Category: Dee Chadwell

Not in Kansas Anymore


I have a 1956 Norman Rockwell print of a frumpy, sweet-faced teacher standing in front of a class of clean-scrubbed, straight-backed children.  They had just written “Happy Birthday, Miss Jones!” on the blackboard for her.  It’s a scene light-years away from a 21st-century school massacre, and it may take some time for the more Pollyannaish among us to readjust to what the 21st-century school really is.  This may explain the freak-out over the idea of arming teachers: Miss Jones with a Ruger tucked into her belt is just too hard to swallow.   

This worries me, because we can’t fix a problem we don’t have the courage to really acknowledge.  Our schoolrooms are still full of great kids, sweet-natured and teacher-loving, but these days, every class has an ever increasing number of students carrying major psychological damage.  I’ll never forget a class of freshmen I had one year.  Of the 27 students in that section, nine were seriously mentally disturbed.  I know a teacher who’s trying to deal with a student who has already thrown rocks through the principal’s office windows and is currently threatening to burn down the school with a flamethrower.  He’s six years old.  

It’s been ten years since I’ve been in a public school classroom, but even back then, the horrible parenting I was seeing had me worried.  I’ll never forget the young man who chose to write his narrative essay about the night his father tried to strangle him.  He was nervous about testifying at his dad’s trial.  Or the young woman whose father was willing to pay for the braces she needed as long as she would bring home friends for him to have sex with.  And the young man, fatherless and troubled, who brought a hatchet to school to use on me if I made him give a speech.  His terrified mother’s warning saved both my life and his.

Or the kid who stole my credit card and was going to hold it hostage until I changed his failing grade.  Or the young lady I found sobbing her heart out in the hallway one morning.  I hesitated to stop and talk to her – she was prone to frequent tearful meltdowns – but I did stop, and I was glad I had.  That morning, her father had walked into a local park, doused himself with gasoline, and lit a match.  He was, of course, dead – and no one in that household had thought to keep this poor girl at home that day.

There have always been bad parents and damaged kids, but we’ve never had so many.  We can trace some of this breakdown through stats – the counselors at my last high school estimated that at least 60% of our clientele came from highly dysfunctional homes.  Look at the stats on drug overdoses – our kids, by the tens of thousands, are willing to risk their lives for the momentary faux euphoria they can get from opioids.  They are lonely enough and unsure enough to spend hours on social media, trying, I suppose, to build a facsimile family, a façade of a life.

According to research done by the Barna Group, the people of Generation Z find professional achievement, hobbies, and sexual orientation more important in their lives than either family or religion.  (Remember that Gen Z includes not only our high school students, but a great many of their teachers.)  Their grandparents’ values are just the opposite.  In fact, the same study shows that only 9% of these young people are committed, active Christians.  That’s what happens when we send our kids into a system where God is either ignored or mocked.  We leave those kids there for 12 years, and then they go to college, where they are ridiculed and excluded because of their faith.  We bought the lie that schools can be neutral, and now we’re having to cope with the results.

And what happens when the postmodern moral compass of students fails?  Some stats can give some insight.  In the 1910s, there were only two reported incidents of violent attacks in U.S. schools, and one was actually an accident.  In the 2010s, there were 126 such attacks.  Students all over the country are attacking (with knives and guns) each other and their teachers at an increasing rate.  The correlation is unsettling; something has gone wrong.

Let’s look at this from a teacher’s perspective.  A study published in 2011 by CNS News concluded that 145,100 public school teachers had been physically attacked by their students and that 276,700 reported being threatened by students.  That was almost ten years ago.  Just recently (2017), a Huffington Post article mentions that 11% of the teachers in Wisconsin have been attacked by students.  The article also discusses a union study that showed that 27% of the instructors interviewed had experienced threats, bullying, and harassment, and half of those incidents had been perpetrated by their students.  This is a long, long way from happy birthday, Miss Jones.

We have developed an undercurrent of thought in this country that has created a mirage, a distant vision of a utopian society in which everyone will live effortlessly and harmoniously, placing no strain on dear Mother Earth, offending no one, and rarely taking responsibility for much of anything.  We will puff our egos and pat ourselves on our collective, non-working backs about the Shangri-La we created without any help from that nasty, demanding God.  After all, we are evolutionarily sure that people are basically good, so all we have to do is to sing “Kumbaya” and smoke a joint or two.

It’s quite a shock, therefore, when things like the Parkland shooting happen.  If people are basically good, then how do we account for the Wicked Witches flying around our cities?  How do we explain the massive amount of irresponsibility that led up to the Parkland massacre?  We can feel the philosophical panic building.  To unravel the twisted, inconsistent, evil worldview that got us to the Austin bombings, the Las Vegas and Parkland shootings, and the shooting in Maryland will take some excruciating soul-searching, and human beings are not usually willing to go there.

We want to imagine that our schools still look like Miss Jones’s classroom, but that’s not what’s out there.  We want to picture Dorothy skipping merrily down the yellow brick road, and we don’t want to think about the hordes of flying monkeys following her.  We don’t want to be told about the sex, drugs, cheating, harassing, ugliness of a great many of our public schools – and not just the high schools.  As we send our daughters off to the school dance, we don’t want to be told that kids on a dance floor don’t dance; they have sex, clustering around the engaged couples so tightly that the chaperones can’t get to them.  I’ve seen that happen myself.  We may be able to adjust to the teenage society pictured in Grease or American Graffiti, but not the actuality of today.  There is no longer romance because they go directly to sex.  There is no more thrill of pushing the speed limit or sneaking a cigarette out behind the barn.  That’s no big deal anymore.

I graduated from high school in Lincoln, Nebraska in 1963.  The big, super-cool thing a kid could do then was to drive 75 miles south to Marysville, Kansas, where you could buy 3.2% beer at the age of 18.  Luckily, that road was mostly straight and flat, and few of the wild boys in my class got hurt driving it.  That was about it.  I had parties at my house once a month – dozens and dozens of kids – and we drank Pepsi and ate popcorn and danced – just danced – to my brother’s band. 

But we’re not in Kansas anymore.

I pray that we snap out of the Emerald City fantasy we’ve been lounging in and face the fact that Miss Jones is going to have to strap on that Ruger, at least until we’ve rescued the next generation and raised those kids in a Norman Rockwell way.

Deana Chadwell blogs at www.ASingleWindow.com.  She is also an adjunct professor and department head at Pacific Bible College in southern Oregon.  She teaches writing and public speaking.

I have a 1956 Norman Rockwell print of a frumpy, sweet-faced teacher standing in front of a class of clean-scrubbed, straight-backed children.  They had just written “Happy Birthday, Miss Jones!” on the blackboard for her.  It’s a scene light-years away from a 21st-century school massacre, and it may take some time for the more Pollyannaish among us to readjust to what the 21st-century school really is.  This may explain the freak-out over the idea of arming teachers: Miss Jones with a Ruger tucked into her belt is just too hard to swallow.   

This worries me, because we can’t fix a problem we don’t have the courage to really acknowledge.  Our schoolrooms are still full of great kids, sweet-natured and teacher-loving, but these days, every class has an ever increasing number of students carrying major psychological damage.  I’ll never forget a class of freshmen I had one year.  Of the 27 students in that section, nine were seriously mentally disturbed.  I know a teacher who’s trying to deal with a student who has already thrown rocks through the principal’s office windows and is currently threatening to burn down the school with a flamethrower.  He’s six years old.  

It’s been ten years since I’ve been in a public school classroom, but even back then, the horrible parenting I was seeing had me worried.  I’ll never forget the young man who chose to write his narrative essay about the night his father tried to strangle him.  He was nervous about testifying at his dad’s trial.  Or the young woman whose father was willing to pay for the braces she needed as long as she would bring home friends for him to have sex with.  And the young man, fatherless and troubled, who brought a hatchet to school to use on me if I made him give a speech.  His terrified mother’s warning saved both my life and his.

Or the kid who stole my credit card and was going to hold it hostage until I changed his failing grade.  Or the young lady I found sobbing her heart out in the hallway one morning.  I hesitated to stop and talk to her – she was prone to frequent tearful meltdowns – but I did stop, and I was glad I had.  That morning, her father had walked into a local park, doused himself with gasoline, and lit a match.  He was, of course, dead – and no one in that household had thought to keep this poor girl at home that day.

There have always been bad parents and damaged kids, but we’ve never had so many.  We can trace some of this breakdown through stats – the counselors at my last high school estimated that at least 60% of our clientele came from highly dysfunctional homes.  Look at the stats on drug overdoses – our kids, by the tens of thousands, are willing to risk their lives for the momentary faux euphoria they can get from opioids.  They are lonely enough and unsure enough to spend hours on social media, trying, I suppose, to build a facsimile family, a façade of a life.

According to research done by the Barna Group, the people of Generation Z find professional achievement, hobbies, and sexual orientation more important in their lives than either family or religion.  (Remember that Gen Z includes not only our high school students, but a great many of their teachers.)  Their grandparents’ values are just the opposite.  In fact, the same study shows that only 9% of these young people are committed, active Christians.  That’s what happens when we send our kids into a system where God is either ignored or mocked.  We leave those kids there for 12 years, and then they go to college, where they are ridiculed and excluded because of their faith.  We bought the lie that schools can be neutral, and now we’re having to cope with the results.

And what happens when the postmodern moral compass of students fails?  Some stats can give some insight.  In the 1910s, there were only two reported incidents of violent attacks in U.S. schools, and one was actually an accident.  In the 2010s, there were 126 such attacks.  Students all over the country are attacking (with knives and guns) each other and their teachers at an increasing rate.  The correlation is unsettling; something has gone wrong.

Let’s look at this from a teacher’s perspective.  A study published in 2011 by CNS News concluded that 145,100 public school teachers had been physically attacked by their students and that 276,700 reported being threatened by students.  That was almost ten years ago.  Just recently (2017), a Huffington Post article mentions that 11% of the teachers in Wisconsin have been attacked by students.  The article also discusses a union study that showed that 27% of the instructors interviewed had experienced threats, bullying, and harassment, and half of those incidents had been perpetrated by their students.  This is a long, long way from happy birthday, Miss Jones.

We have developed an undercurrent of thought in this country that has created a mirage, a distant vision of a utopian society in which everyone will live effortlessly and harmoniously, placing no strain on dear Mother Earth, offending no one, and rarely taking responsibility for much of anything.  We will puff our egos and pat ourselves on our collective, non-working backs about the Shangri-La we created without any help from that nasty, demanding God.  After all, we are evolutionarily sure that people are basically good, so all we have to do is to sing “Kumbaya” and smoke a joint or two.

It’s quite a shock, therefore, when things like the Parkland shooting happen.  If people are basically good, then how do we account for the Wicked Witches flying around our cities?  How do we explain the massive amount of irresponsibility that led up to the Parkland massacre?  We can feel the philosophical panic building.  To unravel the twisted, inconsistent, evil worldview that got us to the Austin bombings, the Las Vegas and Parkland shootings, and the shooting in Maryland will take some excruciating soul-searching, and human beings are not usually willing to go there.

We want to imagine that our schools still look like Miss Jones’s classroom, but that’s not what’s out there.  We want to picture Dorothy skipping merrily down the yellow brick road, and we don’t want to think about the hordes of flying monkeys following her.  We don’t want to be told about the sex, drugs, cheating, harassing, ugliness of a great many of our public schools – and not just the high schools.  As we send our daughters off to the school dance, we don’t want to be told that kids on a dance floor don’t dance; they have sex, clustering around the engaged couples so tightly that the chaperones can’t get to them.  I’ve seen that happen myself.  We may be able to adjust to the teenage society pictured in Grease or American Graffiti, but not the actuality of today.  There is no longer romance because they go directly to sex.  There is no more thrill of pushing the speed limit or sneaking a cigarette out behind the barn.  That’s no big deal anymore.

I graduated from high school in Lincoln, Nebraska in 1963.  The big, super-cool thing a kid could do then was to drive 75 miles south to Marysville, Kansas, where you could buy 3.2% beer at the age of 18.  Luckily, that road was mostly straight and flat, and few of the wild boys in my class got hurt driving it.  That was about it.  I had parties at my house once a month – dozens and dozens of kids – and we drank Pepsi and ate popcorn and danced – just danced – to my brother’s band. 

But we’re not in Kansas anymore.

I pray that we snap out of the Emerald City fantasy we’ve been lounging in and face the fact that Miss Jones is going to have to strap on that Ruger, at least until we’ve rescued the next generation and raised those kids in a Norman Rockwell way.

Deana Chadwell blogs at www.ASingleWindow.com.  She is also an adjunct professor and department head at Pacific Bible College in southern Oregon.  She teaches writing and public speaking.



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Chaos and the Everlasting Arms


Shakespeare’s play Othello showcases the most vile character in all of drama — a man often referred to as “honest Iago.” He is especially horrifying because he is charming, efficient, and intelligent, but mostly because he often breaks the fourth wall, looks the audience right in the eye, and tells us what his next diabolical move will be. We’re in on it whether we want to be or not. He creates chaos just because he can and we are powerless to stop him. Watching the news these days feels much like watching Othello.

We listen to the “news” (a word of increasingly unclear meaning), most of which deals with riots and robberies, murder and mayhem, barbarism, and skullduggery at even the highest levels of government. Change — technological, social, and financial — is happening at lightning speed, but we have to be careful how we talk about it because the word-police are listening, and our most valuable words have been drained of their semantic weight and locked away in a closet. Of what use is “hate,” or “woman,” or “Nazi”?

We’re beginning to realize that our most important institutions — our schools and our churches — are closing minds rather than opening them, that our medical system is itself on life support, that our children have nothing to rely on other than the government that has done this to them, or the drugs being smuggled across our unattended borders. Our culture is disintegrating before our eyes.

China, North Korea, and Russia (Can I talk about that country without risking being wiretapped?) to say nothing of the entire Muslim world are all gearing up for a major fight and we’re not ready. Muslim “refugees” (another word that’s taken a beating) have successfully invaded much of Europe and half of this country wants them to do the same here. Is it not the epitome of chaos to desire that one’s own country be invaded?

Crime, which used to be fueled by need as much as by greed, has become senseless and random. Logic has taken a back seat to untrammeled emotion. Common sense is dead, but I needn’t say more — we’re all painfully aware of the chasm opening beneath out feet and we feel as powerless to stop it, as we do Iago.

But don’t “all things work together for good?” (Romans 8:28) Yes, they do — “for those who love God.” Isn’t it true that “underneath are the everlasting arms”? (Deuteronomy 33:27) It is true. God’s order is evident everywhere. It is the backdrop for the chaos. Nothing is happening randomly. Nothing is out of His control. Nothing occurs that He didn’t foreknow. Let’s look at the evidence:

First, we must look to nature. The more we learn about it — the more we see the order of God, the less random things appear. Back in the 19th century people like Darwin could get away with ideas based on random mutation in simple cells and dog-eat-dog survival of the fittest, but now we know that the smallest of mechanisms bears the traits of super-engineering, not of haphazard happenstance. The famous flagellum motor of single-celled organisms, the human eye, hummingbird tongues are so intricate that it is more likely that a toddler could dump out the letters of a Scrabble game and spell macroevolution than it is that these amazing mechanisms happened on their own.

Not only is nature too complicated to be a willy-nilly arrangement, but it’s too mathematical for that. Look at Fibonacci sequences, which appear throughout nature, both in 3-dimensional space, and in the 4th dimension as well. The Fibonacci sequence 0,1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,34,55,89,144… (each succeeding number being the sum of the two previous integers), and the physical pattern that graphing the sequence produces, shows up in everything from the organization of the sections of a pine-cone to the human X chromosome inheritance tree. When graphed, these numbers produce a spiral confined to the ancient concept of the Golden Mean. Nature is not chaotic; it’s perfect proportions prove that. Perhaps the greatest damage Darwin did to thinking was to convince us of the randomness of nature — a lie if there ever was one.

We also need to look at fractals. A fractal is a pattern that self-replicates at an ever-increasing (or decreasing) scale. We see these patterns in the angle at which the veins in a leaf leave the stem, in the way branches head away from the trunk. We see them in snowflakes and crystal formations, in electrical discharges and river patterns. Even the circulatory system, with its network of arteries, veins, and capillaries demonstrates fractal organization. Pineapples display fractal repetitions, as do earthquakes, ocean waves and even the rings of Saturn. When we look casually at nature we mistake its profusion and lavishness as arbitrary, as accidental, but none of it is.

Our brains, they say, are pattern-seeking devices, which is interesting because there are so many patterns to find. From the iambic beating of our hearts to the rotations of days and seasons, we are surrounded by pattern. We reproduce it in our language, our art, and our music. We have, since the earliest times recognized the patterns in the stars — note the mention of the constellations in the book of Job, probably written around 4,500 years ago.

It is Job’s God who gave Israel the Law, who organized a camp of 2 million people — the tents in neat rows according to the 12 tribes, three on each side of the Tabernacle. It was this God who provided them food and water in the wilderness, this God who stopped the Jordan and brought down the walls of Jericho.

We lose sight of all this in the frantic beat of modern life, but it is still there. The very stars have been making patterns lately — the four blood moons that coincided strangely with Jewish feast days and were punctuated halfway through with a total eclipse. This coming fall — the 23rd of September — we’ll see an amazing pattern when Leo and Virgo and Jupiter and Orion’s belt all arrange themselves just as Revelation 12 says they will. This will happen on the Jewish New Year during the Feast of Trumpets. Things are right on schedule.

Just because women have taken to dressing up as vaginas and milling around in public demanding the right to kill the babies the vagina was designed to bring forth; just because colleges no longer allow ideas; just because feminists seem to prefer Sharia law or because sexual abuse of a child is now being declared normal, we should not conclude that the world has spun off into the unknown.

The same God that parted the Red Sea is still in control. His Word has warned us the time would come when “…men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, [a]haters of good, 4 treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 holding to a form of [b]godliness, although they have denied its power…” (2 Timothy 3:2)

If God knew society would devolve so, did He not also provide solution for such an eventuality? He did. The patterns of His plans are forming out of the miasma. His hand is on history. His will will be done. God also knew what “Iago” (i.e. Satan) would do, and unlike us, He has the power to stop him. Christ will return and the chaos, as loud and horrifying and painful as it is right now, will soon be calmed, there will be peace on Earth, and we will, as we once did in Eden, feel the safety of the arms of God.  

Deana Chadwell blogs at www.ASingleWindow.com and is an adjunct writing professor at Pacific Bible College in southwestern Oregon. 

Shakespeare’s play Othello showcases the most vile character in all of drama — a man often referred to as “honest Iago.” He is especially horrifying because he is charming, efficient, and intelligent, but mostly because he often breaks the fourth wall, looks the audience right in the eye, and tells us what his next diabolical move will be. We’re in on it whether we want to be or not. He creates chaos just because he can and we are powerless to stop him. Watching the news these days feels much like watching Othello.

We listen to the “news” (a word of increasingly unclear meaning), most of which deals with riots and robberies, murder and mayhem, barbarism, and skullduggery at even the highest levels of government. Change — technological, social, and financial — is happening at lightning speed, but we have to be careful how we talk about it because the word-police are listening, and our most valuable words have been drained of their semantic weight and locked away in a closet. Of what use is “hate,” or “woman,” or “Nazi”?

We’re beginning to realize that our most important institutions — our schools and our churches — are closing minds rather than opening them, that our medical system is itself on life support, that our children have nothing to rely on other than the government that has done this to them, or the drugs being smuggled across our unattended borders. Our culture is disintegrating before our eyes.

China, North Korea, and Russia (Can I talk about that country without risking being wiretapped?) to say nothing of the entire Muslim world are all gearing up for a major fight and we’re not ready. Muslim “refugees” (another word that’s taken a beating) have successfully invaded much of Europe and half of this country wants them to do the same here. Is it not the epitome of chaos to desire that one’s own country be invaded?

Crime, which used to be fueled by need as much as by greed, has become senseless and random. Logic has taken a back seat to untrammeled emotion. Common sense is dead, but I needn’t say more — we’re all painfully aware of the chasm opening beneath out feet and we feel as powerless to stop it, as we do Iago.

But don’t “all things work together for good?” (Romans 8:28) Yes, they do — “for those who love God.” Isn’t it true that “underneath are the everlasting arms”? (Deuteronomy 33:27) It is true. God’s order is evident everywhere. It is the backdrop for the chaos. Nothing is happening randomly. Nothing is out of His control. Nothing occurs that He didn’t foreknow. Let’s look at the evidence:

First, we must look to nature. The more we learn about it — the more we see the order of God, the less random things appear. Back in the 19th century people like Darwin could get away with ideas based on random mutation in simple cells and dog-eat-dog survival of the fittest, but now we know that the smallest of mechanisms bears the traits of super-engineering, not of haphazard happenstance. The famous flagellum motor of single-celled organisms, the human eye, hummingbird tongues are so intricate that it is more likely that a toddler could dump out the letters of a Scrabble game and spell macroevolution than it is that these amazing mechanisms happened on their own.

Not only is nature too complicated to be a willy-nilly arrangement, but it’s too mathematical for that. Look at Fibonacci sequences, which appear throughout nature, both in 3-dimensional space, and in the 4th dimension as well. The Fibonacci sequence 0,1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,34,55,89,144… (each succeeding number being the sum of the two previous integers), and the physical pattern that graphing the sequence produces, shows up in everything from the organization of the sections of a pine-cone to the human X chromosome inheritance tree. When graphed, these numbers produce a spiral confined to the ancient concept of the Golden Mean. Nature is not chaotic; it’s perfect proportions prove that. Perhaps the greatest damage Darwin did to thinking was to convince us of the randomness of nature — a lie if there ever was one.

We also need to look at fractals. A fractal is a pattern that self-replicates at an ever-increasing (or decreasing) scale. We see these patterns in the angle at which the veins in a leaf leave the stem, in the way branches head away from the trunk. We see them in snowflakes and crystal formations, in electrical discharges and river patterns. Even the circulatory system, with its network of arteries, veins, and capillaries demonstrates fractal organization. Pineapples display fractal repetitions, as do earthquakes, ocean waves and even the rings of Saturn. When we look casually at nature we mistake its profusion and lavishness as arbitrary, as accidental, but none of it is.

Our brains, they say, are pattern-seeking devices, which is interesting because there are so many patterns to find. From the iambic beating of our hearts to the rotations of days and seasons, we are surrounded by pattern. We reproduce it in our language, our art, and our music. We have, since the earliest times recognized the patterns in the stars — note the mention of the constellations in the book of Job, probably written around 4,500 years ago.

It is Job’s God who gave Israel the Law, who organized a camp of 2 million people — the tents in neat rows according to the 12 tribes, three on each side of the Tabernacle. It was this God who provided them food and water in the wilderness, this God who stopped the Jordan and brought down the walls of Jericho.

We lose sight of all this in the frantic beat of modern life, but it is still there. The very stars have been making patterns lately — the four blood moons that coincided strangely with Jewish feast days and were punctuated halfway through with a total eclipse. This coming fall — the 23rd of September — we’ll see an amazing pattern when Leo and Virgo and Jupiter and Orion’s belt all arrange themselves just as Revelation 12 says they will. This will happen on the Jewish New Year during the Feast of Trumpets. Things are right on schedule.

Just because women have taken to dressing up as vaginas and milling around in public demanding the right to kill the babies the vagina was designed to bring forth; just because colleges no longer allow ideas; just because feminists seem to prefer Sharia law or because sexual abuse of a child is now being declared normal, we should not conclude that the world has spun off into the unknown.

The same God that parted the Red Sea is still in control. His Word has warned us the time would come when “…men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, [a]haters of good, 4 treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 holding to a form of [b]godliness, although they have denied its power…” (2 Timothy 3:2)

If God knew society would devolve so, did He not also provide solution for such an eventuality? He did. The patterns of His plans are forming out of the miasma. His hand is on history. His will will be done. God also knew what “Iago” (i.e. Satan) would do, and unlike us, He has the power to stop him. Christ will return and the chaos, as loud and horrifying and painful as it is right now, will soon be calmed, there will be peace on Earth, and we will, as we once did in Eden, feel the safety of the arms of God.  

Deana Chadwell blogs at www.ASingleWindow.com and is an adjunct writing professor at Pacific Bible College in southwestern Oregon. 



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