A new (fae forest) in Second Life

(fae forest); Inara Pey, July 2019, on Flickr
(fae forest), July 2019 – click and image for full size

Miro Collas recently pointed out the Zuma Jupiter has relocated (and rebuilt) her (fae forest) region theme, prompting us to hop over and take a look at the new design in its new home.

I’ve previously written about (fae forest) in these pages in April 2019 (see Re-visiting Elvenshire in Second Life) and March 2017 (see A Mystical Fae Forest in Second Life). We enjoyed both visits due to the fairy-tale like look and feel to the designs, so I was looking forward to seeing what the relocation had led Zuma to create.

(fae forest); Inara Pey, July 2019, on Flickr
(fae forest), July 2019

In keeping Zuma’s previous designs I’ve written about, this (fae forest) maintains the fantasy element with its touch of whimsy, but it also has something of a darker tone as well. This latter aspect is somewhat apparent on arrival: the default windlight casts a hazy blanket across the region, causing distant trees to look a little ghost-like, an effect enhanced by the stardust that in places drifts on the wind.

Sitting as a humped island rising from the sea, the region has a distinct north-west to south-east orientation. Towards its centre there rises a vertically-walled table of rock, its broad plateau, complete with taller pillars and curtains of rock that in places rise above it, resembles a great, natural fortress; its castle-like look further enhanced by the ring of water that surrounds it like a natural moat.

(fae forest), July 2019

The land spreading to the west and east around this great plateau undulates gently and carries with it a feeling of being windswept and exposed. It is largely home to scrub grass, some of if providing grazing for sheep, while a few trees sit further around its eastward arc, the horizon of which is broken by the blocky form of a stone-built chapel. The grassland also sweeps around to the west and south, where it washes against the dark shadow of woodland – but more of that anon.

The great plateau is accessed through a set of stone-cut steps that face the landing point across the grasslands. Like the plateau, the steps are on a massive scale – each of them practically needs a staircase of its own to climb it. They provide the single point of entry to the table-top of rock from the lands below, as if again suggesting this is a place of natural fortification.

(fae forest), July 2019

However, the top of the plateau is not in any way given over to ideas of war or defence. Instead, it offers the clearest reflection of previous iterations of (fae forest). Richly wooded, it offers a lot to discover in what is a glorious garden sitting beneath boughs draped in lights and between which shafts of sunlight fall around a central giant gazebo. Nevertheless, the echoes of castles persist: on the south side of the gazebo more huge steps cut their way up through another great up-thrust of rock that rises like a giant natural motte to the lower plateau’s bailey, albeit one lacking defensive walls around its top.

Beyond the plateau’s bulk the landscape takes a different turn. Great columns of rock cover the south-eastern side of the region, looking for all the world like some giant’s hammer has been used to randomly pound each of them into the ground. Just to west the of these great stone blocks stands the dark woodland mentioned above, a place where rain falls and mist creeps between shadowy tree trunks.

(fae forest), July 2019

Here the region takes on something of a darker tone, not only because of the mist and rain and dark hue to the trees, but because of what lies amidst the tall trees. A ramshackle cabin raised on stout wooden legs and  looking for all the world like it should be sitting within some dank, dark corner of a bayou crouches on one side of the path. Beneath it, and somewhat ominously, baby dolls have been strung up, while facing it from the other side of the path is a strange oversized display cabinet in which hang more dolls, these ones perhaps best described as Chucky’s distance cousins, watched over by a distinctly nervous-looking cat (one of Cica Ghost’s creations).

The wood with its strange tableaux can come as an odd turn for the region to take, standing as it does in opposition to the more fairy-tale heights of the plateau above and behind it. However, it also adds to the overall atmosphere of the setting, adding to its uniqueness.

(fae forest), July 2019

This uniqueness is further increased by the oddities scattered across the region: an aero engine here, offshore ring of standing stones there, sculptures rising in unexpected places, high and low, and more – there’s even a troll hiding within the arms of denuded trees.

Atmospheric, slightly haunting, but definitely photogenic, this version of (fae forest) perhaps offers a slightly different face to the world than previous builds, but it remains evocative and utterly worthwhile in visiting.

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][Octopussy][ goes Cuba in Second Life

][Octopussy][ goes Cuba; Inara Pey, July 2019, on Flickr][Octopussy][ goes Cuba, July 2019 – click and image for full size

We were led to ][Octopussy][ goes Cuba on the recommendation of Shawn and Max, discovering in the process a sun-drenched tropical island with a lot to offer visitors.

A joint design by FleurLaRosa and WillkinThos, this homestead region is adult rated and does embrace nudity and adult activities – providing the clearly stated rules are followed; but this should in no way put people off paying it a visit, as there is a lot to appreciate.

][Octopussy][ goes Cuba; Inara Pey, July 2019, on Flickr][Octopussy][ goes Cuba, July 2019

This is very much a place of two halves, visually. There is the tall, rocky plateau of the island, and the low-lying beaches stretching out to the west and curling around to the south. The former is home to the main landing point, sitting towards the centre of the region, and a gaily-painted village location that sits above it.  The village, with its 50’s style cars and bright colours is obviously intended to evoke the Cuban feel suggested by the region’s title.

There might be a tendency to make allusions to James Bond given the region’s name, and certainly, the British spy has been to Cuba and other tropical locations, and in places the Octopus logo found the island kind-of offers suggestions of an inverted SPECTRE symbol. But really, any alignment of the region with Bond is purely in the imagination. Instead, this is a place for photography, fun and music.

][Octopussy][ goes Cuba; Inara Pey, July 2019, on Flickr][Octopussy][ goes Cuba, July 2019

The latter is catered for at several points around the island, but perhaps most obviously in the underground ][ Octopussy ][ Lounge. This can be found through the tunnel to one side of the landing point, and has is unique visual appeal. This makes imaginative use of the [Original] the Spa – Black edition by Abiss to provide an underground club space designed to give the feeling of being underwater; large screens around the walls present videos of fish swimming among rocks and coral, and the floor of the dance floor is, in part, glass sitting over coral and water through which more fish swim.

A set of steps connect the landing point with the broad western beach, which offers plenty of space to sit and relax in the sun, as well as broad walks extending out over the shallows to reed-covered sand bars. These are home to both birds and waterfowl, and offer more places to relax and enjoy company or the scenery.  One of these board walks extends well out to the north-west, offering visitors the chance to gain an off-shore view of the island – although it conveniently connects to the local rum bar should anyone get thirsty! For the more active, the board walk from the south beach connects to a wooden dance floor complete with line dancing options.

][Octopussy][ goes Cuba; Inara Pey, July 2019, on Flickr][Octopussy][ goes Cuba, July 2019

Two paths from the landing point lead up to the little village, the longer of them passing a little shrine and a place to sit before arriving at the village square. This offers another place where  music and dancing can be enjoyed, or for those who prefer, the opportunity to enjoy the local outdoor bar. A smaller square off the north-east corner of the village plaza provides access to a sunny, cliff-edge terrace, a wide path cut between the rocks inviting exploration.

This path reveals it actually runs along the far side of a box canyon that quickly opens up, in part separating the north side of the island’s uplands from the village. Water flows outward from the bottom of the canyon and a rope suspension bridge offers a means of crossing it from the north-east corner of the village. Follow the path as it slopes gently downwards and it’ll take you to a little log bridge spanning the canyon’s water just before it tumbles over high falls. The path then leads back to the landing point (but don’t miss the little look-out point!), making for a nice loop around the upper reaches of the island.

][Octopussy][ goes Cuba; Inara Pey, July 2019, on Flickr][Octopussy][ goes Cuba, July 2019

][Octopussy][ goes Cuba is a region rich in detail, including the support sound scape, and which also has its own sense of fun – including the late Stan Lee enjoying a twirl on one of the dance floors! His presence, and that of others dancing and static figures also help to add a little depth to the island, making it feel occupied even if you’re a lone explorer.

All told, an attractive region with much to offer visitors and nicely photogenic; whilst exploring, keep an eye out for the little gift envelopes waiting to be found.

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A return to Cooper Creek Wilderness

Cooper Creek Wilderness; Inara Pey, July 2019, on FlickrCooper Creek Wilderness, July 2019 – click and image for full size

In passing suggestions for regions to visit, Miro Collas recently reminded me that it has been almost four years to the day since I last wrote about Cooper Creek Wilderness and the public regions of Sailor’s Cove Rain Forest (see A walk in the wilderness in Second Life). We’ve been back numerous times, both by boat and by air, and have noted various changes to the regions – notably the rise of Mount Cooper, the massive mountain that dominates the southern end of the estate, which I’ve yet to write about. So Miro’s reminder served as a reason for us to hop back for a visit that could include Mount Cooper and give a reason for me to write an updated post.

Now, to be clear, there are a lot of places to explore within the Rain Forest, and they can be reached via direct teleport or by flying / boating. For this article, and to match the flavour of my original piece, I’m setting out a possible tour using the latter – aircraft and boat -, but SLurls are also provided for those preferring the more direct means of travel.

Cooper Creek Wilderness; Inara Pey, July 2019, on FlickrCooper Creek Wilderness – Frasier Island Airstrip, July 2019

For those flying in, the Rain Forest Airfield (formerly the Sailors Cove South (SCS) airfield) is the initial destination to head for. In 2015, this was a fairly small affair, with the runway running east-west. It’s since been expanded, with a north-south runway (although approach and take-off should be from / to the north, given the bulk of Mount Cooper looming so close. With revised helipads, a seaplane ramp and a fair amount of parking, the new airstrip offers more space – but is still only suitable for light aircraft.

From here, explorers can switch to kayak – there is a rezzer to the east of the airfield, just beyond the Get The Freight Out terminal. The rezzer pier sits close to a channel that cuts northwards through Frasier Island and Cerrado to Cooper Creek Wilderness, or offers a route south to Mount Cooper (which, if you prefer, can also be reached by ferry).

Cooper Creek Wilderness; Inara Pey, July 2019, on FlickrCooper Creek Wilderness, July 2019

Should you head north along the water channel, keep in mind that both Frasier Island and Cerrado have private residences on the west banks of the main north-south channel cutting through them. There is also a large private residence on the north side of Cerrado as well, sitting just across the water from the Fishers Island Yacht Club, which is open to the public.

As well as being navigable via kayak, both Cerrado and Cooper Creek Wilderness each have a series of raised board walks and winding wooden paths running through the trees, over the water and climbing up the higher reaches of land. These offer plenty of opportunities for exploration on foot (there are other numerous kayak rezzing points, should you wish to resume your explorations on the water).

Cooper Creek Wilderness; Inara Pey, July 2019, on FlickrCooper Creek Wilderness -The Alchemis, July 2019

There are numerous places to be found whilst exploring the walks and waters of the rain forest – from the obvious places such as the Yacht Club (another kayak rezzing point sitting just across the east side channel), or The Alchemis coffee bar or the Butterfly House, and so on. The best place to find out more about the sights is from the sign at the Cooper Creek Wilderness landing point. When touched, this will offer you a note card detailing many of the attractions, all the way down to Mount Cooper.

If you do head south to Mount Cooper, I recommend avoiding the marina-style mooring sitting on the far side of the channel from Frasier Island, and instead turn south-east to make for the smaller pier sitting by a sandy shelf on the far side of the great gorge cut into the side of Mount Cooper. From here, you can follow the trails up the side of the mountain on foot or via horseback (terrain allowing, if you are using a rezzed horse – wearable horses are fair better, if you have one) and enjoy the open air.

Cooper Creek Wilderness; Inara Pey, July 2019, on FlickrCooper Creek Wilderness – Mount Cooper, July 2019

A point to note with Mount Cooper – as with other parts of the rain forest regions as noted above – is that as well as being a public park, it is also home to a number of private residences – the first of which can be encountered when following the trail up from the horse rezzer. So while exploring, do keep people’s privacy in mind.

The paths up the mountain are a mix of grassy trail, rock-based path or stony trail (the latter of which can cause rezzed horses some problems). The also offer multiple routes of exploration, so I strongly recommend you give Mount Cooper plenty of time for a visit, as there is far more to see than may at first appear to be the case.

Cooper Creek Wilderness; Inara Pey, July 2019, on FlickrCooper Creek Wilderness – Mount Cooper, July 2019

In particular, keep an eye out for the numerous entrances to the network of tunnels and caverns running through the heart of the mountain. These offer surprises of their own, including the opportunity to take a wet bungee jump (which can also be reached via a rocky path  up from the marina). And when you’ve done with that, a swim through the underwater tunnel might reveal more.

All of the above really just scratches the surface of the Cooper Creek Wilderness and Mount Cooper. As destinations, both deserve a decent amount of time to explore – possibly over more than one visit. Both present their own points of interest, with zip line rides, walks, places to sit, and so on, and each obviously offers its own opportunities for photography.

Cooper Creek Wilderness; Inara Pey, July 2019, on FlickrCooper Creek Wilderness – Mount Cooper, July 2019

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An Autumn Trace in Second Life

Autumn Trace; Inara Pey, July 2019, on FlickrAutumn Trace, July 2019 – click and image for full size

Elvira Kytori has a reputation for producing visually engaging and photogenic regions, and her designs are places we’ve always enjoyed visiting. So it was with pleasure that we made a return to Autumn Trace (formally Fall Trace), having last dropped in to write about it back at the end of 2016 (see Resting in Fall Trace in Second Life).

To be honest, the intervening time has not seen much (if anything) in the way of change in the physical design of the region. Still sitting under a cloud scudded autumn sky with the sun low on the horizon, this is a region that, once rendered, imbues a feeling of tranquillity well in keeping with the its official name. The low sun casts a soft glow across the region and lights the far horizon as if ringing Autumn Trace in a warm embrace.

Autumn Trace; Inara Pey, July 2019, on FlickrAutumn Trace, July 2019 – click and image for full size

Completely low-lying, this is very much a water region, the fact that it is presented as a marshland rather than the (perhaps) more usual swamplands seen in Second Life adding a further level of attraction in making a visit. It is also, as a part of the White Dunes Estate, a partially residential region; the houseboat and other houses in the region are available for rent (or may be rented), so some care is required to avoid trespassing onto private property.

The landing point sits towards the middle of the region, within a small shack. From here a board walk leads out over the water and reeds, forming an open U that runs south and east before turning north to end at a small motorboat presenting a place for visitors to sit and enjoy the view. Along the way, the path passes a couple of the rentals, and also other public rest places – including a little raft out on the water, while a shorter branch of the board walk offers access to where a rowing boat also awaits people wishing to enjoy a place to sit and cuddle.

Autumn Trace; Inara Pey, July 2019, on FlickrAutumn Trace, July 2019 – click and image for full size

Eastwards, and overlooked by a watchtower that can be reached via another wooden path, the region is open and wild; south and west is an arc of private rentals, the shallow channel of water between them and the inner part of the region forming a natural buffer against trespass. However, it is not the rentals that hold the attention here; it is the wildfowl and birds.

Across the region one can spot pelicans, herons, geese, cormorants, and egrets, while overhead crows and an eagle circle and small birds can be spotted throughout.  Also to be found are deer and beaver and possibly one or two critters we missed. All of these add additional depth to photography within the region, offering plenty of opportunities to capture the local “characters”.

Autumn Trace; Inara Pey, July 2019, on FlickrAutumn Trace, July 2019 – click and image for full size

All of this means that Autumn Trace remains an ideal destination for a relaxing visit, one which – as the heat of summer takes its toll across many parts of the northern hemisphere, perhaps offers a sense of cooler climes and a break from feeling as if you’re slowly broiling in the heat.

With thanks to Miro Colas for the reminder to pay Autumn Trace another blogging visit.

Autumn Trace; Inara Pey, July 2019, on FlickrAutumn Trace, July 2019 – click and image for full size

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The natural beauty of Scarlett Isle in Second Life

Scarlett Isle; Inara Pey, July 2019, on FlickrScarlett Isle, July 2019 – click and image for full size

Scarlett Isle is the name given to the Homestead region held by Grace Sixpence and Zigmal we recently toured. It has been landscaped for them by Engelsstaub, who is perhaps best known for her own region designs at Whimberly, a place I’ve written about on numerous occasions in this blog simply because of the elegance of the settings within it that Staubi presents.

And this elegance and beauty is to be found within Scarlett Isle. The region’s About Land description states “Scarlett Isle is designed to be used by those interested in SL Photography”, and it is very definitely photogenic.

Scarlett Isle; Inara Pey, July 2019, on FlickrScarlett Isle, July 2019 – click and image for full size

The region is presented as a pair of large islands, diagonally cut by a narrow sliver of water running south-east to north-west, where both islands form a bay in which a smaller, lighthouse-topped islet sits.

The more southerly of the two islands is the larger landmass, and home to the landing point as it sits towards the centre of the region. Rugged in nature, the southern island is nevertheless low-lying, marked by a large oval of rocky land to the east. With its stepped strata of grass-topped rock, this looks from some angles like the mossy shell of the great turtle lying in the water.

Scarlett Isle; Inara Pey, July 2019, on FlickrScarlett Isle, July 2019 – click and image for full size

The western end of this rocky hill rolls gently down to a lower shelf of rock extending further westward and bounded to the south by a beach and the north by the dividing channel. This shelf in turns falls away to a marvellous low-lying area of sand, rock and grass that encloses a large pool of water.

Paths – stone, wooden and grassy – wind gently through this rugged landscape, passing under the boughs of trees and between beds of flowers, leading the way to multiple points of interest, be they the wide swath of sandy beach to the west, a waterside walk around the inner pool of water, the stone terrace that sits in a fold of land that the water clearly once cut into, or the heights of the rocky tables south and east.

Scarlett Isle; Inara Pey, July 2019, on FlickrScarlett Isle, July 2019 – click and image for full size

A tall wooden cabin sits on the rock above the landlocked pool, looking westward over the peaceful waters and the beach beyond them. Open to the public, it resides among a copse of olive trees, weeping willows and silver birch that form a curtain of green around it, naturally shielding it and giving it a sense of privacy without actually isolating it from the surrounding landscape.

From here, a wooden board walk offers a way down to the southern curve of beach, while the meandering stone path that connects the cabin with the landing point and the rest of the island continues up the slope to the humped top of the turtle-like hill. This is marked by a great oak tree, a small swing slung beneath one of its great boughs. Surrounded by a wash of blue and white flowers, it is an ideal spot for quiet contemplation.

Scarlett Isle; Inara Pey, July 2019, on FlickrScarlett Isle, July 2019 – click and image for full size

Two bridges span the channel separating the southern island from the northern. One is a wood suspension bridge slung across the region’s highest points – the northern island being, on average, higher than the southern . The other bridge is a simple affair of logs dropped over a lower-lying point of the channel’s banks.

The bridges invite exploration for the northern island – a curbed path winds away from one, and a grass track marked by stone steps runs up the slope from the other. However, do take note that the two buildings located on the northern island  – one sitting close to the suspension bridge and the other off to the north-east at the end of the winding curbed path – are protected from casual visits by security orbs. These offer 15 second warnings – but given the About Land description invites exploration in the region, a couple of signs given advanced warning of the private nature of the houses perhaps wouldn’t go amiss.

Scarlett Isle; Inara Pey, July 2019, on FlickrScarlett Isle, July 2019 – click and image for full size

A large meadow arcs around the north coast of the region between the north island’s two private houses, and a path winds down the cliffs from this to another beach, this one running around the north-east headland of the island. The beach is also open to the public, but, care is again needed when following it along the eastern coast to where a stepped set of decks can be found. These are within one of the private parcels, and it is actually very easy to miss the security orb’s warning on reaching them; so again, a warning sign might help prevent people finding themselves unexpectedly teleported home.

This grumble aside, there is no mistaking the sure beauty of Scarlett Isle. Its look is incredibly natural, and offers a feeling of a wild, but well-cared for garden environment. Throughout the islands are plenty places where this natural beauty can be appreciated, from deck chairs and blankets on the beach to swings under boughs to chairs sitting in the shade of parasols on that stone terrace, or benches sitting on rocks or grassy bank and more. All of which sits within an ideal sound scape that makes Scarlett Isle an almost perfect visual and aural experience. Those taking photos are invited to share them with the region’s Flickr group, and a fee of L$150 provides rezzing rights via the local group.

Scarlett Isle; Inara Pey, July 2019, on FlickrScarlett Isle, July 2019 – click and image for full size

With thanks to Shawn for the pointer and LM!

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Visiting Norddeich in Second Life

Hallig Norddeich, Nibbevegen 1; Inara Pey, July 2019, on FlickrHallig Norddeich, Nibbevegen 1, July 2019 – click and image for full size

Following a recommendation from Shawn and Max, we dropped into Hallig Norddeich, Nibbevegen 1. A Homestead region designed by Svenja Maass (MinAleiga), it offers a slightly untamed feel of a coastal region which, given the name, I couldn’t help but wonder if it took its inspiration from Germany’s East Frisian coast and islands.

I’ve no actual solid reason for stating that it does – other than the presence of Norddeich in the title (Hallig being “exuberant”), but should that be the case, then it would certainly be appropriate; the islands along that stretch of coast, together with their cousins along the more northern aspect of the Wadden Sea coastline, have given rise to the naming of a number of places in Second Life, including Norderney and Amrum, both of which have featured as destinations in this blog.

Hallig Norddeich, Nibbevegen 1; Inara Pey, July 2019, on FlickrHallig Norddeich, Nibbevegen 1, July 2019

While the physical world Norddeich is a coastal area, this one is quite clearly an island, one among a group that rise from the sea, although its neighbours are a good deal more mountainous in appearance – and a good deal more rugged than the Frisian islands (East or North).

With their rugged faces and lack of trees, these off-sim island give the region something of a Scandinavian feel; were that more joined, it wouldn’t be too hard to imagine this to be a remote island sitting within a fjord. Hence why, perhaps, the hint of Norwegian influence in the region’s name as well (being the name of the road leading up to the Geiranger Skywalk).

Hallig Norddeich, Nibbevegen 1; Inara Pey, July 2019, on FlickrHallig Norddeich, Nibbevegen 1, July 2019

The region is split into two islands – the smaller of the two forming the landing point, and the larger the main point of exploration / interest. Both are low-lying, a wooden board walk spanning the narrow channel between them. Save for the shack of the landing point, an old, bent tree and a few shrubs, the smaller island has little to entice visitors to stay, marking it as the perfect spot for the sea lions occupying a small deck on the island’s north side to enjoy a little peace and quiet.

Across the board walk, the larger island is equally low-lying. Ringed by a thin band of sedimentary sand, much of which would appear to be under water at high tide, the core of the island is buttressed by humpbacked cuesta, marking the point where the softer sediments of the beach give way to harder rock the sea is talking a lot more time to erode.

Hallig Norddeich, Nibbevegen 1; Inara Pey, July 2019, on FlickrHallig Norddeich, Nibbevegen 1, July 2019

On the west side of the island, the sea has had a little more success in cutting into the land, forming a shallow, sandy cove that has been set out with beach chairs, blankets and deck chairs, the flags fluttering above it indicating the area is safe for bathing but surf boards or other types of board-based spots / floatation devices are not permitted.

With few trees – the main vegetation being grass and hardy shrubs – the island offers a strange mix of buildings suggestive of this once being a place of work. Two of these sit towards the middle of the island, and have a definite industrial vibe to them. However, the larger – which may once have been a long storage shed – is now a bar, presumably here to keep those visiting the island for its beaches refreshed. Separated from it by a little outdoor drinking area and a greenhouse, the smaller of the two units has been converted into a cosy little home that looks out over a rutted track to where sheep graze in a large, fenced field.

Hallig Norddeich, Nibbevegen 1; Inara Pey, July 2019, on FlickrHallig Norddeich, Nibbevegen 1, July 2019

The track – one of a number rolling across ver the uneven landscape, runs past the two buildings to connect the beach to the west with a wharf to the east, a branch also connecting it with the board walk to the landing point. The wharf is clearly a place of work – the keel of a boat is being laid down inside the boat shed and a fishing boat with fish in its holds is tied-up alongside.

With multiple spots located around the beaches where cuddles and seats can be enjoyed, the region also offers other little spots for shared moments, indoors and out (try the gate into the sheep field for example). There’s also a suitable sound scape to round things off, making this an enjoyable place to visit and photograph – the latter being added by the inclusion of a cloud scape as a part of the region’s off-sim landscaping.

Hallig Norddeich, Nibbevegen 1; Inara Pey, July 2019, on FlickrHallig Norddeich, Nibbevegen 1, July 2019

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