Sabbath

Jul. 20th, 2017 05:50 pm
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Second day at The Farm. Got here early yesterday morning, and Mom&Dad headed out around noon. Yesterday afternoon saw a shopping trip to Campbellsville - medicine and snacks for Kaiser, food and clothes that I forgot to pack for me. Had a mighty moment of dumb when getting things together yesterday morning, I guess.

This dog, y'all. Despite the heat, he's outside on the porch, but will probably whine in a half-hour or so to be let back inside so he can lie down on the floor and cool off for a while. He's a hoot, swinging between "I'm a strong proud red Doberman who doesn't need no (hu)man" and straight-up almost as needy as my housemate.

It's high summer, that's for sure. Lexington weathermen have tossed around the phrase "hottest day of the year" quite a bit. It's presently 91F, heat index 102F, down a few degrees from a few hours ago. There's a chance of daytime thunderstorms over the weekend, which should help knock air temps down a bit. But thunder will scare the dog, so, a mixed blessing.

Little things: USPS mail holding is pretty great for long getaways like this. I'd bought some promo and alt-art cards from eBay, shipped through USPS, and had a little anxiety about them arriving while I was away - housemate's shacking up with this season's Whatsername when he's not working in Lexington. Two minutes at USPS.com and all is handled.
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The remains of a tropical storm blew through here Thursday and yesterday. A couple of rounds of heavy rain, and fortunately no flooding here. Lexington got hit a little harder, with some brief road closures. All now seems well.

I learned last night, after getting home from gaming, that Stewart Wieck died on Thursday. 49 years old. Wieck was one of the founders of White Wolf, and had later founded Nocturnal. He was one of the most influential figures in this hobby/industry; universe knows his products brought me a lot of good times over the years.

Oh, hey, I won a second Sabine's TIE Fighter in the league raffle last week. Was able to pick it up last night, so at some point, I'm going to field a Rebel squad built around four TIE Fighters. It will terrible, but I expect I will have a good time with it.

I've got this little list of things to do before Monday. Since graduation, I've been about two-fifths successful in my 300 words/day writing. I'm going to get better at that. Yesterday, I picked up some little pieces for the portable layout I want to build so the (quite ridiculous) collection of locomotives and cars can get out of their boxes and get some actual running in. Need to do some cleaning in the bathroom and kitchen. And, with the expectation of it not being good at all, go see Alien: Covenant at the second-run theater down the way.

So, best get to going on this. Saturday, go!
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UofL won the Louisville Regional. Xavier played a hell of a game, and the score went back and forth all evening. UK wound up winning both of their games, just running away from NC State in the evening game. I was wrong earlier; there's one more game for the Lexington regional, and it's a UK-NC State rematch tonight. Currently in a weather delay; Lexington looks to be getting some heavy rain at the moment.

I think things with Shadow, casual as they have been, are coming to an end. A lot of complications, and while it's been fun, and I do have the time and energy (now) to keep things going, I just don't know if I still have the interest. Whatever happens, the sun will come up tomorrow.

I'm about halfway through Thrawn. It's a decent enough read, and very much a love letter to the blue-skinned Grand Admiral. Zahn's doing what he's good at - weaving multiple plots together and providing interesting characters doing interesting things. So far, there's nothing involving the nascent Rebellion.
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Sometimes you make changes. Sometimes trivial ones, sometimes significant ones.

Since I was sixteen, I've shaved with disposable razors, usually keeping the fool things around way past their best-use period. Unlike my crown hair, my facial hair is slow-growing and not especially thick, so I get away with shaving every other day, or less often on lazy weekends. So, a basic two-blade disposable is usually good for about a month, or longer if I'm not paying anything like close attention to how dull the thing's getting.

Anyway, that's a lot of plastic tossed, not recyclable, and just not environmentally friendly.

So, I'm trying out both an electric and a safety razor. The appeal of the electric is pretty straightforward - there are mornings when I just do not feel like lathering up and dragging a sharp hunk of metal across my face. The electric is relatively quick, and while I catch myself having to do a little more touch-up with it than with bladed razors, that'll improve with time.

The safety is a whole other thing. With a fresh blade, I don't even have to apply any kind of pressure. Just let it slide across my face, and voila. De-whiskered. There's also something to the ritual of mixing the soap and brushing it on and all of that. It's a direct counter to the ... convenience of the electric, and some mornings, that's the thing I want.

A disposable is likely to remain in my travel pack, though, and I used a reasonably fresh one this morning.

In other news, UofL baseball is 2-0 in the Louisville Regional. Last night's game was tied 1-1 going into late innings, when UofL's offense just opened up on Oklahoma. Seven runs in the eighth inning, three in the ninth, and the Sooners had no answer. OU plays Xavier today at 1PM, and the winner there plays UofL tonight at 7PM. If UofL wins that game, they win their regional and host a Super Regional next weekend. Still hoping for a UK-UofL series, but that would require to beat IU at 1 today, and NC State at 7 tonight. It can happen.

Sundown

May. 13th, 2017 10:05 pm
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It's done. Commencement was today, and I am a Master of Public Health.

And what a day it was. I got up plenty early to get over to the shop and get the Mariner checked out. Could have been a whole lot worse - broken flex pipe. Relatively inexpensive fix, but a few other issues were identified. These will probably be taken care of in Liberty. To their great credit, the shop here was able to get the repair done in time for me to drive to commencement, saving me the cost of a Lyft. I used one of Dad's cards to park for free at the Galt House, and got back to the arena for lineup and commencement.

Commencement was about what I expected, and I'm glad I brought something to read. My cohort was the very last group to be recognized, so we mostly made the best of it. We decided we would make slow walks across the stage, not crowd or rush each other, just enjoy our last moments as students. It worked. It was good.

Afterwards, lunch with Mom&Dad, and that was a good time. Mom's having some issues with mobility right now, so Dad went back to the hotel garage to get the Canyon and come back to the restaurant to pick her up. And this is where the trouble started.

After, oh, 20 minutes or so, I get a text from Dad - "I can't find the truck." I show Mom, we laugh, and decide that we'll both walk back to the hotel and I'll help Dad. No big hurry, we'll just mosey along at Mom's comfortable speed and when we get to the hotel, Dad will have found the truck and all will be well. This turned out to be a very good idea for Mom's sake.

Dad texted me at about 2PM. We didn't find the goddamned pickup until 3:45. Dad kept saying some combination of parking level and space, so, logically (at least to me), I tried to find it. Well, I did ... and no truck. And Dad says, "Okay, good, this where I was parked this morning before I went out to find breakfast for me and your mommy." And I'm pretty sure I heard that record-scratch sound from TV sitcoms. I managed not to yell, but did raise my voice above conversation level when I asked what. Dad figured that if he could find where the truck was, he could retrace his path to find where the truck is. As I am telling a story, you may have already guessed that this did not work. We found the truck. Pardon - I found the truck. And while I maybe overreacted, I felt myself sliding up my scale of anger. I was silent during most of this search, almost swore at Dad in frustration. Mom had started texting during the search. She was starting to get some anxiety hits. I do not blame her.

Got home a little after 4PM. Tried to take a nap before going out for Housemate's birthday to-do. Had just gotten stretched out on the couch when a serious motherfucker of a muscle cramp hit my left calf. Oh goddamn did this thing hurt. If I move my foot the wrong way, I can still feel a little bit of soreness. Okay, anyway, headed out to the restaurant. Got sick of waiting for flakes to show, so I started ordering - damned good cheeseburger, for the record. I'd had a vibe that this would happen - Diane showed up. About a half-second of eye contact, and, welp, my decision from about this time last year was vindicated like you wouldn't believe. Nothing there. Nothing. Anyway, some good talking with other party members, then off to the bar, and I waved off of that after about 20 minutes because I was just tired.

And now I'm on my couch for a few more minutes before crawling into bed. Tomorrow, I'm either binging on movies over at Village 8, or lying in bed all damn day. I have earned either one.

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Friday night, a couple of Imperial Assault missions. Saturday, a lot of nothing. Weather was crap, didn't want to go anywhere near Churchill Downs, didn't even go out that night. Sunday, I think, was more of the same. Reading, some job-hunting.

The run-up to graduation starts today. There's a graduate celebration breakfast in a couple of hours. Pick up the regalia tomorrow. Rehearsal Friday evening, and commencement on Saturday morning. I guess everything is about as settled as it can be. People know where they're supposed to be and when. Just have to download a couple of podcasts.
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Wanna know what I did last night? Got out of class around 5:30, went home, renewed my WoW subscription and while 8 months of updates downloaded and installed, stretched out on the couch and read a hundred pages or so of Ancillary Justice, watched The Flash, then went to the grocery.

And felt absolutely no guilt whatsoever about any of this. One way or another, my MPH program is over. Now we wait on the grades to post.
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One way or another, in about 29 hours, my run at a MPH will be over. Expecting grades to be posted by the end of the week. And there's the fear.

Claimed my Origins shifts. Lots of Pandemic variants for me, and some New Angeles to break the monotony. I've always pitched Crafty's pretty generous comp package when recruiting people for GenCon, but man, it must be nice to have Asmodee's money. For 24 hours on the clock over the five days of the con, I'm getting my room comped, an hourly rate, and parking and mileage reimbursed. That? That ain't bad at all.

I don't know what I'm going to do with myself after tomorrow night. Job search, of course, but I'm going to have free time. I can do nothing for a while and not feel bad about it. I can read more than 15 pages of a non-academic text at a sitting without feeling like I'm blowing things. I can renew the WoW subscription. I can ... play with trains. I can go somewhere for the weekend and not have to lug textbooks with me.

Madness.

Sweet Christmas, I can feel my shoulders loosening up.
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Yesterday's presentation went well enough, and now we are done with that mess of a class. Have to go over to K-Wing (not the New Republic bomber) to pick up a hardcopy of the report for our MPH instructor. Got a couple of pages to lift from a previous term paper and edit into a report on the ACA and Kynect and Benefind this morning before diving back into my policy brief and practicum report.

Tomorrow is Thunder Over Louisville, the kickoff to the Kentucky Derby Festival. Big airshow and fireworks display, drawing about 650,000 people to downtown and the riverfront. Weather forecast is not good - heavy rain throughout the entire day and air temperatures in the upper 50s. I can't go - will still have work to do, and though I do love that kind of weather, I prefer to watch it through the window or from a nice sheltered front porch. I've seen a few of the aircraft participating already - a F-18 flying up and down the riverfront, and a P-51 and what I think was a Tucano flying over the neighborhood.

I've been coming into SPHIS early this week, getting here around 6AM, to make use of the quiet to get work done - heck, I'm awake before 5AM, so why not make good use of the time. It's actually very nice. I can lock up a conference room and just press on. Traffic is, unsurprisingly, very light and I get here before the full morning shifts at UofL hospital come in, so parking is easy to find. I've seen the ending minutes of some underground utility work on the corner, more ambulance runs than I expected, and other little moments. I'm going to miss this place, I think.

I'm looking at getting back into painting miniatures when I have free time again (which is in less than a week holy shit this is really happening). At the very least, I want my Armada squadrons to be more easily identified in the case of mirror matches, and, well, the red Imperial Guard paint job on TIE Interceptors looks very good. As I finally gave in and started playing Imperial Assault, I've got those figures to work on.

Nerdery.
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Three years ago today, I left my job at the LHL after 14-and-a-half years there. I survived numerous mass layoffs, a couple of near-firings, changes in assignments and teams, and towards the end, constant attacks on my mental health. I don't miss it. I miss a lot of the people.

Since then, I've faced trials of wholly different kinds. As noted in a previous LJ entry, I've fallen, but in almost every case, I've fallen forward, and I'm okay with that. I'm facing some uncertainty in the job hunt, as I don't really want to leave Louisville, and if I stay in Kentucky, it will almost have to be here or back to Lexington. One of my professors cracked a good-natured joke about my career plans within earshot of the dean yesterday morning, leading to an informal chat and some suggestions from him. My plans have changed - I don't know that I want to work in rural healthcare anymore, having a lot more interest in drug treatment and policy and emergency preparedness.

First, though, finishing the program. Last night was the final presentation of the somewhat useless Integration class; final exam next week, and that sucker is done. Some discussion tonight in Social Determinants and a short group paper, and it's done. Paper and policy dev for the Policy course, presentation next week. Two presentations in evaluation, one this week and one off-site next, and that's done. And my practicum presentation on the 24th, and that's it. Assuming I hit the markers, I'll be a freshly-minted Master of Public Health.

I, and my classmates, have been dissatisfied with this final semester of our program. Classes seemed haphazardly put together, and the crossover course with the nurse practitioners has turned out to be a smoking mess. Our evaluations have not been kind. It's only cathartic for us; hopefully, they'll help the future students.
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Conglomeration 2017 has come and gone. I spent most of my time at the con in the gaming area, teaching X-Wing and Imperial Assault. Someone ran a Spycraft 1 game! Lots of usual-suspects tables - D&D, Pathfinder, Call of Cthulhu. I had marked down three games to try to get into, but wound up aborting out of all of them. One D&D game after recognizing the GM's name, and another D&D game and a Star Wars 1st Edition game because I really needed to be home and working on projects.

I wound up working all night, finishing things around 7AM. I didn't need to, but once I was writing, I just didn't feel like stopping. I napped for a few hours before snapping back awake and doing some laundry; starting to flag now, so back to bed before I mow the lawn, a task I'd prefer to be wide awake for.
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Thursday (3/9), was at LMPHW, doing some inventory checking (did you know that N95 masks have expiration dates?), when Matt R comes tear-assing into the cube farm, booming out that we need to evacuate the building right now. So, we do, and Gray Street fills up with fire trucks. Electrical fire in the basement, and while LFR is able to contain it pretty quickly, it was in the building's main junction box, so the building had to be, I am not fooling here, shut down and restarted. Which would take most of the afternoon. So we went home.

New player in my Star Wars game, and may take the place of one that has just about worn out his welcome. Some X-Wing and Armada time this weekend. Late night out last night, which was not a good idea.
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This has been a strange day. Something in the air, I don't know. Walking from class to my car, I saw all three of the downtown hospitals' helicopters coming back in, so somewhere, somebody's afternoon had just gone to shit. Midway through the drive home, I saw seven or so LMPD cruisers filling up the parking lot of a garage on Bardstown and a few people in the hands-on-head position and/or cuffed. And, at the Taylorsville/Dutchmans intersection, a LG&E crew was replacing a broken utility pole. So, when I got home, I decided, nope, not going back out for anything short of a real emergency.

So far, no emergency.

A statewide tornado drill was scheduled for tomorrow, with some MRC/OEP involvement. This has been postponed until later in the week, because there's a good chance of actual severe weather in the morning. Kentucky, y'all.life

Mulholland

Feb. 26th, 2017 09:10 am
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Started trying to catch up on movies last week - unrelated to the Oscars tonight. Got out of class Thursday night and treated myself to John Wick Chapter 2. It's a superlative action pic, an excellent sequel to one of the best in the genre. Goes deeper into the underworld these characters inhabit, their rules and resources. After watching Hell on Wheels, I shouldn't have been surprised by Common's performance, but I was, and pleasantly so.

Yesterday was The LEGO Batman Movie, and it was an utter delight. Nonstop running gags, pop culture nods, Batman rapping and/or singing about how great it is to be Batman. Very good voice casting, and an appropriately sweet ending.

And on this bright Sunday morning, I'm watching Mulhulland Drive, because it seems I want to get the weird underway as quickly as possible today.

I saw both movies at Baxter Avenue Theater, and should probably make a habit of seeing more movies there. It's on my way home from school, so makes for a good way to wind down after the classweek ends. It's not part of the ginormous Cinemark or Regal or other chains, and, well, it's got its own cool little vibe. Also, extremely comfortable recliners. Like the Kentucky back in Lexington, Baxter regularly runs midnight shows, and in March, the theme is the Fash Bash - three movies involving lots of punching Nazis: Raiders of the Lost Ark, Saving Private Ryan, and Inglorious Basterds. Don't know that I could handle SPR at midnight, but Raiders ... just try keeping me away.

Also in media, I'm rewatching Heroes Season 1, and remembering that this was a pretty darn good show, with some occasional missteps. And then the later seasons happened and oh no what is this.

Got in the second round of the Corellian Conflict Friday night. Lost a close match, acquitting myself better this time than in the first round. My fleet's reduced to about 90 percent of it's starting capability right now, having lost one of my capital ships. Bumped up the fighter complement to try to compensate.
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I decided to be a grownup and cancelled both this weekend's Shadowrun Anarchy game and going to CincyCon next weekend. I just can't afford to give up that much time.

IATA: LOU

Feb. 19th, 2017 10:24 pm
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I live across a street from an airport, Bowman Field. It's old, and serves mostly as the city's civil aviation field, overflow from Louisville International, and the base for unconventional aircraft, like advertising and television blimps and the hot-air balloon races around Derby. I see some nifty planes there every now and again.

Tonight, there's a fog rising in the city, and driving back from an evening errand, all the runway lights and strobes and beacons were diffusing through the mist, and it was so beautiful and otherworldly. I wonder what I'd hear or see if I had the right machines - or was the right machine - to receive the airport's radio beacons.
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Relevant to the previous entry's overdose discussion, Thursday afternoon, I saw a LFD engine and two LMPD cruisers roll onto Gray Street and stop in front of LMPHW. The engine crew dismounted, no turnout gear, and to my shame, I thought, "Just an OD case, then, no big deal." This is now normal, I guess. And this is not right.

Wednesday was my 45th birthday. Nothing exciting, really. Had a short meeting at Shawnee Academy for one of my classes.

Friday, time at LMPHW, planning for ICS instruction in May, then a couple hours in the Cave to close out the day. A staffer in OEP is retiring in a couple of weeks, and my mentor suggested I apply for her position. I'm applying for a position with CHE, too, so hopefully things will start moving on that front. After practicum time, I went to Crescent Springs for Erin's birthday dinner. Met her boyfriend (who is a heck of a good guy) and other folks. Pretty good evening.

Including last night's round trip, I think I can count the number of times I've driven I-71 between I-265 and the I-75 merger on two hands. I've never had much need to travel that way, and that stretch of Interstate is strange to me. Lots of grades and curves, and there are markers for the Carrollton bus crash way back when. It's a little bit spooky. And I'll be making the drive again a couple of weeks, when I head to CincyCon.

Going out with Mom&Dad in a little while, and probably with some friends tonight. And if they bail, I can just as easily go to a movie on my own. Have to schedule my Corellian Conflict game sometime. Prep for SYR and my regular SW game. Do homework, research, search for jobs. Keeping moving.

81 days.

Chapters

Feb. 14th, 2017 09:32 am
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I've been watching the impending disaster in Oroville, California. A spillway connected to a dam upstream of the city is failing, and there's a very real danger of a catastrophic flood. Something like 190,000 people have been evacuated from the area. Scary stuff, and it brings the Buffalo Creek flood to mind.

This is the 80th anniversary of the great flood that submerged much of Louisville for weeks. We've had some talks about it over at OEP, with a brief review of the current defenses against another flood. Mostly, the floodwall gates were tested and the pumping stations briefly fired up.

This is a reminder to me to rebuild my emergency kit. Add a power source of some kind,

There's another, more imminent, threat on our minds right now. Well, besides Cheeto Benito, of course. In my last entry, I mentioned our MRC training night. We had a presenter from the Kentucky Harm Reduction Council teach us about Naloxone, an emergency treatment for heroin or other opioid overdose. In a thirty-hour span that included our training session, Louisville's emergency services responded to 52 overdoses. FIFTY-TWO. There were two fatalities, one in a fast-food restaurant's restroom, one at Hurstbourne and Wesport. Actually there - three users in a vehicle. Driver nodded off, rolled into another vehicle at an intersection. One passenger died right there in the first vehicle, and another passenger very briefly ran when LMPD arrived. I saw an OD patient carried out of LMPHW yesterday afternoon when I was on my way in for a meeting. This is scary.

Night Skies

Feb. 6th, 2017 08:33 am
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This is my birth month. I say that being a Februrary baby is why I'm comfortable in the cold, why I can't handle heat, things like that. Maybe true, in part, more than likely it's a side-effect of my excess weight, but even thin T7 liked the cold.

There's a melancholia to February, especially the nights. Sunrise is getting earlier and sunset later, and there is the promise of spring coming next month, but that promise rarely brings comfort against the cold and the dark and the solitude, even self-selected solitude.

February has seen passings - deaths - and while I don't think that there are any more in February than in any other month, the losses in this month have hit me harder. The first significant one was my great-uncle Paul, who died a few days after I turned 18. Paul was kind and a talented woodworker, and had a singular sense of humor. He lived in Indianapolis for many years, working in one of the city's auto plants, and he became quite the fan of open-wheel racing. Before the Indy 500 became the circus it is now, Uncle Paul could stake out a spot in the infield and watch the race. As the infield got more crowded, his view became poorer, so he sought to fix this. He built a platform on a frame that could fit into the bed of his pickup, and could be hand-cranked up to about ten feet above the cab height. Big enough for two lounge chairs and a golf umbrella and a cooler.

Paul's death came as a shock. He died on the 17th, and I caught sight of him in his hospital bed just a couple of hours before he died. He was sitting bolt-upright and gasping for every breath. I'd never seen him without his thick old-man glasses, and his face looked shrunken and so tiny. Just a week before, I'd had to help rescue his car. He had left it at my grandparents' overnight, parking in the yard for whatever reason, and a heavy rain had soaked the ground and his car sank enough that he couldn't get traction, so, my recently-acquired F-150 was called in to help. We were laughing and hooking up chains and towing his Monte Carlo out of ruts, and just a few days later, he was gone, man.

There were others. Most important, of course - my grandmother, in 2009. Mamaw and I were always close, and family legend says that I was her favorite grandchild. When my grandfather died in late '99, we expected Mamaw to follow him quickly. But, fortuneately, she didn't. Around 2004, she was diagnosed with an aortic aneurysm, and a sizable one, and her doctors told us to prepare for her death, 6-9 months at the outside. I grieved then and set up my emotional bracing. Six months passed, and then nine, and then a year, and while she was weaker, she was still alive and cooking and cleaning house and working in her garden. I started treating every visit with her after that as a gift, and when she was in her last days, I was ... okay. We had a few last conversations, and she died on the 17th.

I had some amazing support during her passing - Camille and Clayton and Erin and Joanne - and that shored me up, and let me be strong enough to be Dad's rock when he needed it.

T.S. Eliot wrote that April is the cruelest month. I don't know about that, April's just kinda there for me. But February and I, we're complicated. I don't know what February is the -est, but it's something, alright.
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Got clobbered in my first Armada tournament on Saturday. Got in a few good licks, didn't totally embarass myself, but lost both games. Learned some things and got a nice pack of prizes (one advantage to small turnouts, I guess), and got to clown around with some friends.

While I was moving little plastic spaceships around a table, something like 1% of the nation's population took part in rallies and marches for civil rights and good government and against Cheeto Benito. Hopeful that this anger and commitment holds on until the midterm elections and we can get better defenses against the administration.

Registered for Cincycon this morning. No GenCon this year, so getting in some smaller events instead.

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