Baseball: Opening Day and a New Task

I was recently asked to write for a new website hometown9.com about my hometown Chicago Cubs. This was the 1st article I made for the site.

Opening Day: She’s coming back to me

The mistress of spring is coming back home after a heady trip abroad. She’s wearing a devilish blue dress, cut low, the way I like it, and carrying a baseball bat. Again, the way I love it. That is but one vision of baseball that in my more sensuous dreams might exist.

“What is Love?” but that of a pitcher scraping dirt off the rubber, digging his toe into side, and steaming a bee ball toward a tightly-muscled assassin with a 35-inch thunder maker in his clutches. As the pop of the mit or the sweet crack of the bat means we are seeing the first of thousands of confrontations between the two diametrically-opposed fellas. That is love to a baseball fan.

In our nation’s capital, as the 2008 election stirs patriotic feelings, the Washington Nationals open a new cathedral for the baseball gods to perform their wondrous feats. It seems Cuba’s better known Castro knew the park was going to be a startling vision, and decided, “leader of Cuba or new Washington Senator, er, National pitching prospect?” and chose to give it, just one more try.

As a team in search of a new owner, the Chicago Cubs are seeking to break through after 100 years. 100 years. When they last proclaimed the title of World Champions, the world had no supersonic travel, no television, no atomic annihilation, no internet, no rights to vote for women, and still held back African-Americans. How times have evolved for some. As the team has changed hands, from restaurateur, to gum maker, to son-of-a-(gun) gum maker to corporate conglomerate, the loyalty of the fans has kept alive the dreams of William Wrigley, who never won a title, but is the name everyone will forever associate with the ballpark at Clark & Addison. No matter what the current real estate man has to say about it.

In Los Angeles, fifty years after their movement west on a subsonic bird of Orville Wright’s wilder dreams, the Dodgers are playing again in the L.A. Coliseum. A place developed for Olympic feats and USC football, it makes for a quirky attempt to put 80,000 fans aghast at the odd dimensions swinging around to the left field area. Where an outfielder has to put on protective gear, or at least, gets an opportunity to add 3rd base to his list of abilities. Only outfielder Wally Moon might reminisce fondly about his time hitting in this short-lived version of a major league ballpark.

These are some of the new memories surrounding the return of my mistress from abroad. She is a broad – curvy, sometimes luscious, full of vigor, but she never ages – and yet, she is hardened by a seven-score affirmation that every spring she’ll come back home to us. Fresh. A clean slate. Mistakes forgiven. And more new memories to make whilst “rounding the sack.”

Opening Day. She’s home.

Pop Culture Careers: But I don’t wanna be a Pirate!

I think we all have our dreams of what we would really do if we had unlimited time, resources, and could get out of our own way. The alternative to the 9-5, clock-in, clock-out, wax on, whack-off routine we often surmise is periliously close to insanity while in a world full of inept managers and co-whacker sycophants. Instead, we sit down at night, and maybe check out what our alter ego lives might be – if we understand those boobs aren’t real either, and their acting chops aren’t necessarily all that. But these are a few of the work situations I wanted to be in for a while:

Lawyer. It isn’t very droll to be a man of the law. To seek out the truth, Perry Mason style, and get your killer to breakdown on the stand in front of millions of people. But Raymond Burr did it for a long, long time – longest in history. He did it so well, that the Oz man (Ozzy Osbourne) cut “Perry Mason” in tribute.


Who Can We Get On The Case?
We Need Perry Mason
Someone To Put You In Place
Calling Perry Mason Again, Again

ER Doctor. There’s a long history of putting medical shows on the tube – to increase awareness of how hard these people work, and their lives on the front lines of tragedy, technology and dating gymnastics. As shows go, I liked ER the best. Supported by a real life doctor, Michael Crichton, who seems to be nearly a success at everything, including techno thriller writing, ER has finally ran its long course, long after “The Clooney” (right) parted for mega money, power-ball style on the big screen. (Michael Clayton…gotta see. Leatherheads, well, I might be interested. ) But the role of doctor on this show usually involves using some fast action to keep a patient flopping, and then later, some horizontal bopping with a very smart, but seemingly unaware of the doctor tango, nurse or nurses. Granted, it keeps the show on the air, since sex sells, but are all ER Doctors, that interested in the female anatomy of their coworkers? (Since I’ve seen some not so pretty nurses…)

Medical Examiner. I want to say Quincy, M.E. was the first of his kind, TV wise. The crime fighting examiner of the after the crime took place was CSI before really cool technology was around. I was only a young kid, but I thought Jack Klugman was pretty cool doing his due diligence in actually getting to the bottom of a situation. He was an ass chaser too – not that that should be a perk – but that was only after he got his man or woman.





The corporate clog. Yes, this is what Uncle Sam and the Illuminati want us to be. The good ole push-the-broom, run-the-copier-machine, type until carpal tunnel takes over worker bee that keeps the taxes flowing in and the misery flowing out. Where a feudal lord at heart never gets too upset to see his peasants doing the tasks assigned to make the coinage come in. Working was a TV show that I related to in that sense. (Since I was just starting out on the Road to Never-Do-Wellville.) This comedy made so much sense to me…that it probably meant I had no cents. (Or sense…)
But Devo had a nice revival on the TV Theme Song, “Working in a Coal Mine”:

Well I been workin’ in a coal mine
Goin down down
Workin’ in a coal mine
Whew about to slip down
Five oclock in the mornin’
I’m up before the sun
When my work day is over
I’m too tired for havin’ fun

It is not that I really wanted to be a corporate clog…but it is so easy to slip into that little drainage ditch of society. We breed and teach this at an early age, the whole, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” Tons of books on it too. I read some of them. Learning about Flight Engineers, Astronauts, Firemen, Lawyers, Business Managers, Baseball Players, etc. On CNBC, they have a show called the Millionaire Inside where a rich real estate lady pretty much summed up the idea that people were indoctrinated to work for betters, for the good of their will and their ideals from almost birth. We are educated that way.

And lo, what light through yonder window breaks, but your ass working for THE MAN.

So when asked again, “what do you do for a living?” Say, “I’m a Pirate. I cut throats for me gold and don’t serve any master.” (Then, prepare for the committal to your local Bellevue mental ward.)

But you could just say, “I Don’t Wanna Be a Pirate!” and go on watching TV and pretending you are not just another bee in a hive. And Uncle Sam will check his numbers, and see, that yep,
134, 567, 891 people are slogging away on his fuedal farmGotta love Capitalism!

Devo’s song:

A Messed Up Blog: I had to delete my last

I had difficulty loading and working on my blog after my many places post. So, I deleted it from view. For some reason, http://www.digg.com was the hang up point on the loading, as I tried to pull up the blog.

Whatever the reason, I don’t think those maps work too well in blogger. Just for your information.

I might not write much here until next week. Gotta see where I should go with a few other things…

The weather has improved some, but now the car decided to have a problem. (Anti-freeze and a thermostat…) I’ll be happy to see a paycheck tomorrow as I go to the pump for $3.50 gas. (Sorry, Brits. You pay a WHOLE lot more…but it still is hurting…since we don’t get some other socialistic services.)

Anyways, I’ll be back on Monday. Take care my loyal readers! (Don’t know why but you are!) :)

Getting a Job: Writing for a new baseball site

On the prodding of Susan Bernard, my eminently qualified writer friend, I applied to a baseball website for a position as team writer. The new site (really, really new) is called the Hometown 9.

I picked the Chicago Cubs, and maybe, through a little luck, I’ll get my writing career rolling. Anyways, here’s the first two pieces: one is my bio, the other, my opening day piece.
My Bio: I come from a long background of frustrated ballplayers as both my grandfathers spent time in the pursuit of playing baseball at the minor league level. Grandpa Clark tried out for the Brooklyn Dodgers before being told by Uncle Sam they needed 17-year olds to fight in WWII. As a result, he never got to meet Branch Rickey or that man’s miserly and ingenious ways personally. Grandpa Powers tried his hand in the Texas Leagues of the 1920’s. No records on his success, but I know he spent 37 years as a state penitentiary guard. That pretty much says it all.

Before I swindled Purdue University out an Industrial Engineering degree (or did they take me?), I was likely in hot pursuit of fly ball in centerfield. I grew up on the Chicago Cubs, wishing I could one day patrol their cozy confines in pursuit of some wind blown high pop, while also hoping Jay Johnstone wouldn’t be in the same pursuit.

My high school career never amounted to the glory of getting a visit from a tobacco-chewing scout. Some how 5’6”, 165-pound lefties weren’t on the short list of players to watch. But I could really throw that “speed ball” by you. (Glory Days reference.)

Instead, I matriculated to the concrete jungle that is Purdue University. There, I learned how to walk 1 mile across campus at 7:00 AM in 15 minutes, spend 50 minutes in class, usually falling asleep, then back to the dorm in 20 minutes, due to the headwinds of winter. That practice became a rarity; and so did my achievement of good grades, as a 2.07 GPA attests to.

Baseball play turned to baseball fantasy turned to baseball disenchantment with the 1994 strike. I felt cheated on – unlike my imaginary girlfriends – and so, I put aside the game for a spell. I am sorry for that enterprise, and I am a reformed addict. (No lie.)

So that’s it. Professionally, I have wandered away from industrial engineering and decided upon the career of “writing.” This is my first gig – aside from blogging for several years and slogging through writings that are the epitome of Americana – and I hope it will be a smashing success.

Maybe the Cubs will be too.

1st Article: Opening Day: She’s coming back to me

The mistress of spring is coming back home after a heady trip abroad. She’s wearing a devilish blue dress, cut low, the way I like it, and carrying a baseball bat. Again, the way I love it. That is but one vision of baseball that in my more sensuous dreams might exist.

“What is Love?” but that of a pitcher scraping dirt off the rubber, digging his toe into side, and steaming a bee ball toward a tightly-muscled assassin with a 35-inch thunder maker in his clutches. As the pop of the mit or the sweet crack of the bat means we are seeing the first of thousands of confrontations between the two diametrically-opposed fellas. That is love to a baseball fan.

In our nation’s capital, as the 2008 election stirs patriotic feelings, the Washington Nationals open a new cathedral for the baseball gods to perform their wondrous feats. It seems Cuba’s better known Castro knew the park was going to be a startling vision, and decided, “leader of Cuba or new Washington Senator, er, National pitching prospect?” and chose to give it, just one more try.

As a team in search of a new owner, the Chicago Cubs are seeking to break through after 100 years. 100 years. When they last proclaimed the title of World Champions, the world had no supersonic travel, no television, no atomic annihilation, no internet, no rights to vote for women, and still held back African-Americans. How times have evolved for some. As the team has changed hands, from restaurateur, to gum maker, to son-of-a-(gun) gum maker to corporate conglomerate, the loyalty of the fans has kept alive the dreams of William Wrigley, who never won a title, but is the name everyone will forever associate with the ballpark at Clark & Addison. No matter what the current real estate man has to say about it.

In Los Angeles, fifty years after their movement west on a subsonic bird of Orville Wright’s wilder dreams, the Dodgers are playing again in the L.A. Coliseum. A place developed for Olympic feats and USC football, it makes for a quirky attempt to put 80,000 fans aghast at the odd dimensions swinging around to the left field area. Where an outfielder has to put on protective gear, or at least, gets an opportunity to add 3rd base to his list of abilities. Only outfielder Wally Moon might reminisce fondly about his time hitting in this short-lived version of a major league ballpark.

These are some of the new memories surrounding the return of my mistress from abroad. She is a broad – curvy, sometimes luscious, full of vigor, but she never ages – and yet, she is hardened by a seven-score affirmation that every spring she’ll come back home to us. Fresh. A clean slate. Mistakes forgiven. And more new memories to make whilst “rounding the sack.”

Opening Day. She’s home.

Fantasy Baseball Roster: My team and shortfalls

Yahoo! Team Name: SamZellHellCurrent owner of the Chicago Cubs
Hitters

C Jarrod Saltalamacchia (Tex – C,1B) NA - Dude couldn’t make the Opening day roster! He was traded last year from Atlanta as the ‘important piece’ of the Texiera trade. (Kurt Suzuki is my out. Sigh.)
1B James Loney (LAD – 1B) – 23, line drive hitter that could hit .300, 22-30 Jacks, 85-95 RBIs.
2B Chone Figgins (LAA – 2B,3B,OF) – speedster, rough with the glove everywhere, .300 + 45 SBs.
3B Ryan Zimmerman (Was – 3B) – .275, 25-30 dingers, 90 RBIs due to Washington sucking at the top.
SS Hanley Ramírez (Fla – SS) – #1 overall pick by me. Five-category stud if he hits 3rd. .310-35-110-115-40 type numbers.
OF Carlos Lee (Hou – OF) – “El Caballo”, which means “The Horse”, is another .300 -30-100 man who could get 10 Stolen bases. He was my 2nd pick. (Pictured right.)
OF Kosuke Fukudome (ChC – OF) - A new Cubbie to love or hate. I’m hopeful he’ll get 20 home runs and 15 stolen bases to go with a .280 BA.
OF Willy Taveras (Col – OF) – Speed merchant. No power. But can get steals, runs and maybe some batting average.
Util Josh Willingham (Fla – OF) – Probably the oldest regular the Florida Marlins have. Can hit 25 home runs behind Hanley Ramirez.

Pitching Staff
SP Erik Bedard (Sea – SP) – Best Baltimore Pitcher in ages got traded to West Coast. Good Deal – should give me some strikeouts (200), low WHIP(1.20), ERA(3.35) and possibly 17 wins. Fingers crossed. (Pictured Right.)
SP Cole Hamels (Phi – SP) – Young lefty stud that could get 20 Wins if the Phillies are hitting on all cylinders.
P Carlos Zambrano (ChC – SP) – Fire in his belly. Not a brain in his head at times. But likeable nonetheless. Workhorse that give the Cubs a chance to win every time.
P Fausto Carmona (Cle – SP) – Stuff, stuff and more stuff. Throws Hard and sinks everything. Can win alot behind C.C. Sabathia. I’ll take 15 Wins, 3.75 ERA and WHIP in the 1.25 area.
RP Jonathan Broxton (LAD – RP) – Closer in waiting. Can hit 98-100 MPH on the gun. Strikeouts nearly 1.2 batters per inning. Nasty. I figure 10 saves and 5 wins.
RP Kevin Gregg (Fla – RP) – might save half of the wins the Marlins figure to get, which is around 70 games.
RP Brian Wilson (SF – RP) – San Francisco won’t give him too much to work with. But I hope for 30 saves.

Benchwarmers
BNRick Ankiel (StL – OF) – Could be the next Babe Ruth, with steroids. (Hit plenty of home runs in his miraculous conversion from pitching stud to hitting stud/dud.) (Below.)
BNRyan Theriot (ChC – 2B,SS) -Scrappy little speedster that will give me all that a utility player can.
BN Andre Ethier (LAD – OF) – Could be a break out as LA figures out what it has in the outfield.
BN Yovani Gallardo (Mil – SP) DL - He could be a total monster at 22 years old. I think he’ll give me a 13-15 wins and serious strikeouts.
BN Andrew Miller (Fla – SP) – Just an injury pitcher. Was drafted #1 overall by Detroit in 2006, then traded (with others) for SP Dontrelle Willis and 3B/OF Miguel Cabrera.
Overall, I love my pitching. Deep starters should pull me up on those categories – WHIP, ERA and K’s are going to be pretty easy to come by, I hope. (Knock on the screen.) Problems are in the hitting. No big, big boppers. (35 HR plus.) The team can run, I got 3 guys that could steal 50 bases, but that is one category. No big RBI guys either. Batting average and Runs are often a shot in the dark.
So, I will be doing some trading about 3-5 weeks in, after I get a feeling for the youngsters I drafted and see if the pitching can be leveraged for some superstar hitter.

Experimental Baseball :Is it Time for a Six-Man Rotation?

Over the past thirty years, the emphasis of pitching with a five-man rotation replaced the old guard of four-man rotations with the feeling that the extra day rest would improve performances of the starting pitcher. This idea is at least tempered by one study done by Keith Woolner in the Baseball Prospectus book: Baseball Between the Numbers: Why Everything You Know About the Game is Wrong (Prospectus Entertainment, 2006, pg. 74)

After reading this, and feeling those results at least support it is no longer tried-and-true to believe this additional rest is better than managing pitchers better “in game”, in holding down pitch counts and assessing the effort a pitcher expends in getting those late-inning hitters out, the possibility of a new paradigm (that infamous word in the business world) struck: the six-man rotation.


First, this is not a year-long idea, but rather a month-to-month adjustment of the pitching staff to maximize the benefits received from the pitching staff in general. Due to scheduling of games, the ability to adjust the staff only makes sense and reverts back to the prior usage of pitching in the 1930′s and 1940′s to some degree. (Additionally, the 2007 World Champion Boston Red Sox considered this rotation planwith SP Daisuke Matsuzaka being a long-time user of this in Japan. (Fantasy Sports, April 2008, pg. 17.)) (Theo Epstein, GM of Red Sox pictured.)

The best way to explain ‘this version’ is by month.

April. 6 starters are used throughout the month, with 4 starts per man. With spring training typically not garnering enough work for the some to round into form, the extended spring training of April allows managers the ability to decide better on the 5th man in the rotation. More importantly, all starters are available for relief work, a couple times in the month. Since many have scheduled side sessions, the usage in bullpen assistance can get them the ‘required’ sessions. The ace of the staff, will see three 1-inning appearances. Others will see possibly longer stints, but no more than two appearances.

May and June. 5-man rotation. The sixth man goes to the bullpen as a long reliever. Bullpen set ups as usual.

July. 6 starters. #1 starter goes one game extra than others in the rotation. Does not pitch out of the bullpen. Every other starter goes four times and makes bullpen appearances.

August, September and October. 4 Starters till the end of the season. Saving the best for last. 5th and 6th starters work half-dozen appearances out of the bullpen. Leveraging extra starts down the stretch, gives the team an opportunity to win the pennant as the games matter more. If the pennant is in hand, revert back to a 5-man rotation, or other manageable scenario.

The Innings per season for the Starters are as follows:

#1 Starter – 239 IP

#2 Starter – 225 IP

#3 Starter – 204 IP

#4 Starter – 195 IP

#5 Starter – 143.6 IP

#6 Starter – 88 IP

The partial goal is to get 35 starts for the no. 1 pitcher – which is still a light total compared to the 1970′s workhorse examples of Steve Carlton, Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver, Gaylord Perry, Jim Palmer or Fergie Jenkins. But more importantly, between the no. 1, 2 and 3 starters they will see 11 relief appearances that could be in key situations. The trade up between their stuff and the typical middle reliever/closer could be important to win one, two or more games that were lost due to a poor bullpen. Leveraging these key innings with better pitchers, who are throwing anyway, could be worth exploring as a way to improve marginally a 90-win team to a 93-95 win team.

Realizing pitchers’ quirks, this may not be possible. However, given a young staff that has been moved around a great deal in the minors, this could be a legit, rotational organization that pitchers adjust to, thrive in and prefer above all, after a period of adjustment. (Which might happen in a down season – allowing for a realistic time for experimentation throughout the organization.)

The way they pitch needs to be monitored much more than when they pitch.

Consistency is rare anyway, considering DL stints of most starters. With an early season 6-man rotation, the man sent to the bullpen first may have to step in for an injured pitcher. What better way to train appropriately than to have all ready started earlier on during the spring?

And knowing the in-game scenario, that every pitcher is capable of both starting and relieving to the benefit of the team, may be a psychological advantage to a team in the long term. Managers have to maximize options with position players, why not expand that to pitching staffs, like in the yester years of baseball glory.

A Baseball Package: What I think would sell and predictions


I would love to put together a professional-looking total baseball package that would sell to fans and curious people alike. In it I would try to offer the following:
Bringin’ Gas and Dialin’ 9: The 5-tool total package

· A Hardcover Book – estimated 750-900 pages w/additional Appendices of Players and Teams records
· CD: PDF of Book with online links
· CD: Image Gallery of 100s of MLB players, Stadiums, Teams, Managers, Executives and Umpires
· CD: Database of Statistics with executable queries to find those statistics, comparisons and Player backgrounds
· CD: Graphs/Charts of the Financials, Stadium Layouts and Other useful stats
· DVD/CD: Audios of famous plays, players and radio broadcasts in history with footage from World Series and epic moments in Baseball history
Estimated Retail Cost: $110-150 with the following hang ups:
1. Book: $45 – $55 (did/doing)
2. Images: $15 (need permission)
3. Database: $25 (have backend- front end needed, permissions)
4. Charts: $5 (can do)
5. Audio: $10 (missing)
6. DVD: $20 – $30 (missing)

I think it would be a cool thing to have a baseball reference library package in one complete outfit. Of course, it will never happen. (I can collect the stuff, but sell it, never.)

I started working on a Fantasy/Roto League PDF file, but got bogged down with other things. Maybe next season.

Some off-the-cuff predictions/analysis:
The Chicago Cubs can win the NL Central if their pitching holds up. (Kerry Wood closing, I have to see that pan out…I am not holding my breath given his extensive injury history since 2003.) Milwaukee has youth and now, some experience in pressure filled games in the late season. I can see them winning the NL Central by 7 games as much as I can see the Cubs win by 3 games. Milwaukee has to pitch too – but they have their young up-and-comer starting ace Yovani Gallardo to nurse back to health if they are going to win anything.

Boston has some issues (Shilling done for the year, likely, and Beckett on the DL), but still will be there in the AL. With youngsters like Clay Buchholz, Jon Lester and Manny Delcarmen pitching, and Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury up and coming hitters, Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz don’t have to be the only boppers to worry about. They can ride out; the Yankees haven’t shown me they have improved that much on paper. A-Rod is their only regular season weapon.

Detroit has the powerhouse lineup (though Curtis Granderson is down for a while) but still has to pitch better than last year in the bullpen. Cleveland has plenty of talent on both sides (offense in Grady Sizemore, Victor Martinez and Travis Hafner & pitching C.C. Sabathia (left) and Fausto Carmona) and can win that division with any falter or hiccup by Detroit.
You got to figure Arizona and Colorado can’t win again like last year. Arizona was outscored; so they will have to win with their pitching – maybe. They got it with Dan Haren and Brandon Webb, both 220+ inning eaters with 15-20 win potential. Colorado has the bats and some nice pieces, but I don’t expect a run away by either. Los Angeles and San Diego can compete. San Francisco – your heart is gone.

Mets, Phillies and Braves. Mets have young talent with Reyes, Wright and now, Santana; and money is never much of problem, but old (and hurt) Moises Alou and Carlos Delgado are no longer premier options at power positions, 1B and LF. As a result, Endy Chavez, Angel Pagan and Ryan Church will get to play musical chairs in left & right field. I still figure this is a 90-win team, or Willie Randolph will hear, “you’re fired,” by a Donald Trump impersonator.

The Phillies have a similar dynamic trio in 1B Ryan Howard, 2B Chase Utley and 2007 NL MVP SS Jimmy Rollins. The problem begins once the Phillies get past ace-like Cole Hamels and starter-to-closer-back to starter Brett Myers in their starting rotation: the 3 guys left are either old, raw or beat up like a pick up truck. (Moyer, Kendrick and Eaton.)

But the Phillies will compete for this division.

Atlanta has to turn to two 20-year vets for competitive pitching in Glavine and Smoltz. I think the well is run dry. Hot-lanta can still get some miles out of Chipper and Texiera, but I don’t think they will win anything.

Boston, Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Angels (not mentioned),Cleveland, Detroit, Philadephia, New York and Arizona make the playoffs.

A Cult of Personality: A Self-Portrait

A book I checked out a decade or more ago, I recently acquired again for $.25, Personality Self-Portrait: Why You Think, Work, Love and Act the Way You Do by Dr. John M. Oldham and Lois B. Morris. (This link is to the “New” Personality book.)

In this book, written in 1990, one is suppose to discover the personality traits one uses more often than not via a 104-question test – and the possibilities of disorders related to that test. (I took the test years ago, and have changed some from 1992/3, but some things never disappear.)

These categories are used to define people on a spectrum from normal functioning to disorder:
· Conscientious ↔ Obsessive-Compulsive
· Self-Confident ↔ Narcissistic
· Devoted ↔ Dependent
· Dramatic ↔ Histrionic
· Vigilant ↔ Paranoid
· Sensitive ↔ Avoidant
· Leisurely ↔ Passive-Aggressive
· Adventurous ↔ Anti-Social
· Idiosyncratic ↔ Schizotypal
· Solitary ↔ Schizoid
· Mercurial ↔ Borderline
· Self-sacrificing ↔ Self-Defeating
· Aggressive ↔ Sadistic

And the focuses of their lives:
· Work (Conscientious, Aggressive)
· Self (Self-Confident, Solitary, Leisurely, Idiosyncratic, Adventurous)
· Emotions (Dramatic, Mercurial, Solitary, Sensitive)
· Relationships (Dramatic, Vigilant, Mercurial, Devoted, Sensitive, Self-sacrificing, Aggressive)
· Self-Control (Mercurial, Adventurous)
· Real World (Idiosyncratic)

Based on these criteria, a portrait of several interactions are possibly analyzed correctly, and we are able to adapt based on our knowledge of our patterns of behavior, and also, the responses we receive from people close (and not so close) to us.

My personality test showed the following:
Leisurely was my highest score
Vigilant 2nd
Mercurial, Adventurous, Dramatic, Sensitive and Self-Sacrificing roughly the same (scores)
No score for Conscientious
Marginal scores for the remaining categories (2-4 pts.)

Work
The Conscientious style is called “the right stuff” as a subtitle in their chapter. In reading this chapter, one gets the feeling the writers have determined this is the best of styles to be harnessed with in life. Calling them the backbone of America, people of strong moral principles and achievers. Able to fit into the milieu of life best, American life, that is. They are doers; and love that in their lives.

9 characteristics of Conscientious people are hard work, doing the right thing, the right way, perfectionism, love of detail, orderly lists, catalogs and schedulers, pragmatic, prudent and tend to accumulate all things of value.

I address this first because at points in my life I have been conscientious – but I now feel less motivated to work hard, be about perfection, a stickler for order and detail or accumulation of things. My work life was at various times very focused on these things and I received a fair share of compliments on my long hours, which is an All-American ideal, that of working hard into all hours of the night without extra compensation.

Even in my prison stay, I was up at 1 AM in the morning waxing floors (which is against all U.S. prison policy, but that is another story) because there was a benefit to be had for the dorm-like facility where I did my time. In various other positions, I worked solo on projects with very little oversight, and tended to put more into it than was likely necessary – maybe more due to a Self-Confident style trait, that is now lacking.

Self-Confident Characteristics: belief in self, expectation of good treatment, ambitions and selling their ideas, politically savvy, competitive, dream of success, self-awareness of success and failure, poise and grace and sensitive to criticism. (Bold I share.)

But now, as I did for the last 20 years, I do what I feel I am responsible for – a Leisurely style trait – and that is good enough. That chapter is subtitled as “California Dreaming” and the implication is “free to be me” and “do their own thing.”

Leisurely Characteristics: Inalienable rights, particularly the pursuit of happiness, enough is enough (doing their fair share), right to resist (expressing displeasure at exceeding demands), doing it later in a non-type A personality mode, and “I’m okay with who I am” without an overawed by authority.

This personality is at the opposite end of the spectrum from the Conscientious style – the East Coast, hard-charging, “what do you do for a living?” scenario. Instead the Leisurely type asks, “what are you into?” That is me. I don’t care if you are a waitress, a banker, a programmer, a porn starlet or a professor, I like conversations about your interests more than the money, possessions or work detail you might have. Oh, I’ll ask them – but not because it matters that much.

But some comments in Oldham’s analysis are a bit too oft-putting. Such as, “They like or even need to be taken care of,” or might come off as a “male chauvinist.” (Making us sound too needy, with and inability to adapt, and stereotyping this as a male-female ideology characteristic.)

We are often viewed as lazy, contrariness to other’s viewpoints for contrary’s sake, artistic and creative, but difficult to deal with, and inability to put others first. Whereas, conscientious types biggest downfalls are lack of intimacy in relationships, not sharing their feelings, conflicts over perfectionism, stinginess and overcautious in decisions.

Relationships (Romantic)
In my other styles, which moderate or enhance the shortfalls in my primary mode, the biggest one in my past is the Mercurial style, in the present day, the Vigilant style.

I have become more Vigilant no doubt.

Vigilant Characteristics: Autonomy (taking care of one’s self, independence), Caution (in relationships), Perceptiveness (an ear for subtlety), Self-defense (feistiness and standing up for one’s self under attack), Alertness to criticisms (take criticism seriously) and Fidelity (high premium on loyalty)

I have put a premium on Fidelity in personal relationships, which is why they have been so miserable. Most people cannot live up to that expectation – and my own shortcomings in their opinions have not helped. I have trusted before, but now, I don’t care. (Meaning: I’ll tell you the worst early on. I figure it keeps away the ones I don’t want to have around. In job searches, I have told prospective employers or headhunters early on (not the first email) that I am less-than-an-ideal candidate.)

I will fight when provoked – at least in the past (verbally, and physically) – and I do not think that is a character flaw. I often was intimidated as a child, by a father and others, and so, I do not accept it now from people.

I can take care of myself. I survived a place that you fight through on your own. Where trust is gone. And no one can save you. So, I don’t need someone to look out for me.

Caution in relationships has often been a source of conflict in my life. My Mercurial/Adventurous/Sensitive traits ran counter to this Vigilant characteristic.

Under Mercurial: Romantic Attachment to one person, intensely passionate, heart (showing what they feel), unconstrained and uninhibited and spontaneous.

Under Adventurous: Like a challenge (meaning I have gone after “out of my league” women), Persistence (true grit) which is a huge negative in today’s social-relationship climate.

Under Sensitive:
Overly concerned with what others think of them.

As a result, the counterbalance was tipped to poor judgment as I was “led around by my genitals.”(Without usage, I might add.) And allowed what could have been caution in understanding it was not going to work out ever disappear.

Self , Self-Control and Emotions
These things are bantered around by the psych boys the most. The Freudian pursuit of what makes people tick.

So here goes my list:
My Individual Characteristics (good and bad): Independent, Nonconformance, Challenging, a Wanderlust, Generous, Emotionally charged about issues (at times), Hyperactivity, Open-mindedness, Spontaneous, Attention-desiring, Imaginative, Hate authority-minded people, like control (or dislikes a lack of control), Concern of others, Rights are sacred, Freelancer, Persuasive, Impulsive, Depressed, Long-suffering, Naïve about others’ motives, Accepting of other behaviors (loyal through a fault) and Honest (sometimes too honest). But also have had suicidal thoughts and poor behaviors that have destroyed the continuum of any normal life.

It should not surprise that my predominate personality traits (when overdone) are in categories where these disorders take hold:
Leisurely ↔ Passive-Aggressive
1. Irritable when asked to do something he does not want to do (I’ve quit jobs over this.)
2. Avoids obligations by claiming to have “forgotten” (Not too much, but I have forgotten specific instances and what I actually felt.)
3. Resents useful suggestions from others concerning how he could be more productive (Family members, like my mom, have done this. But refuse to make changes themselves.)
4. Unreasonably criticizes or scorns people in positions of authority (Imagine that.)
Mercurial ↔ Borderline
1. A pattern of unstable and intense personal relationships (oscillating between overidealization and devaluation) – 2000-2001 episode would qualify
2. Impulsiveness in two areas (spending, sex, substance abuse, binge eating, etc.)
3. Chronic feelings of emptiness or boredom
4. Suicidal thoughts
Sensitive ↔ Avoidant
1. Easily hurt by criticism or disapproval
2. Has no close friends or confidants (or only one)
Adventurous ↔ Anti-Social
1. Fails to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behavior (harassing a woman)
2. Irritable and aggressive (as indicated by physical fights) – I have had 3 fights prior to age 22.)
3. Repeatedly fails to honor financial obligations, as indicated by defaulting on debts (guilty on this one.)
4. Is reckless regarding his or other’s personal safety, as indicated by driving while intoxicated or recurrent speeding (I got a ticket in May 2007 for 62 in a 55.)
5. Lacks remorse (Depends on the day/time you catch me.)
Self-Confident ↔ Narcissistic (Navy Diagnosis)
1. Reacts to criticism with feelings of rage, shame or humiliation
2. has a grandiose sense of self-importance, exaggerated achievements or talents
3. believes his problems are unique or can only be understood by other special people
4. sense of entitlement: expect favorable treatment
5. requires constant attention – keeps fishing for compliments

So depending on who you talk to, I might have 2-5 personality disorders. (The 5 faces of Jason.)

Anti-social is a “kitchen sink” disorder – anything you might have done wrong is considered a diagnosis of this personality disorder. (By 2002, my incarceration for my crime would tend you to this assumption.)

The Narcissistic diagnosis came in 1999. Because I desired a promotion or opportunity to improve my station from a waxer of floors, I was considered to be asking too much. Even if I had, by their own Naval standards, a significant level of achievement, that was irrelevant.

2001: Borderline disorder a.k.a. Stalker mentality.

Overarching Passive-Aggressive behavior, which has led to numerous shortfalls.
So, who are you?

Onto Lighter notes of Personality:
The Cult of Personality – Living Colour
Who Are You – The Who (Live with an introduction by John Cusack of High Fidelity, a very good flick.)
Please Forgive Me – David Gray

Lunatic Fringe – Red Rider (Tom Cochrane – “Life is a Highway”)

Seal’s newest single “Amazing” sounds alot like ‘Crazy’ below

Not Always the Dreams of Our Fathers: The ancestry and their influences on America’s race issue

Two days ago, Barack Obama made a historic speech involving his close relationship to controversial Chicago pastor Jeremiah Wright and more importantly, the subject of race and American history. He spoke in a straightforward language of how this country, and even his upbringing, has been one of divisive words, feelings and actions by those closest to him, and how, he did not agree with their ideas or thoughts on race, yet still loved them. (His “white” grandmother, for example in a passage below.)

Telling Excerpts: “I have already condemned, in unequivocal terms, the statements of Reverend Wright that have caused such controversy. For some, nagging questions remain. Did I know him to be an occasionally fierce critic of American domestic and foreign policy? Of course. Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church? Yes. Did I strongly disagree with many of his political views? Absolutely – just as I’m sure many of you have heard remarks from your pastors, priests, or rabbis with which you strongly disagreed…

But the truth is, that isn’t all that I know of the man. The man I met more than twenty years ago is a man who helped introduce me to my Christian faith, a man who spoke to me about our obligations to love one another; to care for the sick and lift up the poor. He is a man who served his country as a U.S. Marine; who has studied and lectured at some of the finest universities and seminaries in the country, and who for over thirty years led a church that serves the community by doing God’s work here on Earth – by housing the homeless, ministering to the needy, providing day care services and scholarships and prison ministries, and reaching out to those suffering from HIV/AIDS.
And this helps explain, perhaps, my relationship with Reverend Wright. As imperfect as he may be, he has been like family to me. He strengthened my faith, officiated my wedding, and baptized my children. Not once in my conversations with him have I heard him talk about any ethnic group in derogatory terms, or treat whites with whom he interacted with anything but courtesy and respect. He contains within him the contradictions – the good and the bad – of the community that he has served diligently for so many years.

I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother – a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.
These people are a part of me. And they are a part of America, this country that I love”

Some, like Amy Holmes – an African-American woman and CNN Political Analyst – made the faulty leap of logic that he is now just the “racial candidate.” Far from it.

A Republican insider, Ari Fleischer, former White house press secretary under G.W. Bush, uses this as a political platform to inflame white conservatives (“Reagan Democrats” too) by drawing on Wright’s words as being a “Ku Klux Kan” speech while ignoring the point of Barack’s recent statements and lucid speech. Again, far-fetched, and out of historical context.

Wolf “Donner” Blitzer kept repeating “the fall out” after the speech. To make it sound disastrous. (CNN, 8PM, March 19, 2008.)

Barack’s speech was meant (and did) clarify an all-ready hot button issue: race and the rhetoric espoused in heated moments by other people. The mere idea that the color of man’s skin, his upbringing and his values are somehow distilled down to one Sunday service or several conversations with a pastor is laughable. (Complex humans beings, who live upwards of 90+ years, being boiled down to a few hours of life. Absurd.)

—–
This brings me to my own inherently complex past and where I should or will go in the future.

In late 2004, I contacted my father for the last time, likely in my life. In that phone call, which was somewhat conciliatory on my part, I learnt more about myself, or rather, the connections to certain aspects of American history, without any real prompting on my part.

My father majored in History, and likely could have become a professor, if he had not fallen into disarray in his own life. His outlooks became tied to stringent attitudes; fundamentalist religious beliefs; and the idea that his family does not obey him, going back at least 25 years. As a result, I’ve seen him only once in those 25 years, with a few scattered phone calls and letters in between. He spent time in Ft. Leavenworth, like Barack’s grandmother, but for different reasons.

In our final conversation, he told me about some genealogical research he had done recently, even offering to share the write-up of this analysis.

Two names of significant importance came to the forefront of this research. Better news first.

Samuel Houston (1793-1863) was a hero at the Battle of San Jacinto, where Mexico’s Santa Anna surrendered to Houston-led forces, thus winning the war for Texas’s independence. A large and imposing figure, 6’2″+, Sam Houston was born in Rockbridge County, Virginia, but grew up in Tennessee as a teenager. He ran away from home at 15, and lived for nearly three years with the Cherokee Indians in eastern Tennessee, where he took the name Black Raven and learned the native language, skills, and customs.

After he left their stead, Houston soon enlisted in army, led by General Andrew Jackson, that would fight the Creek Indians (close cousins to the Cherokee) and also in the War of 1812. After his military service, where he reached the rank of Major General, he studied law and practiced in Lebanon, Tennessee. In 1817, Houston became a U.S. subagent assigned to manage the removal of the Cherokee from Tennessee to a reservation in the Arkansas Territory. (A prequel to the 1830’s Trail of Tears forced removal.)

Sam Houston returned to Nashville to practice law and from 1823 to 1827 served as a U.S. congressman. He was elected governor of Tennessee in 1827. After a brief, unsuccessful marriage to Eliza Allen in 1829, he resigned his public office; he again sought refuge among the Cherokee and was formally adopted into the tribe and began a bout of heavy drinking – though it is likely he was always fond of the bottle. He also remarried a Cherokee woman, Tiana Rodgers who he met at a dance.

He twice went to Washington, D.C., to expose frauds practiced upon the Indians by government agents and in 1832 was sent by Pres. Andrew Jackson to Texas, then a Mexican province, to negotiate Indian treaties for the protection of U.S. border traders. (Meanwhile, President Jackson was at the forefront of removing the Cherokees from land granted to them in Georgia by the U.S. Supreme Court in a landmark decision. Jackson usurped the authority of the highest court. The “Trail of Tears” saga was born.)

It can also be said that Sam Houston had quite a temper and engaged in several duels in the course of his lifetime, once wounding a general, General William A. White, in a duel fought 6 miles south of Franklin, Kentucky in September 1826. After one such battle, in which he beat U.S. Representative William Stanberry of Ohio with a cane, he would hire Francis Scott Key as his attorney.

He would be sent to Texas to do negotiations on behalf of Andrew Jackson in regards to Indian relations, communicating via dispatch.

From there, Houston’s personal travails are uniquely tied to Texas independence; his nomination as 1st President of the Republic of Texas; 1st U.S. Senator of Texas (1846-1859); and later, last governor of the great state of Texas on the cusp of the U.S. Civil War. He fought against secession of the state – which led to his removal as governor by the Confederacy in 1861 – and much of his final years were spent trying to resolve the inequality battle in America between the races. Houston died in Huntsville, Texas in 1863.
(Print Sources: Britannica 2005, World Book 2002)

Quote of Sam Houston on Education: “It is a matter of great satisfaction to me to hope that my children will be in circumstances to receive a good education. Mine was defective and I feel the inconvenience, if not the misfortune of not receiving a classical education. Knowledge is the food of genius, and my son, let no opportunity escape you to treasure up knowledge.”
On the opposite side of that coin, Nathan Bedford Forrest (1821-1877) first became well-known as the only buck private-to-major general in the Confederate army, saying “Get there first with the most men,” a mantra of the Civil War, but later came into post-war power as the 1st Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.

Forrest was self-taught, with no formal education, born in Bedford County, Tennessee. As a self-taught man, Forrest bought and sold farm animals and slaves before acquiring considerable wealth as a cotton planter in Hernando, Mississippi. He was also a very tall man, exceeding 6’2″ in height in some reports, and also prone to violence, outside of war.

In 1841 (age 20), he went into business with his uncle in Hernando, Mississippi. His uncle was killed there during an argument with the Matlock brothers. Forrest shot and killed two of them with his two-shot pistol and wounded two others with a knife thrown to him. Ironically, one of the wounded men survived and served under Forrest during the Civil War.[4]

At the outbreak of The Civil War, he raised a cavalry unit (financing it, in part, with a personal fortune estimated a $1,500,000) and, as a then-lieutenant colonel, took part in the defense of Ft. Donelson, Tennessee.

He would be credited for using unique, daring and brilliant cavalry tactics, with his battle at Brice’s Cross Roads, Mississippi, in June 1864, becoming a military model for the mounted U.S. Army for decades.

Though a uniquely competent general, he also engaged in atrocities in ordering his troops to “take no more Negro prisoners” when they assaulted and captured Ft. Pillow. Yet a Congressional investigation committee verified the slaughter of more than 300 black men, women, and children within the fort. (Yet no charges were ever brought by the United States against Forrest.) A list of Forrest’s military campaigns.

After the Southern defeat, and the fierce animosity born inside many White Southerners, a “social club” was formed: The Ku Klux Klan.

The 19th-century Klan was originally organized as a social club by Confederate veterans in Pulaski, Tenn., in 1866. They apparently derived the name from the Greek word kyklos, from which comes the English “circle”; “Klan” was added for the sake of alliteration and Ku Klux Klan emerged. The organization quickly became a vehicle for Southern white underground resistance to Radical Reconstruction.

Klan members sought the restoration of white supremacy through intimidation and violence aimed at the newly enfranchised black freedmen, who were now represented in this short-lived new political landscape by U.S. Senator Hiram R. Revels, U.S. Representative Benjamin S. Turner and U.S. Representative Joseph H. Rainey (pictured left), with 19 others elected to the Congress.

In the summer of 1867, the Klan was structured into the “Invisible Empire of the South” at a convention in Nashville, Tennessee, attended by delegates from former Confederate states. The group was presided over by a grand wizard (Forrest) and a descending hierarchy of grand dragons, grand titans, and grand cyclopses. Dressed in robes and sheets designed to frighten superstitious blacks and to prevent identification by the occupying federal troops, Klansmen whipped and killed freedmen and their white supporters in nighttime raids.

Later, Forrest would publicly reject the Klan, ordering it disbanded due to “excessive violence.” Though it is likely he only denounce them after the objectives, white control of Southern assets and political processes returned to “status quo”, were met. (Print Sources: Britannica 2005, World Book 2002, History of the United States by Douglas Brinkley)

——-

These so happen to be some of my roots in my life. That they makeup a part of where and what my family has been does not portend the direction of where and how I will go. (Post hoc ergo propter hoc (“after this, therefore, because of this”), in which something is assumed to be the cause of something else merely because it was antecedent in time.)

Because of my forefathers, including my very own father, that I am assumed or concluded to be lacking of understanding, sensitivity or empathy to the plights of men and women of all races, creeds and proclivities is “wrong-headed.”

It is often said, when we are alive, that: “we live in dangerous times.” Each generation has faced particular and peculiar battles – some that are still ongoing, generation to generation, century to century, millennium to millennium – while in the passing down of particular ideas from father-to-son to next son is suppose to be sacrosanct, I tend to believe each person has to decide on his own what is right.

Even our close mentors, a father figure, such as general-turned-President Andrew Jackson was to young and precocious Sam Houston, can fail us in some respects. (Houston could not later be completely agreeable to rounding up of the Cherokee people. He had a lifelong bond to them. It was broken. Yet, he carried forth his marching orders to Texas and defended and respected Jackson.)

I don’t doubt Barack Obama was taken aback by his pastor’s comments. Nearly all of us, has said something (or heard it from a close friend) that could be considered horribly misplaced, unpatriotic or apathetic to the plights of others.

I have. (In a one-to-one context where I made Wright-like proclamations about God Almighty in the context of a horrible rant against a particular person.)

And I was punished for my comments in ways that, given a thorough understanding of the legal process, could be considered a violation of Freedom of Speech. (That does not excuse those words; just a context of what our rights are to be. And sometimes what they are asked to uphold – a greater ideal – over what they might represent to a people, or a person.)
Or as Benjamin Franklin once said, “those that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty or safety.” Franklin who would disowned his own son, William, royal governor of New Jersey, for his Tory leanings during the Revolution.)
(And Even now, Barack Obama’s Rights to Privacy have been violated.)

But more to the point, we likely all are an amalgamation of differing religious ideals, belief systems and skin tones.
We are who we are; but not solely that at all.

From my mother’s side, my grandmother was of German stock. My grandfather of English descent, possibly a relative of the Clark family that fought in Revolutionary War era battles against various Indians in Indiana.

From my father’s side, my grandmother was half-Cherokee and Englishwith Houston’s heritage ensconced in that line. My grandfather was of Irish-Dutch-French ancestry yet carried an English “Powers” surname – with some inherent connection to Forrest.

Yet not all of that defines me. It is just a history – fractured sometimes by decisions made, and people destroyed in their plights for rights and right – and it should only go to how far we need to come from defining ourselves by such random instances of blood and brethren.

Or as Barack reminded us of William Faulkner’s famous words: “The past isn’t dead and buried. In fact, it isn’t even past.” (But we are nevertheless left to the ultimate defining of history by the victorious historians, who, don’t always get it right in painting the past.) (Faulker is a favorite author of mine.)

With that said, hopefully, Barack Obama can define his purpose better, or someone else will do it for him. And leaving that, to others, in “their defining,” is a path to oblivion.

He thwarted that, in my opinion, in his speech. Others will forget that.

The Bear is Yet to Come: The U.S. Economy will fall into a Depression

With today’s announcement that Bear Stearns, the 5th largest investment bank needed an influx of cash to remain solvent to its outstanding investors/investments, it calls to question: what will happen next?

Bear Stearns, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, Lehman Brothers and Goldman Sachs are the benchmarks for high-yielding banks that produce money/provide liquidity in the Capital markets. If they start to falter, the next group is the commercial banks, which affects all Americans, Europeans and Asia markets.

The signs have been clear: Commodity Prices (Gold, Corn, Wheat, Silver, Oil) are at record highs, Mortgages are failing at huge rates, with ex-Fed Chair Greenspan asleep at the wheel in allowing the housing market to gallop ahead unrestrained, the United States Dollar is at record lows versus the Japanese Yen (99 Yen), Canadian Dollar (1.01), Swiss Franc (0.9987), The Euro (1.567) and to add to that, we are in a economic standstill right now, zero growth.

The United States Economy will trigger larger problems as it continues to pump liquidity into the market via lowering interest rates (expect .75% ease on Tuesday), thus causing the dollar to decrease in value and thus continuing to raise commodity prices, which introduces more inflation into an all ready, dicey situation.

Inflation has been a European concern of utmost importance which is why they have not lower their interest rates in lockstep with the United States. They are uniquely aware of the triggers of the Great Depression, which started in Europe, namely Germany, after WWI.

We are just at the beginning of a major economic shake up. And we have one Presidential candidate, John McCain, who said, “I don’t understand the economy…”

Which leads one to wonder, do you want another ill-equipped President running a country in a economic meltdown? What did the Iraqi war gain us in economic terms? (The cost and money spent could have been used better…)

George W. Bush, with a Harvard MBA, has taken us back to the edge of the 1929 October financial meltdown.

He and his policy people pushed for easy/no regs on lending of money to people that should not have ever received a banking loan on a house. These people got over their heads. Then the banks got too tight – on lending, or passed their bad paper on to other banks, and other banks did the same,etc. – and the money has been devalued in the process. Meanwhile, the Fed and Government has done us in with bad policies.

Oil prices are being driven by devaluation of currency. Your money is buying less and less – and the problem is spreading to corporations that are cutting jobs – as Ford, Chrysler, GM and other big manufacturing are reducing their forecasts but cannot lower prices, while those that do overseas business are doing ok or better. So, not all is lost.

So, I am sounding the alarm on the 1MC: “start preparing for a long downturn in the U.S. Economy. Expect prices to rise 20, 30 and 50% above today’s rate. And get your money out of risky investment vehicles. Hedge funds are the first to go. Stock up on staples. Get prepared for more bad news…”

Predicting another Great Depression is sometimes a self-fulfilling prophecy. But the government as currently constituted is not going to save you or me. “Let them eat cake,” is their mantra.

I have made numerous posts on the American Economy prior to this, which means I have been paying attention longer than just today…so, though this is radical to say “Depression,” in 12-18 months, it may “bear” itself out.

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