Category Archives: Writing/Blogging

A Rant About Physics and Road Bullies

(This was an article I wrote for OdysseyOnLine in 2016)

Yes, I am angry-pissed off-frustrated-annoyed-fuming-livid and just plain mad. I am sick and tired of road bullies terrorizing others. Let me explain.

 

I am not going to pretend to understand math and science. Specifically, I am not going to pretend that I can explain physics. What I do know is that physics is a science using math to explain things like motion, gravity, space, and all things over which I have no control. Yet, some of the basic ideas in physics appear to be somewhat logical even to me.

I am also not going to pretend to understand aggressive drivers and road rage. “An estimated eight million drivers admit to more extreme behavior, according to new AAA research. Nearly 80 percent of drivers expressed significant anger, aggression or road rage behind the wheel at least once in the past year, according to a new study released today by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

The most alarming findings suggest that approximately eight million U.S. drivers engaged in extreme examples of road rage, including purposefully ramming another vehicle or getting out of the car to confront another driver.” None of this seems logical to me.

What I do know about road rage and aggressive drivers is that most of them appear to be men in big trucks, mixed with the occasional middle-aged woman in a minivan or large SUV. I have no statistics to prove this, just my careful observation.

The aggressive behavior I most often encounter is tailgating. No, I am not referring to the cookout and beer drinking events before football games and concerts. I am talking about the driver who pulls within less than one car length of your rear bumper in a vain attempt to make you drive faster or get out of their way. I simply want to ask them, “Who elected you king of the road?” or more directly, “What the heck do you think you are doing?”

Back to physics for a moment. Newton developed three laws of motion that can be applied directly to the problem at hand.

*Newton ‘s First Law of Motion:

Every object will remain at rest or in uniform motion in a straight line unless compelled to change its state by the action of an external force.

*Newton’s Second Law of Motion

F=MA Force = Mass Acceleration The force acting on an object is equal to the mass of that object times its acceleration.

*Newton’s Third Law of Motion

To every action there is always opposed an equal reaction; or, the mutual actions of two bodies upon each other are always equal, and directed to contrary parts.

I will be so bold as to interpret Newton’s laws of motion as applied to aggressive drivers who tailgate. When a vehicle tailgates another vehicle it “compels” the other vehicle using external force (hitting it) and changes it action (direction and shape). When a vehicle is tailgating, the size and speed of the vehicle determine how much damage is done to the vehicle it hits. The opposite and equal reaction of being hit from behind by a vehicle they exert a force on each other. People are hurt and vehicles are damaged.

Sheldon from “The Big Bang Theory” explains it best:

Sheldon: Look, you’re not leaving yourself enough space between cars.

Penny: Oh, sure I am.

Sheldon: No, no. Let me do the math for you, this car weighs let’s say 4,000lb, now add say 140 for me, 120 for you.

Penny: 120?

Sheldon: Oh, I’m sorry, did I insult you? Is your body mass somehow tied into your self-worth?

Penny: Well, yeah.

Sheldon: Interesting. Anyway, that gives us a total weight of, let’s say, 4,400lb.

Penny: Let’s say 4,390.

Sheldon: Fine. We’re traveling forward at, good Lord, 51 miles an hour. Now let’s assume that your brakes are new and the calipers are aligned, still, by the time we come to a stop, we’ll be occupying the same space as that Buick in front of us, an impossibility that nature will quickly resolve into death, mutilation and… oh look, they built a new put-put course.

— Big Bang Theory Series 01 Episode 04 – “The Luminous Fish Effect”

Why am I ranting about this you might wonder? Four years ago, I was involved in a five-car accident that resulted from someone in a larger vehicle following too close at a high rate of speed. It resulted in injuries and damages to all cars involved. After four years, we are still in litigation over this. All because someone was being a bully on the road.  Yes, I said bully, because in my opinion drivers who tailgate others are intending to intimidate them to get their way. That says bully to me.

If you should happen to encounter me on the road and decide you want to tailgate me, I will slow down and stare you down from my mirrors until you back off. It is not your road. You do not control how I drive or how fast I go. No, I am not going too slow. I am obeying the LAW that tells all drivers how fast they may go. You are breaking the law by speeding and by tailgating. You are not more important than anyone else on the road…really…you aren’t.

So JUST STOP IT!

One day you will hit someone from the rear. You might be injured and your vehicle might be destroyed. You will certainly cause damage to the vehicle you hit and may cause pain and suffering to the people in the car or cars in front of you. You may lose your life or cause the death of another. For the love of all that is good, just leave a few minutes earlier. Take a deep breath. You will arrive at your destination without creating chaos on the road.

I am going to assume my ranting will not change the driving habits of most people reading this. I only hope that some of you will understand and perhaps think about the way you drive.  The next time you are driving and are tempted to pull up close enough to the car in front of you so you can see the eyes of the driver in their rear view mirror, remember Newton’s Laws and South Carolina law.

From the SC DMV Driver’s Handbook: (A ticket for following too closely is 4 points)

Following Other Cars Rear-end crashes are very common at intersections and they can be avoided. The leading cause for these crashes is following other vehicles too closely. When following another vehicle on any street or highway, use a minimum of three to four second following interval. If any unusual conditions exist, such as rainy weather or increased traffic, add an additional second. To give yourself a three to four second following distance from the vehicle ahead of you, watch as the vehicle passes a stationary object such as a sign, pole or tree. Count the seconds it takes you to reach that the same point (“One-thousand-one, one-thousand-two, one-thousand-three). If you pass the object before you finish counting, you are following too closely. Always drive more slowly and allow more following distance when pavement is wet or icy and when driving in fog.

New Blog and Website

I recac4117_cd1b5fba5823426fa0ef1749784d190dently moved my blog site to a self-hosted WordPress account.  You can now find me at http://www.cathysvoice.com

I have also started a new adventure writing for an online site called OdysseyOnLine.

Click here to see my author page and posts from the site!  Let me know what you think in the comments!

Cathy

Summer Camp for Nerds

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It is the July 2 and yesterday I started camp. This camp doesn’t have swimming pools or harmonious songs around a blazing campfire; This camp has pens, paper, keyboards, thesauruses, and spell check programs. We do have cabins, but they are virtual, so that means no pillow fights or mosquito bites.

This camp does require writing 50,000 words in one month.  Yes, 50 thousand words in  30 days or less. For you math wiz people, that is 1,667 a day.  Since I don’t have summer school, I thought I could use this summer to focus on writing.  So far, that hasn’t happened, so I signed up for Camp NanoWriMo and for a writing workshop that starts soon.

 

I tend to procrastinate when it comes to starting a writing project.  I think about it, dream about it, plan it, but when it comes time to do the writing, something happens.  Self-doubt and the dreaded internal critic lurk in the shadows plotting my writing demise.  Of course, life’s necessary activities get in the way as well.  For example, yesterday I was ready to sit down and write when I remembered that I needed to get laundry done so I could pack since I am returning to the upstate on Sunday.  This was after going to the gym and the drug store.  After I finished the necessary tasks, I was ready once again to  begin my writing creation, when I remembered it was Friday.  Friday is the day I have to complete the reporting for my part time job.  When that was done, I had to shower and get ready to go downtown to the theater. All in all my total word count for the day was 248.  That is only 1,418 words short.

Today is a new day at camp.  I have already written more words that I did yesterday, but it is going to take some effort to catch up.  Wish me luck!  I will let you know how it goes.

Save

I Still Want a Donut!

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Last week I embarked on what seemed to be a rather innocuous journey, and I shared a post here about it. The challenge was to post a picture every day for 100 days of something that made you happy. I started well, but floundered around day four. In the eleven days since I accepted the challenge, I have posted only seven pictures, and truth is one of them was an old picture.

I tried to take pictures of things that made me happy, but soon came to the realization that not too many things really make me happy. Well, I meant to say things I could photograph, that is. Don’t misunderstand me; I have many things in life that make me happy, but I just couldn’t find a way to make it work in this challenge.

Of course, things like the beach, a beautiful sunrise or sunset, the color of fall leaves or spring flowers, spotting a deer in the woods, and more all bring happiness into my life. However, it is a bit of a drive to the beach or the woods, and I am often not in a place to photograph those other things on a daily basis.

Yet, what really makes me happy is sharing that experience with people in my life. I don’t have to physically share the experience, but I find such joy in sharing the story with a friend or family member. Even better is when the person with whom I choose to share the experience gets as much joy or excitement from it as I did.

I grew up as an only child in a home where talking, touching, and sharing life experiences were non-existent. I had very few friends and often felt alone. As an adult, I have come to cherish the people in my life. I sometimes share my experiences with the exuberance of a young child, bursting with excitement to tell my story. I imagine that I can be a bit overwhelming to those who know me best. However, they usually smile and say something encouraging.

I have decided that I am not going to continue with #100happydays challenge, but I am going to continue to look for things every day that bring happiness into my life. If something captures my attention, and I can take a picture, I will still share it on Instagram. Keep watching! The next picture you see may just be of a donut!

Refocusing or May I Have a Donut?

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I have been watching my friend Abby, from the infamous Abby Gabbs blog, posting pictures with the hashtag #100happydays. I wasn’t sure what it was about, but I loved the pictures. Today, Abby posted that she had completed the challenge, and I finally understood what it meant.

It is a very simply challenge- every day submit a picture of what made you happy! Post the picture to your Instagram or facebook and tag it. At first it seemed to be a rather Brady Bunch, Leave it to Beaver look at your life. Yet, the more I read, the more I realized that some days I only focus on the fear or the negative. Every day has something that brings happiness. Every day I can chose to be grateful for something.   I know this is pretty simple, and I know it won’t change the circumstances of daily living, but it might just change my attitude a bit.

The challenge says, “#100happyday challenge is for you – not for anyone else. It is not a happiness competition or a showing off contest. If you try to please / make others jealous via your pictures – you lose without even starting.

I decided to take the challenge. I won’t be posting to facebook every day, but my Instagram will be updated daily. I will post again in a couple of weeks, and let you know if my attitude has changed.  I hope I don’t have to buy too many donuts!

Off the Computer and Into the Streets?

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The past few months have been a time of questioning and feeling powerless.  It began when I read the story of 200 young girls in Nigeria who were kidnapped and held hostage.  A movement called #bringbackourgirls was started, and the internet exploded with people posting concerns, demanding action, and praying that the girls not be forgotten.  I quickly jumped on board.  I chose and committed to praying for not only all the girls, but for one young girl named Naomi.   I changed my profile picture on facebook to the logo for the movement.   I signed a petition  and tweeted about the girls.

Last week, I changed my profile picture back to my own picture.  As I did it,  sadness filled my heart knowing that we are approaching 100 days, and the girls are still being held captive.  Did all my efforts mean nothing?  Is it useless to try to effect change?   I hope not.  Yet, I wonder if it is enough.  Could I have done or do more? What would that look like?

I am thinking about the answer to questions like these as I take classes this summer.  In the first semester class, we watched  Half the Sky documentary about the lives of women and girls around the world who are abused, treated as slaves, sold as property, and mutilated.   We saw sex trafficking here in our own country, as well as around the world.   We discovered girls being denied access to education just because they are girls.  We also watched a documentary about the conditions of people  around the world living without proper sanitation or access to clean water.   We looked at poverty at home and globally.

This semester we are talking about social problems and solutions.  In one of our discussion posts, I wrote about the use of the internet and social media to effect change.  I know these movements bring issues to light and help unite people around a common cause, but are they enough?  My professor asked a difficult question, and I am trying to find an answer within myself.  She called using social media, etc.  “armchair activism”.   She asked “What do you think it might take to get people off the computer and into the streets?”.

It seems like a radical idea, doesn’t it?   Yet, isn’t that how change has taken place in our country since the beginning?  Please understand that I am not talking about violence or overthrowing the government, but I am talking about finding ways to have a voice that will make a difference.   Social media can have an impact; a study last year showed that people were more likely to vote if their friend’s post about voting.  Many people learn about politics and politicians on the internet.  Social media has been helpful in creating movements that do make a difference.

Take Molly Katchpole. She was 22, working two jobs, and struggling to make ends meet. When Bank of America announced a new $5/month banking fee, she thought it was unfair and decided to do something about it. She used Change.org to start a petition, shared the effort with her friends, and got 300,000 petition signatures, which pressured Bank of America to scrap plans to institute the fee.   http://techchange.org/2013/07/02/social-movements-and-social-media-spark-a-movement-change-the-world/

Let’s talk about voting.  Do you vote?  Do you know that America has one of the lowest percentages of voter turnout for countries that allow voting?  Among the 58% of people that did vote in the last election, how many actually took time to research and learn about those for whom they voted?    Do you know that according to the constitution the only requirements for running for the House of Representatives are being 25 years old, have been a U.S. citizen for at least seven years, and live in the state they represent?  Of course, I understand that  you need to find backers with money, etc. in order to win.  Or do you?

I am asking questions because I want to do something.  I work in a field where I  talk with  so many people who are facing issues that are far too common in our country.   I look at statistics about our county or read stories in news, and  I hear people say, “That is so sad or so horrible. Why doesn’t someone do something?”  It reminds me of a couple of quotes that seem appropriate right now.

I always wondered why somebody doesn’t do something about that. Then I realized I was somebody.”    Lily Tomlin

“Sometimes I would like to ask God why He allows poverty, suffering, and injustice when He could do something about it.” “Well, why don’t you ask Him?” “Because I’m afraid He would ask me the same question.”   (Anonymous) -a quote from A Hole in the Gospel, by Richard Stearn, President of World Vision.

Do think it is important to do something about things going on in our world?  A student in my class said that he believed people either feel helpless or just don’t care.- Do you  feel helpless?   What do you think you can do to effect change?

 

 

Five Years of Blogging–Oh, I Mean Writing

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I wrote my first blog post in January of 2009.  I had no idea what I was doing, but I was determined to try it.  My son Teddy (blatant use of blog to endorse my son) had created a blog to have a web presence for his writing.  You check out his webpage and his author’s page on Amazon here.  He encouraged me to  start a webpage or blog since I had started writing again.   I created a website, Cathysvoice.com using Go Daddy and one of the options for pages was a blog.     I posted my first blog on the Go Daddy site but quickly discovered Blogger and made the move.

I only shared my blog with a handful of people at the time.  In fact, I kept some posts private, never sharing them with anyone.  It took over a year before I made my blog a public blog, however no one really knew it was there.   Many of my writer friends had started blogs and were using WordPress.  I made the change to WordPress in June of 2012.  I was getting braver in sharing my work.   In May of 2012, I decided to going BlogaThon and commit to writing a blog everyday that month.  I was officially hooked on blogging.

Today, I have almost 700 blog followers. and in the past two years, I have posted 211 blog posts. And no, I don’t assure that 700 people read every post.  I assume a 10% hit would be a good day.    I blog about everything from my weight loss/healthy living journey, to my recovery, to women who annoy me in bathrooms.   I have written passionately about stories in the news about abuse or injustices.  I have shared my joys, my triumphs, and my pain.   A friend once asked me if I wasn’t concerned about sharing so much in a public forum.   I assured him that I was no long concerned about that, after all, my blog is called Cathy’s Voice.

I have had the good fortune to meet some amazing people through blogging.  I connected with them through their posts and shared emails and facebook chats with them.  I attended a writer’s conference at Montreat and was pleasantly surprised to find one of my online blogging friends there.   I even have a new friend in Australia.

I am a part of several online blogging communities. One of the sites offers the opportunity for other writers to give feedback about writing style, grammar, and more.  There are often blogging challenges or the opportunity to share a blog post as a guest on another blog.

I often read debates questioning if blogging is really writing.  I found this quote recently that says it best,   “And it occurred to me that there is no such thing as blogging. There is no such thing as a blogger. Blogging is just writing — writing using a particularly efficient type of publishing technology.” (Simon Dumenco)

So, I will continue to write and share it in my blog, as well continue my other writing.  I want to thank all of you who have supported and encouraged me in my writing journey.   If you are a new reader or someone who has been following me for a while, I  thank you and hope you will keep reading!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Random Thoughts on A Winter Storm

bildeIce covers the trees in front of the Dorchester County Human Services Building Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014 in Summerville. Paul Zoeller/Staff

A second unusual winter storm named Pax (Yeah, I don’t know when they started naming winter storms) blanketed my southern hometown of Charleston, SC with ice. Unusual is a rather mild word for this historic weather event.  We typically deal with hurricanes and tropical storms, not ice storms. When we woke this morning, the ground was wet with rain, but everything above 2 feet was frozen.  Icicles filled the tree branches where leaves once flourished.   As time moved on so did the ice in the trees and bushes until everything was beautiful, yet frightening shade of white.   Loud cracks and booms filled the day as branched broke and fell to ground shattering ice like broken glass on the ground.  Reports of power outages began filling social media and the news.  By early afternoon, we lost power at our house along with most of our friends in the area.  Schools, business, and bridges closed for the second time in just a few weeks.

The magical wintery scene outside my window was stunning as well as alarming. As I sat and watched the trees and branches bending under the weight of ice and blowing wind, I thought about my mother.   She spent most of her adult life in California and Nevada.  She claimed and cherished our Native America heritage and loved to share her knowledge.  When I lived in Nevada, we experience snowstorms frequently and ice storms from time to time.  When ice would cover the landscape, my mother would remind me of the Native American story of “pogonip”.  Pogonip is a Shoshone word meaning cloud or ice fog.  They also refer to it as “white death”.  The Shoshone know the dangers of people who become disoriented, get lost in the ice fog, and die from exposure.  The early settlers believed they could inhale the small white crystals into their lungs causing death. The beauty of the high desert when it was covered in the white crystals and the stories, fascinated my mother.

In the next day or so, the white cover of ice will melt and the Winter Storm Pax will become a memory to share with family and friends.  Each winter when the weather calls for snow or ice, we will talk about the year we had not one, but two icy winter storms. We will share pictures and memories, talk about the hours we spent without power in our houses, and debris covering our neighborhoods. We will even recall the beauty of a winter wonderland in our bit of the South.

The same thing happens when I think about my mother.  I remember her life and share pictures and memories.   I have been thinking about her more than usual the past couple of weeks.  September of this year will mark six years since she passed away.  I have often heard that grief touches grief; one grief event will trigger others.  This week in the same year my mother passed away, my childhood friend’s husband died unexpectedly.  Just a couple of weeks later, my best friend passed away unexpectedly, and a few weeks after that my childhood friend’s mother (my “other” mother) died.

The first part of March, I will be participating in an audition for LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER: CHARLESTONThose chosen will bring their original, true accounts about motherhood to the stage.  I haven’t finished my piece for the audition, but in preparing, my thoughts have turned to my mother, and to others who became “mothers” to me during my life.  Just as I will with this year’s winter storms, I look back and remember those who touched my life,  sharing them others and telling the stories one more time.

Things We Read in Class-OMG!

9780061989162_p0_v4_s260x420When an unexpected medical crisis sends Naomi Wolf on a deeply personal journey to tease out the intersections between sexuality and creativity, she discovers, much to her own astonishment, an increasing body of scientific evidence that suggests that the vagina is not merely flesh, but an intrinsic component of the female brain—and thus has a fundamental connection to female consciousness itself.

We didn’t read this book in its entirety, just a chapter, but it was enough to catch my interest.  It also sparked an interesting discussion among the Women’s Gender Studies class.  When I signed up for the class, I thought I would be able to sail through without much effort, after all I’ve been a feminist for a long time.   I follow pages like V-Day, The World Wide War on Girls, EmpowHER,  Rebecca Eisenberg, and…I was a featured writer on the MamaFesto’s “This is What A Feminist Looks Like.

So, imagine my surprise when I discovered the writings of Simon de Beauvoir.  How could I have never heard of her?  I’ve learned more about the history of feminism and read some fascinating articles.  But, as I sat in the library before class on Tuesday, and finished reading the chapter “The Traumatized Vagina” in the book by Naomi Wolf, I pulled out my phone and texted my best friend.  “So not looking forward to class today.  Looks like we are going to talk about rape, sex abuse, and trauma.”  I knew she would understand.

I know my triggers and I have enough experience dealing with these issues to be somewhat confident that even though I may not like discussing these things with people I don’t know well, I can take care of myself.   I have written a little about my experiences here and here. During the class, I debated whether or not I should share anything, but I didn’t.

This chapter presented some new information about scientific studies, some new insights, and an unusual healing therapy, but in the end, it said what those of us who have experienced childhood sexual abuse or rape, etc. already know.  These experiences have a life long impact on our mind, our spirit, and our body.  Many of us struggle with eating disorders or alcohol/ drug abuse problems. My close friends know that sneaking up on me or coming up behind me without warning will create an unpredictable reaction. We also face challenges of depression, anxiety, issues with intimacy, relationship issues, and more.  Our power, creative selves, and voices are taken from us.

Healing and recovery are possible.  There are many ways to healing…therapy-either traditional or things like EMDR, medications for depression and anxiety, some find a spiritual path, and some need medical attention for physical issues.   We can reclaim our power and our voice.  I have had two amazing therapists in my life who helped me reclaim my life, voice, and power.

This comes from my “About Cathy’s Voice ” page on this site,  As a child I learned that keeping secrets was the “norm.”    We used the term “don’t ask-don’t tell” long before the military put the policy in place.  I knew I had a voice, I just wasn’t allowed to use it.  Over the years, I forgot it was there.   I was in my 30′s before I knew anyone ever felt like I did.  I didn’t understand that other people had experienced the same pain, the same shame, and the same feeling I had. But in time, I found my voice and when people ask me why I share my life and my story so openly, I tell them, “because I have to.”

Save An Empty Mailbox

Sad_3903f3_1371930Just before my daughter’s birthday last year, I came home to find her holding a birthday card.  She showed me the card with tears in her eyes.

“Mom, this came in the mail.  A real card, in an envelope, in the mailbox!”

No one in our family or circle of friends does that anymore.  Occasionally we buy a an honest to goodness, hold in your hand, made of recycled paper card, but more often than not, we send an online card, post happy birthday wishes on facebook, send a text message, or if they are special enough, we will call and talk to them.  The card was from my daughter’s aunt, who lives in our town.  However, she chose to mail it.  She knew my daughter would not receive the card in the mail from her Grandmother that year.  She passed away only months before my daughter’s birthday.

I remember watching the mailbox every year for birthday or other special holiday cards.  I loved seeing the cards, but more importantly, the accompanying note or letter from the person sending the card. Over the years, I have saved letters or special cards from family and friends.  I pull them out from time to time, remembering the people and events of my life.  I lost an entire box cards and letters when I moved from Nevada, but  I managed to save one small box.  I have added to the collection over the past 16 years, but I rarely receive cards or letters anymore.

I have been helping my friend Jan with searching for stories about her ancestors.  We have been to historical archives, libraries, and old houses in our search.  In online programs for recording family trees and genealogy as well as in archives, letters have been an amazing source of family history.   I love reading about the people and their lives.  Letters have been part of our history since there was pen and paper.   We would be missing a great deal of our New Testament in the Bible were it not for letters.   Novels and poetry books are about or taken from letters.  We had songs growing up about letters.  “Take a Letter Maria”, “Please Mr.  Postman”, “Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh (a Letter From Camp)”, “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter”, and more.  Of course, we can’t forget the yearly letter to Santa.

I pulled out some of my letters this morning and as I read the words of encouragement and support from my friend who passed away five years ago, I felt her presence and smiled.  I read about her fear when the Beltway Sniper shootings were happening in the Baltimore/DC in 2002.  I laughed as I read  the things she shared about her family and friends.   I still have copies of the letters from my mother when she left my father, my brother, and me.   The words helped me understand her and the decisions she made at that time in her life.   Another letter she sent much later explains more about her life.

I love being able to keep up with friends and family, who are spread across the country, on social media.   Of course, we can always call and talk but it seems that we are often doing other things while we talk.  Writing letters requires time and attention.  When I sit down to write a letter, I am focused on that person for the time I am writing.  When I read a letter I am connected to someone in a different way than any other.   I miss cards and letters.

No, I am not a postal employee trying to encourage you to buy more stamps.  I am challenging myself and all of you to write a letter or card to someone special.  In fact, why not pick several people and write one card or letter each week for the next few weeks.   I have a feeling that once we start, we won’t want to stop.   Once you do, write a blog post about it.   Let’s save an empty mailbox today.

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