The exploration Mindset: Making Boring things fun and feel like not a waste of time

It isn’t hard to imagine that if you go into something trying to explore, you will come up with something interesting eventually. Also, everything is connected, if you are looking for connections, you should find them…although trying to find connections can sometimes be like iunno, work? lol However, I feel like it can turn into more of a day dream once a connection or something interesting is found, so that from there it is smooth sailing.

So the technicalities. One I thing I’ve just realized, is that when I’m trying to learn something I might need to actively stop and explore my experience, instead of just continuing to try and cram my head with stuff.

Just like mindfulness when if you are in a bad mood, you can explore that mood and it becomes less bad,exploring the mood is different from just experiencing it.

So! I tried exploring and it felt ok. What happened was I started with zhongwen.com and was just reviewing, then I went onto some new characters, but instead of just going through a bunch I started asking questions about each one like “what is the main concept?” “do you have anything to add to this observation?” “can you give three observations about this character?” “does any thing come to mind that this idea relates to in your life?”

This kinda helped for the first 2 or 3. Then I came to one where I really had very little to say. So what I did was I moved on to the words it was used in, and obseverved those, then the characters in those,
and the words they were used in. So I ended up taking notes on I guess 10 characters, 7 of which are part of words. I still feel a kind of stress from this, like I feel that lump in my throat or the need to swallow…however I feel like if I can explore endlessly and voraciously, only trying long enough to
TEST if there is something interesting, befor moving on, maybe I will be able to keep some kind of interest.

Also, after that, I though, well I have a comic book I can read now I guess I’ll do that. However, then that felt like, too easy. Like, it felt like just eating candy or something unhealthy but that tasted good. Iunno. I wonder if maybe the exploration mindset is healthy, and the mindless entertainment is unhealthy, and if I can somehow switch to only exploring. It feels like, with the exploration mindset, it’s challenging yes, but it’s also like I am responsible for my own fun, instead of sitting back to be entertained by someone else. I have to find the fun, the interesting aspects of what I’m working on. This is good because if I can do this, the “interesting things” will be probably more valuable than things I didn’t have to work to notice or discover and that are closer to common knowledge anyway.

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Keep a beautiful journal in Chinese (Power of Aesthetics)

I stumbled on some motivational tips in a scientific america magazin
which initiated some pondering, which resulted in some ideas about what
I might enjoy doing in Chinese.

namingly, writing in a cool ass journal.
This journal has to be cool, and look cool, etc, as this will be part
of what motivates me to write in it.

Also the fact that I be able to show anyone who reads it, “this is the chinese
I know” etc, would mean everytime I write I get an instant sense of
being more chinese and that I am making visual accomplishments.

Also, the more I write in it, the more valuable it will become, especially
if I write observations about my day, or notes about myself.

I just hope I can learn enough through using it, instead of an Srs.
I mean, I hope I will memorize enough.

I plan is to make it like a TAG style Journal where I have a set of questions
that I answer every day for a week or so, then next week I will have another
set.

For each day I write, I’ll first write out the question, before answering
it so I at least get practise writing and comprehending the questions
I write out.

Also this structure means less burden on me to come up with things to
say on the spot when I write. It makes it more of a task based thing.

Although I can still write stuff afterwards for fun.

I also like this because it allows the artistin me to come out in a more
passive but stll rewarding way.

Just like when someone was asked how to turn toasting bread into a game
someone would want to play. The first thought was, make the toast “cute”.
Aesthetics seem to actually be that important.

I mean yeah you can see businesses where people stay on websites or
in stores or whatever based on beautiful or user freindly it is.
What I’m discussing here though is like, can you make doing homework,
more fun than going to a party, through proper use of aesthetics?
I hope to prove this to be the case.

Aesthetics seem to have the ability to add meaning to something.
Would samurias be as romantizised if their swords and armor didn’t look
beautiful. Probably not. Aesthetics might actually hold a huge amount
of power that we can use to our advantage by weighting our tasks
with aesthetic appeal so that the most important task, is made to be
the most beautiful,(and I guess most personalized (like adding your
own touches to the stuff you beautify)) so that they draw you in the
most.

I mean, Chinese drew me in because of it’s beauty.

That is also another thing. It would suck if liking chinese so much, I
didn’t allow myself to write in it and own my writing.

Also those writing prompts could even evolve into a game that
I could play with others. Like, everyone getting the same question
and having to answer in just a few words, but getting lot’s of comprehension
from the reading, etc.

Also, notebooks have way more context than srs cards, and after a few
reviews you will have the connections of a whole page for each page of study
instead of just one card.

Also, I will be able to draw on previous pages in future writings allowing
me to use more and better language the more I keep at it.

I went for a jog today, and after work as well, I was feeling pretty motivated.
I’m just waiting till tmr, though because I want to by nice notebook, probably
from coles/indigo

“following a formula get’s old fast”.
How about I decide each day what I’m going to write but I need to
write a minimum of 50 words plus reading a number of previous pages
chinese first just to see how much has stuck. Once it’s allo stuck I
leave it for a random review which I could even schedule as a day where
I pickĀ  few pages at random to review.

How to focus on the journey & Can you make it enjoyable?

Heres another idea,

I just thought of, when I realized, even though I
can learn Hanzi way faster, I still feel like rushing,
just getting it over with, and that that attitude is like
almost garanteed fail.

Even with something like exercise. If I were to say,
“ah, I just need to be 180lb and I’ll be set for life”
I would burn out, because then I’ve set like a goal,
an end point that I need to reach, as opposed to just
working out.

“just working out” for me, is more like, seeing every workout
as a goal in itself, where as “trying to reach 180” means
every workout inbetween counts as almost nilch/ziltch/whatever lol.

When I forget about the long term and just crank the music,
and get the pump for that day, and be strong and awesome
in the moment’s I am working out, and focus on those
things, it becomes enjoyable.

So I think it’s important, maybe especially to really focus on
feeling awesome in the moment for my performance.

Now kind of related might be that I enjoy making music more
when I’m just out for a walk and doing it to entertain myself.
In this case maybe I’m more focused on an artistic awesomeness
Still though, I mean it maybe partly about the enjoyment.

So iunno, I wouldn’t call it mindfulness exactly, but it is
about being present, making the most of the situation, basically
turning it into an expression of me(well that’s how I’ve been making
the most of things with working out etc.

I turn it into an expression of awesomeness. I play music, I make it
dramatic, almost role play. It’s also creative, even though in a
more subtle way. I pose in the mirror, I lift to the music, make
facial expressions, focus on technique(which is probably diff for everyone).
All these things enhance my experience at the gym and at this point they
come naturally I guess.

With singing etc, same kinda deal, imagining I’m on stage,
expressing myself. Being creative with how I sing, with technique,
facial expression, timber, pronounciation, etc.

My hypothesis as I sit here and reflect on all this, is that all those
little things I do, give me little boosts of dopamine.
The time between chosing to be creative in some small way, and
acting on that impulse and thus being rewarded, is so small that
the dopamine is almost instantaneous.

Let’s compare that to if I were just focusing on reaching some
far off goal. Every day that I measure myself and see that I
have not reached that goal, could be seen as a small failure in
which case dopamine would decrease instead of increasing.

That is no fun.

So what I need to do when I pick up a goal, is to not be
focused on the long term at all. I mean, I can set the goal
so I can work effectivly towards it, allocating the right amount
of time each day. Beyond that though, I need to let go of it,
and focus on enjoying every moment of the process.

How do I do that.
It seems for me it will come down to creative expression through
whatever work I am doing. It needs to be creative for the sake
of enjoyment though. Like, I have decided to do this thing, now
I want to turn it into something I love.

So part of that is I need to have decided, otherwise if something
better comes along and distracts me it wont matter if I was
enjoying myself. So I need to first decide that this thing is
important enough to me, which for Chinese it is.

Then, how do I make it fun?
For learning the hanzi, I need to write them out, so the best
I can do there, is write them in a beautiful way. The strokes,
the positioning, sentences, altering lines to make it even more
cool looking. There is a lot to play with there.
Then after creating these things, and I need to make it as
perfect as I can along with it being creative, so that I wont feel
like it’s creative but sloppy. I want it to be displayable. Then I
want to actually have them on the wall of my room, so I get constant
feedback about the beautiful work I’ve created. Constant reward
to add to my motivation.

For talking, for one I can watch funny things. For another though,
I mean, when I’m bored (yes this again), when I’m bored and I just have
chinese flowing through my head, sometimes I’ll just repeat what I can
remember, and really pronounce it as beautifully, or creatively, as I
can. It feels good to do this. Well, even to be more precise, it could
be that I like repeating things that just sound good to me for whatever
reason, iunno. I could start there, at least on rough days lol, but
in general I feel like as long as I can be creative enough I can turn things
beautiful for my entertainment.

So I’ll try to get into these things and just make them into habits.

even with doing the dishes at work, I’ve created techniques and I do
them in ways that make them beautiful. Like, iunno, like a robot, or something.
Just really, I guess efficient and maybe graceful.

This is opening up a whole new way of seeing achievement.

Also another important thing to realize is that, well at least for me,
as I get older and a lot of my childhood memories are fading or so it
seems, I want to creat new memories. I see the importance of experiencing life
in a way that is memorable, instead of always seeking something else.

So it’s good that through this way of seeking goals by just enjoying them,
I can kind of do that because I’ll be more focused on making the things
enjoyable and so I’ll be more focused on the experiences. Way more than if
I could somehow get a high paying job that was meh.

So an even higher level of thinking that I’ve afforded myself here is that
I can see that this is my expereince of life that I am taking control
of by actively seeking to experience my activity, instead of just finding the
fastest way to the goal. The goals are really not that important. Final
Fantasy, is not about the goal, it is about the journey, and making it as
exciting as possible, so that you hope it never ends.

Hanzi Mega-Pictorials

This idea is inspired by the hanzi Biang which isapparently the most complex hanzi, or at least the one with the most strokes.

I realized hat allthough it s a big character, its’s components are all pretty simple and common, which make it a sinch to learn.

How, here is the thing. It’s probabbly as easy to learn and/or forget, as any other hanzi, even a relally small one, at least initially. It’s almost like it’s uniqueness and interconnectedness makes it easier to learn or something, iunno.

So my idea, is to create a bunch of mega hanzi which represent some larger idea. If I learn one hanzi composed on may 10 smaller hanzi that I have seen but haven’t memorized, I would only have to draw this one hanzi to learn all of the hanzi within it, as long as I could put them together in a way that should how they connect to each other. This would be better than trying to learn them in isolation, or even in sentences. I would be creating diagrams of the hanzi meanings and commiting those to memory.

Also, doing it thisway would allow me to be creative and expressive as I would be able to choose which hanzi to put in each diagram and it could be based on things other than just similarity or something. Although I could do it this way. One main radical in the middle and the radicals that add meaning spread around it based on some other ideas related to their meanings.

So creating a mega picture thing in this way is awesome on many levels:

1. It means you aren’t writing each hanzi, you right the radical in the center and then only the components around it so you don’t have to remember as much information. You create the diagram and then later you decode it if you need the info.

2. The context from having so many radicals and the positions you can play with allows you to add meaning to them and this makes it easier to remember the meanings just from seeing the diagram, which is easy enough to remember and reproduce because …

3. You have less diagrams to remember than if you tried to remember Hanzi at random. The Hesig method helps I guess in that you learn them more in order, but the method really increases how much information you need to process by requiring the creation of stories for each character. With this method you turn 8-10 characters (or maybe more), into one mega picture and the context of the radicals within means you have less trouble recalling. All in all, you have far less information to store, that information is associative, and by learning only one or two diagrams per day, each diagram will remain more familiar to you.

Instead of learning 3000 Hanzi, if you create diagrams with ten characters each, you only need to learn 300 diagrams.

Language Learning: Muscle Memory and Passive Auditory Imprinting

“Passive Auditory Imprinting” Is really just a name I’m giving for the idea Khatsumoto from ajatt.com gives the idea of learning things through “osmosis” or passive listening. Where for example, if you hear the same phrase over and over, even if you don’t actively pay attention to it, you will become familiar with that phrase. Another example is learning a song or the words to a commercial even if you aren’t trying to.

I call it passive Auditory imprinting, and I stress “imprinting” because to me that feels like the best way to describe what is happening, at least for the moment and because this idea of imprinting seems to have other ways of occurring that I want to discuss.

First though, the reason why I find this idea important. It is because I find learning things actively to require a lot of resources and therefore not efficient. I mean, the worst example of this is creating mnemonics, where you focus completely on this task for the period of time that you are creating them AND all the reviews of the mnemonics you create.

Why is this not efficient?

For some people I’m sure it is efficient. For me though, I find myself constantly thinking, “damn I have to make up stories and review and actively recall meanings and stories of words. I have to remember a lot of information actively. I have to spend this time doing this, when I could be thinking about so many other interesting things. That is what makes it a burden.

Working out isn’t a burden for me. Doing chores not really, a physical part time job not really, but sitting down to review information that I already know so I don’t forget it, running over the same pathways, consciously,almost as if I never even made them before. That sucks.

A bit better is learning by trying to make connections. It’s still very active but it can rely on context more than creativity.

I feel like remembering things is important. I really got thinking about these ideas because of this fact, being able to remember a lot of facts is important for success in most fields and at least for the moment, it is not practical to try to get around it, in the school system at least.

Language learning as well is another huge example of where memorizing facts can become the “make or break” point. Learning Chinese requires being able to read and write 3000+ unique symbols.

This brings me to my next idea. Because learning Hanzi through mnemonics and review of those mnemonics becomes mind numbing very fast for me, because in general, memorizing can have this same effect, I need a way to be able to do memorization without it being a burden. Without having to sacrifice my cognitive resources.

Now here is my solution, which is pretty much going against the new way of doing things. I want to learn Hanzi by rote. As I write them out 10 or so times each, I will not have to think about them nearly as much. I can think about anything, let my mind wander in and out of focus. As long as the strokes are right and as long as I somehow fit the meaning to them. Either by only learning sentences which would have built in context for far more Hanzi at once. Or even paragraphs of text, just writing the whole paragraph out, knowing what it’s about, until I’ve memorized it and can write it on command. Or just write the hanzi while saying the name each time. Simple things like that.

I’ll still learn them. Why because of another type of imprinting. Muscle memory imprinting. My muscles(and parts of my central nervous system) will learn the Hanzi. I will be able to access those parts either when I write, or by imagining writing the words, and eventually just because I’ll have used them enough.

Now here is an interesting question. Is writing in big letters, the same as hearing a song played at a louder volume, in terms of increasing your ability to remember it. Or does a song only need to be loud enough to be clear, and writing something you see, the same as seeing the symbols clearly.

So this brings me to a whole philosophy about learning. Should we be trying to force our learning(of boring material) into consciousness awareness? Or is it better left to other parts of the central nervous system to store, and then we process and internalize further as needed?

I’ll end this by saying it sees some thing we are passionate about “knowing and understanding require a foundation of memorizing things we feel are not interesting. This method is a way to memorize those less interesting things in a way that uses more kinesthetic resources instead of the deeper conscious cognitive processes we want to use for the fun stuff.

Hanzi Burnout impending: My Counter Measures

well I’m starting to get that burnout feeling with the Hanzi again. Well, either that or it’s that I did them right after a wheat based meal and that is the real problem. and/or sleep.

I’m gonna try something though because I think the problem is reviews and new mnemonics are both too much of a strain.
Btw, I’ll note I’m not using RTH. WHy? Well mainly as a challenge.

So, during reviews I’m gonna skip any Hanzi I can’t get really fast, and for reviews If I don’t know it in 10seconds I’ll suspend. it. Also I could even try to add a new one for each Hanzi I suspend in this way.

As for learning new ones, my pIan is to go through the deck learning all the easy ones first. Skip any of them that I can’t easily make a story for. I might even focus on etymology, or what seems like it would be the etymology or could make sense in that way. Those seem to be the best for me in terms of memorizing. The ones that are enjoyable to do.

Then I go back through the deck and the ones that WERE hard will be less hard the second time through because I’ll be able to use my knowledge of the already known characters as a stronger base. I’ll just keep doing that, making it so I am only ever learning easy Hanzi.

Ok I’ll try it.

Also I’ll add, that peole usually can do rtk/rth and learn them in 2-3 months at 20-25 a day. For me it’s been 10/day and taking 30+ minutes. I know it’s because I’m not using rth so I’m left having to come up with stories including 4+ elements which rth would avoid.

So I think this new idea will adress that problem because I will skip over any characters that have more that 2 elements, unless I can make sense of them right away.

Also it’s actually very interesting that the characters where I make mnemonics using stories about super heros ect, actually make me mad and frusterated (which leads to burn out). Where as the characters where I just make sense of the radicals in some way, lead to satisfaction. I’m going to take this seriously. I feel it has to do with my personality, where I enjoy learning things conceptual logical things, and dislike learning things that have no connection to anything else (and a very strong example of having no connection is stories that I make up just to form a memory but that I have no interest in otherwise).

On the macro level the example would be going to school for electronics and computers which is not something I had much interest in, and it being hard. Then now I’m studying psychology and philosophy ect which is very connected to who I am and what I want, and it being easy.

Language Learning Motivation: Avoiding Pain

I just realized another very interesting thing. I mean, a well known technique for motivating yourself to continue is to realize that if you quit, there is a good chance you will regret it at some point. However, that motivation is just as distant as the motivation to continue. Just like telling yourself, “in 6 months time I will be glad I stuck with it” is often not enough, saying, “If I quit, in 6 months time i will regret it cause I’ll know where I could have been” is also not motivating enough on it’s own.

However, Once you’ve actually experienced that regret, you’ll realize it’s not like, in 6 months you’ll suddenly feel like, “O snap if only I stuck with it”. At least that’s not the case for me. It’s actually an on going thing, if I’m not actively learning, especially after how much time I put in, every day I am seeing Chinese or bumping into situations where I would love to even be able to say “I am learning Chinese right now, this is what I learned today, ect”. Just that feeling of knowing you are progressing, that you are in it, that you have that affiliation with it. This is a reason to maintain it daily.

Daily is what you need, and it doesn’t have to be a lot. Just something. I give it around 20 – 30 min a day depending on how my reviews(using anki) and new hanzi come to me.

SO, well I guess it’s kind of moving towards pleasure as much as it is moving away from pain. Maybe these two are part of the same spectrum. I just realize this type of motivation is really important in tasks that you know you will have to do every day, especially before they have become habit. Part of the motivation does come from failure from doing too much and quitting. I know this, so if someoen is just starting out and has the urge to do too much, I kind of feel like saying go for it. It will be more meaningful when you finally internalize how these things need to be done, and if you still have a flicker of passion left after quitting many times, you’ll know how much it really means to you.

For me, I can feel the difference when I do just 10 new hanzi each morning and the rest of the day I don’t need to think about learning any more but I have the constant assurance that I am getting there and that the whole time I am having more and more to show for it. Night and day compared to quitting and having less and less to show for all the effort, every day.

Language Learning Observations: Walking, Hanzi Order, Slowing Down

The first observation is one that I’ve talked about before I’m sure but it’s important enough that I need to mention it again. Doing cardio like brisk walking for an hour really helps to increase a persons level of satisfaction with not only life in general, but with their work environment. What I mean by this is that after a nice walk, sitting down to work is way less taxing on the emotions and motivation. The serotonin (and maybe dopamine) is just there and so things don’t feel as draining.

I still don’t recommend doing more than 10 Hanzi per day, but just that this is way more doable after a nice walk. Also add music for even more of a boost in feel good chemicals and even a boost in general sense of purpose. I use video game/anime music that is meaningful to me for this. Long soundtracks that take more than one session to get through.

Next observation is about how the order of the hanzi allows for better mnemonics. All I will do here is introduce the idea though. I use an anki deck called taiwan grades 1 – 8 which introduces over 3000 hanzi. I sorted them I think by “hanzi” or by “question” in the browse thing. I’ll describe what the order results in and then you should be able to figure out what to sort by to get that result. Well it’s sorted I guess by pinyin so that it starts with a, then ba, then bian, ect. In sorting this way you get to see how some hanzi use the same elements. Not radicals, but larger 2 and three radical elements. If you just look through all the bians for example you will see some large elements that keep showing up. What this allows for is for you to learn those elements and use them in your stories and they get more review cause they are in more than one character in the same session.

Next observation is about how some hanzi already make sence. This is for people who are using mnemonics, but not the RTH by Hesig. If you go to zhongwen.com it shows etymology of characters and for the most part those make sense. However, you don’t even need this if you are the type that like guessing games and figuring out things based on context. I mean, and easy example would be if you see “tree” and “white”, then u learn the answer is “cedar” u can rationalize that it’s cause cedar trees leaves have a whitish tint to them, or something. A harder example is the character for paralises has “feild” with a line through it, and a cross on it’s side below. Then you see that the character for slave girl has that same complex element and “woman” beside it. So you can rationalizd that the complex character means being unable to move or some reason, and you can name it somehow.

The last observation I’ll make is that I found I was kind of rushing through the sessios for the first few days but I found my stress was building the more I tried to rush. So I just decieded to purposely slow down, write the characters more neatly(I don’t use stroke order yet) and try to enjoy the experience with the music I had on. It’s only around a 30min thing(could be shorted by I review and write out each character as I go) I felt better as soon a I decided to do this.

Avoiding burnout Languages/Resistance Training, Forming Habits by killing 2 birds

I’ve discussed before that in both language learnign and resistance training and I guess most forms of work and even in forms of play(ex video games), there is a maximum that if exceeded leads to a gradual loss of motivation.

So for resistance training I know many of the variables well enough that I can stay
consistent and not burn out.

The positive variables like music, people, sex drive, more reasons for workingout, ect, improve my motivation.

Lack of sleep, negative people in the gym, workig out alone, ect decreas motivaton.

However maybe more importantly is the factors of time, intensity, frequency and volume.
If any of these is too high then burn out will happen.

For Language learning it’s a bit different however a very important thing I’ve noticed is that I need to keep my environment as Chinese as possible so I keep having a reason to be learning what I’m learning. It helps me remember the goal.

Beyond that it seems time and intensity and freuqency and volume are important too.

So far I’ve have only realy done the cramming attempts that fail but I think I might be ready to try somthing more slow. It seems maybe I needed to try cramming and experience the failures and how much more I would have learned if I went slow, and how I still want to learn. Now with this experience, I am conditioned to not want to burn out because I have internalized that it is less effective for me.

What would probably be more effective is if I just did 10 Hanzi a day, for a year, and slowly start adding sentences in as I get used to it.

So I have been wondering what it is exactly that has me burning out so much. It could be as I stated before, if I try to spend so much time on learning one thing I am automatically obsessing which is automatically a form of stress because I want something badly but can’t get it until the alotted time is passed and that time is long. The more I obsess the more I feel stress and this leads to burn out.

Also I feel that doing a small number is easier for the brain to digest for me. It s way easy to remember just ten, than to remember 25 or 50. It just is. So It’s like less work over all to just do ten, so it’s more efficient.

It might end up being that I just keep trying stuff and quitting and eventually enough of the learning sticks that I get somewhere but iunno. My plan is to go slow and hope I can make it a habit and therefore keep at it.

I find it’s easiest to make habits for myself if they require less start up time, less time to get into a flow I guess.

I don’t mind doing dishes cause I only do 5min worth.
Breakfast, 5 min
Make a youtube video 5 min
blogging takes more time but I’m just recording my thoughts for myself so it’s not really work. Same with youtube kinda.

It seems the best way to get a habit going is to fit it somewhere in my life somewhere that makes it really efficient to be productive.

I started making youtube videos while making breakfast. I mean I do these two things at the same time. Efficient, therefore motivating.
I think people also like doing SRS on the bus for the same reason. Or listen to pod casts while cleaning the house. It’s efficient.
I think this is why I like working and workig out at school. I am around people which is important to me, and then I’m also doing work I need to do. Efficient.

I guess killing two birds with one stone is kind of like a way to increase dopamine, the reward for doing something. So it makes it way more motivating to do a two bird one stone thing. Maybe it’s cause the brain knows there is a more efficient way ou there that it finds it hard to do something that it knows is not that way.

Language learning Journal: Interesting occurances

First I decided if I didn’t feel like studying today I just wouldn’t, and minutes later I realized I did want to study so I did.

As I was skimming and reading words, I had music on and for some reason I got the feeling that the music I was listening to was China and in Chinese and I had to realize that actually no, I’m just really immersed to it feels like I’m in China, but the music is English lol. It was cool.

Then I realized that what I do besides skimming and looking for the word I want 10 times, is whenever I come across a blue highlighted word I open it in a new tab. This adds even more randomization because it determines the next word I search for as long as it’s interesting. So it meant that I went from spiderman and comics to Apollo and Greek mythology to The Plauge and other diseases.

That plus the music, I really felt like I was in flow, or close to it.

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