joy magnetism: December 2010

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Friday, December 31, 2010

"Retreat? Hell!"

Magnet #1043 - Retreat Hell!

The atrium of the National Museum of the Marine Corps (one of my favorites) is lined with several quotes attributed to various marines.

I promise, for as long as they have them in the museum's really great gift shop, I'm totally gonna get the whole set. This is number two that I picked up last year. It's attributed to Captain Lloyd Williams of the 5th Marines, during the month-long WWI Battle of Belleau Wood in June 1918.

This quote magnet gets the honor for the last day of 2010, because this year with its more downs than ups has done its damnedest to get me down, but you know what?

I'll be damned if I let it get me down and out for the count, thankyouverymuch.

Still, I am seriously looking forward to getting this year under our belt, on the history books, in my rear view mirror, and whatever phrase you have that means, please, let this crumtastic year end.

And how.

And bring on a better, brighter 2011!
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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Did you know...

Magnet #1042 - Michelangelo quote

Using this magnet that I got last year from the National Gallery, because my BIL (Happy birthday!) and I were listening to NPR on the way to pick up my sister from work yesterday. We learned about different not-so-famous Halls of Fame - some bricks and mortar, and some virtual.

I'm never one for listening to NPR, because really, it's more fun listening to music (you actually like), but my BIL brought up a good point - you learn new things that way. Which is funny, because my sister has been regaling us with new information on different subjects each day. She's on a kick to look up one new thing every day.

Who doesn't love to learn? I've always loved looking up and learning new things. When I was little, I'd run home to tell my mom and my dad (Happy birthday to you, too!) anything new I learned.

They'd nod their heads and get tickled about what I parroted off to them, because (and if you know me, this will not surprise you) it was always incomprehensible to me that I just learned something that everyone already knew. Like, how to use an apostrophe. Or how many planets there were. Or, what happened to Lincoln. Or Kennedy.

In fact, it's why I can't watch too many of those History or Discovery or PBS documentaries, because I have this need to spread whatever knowledge I've gained to whomever I meet. I'm weird that way. I can't help it.

Once, I watched a documentary in-flight, and my colleagues made fun of me, because during the whole (work) trip, every other sentence began with a "Did you know..." (that the average UK citizen will eat a bathtub full of beans in his lifetime, that the same average UK citizen will also eat 20,000 eggs, etc.).

And, sometimes, if you're lucky, I'll actually manage to give you the whole fact, and not just half-a-fact, which is my usual MO.

What? I just said I like to learn, I didn't say I learned every little detail!
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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Losing one's head

Magnet #1041 - Renzo Piano Museum Quote

Ya'll know I love my architecture. Ya'll know I love my museums. In Renzo Piano, I have a double-double!

Ask anyone and they'll tell you that Italian architect Renzo Piano is one of the premiere museum designers in the world.

I've now seen his work at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Morgan Library in New York, Centre Pompidou in Paris, and the Menil Collection and Cy Twombly Gallery in Houston.

Sadly, my timing was off to see the full renovation for the High Museum of Art in Atlanta and the forthcoming work at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston.

I've yet to see anything of his that I don't like, but one wonders if it's because I'm just partial to museums in general.

Anyway, I picked this magnet up last week at yet another museum, the National Building Museum here in Washington, DC. Yes, I've been there before, and even blogged about it before, but they have some really great exhibits.

Currently, they have the Lego Architecture exhibit that I saw over at Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry a couple of summers ago and a really interesting Palladio exhibit. They also have an ongoing Washington Symbols of Power exhibit, that I wish they'd add a panel to for the WWII Memorial story.

But, the piece de resistance for me and this museum right now, is their World's Fair exhibit, focusing on the America's World's Fairs held in the 30s. I rushed through it quickly last week, and then took a docent tour right afterward. But now, I'd like to go back this week to actually take my time walking through it. And that's when I'll actually do the magnet for it.

For now, Renzo Piano's words ring true for me - museums for me in the last several months have proven the places where I can definitely lose my head. Wandering around the hallowed halls of knowledge, art and history has been a soothing avocation to my usual daily job hunting.
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What were the 80s like, Joy?

Magnet #1040 - Ms. Pac-Man

Bought this Ms. Pac-Man magnet at the Union Square Holiday Market, from a guy selling vintage-esque designed shirts, and now I can't remember what booth it was. Sorry!

Growing up, we never had video games in the house. In fact, it wasn't until my baby sister started whining about getting a Game Boy did my parents actually relent. But that meant that I spent all of the 80s sans video games. No Commodore 64. No Atari. No nothing. How uncool!

I think that's why my sisters (and BIL) love their current Wii games so much. They've now played all the myriad games they got this Christmas - from the crossbow game (with Link from Zelda!) to the Classic Mario 25th Anniversary to Amazing Race and Jeopardy!

By far, though, the funniest one to watch them play is Just Dance 2. Oddly, my BIL is the best dancer of the three, but it's superfunny how they close their blinds before starting the game. It totally makes me wonder what funny video game activities are happening behind other people's closed blinds.

So, yeah, even if I was deprived of all video games growing up, I went ahead and bought this Ms. Pac-Man, because lately it totally feels like the 80s are definitely back. Part of it is because the kids of today have no memory of why our fashions went away and they're bringing them back, looking just about as ridiculous as we did back in the day.

Or maybe it's just because Duran Duran released a new album called All You Need Is Now (that I would have blogged about, had I found the appropriate magnet), or because I spent a good portion of the holidays with my sisters working on a family pictures DVD for my parents (a good part of that were some really crazy-haired/-outfitted pix from the 80s), or it's likely because we've been doing a 21 Jump Street marathon (which is a total indictment of our 80s wardrobe), or simply because it's a proven fact that I love the 80s, just in general.

Eh, whatever. I admit it. I loved the 80s, with our Cold Wars and Reaganomics, and our Just Say No campaigns and our old-school babyfaced Johnny Depp. But mostly I loved it because of my Duran Duran.

eta: Bugger. This magnet will have today's date, because I spent yesterday catching up on joy magnetism and forgot to open up a new post for yesterday's date. Yes. That's the extent of my OCD, I can hold off on doing my blog for more than a week, but it drives me crazy if the dates are off.


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Monday, December 27, 2010

Warm Springs

Magnet #1039 - Warm Springs, GA

A friend of mind brought her husband to Warm Springs, GA, for his birthday, and brought me back this supercute magnet. They're the same friends I went with to Hyde Park, NY, so it's no surprise that they finally took advantage of being able to visit FDR's other place of residence just an hour south of Atlanta.

Back in the 1800s, Warm Springs had been known as a warm mineral springs resort, but by the time FDR had discovered them in the 1920s, it had already fallen on hard times. But, FDR believed the 88-degree waters helped his polio-related paralysis, and so he spent much of his time at the springs, and even kept a Little White House down there, where he supposedly did a lot of his New Deal work. On top of that, he also started the Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute for Rehabilitation, still active today, a place where folks can go and partake of the therapeutic waters, but moreover, it's a place that strives "to empower individuals with disabilities to achieve personal independence."

The Little White House is a GA State Park site now, so you can visit it - it's been kept the same since FDR's death, and they have a couple of his special cars, and even an unfinished painting that he was sitting for.

Of course, now I have to go rewatch Kenneth Brannagh's Warm Springs HBO movie. Plus, I need to finally read the book I picked up at FDR's Library in Hyde Park, called FDR's Splendid Deception to get a better understanding of FDR and the massive effort to downplay, even hide, the extent of his polio-induced paralysis.

It's why I love this magnet, because one of the things I've never been able to get my head around is the public knowledge around his disability. Or rather, lack of public knowledge. Supposedly, no one really knew that he was paralyzed from the waist down, while FDR and his team went to extraordinary lengths to keep this "splendid deception." Ironic, that even on this magnet, from a place where he was trying to remedy his paralyzed legs, he's portrayed standing and waving from the back of the train.

And yet, of course, pockets of people knew. The press did what they could to downplay it - which is almost unheard of these days. The government knew. The servicemen and women he visited in a few hospitals knew. The folks of Warm Springs knew. People knew, and they didn't make a huge fuss over it.

I've always heard that if the average American public knew that FDR was wheelchair-bound, that he'd never have been elected. While that's probably true, I'd still like to believe that we'd have seen our way around it anyway. Otherwise, how vastly different would this world be?
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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Just. Behave.

Magnet #1038 - Don't Bother Me

I used to have this pin/magnet at my work desk, having bought it the day we went looking for button-making machines in the city.

Yes. Button-making machines. And that's not even the weirdest wild goose chase I've been on for work.

But, it's so true, this magnet.

When we were little, and we were having a crisis in the car (a mysterious odor coming from the engine - the fanbelt; the car exploding exploding - twice!; the car not starting, etc.) our first reaction was to immediately shrink back in our seats, and not make a sound.

Just. Behave. While the adults dealt with the situation at hand.

It's probably why you don't see my sisters or me in this picture, as my dad and BIL try to navigate this tree out of our driveway in the wee hours of the morning...

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Saturday, December 25, 2010

David? Who's David?

Magnet #1037 - WANTED: Companion

Found a small gold box under the Christmas tree, addressed to me, from someone named David. I asked my sister, David? Who's David? She laughed at me when I opened it, and found this.


Not for nothing, but I think I'd make an awesome companion. In real life. Not on television.

You know, for when the TARDIS actually shows up at my door. In real life. Not on television.

The magnet came just in time, too, since we all gathered round to watch the latest Doctor Who Christmas special. On Christmas. In real life. On television!

But, I need to rewatch it again, to see if I really did like it or not. The general consensus around the folks I keep up with is that they all loved it. Like people are even saying it's the best of the bunch. I dunno if I agree, though.

I mean, I really liked the flying sharks concept. A lot. It's classic Moffat, taking something ordinary and making it extraordinary.

I also loved the "Dame" Katherine Jenkins being a shark-whisperer with her harmonized yadda-yadda-blah-blah-blah. In her first acting role, the songstress actually did a pretty good job.

I liked the Steampunk aspect of it, even though jury's still out on whether or not I love the genre, or just those damned goggles.

And, even though I can't stand any retelling of A Christmas Carol, Moffat did an excellent job giving the old standard just enough of a twist to not make me crazy.

But, overall, something was off for me, and I can't for the life of me, figure out what it was. I won't lie, it could possibly be because it wasn't David. But I'd like to think I'm giving Matt Smith a fair chance as the Doctor now, and not really missing David Tennant. So, yeah, I need to watch it again to figure out what, because clearly, all of the above should have meant that I liked it. Right?

One thing's for sure, I absolutely loved that BBC-America finally aired a Doctor Who Christmas special on Christmas Day. Totally made our night...and saved me from having to find it via alternative methods. Thanks, BBC-A!

And, in case it isn't posted enough everywhere, on every blog, webpage, Tweet, Tumblr, etc., here's the Series 6 trailer for ya. C'mon, you know you want to watch it again!

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Friday, December 24, 2010

Star of Compassion

Magnet #1036 - Little Twin Stars

This Little Twin Stars magnet was part of my Sanrio 50th anniversary set. Growing up, I totally remember Little Twin Stars being more popular than Hello Kitty.

Apparently, the twins were born on the Star of Compassion - Kiki (the boy) uses a star on his back to fly around, while Lala's special skill is cooking. (Cooking?)

They came to live on Earth because they were curious, having heard all about Earth from Father-Star and Mother-Star.

Now, they roam around spreading happiness and joy to all they meet!

I can't find any additional information on the twins...nor could I find any cartoons to link to, but here's a fun Little Twin Stars blog to check out.
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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Halls of Justice

Magnet #1035 - Supreme Court of the United States

No tour here, at the Cass Gilbert Supreme Court Building. And you don't get to see the actual chambers. But it's - say it with me - free!

Situated behind the Capitol, it's an equally impressive building to visit. You could probably spend hours exploring the exteriors (when it's warm) and some of the interior details, like the coolest self-supporting spiral staircase ever, coupled with gorgeous elevator banks.

There's a really good exhibit on the history of the Supreme Court, and how Taft led the charge to get the Country's highest court out of the Capitol, and into some fresh digs of their own.

Toward the back of the hall is the auditorium with the CNN-produced backgrounder movie on the Court, plus there's a really cool exhibit on Sandra Day O'Connor. And bonus, there's an excellent little gift shop, too.

My favorite piece in the whole place was the Family Circus cartoon that Bil Keane presented to Justice O'Connor, where the little Dolly's wearing a gown, and tells her brothers,

"You be the old guys, and I'll be Sandra Day O'Connor!"
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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Safer. Smarter. More Secure.

Magnet #1034 - BEP/UST $20 Note

Took a tour of the Bureau of Engraving & Printing this week. If you knew me back in the early 2000s, you'd realize how freakin' funny it is that I never took a tour before.

Can I just say? I really did not enjoy it...and this time, because of the tour guide. And her fake game commentator, tour guide speech pattern. Nice enough lady, but I seriously never wanted off a tour so bad, even if it was free. It was almost like I was taking a tour with Dick Vitale.

But, I will say, it was really cool seeing the printing machines of the BEP, watching them make money the old-fashioned way. By printing it.

And yes, I had a whole much longer post written up about the New Color of Money, but then thought the better of posting it.

If you want to learn more, take the tour. It's free. No. Really. It's Washington, remember? Where else can you see a million dollars...for free.
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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Out of many...move quickly

Magnet #1033 - U.S. Capitol

I know, I'm about a week late, worse than during my Italy trip last year. But, we'll rip through these rather quick.

In between checking job boards on an otherwise quiet Christmas week in DC, I ended up signing up for the Capitol Tour.

They have a shiny new visitors center, which is just gorgeously designed, complete with a giant restaurant and fairly good food, a capacity for giant queues (not so many people there, the Tuesday before Christmas), and a million statues in the lobby. Oh! And some good magnets in the not one, but two, gift shops! (Note: I bought only one magnet. I'm practicing this word called restraint.)

The giant auditorium (which I'm sure is full up during peak season) was nicely done, and of course, I liked the movie about Democracy and Our Nation's Capitol. I totally felt like I was back in Mrs. Bradley's 7th grade civics class, one of my faves. The tour, however, really was not.

It wasn't the tour guide's fault, not really. His job was just to shepherd us from room to room and give us some factual information for us tourists to take away. The trouble was, the point of the tour became, walk through the superhistoric room and get out. No milling about. Any questions? No. Good. Onward.

Ya'll know I love my drive-by tours, but dang, that's in a car! When you get literally a 5-second walk through the superhistoric rooms - NO, WE DON'T HAVE TIME TO FORM ANY QUESTIONS FOR YOU, SO DON'T LOOK SO DISAPPOINTED IN US! I did feel bad, the tour guide wanted us to have a real tour, but it was just too quick.

He tried, though. In places where we could linger, he told us about the Capitol Rotunda paintings, and the stories behind each of them. Very, very impressive, though my only takeaway was that Pocahontas was Baptized a Christian, and took the name Rebecca. And, we saw the original placement of John Q. Adams' and Millard Fillmore's desks. And tons of statues - all the states were allowed to send two statues to reside at the Capitol...but they could do a whole separate tour for just the statues. And where the Amistad case was tried (though, I think I fairly ran through that room).

All in all, hurried (harried? Both.) tour aside, I was more blown away by standing in the place where so much of our history has taken place. A truly cool experience. And one highly recommended.

Take the tour. Like half the things in this lucky, lucky city, it's free. And people died so we'd be able to walk through those rooms really quickly.
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Monday, December 20, 2010

Fork, please?

Magnet #1032 - Republic

Republic, with its communal tables and really good hot soup, I imagine it keeps pretty busy during the winter months.

A confession:

I'm Asian.

I don't use chopsticks. Like, at all.

I know! It's the craziest thing being at an Asian restaurant, and being the only restaurant at a table full of gringos and asking the waitstaff for a fork.

You know that look that people give first-gen kids when they don't speak the native tongue? That's the look I get when I ask for a fork in an Asian restaurant.

But, here's the thing. I'm Filipino. We didn't grow up using chopsticks at home. And, as near as I can tell, neither did my mom or dad back in the Philippines.

So, no. I don't use chopsticks.

Except in my hair. I'm a damned whiz at doing that.
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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Equal opportunity toy-giver

Magnet #1031 - Toys for Tots

Toys for Tots is the other toy-drive charity, sponsored by the United States Marine Corps, with its goal: "to deliver, through a new toy at Christmas, a message of hope to less fortunate youngsters that will assist them in becoming responsible, productive, patriotic citizens."

I'll admit, last weekend at the mall, my friend and I purchased two infant toys that we were intending to donate to the Salvation Army, when I went in to the Toy Shop on Monday. But, as we walked around the mall with our bags, we passed the Toys for Tots table, staffed by a few older Marines.

What's that thing about not being able to resist a guy in uniform? Yeah, it was like hypnosis. We dropped our toys right in their bin. And he gave me a magnet!

I know, I know - three weeks of volunteering at the Salvation Army should have taught me some loyalty, but you know what? Either way, that toy's gonna eventually end up in some child's hands.

And that's enough for me.
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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Only boring people are bored

Magnet #130 - Betty Draper Francis

This Betty quote from Mad Men: The Illustrated World is something I've heard all my life. It's why I try never to be bored. I can forgive a lot of things, but boring people, not so much.

Besides, there's always something to do...even if it's sleep. You just have to find it.

And, that's how I ended up at Matthew "No Refunds Here" Weiner's discussion with Thane Rosenbaum at the 92Y last week. (For those who don't know, the 92Y started out as the Young Men's Hebrew Association, and has grown to be one of the premier cultural and community centers in town, with some incredible programming.)

Remember how I don't like to read too much into anything? That I take art for art's sake? For the most part, that extends to television and film. Which means that I enjoy what I'm watching, but don't really think too much about the cultural ramifications or "statements" made by any show. I make no apologies for it: It's television. It's film.

It's how I was surprised when creator/ep & showrunner/headwriter Weiner managed to put Mad Men into much more context than I'd ever thought about before. The conversation centered around how the show is a pretty great love letter to New York in the golden age of the 60s, using advertising as a useful and interesting backdrop for some really screwy, but always human characters.

Which I always knew...but for me, the ad agency shenanigans was my entree to the show. I've always overidentified with the characters within advertising construct, with their crazy lives secondary. Or, if I'm honest, tertiary, really, if you consider the cultural history of the 60s that's more interesting for me.

Don't get me wrong - I love (almost) all of the characters, and can get pretty invested in their lives, but it was always the advertising - the clients, the presentations, the creative work, the dynamics between the account/creative/management teams - has always been what drew me in and repulsed me at the same time.

I find myself unable to get too deep into a retelling of the night, otherwise, it gets into a debate on Jewish culture, advertising metaphors, why Don Draper isn't naked more often, the Bay of Pigs, and the decaying of New York.

Just know it was a great session...of course, now with this new insight with which to watch the show, I feel like I need to rewatch Mad Men from the pilot all the way through.

What? So far, that's only 52 hours!
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Friday, December 17, 2010

A little crazy, a lot happy

Magnet #1029 - Eustress

I did some quick errands after my final volunteer shift at the Salvation Army Toy shop today.

And by errands, I mean I went to the Union Square Holiday Market to buy this specific eustress magnet. Where Nicola and the Newfoundlander recognized me as the magnet lady.

Then I went to Sanrio to return the supercute 15.4-inch laptop case I loved but wouldn't fit my 17-inch laptop. Where the security guard recognized me because I was just there earlier this week.

Then I went to the NBC Store to buy the supercute Doctor T-shirt (Ten/David Tennant) that I've visited three times in the last month. Where the cashier recognized me because I was just there earlier this week.

Conclusion: I am getting recognized in too many places on this tiny island of Manhattan.

But, ya'll.

I cannot stop buying these reclaimed words on reclaimed wood magnets. I specifically wanted eustress, because it's such a great word.

Nicola and the Newfie's definition: "Something that makes you both a little crazy and a little happy but a little more happy than crazy." The actual definition: the "good kind of stress." (Which if you think about it, fits the entire holiday season from Thanksgiving to New Year's.)

Anyway, you'll see here that I wasn't kidding about loving these magnets. Ya'll need to get down to the holiday market and buy them, because there's a part of me that wants to collect them all.

On the other hand, I may have enough for 2010, and I figure I can always try to round out the collection next year? Maybe?

Oh. My. Word. It's a good thing I'm leaving for home in a couple of days. I just realized THEY HAVE NEW WORDS.


Mind you, I still have the weekend. Sigh.
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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Sappy McSapperson and Louis B. Mayer

Magnet #1028 - Louis B. Mayer quote

So much word.

Otherwise, I wouldn't be in the midst of dropping both Lucy Liu's Marry Me and Alyssa Milano's Sundays at Tiffany's to DVD right now.

What? I'm a girl. I'm nearing midlife. I'm single. Clearly, I'm totally the demographic that Lifetime is aiming for.

The thing is, Mayer's quote has been true all of my life.

Whether it was Louisa May Alcott's Little Women in the fourth grade, Iris Johansen's And the Desert Blooms in the seventh grade, or Sarah MacLean's Nine Rules or Ten Ways just this year - the hallmark of a good story for me, is whether or not I sniffle.

And it's not just books - it's movies (hello, The King's Speech or Tangled at the end) and television shows (hello, Rose and Ten's goodbye on Doctor Who), too.

Shoot. Even a really good painting or music composition gets me all teary.

It's pretty ironic that I was once labeled inhuman, because I couldn't empathize when a coworker was sobbing over a bad breakup, and yet, last week at the mall, I couldn't get away fast enough to avoid tearing up over a lost and crying four-year-old, because she was literally screaming at the top of her lungs for her mommy. (Yes, people were helping her.)

So, yeah, I'm really a sap. I'll own it.

That's why, when I saw this Mayer magnet on TCM's Moguls & Movie Stars shop, I knew I had to order it. I'll confess, I actually had to restrain myself from buying the whole set.

Of course, that in itself, is enough to make anyone cry.
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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Open wide

Magnet #1027 - I Heart My Dentist

Dudes. You give me a magnet, it's gonna end up on this blog. I'm just sayin'.

So, if you're looking for a great dentist on the upper west side? Seriously love this guy and his team - they're awesome. Just the nicest folks ever. And? One of the best dentists I've ever been to.

His office actually reminds me of my old dentist back in NC. Growing up, my parents' office was in the same building as Dr. Sherman's. Actually, it was also in the same building as the local pharmacists, Mr. and Mrs. Saunders.

(Did I mention that the town I grew up in had just about 1,500 people when we moved there in the late 70s? Even now, to this day, that town's last census was 2,175.)

Anyway, we practically grew up in that little building, from cantaloupes and vanilla ice cream and orangeades introduced to us by Mrs. Saunders, to cavities filled in Dr. Sherman's office.

It was a small-town feeling of home, walking in both those places, where everyone knows whose kid you are (hard not to tell being one of six Filipino kids in town) and looked out for you when you were running around.

Hard to get that here in NY, so you have to take it where you can get it.
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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Better than most

Magnet #1026 - TPC Sawgrass, 17th Hole

Using this magnet for today, because someone reminded me that it's already been a year since our golf course tv shoot down in Tampa.

Same friend picked this up for me at THE PLAYERS Championship earlier this year. The 17th hole island green is the signature hole for the TPC Sawgrass Stadium course, in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL.

The 17th is one of the hardest on the TOUR, because the green is set on this island-slash-peninsula in the middle of this water feature. It was built kind of accidentally - Pete Dye (the course's designer) didn't intend for it to be that way - but they were digging and digging and digging, and one day, Pete brought Alice out on the course under construction, and she suggested the island. And so it came to pass.

It's definitely a storied hole. The record for one tournament is 50 balls in the water, rather than on the green. And check out this fun retrospective on the hole. Of course, it gives me yet another reason to like birds, but whatever.

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Monday, December 13, 2010

Happy 50th Anniversary, Sanrio!

Magnet #1025 - Small Gift Sanrio

One of the things I love about New York (there is so much, I know), is that because we're so big and we're home for most of the major networks, we're always a good location for branded events and great coverage.

So, we get the good pop-up stores throughout the year, like the Wired magazine and History channel stores; the good media events, which include basically anything in Times Square, Bryant or Union Square parks; the good freebies, like my Simply Orange OJ this morning and Indiana Kettlecorn last week; and the good celebrity appearances with all the movie premieres and parties, etc.

I mentioned it last month when I saw my beloved Pekkle back on the shelves, but last week the superdupercute Sanrio Pop-up Shop Mobile made Herald Square the final stop on its national Small Gift Tour, selling 50th anniversary collectibles, some only available on-site.

We didn't get the grand events that LA and Miami did - renting of space, additional exhibits, but you know what? Having the mobile shop was enough, I think. Despite freezing in the cold for a hour or so, waiting for a ton of people to make up their minds what Hello Kitty (and assorted friends) stuff they were going to buy, it was fun. Especially because I was one of the first 50, and therefore got the superspecial special gift packets, which was filled with even more small gifts!

Remember how I'm always thinking I'm a big fan of something, and then I meet real fans? That's what this line was, for sure. You know, the ones who braved the line for three hours the first day and two the second? The ones "dropping by" from Italy, on their way to Boston? The ones decked out in HK? Yep, them. Dudes, I had no idea that there was even a fandom! (I don't know why I'm surprised - like, every time!)

As expected, I bought way too much Hello Kitty stuff. But, really. Who doesn't need the 50th anniversary book? I mean, I won't be around for another 50 year anniversary, so I might as well get the book. And magnets. And postcards. And stickers. And band-aids. And keyheads. And more stickers.

And well, yeah, you get the picture.
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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Perfect storm

Magnet #1024 - New York Botanical Garden

Trains. Architecture. New York City.

Together, they're my perfect storm.

So who knows why it took me this long to get back up to the NY Botanical Garden to see their Holiday Train Show. But, I loved it.

No, seriously. I was completely floored. I mean, I've always heard about it, but let's be honest, unlike my mother who loves wandering around gardens, pen and paper in hand taking notes, I'm not exactly a botanical gardens kind of chick. But, as I made my way via Metro North, I didn't know what I was in for.

I didn't realize that the buildings and bridges on display were made mostly out of organic materials - nuts, leaves, trees, bark, and other plant materials. Gorgeous structures with even the tiniest of architectural details attended to. With acorns! And twigs! And gumball plants!

I also didn't realize that Paul Busse and his team had created old world New York. It's truly a love letter to demolished buildings of long ago - from the old mansions of Fifth Avenue to my beloved old Penn Station. The structures they've built make you want to find the actual pictures of the buildings to compare, and then curse the decision-makers (again) for razing the buildings in the first place.

The trains were probably third on my list. You know I love my model trains. Love seeing tiny dioramas with the trains wending their way through small town and big city America. But, these G-scale trains are a little different. They had some cool trains, to be sure, Santa Fes and B&Os and Penns, and trolleys, etc., running through each section and on each bridge. But, the inclusion of Thomas, ladybugs and butterfly trains kind of throws it off for me. Clearly, they're for the kids, but it took away some of the "realism" for me.

And speaking of. Oh. My. Word. What I wouldn't give for time to wander through the Enid Haupt Conservatory by myself, without tons of screaming, rambunctious toddlers and big groups of adults. You'd probably never see me again. Ever.

Though I love this historical postcard magnet, it's really of the museum building that's up in Bronx Park. I've now been to the botanical gardens twice there - years ago, for the Chihuly exhibit and then for the trains this week, but I've never actually made it to this building.

Oh well, I guess there's always next year. And there will be a next year if I'm still in New York.

I have years to make up for, having missed so many years of the holiday train show. I'd actually take advantage of the EXPRESS code that gives you a $14 entry fee (until the 17th) again this week, but DCsis shared with me that the U.S. Botanical Garden has a Garden Railway exhibit, too, showcasing Busse's work of DC buildings, and on a larger, global scale!

Oh, yes. Expect there to be a second magnet on garden railways. In the meantime, here's the ubersuperdupercool photo album from this week's trip. Some gorgeous stuff, and well worth the visit uptown!
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Saturday, December 11, 2010

Snake in the grass

Magnet #1023 - American Rattlesnake

Got this magnet as part of my Alexander Hamilton exhibit magnet set from the New-York Historical Society.

It's a British political cartoon attributed to James Gillray in the 1780s, just after two British armies had surrendered to the colonies - General Burgoyne at Saratoga in 1777 and General Cornwallis at Yorktown in 1781.

Two things I didn't know until this year: First, those failed peace talks I mentioned before, between the colonies and the Brits, peace talks that took place on Staten Island at the Conference House. Second, that not all Brits wanted to keep our little colonies. That's what this cartoon suggests, that they wouldn't win.

You can't read the full piece, here, but the original cartoon includes the following narrative:

“Britons within the Yankeean Plains,
Mind how ye March & Trench,
The Serpent in the Congress reigns,
As well as in the French.”

There's also a sign on the snake's tail, mentioning an apartment for rent for military folks.

And then the actual snake says, "Two British Armies I have thus Burgoyn’d, And room for more I’ve got behind.”

Oddly, for me, the snake this small looks a lot more dreadful, than it does up close. Though, when you see the image all blown up (page 15 of this PDF), you can see the snark drawn right on the snake's face.
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Friday, December 10, 2010

I feel gratified

Magnet #1022 - Emotes en masse

Whoa, feels like joy magnetism's starting to get all cause-related, what with sea turtles last week, puppy mills yesterday and the Salvation Army toy drive today.

Is it because saving the world's an addictive feeling? I dunno.

Anyway, see all these Emotes? They're animated characters that were designed to teach children how to express their feelings.

I'm using it for today, because I feel a range of emotions, as we have just about one more week to get our toys in to the Salvation Army for their toy drive program. I mentioned this before, but my time with the Salvation Army's been one of the most rewarding experiences I've ever had in New York.

This started out as a selfish thing - I just wanted to wrap gifts. Ya'll know I love doing it, and I can always use the extra practice. But, it's turned out to be so much more - and believe me, it's not like I'm doing all that much - just being the little helper picking up the toys from various corporations around town, and matching up toys to age groups and to our lists of good little boys and girls.

But, it's knowing that in some small way, we're making sure that some little kid will have something to unwrap on Christmas that makes me happy. Doesn't matter who that kid is, or where they come from - somewhere, they'll be opening up something on Christmas.

Some of things I've noticed from donations is that we get a lot of toys for that golden age of childhood, anywhere from 3-10. They're the easiest to buy, right? They have the cutest toys. Like, ever. The kids are old enough to appreciate the fun toys, and young enough to have unjaded imaginations. Hand them Dora or High School Musical dolls, or Legos or remote-controlled car, and they're happy for a few hours.

Not surprisingly, it's the infants and the older children who we usually have trouble finding toys for in the workshop.

I'm talking the seriously 6-24-month baby stuff. I know they're hard to buy for - I just spent time with my BFF's newborn, and I had enough trouble with her floppy head! (What? I love them, but newborns are bundles of heat - cute as hell, but really, they just sit there and ooh and ahhh at the ceilings.) But, they do have a newborn section in the toy stores - the developmental, bright lights, colorful shapes and sizes and yes, those loud, loud sounds that drive parents nuts!

The older kids are a little tricky to buy for - seriously, once they've outgrown the Hannah Montana stuff, it's so much harder to find something that entertains them for more than the time it takes to open the present. We end up sending the basketballs, soccer balls, board games and older books out for them - anything that looks like a teenager would enjoy. But, it's hard!

And, some additional stuff to keep in mind if you're looking to give some Christmas cheer:

When you're sending over dolls, think of all shapes, sizes and colors. I swear, if I see another blonde Barbie, I will cry. (Though in her defense, I will say that we have a section of baby dolls that makes me take the long way around. They seriously creep me out.)

And if you can't stop from buying stuff for the fun kids in the middle? Think of the big brands your own kids will love - Dora. Enough said. Poor Diego, no one cares about him. But Dora's like gold in the toy shop!

Finally. I've never seen so many Candy Lands and Chutes & Ladders in. my. life. Like, I think we could give Toys R Us, 42nd Street a run for their board games.

Gravy. I had no idea how gratifying these couple of weeks would be. And how fun.

Speaking of fun. Man, I bet there are some mad parties up in the toy workshop after all the humans have gone home!
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Thursday, December 9, 2010

How much is that doggie in the shelter?

Magnet #1021 - Pennsylvania

My friends and I love roadtripping through the gorgeous and peaceful countryside of Pennsylvania, in particular, Lancaster County. We've been back a couple of times over the years, each time discovering something new or different.

Tonight, I went to the premiere of Madonna of the Mills, an illuminating documentary that a friend of mine wrote and directed, and it taught me something a lot different about Amish and Mennonite country.

Little did we know that as we were sampling the wares of these gentle people, they were raising a different agriculture product that few people know about.


You know those terribly cute puppies you see in the pet shops? The ones that are anxiously running around, hoping you'll bring them home with you? Chances are, that those cute little guys got to that pet store via a Lancaster puppy mill. And if not there, then a puppy mill in Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas or Oklahoma.

They're not happy places. Like, at all. Basically, these mills are composed of hundreds of dogs kept in steel cages that are regulated (by the USDA, no less) to be about 6 inches bigger than the dogs themselves. They keep the mama dogs in those miserable, dirty cages for all of their lives, breeding litter after litter, until they're too worn out to breed any more. And then they get rid of them.

Madonna of the Mills is the story of one woman's quest to save as many of those dogs as possible. She's part of a dog rescue network that goes into Amish country, take the used and abused dogs, rehabilitate them, and try to place them wherever they can.

Admittedly, I am so not a dog person. Like, at all. But, watching the dogs being liberated, and their abuse-victim behavior was truly heart-breaking. One dog refused to pull her head out of the corner, and she ran away from the Shy Dog class! So very sad!

But, the film's tone isn't bleak. There's hope. There's the rescued dog that's become the faithful companion to a young autistic child. There's the fact that this woman has helped saved more than 2,000 dogs. And, then, there's the fact that there are people out in this world risking so much, and giving so much to help out these dogs.

That, in itself, makes you believe in the goodness of mankind.

So, the lesson for the evening is not to buy a puppy mill dog from your local pet store, or online. Check the shelters, check with a vet, but check.
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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Walk. Freeze. Eat. Repeat.

Magnet #1020 - Disney, New York City

Fact: I paid way too much for this magnet. But. It was opening day at Disney's new Flagship store in Times Square a few weeks ago, and so, was totally worth it.

Plus, look at it! So darn cute! If they had a second one, with a complementary set of Disney ones (they could so do one with just the princesses!), I would totally have gotten it.

Spent the day playing tourist again in my city - one of my favorite things to do here. One of my former clients from Italy is here this week with her boyfriend, so we went wandering around Queens and midtown.

Yes, Queens. They wanted to go, so I brought them all the way out to Corona Park and the Queens Museum of Art, to see all the World's Fair stuff. You know I love it there.

Her BF is an architect, so he was totally interested in the architecture out there, and in midtown. So I picked up a copy of Francis Morrone's Architectural Guidebook to the City for him - remember him? The dude who gave the Plaza tour?

I firmly believe that all visiting architects should have that book in hand while wandering around town. We wandered through Grand Central, up Park Avenue to visit the Seagram Building, Lever House and the Frank Lloyd Wright showroom, over to Madison for the AT&T/SONY Building - such a pleasure to wander around with someone who appreciates the buildings themselves! We followed that by a quick trip into Cartier, St. Patrick's, Rockefeller Center, and Times Square for Disney, M&Ms and Hershey's, and Toys R Us.

Yep. All day. Loved it. Walking, freezing and eating. My kind of day.

Well, without the freezing, maybe.
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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A water lily by any other name...

Magnet #1019 - Monet's Nymphéas (Water Lilies)

I just went on a wild goose chase to see if there was a definitive answer to just how many different water lily paintings Monet painted during his lifetime - and came up empty.

It feels like every major museum anywhere has a water lilies by Monet. This one, I don't even remember actually seeing, because we were actually at the Carnegie Museum of Art for a wedding reception, and while I remember going through parts of the museum, I distinctly remember hurrying (in silly shoes) to the gift shop to grab a magnet before it closed for the evening. But this piece, Nymphéas (Water Lilies), is one of the jewels of the Carnegie collection, I'm sure.

The information says circa 1915-1926, that it's one of six ginormous panels that he was working on up til his death in 1926. But, the detail on it is still pretty rather sharp - so it's even harder to believe that he was working on these with such detail, even though he'd already started losing his eyesight to cataracts.

Gosh, what a tragic tale of the painter who lost his ability to see. You can see the contrast on this page, about midway down, comparing his Japanese bridges from 1897 to 1923.

Anyway, I picked this magnet for today, because I meant to report back after my astounding visit to the Sotheby's preview exhibition, just before their Impressionist auction last month.

Remember how I was stunned that I was standing in front of a $20 million painting? And that it was yet another of Monet's water lilies (Le Bassin aux Nymphéas), and how it was clearly unfinished?

Yeah. That painting? Sold for not $20, but $24.7 million. Sheesh.

Quick. Someone get me a brush.
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Monday, December 6, 2010

Not as smart as I thought!

Magnet #1018 - Metropolitan Opera

Growing up in North Carolina, we didn't get many opportunities to see opera. Or maybe, we just didn't take advantage of any opportunities to see opera, our preferences skewing toward piano and symphony performances. But never opera.

I mean, I've seen seen Real!Aida (versus the Elton John version) in a gorgeous, ancient outdoor amphitheatre in Verona. But that was pretty much it.

So that's why, when I first moved up here and scored free tickets to the opera at the Metropolitan Opera, no less, I was completely floored to learn that the backs of the seats had the opera's subtitles and translations! In digital display!

Seriously, ya'll. I can count on a couple of hands the number of times where this city's actually made me feel like a country bumpkin, and I'll tell you what for, that performance was one of those times. I don't even remember the name of the opera anymore. I don't even remember the story. I just remember watching the words go by with each passing stanza.

I must have missed the first half of the show, because I was just sitting in my seat, shaking my head, thinking, holy crap, ya'll opera-going folk, weren't as smart as I thought ya'll were.

I couldn't wait to get out of the show, to call my mom and tell her all about it. My roommate, an opera singer, laughed her bum off at me when I got home. I just couldn't believe how I was all opera's for smart people, cuz they know all the words to the stories and pieces, and in other languages, too! And the whole time, it was spelled out on digital displays.

Even so, I will say that not all opera is for me. I've only seen a couple of performances since then, plus, I did a fantastic behind the scenes tour - where we got to see Placido Domingo rehearse on stage, from the sound booth. Outstanding.

And I'll tell ya, I didn't need a translation to know what he was singing, either. Didn't understand a word of it, but really, I don't think anyone cares when it's Placido!
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Sunday, December 5, 2010

Ball girl

Magnet #1017 - Lichtenstein's Girl with Ball

I picked up this one from the MoMA design store in Soho, which is totally a dangerous place for me, with all the tchotcke stuff that I love picking up for me and others. But, I couldn't resist this magnet.

I'm really digging Roy Lichtenstein lately. He was part of the pop art movement of the 60s, and a lot of his work was modeled after comic panels. He literally went through old comics and pulled out panels that he liked, and either re-created them or used them as inspiration for his work. Some very cool stuff.

This particular piece, Girl with Ball, is part of the MoMA collection. The image was taken directly from an ad for a Poconos hotel that caught his eye.

She wasn't even a huge part of the ad, just a sort of window dressing for the hotel deals. Pretty funny how something so small became such a major piece of art.
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Saturday, December 4, 2010

Speed-dating San Francisco

Magnet #1016 - San Francisco

While at home last week, I stumbled over several pictures of my parents and me all over San Francisco. Of course, I was like six months old at the time, so I have absolutely no recollection of it.

Then several years ago, I spent less than 24 hours in San Francisco. I flew in, got in at like, 4 or 5 in the afternoon, had a sunset dinner by myself at Fisherman's Wharf, went into the office to help a friend get some urgent work done for a few hours, then late in the night, went back to my room at the W, to await my 8am flight. Truly a shame, since I didn't get to sleep but three hours on those 800 thread count sheets.

All that fuss, to drop off a banner stand and banner, for a pitch...that we didn't even win. Oh, Corporate America, will you ever cease to make me laugh.

Anyway, I think a friend of mine gave me this magnet, and clearly once again, it's been doctored from Joyce, to make my name. I mean, no offense, but seriously, when was the last time you even met a Joyce?

I'm just sayin'.
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Friday, December 3, 2010

Here comes the sun

Magnet #1015 - Ariel

I have to admit, whenever I see this Ariel magnet, that Beatles song, Here Comes the Sun runs through my head. It's on the Parent Trap soundtrack, which is surprisingly one of the best. soundtracks. ever. It's one of my favorite movies, even if it's a little bittersweet watching Natasha Richardson in it.

Ariel was named Disney princess with the best hair a couple of weeks ago. I think it was a bit of an unfair competition, given that Snow White is like 73 years old, Cinderella's like 60, and Rapunzel's not even a month old! It's hair from different generations, and therefore shouldn't be judged against each other. Nevertheless, Ariel does have supercute hair, both above and below water.

For me, I will admit that I'm superjeal of Rapunzel's hair at the end of the movie.

Why all the hair talk? Because I figured while I don't really have an office to go to, that I might as well take this time to grow my hair out and donate it. I try and do this every so often, but I never make it - I get so frustrated with ponytails, hair clips, and barrettes that I just run to the nearest hairdresser and ask her to chop it all off.

So, for the past several months, I've been waiting and waiting for my own hair to grow, to get that eight inches. And my hair is growing sooooo slow! Hurrrrrry upppppp!


And, in case you wanted to know where the hair's going...STW Sis donated her hair earlier this year to Pantene's Beautiful Lengths program. She's done it a couple of times already. I wonder if they can tell by hair condition if you've been using their products. /randomthought

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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Waves and Topsail

Magnet #1014 - Topsail Island, NC

I mentioned my parents and I did a quick roadtrip to the beach earlier this week. Yes. The beach. Me.

We went to Topsail Island for fish, first - of course, my pop has local fish guys. Then, we headed down to Wrightsville Beach and Wilmington.

Seriously, ya'll. At WB, My dad made me get out of the van to go look at the water. I don't think he's read half of my beach-hate magnetposts, and still, he was like, you better get out of the car and see the Atlantic, while we're here.


Of course, I went. And it was gorgeous. What? I only hate it when it's hot and sticky and sandy and crowded.

And what's a trip to the beach without at least passing by a Waves surf shop. We never really went to them growing up. But, after I got my dad to turn the van around so I could get a good shot of the giant alligator facade, we stopped so I could pick up this little number.

Though, off season, there's nothing sadder than a cavernous Waves, completely empty, but for the dude folding T-shirts at the counter, waiting for the 2011 season to begin. His face kinda fell, when I asked him where the magnets were, and I worry that my $2.99 would be the day's take.

This one's definitely one of the tamer magnets. I saw some diiiirty magnets up in there. Like, who wants that junk on their fridge? I totally wanted to take a picture, but I don't even want to know the bots that would show up here if I did. Ew.

But, it totally explains why my parents never really wanted us to drop by Waves when we were little.
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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Holla from San Salvador! - Guest Blogger, Save the World Sister

Magnet #1013 - Las Tortugas Marinas

How exciting! I've got a guest blogger from El Salvador!

Ok, technically she's by way of DC, and by way of my sister being there on a work trip. And technically, the magnet's not quite in my grubby little hands yet, but by way of Christmas, it's coming!

So, yeah, here's STWSis, blogging all the way from El Salvador, where she's off, well, saving the world...

By way of sea turtles!
- joy

Hola desde San Salvador, El Salvador. El clima es soleado y cálido! Estoy aquí para trabajar, pero tienes que venir para la diversíon. (Hi from San Salvador, El Salvador. The weather is sunny and warm. I’m here for work, but you should come for fun.)

That about sums up my Spanish…or I cheated and used Google translate (is there anything Google can’t do for us!?). For reals, though, I’m here in San Salvador for the week to help start the closedown processes for my project. What does that mean? I’m motivating staff and training them in how to pack boxes and organize files. Yes, folks, this is what my job entails. But the upside - I get to work with a great local staff and see a new country.

I’ve been here a few days and I think I like El Salvador. It is my first time in Latin America and I can only compare it to the other foreign countries I’ve been to. It’s a bit like the Philippines, which if you ask Joy or either of her sisters, will give you probably very different opinions. It’s warm when my DC-based mind tells me it should be freezing - though not as disgustingly hot as the PI. It’s traffic-y, though not as jam-y as Kathmandu, Nepal. And it’s nothing like Uzbekistan, though, no other place seems to be like that.

The people are super nice. I love my project staff. They are really patient with me (if you know me, my mom would say this is key) and helpful considering my Espanol consists of whatever Senora Adams taught me in elementary school and the two semesters of elective Spanish I took at Carolina.

This project has done so many great things and everyone on staff is sad to see it close. One of the project’s main activities has been the conservation of sea turtles (explains the magnet, the translation is “I Protect Sea Turtles”). We (I say we, but really, I just push the papers of the people that actually do the stuff) have been changing the people’s thinking on sea turtles.

Before, people would eat sea turtle eggs – it’s what you do at the bar with friends without even thinking about it. Now, we are raising awareness that sea turtles are an important part of the sea and the aquatic life cycle. We offer money to people who collect sea turtle eggs and give them to us rather than putting them on the market for consumption. We take the eggs and keep them safe in hatcheries so that the little baby sea turtles can make it to the ocean to live.

To raise awareness, our project made a documentary about the important role that sea turtles have and why we should protect them. The film just won best Spanish language film at the Blue Ocean Film Festival in Monterey, CA, out of a field of 349 films!

If you’re a Spanish speaker (and everyone these days seems to be except for me and my knowledge of odd languages), you can watch the documentary here:

Part I:

Part II:

While I only have a few days here in San Salvador (just one week!), I’m really glad that I got to come out and work with such great people. Also, I’m going to a turtle release on Friday! So I’ll get to see the kids and adults enjoying the little baby turtles crawling to the sea.

And that, my friends, is why I chose this career.

No comen huevos de tortuga marina! (Don’t eat sea turtle eggs!)


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