May 31, 2016-
    Whew, what a week and weekend! First off, even though we have been hanging out just about every day for the past 9 days, I would like to take this opportunity to welcome my brother Jim to the Keweenaw! He was grabbed by the magic of this land and last autumn purchased a place not far from us. He made the big move Sunday the 22nd and we all have been having fun hanging out together. Gracie is trilled to death to have him finally living here. She has patiently waited for the past 6-7 months for the day to come and now she gets to hang with uncle Jim just about every day. He has already been an invaluable help to me with some projects that needed an extra hand!
    So last week was spent fighting the bugs that I still had in my system, as well as getting some work done. Not as much work as I would have liked, but getting well was on top of the list. I am almost there. Still have some minor symptoms from time to time, but far from the all day lay in bed I had on the 21st.
    With the memorial day weekend upon us, Nora wanted to go down to her families grave at the Jacobsville Cemetery and plant some flowers. Her grandmother, grandfather and aunt are buried there. Her grandfather served for the Coast Guard for his life and so had a flag placed by the headstone.
    The Jacobsville cemetery is one of many really cool cemeteries up here (if there can even be such a thing). Some of the sites are new and some are very old. There are headstones that have been around so long, that the inscriptions on them are almost impossible to read. If you think that is old, there are some even older. They were made of wood and have long since lost all of their markings. I think what might surprise some folks is how long settlers have been around these areas. I saw plenty of headstones where the person had passed away in the 1800's. One of the sadder ones was for a boy that was born December 30 and died just a month later. That was one of the headstones from the 1800's. Sure makes one think about how difficult a life it must have been to live in what is still a pretty remote area of the UP back in the 1800's.
    Switching gears and lightening things up, I was able to finish Gracie's bed this week, so her, Nora, Jim and I all brought the pieces up and put it back together this weekend. We decided to bring it in and assemble it and let her sleep in it, even though it was not yet painted. We figured it can be painted later and she should be able to enjoy it now. That is exactly what she has been doing since it went up. Before the bed went up, the fairy stickers came down to prepare the room for the theme change. I think the next theme is going to be a jungle.
    On Monday, it was back to the Jacobsville cemetery for the Memorial Day services. The local VFW post from Lake Linden performed the ceremony. The honor guard was there and fired off their three shots. Even though I have never served, or known anyone that passed while serving, the three shots are always startling, humbling and sends a chill up my spine. After the shots were fired by the honor guard, a lone bugler played Taps from the rear edge of the cemetery. A very nice service and I felt honored to be able to be part of it.
    After the service, we all took to the woods for a hike. We have been wanting to get to a spot along the shipping canal not far up from the south entry. It is a spot that is very special to Nora and is becoming special to me too. There are two main ways in, one along a logging road and then a short bush hike, the other a longer and more challenging walk through the bush following the shipping canal. We chose the latter.
    Not long into the hike, we came across the ruins of an old log structure. Only the bottom 3 feet of the walls still exist. I do not know what happened to the rest of it and it sure makes one wonder what is was used for. The woods were pretty filled in and the bugs (mostly mosquitoes) were out and hungry, but as long as you kept moving, they seemed unable to zero in on you. The ticks were a different story. At the conclusion of the hike I pulled 6 of them off of me. All crawlers and none attached. The interesting thing is that they must have been hanging from the branches, as all but one was found around my neckline and head. I only picked one from my leg.
    Despite the insects, the walk through the woods was lots of fun. We came across a few giant trees still growing and a few that had been taken down by a storm. Both of those trees had diameters that were at least 3-4 feet and the one that had fallen was a maple. I sure wish I knew of a way to salvage the bottom 20 feet of it for its wood. I can only imagine how beautiful the 3-4 foot wide slabs would look. However, short of a helicopter, I think it will stay there to provide nourishment for the plants that fill in around it.
    The hike was mostly through the woods, although we did get the occasional view of the canal. After probably 45 minutes of making our way through the bush, we arrived at our intended destination and posed for a "family shot". Gracie actually found that golf ball while we were there. The only thing we could think of was that someone had made one heck of a shot from the other side of the canal. Probably a 300+ yard shot! The spot includes a couple of little clearings along the waterway and here is a panoramic shot from one of the clearings.
    On the way back, the group got separated a bit, with Jim and I going ahead and the other 4 taking their time. Their pace paid off, as they were able to spot an eagles nest up in a white pine. What was below the nest turned out to be an even bigger find...especially for Grace. Below the nest were the bones of the critters that had been brought to the nest for a meal. Gracie was thrilled to find several jaw bones and even a femur. Amazing the size creatures that those birds can hunt and bring back to their nest.
    I don't know the total mileage put on in the walk, but because just about all of it was done on no official path, just the one me made, it was plenty long enough and we were all glad to get back to civilization and be able to sit down for a bit! I can see us heading out to that spot more in the future and perhaps the next time we will use the logging road!
    So not a whole lot more to talk about. After a very dry spring, we have turned wet. I am jokingly calling my brother Jim the "rainman" as we have had rain fall almost every day since his arrival. We did need the rain and there have been enough dry periods where it is not a negative thing.
    I'm not sure why, but this seasons blackfly crop is another weak one. I would be lying if I said there are none, but in all of my time spent outdoors, they have not been a real issue. In fact, I do not believe we were even impacted by one on our walk yesterday. Hopefully that trend will continue and they are not just waiting for us to let our guard down and then launch the full attack!
    About the only other thing I have to mention has nothing specifically to do with the Keweenaw, me or our family. It is about Microsoft Windows 10. I don't know how many of you had the misfortune to have to deal with Windows 8, but it was not a good OS. Maybe for a tablet, but not a regular computer. So when 10 came out and there was the usual talk of bugs to be worked out and such. I have held off. The little window kept popping up to tell me I could upgrade for free, but never hit it. Then, one morning I had awoken to find my main work PC had been upgraded. I have no idea how. Perhaps I hit the wrong button and told it to update overnight, or perhaps it just decided to do it all by itself, but I was initially very upset and terrified at the upgrade. However, it did not take long to see that it not that different from Windows 7 and was easy to navigate and get my usual work done. I had to buy a new laptop 2 weeks ago and it came with Win 10 as well. I can say that I am very happy with this OS. So much so that I have upgraded all of the machines to it (that I could for free anyway, still have a machine running vista). I say this not to pressure anyone into the update, but only to say that it was a very easy transition and I prefer 10 to 7. In fact, I would say that out of all the Windows editions, 10 is the best in my opinion. It has even made a machine work better, which I was told by an IT person that it does make some machines run better, as it can do more, but uses less resources. So Microsoft did not pay me to say this, I just wanted to let you all know.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
JD-

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May 30, 2016-
    Happy Memorial day and a huge thanks to all that we honor today. Had a lot of fun with the family today and it is getting late for this old buck, so will write tomorrow!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
JD-
May 22, 2016-
    I don't a ton to say this time around, for several reasons actually. First is that I just wrote 5 days ago and secondly, I was still not feeling too good for the whole week, so laid pretty low. I went to see the Dr yesterday and I believe we are on top of things. A sinus infection and maybe a touch of pneumonia, so I am on antibiotics to help with the infections and steroids to boost my energy enough that I can go about my business.
    I guess the first order of business is the Laurium Glacier, which melted yesterday. "Old Abe" was the winner and was the 15th guess of nearly 60 this year. Congrats! I have to say, I was a little worried, as I had not checked it in some time, so I nervously drove down there on Tuesday to check the status. A pocket of white could still be seen, so I was able to breathe a sigh of relief. I always worry that I will completely miss the date and have to figure something out. I think there might have been a year when it melted overnight and I could not tell which date, so I awarded it to both dates. Anyway, I could tell I was good for a few more days, so I skipped Wednesday and then checked Thursday, Friday and twice on Sat. It was hanging on by a few crystals Saturday morning and yesterday's temps in the 70's were enough to finish it off. There are still some piled created by plows lingering in the Calumet area. The two that stand out the most are at the Trailside Lodge.
    As mentioned, it was in the 70's yesterday, a huge difference from last Saturday's snow! I'm not sure which I would have preferred on the SxS ride, but am fine with the weather we had.
    It looks like "summer-like" weather is here to stay. We can always get the occasional chilly day or to in June, July and even August, but as far as staying in the cold for any protracted period of time, I think we are done. We are probably done with frost too.
    Friday was "bike to work" day. Nora won't let me ride my bike in the house, but the schools also had "bike to school" day, so I loaded Gracie up on her bike, tossed her back pack on her, walked her to the end of our driveway. Gave her a shove in the right direction and told her to take a left when she got to the highway and it was only about 7 miles to school. The highway is not too busy at that time of the morning and the sun is up, so I figured it was ok. This is where I would insert a comment like "I did not do that...", but Nora said it was silly to say that, so I won't. I'll just say that I loaded her bike in the back of the truck and drove to a quiet road that dead ends at the school and let her ride to school from there. Although, I think she would have been fine and probably thrilled with riding her bike all the way from our house to school!
    With the warmer weather have come the bugs. They are not too bad so far. We have been very dry, so I think that is holding them back some. The mosquitoes are not much of an issue at all and the black flies are tolerable. We look to stay warm this week and get some rain, so we'll see how that goes with things.
    The warmer weather has also brought out the green in the woods. The trees are not fully filled out yet, but are probably half way and it is nice to see them filling out. A bare woods is fine in the autumn and winter, but is kind of sad in the spring. I did not take any pictures of the woods, but you can get an idea by checking out the Woods Cam.
    The warmer weather has also cued up Nora and her green thumb. She/we have gone an picked up a few things, mainly flowers that she will be putting in planters around the house. On Wednesday, I had to go to Marquette and while there picked up the materials to build her the 9 above ground gardens. They will each be 3 feet by 12 feet and two feet deep. I am using corrugated/galvanized roofing for the walls and pressure treated 4x4's for the supports. I hope to be able to get on them this week so that we can get some things in them. My mom and brother got her some strawberry, raspberry and tomato plants for her birthday from a well respected mail-order company. The strawberries and raspberries arrived in the last week or so and need to get planted soon, so will probably go in first.
    I guess the final bit of info to share is that I got a call from Land O' Lakes Recreation asking if we would be up for exchanging the 2014 camo commander for a 2016 commander in brushed aluminum paint scheme. We were all for that, so on Friday, it arrived and they took the camo unit back with them. I plan to get the insurance switched over tomorrow morning and start having fun with the new ride ASAP! They always look so good when they are brand new. I almost hate to get it dirty....almost!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
JD-
May 17, 2016-
    Ok, so I am back in action, at least for the time being. Sorry about my absence and the confusion with last weeks entry going missing. More on that in a bit. It is nothing serious, just one of the latest bugs floating around up here. I have talked to several who have already had it and Nora says it is hitting the school pretty hard too. 
    Last weeks entry was actually written from beautiful Duluth MN. We got the news that Huck did in fact blow out his knee and needed surgery to repair it. So Sunday, he, Millie and I took off for Duluth. He was scheduled for a 7 am surgery on Monday. The surgery went well we were able to all go home Wednesday. Yep, the good hold lamp shade of shame. Actually he handled it pretty well, except bumping into the occasional piece of furniture when we got back.
    It was great to be back home. Being away from the girls is stressful enough and then add having to get my work done on the road and Huck having the surgery and that affair could not end too soon. Once home, he was spoiled rotten by Nora and Gracie. Millie had the same surgery, but Gracie was only 1 1/2 when it was done, so this was the first time that she has seen one of them really sick. She did not miss a beat when it came to making him feel loved and comfortable.
   I did take the E-collar off and kept a close eye on him and he did not have any interest in the incision site, so we have since been able to keep the collar off him and give him a more normal life, including having a rawhide with his sister and then crashing out. He is now 8 days post-op and will get his stitches out next Monday, the same day that Millie gets to have her stitches out from her cut paw. Millie will then be free to do anything she wants, while Huck will have to take it easy for several more weeks. It is actually a 6-8 week recovery program and we did pretty well with keeping Millie quiet during her recovery and ended up with a dog that was 100% good in the repaired joint, so we will do the same with Huck. I think it will be a bit easier as they were just 2 when Millie had her surgery and still wild childs. They are now over 7 years old and do not mind laying around. 
    So since I wrote last weeks entry on the road, I used my laptop. I forgot to transfer that entry to my main machine at home, so when I did my little note Sunday, I ended up overwriting the entry of the 8th. Several folks contacted me to make sure I was alright since as of yesterday, there had been no journal in 2 weeks. I was able to get the file with the entry of the 8th over to my main machine (quite the undertaking since that laptop had its network card crash yesterday morning) and all should be back to normal now. Plan to go to Marquette in the next few days to pick up some of the materials for Nora's raised bed garden and will pick up a new laptop when there. The current one is at least 8 years old, so that is pretty miraculous for a laptop that has been all over the country and also a daily user at home!
    So the three of us just hung out and took it easy Thursday and most of Friday and then after Nora and Gracie got back from school on Friday, I took off with a friend to get ready for a side by side ride (SxS) on Saturday. The ride started out from Twin Lakes at 9 am Saturday, so it was just easier for me to shack up south of the bridge Friday night and that is what we all did.
    When we awoke Saturday morning, the ground was coated in white from a fresh snowfall and it was also still snowing. It did not deter any in our group, nor did it deter too many others, as it was a huge group of folks that had gotten together for the ride. While it was cold, we could dress for it and the up side was there were no bugs and no dust. Just plenty of cold and mud! So my faithful pilot and I headed south from Toivola to Twin Lakes to join the rest of the group. 
    Honestly, it was quite pretty riding trough the woods and seeing all the trees flocked in Keweenaw Kamo. Even the swamp areas were beautiful, although they did look more like November than May!
    As the day wore on, it kept snowing off and on, but the suns energy, even through the clouds, was enough to melt most of the snow that had fallen overnight and early in the morning, leaving things pretty brown, with some specks of green. Most of the traveling was done on good ground, but there were a few water holes that needed to be gone around or challenged. We went around that one, but partly because the windshield on our "buggy" was so dirty and partly because we felt like a challenge, we ended up challenging the next one. That turned out to be a big mistake as the water was about 3 feet deep and ended up swamping the machine.
    It was fortunate that we had some good folks behind us to help us get the SxS back to a road where it could be picked up by trailer and brought back. Our ride ended a few hours early, but I was OK with that. We had already been riding for around 6 hours at that point and the thought of getting inside and being able to take a hot shower sounded pretty good. A very fun time with good folks and I hope to be able to take part in similar rides in the future.
    With the traveling and other down time, I really do not have much else to write about. I suspect that the next few entries might be somewhat brief as we will have to stick close to home while Huckie recovers. I am so happy to see him doing so well thus far and cannot wait to be able to let him run free on his bionic knee with his sister.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
JD-
May 15, 2016-
    Caught some kind of a nasty bug floating around up here. Hope to write soon!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
JD-
May 8, 2016-
    Happy Mothers Day! Hard to believe that the first week of May is already over. It was a pretty busy one for me, so I guess that makes sense. Unfortunately for you, it was mostly personal stuff that would put you to sleep, so I am not going to share. Thus, this might be a somewhat short one...we'll see.
    The weather was sure crazy this week, especially the second half of the week. We had a very cold Wednesday and even some snow showers hitting the pups and I in the face on our morning walk. It did not amount to anything and was over about as fast as it started. However, as we were walking, I was thinking about the forecast and was having a really hard time believing that we would get close to 80 in just 2 days! As it turned out, we did not only get close to 80, but blew right past it! The official high at the airport was 88, a new record for the day, and the official temp from my weather station was 90. 
    Those temps did away with all of the remaining snow in our yard, even the stuff piled up from sliding off the roof. In addition to the hot temps, the humidity was very low and there was a pretty good breeze. Perfect conditions for a fire. I am sure that all of you have heard about the terrible fire going on in the Ft Mc Murray area of Canada. We were not as dry as them, but it would not have taken much at all to ignite the dead leaves left over from the autumn. I probably worry about a fire more in the spring when the snow has melted, but the forest has not greened up than in the autumn. Thankfully, we did not have any fires close by and I only heard of a few small fires that were able to be put out without much issue. 
    We got a tiny bit of rain Friday night, but things were able to dry right back out on Saturday and Sunday, with loads of sunshine. We are probably 2-3 weeks from the woods turning really green and the fire risk dropping and not a lot of rain is seen for this week, so the concerns will hang on.
    The hot temps did instigate the first water balloon fight of the season between Grace and I on Friday. She has a device that will fill a balloon by putting it over a nozzle and then pumping a pump on the top. So she got busy making a bunch for herself and I and then we had some dinner and got ready for the battle.
    She never ceases to amaze me at her zest for life. She grabbed an armful and headed off to hide behind Nora's vehicle, then counted down and came barreling around the back of the SUV with "guns blazing" and a huge smile. I was ready for her with my own batch of balloons and launched a counter attack. I would say that the battle ended in a draw, with each of us taking a few hits that did not actually explode on us, but did get our shoes wet when the balloons fell to the ground and popped.
    I picked up the container with the filler on it and gave it a quick pop to shoot some water at her and she took off running, yet taunting me. So I knew what that meant. She wanted to get soaked, but also wanted it to be done in a challenging fashion and not just her standing there with me shooting the water at her. So I chased her over to the swing set and was able  fire off a few rounds. She ended up staying there and got plenty soaked.
    With all of that activity and the temp still at 90, I too longed for a cooling off, so I bowed before the queen and took my squirts to the head. It's hard to say which she liked more, getting soaked herself or giving me a good soaking, but both produced a lot of laughs.
    It did cool of for Saturday, but was still a nice day, with temps in the upper 50's and loads of sun. Poor Millie ended up stepping on something at the end of our morning walk on Saturday and cut one of the pads on her left front paw a bit and also cut her wrist on the same paw. The cut on her wrist was quite the bleeder and we ended up having to take her to the vet to get it stopped. They were able to do that and she is now sporting a little bandage over her wound. She is getting around just fine, although the Dr did want her to take it easy for the first week and to not get it wet until the stitches come out in two weeks, so we will be a little on the down low for a bit.
    Gracie had her spring piano recital on Saturday, but I had to miss it to make sure that Millie did not mess with her wound. Millie ended up being really good and has been so since, but I did not want to take the chance. The way that thing was bleeding, had she pulled off the bandage and done a self removal of her stitches, she would not have lasted too long.
    Nora did take some pictures and video of Gracie's recital, so I did not completely miss things. I had to take years of piano when I was young, but have since forgotten EVERYTHING! So Gracie knows a lot more than me and thinks it's pretty cool that she knows more and is better at something that her dad. Her dad thinks so too!
    Well, I guess that will cover it for this one. Strange to think we will be half way done with May by the time I write next!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
JD-
May 1, 2016-
    Welcome to May! This is the month where we in the UP really say good bye to winter. April is the transition month and even though we can sometimes get an inch or so of snow in May, it is far from what we would call a snowy month. Whereas April can serve up some doozies in the snow department!
    We did not have a doozie this April, but the first 3 days of the month provided us with 12.5" of snow and the first 6 with 15. This past Monday night we also had some snow. Monday itself was about as miserable a day as you can have, with temps holding in the mid 30's all day, a pretty steady rain and winds out of the east at 20-35 mph. By the late afternoon, some sleet mixed in and then about 5 minutes later, it changed to snow. We did not pick up much, but enough did fall to whiten the ground in spots. That picture was taken as the pups and I were finishing up our morning walk on Tuesday.
    Tuesday itself was a pretty nice day. A bit cool, but quite a bit of sunshine. We were then rewarded for getting through Monday with lots of sun and OK temps the rest of the week and into the weekend. Highs warmed from the 40's early in the week to the 50's by the end of the week and today it hit 62. Pretty much perfect for me for this time of the year...if you ask me for my opinion!
    With the weather in pretty decent shape Tuesday, the whole family went on another adventure. This time to check out some of the waterfalls. Seeing as though we did not have a lot of time, we chose those that could be viewed by car or a short walk from where we park the car. There are plenty more that require getting deeper into the woods, but did not want to do that with the sun not far from setting.
    Our first stop of the evening was at "10 Foot". It is not a very well known spot and is kind of finicky. When the water is really high, the falls disappear and when the water is running very low, they almost dry up. So one needs to catch them past high water, but before the summer slumber for the rivers and creeks up here. The rain on Monday had the river still flowing a bit too hard, but it was an impressive sight none the less.
    A little further down stream, the river goes over a much more impressive fall. I probably provide more pictures of the Eagle River Falls than all others, mainly because they are so easy to see and are pretty dramatic to boot! The next set of falls is even easier to see, you do not even need to get out of the car. As I proved when I took this shot of the Jacobs Creek Falls.
    The next set of falls required a bit more driving to get to. There is a short cut one can make, but we ended up having to turn around as the snow was still too deep on the Delaware Shortcut Rd, which is a seasonal road and not plowed. We actually made it past the spot where this photo was taken. Up a bit more, the snow was still around 1.5 feet deep and there was also a bit of an uphill climb and Nora's SUV just did not want to make it through. We were able to back out, turn around and get back to the main highway.
    One on the highway, we made good time up the spine of the Keweenaw and then down to Lac La Belle where the Haven Falls were waiting for us. I wonder how many of you spotted Grace in that last shot. If you did not, here is a hint for you before you go back and look again. After exploring the falls and before heading home, Nora snapped a shot of Gracie and I standing on the bridge over the creek that forms the Haven Falls.
    The skies were nice and clear on Wednesday and after encountering the snow north of us in the Keweenaw, I went to the MODIS satellite imagery page and downloaded an image of Lake Superior and the immediate area to see where there was still some snow. The snow that we encountered Tuesday stood out quiet well near the tip of the peninsula. There was also an area of snow still lingering in the South Range to Donken area south of Houghton. There was also a tiny bit of snowcover still in the higher terrain of eastern Baraga county as well as in spots of the Porkies. The rest of the UP was snow free.
    There was enough still hanging on up in the northern part of the peninsula that one could have taken a ride if they wanted. I was half tempted to on Wednesday, but the regular duties of the day got in the way and the opportunity passed. I doubt that there is enough snow to take a real ride now, as the snow that lingers in our yard has been going pretty steadily all week.
    What I believe is the last area in the UP and most likely the entire Midwest, maybe even east of the Rockies, to shed its snow is what I call the Laurium Glacier. It is a naturally forming snowdrift on M-26 just south of Laurium. I had the opportunity to go past it yesterday evening and it was still hanging pretty tough. I would say that it still has around 2 weeks to go. After our morning walk was completed, I snapped this bit of snow that still hangs out in our yard. It is also naturally occurring, but is in a pretty shaded spot, so hang on longer than most of the rest.
    There are still some areas of snow left from where Big Red tossed it all winter and there are also piles of snow left from where it slid off the roofs and got deep, otherwise, our yard and woods are clear of snow and there is even some greening of the grass.
    With baseball season rapidly approaching (first game is next week), this afternoon was a perfect time to grab the old ball and glove and play come catch with Gracie. Nora did it yesterday and then became the photographer as Gracie and I played catch. I do not know when she learned to throw the ball better since last summer, but she really has some great form now. Her concentration while catching the ball is also very good and she was successful in about 35% of her attempts, while the others do not turn out so well
    Every year it seems like we have a pair of robins build a nest and raise some babies. Last year I think they even managed to have two rounds of babies. The nest went up this past week and this afternoon it looked like Momma was either laying eggs, keeping them warm or just practicing! No matter what process was going on, Nora snapped a shot of her.
    I spent some time this week working on Gracie's new bed and have progressed far enough that I figured I could share a picture of it with you all so you can get the idea. I probably would have been done with it already, but I am actually building it in a manner in which it can be broken down into many pieces, carried up into her room and then re-assembled. All that needs to be done as far as construction goes is to build the door, the ladder and do some trim work. Then Grace and Nora will take to painting it up all nice and special. I have also built it so that in a few years when the fort on the bottom is no longer fun, I can remove the exterior walls and we can put a desk and chair in there for her do so her school work and such.
    So I think that just about covers it for this one. We did have our season ending party for the Keweenaw Snowmobile Club last night. They have been selling tickets for a 8 foot barrel sauna for the past 4-5 months and the winning ticket was pulled for it last night. I forget the name of the person who one, but I do remember they are from White Pine MI. They have also been contacted. The sauna raffle and another raffle helped to raise money for a new groomer barn for our club. We are probably another 2-3 years away from having the funds to construct one, but it is nice to be moving in that direction and I would like to thank any of you that bought tickets. The persons in charge did not want to complicate things in this first year by having on-line ticket sales, but that will happen from here on out and I will be sure to make any announcements. Without anything else, I guess this meeting is adjourned!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
JD-

 

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