Just A Couple of Observations

Laura and I both made similar observations about local church media stuff. No big deal, just kinda funny. I’m sure I’ve made similar mistakes on this blog or The Graze.

The first is this ad for small groups with the tag line, “Walk with Christ…Together.” Only problem is there is only one set of feet walking. Last I checked “together” required more than one person. 

The other came in the mail. I recognize the trail is the local Indian Creek trail which is cool. Here the theme is choices and choosing wisely. However Laura noticed that there is no choice before the man, just a single path. Which is a shame because there are many many places on that trail where there are splits in the trail and thus options. Just seems like choosing this photo was a bad choice. 

We weren’t exactly “roughing it”

One of the things my mom and I did (in addition to a very fun trip to the Houston Galleria and eating all the best foods in the world!) when I was in Texas was kayak. Kayaking usually implies some sort of nature involved in some way. It’s questionable as to whether what we did could be considered “outdoors-y!” Regardless, it was fun and I can’t wait to take the kids when we are in town next!

First though, speaking of food, we started off with the World’s Greatest Meal. Wings ‘N’ More’s chicken fingers. I could eat these every day for the rest of my life!!! My pants wouldn’t thank me, but my tongue sure would!!

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Then we hoped in very cozy kayaks with nice plush seats and took off down a very man-made canal to a very man-made lake.

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Oh, we DID see some wild life!!

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It was peaceful and calm though!

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See how rural we are?!

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Ahh, then you get to the lake. It’s in the Woodlands, a pretty affluent area. So we kayaked by some huge-o houses!

This one had a full on miniature golf course in their yard…and FIVE A/C units!!

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This is the house that you can see from the road that the rumor always said was sinking. I’m sure some jealous suburbanite made that up to make us all feel better cause we don’t live on a cool lake in a 4-story house with an infinity pool and a guest house.

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Don’t be jealous. That house behind me is sinking.

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You can also see this nifty dragon from the road. What you can’t see from the road is all the nasty bird poop covering it.

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Two hours later we made it safely back to land and back to civilization!

Morning Cup: Coffee vs Tea

 

MY BACKGROUND WITH COFFEE & TEA

In 1996 Starbucks opened up a store in my suburb of Houston, Texas. This was the first time I had ever tried coffee and liked it. I not only liked it, but I loved it. However at $4 a pop it was a rare thing to actually buy a cup. From that point on I began drinking various vile forms of coffee.

As I became obsessed I wanted to know what coffee was, where it came from, how it was made and how many other forms of this plant I could consume. The back story on coffee is a bit myth sounding. A young goat-herding boy noticed his goats ate some of the cherries (beans are inside of these) from the coffee plant resulting in their hyper activity. He than gathered the beans and began to experiment with them. Over time people discovered these could be roasted, crushed and mixed with water to make a drink with drug-like qualities.

I drank coffee through college, through seminary and continued to do so after God brought us to Kansas. All the while Laura stayed loyal to her basic Lipton tea bags. Somewhere along the way though I tasted a single sip of Starbucks blackberry green tea frappuccino and was so smitten I began to investigate if tea could be enjoyable in forms that lacked huge amounts of cream and sugar.

Again I began to research the origins of this substance. This history is so divided there is no way we will ever really know the truth. Basically you need to know the Chinese are really good at growing it and the English are really good at drinking it and like most things, Americans are really good at perfecting and marketing it.

Now I find myself endlessly going back and forth between these two wonderful substances. Each have perks and each have  pits. So which to make the primary morning kick starter?

CAFFEINE CONCERNS

Caffeine is a drug, it wakes you up, gives temporary energy and coffee provides more caffeine than tea which is great in the morning when you want to wake up. It’s not so great if it’s still in your system at night when you wish to go to sleep.

Caffeine reaches it’s peak in your system about 30 to 60 minutes after the moment you consume it. It then has a half life of about 4 hours. So if you drink one cup of coffee you will have 330 mg of caffeine in your system one hour later. Four hours after that you will have about 165 mg of caffeine in your system. Four hours after that roughly 80 mg.

So if you have a 16 ounce cup of coffe at 8 am, by 5pm you depending on your how your body handles it you could still have 80 mg in your system at 5pm. The same size cup of black tea would put you at 25 mg by 5pm.

Basically, effects of caffeine can stay in your system about 14 hours later. Each of our bodies handle it a little differently though which is why it may have very little affect on the sleep of some people and highly affect others.

Personally my body holds onto caffeine like velvet holds onto cat hair. When I drink caffeine it is difficult to sleep, not exactly rocket science, but the more I drink the more difficult it is to sleep. For that reason I really want to drink coffee in the morning, but I usually regret it by evening.

PERKS & PITS OF COFFEE

So the perks of coffee are that it does a great job waking up my brain. However I have found that for all the mental focus I get from coffee it usually goes away leaving me in need of more coffee or suffering from lack of energy. So personally I consider the amount of caffeine in coffee a negative.

Other negatives of coffee are the need for cream when made to drink hot or lots of milk when made iced to really enjoy it. Also, coffee requires a special machine to make (though these machines are everywhere so that may not be a legit issue). The worst part I think is my breath stinks with coffee, I have an extreme urge to go brush my teeth after drinking a cup.

What I love about coffee is the smell, the taste, the jolt of caffeine, the ease it is to make with Keurig. I love the branding of Starbucks, the strong Italian and French roast, the way it tends to gather people for community and conversation. That bold taste that leaves you longing for more. I love the iced variety in the summer, I love the feel of a bag of beans more than a tiny bag of tea leaves. Mostly though it’s the smell, the aroma that fills a room where coffee is being brewed.

There are times when I’m drinking tea that this quote from an unknown author expresses my thoughts well, “Herbal tea tastes so much better when it’s coffee.” Then again there is the feeling that coffee will get me moving mentally and physically at such a speed that things will get done quicker just as Flash Rosenberg expressed when he stated, “I believe humans get a lot done, not because we’re smart, but because we have thumbs so we can make coffee.”

PERKS & PITS OF TEA

Tea has been a more recently acquired taste for me. When I first tried Laura’s Lipton I was severely underwhelmed. However that would be like judging coffee on a lukewarm cup of four-hour-old Folgers. The more I looked into tea the more interesting and enjoyable it was. The variety of options alone could keep someone exploring tea for months.

Black is the most widely consumed type, but there is also green tea, white tea and oolong tea which are all the same plant, but different picking times and different processes. Then there are all sorts of flavors, Earl Grey with Bergamot oils, Indian Masala Chai with amazing spices, Matcha for making blended green tea, Darjeeling, etc.

On top of that there are other plants that make teas. There is Yerba Mate, which is from South America and contains 100% of the caffeine of coffee. There is Rooibos a plant found in South Africa that is caffeine-free, but full of antioxidants. Then there are all sorts of herbs and weird girlie things that make some fantastic flavored teas.

The variety of tea means you can have something bold like Masala Chai in the morning, something mild like Green Tea in the afternoon and then something herbal before bed. I’ve found I really like the brand Tazo, but also Stash which is cheaper.

What I have discovered lately is how a nice cup of  chamomile or lavender tea before bed actually helps me get to sleep. I realize how “not manly” this is and I’m a skeptic of this sort of cheeseball stuff, but I’ve found it actually helps.

So I love the variety of tea, the caffeine kick that is noticeable, but shorter lasting than coffee. I like that it can be made hot, iced, blended, etc. It is best with milk and sugar (splenda). Tea can be made tasty for less calories which is nice as well. I don’t feel my breath is as bad after tea and the mere idea of tea makes me slow down and relax which I enjoy.

Plus C.S. Lewis never said anything about coffee, but he said this about tea, “You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”

SUMMARY

I find tea vs coffee is one of those person defining and person dividing points in the world. Republican or Democrat, Mac or PC, Dog or Cat, Texan or Yankee, Calvinist or Arminian, Blue Bell or Other, Coffee or Tea?

I really really want to be satisfied with tea since I sleep better with it. I want to say with the unknown author, “Coffee is not my cup of tea.” Yet I find if I’m honest I know I’ll continue to switch back and forth from time to time so long as God allows me to continue breathing. I am thankful God has given both of these good things and that I live in a time and place where they are available.

 

How quickly I’ve become an addict…

I used to drink tea. I wished I drank coffee. I just didn’t like it. I’m starting to think that was all mind over matter though. On my last flight home from Texas, the girl next to me had a coffee. Normally this wouldn’t faze me, but for some reason I thought about how happy that coffee made her, and I wanted to drink coffee too.

Brian has been trying to get me to convert for 10 years now. So I asked him if he would help convert me.

He told me I would need a fun creamer, at least to transition with. Spotted this and knew it was made for me! Sweet Cream!!

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This morning, for the first time, I had two cups.

I was done with my “to do” list for the day by 8:30 am.

Behind every successful woman is a substantial amount of coffee.  ~Stephanie Piro

Also been making Pioneer Woman’s iced coffee (have made it many time,  but never for myself!). Her instructions are always so great, so just by following them I’ve become an expert barista.

Sticking with the cheap coffee (really like Whole Foods brand and Sam’s breakfast blend) and not going near Starbucks. I feel like that might be a slippery slope. And I’ve slid far enough for 2 weeks already…

 

Dynamo Day 1: Reserve Game

The Houston Dynamo Reserve Team was in town today to play Sporting Kansas City. Anytime they are in town it becomes official Dynamo Day. So we got Becks and the girls and took them down to Swope Park to have lunch and watch. Here are some pictures from the day.

This is Alex Dixon. Guy is crazy fast and really nice. He later scored a goal in the game helping the Dynamo win 3-0. Dynamo Day 1: Reserve Match vs Sporting KC March 27 2012

There was a rain delay so at first the Dynamo came and sat under the shelter that we ate lunch under. I found myself with a little celebrity shyness. I didn’t want to be “that guy” so I didn’t talk to many of them. When we talked to some of them after the game they were very nice. Dynamo Day 1: Reserve Match vs Sporting KC March 27 2012

 

 

More pictures after the link.

Continue reading “Dynamo Day 1: Reserve Game”

Cause I Don’t

God spoke to me this morning. That is, I read Acts 14 and I absolutely loved reading Scripture this morning.

So like I said, God spoke to me, He told me about these Christian brothers of mine. Paul & Barnabas. These guys went to the city of Iconium and the Jews there are less then friendly, in fact, they hate them. They hate the Gospel they are preaching and they hate that people are believing the Gospel they are preaching and they plan to stone them.

You remember what stoning is right? One guy stands there while everyone else throws rocks at them until, if it goes as planned, they die. So what do you do if you find out someone is going to stone you? Unless you are stupid you leave before it happens.

Well Paul and Barnabas aren’t stupid so they go to another city and it says in Acts 14:7 “They continued to preach the Gospel.” So see God spoke this to me. It was exciting, it was great to hear about how the Gospel spread after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension through the preaching of the Gospel.

These words God spoke to me were not audible, they were not in my head, they were in my Bible. I read these Words of God in Acts 14 and I was encouraged. After that I wrote a prayer, here’s what I wrote.

“I love spending time listening to you God. I don’t often enough though. I listen to Tony, to Nathan, to Laura, to mlssoccer.com, to a bunch of blogs, to a couple of really funny TV shows, to Facebook, to twitter, I even listen to people cry when they get kicked off The Bachelor. I listen to so many people, real and fake, believers and unbelievers. It makes me wonder where my own heart is God. Cause now I’m speaking to you and I don’t do that often enough either. I talk to Facebook, to our blog, I talk to Tony, to Nathan, to various youth, to Laura, to people all day, but not often enough do I stop and talk to you.”

It went on, but I want to stop and ask the obvious next question.
Why?
Why do we listen to so many words from so many people more than we do to God when He speaks to His people in the text of Scripture?

I expect you’ll answer that question like my two year old Berkley answers every question right now.
Cause I don’t.

We figured out that she answers us like that and is only half listening to the questions, check out the video below to see what I mean.

Well that cracks me up, and if you are anything like me you are going to find yourself giving that answer to just about every “why” question people ask you today.

Hey, Why did you take my pen? Cause I did.
Why didn’t you clean up that mess? Cause I didn’t.
You want some pizza? No. Why not? Cause I don’t.

But the more I think about it, that’s my answer to this bigger question too and really that’s pathetic.

Why don’t I listen to God more? Cause I don’t.

Which of course means I’m not gonna really consider the question at all.

If I really think about it though, the answer is closer to…
cause I don’t care what God has to say
or cause I don’t believe it is God speaking to me
or cause I don’t believe I can understand it
or cause I don’t care as much about God who is invisible as I do about my friends who are visible.
or maybe simply cause I’m bored with you God.

That may be your honest answer and if it is admit it, I think sometimes we try to fool God in these things. “God, I’m to busy to read Scripture. I have too much homework and I have to run errands.”

Well come on, you can’t fool God, He knows your thoughts before you know them.

So go to God in prayer and tell him, “God your Word bores me, but movies and March Madness, that is intriguing stuff.”

Then plead with God in the name of Jesus Christ like only we who are believers can that the God who made you and the God who redeemed you would give you a desire to read and enjoy His Word, the Scriptures.

Which reminds me, You ever read the book of Nehemiah?

If you remember, Nehemiah is the cupbearer for the king of Persia. This is one of those jobs you really don’t want. It works like this: people bring food to the king, you eat it and if you don’t die then it is safe for the king to eat. It’s like when people test products on animals to see what will happen, only the cupbearer is the animal.

So Nehemiah learns that the walls of Jerusalem have been destroyed and he prays to God reminding God of His promise to restore His people Israel. God grants this prayer and the king lets him go to work in Jerusalem rebuilding the walls.

While there Sanballat of Samaria, Tobiah the Ammonite, Geshem the Arab, and the men of Ashdod come up with plans to stop the walls from being rebuilt.

Listen to this as God speaks to us in Nehemiah 4:7-8,

“But when Sanballat and Tobiah and the Arabs and the Ammonites and the Ashdodites heard that the repairing of the walls of Jerusalem was going forward and that the breaches were beginning to be closed, they were very angry. And they all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and to cause confusion in it.”

So Nehemiah and the Jews are doing construction work and they hear that they are going to be attacked.
How would you respond?
Option A. Gather weapons and stand guard
Option B. Pray for God to protect you

We read in Nehemiah 4:9 about what they actually did, “And we prayed to our God and set a guard as a protection against them day and night”

They did both. They first spoke to God asking for protection, asking for Him to grant their request. Then they put up a guard of people day and night, they wore swords as they built, they had men with spears and bows stand next to builders, they put people with trumpets on guard to warn of any attacks.

They prayed and they moved to action. Not one or the other, but both. Prayer first, followed by action.

Here is the connection. If some of you are honest, you are bored with God. You are less interested in God’s Word than just about everything else in your life. At least that is what our actions are showing.

So Pray. Pray in the name of Jesus Christ our Savior.
God will hear you. Pray that you would be given new taste buds, renewed love for the Scriptures, desire to sit and listen to God speak to you through Scripture.

But also act.
Don’t just pray that you would have the desire and stop there.

Open a bible and read, commit to read Nehemiah over the next few days, read through the Gospel of John, just read.

But go to God in prayer and go to God in action. Go to the Scriptures, these are the Words of eternal life.

Last thing,

In John 6 Jesus leaves the people by crossing the sea to Capernaum. He is with the 12 disciples and others follow in boats. Besides the 12 there are other disciples, who are people who seem to believe, going to hear more of what Jesus is saying. There are also grumpy Jews who are looking to find fault in Jesus and then even others who are just along for the show.

Then Jesus gives this speech that among other things says this (remember this is before the last supper and no ones knows about communion yet):

So as you read this, I want you to see if you can figure out why this speech might weird people out.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.”” (John 6:53–56)

Anything odd about that?
Yes, cannibalism tends to weird people out. We know He wasn’t talking about actual cannibalism, but that’s what the people heard.

A few verses later in John 6:66–69 we read the results of this speech. “After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with Him. So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.””

That it, isn’t it?

That’s why we listen to God speak in His Word.
That’s why we pray to God in the name of Christ.

“The Office” may be way more funny than Scripture and March Madness might draw us in as we root for underdogs and favorite colleges.

But the Bible, the Scriptures are the Words of eternal life and we find ourselves with Peter asking this question we already know the answer to.

Lord, Where else would I go? You have the Words of eternal life and we have believed, and have to to know that Jesus is the Holy one of God.

So where else would we go? Nowhere. So we go to God in His Word and we listen to the Creator of the universe and everything in it speak to us.

Oh Berkley Boo!

Laura: Berkley, eat your sandwich

Berkley: No, it’s a chicken.

Well, by golly it sure is!

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Laura: Ok, eat your chicken.

Berkley: Ok!

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Berkley, clearly frustrated: Mom, please help me!!!!!

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She couldn’t get the puzzle piece to fit, so her solution was to tear the tab off.

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When you ask Berkley nearing anything, her answer is the same: “because I did” “because he does” “because I am”…

Better yet, let us show you:



And here’s how she prays. Every time. Meals and all. She switches up who she prays this for, but it’s always the same. Always.

Thoughts on using a digital Bible

Over the years I’ve been in pursuit of the perfect Bible. Translation wise I moved from The Living Bible to New American Standard to English Standard. I’ve preferred single columns, desired a bible small enough to take everywhere and yet with cross references, study notes and enough room to take notes, thus making it too big to take anywhere (see ESV Study Bible for example of too big to take anywhere).

I never found what I was looking for on paper. However 15 months ago I bought an iPad and though I initially resisted using a digital Bible as my primary Bible I have since come to love it, prefer it and really to find what I always wished I would find in paper form. The perfect Bible (speaking of format of course).

Two best digital Bibles I’ve found are the free YouVersion.com and Olive Tree Bible Reader

YouVersion is a website (that is also an app available on every device (Android, iPhone, even Blackberry for Meyers).

What I like about YouVersion: Free, a few translations available off-line, tons of translation available when on a network, you can highlight verses that standout, make bookmarks of verses and tag them with subjects they cover creating your own quick reference guide for when you are looking for a verse about something.

What I don’t like about YouVersion: Reading plans are only available if you are connected to a network, the best features are confusing to understand, you must highlight an entire verse even if you wish to highlight just two words.

YouVersion on iPad

YouVersion on web

 

 

Olive Tree Bible Reader

Bible Reader is a program that runs on iPad, iPhone, Android, Mac and Windows (yes even Meyer’s Blackberry)  that syncs highlights and notes between them all.

What I like about Bible Reader:

(1) It allows you to purchase and download Study Bibles, dictionaries, Greek/Hebrew, etc that shows up in a window at the bottom. If you move from John to Acts, the window at the bottom shows you notes from Acts all by itself. This makes the ESV Study Bible 0.35 inches thick (iPad) instead of 2 inches thick.

(2) In paper Bibles if you see a cross reference or verse reference in study notes you have to go look it up, with this program you simple touch the reference and it pops up (see in picture below).

(3) My notes, bookmarks, highlights, are with me so long as my phone or iPad is with me since they sync between. Plus there are some great bright colors to use for highlights, I like bright colors.

(4) If my house burns down or I spill a drink on a paper Bible there go all my notes/highlights/etc. If my house burns down and destroys my iPad, Phone and computer. I still have my Bible just like I left it as soon as I can get to a new device.

(5) Undo. In some of my older Bibles I made notes that I would really want in my Bible today, there is no getting ride of them though, here it’s as simple as choosing to delete a note.

(6) Say you like the ESV Study Bible notes, but prefer reading the New Living Translation or New American Standard Bible. With paper you now need two giant bibles, with this you can do that easy. The Top half of the program can be any translation you wish, the bottom can be any other translation or study notes or commentary.

(7) If I want to share a verse on paper, I have to type it out or write it out and give it to someone, if I’m reading my Bible and I read something I want to share with someone, I selected and say click on the send button. Easy Peasey.

What I don’t Like about Bible Reader: I can’t physically turn pages, I do kinda miss that feeling. It’s not free, I like free.

Bible Reader on iPad

Bible Reader on Mac

Summary: I love a digital Bible. I love having Scripture with me to read when I’m waiting in line somewhere, I love that I can read it at night with the lights off, that I can quickly read cross references. The Olive Tree Bible Reader is free, you must buy most worth while content ($35 for ESV Study Bible, about same as paper), but it is totally worth it. I spent like half that on Tangled the awhile back and Tangled doesn’t contain the words of life.

 

 

I can’t compete…

Brian was awe-some with all three kids while I was in Texas. I can’t compete with his fun-ness or cool-ness. Or great blogging! I’m so thankful for him!!

My favorite parts were:

  • Berkley’s duct taped shoe – there are no less than 5 other pairs in her room that wouldn’t have required fixing – (but I will give it to him that he used pink duct tape!)
  • His sweet attempts at fixing the girls’ hair (he actually is an expert brusher!)
  • He said they got, wait for it…THREE baths (when it comes to baths, he’s of the party that thinks “tomorrow” is a better day for baths than today, so this is really impressive!)
  • Beckham’s outfit at the pancake breakfast. There are no words for that one…
  • That the girls went into that park bathroom BARE FOOT!!! I’m not a huge germ freak, until it comes to public bathrooms! (And thus I’m so thankful for those 3 baths!!)

Day 3 of Spring Break (after the killer bike ride that I adamantly swore I would never do again while we were riding, but now that I did it, I’m itching to do again. It’s kind of like having kids…) we met some friends at the zoo. We really do love the KC zoo.

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So do the other 2 million people in KC. (How many people live in KC?? I’m thinking that might be a Texas-estimate now that I think about it?)

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Look at sweet Stevie! It was his first trip to the zoo and I think he was pumped. He took it all in through his eye lids.

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When we got to the tigers, Beckham told Jessica, “They used to have a white tiger, but now they only have an orange one. I think they spray painted him.” IMG_3277

Could he be any cuter??IMG_3280

Pretty sure this isn’t legal…

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Then we met up with more friends!!

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They are looking at the map. And looking cute doing it. That’s why us girls look at maps.

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All the hooligans

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Becks asked if he could have a snow cone. I’m way to cheap for that, so of course I said no. Then I realized he was only asking for the free water…in the snow cone cups!! “Well of course you can, cause I’m cool like that!!”

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Oh how they wanted to jump off this moving tram to chase this goose…alas, this one got away. Next time guys, next time…

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