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March 18th, 2021

Of Course It Couldn’t Possibly Be A Hate Crime…Because Then Fingers Might Start Pointing…At Us…

Balloon Juice has a good takedown of the Not Hate chorus…

Atlanta has a very, very large number of strip clubs, gentlemen’s clubs, massage parlors, sex shops and emporiums. That the only three places that the possible sex addict felt the need to target were the ones owned by Asians/Asian Americans and predominantly employing Asians/Asian Americans should have been what is known as a clue…

Every time a Republican elected or appointed official or a conservative movement official or a conservative “news” personality – from the anchors on Fox News to the commenters – refers to COVID-19 with a derogatory slur instead of “COVID-19” or insinuates that immigrants – documented or undocumented – as well as those seeking asylum or refugee status are somehow bringing COVID-19 in and will make things worse, all they’re doing is feeding the fear, grievance, and victimization of their political base, their supporters, and their viewers. If you want to know where Long was radicalized, the answer is simple. Right here in the US, by Trump, Stephen Miller, Peter Navarro, Kevin McCarthy, at least 2/3rds of McCarthy’s House Republican Caucus, at least 1/2 of the Senate Republican Caucus, by hundreds of elected and appointed Republican officials, by Fox News, OANN, Newsmax, Breitbart, Ben Shapiro and his execrable writers and commenters at the Daily Wire, by right wing talk radio, by right wing social and digital media.

Paul Campos over at Lawyers Guns and Money adds that even if you accept the premise that the killer was motivated by a sex addiction… “….Oddly, killing women because they’re sources of “temptation” (i.e., women) doesn’t count as a hate crime, for reasons. . . Also the odds that these women weren’t murderously fetishized because of their ethnicity seem pretty low.

Ya think? Of course the usual suspects want everyone to believe it couldn’t possibly have been motivated by prejudice and hate. Especially not the torrent of hate they’ve been poisoning the American civic dialogue with for decades now. Maybe the folks at ABC News who did the 20/20 segment whitewashing the murder of Matthew Shepard will do one in a couple years about how the Atlanta murders were really just a drug deal gone bad.


Posted In: Politics
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by Bruce | Link | React!
March 16th, 2021

A Year Ago…(continued…)

A coworker posted on Facebook a couple days ago about how they saw it a year ago, when things started getting serious regards the virus. It brought back a slew of my own memories, which I should probably set down here while they’re still somewhat fresh.

I’d come back home from California, and the protocol at work already was if you were out of state you had to self quarantine for two weeks. So I was already in work at home mode when the news came down that they were scheduling a mass work at home day for everyone at the Institute except critical staff, to basically run a test to see how well we could manage if it came down to it when someone inside the building tested positive.

I already figured we’d do okay. For well over a decade we were allowed to designate one day a week as our telecommute day and we were already up to speed with supporting offsite work. So for me it was just a routine self quarantine day. But it was a good thing we’d been doing it for years by then, because a few days later the Institute became off limits to everyone but the workers disinfecting everything, because someone who was in the building later Did test positive.

It’s a few days more than a year later, and I’ve basically not spent a regular week at the office since I left for my California visit over a year ago. As time went on management developed various protocols for staff entering and working in the building when it was absolutely necessary…usually for supporting JWST testing in the MOC, which simply cannot be done remotely. So I’ve been back inside on a case by case basis. But it’s not just that masking up is mandatory now. You have to request entry days ahead of time, the request has to be approved by the health and security folks, you get a temperature check before you’re allowed inside, and now we have to each wear these proximity detector things to enforce keeping a safe distance, and to aid in contact tracing just in case.

I feel so very lucky to be working for an employer who seriously takes the safety of the staff seriously. Also that I have a job that I Can still work from home and draw a paycheck. 


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by Bruce | Link | React!

Please Keep Safe

I learned a couple days ago that a fellow member of the LGBT BBS I was a part of once upon a time passed away due to COVID-19. I hadn’t heard anything so I went looking on his Facebook page and there it was, but I was dreading it for a while.

What scares me is how fast it happened. Three weeks ago he was in our usual Friday happy hour Zoom and looked his usual self. Then I heard he was in the hospital intubated. Then I heard his kidneys had failed. It seems soon after his heart also failed and that was that. I think he was maybe ten years younger than me. Not all that old, but not young either. But he had no health issues. He was fine. And then suddenly he wasn’t.

I’m so sorry this happened to him. There’s an impulse to ask if anyone knows how he caught it, and I understand completely. You want to know what happened so you can refine your own calculations of risk. But as any of us who lived through the time of AIDS, before the virus was as well understood as it is today, before the treatments and PrEP, in all those calculations is an irreducible element of chance. Yes you may have taken this or that precaution, and yes it would have improved your odds. But the fact is if you survived the plague, you were lucky. There is going to be a lot of free floating survivor’s guilt after this thing has largely passed (HIV is still out there by the way…), and all I can offer for it is turning grief and remembrance into activism, and not to let the usual suspects try to sweep what happened under the rug, like they will, because god forbid we ever learn that taking care of one another is actually something we the people can do via government, and should do, to keep civilization going when the going gets really really bad.

And as for myself, maybe next time some anti-masker sneers at me for wearing mine, and for getting my vaccination, I’ll punch them in the face in memory of those who aren’t there to do the job themselves.


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by Bruce | Link | React!

A Year Ago…When It Was Only Just Dawning On Us How Everything Was Going To Change…

A friend posted on his Facebook page the other day about how a year ago he sat down for his last meal inside a restaurant, though he did not know it at the time. He was on the way home from a road trip and stopped for lunch. By then panic buying of basic supplies was already in the wind.

What I remember is a last dinner and drinks at Old Juan’s Cantina in Oceano, which is a favorite spot when I’m out there, the day before I left for home. That would have been a year ago plus a week perhaps. While on the road the stories I heard on the radio frightened me enough that whenever I stopped for the night, instead of dining in somewhere I always got carryout and took it back to my hotel room.

Panic buying of cleaning supplies and disinfectant wipes had already set in at Oceano before I left. I figured I was safe enough alone in my car, but every time I stopped for anything I washed my hands furiously. I had a small stack of disinfectant wipes I’d brought along to California that was part of my travel kit, intended mostly to prevent catching a flu, like I had during one Disney World visit that nearly ruined the entire vacation. I rationed them very carefully on the trip home, using the wipes only to wipe down my hotel room right after checking in. I had one left when I got back home.

I’ve not seen any on any store shelf since. Another friend tells me that they’re only just now starting to reappear on some random grocery store shelves.


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by Bruce | Link | React!
March 7th, 2021

Let Me Guess…You Were Just A Toddler When AIDS Was Peaking In The US…

…or you’re just your usual brain dead Arizona republican. The quote is Chaplik’s from the Arizona House debate on a bill to allow businesses to ignore local mask mandates.

We did. They’re called condoms.

And by the way, something else condoms prevent is passing on the family dimwit gene. Just saying…


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What Is An Artist…

This came across my Facebook stream just now…

Why I have cameras. Why I have pens and charcoal and brushes and canvases and paint. Thank goodness I found my language early on, or I’d have gone mad long ago from the pressure of feelings I had no words for.

Why I know myself to be an artist, as pretentious as that sounds. I’m not doing any of it for the recognition…I’m actually lousy at getting recognition. If nobody ever saw a single new piece I did, I would still do them, because I have to get it out of me, in this particular way. I have a bunch of stuff nobody’s ever seen, and probably never will. But I got it out and that’s all that mattered.


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This Year’s Corpse Food


“Comfort food a’la hopelessness and plague, on Fiestaware and 1950s chrome and formica table”. Collection of the author.

 

Pierogies,  Hot Cider Bourbon, and Chicken Fried Steak entree at Rocket To Venus here in Hampden. Because they’re local and I like them lots, and whoever is running their kitchen knows what they’re doing, and their carry-out process seems way more COVID safe than Corner Stable, which makes you walk inside their tiny restaurant (it really was at one time a corner stable) and walk all the way to the back by the bar.

A friend on Facebook pointed out that this didn’t look so good for a heart patient to be snarfing down. I laughed. My heart? My heart? I thought it had died of loneliness years ago and the rest of my body was just living on inertia and disbelief. But the food is good.


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March 6th, 2021

The Stab That Bleeds

I post on my Facebook page about plans for a nice celebratory dinner today…someplace good…cost no object. Except of course it’s still a time of plague so it needs to be carry-out, not fabulous seated dining. A friend (who should know my history better than this by now) asks what is to special about March 6th. Oh goodness…here, let me tell you the whole sordid tale…and why I will never put anyone up on a pedestal, ever again…like teenage me did to a certain someone, once upon a time…

March 6, 2016. Walt Disney World.

I was becoming aware that if I told a certain someone I was coming down, when I got there he’d be all standoffish and wouldn’t come over and talk like he used to. But if I just showed up he was all happy to see me and became a chatterbox and we’d talk for long enough after closing time I might have to be walked out of the park by cast members lest the Langoliers get me. But by then our conversations via email were no longer just between us.

This trip I’d made noises about coming down, but I wasn’t sure I could get away from work. It would depend on the schedule at work, which seemed to be in a perpetual state of flux. So he starts sending me all these shots of him and others in the family Nachbarschaft having a Perfectly Wonderful Time at a ski resort somewhere and I shouldn’t bother coming down if I wanted to see him. By this time I was becoming skilled in detecting his bullshit. Losing the rose colored glasses helped. It disturbed me to see so much of it. But that is what a life spent burying your innermost self does, and why I swore I would never do that to myself.

The Mitt Romney smile he was wearing in those photos was very disturbing.

On a previous trip I’d asked him if we could just hang out together somewhere after his shift. Maybe some favorite restaurant or other place, just somewhere we could talk about…things…and maybe get a few things between us out in the open. I was still very disturbed by the long conversation we’d had years previously. He looked at me seriously and said that he’d made his allegiances, and he had to stay in his comfort zone.

Okay…fine…but I needed a Disney vacation and I like Biergarten because it’s one of the few places a single traveler like me can sit at a table and chat with the other guests. It’s expected. Oktoberfest eight to a table seating and all that. And you have a lot of ready icebreakers to start a conversation with. Hi…where are you folks from? This your first time in Disney World? He told me once that he would watch me and I was great at getting a table to open up and start talking with each other. So when the schedule at work opened up like I figured it would, I ducked down to Disney World.

He got really standoffish…actually more like angry when he saw me. And I reckon it was written all over my face that I knew he’d be there and not skiing somewhere. But this time he did something he hadn’t ever done before. There was a new German kid waiting tables…Disney brings them over to the various World Showcase spots for a year or two from the host countries and Disney gets work out of them and they get a visit to the USA. So he introduces me to the kid, Nico, (yes that was his name). Nico told me about his plans to do a big USA road trip and oh my goodness I was full of all sorts of suggestions, as well as photos of places I’d been on my various road trips. We talked for hours.

He was cute, and smart, and full of energy. He was really looking forward to his road trip and I felt him as a kindred road runner spirit. We talked. And Talked. And talked. Between his needing to take care of his customers. He’d go off to one of this tables, take impeccable care of his guests, and then come back and we’d talk some more. And as we did, I saw that certain someone getting more and more pissed off.

What the fuck are you getting jealous over…you’re the one who foisted me off on this kid…yeah I like him…he’s a nice guy…so what… Finally it was closing time and I wondered where a certain someone had gone, because he Never left without at least saying goodbye. Nico went to find him for me, came back saying he’d just walked out and it was so very much unlike him.

The next day I blogged about it. I’d asked him once straight up once if he ever read my blog or looked at my cartoons and he insisted he did not. So I figured he’d see what I wrote on the blog that day. He did. I checked my server logs.

Later I had a reservation at the Hollywood Brown Derby. I liked having one nice dinner on my last day in the parks. But before I checked into Hollywood Studios I went to his restaurant just to say goodbye like I always did on my last day in the parks. Usually it was a pleasant exchange of goodbyes, even if he’d been standoffish before. But that day you have never seen such an icy cold German stare. But he wasn’t rude, that isn’t the German way. It was all very formal. Kinda like how a Baptist might say I’ll pray for you, in that tone of voice that says burn in hell.

Okay. Fine. Then I went to The Brown Derby and for some reason I felt like ordering the best they had, which right then was the Kobe beef steak. You order something like that and when the waiter asks you how you want it, you just say “whatever the chef recommends” because that’s what you’re going to get anyway. Under no circumstances do you ask for well done.

On my facebook page that morning I wrote:

Few things in life make pampering yourself more sensible than hostility from your high school crush. So…I’m Going To The Brown Derby! To hang out with the other stars and have drinks and five star food and stuff…

It was magnificent. Halfway into it I got an email from a certain someone telling me I was creeping him out and never to contact him again “in any way shape or form.” And, “My peace and quiet begins Now!” Well whoever is disturbing your peace and quiet Deutscher it isn’t me because I live a thousand miles away and all I ever do is email you from time to time. But our emails stopped being private sometime in 2011, just after that disturbing conversation. And the three months you took off work for…some health related thing. No it was not torn rotator cuff surgery. Nobody fully recovers from torn rotator cuff surgery and is slugging plates full of liter mugs of beer around in three months. But it’s about the amount of time someone will typically spend in…well…

So I blasted back, again on the blog which he never reads anyway, and every March 6th since I’ve treated myself to the best dinner I can find anywhere, price no object. Some kind of meat. Beef some years, pork one. This year I’ll do the baby back ribs at Corner Stable…carry out because plague. But it has to be meat. The best steak, or the best ribs, or something like that absolutely stunning pork steak entrée I had a few years ago at Rocket To Venus here in Hampden.

Corpse food as the vegetarians call it. Yes. Quite.

Never love yourself less than you love somebody else.


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The Stab That Saves

March 3:

I take care to arrive early, because it’s a doctor’s appointment (sort of) and I know I should expect to be asked to fill out forms maybe, or answer a bunch of questions, and then sit and wait. Normally I bring a book, and maybe a water bottle, but this should be just an in and out kinda thing. But I allow for some processing up front even so. I arrive early.

At the main entrance I’m asked at the guard desk to verify my identity, my destination, given a temperature check and a crack and peel visitor’s badge. Large signs direct me to the vaccination room. I wait at the door until called over to the registration desk. I’m asked to verify my identity again, given a few more questions, then an appointment is made for my second shot and I’m given some paperwork describing the vaccine and something called V-Safe which I should load onto my smartphone, plus a Q&A about the vaccine I’m about to be given. Then I’m directed to take a seat in front of the vaccination stations and wait to be called.

When I’m called I sit at another station and answer a bunch more questions. The nurse IDs me from my visitor’s badge, but asks me to verify my full name and date of birth. Did you ever have a colonoscopy and did you get a bad reaction from the prep fluid. Have you had this or that other allergic reaction. Have you had any other vaccinations in the previous 14 days. Have you been treated for COVID-19.

A briefly creepy feeling washes over me when she walks over to the station to get the vaccine (the needles were pre-loaded) and says “Is this all?”

It’s the Pfizer vaccine. The shot is intramuscular. It doesn’t hurt any more than other such do, but at age 67 I am still a wimpy little kid when it comes to needles and can’t watch. I turn my head away.

I’m given a CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card, and told to go sit in an observation room for fifteen minutes. So I walk over and check in with the observation room nurse. She asks me for my name, checks it off a list, and says to sit down anywhere.

The sudden familiarity of it gets my attention. I read the papers I’ve been given…

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine is an unapproved vaccine that may prevent COVID-19. There is no FDA-approved vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The FDA has authorized the emergency use of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine to prevent COVID-19 in individuals 16 years of age or older under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA)…

This is familiar territory. In 1988 I volunteered for an HIV vaccine trial. It was an initial toxicity study. Friends of mine were dying and I felt it was a calculated risk. The study had been slowly ramping up the dosage and I was signing on near the end when volunteers would be getting the highest dose. When I eventually got the candidate vaccine I sat in a small room hooked up to a bunch of monitors and a nurse sat there with me for one hour to see if I had any sudden adverse reaction.

Now I’m sitting in a room with maybe a half dozen others who had their shot and a nurse at the front behind a desk with a computer screen and some paperwork. Next to her disk is what looks like a machine to administer intravenous drugs and monitor your heart. I vaguely recognise it from the room I spent the night in when I had my heart attack. This is all still experimental, I think. We are getting this now, instead of many years later, because it’s an emergency. We are getting a vaccine that has been shown to be safe and effective in the initial trials, but the reality of it is still that the careful step by step process has been overruled by the necessity of getting it out there faster, before this thing mutates even more and kills hundreds of thousands more. It has already killed more than half a million of our neighbors here in the US.

In an ongoing clinical trial, the Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine has been shown to prevent COVID-19 following 2 doses given three weeks apart. The duration of protection against COVID-19 is currently unknown…

Now we’re finding out how it behaves in the population at large and how long the protection lasts. This is why there is so much emphasis in the paperwork I am given on notifying the CDC if I have any side effects…

The first week after you get your vaccine, v-safe will send you a text message each day to ask how you are doing. Then you will get check-in messages once a week, for up to 5 weeks...

I know the drill. I had to give blood once a month at the NIH in Bethesda for a year after I got that candidate HIV vaccine, and sit down with the doctors and answer questions about my health and behavior. Also, I had to agree not to have sex for the duration, because they wanted to see if the vaccine generated antibodies and getting infected would also do that. My love life wasn’t going anywhere then anyway so it was no trouble, sadly. They could have asked me that now in fact.

I drive home feeling good about being alive in 2021 and not back when the black death was raging all over Europe…


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February 26th, 2021

The Beatles 2525: I Want To Hold Your Robot Hand

Just shoot me now…


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Zeno’s Race To The Vaccine

Bunch of friends tried to help me get a vaccine appointment today. I got leads on almost half a dozen possible locations/companies/mass vaccination sites. I love my friends!

Were any available where I was pointed to? Not a single one. It seems by the time knowledge gets to me, however it does, they’re already booked solid. But I really do appreciate the thought.

I’ve had some almost excessively good luck in my life. But there are these recurring situations where I am always falling through the cracks. My love life for example. Mental health not being so great, but not so bad as to warrant any support. Not artsy enough to be taken seriously as an artist, and not nerdy enough to be taken seriously as a computer professional. I tend to bore people and I get talked over a lot. I feel most of the time like I’m some sort of misplaced inventory. Like I’m really not supposed to be here. This seems to be another one of those things.


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February 25th, 2021

In Seven Words Describe How Your Life Is A Complete Not Worth Living Failure…

Joseph Gordon-Levitt occasionally posts these little challenges on Facebook for his readers. Every now and then one of them hits me pretty hard…

He was beautiful, but it was 1971.

Kinda hard to realize that even back when you were a teenager falling in love for the first time it was already over and done.
But I had to keep learning it over and over…and over…and over…

Strike one…strike two…strike three…strike one redux… You’re just not getting the message are you kid…your kind isn’t allowed to love…

 

 


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Life In A Plague Reality Show…

I’m out for my evening walk as I’m desperately trying to stay active in some limited fashion while trying to avoid the plague, and and I’m thinking that either this plague or social isolation is going to get me, one or the other, and suddenly I realize Firesign Theater only played the last half of that show Beat The Reaper…the part where one lucky contestant has to guess what fatal disease they have, and Beeeet The Reaper!

But the first half is a dozen lucky contestants get to run through a spray mist of some deadly disease and race to get the vaccine. 12 lucky contestants, but only 6 doses of vaccine! But it’s okay dear friends, because the odds of actually contracting this weeks’ disease is only 50-50. Last week it was Ebola and almost all our lucky contestants managed to Beat The Reaper.

Let’s have a big round of applause for this week’s lucky contestants! (music plays) Who knows what this week’s racers will have to face. Maybe they’ll make it to the shots in time! They’ll only find out when they get to the vaccine station and try to grab a seat before the others do. Maybe the rest won’t even catch the disease!

(Clock music plays…)

Oh I’m sorry…you didn’t Beat The Reaper. But aren’t they a swell bunch of contestants. (music plays) Let’s let them see the consolation prize, brought to us here on Beat The Reaper by our favorite sponsor, Ralph Spoilsport coffins…the World’s Largest New Used and Used New coffins here in the city of (deep breath) emphysema.

Let’s just look at the extras on this fabulous coffin…star studded mud guards, chrome fender dents, wire wheel spoke coffin dollies, two-way sneeze through air vents, sponge coated edible coffin handles, fully factory equipped satin cushions from our fully factory equipped satin cushioned factory. Yes dear friends it’s a beautiful coffin with doors to match! Birtch’s Blacklist says this coffin was Stolen, but for you dear friends complete price: only two-thousand-ninety-five hundred dollars in easy monthly payments of twenty dollars a week twice a week and never on Sunday! (music plays…audience applause)

Why isn’t this a reality show we can watch now? It’ll be a ratings hit!

Oh wait…


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February 11th, 2021

Bridge Freezes Before Roadway

I’m watching Weather Channel reporting on that awful chain reaction pileup in Texas, and noting that it happened on a long overpass.

Some years ago, driving back home from a visit to California family, I ducked as far south as I could because the forecasts were for snow and ice almost as far south as the Mexican border. No kidding, there was snow along I-8 just west of San Diego and I saw people pulling their cars off to the shoulder and kids getting out to scoop up handfuls of snow like they’d never seen it before. Probably they hadn’t. One night I stopped well before the sun went down in Odessa Texas. I stopped early because I was aware the temperatures would drop below freezing after sundown, and I didn’t want to be on the roads then. Even so, I noted in the motel parking lot, little puddles of ice trying, and failing, to melt. I asked the desk clerk about the weather and she told me they’d had an ice storm and only recently got their power back on.

Next morning I packed the car and continued driving east on I-20. And I am not exaggerating here: every bridge and overpass I went by, even if it was just over a small dry run, had an accident on it, or just past it. Fortunately none of them looked fatal. But there were tractor-trailers on their sides, there were banged up cars and pickups. I saw what looked like a brand new and expensive pickup that was all torn up on on the driver’s side where it had bounced off the bridge railings. And I could tell that the locals don’t really grok how snow and ice change driving conditions, because it did that to them so rarely.

Climate change is giving them a new reality on the roadways, and the high local interstate speed limits (85 in most places west of Dallas), combined with a less than intuitive understanding of how bridges and overpasses freeze up before the rest of the pavement does, was a perfect storm of accidents waiting to happen. They have no infrastructure down there for dealing with snow and ice, because that’s costly to maintain and why would you when it gets like that so rarely. But times are changing.

This horrific chain reaction pileup happened on a long overpass and I’m sitting here watching the reporting and I just know what happened. The locals, too many of them I reckon, just don’t get, from lived experience how even if the roads are good the bridges probably might not be, and you have to pay attention to falling temperatures, even, or especially, when there hasn’t been very much rain beforehand. The slightest little bit of wet on the bridge and the temperature goes down and Newtonian forces will do their thing when you transition to the pavement on that bridge. You probably won’t even see the danger. Thin enough ice and it’ll look dry and it isn’t.


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January 27th, 2021

Stressing My Way To Retirement

Some days you get so wrapped up in your job, and so stressed out over it (I haz Deadline!) that you wonder if you’re even going to make it to retirement.

It’s okay. Mine is not the sort of job I’d regret not making it to retirement working. It’s just some days…some days…I get so damn frazzled…and then a pit in my stomach that probably won’t go away for the rest of the night…


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