Sunday, 17 July 2016

07:48 – An email from a reader prompts me to suggest an interesting thought experiment. Assume that you are sitting reading this blog one morning when a catastrophic event occurs. All of your utilities fail–electricity, municipal water and sewer, natural gas, landline and cell phones, TV and Internet service–and there’s no prospect that any will be restored anytime soon. It’s the worst possible time of year for this to happen. You’re just entering the cold days of winter (or the scorching days of summer, depending on which type of extreme temperatures is the threat where you live). The stores are closed, if not looted and burned down. Gas stations are no longer operating. Your garden is dormant, so you won’t be getting any food from it for months to come. Assuming for the sake of simplicity that your family are all at home, that there aren’t any bands of roving looters, that neither you or any of your family have a sudden medical emergency, and that a bunch of family or friends don’t show up at your door expecting you to share your supplies with them, how long could you survive in your own home without any inputs whatsoever?

You’re limited to whatever you actually have at home at this moment. No running to the store for groceries or to the gas station for fuel. If you’re on well water, you’re limited to whatever water you have stored, can pump without outside electricity, or can capture from your downspouts. If you’re on utility water, it’s just what you have stored plus whatever rainwater you can capture. The only food you have or can get is whatever is on your pantry shelves. If you’re dependent on prescription medication, you’re limited to whatever you have in the house right now. So–no cheating here–how long could you survive without any outside inputs? What is the limiting resource?

I suspect that most US citizens would be able to make it on their own for three or four days, if that. Most of the readers of this blog would probably be able to make it for anything from a couple of weeks to a month. Some longer.

I sat down and tried to think things through for Barbara, Colin, and me. For us, my answer is one year plus, although things would become increasingly uncomfortable as time passed. At the moment, our most pressing shortage is of toilet paper, which is why I just added a couple of 36-roll packs to our Costco list. Of course, that’s not really critical because I have plenty of personal cloths for us, and plenty of bleach to sterilize them between uses. Yucky, but not critical. Another thing we lack is firewood. We have about half a cord sitting out back. But if it came to it, we wouldn’t need to heat the whole house. The woodstove is in the unfinished area of the basement, and half a cord of wood would keep that area reasonably warm for a long, long time, as well as providing a flat hot surface for cooking. And there’s lots of wood around us, including probably 20 cords or more of growing trees on our southern property line. Green wood isn’t great for heating, but it’ll do in a pinch.

So, where are you in terms of personal readiness level? What’s your limiting resource? And, whatever your answer, are you comfortable with that amount of time? If not, are you going to do something about it, or are you just going to keep thinking about doing something? Honest answers, please.



57 thoughts on “Sunday, 17 July 2016”

  1. I’ve got enough stuff for about two months, possibly three if I’m careful.

  2. That’s everything you need, including an alternative to your toilets? If so, you’re probably already in the 99.9th percentile.

  3. One to two months. Limiting factors: Haven’t ordered firewood yet; not enough food; wife’s meds would run out.

    This is a good exercise, if only in our heads or on a piece of paper; I have to step up on resolving these three issues, at least. We’d planned to order the firewood real soon anyway, but I’ve got to start piling up food storage again and figure out with Mrs. OFD what we can do about her meds. And she’s not real motivated yet. Her eyes are a regular issue, too; often irritated by the airplane flights and travel and air in other places, and she wears contacts and also probably needs surgery. Her medical stuff is further exacerbated by the insurance disaster up here and she can’t even enroll until January.

    Pahtly sunny so fah here; out to mow and weed-whack; Mrs. OFD should be enroute right now from South Carolina and ETA of around 2 or 3 this afternoon in the great Green Mountain State.

  4. Couple days at most. Heating is the limiting factor — this house can’t be heated without electricity and natural gas.* In bare survival mode, setting up the tent in an indoor room and huddling in there with all of the blankets and sleeping bags, we could probably barely survive the worst of any likely winter chill, but I suspect that certain members of the household who aren’t me would just lie down and die rather than live in bare survival mode.

    On the plus side, my dad’s house is primarily heated by a woodstove, and he’s not too far away and he’d take us in … especially if I loaded up the van with food and other supplies so we’re not freeloading.

    * A fireplace or other emergency heater was one of the things I insisted on when my wife was going forward with having this house built while I was out of state. So we have a fireplace. Except it’s a natural gas fireplace which shuts off “for safety” if the electricity cuts out. The furnace and hot water heater and even the stupid fireplace are all super-high-efficiency, so the exhaust vents are PVC. To put in a wood stove I’d have to knock a hole in a wall or at least take out a window.

  5. @OFD

    Food should be the easiest and cheapest to deal with. Just run to the supermarket, Walmart, or whatever, and buy 100 pounds of rice, flour, oats, or pasta. That’ll cost you $25 to $75, depending on what specifically you buy. Add 10 or 20 pounds of sugar ($5 or $10), a few pounds of iodized salt ($1 or $2), a couple 3-liter bottles of oil ($10 to $30, depending on what type you buy), and 20 pounds of beans (maybe $15 or $20). All by itself, for $125 or so, that stuff provides full nutrition (if not particularly tasty nutrition) for one person for maybe three months.

    All of that stuff will keep a reasonably long time in its original packaging, until you get time to repackage it.

  6. @SteveF

    If I were you, I’d make my top priorities a catalytic propane heater, an adapter hose for connecting it to a bulk propane cannister, and a couple of 20-pound cannisters of propane. If you get a heater that has a low option of 3,000 BTU/hr or so, you can run it 24 hours a day on a full 20-pound cannister for about a week, and 3,000 BTU/hr is enough to keep a typical small room livable.

  7. Wottah, of course. There is a city water reservoir about two block from the house. If I couldn’t tap into that, or leave, one week tops. I’ve gone back and forth between tons of bottled or get some 55 gal drums. They’d be much easier to move when I *eventually* leave Vegas. lol! right. MrsAtoz is not on board.

  8. @MrAtoz

    Water is always the hardest for people, like you, who live in a desert. And it’s not just a problem for cooking and drinking. How do you flush your toilets? In practical terms, you don’t, which means you’ll need a bedside commode and some of those Thank-You bags that Costco sells in boxes of 1,000. That, and plenty of chlorine bleach or pool shock.

    I’m not a big fan of 55-gallon drums. They’re expensive and weigh close to 500 pounds when full. Bottled water is probably your best option. Either that, or buy a shitload of ziplock gallon bags, fill them with tap water, and heat-seal them with a clothes iron. In your dry, hot environment, those bags will eventually empty out as water evaporates through the polyethylene bag.

    I think the real answer for people who live in desert areas is simple: move elsewhere.

  9. I an pretty sure we could go 4 months without too much hardship. Since Costco had TP in this month’s flier I’m stocked up.

    if I can get to my off-site but nearby storage, I’m confident in six months, probably longer. The big question is if we get rain. If not, I’m looking for a neighbor’s pool. If so, I’ve got the means to capture and store and treat it.

    We’re not dependent on meds but they do make the pain manageable and control the allergies.

    Dog food will run out, but he can eat what we eat.his value as companion to the kids and early warning system (as long add the threat is a cat ) is worth a few calories. One advantage of a small dog, less food.

    Ebola was really the turning point for me. That was an all too real reason why you might be confined to your house for 30-45 days. In a widespread outbreak there won’t be any charities dropping off food. I’ve got good PPEs for preventing exposure if I had to go out.

    We often go for a couple weeks without going to a store, which is a mini practice…we could go longer but we like fresh veg and milk. The first month or two wouldn’t even change much, except for dairy.

    ‘Course it will be freaking HOT.

    Nick

  10. Fuel for cooking and heating water. Forgot that. Got 4-6 months for cooking, less when hygiene and laundry are added in. Gotta keep kitchen clean, gotta keep bodies clean. Don’t want to be dealing with food borne illness too.

    Nick

  11. some of those Thank-You bags

    Bleh. I’d say a full Thank-you bag automatically becomes a No-thank-you bag.

    Re the catalytic propane heater, thanks for the advice. I’m not sure how I missed their existence. When I looked into emergency heating solutions, everything I saw was boldly labeled “use only with proper ventilation” and such. Probably my searches had keywords that skewed the results.

  12. “Food should be the easiest and cheapest to deal with.”

    Well on the way with those food staples, including rice, beans and pasta. Gotta load up on salt, sugar, flour and oil. Also have canned goods, including tuna, tomatoes and tomato sauce, vegetables, and fruit, but need to build those up.

    “I think the real answer for people who live in desert areas is simple: move elsewhere.”

    It’s artificial living; dependent on electricity to run A-C, wells, elevators, lights, etc. Might as well be in a Mars colony. Same with the high-rises and apartment complexes in the cities. Then there are the areas with known massive earthquake faults; coastal sites vulnerable to just winter storms off the ocean, let alone hurricanes; tornado alleys; canyons with regular landslides and mudslides; and the areas that seem to always be experiencing huge wildfires.

    But we’re ALL pretty dependent these days on electricity, running on fossil fuel, generated by various sorts of power plants owned by giant corporations in cahoots with the State and sometimes foreign countries. And most of us are dependent on the constant three-days-just-in-time deliveries of almost all our goods, via trains, planes and trucks, also running on fossil fuel owned by, etc., etc.

  13. My only real choice at this is: move to the Leavenworth homestead. Plenty of aqua, land to grow stuff, trees to burn, etc. Maybe I’ll hit a yuuuuge! jackpot and build a zombie concrete house with a sub basement thorium reactor. I’ll build it in Pahrump where many houses have wells. Next to the Bunny Ranch if MrsAtoz kicks. lol!

  14. Three cops shot dead in Baton Rouge. I wonder who the shooter is? MSM/SJW/FSA/BLM hoping for WHITEY!

  15. “I wonder who the shooter is?”

    Word is just now breaking that the shooters are Roman Catholic Eagle Scouts and a massive nationwide APB has just been issued. Stay tuned, sportsfans!

    I can hear it now, from the usual suspects:

    “We gotta get these dangerous guns off the street.”

    “If there weren’t so many guns out there, stuff like this wouldn’t happen.”

    “We need to check our privilege, examine ourselves and our thoughts; we’re responsible for this.”

    Etc., etc.

    Meanwhile Murkan twenty- and thirty-something white derps are walking around the ‘hood here all hours of the day and night now glued to their smartypants phones. I can see the glow from them at night and hear little teeny voices. I’m assuming this is the latest fad, the Pokemon Go idiocy? What was the name of that flick again…”Idiocracy”? Yeah. We’re there!

    And this is in a little lakeside village in rural northern Vermont; what must it be like down in Megalopolis??? Yikes. We are so fucked.

    At this rate we’ll have big and tall Nazi musloids (progeny of musloid rapes of German and French women at will, no complaints or dissent countenanced by the governments and jail for anyone who bitches about it, instantly) arriving here and bitch-slapping and bullying Murkan metrosexuals and hipsters. Like they do now Over There. While us knuckledragging fascist cis-hetero breeder Christers will have been shot down like dawgs by our own gummint police and troops.

  16. Seriously, we’re looking at either black flag capers and/or the beginnings of low-intensity guerrilla warfare conducted by ad-hoc groups around the country, so far in southern urban settings.

    Tool up, sportsfans, and get squared away and comfy with those toolz.

  17. So several hours have elapsed and still no word from Obuttwad, he must be out playing golf.

    Obuttwad needs to stand in front of his teleprompters and say this: “Hey nnniiigggaaasss, cut it out, yyyooouuu makin’ your hhhooommme boy look bbbaaaddd” in his usual stuttering fashion when he is not telling the truth.

  18. But lying to infidels is perfectly acceptable if it is in support of jihad…. So why does he find it so hard to do convincingly?

    He’s smoothest when telling us his plans…fundamentally transform America…need a federal produce fierce as big as the army, etc

    Nick

  19. Seems unlikely. It was probably a cis-male, hetero, white, Christian, gun-owning, NASCAR-watching bitter clinger who identifies as black. Either that or it was the pervasive culture of racism which made onlookers see the alleged misdeed-doer as black. Or maybe it was Anthropogenic Global Climate Disruption, which is REAL you know.

  20. I believe Mr. SteveF is correct; not only that, but Townhall is a known hotbed of reactionary extreme reichwingnut fascist totalitarian homophobes, nativists, xenophobes and racists, so we must automatically discount any of their rabid and venomous utterances.

    Plus AGCD, which is mos def really real, knowwhuhImsane?

  21. lol! The murderer has a video on Youtube ranting against “crackers.” If Mr. OFD had a video on Youtube ranting against *ni**ahs”, he’d get a mag emptied into his ass. By Obola’s goon squad from the Dept. of Education. lol! Hyperliterates must die!

    And big libturd Shepard Smith on his Fox show chiding Gov. Jindal for saying “all lives matter.” Only Black lives matter, ni**ah! Pretty bad when Fox starts the SJW thing. Next he’ll be ranting about how cops only kill Blacks. Fox should fire Smith.

  22. That piece of black shit was also a member of the nation of islam.

    Another “honorably” discharged Marine.

    There should be no doubt that the military is rapidly becoming a tool of obuttwad.

    Obuttwad was fashionably 30-minutes+ late (he got stuck in a sand trap on the 17th hole) for his lecture to us uncivilized people haters/blm deniers. The usual clueless lecture by a clueless black moooslem traitor.

    The number of Black Police Officers complaining about obuttwad increases daily, but don’t look for their stories in the left-wing-lame-stream-media. Fox News has been brave enough to broadcast a couple and The Blaze has had a couple of articles.

    This could be our final week of freedom. Been fun while it lasted.

  23. You know this won’t go on much longer. Either the cops are going to quit en masse or they are going to start preemptively shooting every black man who looks suspicious on the street. And I doubt that the majority of the cops are going to quit.

    BTW, what jury will convict a cop now for shooting a black man ? The acceptable defense just become, “he looked dangerous to me”.

    There are 800,000 police officers in the USA. The vast majority of them are good men and women. They do not take murder lightly.

    And if the cops go home, the National Guard comes out. They too will shoot anyone that crosses them.

  24. I spent most of the weekend starting to clean out my late mother’s house. Not fun, but found enough stuff to make it worthwhile. I need to sit down and make a list of the prepping stuff I want, and then start buying it. If I don’t have everything on the list by the time the house sells, then I’ll buy it with the proceeds of the sale.

  25. At the moment, our most pressing shortage is of toilet paper, which is why I just added a couple of 36-roll packs to our Costco list.

    Yup, several hundred toilet paper rolls in the garage stash is a good thing. And a thousand kitchen trash bags with drawstrings, $14 for 200 at Sams or Costco. Do you have a toilet chair for the garage so you do not have to worry about flushing or building an outhouse immediately ?
    https://www.amazon.com/Drive-Medical-Folding-Bedside-Commode/dp/B001HP7AQE/

  26. Word is getting around that there are a lot of active-duty troops who belong to various organizations and gangs that take priority for them over the U.S. and their oaths of enlistment. This does not bode any good. And again, just as in the police forces, good and decent and honorable NCOs and officers were/are GTFO or being forced out, and this is also happening deliberately and with malice aforethought.

    If the shootings keep on, and it becomes more evident that we’re experiencing a form of 21st-Century guerrilla warfare (I specify this century for the tech angles, with social media, flash mobs, internet, etc.), things could get very sporty very quickly.

    Again, tool up, mes amis, and get good with the tools. Especially the main one, Situational Awareness. As for comms, listening is way more important than yakking. Tune in for both your local AO and for national and international bumf.

  27. “That’s everything you need, including an alternative to your toilets? If so, you’re probably already in the 99.9th percentile.”

    Cut the bottom out of a five-gallon bucket. Get one of the toilet seats
    that fits that bucket (not all fit), dig a small deep hole (not too deep;
    stay in live soil for good processing). Make sure you stabilize the
    bucket over the hole and be careful about the bucket folding under
    you. Dig the hole(s) in advance of urgent need!
    Bucket can still be used (very carefully) with a bag, if necessary.

    {Repeat of what I just sent on yesterday’s page.}

  28. One of my friends, a salesperson for a building products company, was in Baton Rouge last week. One of his customers was explaining to him how Sandra Bland was shot and killed by the Texas State Trooper instead of arresting her and taking her to jail as reported in the media. His customer went on to explain how they posed her on the height board on the floor and glued her eyes open for the mug shot. Totally off the wall internet conspiracy. But, if the BLM movement believes this crap, then no wonder they are going nuts.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_Sandra_Bland

  29. We may be changing the name of that song “Stormy Monday” to “Sporty Monday.”

    Latest bumf is that several thousand protesters are being bused into the center of Cleveland with three to four times that number driving themselves in; and the mob leadership says there is no way the authorities are gonna be prepared for “our type of crowd.” Among which, presumably, will be New Black Panthers doing that open carry thang.

    Rest assured, if any chit does blow up, Cankles, Obola and the MSM will blame it all on Trump and the Repubs. And blowback begets blowback as we shall see again.

    Or maybe everyone will be calm and peaceful and there will be no problems, and unicorns will frolic in the wildflower meadows with sugar plum fairies and Pokemon derps under marmalade skies with tangerine trees and rainbows.

  30. My only limitation for 90 days is more than 30 days of meds. I’ve been trying to transition to 90 day meds but that is not very easy for some weird reason.

    Getting past 90 days is tough as storage requirements rise radically. Of course, by then one should be ready to purify water from any pond handy to you. Food means a lot space taken up by containers and I am short space.

  31. Back to the survival discussion: we are un-prepped, but I think we could last a month or maybe two. It wouldn’t be much fun. Weather is only a comfort factor at my house (yearly extremes are about 29 F to 95 F, and those extremes last no more than a week, and only hold for a few hours each day), so water is the main limiter. We can get about forty gallons from the water heater, maybe a few from the water softener, and another three or four from the toilets (but this can only be counted if we know we are facing the long haul within the first few hours). We can get a few more gallons from miscellaneous bottled water and bottled drinks that we have around. We can get about a hundred gallons from our water bed, although it has some kind of sterilant in it. I’m not sure whether to count it or not. We can easily dig a pit toilet, and have plenty of grass, soft leaves, and old magazines, so we wouldn’t waste any water on defecation. We would be on starvation rations in regard to food, but we each have a couple of dozen pounds of excess body fat to supplement the canned goods, grain, and frozen food we have on hand. We have a bunch of vitamin supplements that might help stretch the food. We have plenty of wood and a few gallons of propane to cook with. We could make it if we knew that was an end point where new supplies would become available. Without that knowledge, it would be difficult to muster the discipline needed to last that long. We might need some TLC or even serous medical attention as part of any rescue after our time on our own.

  32. Another issue is just how much propane to keep on hand for my Coleman stove and BBQ grill. I have a dozen of the small propane bottles and three of the 20 lb canisters, all unopened. I suspect that I really need a dozen of the 20 lb containers.

  33. David Hardy wrote:

    “Or maybe everyone will be calm and peaceful and there will be no problems, and unicorns will frolic in the wildflower meadows with sugar plum fairies and Pokemon derps under marmalade skies with tangerine trees and rainbows.”

    You’d have made a great poet… 🙂

  34. RBT wrote:

    “That’s everything you need, including an alternative to your toilets? If so, you’re probably already in the 99.9th percentile.”

    I haven’t thought much about the dunnie stuff…

    I might start accumulating tap water. I already have about 16 slabs of shop bottled water, but I might start on water for “flushing”, etc. I take it plastic containers that have held milk aren’t a good choice for storing anything. How about clear soda and juice containers?

  35. Probably 2-3 weeks. Practical things like toilet paper might be short. Otherwise water, though we live where there is normally plenty of rainfall. Food is haphazard – not much in the way of organized reserves, but we normally have a fair bit. That’s where I need to follow Nick’s idea with the internal “store”, as a way of getting my wife interested…

    @SteveF: PVC chimneys? What kind of building code allows it for a chimney, even for efficient furnaces and fireplaces? I mean, furnaces break and do weird things. A couple of years ago, our heater somehow burned a hole in its heating chamber, so that the burner was shooting a jet of flame straight into the chimney. Even though the chimney pipe was metal, we had to replace it. I don’t want to think about a plastic pipe…

  36. PVC chimneys? What kind of building code allows it for a chimney

    The kind where industry groups write the building code.

  37. “Food means a lot space taken up by containers and I am short space.”

    Dry and canned foods really don’t take up much storage space. You can fit a year’s supply for two people on one of those 5-shelf 2×5′ shelving units from Home Depot. Call it 70 cubic feet. A 2,500 square foot house has about 20,000 cubic feet, so you’d be looking at using about 0.35% of the total cubic. You can probably find that much in the backs of closets, under beds, and so on.

  38. Can I buy an “of” or two ?

    I do have on off site storage food storage now that is air conditioned. It is four miles away from the house. I am considering taking all of my current canned goods there and replacing them with new to double my stash.

  39. Why not put new stuff in the offsite storage area? Saves double handling.

    Have you told the old lady yet?

  40. The new 90% efficient furnaces drop the exit air temperature below the vapor pressure of water and liquid water forms. Plus if there is any H2S in the natural gas, and there is usually 0.5 ppm, the liquid is very acidic. So is the flue gas and that temperature is less than 200 F. So, the flue gas needs to go out through a not metal. PVC works fine.

  41. Hey, she is only 58, not old. Much smarter than me too with her masters that I paid for and did the research for. And yes, she knows about the offsite storage. She suggested it and the location. Free, since we own it.

  42. lynn, thanks for the info on high-eff furnaces. I didn’t know about the acidic gases thing. It’s one of those bazillion things I could have looked into if it had occurred to me that there was anything to look into, but it never did.

  43. Why not put new stuff in the offsite storage area? Saves double handling.

    The wife won’t use any canned goods past their expiration date. If it is a “best by” date instead, she will use that until it noticeably goes bad.

    Now if we are desperate, or need canned goods to give out to neighbors in a crisis, I think those out of date canned goods look mighty good.

  44. What canned goods do you have with an expiration date rather than a best-by? I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a can with an expiration date on it.

  45. What canned goods do you have with an expiration date rather than a best-by? I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a can with an expiration date on it.

    OK, nothing in the offsite storage has a expiration date on it. They are all best by dates.

  46. My wife has a strong instinct to treat sell by dates and best buy dates as discard by dates. I may be stretching the truth a bit, but not by much.

  47. Even a lot of stuff that does have “expiration” dates, like dry drugs, is good for years or decades after it “expires”. The government did rigorous scientific testing on their drug stockpiles because they were wasting so much money discarding “expired” drugs. They learned that typical antibiotic powders, for example, lost very little potency after 10 or even 20 years at ROOM TEMPERATURE. Frozen, they’re good for maybe four times that long.

  48. Your wife is not alone. The food industry has spent a ton of money convincing people to throw out perfectly good food and buy more.

  49. lynn, thanks for the info on high-eff furnaces. I didn’t know about the acidic gases thing. It’s one of those bazillion things I could have looked into if it had occurred to me that there was anything to look into, but it never did.

    You are welcome. I are an engineer and have actually worked with some of this stuff. We used to oversize the air preheaters by 50% on our steam boilers at TXU which would drive the boiler efficiency from 85% to 90+%. We would put in ten rows of air preheater baskets instead of seven rows. I actually tested a natural gas steam boiler once that was running 91% after the annual overhaul. That did not last long, just a couple of months.

    The cost was that we had to replace the outer three to five rows of our metal air preheater baskets every year due to liquid H2O / SO2 damage. The baskets looked like they had melted and stunk to high heaven.
    CH4 + H2S + O2 -> CO2 + H2O + SO2

  50. Last week the wife was about to toss a small yogurt out that was about 10 weeks past it’s date. I opened it, looked at it, sniffed it and began to eat it. I told her if I drop dead later you can tell me I told you so.

  51. Mine also tosses stuff at the slightest pretext in regard to dates and/or her sniff test, and she has a wicked acute sense of smell. I tell her to just scrape the green stuff off and I get “Ewwwwwwww!”

  52. WRT to yogurt: I was taught that you absolutely do not eat yogurt if their is any pink liquid/slim/fuzz on top and if the yogurt has started to curdle, i.e. look like cottage cheese, don’t eat it.

    @RBT may have some more specific advice/corrections/additions, but those were the two main “do not eat” warning signs I learned at the LDS yogurt making class I took many years ago. I have also taken LDS classes on canning (reinforced what my grandmothers taught me), bread making, and sourdough.

    When the kids were little we made all of our own yogurt, may flavors and types. IMHO it was the best stuff ever and kept forever, if we ever let it.

  53. Nor would I have eaten it with any of those conditions. This was an unopened individual serving with strawberry (that’s extra sugar). It was delicious and fine. I did grab my throat and start gagging as I placed the empty container in the trash but she ignored me.

  54. I did grab my throat and start gagging as I placed the empty container in the trash but she ignored me.

    lol! That’s a good way to get a chancla alongside the head.

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