Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Funny For Kids' Animal Games

Laughter is a powerful tool in childhood education for its many benefits -
1. Develops good social skills - laughter helps to break the ice and creates bonds between people.
2. Develops pre-reading skills - kids love poems and nursery rhymes for their rhyming words or nonsense syllables.
3. Develops creativity - when kids are given the opportunities to do silly or funny things such as walking backwards or walk and quack like a duck instill in them a sense of humor which has long-term benefits such as they are encouraged or allowed to stretch their imagination, think outside the box and expose them to look at situations from different perspectives.
4. Develops cognitive thinking - among the areas of cognitive thinking are intelligence, reasoning, language development and memory. Laughter can increase learning and retention as both sides of the brain are stimulated and when kids are enjoying themselves while learning tend to learn and retain more of what is being taught.

Below are several funny for kids' animal games which will make your kids roar with laughter.
1. Songs to sing and act out
Select songs that provide the opportunity for action and are easy for them to learn. A good choice is "Old MacDonald' where the words are repetitive and encouraging the kids to exaggerate the actions adds humor and delight to the game and also helps the kid to remember the song.

2. I am a magician!
Prepare a table and lay a big table cloth over it. Place about 10 animal toys in a basket and hide under the table. Ask one of the kids to wear a long cape to pretend to be the magician and take out 1 toy animal and tell the other kids that he can change this animal toy if they close their eyes and say the magic words. "Abracadabra, 1,2,3." They must count slowly together and while the kids are having their eyes closed, quickly take out another toy animal from the basket. Let the kids take turns wearing the magic cape to play the magician.

3. Fishing for animals
Cut pictures of animals and attach with paperclips. Tie one end of a rope with a magnet to make it look like a fishing rod. Scatter the pictures on the floor, and then call out an animal for the kids to find and fish it out with their magnet. Encourage them to make funny sounds while walking like the animal they have fished out.
Kids are fond of animals and can empathize with their feelings and when they are exposed to such funny for kids animal games help them to explore and understand the world of animals in funny ways.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Handcrafted Playgrounds by Paul Friedberg now available through Playscapes!

Also in the spirit of encouraging you to make your own playscapes, I'm pleased to announce the second title in my effort to make vintage playground classics available again...Paul Friedberg's Handcrafted Playgrounds from 1975.  Its best description is contained in the book's own foreward:

"Handcrafted Playgrounds is a sketchbook of designs based on two very simple premises: anyone can build a playground, and the actual process of building it can be as important as the finished product. 

It gives the builders (who should certainly include the children for whom it is planned) a chance to shape their environment, to create something to answer their specific needs. 

All settings, urban, suburban, and rural, are rich in natural and man-made materials suitable for play.  Every child, wherever he or she lives and whatever space is available, can have an exciting playground. All it takes is a little imagination."

Paul (see an online bio at the Cultural Landscape Foundation) is best known in playgrounds for his innovative 1970s installations in New York City, in which he utilized what were then completely new forms for play:   massive timber constructs, concrete forts that resembled ancient pyramids, and vest-pocket play spaces in trash-strewn vacant lots before temporary parklets were cool.    (See a 2007 article by Deborah Bishop in dwell magazine for photos of Friedberg's 1970s work, from which the three photos below are taken.)  UPDATE:  Paul has let me know that the last two images are actually the work of Richard Dattner...apologies for the misidentification, but don't worry,  Dattner's own book Design for Play will be released on Playscapes soon!

Friedberg was one of first to realize the ideas embodied in the new word 'playscape' as discrete from 'playground':  a fully three-dimensional landscape space in which purpose-designed components worked together to provide an integrated play experience.

This book reflects that, offering build-it-yourself plans for everything from bridges to benches, spring toys to sprinklers, that can be put together to create a comprehensive play area.   Most are  made from timber, some from tires or other recycled materials like spools and water tanks. 

Handcrafted Playgrounds is currently selling for over $100 on amazon, but now you can get a digital copy through playscapes for just $6!

Please remember that this book is still under copyright protection.  Once you've downloaded the file it is yours, just like a physical book is, to print or loan if you wish but not to copy and hand out.

I've purchased publication rights and must also pay royalties; your respect for the time and expense of the original copyright holder as well as my own is very much appreciated. (If you need to convert the pdf to other ebook formats like epub or mobi, try Calibre, which is a free download).

Friday, March 23, 2012

Boys' Underwear - Should Weigh Comfort Over Style!

You must be wondering to see the variety of boys' underwear available these days. The present generation is much conscious about fashion than comfort. The market of underwear has seen a boom in recent years due to changing mindset of people. Sexy lingerie is no more linked with women these days; men are getting equally conscious about what kind of underwear is in trend these days, what will look good on them, which underwear is the best for their body shape etc. But one must weigh comfort over style.
Since boys are usually much more notorious and active than girls, their underwear should be flexible, soft to skin and good in elasticity. The fabric should be soft and smooth. Though cotton is considered the best option as fabric, but a lot of variety is widely held today. Boys' underwear is available not only in different fabrics and colors but also in different styles and designs for e.g. sports briefs, trunk boxer briefs, low rise trunks and no-show briefs. Besides that, there are different patterns also. For kids, boys' underwear is available with carton prints and for teenagers, checks and stripes is highly preferred.

If you want to know about the prevailing trends and designs in boys' underwear, you can always browse the web and check out the designs and styles available online. There are various online stores that provide the underwear in different sizes and shapes and offer well categorized products ranging from casual boxers to sexy lingerie. There is a wide array of products that are displayed for sale. Some of them are available with great discounts and other attractive offers. You can always make your purchase online with a few clicks from the comfort of your home using the secure internet payment method and the product will be delivered at your doorstep. But you need to be careful while choosing the boys' underwear. The comfort should not be compromised at any cost and the underwear should be of proper size, as tight fitting underwear can have numerous ill effects.
Take into consideration the following side effects that may occur if the men's or boys' underwear is tight:

• Cause rashes: Tight underwear cause rashes in the genital region of the boys and it can get serious if not attended to. These rashes develop as the underwear gets wet after a little activity or in warm and moist environment and air does not enter that part of the body. As a result, the skin irritated and cause itching. Any negligence can lead to serious infections too, may be some sort of fungal infection.
• Can make the boy sterile: The testicles of a boy are present outside the body for the reason that they have to be kept at a stable temperature for sperm formation. For this reason, they are not tucked up inside the body, as the temperature of the body continue to vary. Wearing tight underwear will draw them closer to your body, keep them warm more than it is required and hence damage the sperm. It will hamper the normal growth of the boy.
• Can lead to Testicular Torsion: Tight underwear can twist or torque the testicles of your boy and may lead to gangrenous condition in which the testicles are removed. It is very painful process and life threatening too. So keep the testicles of your by free and comfortable in a soft and comfy underwear to keep testicle torsion at bay.
• Reduces Testosterone levels: This is again one of the common side effects of wearing tight underwear. Since the tight underwear keeps the testicles close to the body, the temperature of the testicles will increase and it will reduce the testosterone levels. It is one of the essential hormones in the human body that promotes normal growth of muscles in boys and men. Reduced level of testosterone will make your boy lethargic and weak.
• Make you feel uncomfortable throughout the day: Tight underwear does not make you look sexier. In fact, they are highly uncomfortable and may cause hindrance in your normal movement.
However, underwear is still a fashion statement for many boys and men who are so much influenced by fashion divas and celebrities endorsing particular underwear brand. Hope this piece of information has given you an insight into what is good and right for you when you go to buy boys underwear. Comfortable and stylish underwear can also be sexy lingerie for men.

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Monday, March 19, 2012

DIY Playground #2: 'PlayHive' Playhouse by thoughtbarn

Austin, Texas based design studio thoughtbarn constructed an artful playhouse based on a beehive for a wildfire benefit in their city.  Their unique construction, which children can not only play in but also climb around on both inside and out, requires only 2x4s, a drill and a chopsaw (and some patience, but don't all good things?)  And now full plans are available for download to Playscapes readers!

Licensed once again by a Creative Commons non-commercial attribution, so do please give credit and don't attempt to make money off this, amazing as it is.  To help you on your way, there are additional photos of construction and installation at the thoughtbarn blog and the thoughtbarn flickr page

Once again, all I ask is that you send me pics of your very own Playhives, and leave thank-yous for the great folks at thoughtbarn.  Think of the Playhive combined with the terrain and planting suggestions from space2place....amazing.  Go out and make a playscape!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

DIY Playground #1: Terrain and Planting for Play by space2place

If you only have the time or budget to do one thing for play, make a hill.

A simple pile of dirt can become a bike ramp, a fort, a stage, a hiding place, a slide, a launchpad for the imagination.  When I was growing up my amazing mother asked the dump truck drivers working on our street to leave a load of dirt in our yard.  It was hands down the best play feature ever, enjoyed by not just my brothers and sisters and me but everyone in the neighborhood.  There were four swingsets, two slides, and three playhouses on our street too, but the hill was the best. 

Sometimes when I recommend hills, though, people are worried about the technical details of the slopes and I never had those answers, but landscape architect Jeff Cutler of space2place in Vancouver, Canada, whose great playgrounds have featured on the blog before does!

Jeff's work is characterized by innovative shaping of the ground to create unique spaces for play accompanied by carefully chosen plantings that enliven the landscape and are themselves full of fun.  It's a mystery to me why so many traditional playgrounds look like play deserts....scraped flat and raw and utterly barren.  Plants are safe!  Don't make a play desert!

space2place is generously providing Playscapes readers with guidelines and suggestions for both play hills and great playground plantings.  It's our first DIY playground feature in honor of Aldo's birthday and it's free for you to download, print, and share under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial license, which just means you must credit the source if you share it and you can't sell it.  

But you can use it to make your own awesome play features all you want!  All I ask is that you send me photos of what you do so I can eventually post a mash-up of reader projects, and that you leave nice thank-yous to space2place in the comments. 

Watch for DIY play feature #2 on Monday.

Go make a playscape!

Popular Trends in Kids T-Shirts

Today's style in childrens T-shirts mostly mirror parents wishes that their kids be comfortable, but stylish at the same time. Years ago, T-shirts used to be considered as something that was usually too informal for loads of situations outside of rough-and-tumble play in the outdoors or to bum around in the house.
A lot of times, children would use bigger sized T-shirts as makeshift or chosen night clothing. Most kids T-shirts, particularly those with stacks of graphics, make really good items to reserve for pajamas. Generally, children from three to fourteen years old have a individual style in T-shirts.
Younger children, such as those from three to eight, look to select T-shirts that are more classic in design and have well-recognized cartoon characters or other characters from fashionable children's culture such as Spiderman, SuperMario etc. Young girls, on the other hand, still seem to desire the more female characterizations like Cinderella or other princesses.

As always, the younger crowd always love the Disney associated characters while recent movie characters such as Harry Potter have begun to take some of the action. Owing last summer's film sensation, Transformers T-shirts enjoy a fair bit of esteem with both boys and girls, although they sell more robustly amongst boys.
A set of childrens T-shirts can make a delightful gift for a child at any special event, including Christmas. Those with a vivid picture and substantial cotton weaves or blends that have robust stitching, then able to withstand several washings are incredibly appreciated as gifts by many mothers these days. The terrific thing is that nearly all T-shirts for children aren't expensive.
By the time kids start teen years, such as those who are thirteen or 14 years old, a mother would be hard-pressed to get them to agree to wear a Tom and Jerry T-shirt. Or any T-shirt portraying a cartoon character that would probably be more apt for kids of a younger set of ages. For those early teen children or adolescents, T-shirts that depict characters from Marvel comics are always a safe choice for boys.

Girls reaching those teenager years are not ordinarily looking for Ariel, but rather are beginning to opt for characters such as Hannah Montana. Characters that from Japanese anime art such as Ben 10 are a great choice too. T-shirts that are more culturally relevant for a 13 or fourteen year old look excellent with a pair of indigo jeans.
The most modern thing in high-class childrens T-shirts, relating to material composition are the kinds of T-shirts that are made of lighter weight materials like polyester. Both robust and yet much lighter in weight, a good T-shirt made from 100% polyester can come uninterrupted from the drier and right onto a teens body without needing to iron it first.
Specially in the case of girls, crinkle free clothes seems to be a high concern, including informal T-shirts. Most young girls would sooner do all the family chores for a year rather than be seen outdoors in something that has even a solitary wrinkle on it. Boys, on the other hand, commonly could not care less whether there is merely one crease or one thousand.

Possibly the most undying designs in the T-shirt industry are always character shirts. Adults and children equally seem to have no trouble sporting a cute T-shirt that has their desired character from some current cultural channel on it. Prevalent on wrist watches, Mickey Mouse is a number one character on both boys and girls T-shirts, no matter what age.
As a cultural marvel, the Disney mouse means assorted things to diverse people. On children's T-shirts, he could be something lighthearted and free from care while on an adult T-shirt Mickey Mouse may be making a declaration about a mature person who still wants to hold on to a fraction of their youth.
Doesn't matter what the object to put on laid-back wear, Children's T-shirts are classic, ageless and also fully up to date. They're also suitable for almost every occasion.

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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Happy Birthday Aldo! Happy Birthday Blog!

 Aldo van Eyck would have been 94 today, March 16, and this blog is 4. 

This fortuitous alignment of dates wasn't planned.

I didn't even know who Aldo was when I started posting the few playgrounds I could find that weren't out of a box, weren't 'kfc' playgrounds (in the playground world kfc stands for 'kit, fence and carpet' and has nothing at all to do with Colonel Sanders), that aspired to create space for play, not just to install equipment.  

For those of you just joining us (and there are alot of you this year!) I started the blog out of sheer frustration really--tasked with upgrading the small playground at my church, I couldn't find anything well designed and reasonably priced--and the first fifty pages of a google search for 'playground' turned up the same boring sets of equipment.  Here green instead of red or with a swirly slide instead of a straight one, but kfc playgrounds all the same, and a local supplier told me the smallest set he could 'recommend' for a church was $25,000.  For something that came out of a box.

Good playground design was, to my surprise, really tough to find and I thought I'd post the ones I knew of just in case anyone else was interested.  But it was over a year of writing before I had more than 100 views a day, and since my *real* job is in science and I write this blog on nights and weekends (even now I'm in my laboratory, sitting in front of my electron microscope waiting on the ion beam to finish its work) I'm not sure why I kept going. 

But I think it was Aldo.  I came across the book 'Aldo van Eyck the Playgrounds and the City' documenting the over 700 playgrounds he designed for the city of Amsterdam after World War II and it confirmed the vague feeling I had when I looked around at what passed for a playground--that it just wasn't good enough.  

Aldo, as a highly original thinker, artist, and architect had devoted himself, given his absolute best, all he knew of design and craft and placemaking, to these spaces for children in a devastated city.  I wanted to see that same attention, care, devotion to the child's place and experience, in contemporary playgrounds. 

I still do, and whatever I post here on Playscapes is because I see something of that devotion and care and craft.  I'm seeing alot more of it now than I did four years ago!  And I hope what you see here will inspire you, my readers, to advocate better design, to demand better playgrounds, to make better playgrounds, yourself.   

Most of the playgrounds you see here on Playscapes are large public installations.  But many of Aldo van Eyck's installations were actually quite small and I've wanted for some time to fill in the lower end of the  scale. celebrate Aldo's birthday three of Playscapes' very best friends--amazing architects and designers all--have designed small-scale play features, perfectly DIYable, that I'll be making FREE for download in this, Aldo's birthday week!

A taste of what you'll get tomorrow....

Look for the first one tomorrow, and the next on Monday.   I'm really excited to bring these to you.  Your readership (nearly 4000 a day now!) is a joy, and a surprise, and I'm grateful we've learned so much about playgrounds together.   Here's to Aldo.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

3 Big Healthy Eating Tips for Kids

When it comes to child development and growth there are things that must be taken into serious consideration. Children are very important to us so we must do all it takes to give them a good life. To ensure that your kids live a healthy lifestyle, food consumption must be given serious attention because it is responsible for a child's growth and development. As a good parent you should get adequate information on how to take good care of children. The things that are most important to a man are the things that he values, gives more attention and takes care of the most. To help you take good care of you most valued things of your life then you must get the right information concerning that thing. In this article I will be giving you information concerning healthy eating tips for kids.
First you must know that food plays a very important role in a child's life. Children's total wellbeing is dependent on what they eat. A child's confidence and mental wellness in life can be affected greatly by what they eat, so you need to be careful with what your kids eat at all times. Malnutrition is a bad situation any child should experience. To help your kid to grow healthily then you must ensure that you are updated with the latest information on how you can improve your child's health. Healthy eating for kids is a topic that every parent should be interesting in so that their children may live a healthy lifestyle.

When it comes to the growth and development of your kids; education should be paramount in whatever you do. Kids need to be educated on the importance of healthy eating. When they are they are educated on this matter, you stand a better chance of having a healthy and vibrant kids than those who do not. With the right knowledge on healthy eating will do them a lot of good and also save you from unnecessary problems. When your kids understand the importance of eating healthy foods they will learn to make healthy choices as they grow up and they will also be disciplined and ready for the future. Endeavour not to use the wrong approach in feeding your child because it is might lead to malnutrition or overweight. An overweight child might not be able to do the normal things that other kids do like climbing, jumping, cycling and some other exciting activities that kids get involve in. Kids deprived of this activities are likely to be affected psychologically.
Here are four things you must know to help your kid stay healthy

1. Take your kids along whenever go to the market to shop for food stuff. Ask them questions on what they like the most and that way you would be able to teach them the importance of healthy eating to their growth and development. Remember, Kids are snack lovers and can give up a healthy regular meal for snacks. So make sure that all the things that you shop for are healthy foods and snacks. the right snacks that you can fill your refrigerator with are fruits (Broccoli, spinach, carrot and some others) and vegetables. Always remember that kids only eat what they see.

2. Dinning time should not be when you talk about all the challenges you faced during office hours or the things your kids did that you didn't like instead create an atmosphere of fun where they can laugh while eating. This moment should be the time that you talk about the sweet and creative things that everyone did. Kids are more comfortable and would spend more time on the dining table when the atmosphere is peaceful. The longer they stay on the table the slower they eat. The importance of eating slowly is that it helps kids to eat moderate quantity of foods that they require for a healthy living.

3. Exercise should never be ignored in the course of raising healthy kids. Exercise helps your children to burn excess calories and helps them stay fit and active. When Children are active and strong it indicates that they do exercises.
You may never know another dimension about your child until you start feeding them the right way. These are healthy eating tips that you can make use of to help your child's growth and development.

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Friday, March 9, 2012

Things-I-Wish-I-Saw-on-the-Playground: Community Chalkboards

Charlottesville Virginia based  Siteworks won a competition for a First Amendment memorial with their low-tech public forum:  a 54 feet long by 7.5 feet high double-sided wall of local slate on which members of the public may express their views, in chalk, on any subject they choose.

"Located directly in front of Charlottesville’s City Hall and beside the city’s amphitheater, the monument consists primarily of a two-sided wall of Buckingham slate, approximately 54 feet long (108’ of writing space) by 7.5 feet high, on which members of the public may express their views, in chalk, on any subject they choose. Permanently inscribed on one segment of the wall is the text of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. On the immediate opposite side is the following quote by the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall:
“Above all else, the First Amendment means that government has no power to restrict expression because of its message, its ideas, its subject matter, or its content. To permit the continued building of our politics and culture, and to assure self-fulfillment for each individual, our people are guaranteed the right to express any thought, free from government censorship.”
In addition, the monument’s design includes a podium intended to serve as a contemporary soapbox from which individuals may address both planned and impromptu public gatherings. Inscribed on the face of the podium is the following quote by poet John Milton:
“Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties.”
With the completion of the monument in April 2006, the entire area outside City Hall became a First Amendment plaza unique among the cities of the United States — the “chalkboard” for written and artistic expression, the platform for verbal expression, and the amphitheater for musical expression.

The monument’s greatest strength lies in the fact it is both a fixed symbol of the right of free expression and a venue for the exercise of that right. Individuals use the chalkboard to express ideas both political and whimsical, to respond to ideas already on the wall, to convey messages to members of city government, and to create temporary works of art." 

Text from the thomas jefferson center, images from Siteworks,

See also an  in-depth evaluation of the Community Chalkboard, including usage patterns by the Bruner Foundation, which gave it an award for urban excellence in 2006, specifically citing its ability to be replicated by other cities.

And, I think, playgrounds.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Pier 6 Playground, Michael van Valkenburgh and Associates, NYC, 2010

So some people from the firm of Michael van Valkenburgh have been in my city this week, having been retained to make a new park that will include (though the community meeting was exceedingly vague) some sort of playscape. 

MVVA is particularly good, I think, at articulating the space within a playscape's outlines.   They  divide a large space into a series of smaller play areas--defining them with lush plantings so that they seem like glades in a forest--as well as into valleys and mountains that allow for climbing stairs and sloping pathways.    This technique is particularly evident in the overhead shot of New York's Pier 6 playground which opened in 2010.

Notice how all of the playground features are enabled and made better by the shaping of the ground plane and the islands of greenery.  They, not the equipment, define the playscape.

[All photos via MVVA]

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

RFP for Innovative Denver Playground

I  was really excited to hear from the City of Denver's Park and Recreation Department last week with news of their ambitious RFP to re-imagine play at City Park:

"Denver Parks and Recreation (DPR) is challenging currently accepted definitions of play and is looking to re-think play as a unique, multi-faceted experience in an urban, multi-generational space in Denver’s Historic City Park.  Highly motivated, qualified and experienced design teams are asked to submit their qualifications and ideas for this challenge. The new space will be unique and will include community context and advocacy."

And they're committed to a $3-5 million dollar project.  Playground-makers often get in touch with me and say things like "we'd be more imaginative if cities would let us"'s your chance.   Hooray Denver for being play visionaries...I can't wait to see the results!

Much more info on their reimagine play website:  the project launches tomorrow, March 7, with a Public Open House 5:30 to 7:30pm at the Museum of Nature & Science, City Park.

P.S.  If your city has an RFP for an out of the ordinary play space, I'd love to promote it.  Get in touch.  

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Trendy Kids Baseball Caps for Casual Occasions

Are you a parent who is looking for trendy hats for their kids that they can wear as casuals? Do not worry any more because there is an answer to your question. Kids baseball caps are available in several online shops. They are made of durable fabrics like cotton and in adjustable and fit in styles. One may also personalize the labels on their child's hat that is by having whatever they wish, printed on the cap. Different designers make these hats, the very popular labels including the Yankee, red sox among others. They are in all sizes and colors. Some fashion stylists even give the customers a chance to have your own design, made for them.

Your children can now walk out looking like real baseball champions thanks to these wonderful caps. They are fashionable and available for babies, toddlers and even the school going ages. Thanks to these designers, your kids will always be adorable and stylish. The caps also come in wide range of colors for both boys and girls. Children can wear the baseball caps at any informal occasion since they are not only for sports wear. They protect your loved ones from the scotching heat of sun as well as from rain. It is usual to find these caps being most kids' specialty due to their unique designs.

Most of them resemble the adults' wear making the children feel great in them. The logos on the hats are from great baseball teams making them such a favorite among the kids as well as grownups. If you love to take your kid to any tournament, you may purchase the caps with the labels that show the team that you are supporting. Kids baseball caps will make your lovely kid look like the hero for the day. This makes them enjoy games and longing to be like their favorite player in the team. You may be building your child's career just by giving them the wonderful looks of a sports hero.

When purchasing these special products for your kids, you may consider the logo, style, fabric used to make it and how many caps you need. You control your taste and preferences but the encouraging thing is that they are available in very many ranges for you to make a choice. Whether it is in a sports arena or a casual function, one thing is for sure; your child will look stunning in these caps. Most of the designers have many years of experience and they produce good and stylish products.
Just browse through the online market and you will learn of all that they offer plus their prices. Parents should not leave their children out of the trendy sporty designs. They are fantastic and will always make them feel revitalized like the real heroes and heroines. From a simple walk in the woods, hiking, cycling, mountain climbing to just playing simple games in the yard, kids baseball caps are a perfect match for all the occasions. Be your kids friend and give him or her that desired sportsman look that they always dream of.

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