Category Archives: Uncategorized

They just can’t say no

 

Why not build an above-ground pool in Cos Cob and move the synagogue to Byram?

Why not build an above-ground pool in Cos Cob and move the synagogue to Byram?

Selectman unanimously give Byram swimming pool project “municipal improvement status”.  The project will next go before P&Z for approval of a preliminary site plan at a yet-to-be-determined date. Municipal improvement status is needed before any alterations or changes to town-owned properties can be considered by municipal land-use agencies. According to town legal counsel, the selectmen cannot formally condition municipal improvement status. However, First Selectman Peter Tesei said they would send a list of primary concerns to Planning and Zoning prior to its hearing of the plan, chief among them being testing for soil contaminants. “I would support moving this forward with the understanding, and the key word here is understanding, that we will have completion and acceptance of all environmental testing,” Tesei said. [In other words, it's unconditional approval - Tesei's "understanding" is merely a non-binding dictum] Town Harbor Management Commissionmember Peter Quigley, speaking as a private citizen, requested the town go beyond state minimums for soil testing, calling the park “almost ground zero” for pollutants due to its proximity to the former Holly Hill incinerator. “The proper soils should be tested and, honestly, not even to the (state) standard, which is just a standard for all town projects, but for any carcinogenic materials — lead, metals, fly ash and levels of arsenic, which may not necessarily come under the state standards,” Quigley said. “Greenwich can lead here for cleaning up its site for town municipal projects.” The selectmen said they placed their trust in the state’s standards and its existing testing procedures. [In other words, we'll test for as little as possible and hope like hell we don't uncover another toxic dump we'll be forced to clean up] The project is anticipated to cost roughly $7.5 million. [In other words, $7.5 to dip our toe in the water and begin a project "too big to fail". We'll worry about toxic soil, budget overruns and the expense of staffing and maintaining a 6,400 sq.ft. pool, bath houses, parking lots and free aerobic classes for town employees later.] Look for this to appear in the 2015 budget.

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Greenwich Association of Realtors strikes back

GAR Directors perform community service

GAR Directors perform community service

I finally got ahold of the grievance filed against me by Ruth Le Blanc Jones and I see that in fact, it was dated almost a year ago, September 6, 2013, and filed at that time with the Greenwich Association of Realtors. That fine institution dithered with it for months and then on its own, “met and referred the ethics complaint alleging a violation of Article 15, along with amending the complaint to include Article 12 [emphasis added]  to the Professional Standards Committee for hearing.”

Well. You should know that the Grievance Committee of the GAR has it within its powers to dismiss a grievance brought by a realtor against another realtor. The fact that my peers not only refused to dismiss this silly claim but took it upon themselves to add a second count and pass it up the ladder to the Professional Standards Committee seems significant, to me.

What part of the Code of Ethics do Ruth Le Blanc Jones and the GAR consider to have been violated by my linking to a newspaper’s report on her arrest for real estate fraud?  Articles 15 and (according to the complaint as amended by the GAR), Article 12, which provide in part,

Article 15  “Realtors shall not knowingly or recklessly make false or misleading statements about other real estate professionals, their businesses or their business practices”.

Article 12,”Realtors shall be honest and truthful in their real estate communications and shall present a true picture in their advertising, marketing and other representations.” (Any normal person, reading Article 12, would think that the GAR will soon be turning in its own member firms for violating this rule, but don’t count on it).

So, according to the Greenwich Association of Realtors, it is a violation of their code of ethics to accurately link to a newspaper’s report that another real estate agent has been arrested for a “real estate scam conspiracy”.  It is, apparently , a  violation of that same ethics code for a blogger to permit a comment from Nancy Healy, former president of the Greenwich Association of Realtors and former head of the Grievance Committee, that pointed out that Ruth Le Blanc Jones illegally collected an excessive rental security deposit from the scammed tenant.

By the GAR’s reasoning, I have violated their code by, in the past, reporting stories involving agents who used a client’s vacant house to screw in, agents arrested for embezzling clients’ funds, agents arrested for drunk driving while escorting clients around town, and so forth. If it involves  fellow realtor, says the GAR, you mustn’t speak about it, especially if it’s true.

This is the same association that operates a monopoly on Greenwich Real Estate and, in furtherance of that monopoly, has removed all past history of real estate sales from public view. They are referring me to the ethics board?  Right.

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Head of the Democrat Party goes fund raising

 

Obama and your money arrive at Bob Hope Airport, Burbank: "Time to take the dough, nuts".

Obama and your money arrive at Bob Hope Airport, Burbank: “Time to take the dough, nuts”.

Keith Koffler has some thoughts on the subject

To paraphrase someone famous, At some point, you’ve raised enough money. President Obama’s decision to go on a whirlwind West Coast fundraising tour while facing so many foreign policy crises is so incomprehensible it even has Democratic allies who stand to benefit from the loot he picks up scratching their heads. “I think the world would very much respect his increased attention on this matter,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said of one of the many overseas problems Obama faces.

I wanna tell you something. The issue is not just – as many in the press are suggesting – the symbolism, the “optics,” the need for a president to look serious and resolute during tough times. The problem is substantive.

I do not for a moment believe that the president is as focused on world affairs and the demands of his job while he’s schmoozing donors and hopscotching around the West Coast as he would be were he in the Oval Office or the Situation Room, assuming he’s there without Beyonce and Jay-Z.

The president doesn’t just arrive at these fundraisers, speak, scoop up checks and leave.

He presumably has to do some preparation so he knows who he is going to be hitting up for money. And then he has to do some amount of glad handing.

For example, last night at the home of Hollywood producer Shonda Rhimes, the president made a little speech and then spent 90 MINUTES hanging out. Ninety minutes. We don’t know what he was doing because the press was shoveled out of sight following the remarks.

Total roundtrip time from Obama’s hotel in Los Angeles to the fundraiser at Rhimes’s pad was nearly three hours.

Now let me ask you who are working, or who are retired and surely remember your workdays: How often did you have the ability to create a three hour hole in your day? How much work would you have gotten done that day?

Russian proxies just shot down a commercial airliner, Russian soldiers are now firing into Ukraine,  Israel is in  fight-to-the-death battle in Gaza,  Iraq is falling, Syria is still Syria, China and Japan just told us to piss up a rope, they’ll be proceeding with coal expansion projects and we can take our global warming initiative and shove it, and Michelle’s girls are still missing over there somewhere in Africa. Obama’s response to all this? Seven days of fund raising trips in the past twelve days.

Our constitution envisioned and empowered a president to lead our country and to protect us from our enemies; no mention is made in that document for any duty to raise money for the president’s own political party, but that’s how our Barry spends his time these days. he’s abdicated in all but name, and if it weren’t Joe Biden who is next in line to take his place, we’d be better off with him officially gone.

 

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Contract

 

31 Fairfield Rd

31 Fairfield Rd

31 Fairfield Road, asking $2.550 million. Owners paid $2.5 for it in 2002 and made some improvements. Nice house, not an ideal location on this busy road. Of course, if it weren’t located where it is, it would cost more – that’s how this works.

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A rental, a sale, and a contract reported

 

18 Pinecroft Rd

18 Pinecroft Rd

18 Pinecroft Road, asking $6 million, has instead rented for $30,000 a month. That probably makes sense for both parties. The house, by the way, ws purchased new for $6.5 million in 2004 and extensively improved; it was originally put up for sale back in April, 2013 at $7.250, but couldn’t find a buyer.

8 Colonial Lane (entire) back yard

8 Colonial Lane (entire) back yard

8 Colonial Lane, Riverside, has sold for $2.875 million, from an original asking price of $3.595. The Greenwich Association of Realtors has deleted the listing info, and I suppose I’d be embarrassed too.

Listing sheet, 8 Colonial

Listing sheet, 8 Colonial

 

41 West Way, Lucas Point, OG, has a pending contract – it’s been asking $4 million. Some people really, really want

41 West Way

41 West Way (Rat Island, right)

waterfront, and I don’t blame them, but this property, 11,700 sq. ft. in the R-20 zone, in the VE flood map, will yield a house only 2,646 sq.ft. in total size, and because it will be on stilts, there won’t be a basement. Of course, there won’t be a garage, either, so you can add the space normally devoted to that purpose to the main living area.

 

 

 

 

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Contracts reported

 

72 Shore Rd

72 Shore Rd

72 Shore Road, $2.995 (down from $3.275 ask in October). Builder bought the older house on this back lot for $1.1 million in 2012, rented it for a year, then built new.

 

45 Londonderry

45 Londonderry

45 Londonderry Drive, $4.925 million.

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Hey, Mr. President: The 1980′s really ARE calling to ask for their foreign policy back

2012: Obama mocks Romney for considering Russia an adversary: “The Cold War’s been over for twenty years!” If he hadn’t slipped into early retirement, Barry would have realized his error by now; instead, “he’ll learn about it with the rest of us”.

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Idiot phrases for realtors

Off to Mianus via Dingletown!

Off to Mianus via Dingletown!

Reader “Pulled Up in OG” sends along this article in the Guardian entitled, “How to talk like an estate agent – seven tips”. The phrase in a local listing that caught our reader’s eye and reminded her of the Guardian article came from the listing for 105 Dingletown Road, which promises, “Elegant rooms that can comfortably welcome several coupled dignitaries”, which brings to mind wild, steamy orgies on the dance floor and in the servants’ quarters, but in case that’s not sufficient for your imagination, here’s advice from across the sea:

In the midst of the latest national property boom, our thoughts naturally turn to the happy figure of the estate agent. You might idly wonder if it isn’t too late to switch careers in order to stand in the same blizzard of made-up money long enough that quite a lot of it sticks to you. But in order to succeed, you will have to master the jargon. Estate agents communicate in a dialect renowned for its strangulated syntax, peculiar vocabulary and breathtaking insouciance, dancing on a rhetorical knife-edge between salesmanship and fraudulence. Here are some tips to get you started. All examples are drawn from actual recent estate-agent “literature”.

1 Euphemise relentlessly

“Compact” – tiny.
“Ample storage” – a broom cupboard, big enough for exactly one broom.
“Double bedroom” – a room that is no more than one inch wider and one inch longer than the world’s smallest double bed.
“In an imposing building” – in a brutalist tower block.
“An opportunity to put your own stamp on” – a disgusting wreck. I once went with some friends to see a house where there was a patch of dark-stained wall with matted hair stuck to it, and a small, framed “Home Sweet Home” picture in the hallway was covered in rusty blood–spatter. The previous occupants had really put their own stamp on the place.

3 Accentuate the positive

The creative negotiator can use comforting and even accurate words to pack out the description of any old dung heap. In one place, “The bathroom is fully tiled and benefits from a bath fitted within and a shower-mixer unit.” Surely no one could disagree that a bathroom really does “benefit” from having a bath?

4 Try to sound formal

Just as that bathroom has a bath “within” and not simply “in” it, one should always use the more formalsounding alternative, to demonstrate one’s utter professionalism. Thus, “whilst” is always better than “while”, and I have even encountered, with no small degree of admiration, “whereby” in place of “where”, even though the words don’t actually mean the same thing. Sometimes, sadly, this approach goes completely awry. I am invited to see a flat that “offers ample space to maximise your lifestyle requirements”. But logically, that is one in which my requirements will be maximised, and therefore I, without hope of fulfilling so many lifestyle requirements simultaneously, will be maximally frustrated and despondent.

5 If in doubt, add “-ed”

Call something a “two-bedroom flat” and it seems plain, but add the “-ed” and it becomes a “two-bedroomed flat”, which sounds more upmarket and more made-to-measure. That flat has really been thoroughly bedroomed, twice. (Grammatical precedent exists in perfectly normal constructions such as “high-walled city” or “long-legged squirrel”.) Similarly, turning “open-plan” into “open-planned” emphasises the careful ratiocination of the flipper at the very moment he rammed a sofa up one end of the kitchen, in order to bedroom the place up and add £50,000 to the asking price.

6 Be geographically optimistic

According to cosmologists, the very fabric of space itself is expanding, which more or less scientifically proves that the boundaries of what can correctly be called “Muswell Hill” will very shortly extend way beyond the M25, if they don’t already.

7 Employ cliches that no one can possibly contradict

An ever-popular piece of feel-good boilerplate is, er, “ever popular”, used to describe a block of flats, a road or a neighbourhood generally. As long as the place has not been completely deserted owing to the meltdown of a nearby nuclear reactor, and there are still at least some human beings there, it is definitely “ever popular”. Meanwhile, even the glummest shoebox may be honestly described as “light and airy”, for there will surely be some quantity of photons coming in through a glazed aperture during daylight hours, and there will definitely be air in it as well – unless someone has taken the trouble to hermetically seal the flat and then carefully pump out all the air to create a vacuum. In which case you should probably reschedule this weekend’s “open day”. Good luck!

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(Close to) Belle Haven sale

 

Never buy a house from a man named Guido

Never buy a house from a man named Guido

9 Mayo Avenue, a back lot of Belle Haven but not in it, has sold for $5.5 million. Built in 2011, it was rented out until this spring and then put up for sale.Looks to be decent inside, but between the highway noise and the snubs of “true” Belle Haveners, this seems like a high price to pay to live behind your neighbors.

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The deadliest words in real estate

12 Old Orchard

12 Old Orchard

“Not a drive by”, which is how the agent for 12 Old Orchard Drive describes the ranch she’s trying to sell for $1.939 million (reduced from $1.995). From its pictures it looks lovely, with a nice in-ground pool (this may be NoPo, but it’s not Cos Cob!), and a basement bar that looks adequate to do the job.

But it’s a ranch on Old Orchard, and when an agent acknowledges that there’s no street presence by insisting it’s not a drive by, you probably know all you need to know.

UPDATE: There was another price cut today, to $1.872. It’s a good looking house and if you’re in the general price range, definitely worth viewing. I personally think it’s still over-priced, but the market decides that, not any of us who aren’t buying. But go see it - if it drops further, you’ll be ahead of the game, and other potential buyers.

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Trading places II

Have you seen this man at your open house?

Have you seen this man at your open house?

Switching residences, anyway.

Crook sentenced to year in prison for defrauding Home Depot in $363,000 scam. What makes this interesting, at least to me and  friend of mine, is that the same guy just recently made an offer on my friend’s property here in Greenwich. Since he’ d pled guilty to this scam in January and was awaiting sentencing, what was he up to “shopping” for real estate in Greenwich? Nothing good, certainly.

An Upper West Side man was sentenced yesterday to one year in jail for tricking Home Depot into giving him $363,000 worth of free renovations to his apartment.

David Chass, 35, pulled off the scam using his marketing firm, Velocity Sports & Entertainment, which had performed publicity work for Home Depot in the past. In April 2004, he sent the huge conglomerate an invoice for $363,000, payable to the contractor who worked on his apartment. The invoice falsely claimed that the renovation was part of a marketing campaign his company had conducted for the opening of a new Home Depot in Manhattan.

Taking Home Depot’s slogan, “You can do it, we can help,” to a new level, Chass also had a chandelier hung in the dining room and a flat screen television installed in the living room – all courtesy of the home-improvement giant.

UPDATE: The friend who sent me the article has written back to point out that the NYPost story is from 2006 – I hadn’t realized that. Mr. Chass would now be 43-years-old, out of prison and has no doubt turned over a new leaf. God bless him.

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Trading places

 

Collin Davis, a/k/a "Agent Orange"

Cornelius Davis, a/k/a “Agent Orange”

Fake Army hero confronted by real Marines.

Two U.S. Marines called out a man they said they believed was pretending to be a decorated veteran at a Florida funeral — and they caught the tense exchange on tape.

The alleged sham veteran — identified as 44-year-old Cornelius Davis — said he was a sergeant major in the U.S. Army. But the Marines apparently thought Davis’ uniform looked odd. They didn’t recognize several of his medals, so they stopped Davis and grilled him on his service, his uniform and his abundance of awards ….

The video, taped in a West Palm Beach parking lot apparently after the funeral, was posted on an Army humor Facebook page. The exchange was friendly at first. The first man asked about one, a bronze medal with a “V” on it. “What you get it for?” he asked. “Saving lives,” the man replied.

The Marines explained the type of sunglasses he wore usually wouldn’t be allowed. He also mixed medals and ribbons, another uniform faux pas.

“What’s the Army uniform regulation?” one of the Marines asked. “What’s the code?”

Davis replied, “Do my best to do my duty to serve my county.”

“Are you sure it’s not AR 670-1?” the Marine fired back.

When the man claimed to be a military policeman, the Marines asked to see his badge. He said it was in his car.

“You can get out my face right now,” he said before he stormed away and drove off.

You can click on the link above to catch the video but in fact, you probably saw it years ago

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Your tax dollars at work

Leonardo, r0 on his jet pack. Toy, yacht, and Mr. DiCaprio himself are all powered by natural gas

Leonardo, r, on his jet pack. Toy, yacht, and Mr. DiCaprio himself are doubtless all powered by natural gas

Leonardo DiCaprio, whose charitable organization claims to be dedicated to fighting global warming, throws a party in St. Tropez. Guests arrived by private yachts and jets, of course.

The event is set to take place on the French Riviera at the Domain Bertraud Belieu vineyard, at the heart of the St. Tropez peninsula and will raise funds to protect our planet’s last remaining wild areas. Proceeds from the Gala will support global conservation efforts that protect our oceans, forests, wild lands and endangered species.

‘We are facing a tipping point of environmental crisis unprecedented in human history. Our forests, which clean our air, purify our water, and are our best natural defence against climate change, are being clear-cut at alarming rates,’ said Leo.

‘In our oceans we have already lost 25 per cent of the coral reefs and 90 per cent of the large fish, including sharks. It’s high time we acknowledged that our very survival depends on protecting the ecosystems that sustain life. The Gala in Saint-Tropez is a fundraiser to support organizations and initiatives dedicated to securing a sustainable future for our planet.’

Said to be one of the ‘most glamorous, talked-about and exclusive’ events of the summer, the gala is set in a beautiful location and sponsored by Chopard Jewellery

 

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Obama broken promise no. 697

“I will restore America’s standing in the world.”

Secretary of State Kerry screened for weapons by Egyptians 

CAIRO – Egyptian security officers checked U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his top aides with a metal detector as they arrived for a meeting on Tuesday with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, an unusual screening for a senior State Department official.

Foreign officials usually extend every courtesy to Washington’s top diplomat.

Footage taken at the Egyptian presidential palace and seen by Reuters showed an official briefly raising a handheld metal-detecting wand to the lower part of Kerry’s jacket before waving him through for the meeting, which is to discuss how to stop the two-week conflict between Hamas and Israel in the Gaza Strip.

More than 500 people, the vast majority Palestinians, have died in the fighting.

Kerry appeared for only a few seconds in the footage, which showed his senior aides walking through a stationary metal detector and being checked with a handheld wand.

At least one was asked to empty his pockets.

The president is golfing in California and cannot be reached for comment at this time – maybe Monday.

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Move Montana back into red state territory

 

Deer in the headlights

Deer in the headlights

The Democrat-appointed senator for Monatana, John Walsh, has been outed by the NYT.

Sen. John Walsh, D-Mont., plagiarized a portion of a research paper required for his master’s degree, according to a New York Times report published Wednesday.

The NYT story says its review of Walsh’s 2007 paper for the U.S. Army War College “indicates the senator appropriated at least a quarter of his thesis on American Middle East policy from other authors’ works, with no attribution.”

The story also says that the recommendations Walsh outlined are “taken nearly word-for-word without attribution from a Carnegie Endowment for International Peace document” on the same topic. Portions also appear to be taken from an essay written by a scholar at a Harvard research institute …..

Walsh, a former adjutant general of the Montana National Guard, was appointed in February to replace Democrat Max Baucus, who resigned to become U.S. ambassador to China. The appointment by Gov. Steve Bullock was viewed as a boost to Walsh, who had already declared his candidacy for the Senate seat. He is locked in a tight race with Republican Rep. Steve Daines in a conservative state where President Obama is unpopular.

I like this part:

Justin Barasky, a spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, called on Daines to denounce what he called “these latest smears” on Walsh’s military record.

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Oops! Another price cut I overlooked

404 Round Hill Rd

404 Round Hill Rd

Only because it came back on as a new listing under a different broker. 404 Round Hill Road is now priced at $4.695 million, a slight discount from the $5 million the owners paid for it in December, 2010, and well below the $5.750 the first broker tried for. It still has its six acres, the house is still lovely, but so far, despite the “complete renovations” performed on it in 2011-2012, no one’s bit.

UPDATE: Maybe it’s the photography? I just flipped through the pictures posted of this house and there’s not one that shows the promised “charm” lovingly purred over in the written text. Did the sellers strip out all of that original beauty, or did the photographer miss the boat? My guess – I haven’t seen this house post-renovation, is that he captured what he saw. Too bad.

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Department of Silly Cuts

 

 

Gulag Archipelago

Gulag Archipelago

45 Farwell Lane, way up in the northwest corner, has dropped its price again and now would like to get $6.5 million. If history is a guide, the owner will still have a long wait.  This sold in 2002 for $5.1 million and the happy buyer, piling good money after bad, added on an additional 2,000 sq. ft. to the existing 7, all of it in a unique Russian style, the charm of which has so far eluded buyers. $9.150 million didn’t work in 2012 and now, two years on, $6.5 may not either.

 

105 Dingletown - there are better pictures of the place, but why would anyone include this one?

105 Dingletown – there are better pictures of the place, but why would anyone include this one?

105 Dingletown, on the other hand, is finally approaching a reasonable price – $3.1 million, after starting off at $7.750 million in 2008. I’m not quite sure what two acres of land on Dingletown with some salvageable, mature plantings is worth, but it’s obviously closer to $3 million than to $8. There’s a lovely old – 1919 – home on it that must have been grand when it was surrounded by more land and in an era when no one expected or demanded electricity and working plumbing but now, …start your bulldozers.

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Beware the new home premium

16 Grant Avenue, which sold new in 2005 for $3.310 million and which spent  the past year on the market looking for $3.495, has sold for $2.9. The GAR no longer allows the unwashed public access to its records, so here are two pictures, plus the listing sheet.

16 Grant

16 Grant Avenue interior

Screen Shot 2014-07-23 at 4.05.34 PM

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Waterfront contract, Old Greenwich

 

19 Ford Lane

19 Ford Lane

19 Ford Lane, $5.850 million, reports a contract, although its June listing noted that the builder already had an accepted offer and was only inviting back-up bids. Built in 2013-2014, it’s “fully FEMA and Town compliant”, and is very attractive. Good news for owners down here who hope to achieve a high price for their own properties.

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Okay, one more on Miss Jones

FWIW reader “Carlotta” sends this tidbit along:

I find this remarkable:

“Listed and sold 28,617 properties”
http://www.ruthjoneshomes.com/

How is that possible? It’s not “listed or sold”, but “listed AND sold”. What are the aggregate commissions on almost 29,000 properties? That seems like Guinness Book material if true.

Screen Shot 2014-07-23 at 4.40.49 AM

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