Mark….. My Words

November 19, 2010 -

John Heald

Things in the Heald household are slowly getting back to normal. Kye loves me and I love her and last night I realised I loved my wife Heidi and wanted to express that love by offering her the chance to see me naked as I offered her some luxurious rumpy pumpy. Her reply was somewhat shocking as she looked at me and said “tell you what, you empty the dishwasher and I will think about it.”

Yep……my wife couldn’t possibly consider some horizontal refreshment with so many plates and cups in the sodding dishwasher.

I feel the same way about dishwashers as I do the French …………they cause more trouble than they’re worth.

Dishwashers were invented by the devil himself. Now I know what you’re thinking – it’s a “labour saving device” but that is bollocks……..yes really it is………..what, you don’t believe me….well let me explain.

How much time do you spend feeding the damn thing as you scrape, stack, wait an hour, unstack, realise the dish washer tablet thingy has fallen out and everything’s still covered in old bits of spotted dick and Spam.  So then you have to do it all again to find the plates still wearing hard-baked crusty bits so you must scrub them in the sink, which is what you should have done in the first place…..agghhhhhhhhhhh!

And the smell when you open the door is disgusting…….it’s like shoving your head inside a Skunk’s scrotum.

But what I hate about it the most is the number of bollockings I get because of it. Here I am, home again after a traumatic experience on the Carnival Splendor hoping that I will be enveloped in a cocoon of sympathy and love……..but oh no.

“Not like that – you’ll block the spinning arms!”

“Will you be careful, that’s our best plates. They don’t go on the top shelf do they you idiot.”

Heidi will tell me it’s my job to fill the machine and yet she guards the bloody thing like a soldier outside Buckingham Palace. This means if I try switching it on I will get a swift kick in the bollocks accompanied by “It’s not full is it?” Heidi will then point to a tiny bit of space the size of a hamster’s penis that she expects me to get a Wok and three bowls into.

And when it’s finished washing the pots and pans, it makes a beeping noise. And if I don’t empty it immediately it beeps again. And then again. So because of all of this and because it now decides if I get any rumpy pumpy I am going to smash it to bits with an axe.

So I opened the door, axe in hand ready to end its life and the vicious bastard sent a gust of smouldering hot steam which burnt half my face off. I now need plastic surgery to avoid being so ugly people think I’m a Norwegian cruise ship.

As I am obviously not getting any rumpy pumpy……let’s do some Q and A instead.

Here we go.

Ernie/cruizer4662 Asked:
John, please reply:

I understand there are 2 Captains on each ship, the Main Captain and the Staff Captain. Can you explain for me what each one has for a job description. Thanks for all you do and kiss the girls good bye for all of us who follow your blog thingy and your facebook. I enjoy both of them and having met you on the BC3 you are more personal to me.

Your friend,
ERNIE

John Says:
Hello Ernie/cruizer4662,

You are correct, Ernie. The Captain’s right hand is called the Staff Captain. He is second in command of the vessel and is referred to by some cruise lines and in various world navies as the Executive Officer. He has the same qualifications as the Captain and is able to take over at anytime. In fact it’s interesting that the first officer and the second officer also have a Master’s licence (spelt correctly) as well. The Staff Captain is also in charge of the maintenance of the entire outside of the vessel and has a team of joiners, carpenters, plumbers etc who are responsible for the upkeep of the ship. He is also in charge of a separate team of sailors who are charged with the upkeep of the lifeboats and other life saving appliances.

The Staff Captain is also the Ship’s Security Officer which means the Chief Security Officer and the security guards all report to him as well. All the current Carnival Captain’s were all Staff Captains at one point in time as Carnival always promotes to Captain from within the company. I hope this answers your question and many thanks for the kind words.

Best wishes
John

Tracy Asked:
John – please respond.

What actor is on the ship? can u tell me? or no if it’s tom cruise or brad pitt i dont like them 2.hope you are enjoying your time with the girls. and if i didnt say it try for the booth on the liberty. and the aft dining room. i loved half moon cay. so why did carnival call it that?

John Says:
Hello Tracy,

I am guessing you were referring to Mr Cloonpitt who told me he was a famous actor and therefore I could not show him performing in the welcome aboard show on the cabin tv’s. We also had a winner from the show Survivor on recently (bugger, I forget his name) and my last week on the Carnival Splendor we had a famous baseball coach of a team called the ummmm……ummmmm…..Orio Cookies or something like that.

I am so glad you enjoyed the paradise that is Half Moon Cay. The word “Cay” means small low island and in that region of the Bahamas there are lots of “Cays ” including Princess Cay and others. Why Half Moon? Well I think it might be because the island is shaped like a crescent moon or maybe when it was discovered the moonlight was shining on the still deep blue water or maybe the Manager of the island, Matthew, saw one of the locals wearing their pants low down and saw a half moon rising. I will find out though Tracy.

Best wishes
John

Seth K Asked:
John, Please Reply

I agree with Al’s comment that the Carnival ships need to respect that not everyone celebrates Christmas. I was on the Miracle last holiday season and found it offensive that Christmas was forced on all the guests from the music to the decorations and even the crew telling us to have a merry Christmas. The United States is a melting pot of religious beliefs and that’s why you will always hear “happy holidays” in public service areas and shopping malls etc. I suggest Carnival remembers this as it will for sure attract more people to cruise during the holiday season. I suggest you train your crew to say “happy holidays” as this will not cause offence.

Seth
Long Island

John Says:
Hello Seth,

I think that we offer a good balance onboard by offering both the traditional Christmas celebration as well as the Hanukkah candle lighting ceremony around the menorah that is placed in the lobby of every ship. I think our staff will normally say a combination of both “Merry Christmas ” and ” happy holidays ” because for as many people who do not celebrate Christmas onboard there are just as many guests or more that do. We will continue to do our best to appease everyone.

Thanks so much for taking the time to write.

Best wishes
John

Fancy Nancy Asked:
John Reply please

Thank you so very much for helping with our cruise. You may remember I wrote to you about my Father who retired this year after 38 years in the United States Army serving in Vietnam and the first Iraq war during which he received a Purple Heart after being shot in an ambush. The table you arranged as well as the personal note from you and Captain Queirolo wishing him a happy retirement was amazing and he will treasure that and his gold ship on a stick forever and he also loved the chocolate strawberries you sent.

The Dream was wonderful and our waiter Maria was the best we have ever had in 17 cruises. This was also our first Carnival cruise and we have now said goodbye to the nothing of the seas ha ha ha and have booked to cruise on the Valor in February. Thanks so much for making Dad feel special, you are one of a kind.

Now my question. Is there any chance of you being the Cruise Director on the Valor. I know Dad would love to meet you.

Thank you again
Nancy, Ray, Mary and James

John Says:
Hello Fancy Nancy,

I am so glad you and the family had a great time on your Carnival Dream and that everything I asked my colleagues to help me arrange came to pass. I am even happier to know that you so enjoyed your first Carnival cruise that you have decided to book another one. Unfortunately I won’t be on the Carnival Valor but I know whoever will be the CD will help arrange anything you may need. Once again, please wish your father a very happy retirement and thank him for his service.

Best wishes to you all
John

OLDMAN Asked:
John Reply when you can.

When is the CD schedule for 2011 coming out?

Later,
J.L.

John Says:
Hello Oldman,

Chris Prideaux at head office is working on it now. I will chase him up and see if I get him to send us a working copy. As soon as I have it I will of course post it here for you to review.

Best wishes
John

Tom Asked:
John, please reply

I too am diabetic and was in the same situation with the A1C results.
My doctor put me on a new medication and not only has my blood sugar dropped but one of the side effects is that you lose weight.

Honest to gawd, I lost 30 pounds. The name of the drug is Victoza. It is an injection you take once a day. Very easy. it comes in a self contained “pen”. Ask about it. Please try it. It also helps with the mood swings associated with diabetes.

John Says:
Hello Tom,

Ahhh yes…..the mood swings. For me that’s the most difficult thing for me to handle when I am at work. There are days when any diabetic will tell you all you want to do is crawl back into bed and do bugger all. I can only imagine what true depression feels like because I know I have had days where it has taken all my strength to walk out of the cabin and onto the stage and be happy and funny.

My last A1C was 6.3 which everyone tells me is good yet my doctor wants me under 6. I am really trying and sticking to my diet while I am at home. Thanks so much for the kind advice and I will research what you have said.

I wish you normal sugar readings and a happy and healthy life.

Best wishes
John

Chris Packard Asked:
John{ Please Reply}

One problem with the areas that a smoker can enjoy the night life on the ship is that the few places that we can smoke don’t really have any entertainment. I am not a sports fan so sitting in the sports bar watching a game or news is not what I consider “night life”. Right now we still have a few places to go that we can have fun however if Carnival goes fleetwide with non-smoking in the Piano and Disco than that will pretty much leave the casino,Cigar bar {not much entertainment last couple cruises} and the sports bar.

There is one thing that might be done in the non-smoking venues. You could figure out a way to reserve the seat or table that the person is sitting at so they would have a place to come back to after their smoke. It would be a small gesture to show that we aren’t considered too low on the class scale.

Carnival has over the years implemented stricter smoking bans trying to make everyone’s vacation pleasant which I am all for. The problem is that a lot of non-smokers come into the areas that we can have a smoke and complain. For example on my last cruise my wife and I were on the Lido smoking side and a group of three ladies sat down beside us and immediately started to complain about my smoking. It was ignored until they made very rude remarks about my wife, trash and smoking. When I asked the wait staff to do something they called security however they did nothing causing us to have to move away. This was a very humiliating situation especially for my wife since these ladies were very vocal about what they thought….This was a smoking area!

I guess what I am trying to point out is that no matter what you do the non-smokers will not be content. I truly hope that Carnival can come up with a way to let everyone enjoy their vacation….GOOD LUCK

John Says:
Hello Chris Packard,

Yes, I have documented a few times here on the blog thingy that while smoking a cigar in smoking areas I have been subjected to some ridicule from non smokers and being a crew member I often have to surrender my $20 cigar and bugger off.

The seat saving idea is a good one but I would expect impossible to control. What we offer now on most of our ships is a smoking lounge that has live music. The cigar bars on Destiny, Conquest, Splendor and Dream class ships all have live entertainment in the form of Latin trios and other live musical performers.

There is no doubt that the world is changing its policies towards smokers and if you look really closely at the situation it appears the cruise industry is one of the last bastions where smokers can smoke in public bars and lounges. We will continue to do our best to support both the smokers and non smokers. Thanks for the kind words.

Best wishes
John

Carol R Asked:
Dear John,

We are loyal Carnival cruisers, Platinum in fact, and I thought I’d never be writing to you with a request. My husband and I prefer a table for two and I always drop by the Maitre d’ early on the first day to request the table for two. They are always wonderful and almost always our requests are granted. We are sailing again on November 4th aboard the Carnival Spirit to celebrate our Wedding Anniversary.  For the first time I’m a little nervous we might not have our request granted since the Anytime Dining folks will be seated in half of the dining room.

John, can you please pass along my request for a table for two along the rail in the upper level of the dining room? We’re confirmed for second seating and want to keep that. Thanks so much!

CHEERS!
Walt & Carol Rouxel

John Says:
Hello Carol R

Oh bugger. I am too late getting to this. I have to find a better way to help people and will work on this with the 49 people whose name start with an E and the 344 Stephanies.

Please forgive me for not helping you and please know how much your loyalty to Carnival means to me. I hope you had a brilliant time.

Best wishes
John

Phoenix Asked:
please reply

In the past few years, you’ve gotten rid of or changed the following…..

1) Welcome aboard rum swizzle party. John comments: we stopped this many years ago

2) Dinner waiter was also your breakfast/lunch waiter . John comments: you can always request this if he or she is working

3) Captains cocktail party. John comments: complimentary drinks at the farewell party.

4) Baked alaska/cherries jubilee parade . John comments: chocolate melting cake EVERY NIGHT

5) Large lobster. John comments: no charge for the lobster and it comes with shrimp and you can ask for as much lobster as you want.

6) Filet mignon. John comments: it’s still there accompanied by Short ribs – and the flat iron steak is complimentary every night

7) Fresh squeeze oj. John comments: oranges are available every morning at breakfast – sit on them

8 ) President brand butter. John comments: the new brand is much tastier and like Paris Hilton……spreads easier

9)Pizza with real cheese. John comments: what?

10) everyone got a pin. John comments: Yep, you got me there. Carnival gives every Platinum guest a pin. Hopefully you will be a Platinum guest one day

11) Reasonable drink prices. John comments: They are competitive with the rest of the cruise industry and cheaper than most hotels and resorts.

12) Camp Carnival kids got helium balloons and goody bag on boarding. John comments: I have been with the company for 24 years and I can promise you we never ever gave the kids helium balloons.

13)Midnight Gala buffet. John comments: Yes we did stop this and although we replaced them with the midnight snacks and keep the grill and deli open and still have 24 free room service and a 24 hour complimentary pizzeria……..I also miss the midnight buffet.

14) nightly midnight buffet(not as fancy as gala, but still good). John comments: replaced by the midnight snack and other options as indicated above.

15) better quality shampoo/shower wash. John comments: I think most people bring their own and the amenities we leave in all cabins are as good if not better than most of the more expensive lines.

16) fruit punch. John comments: yep, we did cut this due to the stains it left on carpets etc. I would like to see this back

17) Prime rib served once in the buffet area. John comments: we serve the flat iron steak and or a beef carving every night at the alternative dinner on lido deck

18) Formal nights where people actually dressed up, it was special. John comments: depending on the demographics and where the ship sails out of I think many still do Plus times are changing and formal dress for dinner etc is changing.

What’s next? An extra charge for food in the main dining room?

John Says:
Hello Phoenix,

It’s always hard for me to give a serious answer to a comment like this when people hide behind screen names like Phoenix. I listed my comments above but the most important fact remains that that the value for money that a Carnival cruise offers is second to none.

I hope that you are not one of those ummmm….trollies ……..trollops……bugger forgot the word………you know someone who has never cruised with Carnival and posts something just to be disruptive………….tripes……….help me out someone will you………and you have posted this because you are a devoted Carnival fan who is concerned about the product. I hope the latter is true.

Best wishes
John

That’s all for today and I will be back on Monday with more. Just one thing though with regard to the comment about Christmas. I think we are truly respectful onboard to the guests who do and don’t celebrate Christmas. But I am trying to think if our crew are told to say “happy holidays” and not “happy or merry Christmas.” And you know what I don’t think they are. So my question to you is should they? Let me know what you think please.

There have been quite a few changes at Carnival HQ these past few months and one has been that we have welcomed a new Senior Vice President of Hotel Operations. As this chap will have a direct influence on your cruise vacation and what happens onboard I thought it might be nice for you to meet him. So ladies and gents please would you give a very warm welcome to Mr. Mark Tamis…………..here he is.

Mark, please tell us about your journey from school to your current position at Carnival Cruise Lines.

o My first job out of University was as an hourly Housekeeping Supervisor at Four Seasons Las Colinas in Texas. I spent the next 15 years with Four Seasons in Texas, Santa Barbara California, Nevis in the West Indies and finally in Newport Beach, California. When people learn of my 15 years experience with Four Seasons Hotels they often ask me in a surprised tone, you’re working for Carnival now? However, when I started with Four Seasons in 1988 we had about 8 properties and I had the privilege of interviewing with and being hired by Isadore Sharp. I was as impressed with him as a person, as I was of how he built his company on the “Golden Rule” of treating others how you wish to be treated. So simple. So true. And Carnival certainly follows that credo. He also told me about his experience learning the “service industry” while attending McDonald’s University in Canada, compliments of a friend of his whom at the time was President of McDonald’s Canada. I learned from “Issy” that it is not about what level of experience you are creating for your guest, but it IS about understanding your guests’ needs and exceeding your guests’ expectations.

I left Four Seasons in 2003 to join Ian Schrager as General Manager of Delano in Miami Beach, Florida. It was an amazing opportunity to work for yet another visionary in the hospitality industry. I expanded my role to Area Vice President overseeing the operations for Ian Schrager Hotels, which became Morgans Hotel Group, in the Southeast. When Ian started his new company, Ian Schrager Company, I jumped at the opportunity to run the operations of his new venture, including his joint venture with Marriott Hotels called Editions Hotels. However, with Ian’s operations based in New York City I commuted for 16 months from Miami Beach every week. The separation weekly from my wife Amanda, whom I celebrated 20 years of loving marriage with this week, and our three amazing kids, proved too much, and I was able to find a great opportunity with friends of mine who developed The Setai brand with their first property in Miami Beach. I was just getting started in my role with Michael and Jonathan Breene as COO of The Setai Hotels and Resorts when the “Carnival” call came in. I could not pass up, what I consider to be an opportunity of a lifetime, so here I am!

Can you tell us what your job as Senior Vice President of Hotel Operations involves?

I am privileged to be part of an amazing team with Ian Smith, Stefan Christoffersson, JC Trueba and Cyrus Marfatia overseeing all Housekeeping, Guest Services, Entertainment and Dining Operations on board our fleet.

You recently sailed on two of our ships. What was your impression of the product and what areas really impressed you?

o I took my family on Carnival Fascination in 2007 for a multi-generational vacation celebrating my parent’s wedding anniversary and my daughter’s birthday so I knew what to expect, and I was not disappointed. What was amazing was the overwhelming sense of welcome I have felt since joining the Carnival family both shore side and onboard. One moment that really did impress me was during Marcus Anthony’s performance on the Carnival Legend. Marcus had 4 couples on stage to slow dance to “You’ve Lost that Loving Feeling” by The Righteous Brothers. Now I was ready for the emotion exhibited by those 4 adorable couples, as they had volunteered to dance on stage after all. What I wasn’t prepared for was when Marcus invited “all those who DO have that loving feeling” to stand up and dance with the one they love… No less than 200 couples sprung up out of their seats and joined in on the dance. When I watch a show I love to watch the audience as much as the performers and the looks that I saw on our guests’ faces as they looked into the eyes of the ones they loved was just amazing. I was actually a little choked up! After all, for me nothing will create a memorable moment as when we can facilitate our guests to emotionally connect with each other!

As the blog has always been an open and honest one I also have to ask what areas you are going to want to try and improve on and what projects are at the top of your list?

For me, I know, I believe that in order to create a consistently fun and memorable experience, we have to create the same for our crew on board. When they are happy and have the tools to do their job and feel the love from their leaders then I know they will do whatever is humanly possible to create that same experience for our guests!

On a personal note I want to say I was so impressed when I read about the charity work you are involved in and the work you and your family do. So I wondered if you could tell us a little about your family and then about how you and they are putting so much back into the community.

Thanks John! That means a lot to me. My daughter Isabella and I started a charity called Dads for Giving when she was only three years old. The story of how it came to be is at www.dadsforgiving.org. Now Isabella and her twin brothers Harry and Ricky (and their friends) lead the efforts every year around Thanksgiving time. I am so proud of my kids for not only what they do every year, but how comfortable they have become in understanding how important it is to be grateful and give back to the community that gives us so much. We are gearing up again to feed 500 homeless citizens of Miami and Miami Beach on Thanksgiving Day…

We will soon be having our new ship Carnival Magic. What do you think will be some of the highlights of this brilliant new ship?

I can’t wait for Cucina del Capitano. I attended the final food tasting which was lead by Cyrus Marfatia on Carnival Liberty about two weeks ago. Our Chef, Sanjay Dhall, who has developed the family-style Italian menu is truly world class. I won’t say which one, but I ate at one of the best Italian restaurants in South Florida the day before the tasting and the food at our tasting was BETTER! Not only that, but I truly believe that when launched it will be the best value Italian dining experience, not only on the seas, but maybe in the world!

Mark – you were in the command centre during the Carnival Splendor incident. Can you tell us what your perspective of what happened.

I entered the Command Centre (spelled incorrectly) in Miami at approximately 9:30 AM and immediately grasped the severity of the situation. I hadn’t even been on the job for 4 weeks, so many of the team already around the table I was meeting for the first time. Many I had meet via email, but now I was not only able to put a face to a name but I was seeing firsthand what these individuals truly had been trained for years to do. Ship blue prints were spread around the table and the large screen monitors showed satellite images of the ship positioning in the Pacific. As you know those first few hours were all about extinguishing the fire and focused on the safety of the guests and crew. We were listening live to the bridge, second by second and minute by minute. The tension was incredible as we were receiving status reports every few minutes. For some reason I kept thinking about Apollo 13. I was only a little kid during the 1970 mission, but I still remember being huddled around the black and white TV with my parents and feeling like I was there with James Lovell, John Swigert and Fred Haise.

One of my first thoughts after pulling up the Shipboard Management Directory for Splendor was how fortunate we were to have such an experienced group of leaders on board. Listening to the calm yet focused nature in your voice, in Duncan Puttock’s voice and in Captain Cupisti’s voice made me feel that we were going to be ok, and again I felt like I was there with you and I was hoping that you all were feeling the support that was in that room. I, just like everyone else in that room, never left for the remainder of the day and I really did feel guilty when the pizza was delivered at about 9 PM EST just as sunset was completing on the West Coast and night had fallen on Splendor. Next thing I knew it was almost 2:00 AM EST when I left the room for the night and headed for home knowing that Splendor was in the best possible hands.

And finally as is tradition here its time to talk about you. Please fill in the blanks

Favourite Actress?

I am all about mixing the classic and the new! Katherine Hepburn and Julliane Moore

Favourite Actor?

Marlon Brando and Jamie Foxx

Favourite Movie?

An Officer and a Gentleman for sure! The greatest story about how any one, from anywhere if they are willing to do the hard work can achieve whatever dream they can conceive, and get the girl too!

Favourite Music?

Bruce Springsteen, I am 3rd Generation New Jersey after all!

Eye Phone or Blackberry?

Blackberry, although my amazing boss, Ruben Rodriguez is going to get me to go IPhone soon!

Thanks Mark……..we all welcome you aboard and it is obvious that with your experience in the hotel industry that you are going to bring some brilliant ideas with you and we all look forward to seeing them implemented.

I am sure we would all like to congratulate Mark and his family on the wonderful way they are giving back to their community as well. It’s something that I hope Kye and I can do as father and daughter one day in the future.

So welcome aboard once again Mark and we all wish you a long and happy career here at Carnival.

Oh just one last thing……..please don’t get an Eyephone…….it’s only one step away from growing a beard and eating Tofu for lunch.

Well it’s been a strange week and compared to how I felt when I arrived on Saturday I feel 100% better now. I have one more week at home before heading back to the States on Sunday 28th for those bloggers meetings and my trip to St Jude Children’s Hospital.

Back on the Carnival Splendor the technicians and repair teams are arriving onboard and before they can start to repair the damage and replace the destroyed parts there is the huge job of cleaning up the engine room not only from fire damage but from the remains of the water and the CO2. It’s a huge job and I will keep you informed as to what is happening. Some of you have asked me questions on my Facebook thingy page about what the repairs will actually involve. Well honestly………….like what happens if you sneeze while wearing a Burkah…………and why anyone would want their nipples pierced………….I have no idea. Nearer the time of the ship returning to service though I promise I will interview a man who does know so we can discover what has been going on. Once again it is my full intention to join the ship as her CD for that first week back.

So as I mentioned I didn’t get ant rumpy pumpy last night thanks to the bastard dishwasher. And this morning at 7:20am I retired to the peace and solace of the bathroom where I happened upon one of Heidi’s magazines……..Cosmovogue or Men Are Bastards Weekly……..one of those types of mags. One of the articles was about what men expect to happen in the bedroom and bloody hell and suggested that the women get their husbands or partners to take a “simple test ” to discover if they were a George Clooney or a Benedictine Monk in the bedroom.

It won’t take the CSI team to discover that I am, according to the test I took while sitting on the toilet………….a 100% total and utter monk. I won’t bore you with the details but apparently opening my bathrobe and shouting “fancy some Carnival Ecstasy” every time I return to the bedroom after a shower doesn’t get my wife feeling sexy.

After failing the test miserably I read that women are looking for fun and compassion……….. and of course jewelery. A diamond is according to the magazine………foreplay.

Fun is also apparently very important and while I may not have Brad Pitt’s body I do consider myself fun. And so armed with this information I returned to the bedroom this morning and in the same vain as a children’s party entertainer I jokingly pretended to twist my thingy into the shape of a fancy poodle.

After reading the magazine article I expected that Heidi would laugh hysterically and then throw me on the bed and …..well….you know. It ummmm didn’t quite work out like that. Instead she said “I want a divorce. I’m taking Kye”. Now put it away before I twist it into Funship Freddy.”

See you on FB over the weekend and back here on the Blog on Monday.

Goodnight

Your friend
John

Hi, I’m John, and this is my blog. So please don’t mistake my opinions — or those of my dear friends, fans or commenters — for those of Carnival Cruise Line or Carnival Corporation. My apologies in advance for anything I may say that upsets you, but this disclaimer covers Carnival and puts the blame directly on me………….. bugger.

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