low self-esteem and emotional stress.

 The Numbers Behind MeetMe

  • There are more than one million daily active users on MeetMe.
  • In 2012, MeetMe was named one of the 25 most trafficked websites.
  • There is a minimum age limit of 13 on MeetMe, however since this is nearly impossible for the app to verify, it does not stop younger users from joining.
  • There are over 100 million MeetMe users.
  • About 25% of these users are between the ages of 13 and 17.
  • MeetMe was named as one of the 6 adult dating apps that teens are using too much by The Huffington Post.

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*I was not compensated for this post. I posted this for the benefit of my site readers. The opinions expressed are that of the author’s and do no necessarily reflect my own. 

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Spring Cleaning Tips to Clean Up Your Cyber Clutter

 

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The National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) and Better Business Bureau (BBB) are encouraging consumers to put cybersecurity top of mind by urging them to make digital devices an additional target of their spring cleaning activities. NCSA and BBB encourage everyone to make a thorough “digital spring cleaning” an annual ritual. Internet users can get a fresh start with their online life by keeping all machines clean, purging their online files, enhancing security features and ensuring that their online reputation shines.

Seasonal changes always have an impact on our lives ‒ whether it’s the biannual changing of our clocks or swapping our skis for a baseball glove. It has also become the time to declutter and start anew,” said Michael Kaiser, NCSA’s executive director. “Our lives have become increasingly connected and, with multiple devices, we accumulate digital clutter that needs attention. That’s why we’re adding a new spin on spring cleaning that can help you be more secure online, protect valuable, personal information and avoid identity theft. By following our handy checklist, investing a little time each week and performing a series of simple chores, you can dramatically strengthen your security posture. In addition, your digital life will be more manageable and you will have peace of mind that you are helping protect your family and the extended online community while enjoying the Internet with greater confidence.”

“For many years, BBB has hosted Secure Your ID Day shredding events to help consumers safely dispose of paper files they no longer need,” noted Mary E. Power, president and CEO of the Council of Better Business Bureaus. “In recent years, many events have added electronic shredding to the mix to help consumers deal with old hard drives and other electronic data storage. We are urging more businesses, employers and institutions to join with us in hosting shred events for employees and customers to safely scrap documents and files that could be used for identity theft. This year’s Secure Your ID Day is April 16, but any day is a good day for digital spring cleaning.”

One of the hardest parts of any decluttering process is determining what to undertake first ‒ not to mention deciding who will do what. So why not approach your digital spring cleaning like a pro? Create an action plan that assigns maintenance tasks to appropriate family members. NCSA’s downloadable Digital Spring Cleaning Checklist is user-friendly and will help keep everyone organized. The checklist includes a four-week list of tasks grouped together by category. Parents are urged to get the whole family involved as some duties may be better for adults to handle and others are perfectly suited for kids.

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Follow this four-week outline and clean up your family’s online life with an easy-to-follow timeline and plan:

Week 1: Keep Clean Machines

As a very basic first step, make sure that all web-connected devices ‒ including PCs, mobile phones, smartphones and tablets ‒ are free from malware and infections. Use this as a launch pad for your month of digital maintenance.

  • Keep all critical software current: Having all software current is one of the best security measures you can take. This includes security software, web browsers, document readers, operating systems and any other software you use regularly.
  • Clean up your mobile life: Most of us have apps we no longer use as well as ones that need updating. Delete unused apps and keep others current, including the operating system on your mobile device. An added benefit of deleting unused apps is more storage space and longer battery life. Actively manage your location services, Bluetooth, microphone and camera – making sure apps use them appropriately.

Week 2: Make Sure You’re Secure 

Building on Week 1, users can enhance the security of their online accounts – a fast and simple way to be safer online. There are quick and easy things you can do that have long-term safety and security benefits.

  • Get two steps ahead: Turn on two-step authentication ‒ also known as two-step verification or multi-factor authentication ‒ on accounts where available. Many of the Internet’s most popular email services, social networks and financial institutions offer this key security step free of charge, but you must opt in to turn it on. Visit stopthinkconnect.org/2stepsahead to learn more and view a list of the websites that offer two-factor authentication.
  • Secure your router: Make sure your router has a strong password and does not broadcast who you are through its name, such as “the Jones Family” or “123 Elm Street”. Update your router software as well.
  • Make better passwords: If your passwords are too short or easy to guess, it’s like leaving the front door to your home unlocked. Longer passwords and those that combine capital and lowercase letters with numbers and symbols provide better protection.
  • Unique account, unique password: Having separate passwords ‒ at least for key accounts like email, banking,and social networking ‒ helps to thwart cybercriminals.
  • Write it down and keep it safe: Everyone can forget a password. Keep a list that’s stored in a safe, secure place in your home.
  • Secure your phone:Use a passcode or a finger swipe to unlock your phone.

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Week 3: Digital File Purge and Protection

Tend to your digital records, PCs, phones and any device with storage just as you do for paper files.

  • Clean up your email: Save only those emails you really need. Your inbox is likely stuffed with lots of outdated materials. Delete or archive what you don’t need and be sure to empty your deleted mail folders.
  • File upkeep: Delete or archive older files such as numerous drafts of the same document and outdated financial statements.
  • Manage subscriptions: Unsubscribe to newsletters, email alerts and updates you no longer read.
  • Dispose of electronics securely: Wiping data isn’t enough. When you dispose of old electronics, look for facilities that shred hard drives, disks and memory cards. BBB is hosting Secure Your ID Day shredding events in communities nationwide, and many of these will include electronic shredding. Some municipalities also offer this service.
  • Update your online photo album: Back up photos you want to keep, and delete old or less flattering pictures of yourself and your family and friends. In addition to not showing your best side, they take up space.
  • Update your online relationships: Review friends on social networks and contacts on phones and PCs and make sure everyone on those lists still belongs.                                                                                .
  • Back it up: Copy important data to a secure cloud site or to another drive where it can be safely stored. Password protect backup drives and keep them in a different location off the network for maximum security. Commit to doing backups on a regular basis.
  • Empty your trash or recycle bin on all devices: Make sure to permanently delete old files.

Week 4: Clean Up Your Online Reputation

Parents and older kids with social media accounts can take an active role in making sure their online reputation is squeaky clean.

  • Own your online presence: Review the privacy and security settings on websites you use to be sure that they remain set to your comfort level for sharing. It’s OK to limit with whom you share information.
  • Clean up your social media presence: Delete old photos and comments that are embarrassing or no longer represent who you are.
  • Update your “online self”: Are your social media sites up to date? Review your personal information and update it where needed.

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Twitter Chat Details and Resources

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*I was not compensated for this post. I am sharing these tips for the benefit of site readers. The opinions expressed are that of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect my own. 

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Are YOU prepared in case of an emergency?

 

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I am a big fan of zombie movies and shows. I was into them long before they were trendy (thanks to The Walking Dead). I’ve been a fan of zombies since the original Dawn of the Dead film (1978).

My husband and I often joke about what we’d do in the event of a zombie apocalypse. It’s all a joke. We never take it seriously. However in this day and age everyone should have some kind of a “game plan” in the event of a terrorist attack or natural disaster. You just never know when something terrible will happen and you find yourself without power, food, water and cellphone service.

Are YOU prepared in case of an emergency?

I have to admit that we are not. It’s not that we don’t want to stock up on supplies – we do! It’s just a matter of lack of space. We have no room in our home for us let alone stuff. And our storage unit is so stuffed that it’s bursting. We have had to resort to putting some of our stuff in our neighbor’s storage unit as well as my father’s basement.

We usually have extra water on hand. Living in a condo complex our water gets turned off a lot throughout the year. Whenever a neighbor is having plumbing work done and they have to turn off the water while they work it affects 20 condo units. For that reason I keep extra water on hand for drinking, doing dishes, flushing the toilet and washing hands. We don’t have enough to sustain my family for a few weeks – let alone a few days.

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If we couldn’t get to the store for a few days we should be fine. After that I don’t know what else we can do. We can only store so much food in our pantries (we have two). I try and stock up on canned goods that don’t require heating to eat. I also have a non-electric can opener on hand.

I have seen sites that offer emergency food supplies. I have always thought that was a great idea. I would love to stock up on non-perishable emergency foods for me and my family.

I was sent a couple of samples from one such company called Valley Food Storage.

Valley Food Storage came about after one of the co-founders discovered that his family’s emergency food storage containers had become mis-shapen and the food had gone bad. That is because the foods had a shelf life of 2-3 years. They contained ingredients such as hydrogenated oils, whole eggs, corn, and MSG’s which are not meant to last that long.

What if there was a true emergency? His family would have assumed their emergency supply was OK to consume when it fact, it was not. They could have got gravely ill from it and not have any food to eat after all.

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That is how Valley Food Storage was born. The founders worked hard to find a better solutions. They found that natural food ingredients and a nitrogen flushing process would help to ensure a shelf life up to 25 years without any added preservatives, MSG’s, or GMO’s. And so Valley Food Storage was created.

Valley Food Storage offers consumers “kits” filled with breakfast, lunch and dinners – enough to last one person an entire month. They also have kits with 3, 6 and 12 months worth of food. The kits are designed for one person so you would need to purchase kits for all household members.

They also carry Gluten and dairy free food items.

I was surprised by the variety of foods Valley Food Storage offers. It’s hard to believe that in an emergency situation you and your family can enjoy things like Apple Cinnamon Pancakes, Brownies, Pasta Primavara and Lasagna.

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All of their products come in mylar packages which are easier to store and tote around.

The only downside is that all of the foods require water and some require a heat source. Therefore it’s important to have plenty of clean drinking water available to drink and to prepare your meals.

As for a heat source, if you have no electricity you’ll need to have a campfire or heating source that is non-electric to heat up the foods. If you are planing on being prepared in the event of an emergency, hopefully you have already taken these thing into consideration.

In addition to the kits, Valley Food Storage also offers kits made for the outdoors man in mind. Their Emergency Kits come with food and a backpack. These kits are available for one person, two people or a family of four. Each has enough food to last for 72 hours. These emergency kits also contain emergency tools and first aid items including:

  • 2 – Gerber Blades Multi Tools
  • 6 – Emergency Light Sticks
  • 2 – Cooking Pot
  • 2 – Berkey Bottle Filter – Purifies up to 110 Gallons.
  • Survival Equipment
    • 2 x SOL Emergency Blanket, (56″x84″)
    • 2 x Fire Lite Fire Starter
    • 8 x Tinder Quick Firestarter
    • 2 x Slim Rescue Howler Whistle
    • 2 x Button Compass
    • 2 x Duct tape, (2″x26″)
    • 2 x SOL Survival Instructions
  • Medical Supplies
    • 4 x Antiseptic Towelette
    • 2 x Ibuprofen (200mg) 2/pkg.
    • 2 x Triple Antibiotic Ointment, 0.5g
    • 2 x Bandage, Adhesive, Fabric, Knuckle
    • 4 x Bandage, Adhesive, Fabric (1″x3″)
    • 2 x Safety Pins

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These kits would be great for people and families who enjoy camping, hiking and going on road trips. In the event of an emergency, of if you get lost, you know that you and your family will have the tools and equipment needed to get by.

The foods don’t need to be saved for an emergency situation. You can enjoy them any time.

I was sent some products to review – Irish Pub Style Cheddar Potato Soup, Pasta Primavera and Mango Habanero Chili.

I didn’t try the chili because it’s not a flavor my family or I would eat. I’m not a fan of mango or habanero.

The foods are all dried meaning the pasta is not cooked, the potatoes are dehydrated and all the seasonings are like powder. This quickly changes when you add water and cook the meals.

I honestly didn’t think that these meals would have much flavor to them, but I was wrong. They are not bad at all. They are not gourmet restaurant quality, but they do taste like something I could have made on my own. Not bad at all.

VFS Samples

Inside the chili package. You can see the dehydrated contents that "re-hydrate" when cooked in water.

Inside the chili package. You can see the dehydrated contents that “re-hydrate” when cooked in water.

Each made two servings. That was fine for me, or maybe even my daughter. I think my husband and son could eat an entire package on their own. Of course, in the event of an emergency situation people need to economize so big, hearty meals are not an option.

They were both a bit more liquidy than I had hoped for, but none the less still tasty and satisfying.

I find it hard to believe that these have a 25 year shelf life. I think about myself in 25 years (in my 70’s!) and still having these foods being edible. It’s a weird thought.

I love the idea of having an emergency food supply on hand. If/When we are fortunate to have a house (we have to win the Lottery first) I will most definitely start stocking up on non-perishable foods in case of an emergency, like those available at Valley Food Storage. You never know when an emergency might strike.

For more information about Valley Food Storage please visit ValleyFoodStorage.com. The brand can also be found on social media. All of their links are found on the top left of their website.

Are YOU prepared in case of an emergency? Do you have plenty of food, water and supplies stocked up for you and your family?

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Kimberly

*I received free product samples to review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way.

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CL05 Fenix LipLight Every Day Emergency Light

 

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How often do you think about your personal safety? When you are rushing out the door to work in the morning, do you ever stop and think if you are prepared for an emergency? What if your car broke down? What if there is an accident? On that same note, how often do you think about something bad happening to you when you are out walking the dog or taking a leisurely stroll through the park?

I think most of us think about these things from time to time, but the real question is, how prepared are you for every day-type of emergencies?

Car owners should make sure their car is stocked with emergency essentials which would include a First Aid kit, jumper cables, water, non-perishable food and blankets. Another safety product you should have on hand is a safety light – a light that can warn other drivers that your car is broken down on the road and a light to signal others that there is an emergency.

I have to admit that I didn’t have an emergency light – or even a flashlight – in my car. It’s not something that I think I would ever need when I am out and about driving. However I do work and I am often leave work at night. I have to drive through a secluded area where there are no street lights. For safety’s sake, I NEEDED a light source to keep in my car just in case.

I was sent to review an interesting light from a company called Fenix LipLight to review – specifically the CLO5 model.

Fenix light

The Fenix LipLight looks like an ordinary mini-flashlight. It IS a mini-flashlight, providing an impressive 8 Lumens of bright light (much brighter than you would expect from such a tiny device). In addition it provides 40 hours of light from a standard AAA battery (included). That is a long time, which makes this a great emergency light to keep on hand.

The Fenix LipLight is more than a flashlight. It has several different settings – including other colors – all available to you at the touch of a button. Users can choose between two brightness levels, red or green lights, SOS and flashing modes for eye-catching positioning.

The Fenix LipLight can be kept on your keys (it has an attach key chain), worn on a belt loop, hooked on a backpack or tucked away in the glove compartment in your car. You can also take it with you when you travel.

Not only can the flashlight help light your way – the other color/modes can alert others to your presence in the dark as well a make sure vehicles see you in foggy or limited visibility conditions. The red light can also be used to alert people to your position if you should get lost in the woods.

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The Fenix LipLight can even help you out should you have a power outage in your home. It’s a must have for camping trips too.

Overall I’m impressed by the Fenix LipLight. I like that it’s small enough to fit in my purse (and my purse is a small wristlet). I also like that it runs on a single AAA battery. We have some flashlights that run on 3-4 C or D batteries which is a lot, and not the type of battery we’d normally have on hand (I am well stocked with AA and AAA batteries). I prefer something like this to run on batteries and not be rechargeable. You can keep an extra battery or two on hand where as if you are stranded on the side of the road and the charge runs out you would have no way of recharging the light. For that reason I prefer batteries for a product like this.

I want to get a few more of these. I want to attach one to the dog’s leash (we walk the dog every night before bed) and I want to give one to our daughter who goes to college and works. I also want one for my husband’s car and an extra one for home use.

Liplight

Looking at the Fenix LipLight you wouldn’t think much of it, but this tiny little “package” is a powerhouse. This is one of those cases where “seeing is believing.” Once you see the power behind the Fenix LipLight you’ll want a few for yourself.

You can purchase the Fenix LipLight on the Fenix website. The brand can also be found on social media. All of their links are found at the bottom of their website – www.FenixLighting.com. Fenix sells a variety of lighting solutions.

Fenix Logo

 

Kimberly

*I received a free product sample to review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

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