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Karen Below are the 25 most recent journal entries recorded in the "Karen" journal:

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May 3rd, 2015
03:29 pm

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Policies if I got to be Prime Minister
Rambling onto a screen. Won't ever get to actually do this Read more...Collapse )

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Current Mood: calm

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March 22nd, 2015
10:24 pm

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Hayfever and sunglasses and rucksacks
Hello world, first public post in ages.

Hayfever and sunglasses

I have suffered from hayfever for years, and have been aware that one of the recommendations to stop pollen getting to your eyes is to wear wrap around sunglasses. It's hard to get prescription lenses in wrap around sunglasses because of the shape of the lenses, so when you look in standard opticians you don't tend to see many wrap around frames. I am a full time glasses wearing person, so normal sunglasses aren't an option.

At the end of last year I finally worked my way round it (I think with help from commenters here) at a reasonable-ish price.

I ordered these frames then used that company's recommended reglazers, Ciliary Blue to have the lenses in the glasses replaced with tinted prescription lenses. I now have prescription sun glasses, in a wrap around frame for about £95, which while not being as cheap as some ways of getting prescription sunglasses, isn't IMO, bad, given that some places I'd been looking were advertising sunglasses at £300-£400.

Rucksacks

Somebody on LJ pointed me at Dakine as a brand of rucksacks that are hardwearing and are a bit more interesting than plain black but with patterns that aren't out of place in an office, rather than ones that are more obviously designed for walking or camping. I now have one that I'm liking a lot.

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June 15th, 2014
01:00 am

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Banks, identity theft and social engineering
One of the things that keeps us safe from fraud/identity theft/other crimes of deception is the ability to think "wow there, something's not right here" and act on that feeling that something isn't right and at least needs further investigation.

Banks seem to be going out of their way to undermine people's ability to keep themselves safe, by behaving in ways that replicate the behaviour of those who are trying to take advantage of us. They phone us and ask us to confirm security information. When we phone them they ask us for security information before they even know what question it is we want to ask (it might be "what time does the branch in $foo close on a Saturday?" - they don't need to know who is asking that question!). They send us text messages from numbers that cannot be verified online - how am I supposed to trust that a text message apparently containing details of my transactions is genuine when there is nothing to link that mobile number to the bank in their contact details page of their website?

So no, banks:

1. You do not telephone me and ask me to confirm who I am. Ever. Bad practice. I won't do so, I will hang up and report the call to you, on a number I can verify as belonging to you, as a potential fraud.

2. I will avoid dealing with you by telephone whenever possible, because it is so fucking frustrating. I don't ask clients who phone me at work to prove they are who they say they are before I'll talk to them! You could make the process much less frustrating by employing staff who speak English to the standard of a native speaker and by not asking security questions until you know someone wants information about their own accounts.

3. Publish your contact information. All of it. If a text message claims to come from you, I should be able to verify it.

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May 22nd, 2014
12:51 pm

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Election material
This year I have:

1 x leaflet from the Conservative party = 0 spelling errors.
1 x leaflet from the English Democrats = 0 spelling errors. I am an agnostic atheist who is British, not English and Christian and find this leaflet borderline offensive.
1 x leaflet from the Green Party = 0 spelling errors.
1 x leaflet from the Labour Party = 0 spelling errors, far too many annoying cliches in the first paragraph, focused on next year's general election rather than this year's European election.
4 x leaflets from the Liberal Democrats, two addressed to me, the other two not = 0 spelling errors, but dubious mix of fonts within both leaflets, which duplicated each other a lot, rather than one expanding on the other. The third document was set out in the form of a letter addressed to me - they could have done with printing something on the back. The forth paradies the UKIP/Conservative/Labour leaflets.
1 x leaflet from No2EU = 0 spelling errors, correct use of an apostrophe, content incorrect [I simply don't believe that public services are being privatised within the EU because of EU legislation]
2 x leaflet from UKIP = 0 spelling errors. Elides the difference between the EU and the ECHR in a naughty fashion. [One of my pet peeves - the ECHR was drafted by Brits (and others) shortly after the end of the second world war - the jurisprudence of the ECtHR grew up around what was the EEC and became the EU, but is separate from it]. Clever of them to include a window poster within their leaflet though.

Given the lack of spelling errors [normally a feature of local election leaflets], I suspect this material has been prepared centrally by the parties, rather than by local parties.

None of the material has altered by original plan to vote Liberal Democrat though.

This entry was originally posted at Dreamwidth. Please either comment here, or go there to reply using OpenID. There are currently comment count unavailable comments at Dreamwidth.

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April 18th, 2014
11:22 am

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Names and identity
I have been of the opinion, since I was around 11 or 12 or so that my name is my name and I will never change it. My name is a key part of my personal/individual identity [I get that this isn't the case for other people, who see names as things binding them to particular parts of their closer family]. I spent my childhood dealing with the disadvantages of a name others couldn't pronounce or spell (certainly primary school teachers of mine would spell it incorrectly and tell me I was wrong when I corrected them) or would make fun of. It was reasonably clear then that it was unusual/an identifying feature and as an adult and particularly with the creation/expansion of the internet, a name that isn't easily muddled for someone else is one hell of an advantage to have.

Other people have different views/experiences on this, which they're perfectly entitled to have, where names are perhaps a more fluid part of identity, connecting people with close parts of their family of origin or to a particular partner or to their family of choice and the bit of family they are most connected with changes over time. Other people use different names in different parts of their lives - a name for work and a name for home. I suspect there's considerable influence on some people's choices by institutionalised sexism, but you don't deal with that by removing or discouraging particular choices.

My main complaint here is not what people choose to call themselves in different times/different places, it's that systems/structures are not in place to reflect what people are choosing to do in terms of names. With some obvious exceptions, most of the time people who have altered their names want to be findable by both old and new name (or both home name and work name) or by a number of different names all at the same time and social media is not geared up for this. It expects people to have one name only. The same is true of things like passports (GB driving licences at least provide space on the paper counterpart for alternative signatures) - why can't passports and driving licences show someone's current preferred name and then give a list of previous names/also current names?

A lot of the problems that come with changing names (think serious professional ones, like publication records for academics and more mundane ones, like trying to cash a cheque addressed in the wrong name, the administration and paperwork involved in changing your name) primarily affect women, because it tends to be more women than men who alter their names could be avoided if we set up systems to explicitly recognise that Mrs Bloggs is also Miss Jones and that Miss Jones is still one of her names, even if she now prefers to be addressed as Mrs Bloggs, so colleagues, at the level of acquaintances she's not dealt with for some years can still find her on LinkedIn and she can cash cheques made payable to either name. Systems are easier to alter than human behaviour, so why not adapt systems that work better for current trends?

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June 11th, 2013
10:58 pm

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Disk partitioning
Google isn't being a very good friend at the moment.

Does anyone know how I can alter the size of partitions of a hard drive on a computer? There are two partitions at the moment, one is very small and contains Windows and other software stuff and I want to make it bigger as there's only 9% free space on it. The other contains lots of unused space.

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May 6th, 2013
09:07 pm

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Twitter - Android client
I've been using TweetCaster as an Android client for Twitter for ages and generally like it, but it's now taken to showing me retweets from people from whom I've unsubscribed from retweets. This is a minor annoyance, but one that is sufficiently annoying that I want to find an Android client that doesn't do this.

Does anyone have any suggestions?

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April 8th, 2013
07:05 pm

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Baroness Thatcher
I wrote about today back in 2005.

I've already unfollowed about four people on Facebook and one on Twitter for suggesting her death is something to be celebrated. I'll keep doing that. *shrugs*. I feel very strongly indeed that:

(a) death is not something to be celebrated, ever [sometimes it's a relief]
(b) there's no good reason to be insulting a newly dead person. The insults can wait for a couple of months.
(c) how we treat and talk about the dead is important.

I see *celebration* of her death and insults directed at her as an ethical failing; a lack of compassion and of respect. [Disagreeing with her politics is an entirely different matter.].

This entry was originally posted at Dreamwidth. Please either comment here, or go there to reply using OpenID. There are currently comment count unavailable comments at Dreamwidth.

Current Mood: busy

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September 6th, 2011
01:36 am

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BiCon - may as well/lemming
Have a post with screened comments, should you want to say anything to me post BiCon/for any other reason.

Will unscreen unless you say otherwise/the contents obviously shouldn't be public.

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August 22nd, 2011
07:28 pm

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Appropriate use of bins
Yesterday evening, I went out to bring the blue (recycling) bin in and take the black (landfill) bin out. I discovered a red sticker had been placed on my bin indicating that the bin men had refused to empty it as it contained non-recyclable items.

I dug into the bin, removed the coat hangers, someone had placed there, noticed there was a beef burger in a bun and then began to see the cigarette butts. Lots and lots of damp, smelly, cigarette butts, someone had decided the appropriate place to dispose of was my reycling bin. FFS.

Why do people do that sort of thing? There were lots of black bins in the same place as my blue bin and I cannot conceive of a recycling scheme that might accept cigarette butts for recycling. Surely, if you're going to use someone else's bin, because it's convenient, you at least have the courtesy to pick the correct kind of bin for your rubbish?

This entry was originally posted at Dreamwidth. Please either comment here, or go there to reply using OpenID. There are currently comments at Dreamwidth.

Current Mood: pissed off

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April 1st, 2011
08:00 pm

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Policial rambling
Feeling both that I disagree with a lot of the policital points being made and the means of making them within online circles of people I know whilst also seeking approval from others. The two don't go together. I've misplaced whatever it is that enables me to be a good lone voice or a good dissenting view. So, in an attempt to find some of that again:-

1. I think public spending cuts are inevitable in the current economic climate.

2. I don't agree with where some of the cuts are falling as there seems to be a disproportionate impact on the most vulnerable in society.

3. Whilst I agree that everyone (companies and people) should pay the tax they owe, I consider that it's an enormous oversimplification of several different issues to suggest that unpaid tax from particular large corporations magically fixes the national debt or removes the need for public spending reductions.

4. I agree people have the right to protest by marching through the streets if they want. But I'm pissed off at the justifications I'm seeing for damaging property. No, it's not OK. And beyond that, I find it very hard to understand why people put themselves in harms way like this to make this particular point. If we know the police will use 'kettling' and we can reasonably assume within a very large event that there will be small groups of people out to cause trouble, then why join a protest march?

5. I'm reasonably happy with the Conservative/Lib Dem coalition so far. [There are individual decisions I would criticise, but over all they're not bad].

This entry was originally posted at Dreamwidth. Please either comment here, or go there to reply using OpenID. There are currently comment count unavailable comments at Dreamwidth.

Current Mood: calm

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March 7th, 2011
11:57 am

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Flushing toilets
Before I spend money calling a plumber.... there is currently a hammer sitting on my toilet to aid with flushing it as it is not flushing well and has to be pumped with a hammer to get it to flush.

I can't work out how to take the cistern lid off. I have a dual flush system with buttons flat on the top of the cistern. I have already:

*cut through the grouting holding it to the wall behind it

*taken the metal coverings off the buttons on the toilet.

Under the metal buttons are two pieces of plastic, each connected to a short spring down to a further circular metal base. I can't currently work out how to take the plastic off the springs (if you're meant to do that) or how to take the springs out of their holes so I can get to the bit beneath the springs.

There's got to be a way of lifting the cistern lid off and I'm finding my inability to work it out frustrating. Anybody got any ideas?

This entry was originally posted at Dreamwidth. Please either comment here, or go there to reply using OpenID. There are currently comment count unavailable comments at Dreamwidth.

Current Mood: confused

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October 8th, 2010
08:41 pm

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Car buying
Am thinking quite seriously about buying a car again. I am becoming less enthuastic about cycling in this weather and it's only autumn - we've not yet reached winter/properly dark mornings. I don't (whatever the 'ought to's are) see this changing. And what's happening at the minute is that I'm taking cabs to and from work a lot, which means I'm tied to ordering a cab for a specific time and leaving at that time (assuming the company can supply me with one when I want one).

Stuff I want to know about cars:

Am I right in thinking that finance deals offered by car selling places are generally very bad value and that it's better to borrow money elsewhere and pay cash?

Is it possible to pay for a car on a credit card?

How long should I expect to be able to keep a car in good working order for? If I buy a car now should I be expecting to replace it in 5/10 years time?

What's the best trade off between cars made in the UK and cars made elsewhere with expensive replacement parts? ie. how do I weigh up the expense of replacement parts vs. potentially greater reliability?

I see road fund duty is for cars after 2001 based on CO2 emissions with a different table for 2001-2009 cars and a new one for post 2010 cars. How much emphasis should I put on low CO2 emissions vs. other stuff? We can't predict govt policy, but would it be reasonable to assume that the trend towards taxing the more polluting cars more heavily will continue and thus buying something with low emissions is a good plan? [trying to give that appropriate weight vs. the attempt at making myself feel less bad for joining the car owning masses 'cos 'my car doesn't cause much pollution']

What is good performance in terms of miles per gallon?

What is best practice in terms of winter/summer tyres? Can you buy snow chains in the UK? What other sorts of safety equipment belong in a car [on my list already: fire extinguisher, first aid kit, hammer for breaking windows/seatbelt slicing, jack, spare tyre, flourescent jacket, kitchen roll]

What's your magic piece of equipment in a car? [context: I'm trying to think about what sort of things I should think about asking a garage to fit before I buy a car from them - I don't know what sorts of things these might be - maybe strategically placed drinks holders? hands free kit? etc]

This entry was originally posted at Dreamwidth. Please either comment here, or go there to reply using OpenID. There are currently comment count unavailable comments at Dreamwidth.

Current Mood: busy

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October 5th, 2010
10:56 pm

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Internet bookmarks
X marks will close fairly soon. Does anyone have any personal recommendations for bookmarking stuff either firefox plug ins or otherwise. Criteria:

* I don't want to change browser, I like Firefox
* I don't want something aimed at sharing bookmarks with other people

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Current Mood: busy

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September 1st, 2010
09:55 am

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Lemming
Since everyone else is doing it and I see no particular reason not to, if you have stuff you want to say to me in a screened comment, go ahead in this post. I've never worked out why people like these things rather than email, but there we go. I don't care if it's stuff about BiCon (maybe you didn't find me to talk to me about something?) or other stuff (maybe there's stuff I write about I've failed to give context for or similar).

Comment screening is working fine. If you would like a reply, please leave me an email address/some other means of contacting you.

This entry was originally posted at Dreamwidth. Please either comment here, or go there to reply using OpenID. There are currently comment count unavailable comments at Dreamwidth.

Current Mood: calm

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August 19th, 2010
10:23 am

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Egg
Was really not very amused when the phone rang just after 8am this morning. I was expecting it to be someone-important-for-work-reasons not a computer generated voice with some sort of voice recognition system.

It's fundamentally bad security for a bank to be phoning me asking for security details. How am I supposed to tell that it is the bank and not a criminal scam?

I phoned them back about an hour later and again got an automated answering system, wanting me to talk to it before I could get through to a person who confirmed the automated phone call was Egg and that I had to go through to their security team.

Egg is only worth putting up with because Egg Money Manager is useful. Otherwise they could fuck right off with their computer generated speech calls at uncivilised hours of the morning and lack of alternative provision to the automated answering system to enable one to speak to a human.

This entry was originally posted at Dreamwidth. Please either comment here, or go there to reply using OpenID. There are currently comment count unavailable comments at Dreamwidth.

Current Mood: pissed off

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August 18th, 2010
03:43 pm

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Eee PC
<abuse of internet>If I want a roll up, flexible keyboard to go with my Eee PC (which runs the ASUS operating system, not Windows) which sort of keyboard do I want? </abuse of internet>

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Current Mood: busy

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May 8th, 2010
10:32 pm

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Election - campaign material
Posting so that I can put these leaflets in the recyling bin and cutting for boredom Read more...Collapse )

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Current Mood: calm

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May 6th, 2010
11:18 pm

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Election - disenfranchisement
Cutting for boredom to those not interested in UK politics Read more...Collapse )

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Current Mood: angry

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April 28th, 2010
09:46 pm

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UK politics/election
Cutting for likely boredom due to politics overload. Read more...Collapse )

This entry was originally posted at Dreamwidth. Please either comment here, or go there to reply using OpenID. There are currently comment count unavailable comments at Dreamwidth.

Current Mood: busy

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April 14th, 2010
11:35 am

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Oxford - Professor of Poetry Election
If you're a member of Convocation, you can now register to vote in the election for the Professor of Poetry.

I'm still willing to consider nominating anyone wanting to stand.

This entry was originally posted at Dreamwidth. Please either comment here, or go there to reply using OpenID. There are currently comment count unavailable comments at Dreamwidth.

Current Mood: busy

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February 28th, 2010
05:31 pm

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Internet not so welcoming
I've been feeling fairly exposed on LiveJournal, in relation to the numbers of people able to access my locked content who weren't (apparently) reading it and to a lesser extent in relation to people able to read my locked content whose content I wasn't reading. For this reason I've removed a whole pile of journals from my LiveJournal friends list and removed a number of journals from filters I use to post to. I've also removed some journals that look like they've been abandoned.

I'm almost certainly willing to add back anyone who was reading but not commenting much or anyone with an abandoned journal who comes back and starts using it again.

This entry was originally posted at Dreamwidth. Please either comment here, or go there to reply using OpenID. There are currently comment count unavailable comments at Dreamwidth.

Current Mood: busy

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January 30th, 2010
12:52 pm

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Heating insurance cover/service contract
I don't really want to continue with British Gas Homecare as British Gas, as a company, have irritated me enormously over the past year. The cost of what they propose for the next year "Homecare 200 Flexi" is £150. This includes an annual service.

Google has led me to Homeserve and I like the look of Easy Pay Gas Central Heating Cover. I know there is no cover for the first 28 days of the policy. It will cost £86.30 for the year. [The cost for the alternative product including an annual service is £153.42]

My boiler is at least 19 years old, if not closer to 29 years old. It would be eligible for the £400 government grant for replacing it, but that isn't something I want to do right now.

Given the age of the boiler, am I right in thinking that I should probably find insurance cover/a service contract that includes an annual service? [I'm not going to go with Homeserve's product as it's more expensive, but will keep looking].

Does anyone know anything about Homeserve?

Anyone have any other pearls of wisdom regarding heating cover products they want to share?

Edit

AOS are more expensive than British Gas and require someone to come out and see the system before you can apply for cover.
Domestic and General won't cover my boiler as it's a conventional boiler over 15 years old.
EON won't cover my postcode

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Current Mood: busy

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12:32 pm

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PSA - voting + libraries
If you are in the UK and didn't register to vote during the annual canvas in October 2009, you should register to vote soon, as there must be a general election on or before 3rd June 2010. The deadline for registering will be 11 working days before the election and it's possible that an election could be called at short notice (rather than May, which is when I would expect it to be called).

Also, if you are in England and Wales, some counties have opened library registration to people who don't live within the area but live elsewhere within England and Wales - Westminster (has a number of reference/special interest libraries), Southwark, Oxfordshire and Cambridgeshire (to those in neighbouring counties, not all of England and Wales).

This entry was originally posted at Dreamwidth. Please either comment here, or go there to reply using OpenID. There are currently comment count unavailable comments at Dreamwidth.

Current Mood: busy

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January 16th, 2010
09:21 pm

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Housekeeping poll - Part 2
Please see post immediately below this for an explanation:

Poll #1512423 DW + LJ usage

For the account I'm answering this poll with, I

post the same content to DW + LJ
8(15.4%)
post different content to DW + LJ
4(7.7%)
only post to LJ
38(73.1%)
only post to DW
1(1.9%)
do something else
1(1.9%)

Current Mood: busy

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