Momma’s Organic Market in Peoria

So the wife grabs the local paper this morning and on the cover was a small little sticker advertising a local organic market. She opens the paper and starts to read about this market and all the wonderful things it has to offer.

Park West, a fairly new “open-air” shopping center, is home to “Momma’s Organic Market” every third Saturday of the month from September to April from 9am to 2pm. It offers locally grown organic fruits and vegetables, local mechants, and companies showcasing green products. They’re extremely kid friendly as well offering a petting zoo, a “bounce house”, story time, and face painting. The market spreads across the length of the shopping center giving plenty of room to sit and people watch; which is always a fun past time for adults. Park West itself is a fantastic place to shop, dine, and hang out at as well. From ShopParkWest.com:

The open-air center is anchored by a 14-screen Harkins Theatre, 9 sit-down restaurants, more than 50 specialty retailers and two beautiful parks. The center’s western resort feel includes relaxing “Bali” lounges, reflecting pools and wood shutters. The picturesque center also features outdoor fireplaces, unique art pieces, canopy-lined walkways and beautiful landscaping.

Overall I think Momma’s Organic Market has a really cool vibe with or without the kids and the fact that most of the vendors there are locally owned businesses makes it worth the time to check out each month. For more info check out http://mommasorganicmarket.com or their blog at http://mommasorganicmarketaz.blogspot.com.


Phoenix Mercury Win the 2009 WNBA Championship

For the second time in three years the Phoenix Mercury rise to the top of the WBNA. With the championship series tied, the Phoenix Mercury returned home for the final game against the Indiana Fever and won 94-86 to finish with the trophy. It was a sell out crowd of 17,313 and Diana Taurasi, the league and finals MVP, didn’t disappoint scoring a game high 26 points during Friday night’s game.

Congratulations to the the ladies of the Mercury and to the city of Phoenix for another championship win. To celebrate, the Mercury will be holding a championship rally at 6pm Monday at the U.S. Airways Center Pavilion.

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Brief Updates from MBHQ

You’ve no doubt by now noticed that the sites got a bit of a re-design and some things got changed around last week. We wanted to highlight two changes to make sure everyone knows what changed.

The first and biggest is COMMENTS! Registration is no longer required to post a comment on any post. Of course if you already have an account you can still login to ensure your comments are attributed to you, but those who don’t can now post a comment without any long term commitment. Also, on the right you can see some of the recent comments so you’ll always know what the active discussions are. This was the most requested thing we’ve heard from people since our last redesign and we’re excited to see where it leads.

The next change is also something that was heavily requested, and that is a change to the ADS on the sites. You’ll immediately notice fewer of them, but what might not be as obvious is those smaller square ones to the right are specific to this city only and are being sold for a flat rate for a period of time rather than a confusing CPM/traffic/network model. Depending on the city, these range from $7-$175 for a full week. If you purchase one, during that time your ad will be the only one in that spot and will show on every page. We set these up both to make it easier for smaller local businesses to get their ads on our site, and also to help us bring in ads that relate better to our local audiences. Also, keeping these sites online is expensive and every little bit helps.

There are a bunch of other things we changed but we’ll leave those to you to investigate and take advantage of. Hope you like it, and we look forward to seeing you in the comments!!

Love,
The folks at MBHQ

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Light Rail Show Tunes

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l6fG26BZCew[/youtube]
While riding from Tempe to Phoenix for the Night Rail event, a group of people started singing show tunes. There were about 10-15 of them and they even had their own piano. The car we were in was so jammed packed that it was the perfect setting for an impromptu singalong.

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Friday Nights in the Valley of the Sun

phoenix friday nightsPhoenix Friday Nights (#pfn) has been going on now since January of 09 and has gained much success over the past few months. From their “About” page: “Committed to highlighting Phoenix’s vibrant nightlife, focusing on the arts, culture, food, and just plain fun that await in our burgeoning desert metropolis. Through participation in and partnerships with local businesses, arts organizations, and unique events in downtown Phoenix.” Both the East and West valley groups do things a bit differently but fun is still a side effect of the evening.

Tyson Crosbie, the one that got it all started, says that he broke off from yet another popular Friday night get together; Phoenix Friday Coffee (#pfc). “Austin Baker is passionate about coffee and started a Friday after work meetup to visit the local coffee shops. I started going and loved the community that built up. I saw that the groups were getting bigger than the venue and attempted to create an additional PFC coffee meetup on Friday. This caused a lot of tension in the community and a lot of confusion on Friday and so Phoenix Friday Nights was born. It had a similar call to action: Go out on Friday with friends and have a good time, but a different venue and geography. It was a place to meetup at local downtown businesses: Restaurants, Bars, Coffee, etc. as a starting point for the night.”

After a few weeks of meeting up in central Phoenix Evo Terra and few others from the East Valley decided to create their own spin off dubbed East Valley Friday Nights (#evfn). “Props for the concept go to Austin Miles for Phoenix Friday Coffee. It was nice & local for me, but coffee isn’t on my list of post-week libations. Tyson started #pfn. More like what I wanted, but too far & too late. So I made a commitment to show up at a place with good beer & good food on Friday on the east side of Phx. Turns out, lots of folks wanted to join me!” Since then, 3 more spin offs have come and spread across the valley. Never again can anyone in Phoenix say they have nothing to do on a Friday night; no matter what part of the valley you live in.

I personally know a lot of the people that attend these events and between watching them on Twitter, seeing the photos on Flickr, and hearing stories from them later on; these are meetups you don’t want to miss. Due to personal schedule conflicts, I am unable to attend these events on a regular basis but will be making a effort to at least start hitting up #wvfn in the future.

So check the site every week to find out where the meetups will be around the valley and join the fun. You’re guaranteed to at least meet some new people.

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Arizona Coffee Blog Turns 4

[vimeo]http://vimeo.com/4014438[/vimeo]

The Arizona Coffee Blog celebrates it’s fourth year of reviewing the best and not so best coffee shops around Arizona. I met up with Chris Tingom and others in Tempe to celebrate the blogs success and find out what he has planned for it’s future.

(This is a HD embed and best viewed at full screen)

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Bringing Video to Phoenix Metblogs

[vimeo]http://vimeo.com/3314084[/vimeo]

As I stated in my video, I’m Clintus and I’m the new guy. I’m very excited to finally be able to devote some time to my local Metblogs. I’ve been a big fan of what Sean and Jason have been doing and when I found out there was a Phoenix chapter, I really wanted to get involved. I just feel bad that it’s taken me so long.
Now I won’t give you any expectations of myself as to not disappoint later on; but what I can tell you is that I always have a camera and I’m always trying to capture the little moments around me. If possible, I’ll almost always have a video to go along with my blog posts.

Again, I look forward to sharing my views and experiences within Phoenix and its surrounding areas with you.


Vegas Pawn in Scottsdale

I recently had my first experience in a pawn shop. I stopped at Vegas Pawn in Scottsdale, partly because I had never before visited  a pawn shop and partly to see what sort of inventory they carried. I would never have thought about stopping in had I not watched a news show talking about businesses that do well in economic downturns – gun stores, gold brokers, pawn shops, check cashing stores, etc..

The shop is located next to Skin Cabaret in south Scottsdale. It kind of looks like it belongs in Vegas with the glitzy sign and the limos parked outside of the strip club next door.

There is no missing the amount of security in the place. In order to enter the interior of the pawn shop you first enter a cage that sort of resembles the shark cages that divers use. Once your inside of these security gates an employee will buzz a gate open to allow entry into the shop.

I was surprised at their inventory. I had expected jewelry, gold, diamonds, stereos, computers and things but I had no idea that they also buy and sell cars, boats, atvs, and other vehicles. Nor did I know that you can buy or sell loose diamonds at their Scottsdale location.

It’s a friendly place and interesting place to stop in and browse. I didn’t buy anything or pawn anything but if I need to in the near future that’s where I would go!

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Text of Obama’s speech in Mesa today

I had trouble finding the complete transcript from local news organizations so thought I’d post the whole speech here at Metblogs.

I’m here today to talk about a crisis unlike any we’ve ever known – but one that you know very well here in Mesa, and throughout the Valley.

In Phoenix and its surrounding suburbs, the American Dream is being tested by a home mortgage crisis that not only threatens the stability of our economy but also the stability of families and neighborhoods.It is a crisis that strikes at the heart of the middle class: the homes in which we invest our savings, build our lives, raise our families, and plant roots in our communities.

So many Americans have shared with me their personal experiences of this crisis. Many have written letters or emails or shared their stories with me at rallies and along rope lines. Their hardship and heartbreak are a reminder that while this crisis is vast, it begins just one house – and one family – at a time.It begins with a young family – maybe in Mesa, or Glendale, or Tempe – or just as likely in suburban Las Vegas, Cleveland, or Miami. They save up. They search. They choose a home that feels like the perfect place to start a life. They secure a fixed-rate mortgage at a reasonable rate, make a down payment, and make their mortgage payments each month. They are as responsible as anyone could ask them to be.But then they learn that acting responsibly often isn’t enough to escape this crisis. Perhaps someone loses a job in the latest round of layoffs, one of more than three and a half million jobs lost since this recession began – or maybe a child gets sick, or a spouse has his or her hours cut.In the past, if you found yourself in a situation like this, you could have sold your home and bought a smaller one with more affordable payments. Or you could have refinanced your home at a lower rate. But today, home values have fallen so sharply that even if you made a large down payment, the current value of your mortgage may still be higher than the current value of your house. So no bank will return your calls, and no sale will return your investment.You can’t afford to leave and you can’t afford to stay. So you cut back on luxuries. Then you cut back on necessities. You spend down your savings to keep up with your payments. Then you open the retirement fund. Then you use the credit cards. And when you’ve gone through everything you have, and done everything you can, you have no choice but to default on your loan. And so your home joins the nearly six million others in foreclosure or at risk of foreclosure across the country, including roughly 150,000 right here in Arizona.But the foreclosures which are uprooting families and upending lives across America are only one part of this housing crisis. For while there are millions of families who face foreclosure, there are millions more who are in no danger of losing their homes, but who have still seen their dreams endangered.They are families who see “For Sale” signs lining the streets. Who see neighbors leave, and homes standing vacant, and lawns slowly turning brown. They see their own homes – their largest single assets – plummeting in value. One study in Chicago found that a foreclosed home reduces the price of nearby homes by as much as 9 percent. Home prices in cities across the country have fallen by more than 25 percent since 2006; in Phoenix, they’ve fallen by 43 percent.Even if your neighborhood hasn’t been hit by foreclosures, you’re likely feeling the effects of the crisis in other ways. Companies in your community that depend on the housing market – construction companies and home furnishing stores, painters and landscapers – they’re cutting back and laying people off.The number of residential construction jobs has fallen by more than a quarter million since mid-2006. As businesses lose revenue and people lose income, the tax base shrinks, which means less money for schools and police and fire departments. And on top of this, the costs to a local government associated with a single foreclosure can be as high as $20,000.The effects of this crisis have also reverberated across the financial markets. When the housing market collapsed, so did the availability of credit on which our economy depends.As that credit has dried up, it has been harder for families to find affordable loans to purchase a car or pay tuition and harder for businesses to secure the capital they need to expand and create jobs.In the end, all of us are paying a price for this home mortgage crisis. And all of us will pay an even steeper price if we allow this crisis to deepen – a crisis which is unraveling homeownership, the middle class, and the American Dream itself. But if we act boldly and swiftly to arrest this downward spiral, every American will benefit. And that’s what I want to talk about today.The plan I’m announcing focuses on rescuing families who have played by the rules and acted responsibly: by refinancing loans for millions of families in traditional mortgages who are underwater or close to it; by modifying loans for families stuck in sub-prime mortgages they can’t afford as a result of skyrocketing interest rates or personal misfortune; and by taking broader steps to keep mortgage rates low so that families can secure loans with affordable monthly payments.At the same time, this plan must be viewed in a larger context. A lost home often begins with a lost job. Many businesses have laid off workers for a lack of revenue and available capital. Credit has become scarce as the markets have been overwhelmed by the collapse of securities backed by failing mortgages. In the end, the home mortgage crisis, the financial crisis, and this broader economic crisis are interconnected. We cannot successfully address any one of them without addressing them all.Yesterday, in Denver, I signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act which will create or save three and a half million jobs over the next two years – including 70,000 in Arizona – doing the work America needs done. We will also work to stabilize, repair, and reform our financial system to get credit flowing again to families and businesses. And we will pursue the housing plan I am outlining today.Through this plan, we will help between seven and nine million families restructure or refinance their mortgages so they can avoid foreclosure. And we are not just helping homeowners at risk of falling over the edge, we are preventing their neighbors from being pulled over that edge too – as defaults and foreclosures contribute to sinking home values, failing local businesses, and lost jobs.But I also want to be very clear about what this plan will not do: It will not rescue the unscrupulous or irresponsible by throwing good taxpayer money after bad loans. It will not help speculators who took risky bets on a rising market and bought homes not to live in but to sell. It will not help dishonest lenders who acted irresponsibility, distorting the facts and dismissing the fine print at the expense of buyers who didn’t know better. And it will not reward folks who bought homes they knew from the beginning they would never be able to afford. In short, this plan will not save every home.But it will give millions of families resigned to financial ruin a chance to rebuild. It will prevent the worst consequences of this crisis from wreaking even greater havoc on the economy. And by bringing down the foreclosure rate, it will help to shore up housing prices for everyone.According to estimates by the Treasury Department, this plan could stop the slide in home prices due to neighboring foreclosures by up to $6,000 per home.Here is how my plan works:First, we will make it possible for an estimated four to five million currently ineligible homeowners who receive their mortgages through Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac to refinance their mortgages at lower rates.Today, as a result of declining home values, millions of families are “underwater,” which means they owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth. These families are unable to sell their homes, and unable to refinance them. So in the event of a job loss or another emergency, their options are limited.Right now, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – the institutions that guarantee home loans for millions of middle class families – are generally not permitted to guarantee refinancing for mortgages valued at more than 80 percent of the home’s worth. So families who are underwater – or close to being underwater – cannot turn to these lending institutions for help.My plan changes that by removing this restriction on Fannie and Freddie so that they can refinance mortgages they already own or guarantee. This will allow millions of families stuck with loans at a higher rate to refinance. And the estimated cost to taxpayers would be roughly zero; while Fannie and Freddie would receive less money in payments, this would be balanced out by a reduction in defaults and foreclosures.I also want to point out that millions of other households could benefit from historically low interest rates if they refinance, though many don’t know that this opportunity is available to them – an opportunity that could save families hundreds of dollars each month. And the efforts we are taking to stabilize mortgage markets will help these borrowers to secure more affordable terms, too.Second, we will create new incentives so that lenders work with borrowers to modify the terms of sub-prime loans at risk of default and foreclosure.Sub-prime loans – loans with high rates and complex terms that often conceal their costs – make up only 12 percent of all mortgages, but account for roughly half of all foreclosures.Right now, when families with these mortgages seek to modify a loan to avoid this fate, they often find themselves navigating a maze of rules and regulations but rarely finding answers. Some sub-prime lenders are willing to renegotiate; many aren’t. Your ability to restructure your loan depends on where you live, the company that owns or manages your loan, or even the agent who happens to answer the phone on the day you call.My plan establishes clear guidelines for the entire mortgage industry that will encourage lenders to modify mortgages on primary residences.Any institution that wishes to receive financial assistance from the government, and to modify home mortgages, will have to do so according to these guidelines – which will be in place two weeks from today.If lenders and homebuyers work together, and the lender agrees to offer rates that the borrower can afford, we’ll make up part of the gap between what the old payments were and what the new payments will be. And under this plan, lenders who participate will be required to reduce those payments to no more than 31 percent of a borrower’s income. This will enable as many as three to four million homeowners to modify the terms of their mortgages to avoid foreclosure.So this part of the plan will require both buyers and lenders to step up and do their part. Lenders will need to lower interest rates and share in the costs of reduced monthly payments in order to prevent another wave of foreclosures. Borrowers will be required to make payments on time in return for this opportunity to reduce those payments. I also want to be clear that there will be a cost associated with this plan.But by making these investments in foreclosure-prevention today, we will save ourselves the costs of foreclosure tomorrow – costs borne not just by families with troubled loans, but by their neighbors and communities and by our economy as a whole. Given the magnitude of these costs, it is a price well worth paying.Third, we will take major steps to keep mortgage rates low for millions of middle class families looking to secure new mortgages.Today, most new home loans are backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which guarantee loans and set standards to keep mortgage rates low and to keep mortgage financing available and predictable for middle class families. This function is profoundly important, especially now as we grapple with a crisis that would only worsen if we were to allow further disruptions in our mortgage markets.Therefore, using the funds already approved by Congress for this purpose, the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve will continue to purchase Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgage-backed securities so that there is stability and liquidity in the marketplace. Through its existing authority Treasury will provide up to $200 billion in capital to ensure that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac can continue to stabilize markets and hold mortgage rates down.We’re also going to work with Fannie and Freddie on other strategies to bolster the mortgage markets, like working with state housing finance agencies to increase their liquidity. And as we seek to ensure that these institutions continue to perform what is a vital function on behalf of middle class families, we also need to maintain transparency and strong oversight so that they do so in responsible and effective ways.Fourth, we will pursue a wide range of reforms designed to help families stay in their homes and avoid foreclosure.My administration will continue to support reforming our bankruptcy rules so that we allow judges to reduce home mortgages on primary residences to their fair market value – as long as borrowers pay their debts under a court-ordered plan. That’s the rule for investors who own two, three, and four homes. It should be the rule for ordinary homeowners too, as an alternative to foreclosure.In addition, as part of the recovery plan I signed into law yesterday, we are going to award $2 billion in competitive grants to communities that are bringing together stakeholders and testing new and innovative ways to limit the effects of foreclosures. Communities have shown a lot of initiative, taking responsibility for this crisis when many others have not. Supporting these neighborhood efforts is exactly what we should be doing.Taken together, the provisions of this plan will help us end this crisis and preserve for millions of families their stake in the American Dream. But we must also acknowledge the limits of this plan.Our housing crisis was born of eroding home values, but also of the erosion of our common values. It was brought about by big banks that traded in risky mortgages in return for profits that were literally too good to be true; by lenders who knowingly took advantage of homebuyers; by homebuyers who knowingly borrowed too much from lenders; by speculators who gambled on rising prices; and by leaders in our nation’s capital who failed to act amidst a deepening crisis.So solving this crisis will require more than resources — it will require all of us to take responsibility. Government must take responsibility for setting rules of the road that are fair and fairly enforced. Banks and lenders must be held accountable for ending the practices that got us into this crisis in the first place. Individuals must take responsibility for their own actions. And all of us must learn to live within our means again.These are the values that have defined this nation. These are values that have given substance to our faith in the American Dream. And these are the values that we must restore now at this defining moment.It will not be easy. But if we move forward with purpose and resolve – with a deepened appreciation for how fundamental the American Dream is and how fragile it can be when we fail in our collective responsibilities – then I am confident we will overcome this crisis and once again secure that dream for ourselves and for generations to come.Thank you, God Bless you, and God bless America.

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Back in the Valley with a few recommedations for the novice golfers

I’ve been back in the Valley for a few months and hopefully can begin regularly posting.

Everyone knows the Phoenix metropolitan area is a fantastic location for golf and we have some of the best courses in the nation (world?).

Those courses are out of my league. :)

I just started playing this summer and realized what a great opportunity Central Phoenix provides to beginning golfers.

I began playing every Monday afternoon at the Encanto executive 9 hole course on 17th Avenue and Encanto. If it isn’t the most unpretentious golf course in the metro area it has to be close. Our foursome usually plays a round in about an hour; a single golfer or a quick pair can play it in 45 minutes. Where else could I take a break from work to play golf in the afternoon?

Summer rates are under $9 for a round and you can replay the course all day for free. It’s a great place for kids and anyone, like myself, doesn’t have the kind of game or the time to justify drop $80 on a round of golf.

Here are some pictures from another blogger.

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Recovering from storm damage

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted but I’ll be back in town for awhile and will try to pick up the pace.

What’s new with me? My roof!

Remember the storm at the end of last August? Those 85 mile-per-hour winds removed the roof of both my office and parts of my house.

But it may have been for the better. The storm did damage to the roof and the inside of the house. I was already planning on re-carpeting my the living room and replacing the 70′s style wood planning in the large room at the back of my house.

Some of the damage to the room with wood paneling:

Sample of wood paneling:

Because my contractor could not match the 70′s style wood paneling with anything from the 21st century, I’m getting a break on replacing the wood paneling in the entire room! Goodbye 1976!

I’d like to recommend my contractors and insurance adjuster on Metblogs but I’d like to ask their permission first. Both were fantastic, especially considering how busy they were following the storm. I did use a tool online which gave me a pretty good perspective as to the quotes I would be receiving from contractors. Build Centric gave me free online quotes for both the interior paint job I’ll need completed and carpet installation.

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Get Outside People!!!

The weather, at the time of this writing, is about 82 degrees. 82 degrees people!!! It’s time to go outside.

The beauty of living here lies in all the great opportunities for hiking. Unfortunately I’m not willing to brave the heat or wake up at the crack of dawn to do it so you won’t find me on the trails until cool weather hits. I’m preparing to hike the Grand Canyon in March and am significantly out of shape. The last 3 weekends I’ve gone to Piestewa – not to hike the peak but the surrounding trails. Today there was a cool breeze – it was lovely.

If you are a beginner or out of shape I would suggest the Mohave trail. It has a nice incline and the summitt has a nice view of the city. It’s a relatively easy climb but the feeling of accomplishment when I finished it was good. Up and back is just under a mile. I vow there will be pictures – I keep forgetting to take my camera. But maybe that will just encourage you to go yourself…

Hiking is the quintessential Phoenix outdoor pastime. The views are amazing and the weather is right. So, get out there!

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How are we doing?

On September 1st, a Metblogs founder, Sean Bonner, issued a clarion call for writers to illuminate this fine desert oasis we live in.
Three people answered the call. I was first, then Melinda joined, followed by Elmocho, also known as Chris and my partner. Between the three of us, we have managed to bring some life back to a wonderful resource that was floundering.

We need more help, though. Reply to the original post and come join us. The water is fine. I see, hear, and experience things everyday that I would love to blog about, but I run out of time.

The Valley is a great place to live. It frustrates me that we don’t seem to have the cohesive identity or pride of home that I see in other cities. We have things to do and places to go that are very much unique to the desert, and this is an opportunity to highlight some.

So what would you, the reader, like to see? Leave us a comment and we will make an effort!

Lake Pleasant in June by Chris Seggerman

Quote of the Week

Downtown Voices Coalition is a group of about 90 stakeholders that work on issues affecting downtown Phoenix. They had a recent article on their web site about Dwell Magazine naming Phoenix Exurbs such as Verrado and Anthem (I think my home turf of Goodyear counts as well) as some of the “Worst in the US”.

The quote that caught my eye? Unrefinery.com had this to say about the recognition:

We hesitate to even call Phoenix a city; the decentralized home turf of Allied Waste would be best described as a 400-square-mile monument to sprawl, water waste, traffic bottlenecks, and crystal meth. Urban planning sometimes seems esoteric, but Phoenix offers a real-world reminder of why we need it.

Thoughts?


You Can Hear the Excitement Brewing…

The local news stations are all a-buzz. Conversations are happening around the dinner table and at the water cooler. People are stopping each other and asking if they have heard the news.

What is the event that has people so interested? Not politics, not the economy, but…
Rain!

Other desert regions may be similar, but in my experience Phoenicians reaction to the promise of rainy days is fairly unique.
Rain is rare enough that we take pictures

Read more

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