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I Dont Care What You Say Anymore This is My Life. [Nov. 12th, 2013|04:44 am]
They say that trauma initiates memories.  I don't know if it's true.  What I do remember is my earliest memory is from when I was about two and a half years old.  It is of a metal plate over my right eye and a hallway in the Presbyterian Hospital in San Fransisco.  It was a long hall at least so itseemed to me.   I walked that hall many times with my mom to and from radiation treatments.  Finally, a day came when I put on a very smelly, stinky oxygen maks like the ones I'd seen on pilots  I awoke to find my right eye bandaged up.  I didn't know it then and it took awhile before my mom told me, my right eye had been removed but I was now cancer free.   Fast forward to when I was seven years old.  My mom tried to keep me wrapped in gauze but her father, my grandfather would have nothing of it and believed even less than the evidence before his own eyes.  To him, no matter what the doctors said he'd noticed that I could see and recognize his car from several blocks away.  He also noticed that I could sight a rifle in and line up the sights at ranges of 200 yards on a 1,000 yard simulated target and held me to the same standard he expected of his sons of hitting such a target in the bulls eye with the single shot he allowed out of his 1903 Springfield rifle.  In every way he cut me no slack although according to my physicians I was supposed to  be visually impaired.  It was years of his stubborn refusal to accept a handicap that created me.  I was shooting competitively for ammunition to hunt with from the Department of Civilian Marksmanship by the age of nine and competed in my first Camp Perry Match before my tenth birthday. Eventually, I'd shot two out of three "leg" matches toward my Distinguished Marksmanship badge.  At the ripe old age of 13  I was in High School after having skipped a couple of grades in elementary school.  Ok, as a High Schooler I was very immature for my grade.  However, I was in love with a girl who'd been kicked out of private school and was pregnant.  So, with the help of a Catholic priest I had a baptismal certificate made up that  made me about seventeen.  Ostensibly so I could work.  My relationship with my  father was inimical at best so the name that was used was a combination of my Mom's family name and the name I'd chosen at my Bar Mitzvah.   Armed with this and my NRA match records and other such documents I saw a Marine Corps recruiter.  The Marines liked what they saw until I came up against the Navy's medical people.  The doctor there noticed the missing eye and the remnants of a tumor on my left eye.  From there a whole series of tests ensued that culminated in the formal pronouncement by the Navy's tumor board that my retinal blastoma was cured and that the GPA and marksmanship justified a waiver on the basis of demonstrated ability.  So it was I found myself waiting at the recruiting station on Bishop Street waiting tp be sworn into the Marines.  However, the recruiter was out of the office.  The Army recruiter was not and he looked over my paperwork.  Several other people looked over the paperwork and because of my test scores they recruited me to be a Medic.  They also promised me parachute school.  What they didn't tell me was I had a very short life expectancy.  So off I journeyed to the next Basic Training class to be held at Fort Dix New Jersey.
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Andie - Meetings [Sep. 10th, 2013|06:13 am]

It was my graduation year from Farrington and I would spend the time immediately after school at my mom's workplace at Roosevelt High School where she ran the Health complex.  Outside the Health building was a very large tree that looked out on a field where the cheerleading squad practiced.  I would in the time between getting out ot school and when my grandfather would pick me up to go to work I would sit beneath that tree and read.    One day I was reading and half aware of the litany of sound "Our boys are fighting..Our dear old Roosevelt team." in the background when I became aware of a young, tall, blond who was also seated beneath that tree.  We were both reading Hemingway's "For Whom the Bell Tolls".  One thing led to another and we began to talk, first about the book and over time about other things. Everything it seemed like she was a kindred soul and I found myself very comfortable with her.  We talked about politics, economics and the war.  She was very anti-war and I found myself being talked into attending functions at the Church of the Crossroads to protest the war.  We grew to be good friends and then I dropped the "bomb" I mentioned that I planned to join the Army and go to Vietnam.  She did her best to discourage me and at the same time she introduced me to people who would aid me in achieving my goal, including the priest who falsified my baptismal certificate ostensibly so that I could work full time.  The name I used is not the one most people know me by, however, It was a combination of my Bar Mitzvah name and my grandfather's name. 
I don't remember how long it took but eventually we would watch the sun set on Tantalus and the lights of the city come on.  It was there that my first "kiss" occurred and it was there in the back seat of the family station wagon that she and I made love for the first time.  It was a clumsy thing and while I tried to be gentle I was also ignorant.   So many things were happening at that time.  I was attending classes to improve my vision.  That summer I made my third appearance at Camp Perry for the National Matches and was in such a distracted state I didn't score well.  Things blew up over mine warfare and cluster munitions in the very late summer.  It left off with Andie hating my very existence and I going it alone to MEPS and from there to Ft. Dix where I did BCT.   It wasn't pleasant but it kept me from homesickness.  So, I ended up in the Army under a different name and with no one at home.  I would find out during my first combat deployment that Ben was born and sent money which she returned for several months despite the fact that she was on welfare and living on Ramen noodles while Ben got the best she could manage.It would be almost ten years before she and I would encounter one another again.
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Thirty-five or so Years Ago. [Sep. 3rd, 2013|09:38 pm]
I recall with some amusement that about thirty-eight years ago I received my notice of delinquency to register for the draft.  The Selective Service people had caught up with me and sent out notice that though I wasn't required to report to my local board I was required to register..  The missive from the "draft" board's Beretania Street office in downtown Honolulu had taken a circuitous route of forwarded addresses to find me in Nakhon Phanom Thailand as an  "anthropology student".  Once it hit the Army Postal system it took just a week for the notice to go from my last known Army address to my current APO San Francisco address and thence into the bored hands of Specialist 6 and newly minted Staff Sergeant Snark.from there it made the round of the other "students" while we laughed at the absurdity of the message and where we were and what we were doing there.  I also became homesick for the sounds of Maunakea Street of the Chinese bakery that would let me sample tea cakes (Gong-soup-yong) or where we bought Mah Tai Tsu.  and the fish buyers at Oahu Market.  Closest to homesick I've gotten.  Finally, it reached my CO and I was called in.  Between us we got the requisite paperwork done not without attendant snickering and laughter. and nearly exposing my youth at time of entry.  It was a good interlude and used up my spare time stuck on base. during the transitiion between the monsoon and dry spell.     I look back on that time with nostalgia.  Then it was back to my "studies" being shot at and recovering downed aircrews from Laos or North Vietnam.  
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Haven't Been Here Much. [Feb. 23rd, 2013|04:38 am]
Not entirely true.  I read my friends' postings.  But, I've been using facebook for my opinions lately.  Retirement has had me busy trying to find work in an economy that is at best stagnant and teetering on the verge of a triple dip recession, that is, if we take out all of the statistical manipulations the current administration uses to hide this from the unwashed masses or the gullible who don't know how to interpret the raw data.  My health has not been the very best of late.  I suffered some kind of seizure like episode about a month ago.  It started with my hands opening and closing in spasms stiff fingered and progressed to body tremors after which I lost the ability to speak coherently, yet I was conscious the entire time.  Amy became very concerned and called 9-1-1.  They got here in 15 minutes and started a lifeline and transported me to the nearest ER.  Thankfully, Plano has two major trauma facilities.  At first they thought it was a stroke but a CAT scan showed that my brain was clear and had good blood flow.  Shortly thereafter even though I tried to say I was willing to provide them with urine samples but didn't have to go at the time I was catheterized with a catheter fit for a blue whale.  That ended my time in ICU.  So I still don't know the cause of the seizure but haven't had one for the past month after resuming a regular swimming and PT regimen.

Let's see, Winston is doing fine.  Other than not being willing to jump up and down as much he is still very active and acts more like he's still a pup than his actual age.  My boys are still a source of pride and love.  The eldest was promoted to Sergeant (E-5) after only two and a half years Time in Service and less than 6 month Time in Grade. He's currently in Wiesbaden, Germany along with his wife and my grandson who is growing like a beansprout.  The twins earned scholarships academic and sports to Goucher College and are stars on their swim team.  The younger twin just set a conference, pool and school record in the 200yd Butterfly.   I really love the men they've become.  Their mom and I still have a very amicable relationship centered on the boys.

Then there's Amy.  We met a year ago this coming March 15th.  It was on OKCupid.com that we first learned of each other.  According to the various tests we were 97% a match for each other.  It seems to be true.  We seem to like a lot of the same things, to the point that when we merged our households we had the same kitchen utensils down to brand, make and model.  We like the same kind of bed, furniture, we share the same political views and other things.  Where we differ is that she is more artistically bent and makes her living designing fine jewelry whereas my art is in tactics and now that this is closed off for me, in designing Business Intelligence systems.  It amuses her that I learned this trade because it was a cover on many occasions.  We take care of each other and having matching career levels and incomes makes things pleasant.   I never realized how nice it is to have a peer as a mate.   We have good relations with our own and each other's children and grandchildren.  I think I'm as happy and contented as I'd ever dreamt I'd be.

So that's what's going on with the ssnarks. :-)
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An Interesting Meme [Jul. 11th, 2012|04:23 am]
fitfool posted a meme she found on one of her friend's LJ.  It asks to list 10 characters from literature or cinema/TV that you identify yourself with.  So, here's my list.
  1. Charlie Gordon: Flowers for Algernon,  I identify very closely with Charlie Gordon who goes from being a man with mental retardation to super genius (jeanass) in a very short time and who finds both conditions less than desirable. 
  2. Mr. Spock:  Star Trek,  I often tell people I was Mr. Spock long before there was a Mr. Spock.  Emotions have always been a stumbling block for me and I have always kept them tightly controlled.
  3. George Bailey:  It's a Wonderful Life, I would love to be George Bailey, kind hearted, considerate and full of integrity.  George has been an inspiration to me.
  4. Boxer:  Animal Farm, Hard working Boxer who began to suspect that all was not what he'd been told on the Animal Farm.
  5. Ian Graeme:  Dorsai!, Ian was the strategist and darker half of the twin Graemes Kenzie and Ian Graeme.  Dispassionate and stoic.  Ian was the perfect strategic operator.  Yet he was dependent upon his lighter and more personable brother Kenzie. 
  6. Captain Nathan Brittles:  She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, The aging Captain Brittles has the challenge of passing on his knowledge to his two junior officers while dealing with his impending retirement from the Army and loss of purpose.
  7. The Snark:  Hunting of the Snark/Alice in Wonderland, While a common snark does no manner of harm, Some are boojums causing those it encounters to softly and suddenly vanish away.
  8. Robert "Dutch" Holland:  Strategic Air Command,  Played by Jimmy Stewart, this character gives up a career in professional baseball to serve his country in the USAF's Strategic Air Command as a bomber pilot during the Cold War. 
  9. Winston Smith: 1984, He was aught but a bureaucrat until he began to question the nature of the society he lived in..
  10. Father Francis Chisholm:  Keys to the Kingdom, Both a book and movie character, Father Chisholm adopts to China and changing times whilst never losing sight of his mission nor his integrity.  His story is one of tolerance without surrender. 
Also considered, Vlad Taltos of the series by Steven Brust only the first two books though. Captain Ahab of Melville's Moby Dick, Mike aka Mycroft Holmes aka Adam Selene aka HOLMES IV  from The Moon is a Harsh Mistress and Richard Cook's Wiz Zumwalt character. 
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Retirement [Oct. 9th, 2011|07:40 am]
My only comment about retirement is that it sucks!  The pay is too low, the benefits lousy and the worst thing of all is that it leaves you adrift with no great purpose or cause.  Once upon a time I was a Soldier.  Now I'm just a civilian.  While I agree wholeheartedly with civilian power over the military, from my perspective anyone who fouled up routinely and regularly, anyone who was lazy, anyone who couldn't follow and anyone who couldn't lead along with general misfits and incompetents were generally promoted to civilian as fast as possible.
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They Got It. [Oct. 3rd, 2011|04:41 am]
Growing up near Gulick Street in Kalihi my neighbors and I knew one fact of life.  They got it.  We didn't know exactly what "It" was, but we knew it could be measured in dollars.  We could see it in the fancy cars, the huge homes in Nu'uanu, Portlock, Hawaii Kai, Lanikai and Waialae-Kahala.  We never saw them except to serve them.  They didn't work a shift in the pineapple canneries.  They did however have names like Dole, Castle, Duke, Kaiser and Dillingham.  Their children went to Punahou and they belonged to the Pacific Club or the Waialae Country Club.  We in our little corner of Kalihi knew only that they had "It" and after they'd got it and ascended to their lofty status they'd pulled up the ladder and left us below.  They would tell us that we had to share, to be fair, to pull together, work hard, sacrifice.  All the while, we never saw them share, what they had wasn't fair, and about the only time they pulled together was to protect their own.   Those of us who got out of housekeeping at one of their mansions, or some luxury hotel, and who avoided becoming cogs in an ever expanding state government, learned one thing. If we wanted anything we would have to step up and tear it out hard and fast shouldering others from what there was.
Fast forward about forty years.  I hear Barack Obama a Punahou graduate, exhorting people to "pull together" to share and be fair.  to sacrifice and to work hard.  I hear Warren Buffett exhorting people who've worked hard and who have learned to tear out their piece of the "American Dream" to pay more taxes and to pay their "fair share".  I hear Michael Moore exhorting the same, and Susan Sarnadon.  These sound like the plantation owners and the rich folk who got "It" of yesterday and my answer is much the same as it was then.  Go directly to He11, do not pass GO and do not take another cent from me! 

I worked hard for what little I have.  That Capital Gains exemption that helps you tremendously, it also helps me preserve my little 'nest egg' of already taxed and hard earned wages that I've invested in the event of my retirement.  Wall Street is no one's friend, but it gives me the ability to invest my hard earned money into businesses that will attempt to make a profit.  When if comes to health care, my government took away my cradle to grave benefits that were exactly what Congress got and replaced it with a managed care system called TriCare that most doctors in the outside world are reluctant to take.  When my firet wife had cancer we mortgaged the house and I sold over 600 rifles and handguns to help pay for her care.  Things I'd scrimped and saved for, invested and should have profited from to pay for what was needed.  I wiped out two retirement accounts that should have offered comfort in our dotage when my second wife was diagnosed with cancer.  That's what you do when bad things happen.  You don't sit and wait for the government to give these to you.  You do what you have to do. 

In Hawaii, I paid nearly 40 cents of every dollar I earned, in my case sometimes with flesh and blood, in taxes.  I paid slightly less in California.  Back then, I thought of it as the "rent" on my places of residence.  Here in Texas, I pay only what the Federal government takes from me. 

So Mr. Buffett, Mr. Moore, Ms. Sarandon and others like Ron Howard.  If you believe that you are not paying your fair share.  If you're embarrassed that your secretary pays more in taxes than you do.  You are perfectly free to pay however much you care to pay.  If you think you need to sacrifice for the good of all, or that life is unfair to others.  Well, you can give it all or any portion to others.   It's a free country.  But, don't tell me how I have to give up my hard earned and risked capital to people who haven't lifted a finger to help themselves or to those unwilling to deal with the fact that life isn't fair, life isn't easy, and no one guaranteed one darned thing, not even that you'll be buried.  The future is what you make of it and it's a highly competitive world out there and no one gets a break or a pass.  No, I do not want to "spread my wealth around" to whomever you please.  If I do, it will be my choice on my terms  Just exactly like you have the freedom to do.
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Measuring Up. [Sep. 12th, 2011|12:35 am]
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There once was a chubby Mexican-American kid, the son of tenant farmers who left him orphaned at age 10.  A seventh grade dropout a lot of people referred to him as a "dumb Mexican" or worse.  He joined the US Army and was sent to Vietnam where he was grievously wounded by a land mine.  Medically discharged, he went about rehabilitating himself and proved himself fit for duty to the Army's Medical board.  Not content with that, he became a "Green Beret".  Trained as a Medical Speicalist, he was assigned to one of the "GreeK" units, Operation Sigma.also known as Operational Detachment B-56.  Their motto "Tham Bao" means reconnaisance in Vietnamese.  He was stationed with his unit at a camp in Loc Ninh, Binh Long province Republic of Vietnam.   On 2 May 1968 at 13:30 local time one of those calls came over the radio that men io our profession dread.  An A-Detachment of 12 men had been ambushed by a North Vietnamese Army (NVA) Battalion and were pinned down under heavy fire.  They'd lost both medics and needed an immediate extraction.  Staff Sargeant Roy P. Benevides heard the call and jumped aboard an outbound 'dustoff' helicopter with it's three man crew carrying only his medical kit and a sheath knife on his harness to help save his beleaguered comrades.   Enemy fire was so heavy the helicopter could not approach any closer than 75 yards from the trapped team.  SSG Benavides lept from a height of 10 feet above the grass and ran toward the firefight.  Almost as soon as he hit the ground he was shot.  But he got up and kept on moving in the best traditions of the Special Forces.  A grenade went off nearby him as he continued on his mission wounding him in the face and neck.  When he reached his comrades he found four men dead and all of the others wounded.  Withoutregard to the battle raging around him he treated the wounded and re-distributed the ammo from the dead and called for an airstrike, during which time he was shot again.  Calling the chopper to come in for a retrieval, he dragged the dead and wounded to the waiting helicopter and then returned to retrieve classified documents.
During this time he was shot in the abdomen, got up and continued the mission, was hit by more grenade fragments in the back and side.  Returning with the documents and boarding the helicopter.   Unfortunately, the helicopter pilot was killed by enemy fire and crash landed.   SSG Benavides pulled the wounded survivors from the wreckage and set up a defensive perimeter.  Encouraging the men and directing fire as needed. He called for another evacuation helicopter, renewed his call for an airstrike and supervised a vigorous defence until the air strike arrived exposing himself repeatedly to enemy fire and was shot several more times.   The second chopper arrives and SSG. Benevides loads his casualties on that chopper when an enemy Soldier coming from the blind side of the helicopter hits him in the jaw with a rifle butt breaking his jaw.  Then stabbed him with his bayonet in both arms.  SSG Benevides kills him with his knife.  As he loads the last of the wounded aboard the helicopter he sees two NVA  Soldiers coming to attack.  He grabs a rifle and shoots both of them.  After all of the wounded were loaded aboard SSG. Benevides allowed himself to be dragged aboard the helicopter.  Blood ran in rivulets out of the chopper and SSG. Benevides held his intestines in with one arm for the 20 minute flight back to Loc Ninh.  Classified as "expectant" during triage SSG. Benevides was placed with the dead and dying.  It was only much later that a doctor who was about to zip him into a body bag was spat upon by what he believed was a corpse did Benevides recieve medical attention.  He said spitting was all he could do.  It was more than enough.  During a six hour period, SSG Benevides had performed at a superhuman level and brought eight people home to live another day.  He'd also brought hojme those who wouldn't or didn't live so that their families would have closure.    
Roy P. Benevides would spend a year in hospitals just recovering from his wounds which included seven serious gunshot wounds, twenty-eight fragment wounds, a broken jaw and bayonet wounds in both arms.  Thirteen years later his exceptional valor was recognized when he was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions that day.    Two years later the Social Security Administration took his disability pension that he'd recieved since retiring from the Army with the rank of Master Sargeant.  President Ronald Reagan expressed his "personal concern" about the case and shortly thereafter the Social Security Administration restored his disability income.   MSG Benevides had two fragments still in his body one embedded in his heart and the other in his lung.  
I met him at a South Side San Antonio VFW post in 1995 he'd become an alcoholic as a result of chronic pain and his health was failing.  But he was willing to talk to me.  He was a gentle man. He passed away in 1998.  

Men of MSG. Benevides courage and inability to quit are the goals of every Special Forces Soldier his is the example against which all of our actions will be measured.    .     
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Dreaming [Sep. 9th, 2011|01:19 am]
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I think that part of why I'm grieving so much over the loss of my military career is that it was as Andie put it, "my only rival for your affections."  She meant it.  It was the cause of our ten year estrangement and the cause of our reunion.  Like many career Soldiers I told Andie that the Army would be first for twenty years and after that the rest of my life would be hers.  Were it not for breaks in active service caused by either political expediency or injury/rehabilitation, 1996 would have marked the end of my career.  It would have also marked the beginning of a new career. 
Ben would have been 26 then and had she lived Deborah would have been 8.  So, by now with Deborah at 23 we'd have been "empty nesters"  We used to talk about that far off day and what we'd do when it came.
This evening when I got home, I dropped my Class B pants at the dry cleaners, then stripped my uniform blouse, fed and walked Winston and fell into a deep slumber.   Normally, I can't recall my dreams but tonight was an exception.  I sensed a very comforting presence and thought for a moment that with the cooler weather maybe Winston had joined me on the bed.  But then it felt too soft and too long I could almost smell Andie, fresh from a shower the smell of her shampoo/conditioner on her hair.  I heard her soft voice she was talking about the rest of our lives and the things we planned,  Things like taking her to see Paris and taking the boat cruise of the Rhine and how it would be fun late in the fall to do that and to sample the wines along the way.  I smiled inwardly, as she'd become a bit of a German Rhine wine snob and we used to sample a glass or two with cheese as dinner sometimes.  She wriggled and turned to me and gave me that "you and me" smile that was half conspiratorial and very unlike her usual public smile.  I love that smile.  She talked about visiting Poland now that the wall was down and how she wanted to visit Auschwitz where almost all of her father's family that survived Bergen-Belsen had perished.  It was then that I awoke. Damn my inability to suspend disbelief, that conversation was part of one we had in the late 1980s just after the wall came down and just before we discovered she had ovarian cancer.  It had felt so good to have her in my arms again, to smell her and to hear her.  It was comfprtable and it was about the time I was almost at the point of dropping the precautions I'd taken to isolate my family, all of my family not just Andie and Ben from each other and hopefully from the various groups of terrorists and drug cartels that I'd been tasked to work against.  It was a happy time soon to be joyous that would turn into sadness.  It was the time I'd planned to spend my retirement with my wife and to have the time and money she'd saved up for us to spend on showing her the best parts of the world.   
It saddens me to think that in a few days I'll have no career to lose myself in and no wife to share my retirement with.  Maybe that's why I woke up.
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Homemade Salsa [Sep. 4th, 2011|08:24 pm]
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It started with two things, I got tired of steamed vegetables and my local grocer had a sale on peppers.  So, I made salsa.  This makes a bunch of salsa

1 X Green Bell Pepper
1 X Yellow Bell Pepper
1 X Red Bell Pepper
1 X Poblano Pepper
1 X Hatch Pepper
1-2 Habanero Peppers (may be omitted)
8-10 X Roma or other vine ripened tomato
2 X Carrots
1 bunch Cilantro
6 Green Onions
1 X Medium yellow onion.
2 X cloves Garlic
1-2 fresh tomatillos.
2-3 tblspns Lemon Juice
3 tblspns Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
Ground Cumin to taste
1/2 tblspn Chile Powder
Salt to taste


Remove the stems and seeds from the various peppers except the habanero.  Coarse chop all of the vegetables the vegetables  keeping the onions separate from the other vegetables.   Put the EVOO in a 4qt saucepan and bring to a high heat.   Saute the onions till translucent.  Then add in the peppers to saute.  bring the mixture to a medium heat and add the tomatos, tomatillos, garlic lemon juice, chile powder and ground cumin.  bring to a boil and then cover the pot and allow to simmer for 30-45 minutes.  Add in the cilantro and green onions along with salt and leave on low heat for 5 minutes while stirring.  Remove from heat and serve hot or cold.

I use this salsa in lieu of salad dressing. or as a relish on meats.   Before my diet I would sometimes mix it with rice as a meal or eat it with tortilla chips or fresh tortillas with chorizo.  It also makse a  good addition to morning chorizo and eggs breakfast burritos.
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