Blog, Sweet Blog

Archive for January 2010

Mood: 100% ugh
Music: Red Lorry Yellow Lorry-Hollow Eyes

So, it seems like everything in my life these days is turning into a big pile of stinky brown doody.  I feel like I’m just watching myself barely make it through each day and I’m not sure what to do about it all.  To make matters worse, I also don’t feel like blogging about it and that usually helps.

As compromise, let’s talk about my new camera.  As I said, I hadn’t taken many pictures since losing my camera in Washington D.C. (along with an entire, striking National Mall at Night photo set), and I wanted to replace it.  I ended up buying one of these

Canon PowerShot S90

It was pretty expensive for a compact, point and shoot, and I could have bought a nice, entry-level DLSR body for a few dollars more.  I chose my little camera for, what I think are, good reasons which I’ll discuss after the period and spaces.

First, there are the issues of cost and portability.  I think I’ve gotten a lot of good pictures from my pocket cameras and I’m loathe to lug around an expensive, high-maintenance image maker.

I also have a low opinion of photography as an art form.  Sorry.  I like taking pictures and I even try to make a lot of “arty” photos, but it’s easy for me and I feel like there’s very little skill involved.  Drawing is hard.  Painting takes years to master.  Sculpture, fiber arts, dance, and music composition are all very challenging and each involves some practiced technique.  For the most part, I feel like photography is just a way of curating life.  I also like to carry a camera around with me whenever I can and taking photos all the time makes the act of photography seem less special; more common, like a sketch.

There are exceptional photographic artists, of course, but I don’t regret not buying a DSLR.

It’s a nice little camera.  I can set the aperture, shutter speed, it has a lot of ISO settings, a video mode, it can shoot in RAW format, it has manual focus, it fits in the little pocket in my purse or bus bag, and it has a decent wide-angle lens.   So, win win, win, win, win, win, win, win, win!

I got it on Wednesday and have been busy catching up on taking horrible photos of Miss Kitty, to wit…

the gruffalumox


relaxed cat is relaxing

And let’s not forget the arty photos in which I offer a glimpse of my naked sorrow, dread, and misery cloaked within the guise of the abstract and mundane…

Mood: 10% wistful, 50% ebullient, 22% other
Music: The Yeah Yeah Yeahs-Heads Will Roll

Continued from here.

Let’s just get right to it, shall we?  Here’s a picture of the scarf I completed right around the beginning of the new year…

Anna with scarf #1 FTW!

…and another look…

Who's a pretty scarfy scarf?

It’s my first real knitting project and I’m quite happy with how it turned out.  I used 17 gauge bamboo knitting needles and one skein of lovely, variegated, chunky alpaca (I think) wool.  The color is a weird, almost ugly combination of orange, magenta, purple and grey.

Mom bought me the yarn, some Addi turbo lace needles, and a copy of Debbie Stoller’s Stitch ‘n Bitch for my birthday when she and my aunt came out to visit.  My aunt taught me to knit when she was here, but it took me a couple of weeks of practice making swatches on cheap acrylic yarn before I felt ready to move to the more expensive yarn.  I didn’t follow a pattern, I just made a garter stitch (knit every row) and played with the width until it felt right.

It’s about 8″ wide, which is pretty wide for a scarf, and around 7′ long, which seems crazy, Dr. Who long.  Regardless, I love it.  We’ve had some really cold days here this year and it’s nice to have a soft woolen scarf to wrap around your head and neck like five times if need be.

Next up is my first foray into embroidery and cross stitch since I was a teeny tot.

untitled (lol) by Anna Hell

I apologize for the crap photos.  I’ve had to resort to using my webcam until I buy another, big girl’s camera.  Anyway, I started this project almost a year ago! I awoke from a feverish dream (or something) with the basics of this pattern in mind and I felt compelled to finish it…very slowly.  It’s approximately 5×7 inches and it felt like it took me a google-illion hours to finish.  The truth is prolly closer to 50 or 75 hours, but there are a lot of stitches in it.  I’m pretty happy with it, but I feel like it’s more of a sketch/practice piece than anything real.

This is the doodle I started the other day…

pop heart sketch by Anna Hell

I have an idea for how I might use this later, but it really just started off as a fun diversion after I finished the bohemiath above.  I know it sounds weird to take a break from needle work by doing some more needle work, but regular embroidery is way faster than cross stitch and it was nice to be able to sketch out something so fast.  Like I said, this might be incorporated into a larger piece (8×11 or pillow size?), but I just started this…

Grace Lace Beret

Elizabeth's Grace Lace Beret

…and I should really finish it before I get distracted with five other projects, as is my nature.  I’d also like to do a Blog, Sweet Blog title card and experiment with some “topographic” embroidery.

So, I’m happy to have finally finished a couple of projects, but only the heart thing and beret will count towards my viva la resolutions art things if I finish them this year.  Wish me luck!

What projects are you guys in the middle of/planning to start?

Mood: Get down with the sickness
Music: some episode of The L Word

O hai Englandz! We'z gonna need to have deez castlz and landz, kthxbai!

If this seems out of order,  it’s because I started this the other day when I was home sick…and why I made reference to it here and showed some here. Let’s just pretend like this is a Blog, Sweet Blog time machine ride to the not-so-distant past!

O hai Interntubes!

So, I’m sick today, but I couldn’t help but share some of the cross stitch/embroidery and knitting work I’ve completed recently.   I also want to show you some of the super wonderful Innerwebz stitch art I’ve seen over the past couple of months.

I’m not sure if the other people’s stitch art thing will become a regular feature or not.  There are plenty of great websites that do this all the time, e.g. feeling stitchy, mr. x stitch, and  Also, I tend to think every.single.project I see on those sights is lovely and amazing.  I would just be re-posting every item I see and that’s hardly the sort of top-drawer, Blog, Sweet Blog curating you’ve come to expect.  I think I’ll just let the pros handle craft blogging and I’ll just add some of my new besty craft sites to the right-hand blog roll.

Let’s start with the some of the online projects I’ve really loved…


Max by mimilove, click the photo for her page!

The piece above made me do a weird combination of gasp and squeee the first time I saw it.  It combines many of the elements of life I love…Hello Kitty, actual kitty, watercolor, an interesting color palette, and weird, delicate embroidery.  Mimi’s site is a treasure of similar wonderment.

So…have you ever been up in your own head, working on a certain project and you start thinking…

Wow, that is some good stuff right there.  I am soooo good at art!  I think I might even be sell-the-cat-move-to-Portland-and-join-an-art-collective good.

…and then you stumble onto something from Tod Hensley and it makes you feel like you just graduated from Baby’s First Art Class?  Well, that totally happened to me when I saw his work.  It’s a hurtful experience, but I highly recommend looking at super-talented artist’s work when you need to go back to keeping it real.


Untitled by Tod Hensley

The subject matter isn’t exactly something you’d show your mother (unless you’re me), but the stitching and design are expressionistic, tribal, folky, and sickeningly complex.  I think I like this one more…

excerpt from a larger, untitled piece by Tod Hensley

The last of the other’s work is an off-the-cuff, yet totally mind-blowing relaxation sampler by Mrs. Kitty.


Playing with color and texture by Mrs. Kitty

It’s so good, it makes me a little bit angry and full of the awe.  I think a lot of the old-timey samplers are interesting to look at, but would have been dreadfully boring to actually work.  Mrs. Kitty’s piece looks like the most fun way to learn every stitch and also work with color and design.

This is getting long, so I’m going to cut it up into two posts.  Click here for a look at what I’ve been up to lately, craft-wise.

Mood: 72% wistful
Music: Phoenix-Fences

Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix by Phoenix

Ok, one more post before the needle craft porn, promise!

So, um, I’m in love with this album.  I know, I’m prolly like the last person to hear it.  I’ve, not intentionally, been keeping my finger far from the pulse of “what is happening” in modern music at the moment (more on that later), but better late than never, right?

I downloaded Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix last week and it seems like I’ve been listening to it over and over since then ( tells a different story, but who are you going to believe?).  And when I’m not listening to it, I’m thinking about it.  And when I’m not thinking about it, I’m having imaginary conversations with it…

Anna: Wow, Phoenix, that was SO amazing!  I love that song!

PHX:  Thanks, Anna!  That’s nice of you to say.

Anna: (staring intently) You have pretty eyes, you know.  I like how they’re kind of a brownish greeney blue…like you’re actually made up of four different people.  And your album cover is pretty too.  It’s like The Gap Band’s “You Dropped a Bomb On Me” with a splash of French flag.  So good!  Wait, how do you say it in France? Tres bonn? (laughs)

PHXOui!  And thanks again.  We are, as you know, made up of four different people.  There’s four of us.  In the band.

Anna:  (continues to stare as if in a trance, then wakes) Hmm?  Oh that’s nice.  So anyway, how do you do it, Phoenix?  How do you write those songs?  How did you get so good at making the songs only I like and want to hear all the time?  Did you take a class or  do a weekend seminar or something?

PHX(uncomfortable) Um…well, we just started writing, and-

Anna:  (forefinger to her mouth) shhh, please don’t speak, sweet Phoenix.  You’re ruining this…beautiful moment we have together.

(crazy laugh)  Ha ha ha! Remember that time I was knitting and you played “Fences” and I started to cry a little bit?

PHX:  No…

Anna:  And remember when “1901” was playing and it reminded me of that time I heard “Countdown (Sick for the Big Sun)” on the bus and I was so happy?  We’ve been through a lot, you and I.  Haven’t we, Phoenix?

PHX:  (backing away) I think we’re going to go…now. (runs away)

Anna:  (runs to the door and yells after them) I LOVE YOU!  I can’t stop listening to you! (falls to her knees) I’m nothing without you!  (crying) Please don’t leave me!!!  (screaming) PHOEEEE-NIX! PHOE-NIX!

…yeah, so you should buy it and stuff, and join me in my crazy.

Mood: Sick Sick Sicks
Music: the menu music from the (500) Days of Summer DVD


Fresh, hot wonderful from the blog, Early Bird Special

Hey guys,

I’m in one of those moods.  I’ve been home sick for the last two days and melancholy, saturnine, lugubrious, and wistful (mostly wistful) for the last 11,680 days…give or take…and super-all-those-adjectives since Friday.

John and I just finished watching (500) Days of Summer and it made me feel ways about things.  I thought it was an ok, not great, movie, but it was inspirational enough for me to be writing about it now in lieu of the post I had planned on the joys of needle craft and the online beauty and wonderment I have recently beheld.  Stay tuned for that.

So, these feelings I’m having are about my life and the way it’s going.  There was a pivotal scene in the movie where the young man decides he’s (spoiler alert) had enough of his dreary, greeting card writing lifestyle and decides to, once and for all and finally, give his dream of architechting architecture a go.  I know, it’s a pretty played-out plot device, but as I was watching, rolling my eyes, I wondered, what would happen if I stopped rolling my eyes for a minute and actually, really tried to follow my dreams?  What would happen if we all did that?

I don’t mean to say we should all quit our jobs, move to Portland, and start an indie love rock band, but what if we found a way to work really hard at the one thing that made us happy?

Why aren’t we doing that, right now?

What are we all afraid of?

Because that’s what it is.  It’s fear.  Fear of…something…is keeping us from opening up that amazing cupcake shop, or going to art school, or spending every single waking moment of every day listening to all the songs we want to hear with the  people we love most in the world.

I’m also not saying that we’re all Emily Dickinson and Georgia O’Keeffe superstars either; most of us are just Annas and Johns and Jennifers and Chris’s and we’re all waiting around for life’s surprise ending.

We may not change the world or get rich with our one passion, but I’ll bet you a breakfast burrito and everything I own that we each have the power to make at least one other person happier.  And if we can do that, then we have a good shot at making two, five, ten, maybe a hundred people happier, if only for a little while.  If you’re able to find a way to combine doing what you love and improving the way we all spend the time we have left, then you win.

I’ve talked a lot recently about how I’m small-stepping my way to these other dreams; but I’m still afraid.

I hate my job.

There, I said it.  I only say that because it’s not for me.  If I was passionate about engineering, every day would be amazing, fulfilling, and rewarding.  But I’m not and it isn’t.  I think I can find a way to limp through it, but I hate lies and that is not a long-term, lie-free solution.  I’m afraid of losing it and being without money and unloved and wholeheartedly committing to the one or two things I actually feel some passion for.  If I put my everything into doing what I love and failed, what would be the point of going on?  I guess the knowledge that I actually, really tried for once would help me pick myself up and learn how to be marginal at a job I didn’t care for.  Maybe that’s good enough?

I don’t know, but I think we all need to spend this year figuring out how to let go and be amazing.

Mood: I’m a rocker.  I’m rocking out.
Music: The Runaways-Cherry Bomb

We will cut you.

My dearest Internets,

How are you?  I am fine.  Camp is a lot of fun and I am having the best summer!

Jk, but seriously, Internets, I am fine and most any summer camp (computer, horse, macramé knife-fighting)would be a lot of fun.

I have some links and commentary to share, but I wanted to catch up on those New Year’s resolutions we talked about last time.  How are you doing with yours?  Mine are off to a decent start.  I actually exercised for the first time since surgery yesterday.  It was a short, mega-freezing walk, but it felt good to be outside again.  And I took the bus this morning!  Hooray pub transpo sys! It was hard to wake up on time after so long, but I think this whole bus thing is going to work out, y’know? That’s about all I’ve got so far.  I need to find some way to cata-blog all of these New Year’s achievements…perhaps a Blog, Sweet Blog achievement toteboard? Is that too much? Too crazy?

In other news, I seem to have arrived at a strange confluence of heavy music news and links and I want to share them with you all, of course.

-The Runaways are awesome (and will cut you if you don’t watch it) and they’re making a sort of borderline-horrible movie about them.  I think it’s because I’m getting more old and crotchety by the hour, but I kind of hate the way they cut movie trailers these days.  Like, either they make four different trailers that make a movie seem like it’s a wacky comedy, a crime thriller, a documentary on the British aristocracy, and an adorable romantic comedy.  Or, in the case of this trailer, they make it seem like The Runaways invented polio and then cured it.  They’re certainly important and awesome, but yeesh, enough with the “in a world” gravitas already.

-Yesterday, Little Big John John Johnny Cakes told me about Hideous Gnosis: A Black Metal Theory Symposium and I had thoughts about things.  I replied to him, thusly…

I’m not really sure what to make of the Black Metal Symposium.  My first impulse is, “if academics are studying it, it’s time to get out.”  The academics could just be highly educated fans, but the idea of shining the light on a form of expression that, by its very nature, defies analysis and rejects exposure, seems kind of ridiculous.  And why not other metal subgenres?  There are thematic connections and a great deal of overlap between black metal and doom, death, viking/pagan, etc.  I think the answer is that black metal is really popular right now and has become a shorthand buzzword for people to latch onto.  Speaking of, there’s a documentary coming out about two of the major/most controversial BM artists from Norway.  I heard an interview with the filmmakers, but it left me feeling like people are way too interested in black metal at the moment.

Still, I’m going to read the material on the site and listen to the lectures before I offer a formal, Blog, Sweet Blog opinion.  There’s already been some excellent commentary on the topic here.

I do have one quick comment though.  Phrases like, “Representing textual significance as a plenitude…” put me on the lookout for further academic douchebaggery.  I’m not a liberal-arts academic, but I am somewhat familiar with academic papers on electrical/communications engineering.  Maybe it’s a cultural difference, but it seems like I almost never encounter language like that in the scholarly papers of my field.  It seems like we try to write as simply as possible and let the data and figures speak for themselves.  It seems like I see a lot of overwrought, near-baroque word usage in artist’s statements too and they always make me feel like they’re just having a laugh.  But, as I said, this could be a cultural difference and an encouraged form of academic expression within the liberal arts academic community.

Regardless of my eventual opinion on the merits of the symposium, I think it’s great that outsiders and metal fans are talking about music that I love.

“Until the Light Takes Us’ is that documentary I was talking about above.  It’s playing at Starz on January 29th, hooray! I listened to an interview with the filmmakers on The Sound of Young America podcast a while ago and, let’s just say, the filmmakers did not inspire me to see their film.  They started off the interview by saying they weren’t fans of black metal and only got into it via the owner of Aquarius Records (a tiny wonder of an amazing record store in San Francisco).  I think that’s +1 to the theory that black metal has attained some unexplained, hipster cachet these days.

That statement also gave me pause because I think the quality of documentaries has really gone down over the past five or ten years.  It seems like I’ve seen a lot of pointless, haphazard documentaries over the past year (We Jam Econo, Helvetica, Beautiful Losers).  I think there are too many documentary filmmakers flooding my movie screens with mediocrity.  I’m going to see the movie, but it seems far from the documentary I was hoping for.

-Also, apparently, there are death metal roosters…

-Deathklok is still really funny/brutal…

-Finally, Colorado had a thriving punk/new-wave scene in the 70’s and 80’s (Wax Trax! started here, y’know) and this site will tell you all about it.

Best wishes and etc., your biggest fan,

Dr. Annabelle Lies

Mood: Like a roller skating jam named “Saturdays”
Music: Skycaptain and the World of Tomorrow

Percy demonstrates the nadir of Victorian Men's athletics, the oft-misunderstood, Single Gentleman's Aquatic Pantomime

Bella Donna thought the end of the previous post was funny because, until I posted this, the link went to a 404 Not Found page and it was as if my resolutions, nay, my very future was missing and unwritten.  If you’ve learned anything about me during our time together, you should have learned that it’s almost obsessively impossible for me to leave anything unwritten…especially my future.  As I was saying…

So, with 2009 safely tucked away into the Blog, Sweet Blog archives, we cast a fresh, hopeful gaze upon our new BFF, the year 2010 (or ‘010! à la Stephen Colbert).  Pray, what awesomeness awaits me this year?

Lottery winnings?

The dream of publishing fulfilled?

The end of electrolysis?

A minor, though rather annoying fender bender?

Kitten adoption?

I wish I knew, Internets.  I wish. I knew.

The Future may arrive at any moment and I have composed the following list of 52,384 things I should/want to/must/need to/had better/oughta do until The Future or January Whatever, 2011 gets here.

I realize this may not interest you in the slightest, but I’m going to ignore your unvoiced protestations and put it up anyway.  There are a lot of recurring, overdone themes in a lot of people’s resolutions, but I continue to find value in the resolutions of people I like, admire, and respect.  They’re an insight into a person’s personality and I like to be able to copy some of their goals if I feel like we’re simpatico.  Plus, it’s good to have goals…ugh, isn’t that a quote from some movie?  I just spent too long looking for the source and couldn’t find it.

Anyway, to the resolutions!

In 2009, I resolve to…

get well.

-I’ve been exercising and losing weight pretty steadily for the last couple of years.  I still need to keep at it, but my goal for this year is to get under the weight prerequisite for reassignment surgery.

-This touches some of the other areas, but I need to seriously think about plans for having GRS.  I’m eligible in May and I’d like to cross this off the list before I turn 40.

-I want to buy another bike…either a townie, Dutch-style bike or a three gear cruiser.  I have a mountain bike I like, but it’s not very cute and inspires a much more aggressive riding style (insert fast and hard riding double entendre here).  I’d rather have something that was more comfortable and friendly so I’d be inclined to take longer, more frequent and leisurely rides…like to the store and out to eat with John.

-I want to go hiking again.  I went a lot two years ago and always had a lot of fun.  I’d like to go with John a few times this summer at least.

win at monetizing!

-Who doesn’t want to earn more money?  I mean, really.  I’ve thought about getting another job or finding some way to bring in more money.  I’d like to redecorate and I need about $20,000 for surgery and I’m not saving any money right now. Maybe I could sell some art or crafts on etsy?

-I’d like to refinance or sell my place…at some point.  I wrote about this before.  I’m not looking for some giant Barbie dream house in the suburbs or a penthouse on Peyton place.  No, just a cute, cozy little downtown hideaway near the bus stop.

-Speaking of, me and my homie, Les Bus, need to get reacquainted.  Taking the bus would help me save money and give me some extra time work on some of those 10, 000 projects I resolved to do.

-I need to pay off mah debt and get mah bills current.  I don’t have a lot, but I need to get solvent, y’all.

-There is a whole garage full of bad memories and crappy crap I need to get rid of or sell somehow.  I’ve said it before, but who needs a table saw, really?

nest and nest and nest and nest.

-I got a bonus this year and I decided that I want to use it and my tax return to decorate my place.  My ex and I were trying to sell my place before we broke up, so it’s been like living in Tabula Rasa for two years.  If I can’t move, then having a warm, pretty, welcoming home is good enough for now.  Granted, I have no idea where to start with this and the prospect of decorating failure fills me with a primordial, creeping, Elder gods-esque dread.

-I want to invest in some big girl cooking accoutrement.  I want to get some of the classic cookbooks, a few more pans, and a better set of knives.  After that, watch out foodstuffs!

-As most of the bad memories and crappy crap reside in the garage and laundry room, it stands to reason that I should clean these up.

-It’s not even half as bad as the garage, but I need to clean out the office as well.  It’ll be a perfect studio when I add some nice work spaces, storage, and additional lighting.

say, “what’s up, Art world?”

-I want to participate in the Denver Arts community.  To do that, I should prolly, you know, make some art or something.  So, I’m going to try to finish three(?) short stories and fabric/visual art things.  That number is completely arbitrary, but finishing anything would be a bonus.  Once I have some finished work, I plan on submitting to some literary magazines (in addition to McSweeney’s) and galleries/calls for submissions.

-I might need to join or start a revolutionary, avant-garde commando art action collective…or at least research what’s out there.  There are a number of them in town (not so much commando avant-garde) and I think joining one might be a good way to keep the metaphorical juices flowing.

-I need to get out there and mingle with the Art community, so I wanna go to at least 6 First Fridays (some combination of the Santa Fe, RiNo, and Colfax nights) this year.

-Momma needs to see some more art and that means multiple trips to the MCA, DAM, and at least once more to the Kirkland.

-Since I lost my camera in DC, I should buy another camera and take more pictures of things and stuff for the blog and whatnot.

-There are these things called readers and I’d really like to learn how to get them to look at my li’l blog…and tell their friends.  Perhaps an absurd contest of some sort?

maximize my personal productivity and unleash my power animal!

The rest of these are just general, personal things I want to do and aren’t easily classifiable, hence the title.

-This spring and summer are going to be awesome, I can just feel it!  I resolve to get out more and do the work necessary to insure the awesomeness….like spending time outside going to farmer’s markets and outdoor events.

-I could do with a better weekly schedule, something in between the one I made each semester of college and the one Martha Stewart publishes in her magazine…maybe not as OCD, but it would be nice to have a regular feeling for the things I need to do every week.

-This year has been pretty great, family-wise, but we could be much better.  My mother said she’d like to have us back home for Christmas and that’s a perfect ending point for the year.  Until then, I’ll endeavor to be a better daughter and sister and continue to work on the problems that still exist in my family.

-I love me some food and I feel like I should be trying new restaurants and working on my cooking skills.  I’d like to try six new, highly-rated restaurants and six new recipes…one of which should involve baking.

-Even though my recent tattoo consult didn’t go so well (long story), I still want to get at least one this year.

-Adopt a kitten?  Sadly, my kitty is getting older and I’ve been giving a lot of thought to adopting another kitten or two.  If anyone knows of any free, Scottish Fold kittens, put in a good word for me!

-Go for a nice vacation this year or go back to Burning Man some year.  I went to Burning Man in 2001 and have been pining for the playa ever since.  If not, a vacation to anywhere nice this summer (hopefully with John) would work.

-I really should make a decision about graduate school.  The next deadline is October something, so I have until then.

-And finally, I’d like to figure out how to move to Europe, at least for a while.  The company I work for has branches all over the world, but I’m not sure I could use them to get an engineering job over there.  If I figure out a way to get to Paris, Berlin, Stockholm, Helsinki, or Oslo, I’m so going.

Yeesh, enough with the writing already!  It’s time to get out there and make those resolutions happen!  Do you have any resolutions or hopes for this year you’d like to share?  How are you planning to make this year better than the last?

Mood: I have the dread
Music: WBLS’s In Control from 7.14.89 feat. Ultramagnetic MCs and 3rd Base

an introduction

Hi, I'm Anna and I love cheese!

This blog is a chronicle of my life and a catalog of happy ephemera. The About page has a little bit more information, but, remember, none of this is really's just a supplement, a thumbnail sketch, a mostly anonymous Intarwebs placeholder. I'm way better/less wordy in person. :-)

Oh, and if I wrote something about you and you thought it was mean or hurtful, I'm sorry. It's how I felt at the time, but probably isn't how I feel now. Chances are, I love you and I think you're awesome.


All content on Blog, Sweet Blog is copyrighted by me, Anna Hell. Unless otherwise noted, all photos, words, and content on this site are mine, created by me, and should not be used without my permission (or at least attributed and linked back). I try to embed links or quote original source material if I use another person's work.

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January 2010