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Help Me Wipe Out Alzheimer’s Now

I was deeply moved watching Julianne Moore win the Oscar for “Still Alice”, a movie I was proud and privileged to executive produce. Julianne gives a harrowing performance as a brilliant 50-year-old college professor who loses her brain and herself to early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. This is a huge moment for Julianne — and a huge moment for all of us who have been trying to focus public attention on this staggering disease.

Witnessing Alzheimer’s progress on the big screen is as terrifying as it is in real life. I know, because I’m a child of Alzheimer’s. My father Sargent Shriver’s mind had always been a finely-tuned instrument that left people in awe and inspired. But my family and I watched Alzheimer’s erase that brain — slowly, inexorably, completely. It was terrifying, too, because back then, the disease was surrounded by shame and silence.

Alzheimer’s still carries a stigma of the unknown — even though today, more than 5 million Americans have it. That’s right. Every 67 seconds, another one of us develops Alzheimer’s. Women in their 60s are about twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s as breast cancer. With 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 every day, there will be 13.5 million of us with Alzheimer’s by 2050. And many people don’t understand that Alzheimer’s isn’t a natural part of aging. Alzheimer’s is a disease that kills.

The truth is, we’re right in the middle of an epidemic, but we as a nation are in denial. An Oscar for “Still Alice” is shining the brightest light yet on Alzheimer’s, but light isn’t enough anymore. Attention isn’t enough. It’s time to get serious. Alzheimer’s is exerting a powerful impact on American families — on our health, our finances, and our futures. And women are disproportionately impacted.

Why women? Back in 2010, when we published “The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Takes on Alzheimer’s,” we broke the news that women were more than half the individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and nearly two-thirds of the unpaid caregivers of those who had it. Now those numbers are far worse. Today nearly two-thirds of those with Alzheimer’s are women — that’s more than 3.2 million women. And women are more than 70 percent of Alzheimer’s caregivers, having to reduce their own workload or even drop out of the workforce altogether to care for loved ones.

Women are the epicenter of this crisis, which is why I believe women also have to be the solution. So last week, in partnership with the Alzheimer’s Association and so many inspiring women already working on the front lines to fight this disease, we launched the Wipe Out Alzheimer’s Challenge, a multi-pronged campaign powered by women’s brains. Our mission is to enlist women of all ages to get educated, engaged and empowered to instigate change. Women around the country will go out and raise the alarm, raise awareness, raise the stakes, and raise millions of dollars to fund serious research into women’s brains.

And there’s so much research to do and so many questions to answer. Why is the incidence of Alzheimer’s higher for women? Nobody knows. And why is it that women in their 60s are so much more likely to get Alzheimer’s than breast cancer? Nobody knows. What’s the exact role of estrogen? We don’t know. Is there an Alzheimer’s connection with depression or with diabetes? What about genetics? What can be done during the 20 or so years when the disease develops, before a woman even becomes symptomatic? What’s the impact of diet, stress level, exercise, sleep and cardiovascular condition? It’s time to find out.

We have to fund this research, because for some reason it’s not a priority for the government. In 2015, Washington will spend an estimated $6 billion on cancer research and $3 billion on HIV/AIDS research, but only $586 million on Alzheimer’s. Yet, this disease is costing our federal government $226 billion every year. I don’t get it, but I’m not going to wait anymore.

So Wipe Out Alzheimer’s is stepping in. We’re asking women to put together their own Brain Trusts in their communities — groups that will go out and do some muscular fundraising. But equally important, these Brain Trusts will gather to discuss and disseminate information about what the disease is and isn’t. What are the warning signs we should look for in ourselves and our parents? What’s the difference between normal forgetfulness, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease? Can brain games or meditation slow cognitive decline? Do dietary supplements help?

Local Brain Trust groups will also learn about the devastatingly high cost of Alzheimer’s — how neither Medicare nor the Affordable Care Act covers long-term care, and private nursing homes average more than $80,000 a year. They’ll reach out to help and encourage women whose loved ones have Alzheimer’s. They will be politically engaged and encourage political candidates who support increased funding for Alzheimer’s research. They’ll push their own doctors to get better-educated about cognitive health.

It’s time for the narrative around Alzheimer’s to change. I remember when an HIV-AIDS diagnosis was a death sentence. I remember when cancer was a dirty word and the prognosis was always grim. But AIDS and cancer activists are helping to take these diseases from terrifying to treatable, from hopeless to hopeful. We want to do the same with Alzheimer’s. We want to understand it, prevent it, treat it and beat it. Wipe Out Alzheimer’s is creating a global community of women activists, agitators and agents of change to do just that.

We used to think that the mysterious condition called Alzheimer’s disease happened only to folks in their 80s and 90s. “Still Alice” shows us that’s just not true.

The race for the Oscar may be over, but the race to wipe out Alzheimer’s is on.

This commentary first appeared in the Opinion section of CNN.com.

This Is What Magic Mushrooms Do To Your Brain

People have some pretty wild experiences while on ‘shrooms, reporting everything from vivid hallucinations to spiritual awakenings to intense euphoria. But exactly what happens inside the brain to produce such a trip?

That’s the subject of a new video from the guys at ASAPScience.

According to the video, the main psychoactive ingredient in magic mushrooms is psilocybin, a compound that the body breaks down into a mind-altering substance called psilocin. To find out what it does to the brain, just check out the video above.

Scientists believe magic mushrooms and other psychedelics might have significant therapeutic uses for people with mental health problems like depression and PTSD. But scientists say more research is needed–and maybe a change in laws governing the use of the drugs.

As ASAPScience’s Mitchell Moffit says in the video, “Ultimately, scientists believe that the laws need to change around clinical testing of the drugs so advanced research can be executed to fully understand both the positive and negative effects that this ‘magic fungus’ has on our brain.”

My ‘F*ck You Fifties’

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I remember, a few years ago, sitting in a parenting group with a dozen women in their forties, all of us with daughters in middle school. As we swapped parenting stories, sharing the inevitable girl drama, hurt feelings, rejection, and exclusion our daughters faced, we felt a little overwhelmed.

We felt a little sad, too, as memories of our own teen struggles surfaced — and, frankly, relieved that those difficult years had passed.

At some point, we wondered aloud: If we could go back in time, what would we want to say to our younger, teenage selves?

The near unanimous response? “It gets better.”

While even today, at 51, friendships still disappoint, here’s the difference: I know now that, for the most part, the deepest friendships survive. As for the others, well, maybe they were never solid enough to last.

With age comes perspective. If nothing else, my years of struggle and disappointment have taught me that things have been, and always could be, worse.

It’s in this spirit — motivated by writer Suzanne Braun Levine — that I am fully embracing my “F*ck You Fifties.” I’ve finally arrived to a place where I care less about living up to others’ expectations and more about being who I want to be.

I’m tired of regrets. Are there roads I wish I’d taken and choices I wish I hadn’t made? Absolutely. But I’ve stopped wringing my hands over those. I can’t undo the past, so I’m trying to live in the present.

I let very little drama into my life. I just don’t have the patience for the little things that used to bug me or the perceived slights that caused me to ruminate for days on end.

I’m a lot braver than I was in my youth, more willing to try new things and less worried about failure or rejection. From self-publishing a book to starting a blog, I’m looking for purpose beyond being a wife and a mother.

I’m defying my natural introversion by reaching out to interesting women and asking them to meet for coffee. I’m saying yes to spontaneous invitations to dinner or a lecture — and letting my husband and kids fend for themselves.

I’m joining a group of women I barely knew — now my friends — for a regular Estrogen Poker Night, learning Texas Hold ‘Em and betting with money for the first time.

And I’m making some bucket list dreams come true. Just last month, I jumped out of a plane.

With this new attitude come smaller, but still meaningful, changes too. Where once I was concerned with appearance above all else, I now live in my comfy leggings and oversized sweaters.

While I’m busy saying yes to new experiences, I’m also allowing myself to say no more often. Whether it’s not answering the phone during dinner or declining invitations to tedious gatherings, if I don’t feel like doing something — and I don’t need to — I take a pass.

This goes for people, too. If spending time with someone leaves me feeling worse about myself, I’m done.

And my filter is going. Don’t “old people” drive you crazy with all the inappropriate things they say? Well, with each passing year, I find myself just saying what comes to mind.

But that’s not all bad. In fact, it’s allowed me to be a lot more generous with compliments, even to strangers. In the past I’d think “wow I really like the way she did that.” Now, I find myself saying it out loud.

While my “F*ck You Fifties” have caused my teen daughters some embarrassment (so, what else is new?), I hope they’ll find themselves in the exact same place in 30 years.

So to all you young women, let me say it again: It does get better. And one day, like me, you’ll end up in the “F*ck You Fifties,” and you won’t want to look back.

You’ll be having too much fun playing poker and saying crazy shit.

Earlier on Huff/Post50:

This Rare “Alien-Like” Goblin Shark Has Been Found Off The Coast Of Australia

The Australian Museum showed off the specimen in a video uploaded at the weekend.

Someone has claimed the rarely seen shark is “beautiful”. What do you think?

Have you ever seen a goblin shark before? Do you want to? Great – watch this.

youtube.com

The Australian Museum showed off the specimen in a video uploaded at the weekend.

The 1.26-metre-long shark was caught in a net by a trawler off Gabo Island in January, Sky News reported.

It was held at the Wharf Aquarium in Merimbula before being taken to the museum.

Australian Museum / Via youtube.com

The Australian Museum said what made the rarely seen goblin shark so unusual was its “alien-like” jaw.

The Australian Museum said what made the rarely seen goblin shark so unusual was its "alien-like" jaw.

Mark McGrouther, the fish collection manager at the museum, told Agence France-Presse: “I suspect because it has got soft, flabby musculature, it doesn’t need much energy … so it will swim slowly over the bottom just using its snout like a metal detector.

“It will be sweeping over the bottom and when it detects a small fish, or a crab or a squid it will shoot those jaws out ‘wham’ and capture whatever it is.

“It will spear it with those sharp pointed teeth and then just wolf it down whole.”

Australian Museum / Via youtube.com

McGrouther also said he thought the shark wasn’t hideous, but beautiful.

McGrouther also said he thought the shark wasn't hideous, but beautiful.

Australian Museum / Via youtube.com


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My Co-Parent Won’t See Our 4-Year-Old Because He Hates My New Boyfriend

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Reader Sad Co-Parent writes:

I have been separated for months and now am getting divorced, we have a 4-year-old daughter. The problem is that now I have a new boyfriend. Because my ex-husband doesn’t like him, he refuses to see our daughter. I have tried to explain to him that my new relationship has nothing to do with him and he can’t use our daughter like this, but he refuses to listen.

What should I tell my princess when she asks for her Daddy and asks when she is going to see him? It breaks my heart because she misses him, but there’s nothing I can do. I just feel sorry for her. What should I tell her?

Dear SCP,

This is a tough situation, and my heart aches for your child. I am assuming that your husband has some sort of emotional issue that is predisposing him to act selfishly toward your child. It is probable that his own childhood was not the best. He is unable to see that he is hurting your child in his attempts to control the behavior of his ex-spouse. He probably tends toward narcissism, which you can read about here. If you want to read books about how to deal with him in the future, once he has rejoined your life (and I predict that he will), I have compiled a list of books that discuss narcissists here.

Now let’s turn to how you can best ameliorate the impact of your ex’s behavior on your daughter. It is important to ensure that your child does not in any way feel as though it is his or her fault that Daddy is not around. Tailor your explanation of why he can’t see her to your daughter’s developmental level. For example, you can say something like, “I know that Daddy loves you very much, but he is not able to see you right now. He is not feeling well and it is best for him not to be around kids right now. Maybe you can draw pictures or write letters to Daddy whenever you miss him and keep them in a special book. Then maybe one day you will be able to show them to him.” You can also make a little photo book of the child with your co-parent that your child can look at when ever he or she wants.

You may think that this is not truthful, but I disagree. There is no emotionally healthy parent or even grandparent who refuses to see a child for any reason. If a parent loses the capacity to empathize with his or her child, and conceives of the child as a pawn in a larger manipulation of an ex-spouse (or, in some cases, a narcissistic grandparent who won’t engage with a grandchild out of anger at an adult child), this speaks to a lack of psychological health, and an impaired capacity to self-regulate when faced with anger and frustration. As your child is not old enough to understand this, saying Daddy doesn’t feel well is a good translation.

Do not tell her that her father won’t see her. This is hurtful and does no good at all. You need to honor your child’s love of an absent co-parent, even if he is choosing to be absent. In fact, it is likely that your daughter will begin to idealize Daddy more in his absence, and this is okay and normal. Do not try to disabuse her of the notion that Daddy is perfect. This is a healthy coping mechanism that allows her to more effectively deal with the hole that his absence leaves in her life.

Children of any age may be very angry at a parent that they can’t see, even if it is because the parent is sick or imprisoned. Make sure to use your empathy skills to tell your child that these feelings are completely normal and okay. Reaffirm that Daddy loves her very much and would be with her if he or she could. (Here, if he had the emotional capacity to parent your child, he would be doing so.)

Focus on keeping your daughter’s impression of your ex as positive and loving, if there is any history at all of him acting this way. I would imagine there is, since she misses him. Also, narcissists can be very charming when they want to be. Mention positive traits of your ex and positive memories that your daughter shared with her father, even if it annoys or nearabout kills you to do this. Remember, if your child thinks poorly of a parent, she is thinking poorly of half of herself. You can read here about how bad it is when parents undermine one another, and here is a guest post on how toxic it can be for kids when parents badmouth one another after divorce.

Good luck and I hope that your situation changes for the better soon. Thanks for writing in. Till we meet again, I remain, The Blogapist Who Says If Your Child Hates One Parent He Hates 50% Of Himself.

Overwhelmed By Your Life? Perhaps It Is Time to Simplify

Ideal Work Life

If you had millions of dollars, what would you do? Buy an expensive house and car? How about a used van and park it by the ocean? That is exactly what Major League pitcher Daniel Norris did. Instead of spending his multimillion dollar contract to live up to the appearance of a celebrity ball player, this 21-year-old pitcher chose a simpler life. In a segment on the Today Show Daniel Norris said, “When I can simplify outside of the fair and foul lines, that’s so much less to think about off the field and all my focus is put onto the baseball field.”

As you go through your day, what is causing your stress, worry, and distraction? Is it a desire for a new car? Is it ensuring your dinner party is as good as your neighbor’s was? Are you concerned about people stealing what you own? Are you having difficulty paying your mortgage but worry you have failed if you downsize? Are you stressed because you can’t seem to achieve the American dream? Perhaps your unique dream life is different from the one society has dictated for us all.

Are the issues causing stress in your life providing you with any value? Start cataloging everything in your life. What brings you joy? What makes you feel whole? What helps to make you your best? Now, what is causing you to feel overwhelmed? What is a distraction? What is more hassle than it is worth? Next explore what is keeping you from removing things from your life that are affecting you negatively. Do you keep them around for your values or someone else’s? Are you living your unique Type Me life or are you unhappily living someone else’s life? Your ideal life might not to be living in a van, but is it the way you are living now?

Look around you. Did you create your life or are you living the life your parents, society, or your peers instilled in you? Are you trying to win at a game you don’t want to play? If you had the courage and the means, what life would you create? What would be included? What would you remove?

Henry David Thoreau wrote in the book Walden, “Simplify, simplify, simplify.” Simplifying your life is not just about downsizing your house or selling your possessions. At its heart, simplifying means living by your values. What do you personally value? When you choose to add something in your life, do you first gauge it against what you values? If you lived by your values, what would you experience? Make a list of all of the adjectives that would describe your life if you lived by your values. Perhaps it would be calm, peaceful, and content. Perhaps it would be exciting, adventurous, and joyful. What makes your heart sing? What truly makes you happy? Are you actively bringing into your life those things that make you happy?

Can you be as brave as Daniel Norris and remove yourself from the expectations of your role and status to remain true to your Type Me? Are you willing to stand up to ridicule and live the life that brings you joy? Are you ready to choose your version of living no matter what society expects? It is time to simplify your life by removing everything that is not you?

99 Things That Weren’t A Thing Until They Were A Thing

It’s incredible just how many things weren’t things until they were things.

1. Dresses that are simultaneously blue and black, and white and gold.
2. Caesar salads.
3. Scientology.
4. Gluten.
5. French manicures.
6. White wine spritzers.
7. Courgetti.
8. Spinning.
9. Bodycon skirts.
10. Kale.
11. Tie-dye t-shirts.
12. Chia seeds.
13. Man buns.
14. The Crazy Frog.
15. Portable DVD players.
16. Pickling stuff.
17. The Ice Bucket Challenge.
18. Neopets.
19. Waterbeds.
20. Waterbras.
21. Backstalking.
22. Putting an ~inspirational~ quote in your email signature.
23. Hashtags.
24. Birthday candles that sing.
25. Flappy Bird.
26. Having a statement nail in your manicure.
27. Juicing.
28. Having a “twin thing”.
29. Gel nails.
30. The time the original Sugababes reunited and called themselves “Mutya Keisha Siobhan”.
31. Acai berries.
32. Paleo burgers.
33. Knitting.
34. Holographic leggings.
35. Ed Sheeran.
36. E-cigarettes.
37. Red Bull.
38. Green tea.
39. White tea.
40. White suits.
41. Contouring.
42. BB Cream.
43. Doge.
44. Hula hooping.
45. Bennifer.
46. Goji berries.
47. Taking the Eurovision Song Contest very seriously.
48. Uggs.
49. The word “normcore”.
50. Hair straighteners.
51. Shag bands.
52. Those people who give you free hugs on the street.
53. The pob.
54. Asking for a short back and sides.
55. Crocs.
56. Wearing jumpers your nan made you.
57. Saying “Talk to the hand, coz the face ain’t listening”.
58. Opposites day.
59. Photo filters.
60. Body paint.
61. Beanie babies.
62. Blankets with sleeves in them.
63. “Keep Calm” signs.
64. Cath Kidston.
65. Rebecca Black.
66. The Snogging Scale.
67. Silent discos.
68. Zumba.
69. Speed dating.
70. Gangnam style.
71. Nordic walking poles.
72. Dollzmania.
73. Scoubidous.
74. Neknominate.
75. Hot yoga.
76. People who actually believe starsigns are just made up, lol.
77. Motorola Razors.
78. “Baby On Board” signs.
79. Lava lamps.
80. Flannel shirts.
81. The Rachel.
82. Mini Polos.
83. Ballet pumps.
84. Crop jumpers.
85. The “sanasa sanasa” tune.
86. Girl boxers.
87. Coke Zero.
88. The Atkins diet.
89. Annuals.
90. High School Musical.
91. Charity wristbands.
92. Boob jobs.
93. Kabbalah.
94. Thongs.
95. Lindsay Lohan’s theatre career.
96. The word “random”.
97. Martine McCutcheon.
98. Hollyoaks Later.
99. Things being things.

The Truth About Exercising When You’re Sick Or Hurt

SPECIAL FROM Next Avenue

By Linda Melone

When you’re under the weather with a cold or achy muscles or joints, it may be best to skip your regular workout. But it’s not always necessary.

Obviously, a severe injury requires rest, but for less serious ailments, a little activity may actually make you feel better. Here are some of the most common health issues you are likely to encounter and ways to exercise around them as well as when you should avoid working out:

You Feel a Cold Coming On

If you have mostly “head symptoms” like a scratchy throat, mild headache or runny nose, you can likely go ahead with your workout with a few adjustments, says Dr. Kristine Arthur, internal medicine physician with Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center, Fountain Valley, Calif.

“Avoid strenuous activities like sprints, a marathon, boot camp or heavy lifting,” she says. “Heavy exercise while sick can strain your heart.”

If you normally run, consider a light jog or brisk walk, preferably indoors during cold weather. “Pilates and yoga are usually fine, but avoid hot yoga, as you may become overheated,” Arthur says.

You Have a Sinus Infection

If you have anything more severe than a runny nose and suspect you may have a sinus infection, see a doctor before doing your regular exercise, Arthur says.

“If you stress yourself with exercise and don’t get proper treatment for sinusitis, it can turn into something more serious, like pneumonia,” she says.

Be particularly careful if you have a history of asthma. Exercise can trigger bronchial spasm. Stop exercising if you hear yourself wheezing or feel you can’t catch your breath, Arthur says.

You Spike a Fever… and More

It’s best to stay home and avoid working out if you have “full body symptoms,” Arthur says. “This includes symptoms like muscle aches, chills, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea and particularly if you have a fever.”

Exercising with a fever of 100 degrees or higher puts you at risk for increasing your temperature even further.

“Never try to ‘sweat out’ a fever with exercise,” Arthur says. “This can put you at risk of dehydration. In general, listen to your body. If you start feeling worse while exercising – stop! You may make things worse and prolong the illness.”

You Develop Elbow Tendonitis

Called tennis elbow or golfer’s elbow, depending on whether it’s on the outside of your elbow (tennis) or inside (golfer’s), this syndrome makes it painful to shake hands, hold a racket or turn a wrench.

“Avoid any activity that triggers the pain, such as practicing backhand in tennis, painting or using a tool repetitively,” says Dr. David Geier, orthopedic surgeon in Charleston, S.C. “Upper body exercises that don’t recreate the pain should be alright to do.”

Supportive straps worn just below the elbow can also take stress off the affected area and can help you perform activities with less pain.

Your Wrists Ache

Wrist arthritis makes it painful to bear weight on your wrists and hands, such as while doing push-ups.

“The pushup places the wrist in full extension while the person transfers stress through the wrists,” Geier says. Avoid exercises that cause pain, or modify the move. For example, try push-ups on dumbbells (grasp them to enable your wrists to stay straight). Or wear wrist braces that limit the range of motion, which can help decrease pain during the exercise, Geier says.

It Hurts to Walk

Inflammation of a thick band of tissue, called the plantar fascia, that runs along the bottom of your foot and connects to your heel, is called plantar fasciitis. It’s common in runners, overweight individuals and in people who wear shoes without good support.

“It is unclear if any activity is particularly harmful with plantar fasciitis,” Geier says. “The biggest problem is getting up from a chair and going straight into physical activity or waking up and moving around a lot.”

Plantar fascia- and Achilles stretching exercises first thing in the morning, and possibly several times a day, can help.

You Have General Aches and Pains

Waking up with achy muscles from simply doing more than your usual activities the day before can be eased with stretching or by using a foam roller.

“Use a foam roller to promote flexibility of your mid-back and stretch your pectoral muscles (across the front of your chest),” says Jesse Phillips, sports rehabilitation supervisor at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif. “If you have knee pain, using a foam roller followed by stretches can help improve the mobility of the hip, knee and ankle.”

Keep in mind the difference between the discomfort associated with muscles working hard and excessive strain being placed on joints/ligaments/tendons, Phillips says.

“Moving a joint or muscle to the point of mild stretch is typically acceptable, but moving through pain is not,” he said. “If you are concerned about the potential of the latter kind of pain, consult a physician or a physical therapist for an evaluation.”

Next Avenue contributor Linda Melone is a California-based freelance writer specializing in health, fitness and wellness for women over 50.

Read more from Next Avenue:
6 beliefs that sabotage your health
Atrophy prevention
Stretches and exercises for tired, achy legs

Llamas Elude Capture In Arizona

llama caught

UPDATE: Both llamas have been brought into custody.

Previously…

Two llamas were eluding capture in the Phoenix suburb of Sun City, Arizona on Thursday, frustrating local authorities and providing entertainment for countless Twitter users. One of the llamas was caught by around 1:15 p.m. local time.

Local news affiliates are live-streaming the llama pursuit and it does not disappoint.

#Serial Season 2: Llamas On The Loose pic.twitter.com/rqcT8SP2pc

— Jarett Wieselman (@JarettSays) February 26, 2015

It was not immediately clear where the llamas came from or who owned them.

CBS News has dubbed the affair “Llama Drama” and “Llamas Unleashed.”

llamas

Llamas still on the llam. pic.twitter.com/sOWDqJTz1k

— Cooper Fleishman (@_Cooper) February 26, 2015

Someone please send the city of Phoenix some nets ASAP pic.twitter.com/ZOW0j6LEen

— Colin Campbell (@BKcolin) February 26, 2015

This post has been updated to reflect that both llamas have been wrangled.

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