Aug. 15th, 2017 05:30 pm
jethrien: (Default)
In the "how can we screw up our child Olympics" - Alex has eight cavities. Oh, we knew to keep him off too much juice, and to brush. But the soy milk that is probably the bulk of the protein he consumes is loaded with sugar, and apparently we didn't brush enough. 8. Poor kid. I'm so sorry.

So his sugar intake (and his soy milk intake) is getting cut way down.

Today we had the first round of fillings. Managed to get through half of them, at least. He did really, really well. Stayed perfectly still for the bottom two. Started squirming and whimpering with the top, but made it through. Once the laughing gas kicked out, though... puddle of distress. He sat sobbing on my lap for ten minutes or so in the room. Then we moved to the waiting room, where he threw up on the carpet and then sobbed in my lap for another ten or fifteen minutes. Then he sat quietly but refused to let me stand up for the better part of the rest of the hour.

He's doing fine now. Pretty chipper. I feel like I've been hit by a bus.
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It's been a while since we tried to watch a movie as a family. Finding Nemo went rather poorly, but that was back around Christmas. He's older, it's probably better now, right? So we watched Moana.

Which is a great movie overall, but ARR was not digging it. Oh, he liked the chicken. But as soon as he realized Moana wanted to go out beyond the reef like she wasn't supposed to, he started insisting he didn't want to watch. The coconut pirates were terrifying. The storm was terrifying. The monster realm, definitely terrifying. And when (spoilers, although you should have been able to see it coming a mile away if you've seen more than a handful of movies ever) Maui abandons her, he burst out sobbing. We had to stop the movie and talk about how sometimes things are sad but that doesn't mean they won't get good again and how every time things had gotten rough Moana had triumphed and she would again and he had to watch the rest of the movie from my lap.

At least he liked the chicken?

I'd been considering a trip to Disney World in the spring, but I'm really reconsidering. I feel like a lot of the magic of Disney when they're little is seeing all their favorite characters come to life. Well, he doesn't really have any favorite Disney characters because he can't get through a Disney movie without distress because the characters are scared and upset. I guess we wouldn't have to waste a Fast Pass on the incredibly popular Elsa and Anna singalong because he's like the only four year old in America who hasn't seen Frozen. Might as well wait until he's tall enough to ride some of the rides that are not basically identical to what we can do at Six Flags.

On the other hand, we did get this gem. We were sitting on the couch reading waiting for Chuckro to be ready to watch the movie. ARR turns to me and tells me that he needs to warm up. I'd been just thinking the air conditioning was up a little too high and I ask if he's cold. No, he says, like at My Gym. Where they do the exercises to warm up their bodies. I'm still on the "cold" track, and suggest he jumps down to the floor to do his warm ups. No, he says. He needs to warm up his eyes before watching the movie. Can we watch some Rescue Bots?
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Chuckro had mentioned our trip to 99 Ranch. Another discovery--did you know they make individually wrapped imitation crab sticks? ARR has been eating them like string cheese.
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I spent most of this past week in New Orleans at a conference. Where I ate...all the things. Yes, all of them. There is no food left to eat, I have eaten it all.

Then I came home and threw a baby shower involving far too much food.

...I think I need to eat basically salad for the next three weeks.
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I'm going to a conference this week. I'm trying to plan out which sessions I want to go to. While their website lets you filter by day and theme and such, there's nothing that filters by, say, time. They're listed alphabetically. Which is possibly the least useful way to list a time-based thing...


Jul. 14th, 2017 09:08 pm
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I've been eating a lot of crap lately, and kept making resolutions to eat "better" and failing at it. So this past week, I tried an experiment. No sweeteners of any kind. No sugar, honey, agave, artificial sweeteners, nothing with any of them in it at all.

You see a lot of "blah blah sugar is addictive poison" stuff, and I was just kind of curious. Would I suddenly have clearer skin? More energy? Would I spend two days detoxing and craving and miserable? A couple conclusions:

1) Avoiding sugar is a pain in the ass. Seriously. It's in freaking everything. Bread, cereal, spaghetti sauce, ketchup, barbecue sauce, all beverages, sausages, crackers, basically anything processed. I'm certainly not going to commit to something like this long term, because it's incredibly inconvenient. (Also, I like baking, a lot.)

2) On the other hand...I had no real trouble cutting it out. No cravings. Didn't really miss dessert. It's summer, so it's a lot easier to do this when there's a ton of good fruit around. But I think I have to face that it's not that I'm addicted to sugar, it's just that I succumb from boredom and habit.

3) It's actually much easier to eat healthy food on a restrictive diet. I usually have to do this whole complex balance of what I've eaten today and plan to eat later and fighting with my willpower, over and over and over. When I'd set an arbitrary, strict rule that I just couldn't have it, I had very little trouble sticking almost entirely to produce with a little dairy for the full day, with some not-very-processed carbs and protein at the beginning and end of the day.

4) Some of this is related to the timing of my period, but I lost three pounds this week.

5) Brown rice is actually an awesome replacement for granola. I initially did this because I wanted some carbs in my yogurt and we also really needed to finish the leftover rice from takeout Chinese, but it's nutty and chewy and really satisfying with unsweetened Greek yogurt and a bunch of berries. I think I'll actually do that again.

So now I need to figure out what rules to set for myself that are a little less restrictive, but still continue the significantly healthier eating. Because I did feel better about myself, if not some kind of miracle energy glow.

On the other hand, I spent this evening baking a birthday cake.
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We're going to Germany in August, so I'm reading up on German history. One book was noting that trade fairs came out of the Hanseatic League. Which, ok, blah blah, I know some medieval history and lord knows trade fairs are a recurring Thing in sword and sorcery. So that's where they come from, moving on. And then the book goes on to note that Germany continues this tradition into the present and is the host of most of the biggest trade shows in Europe.

Oh. Oh *anvil drop*

I've known about Medieval trade fairs for decades. I've been attending trade fairs for work for a decade. Somehow I never put together that the latter is literally the modern version of the former, descended in a straight line.

When I go to BbWorld in New Orleans in two weeks, I'll make sure my sword is peace-bonded while I'm working the booth.

(Not really. Just in case this has to be said, I would in no way take a sword or any other weapon to an educational technology conference.)
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I forgot to mute myself on a conference call (in the very beginning while we were still waiting for people, not during the actual call). I was working at the same time. Apparently I have a distinctive enough typing pattern that people were able to identify it. (They said it's because it's very fast.) Not a thing I realized was an identifying characteristic.
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#43: Don't Feed the Trolls - I reviewed this out of order, go back a month or three.

#44: Victoria: The Queen by Julia Baird. 4. Straightforward biography of Victoria. Seems to cut a middle path between fetishization and demonization.

#45: All You Need Is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka. 4.5. I'd seen End of Tomorrow well before reading this, so the contrasts were definitely interesting. (Similar: fundamental concept. Different: just about everything else.) They each have their strengths--the book has much less of the Hollywood structure going, although I found the Hollywood structure somewhat more satisfying overall. I much preferred the original's geeky scientist sidekick, though, who's female and obliviously charming.

#46: New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson. 5. This book is both pessimistic enough to envision a New York flooded by global warming to Venice levels and optimistic enough that the city survives and thrives anyway. With big problems and blatant inequality, but really not much worse that what we have now. The author, in the text itself, repeatedly protests that his happy ending is only temporary and not a fairy tale ending and it's really a "doth protest too much" situation, and I don't care. It still makes you want to cheer.

#47: 1985: Stori3s from S0S by E.C. Myers. 4. Doesn't particularly stand on its own, but serves as a nice connecting web between the two Silence books. Penny's story is particularly engaging, and the early hacker details of Max's parents' courtship are delightful.

#48: Reasons My Kid Is Crying by Greg Pembroke. 4. Yes, most of these photos of children wailing, with their captions of the ridiculous reason why, are on the website. Still hilarious. Especially since my four-year-old sobbed himself to sleep tonight because his pajamas had the wrong kind of tag on the side. (Not that he doesn't want the tag. I could cut out the tag. He demands a specific kind of tag, down to fabric type and placement, which exists on maybe a quarter of his shirts at most. We're out.)

#49: Parenting is Easy: You're Probably Just Doing It Wrong by Sarah Given. 3.5. Yes, most of these ridiculous stock photos of families, with their sarcastic captions highlighting the insane premise of each photo, are on the website. Still hilarious.

#50: I Am Not A Serial Killer by Dan Wells. 4. A teenage psychopath who's very much aware that he's got the exact right profile to become a serial killer and has set himself very elaborate rules to avoid doing so runs into a serial killer. Wells cleverly makes sure you're aware this is actually urban fantasy very early on, so the later twists aren't a total betrayal.

#51: The Deaths of Tao by Wesley Chu. 3.5. Clever and tense, but the fact that the bumbling agent-accidentally-possessed-by-an-alien is all grown up now means that it lacks some of the charm of the first book in the series.

#52: Dark Currents by Jacqueline Carey. 3.5. A perfect serviceable urban fantasy that hits all the usual beats--kickass sarcastic heroine with a weird backstory, multiple potential love interests from different paranormal types (in this case, a ghoul, a psychic, and the obligatory werewolf), lots of humor with a shot of horror. But spends a lot of time setting up for a long running series so a number of plot threads are pointless for this book. Kind of generic, which is unfortunate, given how iconic some of Carey's other fiction can be.

#53: Finding Serenity ed. by Jane Espenson. 3. Essays on Firefly. Unfortunately, there wasn't really enough Firefly, so these get kind of repetitive.

#54: Memoirs of the Comtesse de Boigne, vol 1: 1781-1815 ed. by Anka Muhlstein. 4. The first half of the memoirs of a French Comtesse who spent her childhood being petted by Marie Antoinette, her teenage years hiding in England during the Terror, and then her adulthood gallivanting around Europe with her diplomat father. (Very unhappy marriage.) It's fascinating, the kind of primary source that actually gives you insight into what people were thinking. It's also inadvertently funny in that she's an ardent Monarchist and repeatedly explains how the best form of government is what they have in England, because of the importance of breeding and having an aristocracy to ensure wise decisions and stability. However, her actual opinion of every single royal she actually interacts with (which is the entire French royal family and a number of the other Bourbons ruling Piedmont, etc) is that they're all idiots. Well, except Emperor Alexander of Russia, who really was pretty decent and smart during this period. (It's later that he gets his head stuck up his ass, and she admits that.) The cognitive dissonance never seems to register.

#55: The Player of Games by Iain M. Banks. 4.5. I wasn't crazy about the first Culture novel, and was assured this one was better. It is, much. The issues of keeping oneself motivated in a fully post-scarcity society are well handled if not answered--for some people, it's just not going to be easy. There are so many games being played here--by the games expert sent to a backwards military empire who base all status on a single elaborate game, by his hosts, by the people who sent him. It's a significantly less nihilistic book than the first novel, but still somehow ends on the same emotional note. The driving emotional resonance of the Culture seems to ultimately be one of futility--when dealing with time and space scales that are so vast, and where most things are controlled by AIs with intelligence so far beyond ours, human will seems to mean relatively little.

#56: Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality by Eliezer Yudkowsky. 4. This pedantic novel-length Harry Potter fanfic managed to still be sufficiently emotionally engaging that I basically wasted multiple evenings I was supposed to be doing something else because I just. couldn't. stop. reading.

#57: We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver. 5. A gut-punch of a book. The mother of a school shooter looks back and tries to figure out what went wrong. It's deeply chilling and completely absorbing and incredibly well written. It also features a highly unreliable narrator. I'm not sure picking it up was the best idea, but then it wouldn't let me go from its chill, dark depths until I had finished it.
jethrien: (Default)
"Take some sugar. Put it in a pot. Carefully cut all the peas into twos. Put in one cup of water. Boil it until it is done. It is delicious."


Jun. 26th, 2017 10:28 pm
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I'm not dealing with photos at this point. If you want photos, you can go to Facebook.

What I did on my summer vacation )
jethrien: (Default)
So I really, really need this vacation next week. The number of balls I'm juggling, both at work and at home, keeps going up and I need to just not deal with things for awhile.

But the process of clearing the decks so I can go on vacation without coming back to a smoldering ruin, and the completely insane week I'm likely to come back to...oy. It makes it feel almost like it would be easier to just never take a vacation.


Jun. 5th, 2017 09:54 pm
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Really excellent weekend.

Friday, I went down to Princeon for the evening to have dinner and hang out and go to the Wildcats arch sing. I've realized over the years that the secret to Reunions is that there's no right way to do Reunions. I didn't bother with the tents this time around...actually, I made it out having drunk a lemonade and a lot of water and that's about it. (A total of six scoops of ice cream for the weekend, though, so it's not like I was unindulgent.) Anyway, the 'Cats were not perhaps at their best this year. The MD's conducting...leaves things to be desired. I ended up singing several solos not my own because no one was stepping up and it was really awkward to have no actual words. And didn't sing my actual solos because other, older alums clearly wanted them more. Afterwards, hung out at Frist with E and a couple other 'Cats, which was lovely and quiet and involved chairs and comfortable temperatures. E and I drove back home and she crashed with us.

Saturday, ARR and Chuckro and I took the train down. We kind of messed up--we thought the band concert was an hour earlier than it actually was. Which ended up just fine--the wristband registration was at the hockey rink, and ARR was enthralled by the women's hockey team. So he and I hung out and watched that for awhile before continuing on. He will tolerate the band for a couple songs, but really, they're much too loud for him. So we did some wandering and exploring of adjacent architectural features. There was the now-traditional takeout lunch at Campus, which avoids a lot of crowds and is far more congenial to small people. We've started a small movement at this point.

We skipped most of the P-rade in favor of the bouncy slide that was now empty because everyone else was at the P-rade. And the kids' zone worth of toys and blocks that was, again, empty. It was just us and a couple friends with their own small children. ARR was excited about being in the parade...and promptly fell asleep in the stroller, sleeping through the band picnic. He wanted ice cream and was very angry when I detoured to find Chuckro at the Koleinu concert. He did not want to listen to a song. He absolutely did not want to listen to a song. He listened to "Hallelujah." He chattered, awed, about how beautiful it was and how it was the best thing all day all the way up the hill. Met more friends with another small child. Basically, this was a series of like half a dozen playdates.

We decided to stay for the fireworks this year. Making the 10pm Dinky would mean leaving early and a sprint across campus, but I figured 15 min of fireworks should be enough. They started 20 minutes late, so I gave up on getting home at a reasonable time. But it was totally worth it. These were ARR's first fireworks, and he was completely dazzled. LOVED them. And he was very cooperative on the way back to the train. Fell asleep on me. (Although that made getting through the turnstiles at Newark super fun. Multiple cops just standing around while I wrestled an unconscious four year old, a stroller, and a backpack through. I had to pull my Metrocard with my teeth, because my PATH card was empty.)

Sunday could have been hellish. But we were all so exhausted...we just slept. Giant family nap. It was glorious.
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Chuckro's birthday party was on Monday, and it was raining, so I took ARR on an adventure to get him out of the house so Chuckro could do party prep. We headed for the Brooklyn Children's Museum, which I'd interviewed for a job at a long time ago, but never actually been to the exhibits at. Before we left, I checked the website, which said very clearly and explicitly in big letters that while they're not usually open on Mondays, they would be open on Memorial Day, Monday, May 29.

So we took the train out. And it rained heavily on us as we trekked through Bed-Stuy. ARR was not particularly happy about the rain, or the walk. He threatened to turn around and go home a few times, but at that point, we were just a few blocks from the museum. I cajoled him along. Two more blocks. One more block. Look, you can see the signs, we're almost there.

You see where this is going, don't you?

Yeah, they were closed. Or rather, they were apparently open for a specific school group but no one else. There were harried employees standing at the door, handing out free passes for a visit another time. There was also a burgeoning mob of disappointed toddlers and irate parents. The parents were more upset--most of the children were just stunned.

Did I mention it was raining?

So I had to come up with an alternate plan. Fortunately, someone in the crowd mentioned that the Jewish Children's Museum was a few blocks away. Convincing ARR was more of a problem. He was extremely put out by the change in plans. He didn't want to go to that museum, he wanted to go to this one. (Never mind he's never been to either and didn't know what was in either one.) He was going to go home. He several times turned around and tried to march off into random directions in Brooklyn. He very dramatically dropped his umbrella, and then stood there in the rain, pouting, slowly drooling on the ground. (In protest? In despair? I have no idea what was with the drooling, other than he knew I didn't want him to do it.)

We got there and he had a perfectly fine time. (It's an...odd museum. But they had sparkly crafts, so he was happy enough.)
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With the move over to Dreamwidth, my feed is even more dead than it used to be. Le sigh. And yet, every time I go on Facebook, I end up regretting it. I miss my social media fix.

Last night, well after I thought ARR was asleep, I took a bath. I got a visitor. Who criticized my bathwater for being dirty and told me I had to change it. When told that I'd used one of the bath bombs he'd given me for Christmas (and also, go to bed!), he told me all my bubbles had popped and I needed more bubble bath. I told him the bath bombs didn't make bubbles (and also, go to bed!). He was skeptical. He finally did go to bed...to reemerge half an hour later because his pajama cape came off. (He's playing with his Legos up there. I can hear the clicking. But at least he's quiet and in his room and his lights are off...)
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This is why I'm down to just a line or two each for these things.

#25 The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson. 3. Pluses: plus sized heroine gets underestimated and turns out to be awesome. Also, unexpected resolution to love triangle. Minuses: Apparently being awesome requires losing all the weight and not being plus size. There was no reason she couldn't have been awesome without changing. Also, magic system of god-given belly button rocks doesn't actually make a great deal of sense from an economic perspective.

#26 The Bread We Eat in Dreams by Catherynne Valente. 4. Gorgeous and haunting short story collection.

#27 Sunshine by Robin McKinley. 5. Deeply weird and creative take on wizards vs vampires, circling around a cinnamon-bun baking mage who wants none of this but gets dragged in. Lyrical and poignant and action-packed, with nary a sparkle in sight.

#28 Parable of the Talents by Octavia Butler. 5. This is one of those books that's hard to read in this climate, but worth reading anyway. After an economic collapse, a young woman becomes a prophet. It...does not not go well for the majority of the book. (You know from the first page that she succeeds somehow, but not how much it will cost her.)

#29 Wylding Hall by Elizabeth Hand. 4.5. A maybe-it's-a-ghost-story, maybe-it's-not. A folk band in the 60s retreats to an abandoned British manor house. The aftermath is told completely in "Behind the Music" style interviews.

#30 Path of Fate by Diana Pharaoh Francis. 3. Honestly, this reads like Valdemar fan fiction with the serial numbers filed off. The monarchs of the enemy country are total badasses, though. I'd like to read a book about just them.

#31 The Secret Love of Geek Girls Ed. by Hope Nicholson. 3.5. A collection of short memoirs, essays, stories, and comics loosely organized around the theme of geek girls in love. They're all female authors, so refreshingly, I had no impulse to throw the book across the room. Quality varies, but generally entertaining.

#32 What Would Cthulhu Do? by Patrick Thomas. 2.5. Bathroom reading, mildly amusing.

#33 The Knowledge: How to Rebuild Our World From Scratch by Lewis Dartnell. 3. This book would be very useful for a writer looking to navigate characters through an apocalypse. It gives all kinds of names of useful things to figure out, and what order to do them in. It would be useless to someone actually trying to navigate through an apocalypse, as it taunts you with lists of things you should be able to do but without any of the details you'd need to be able to do them. (Build a smithy! Great! How?) Fortunately, in the event of an apocalypse, I plan to go in the first wave.

#34 Unexpected Stories by Octavia Butler. 3.5. Early Butler works, generally charming (in the relentlessly pessimistic way she has).

#35 Black Light by Elizabeth Hand. 2. Trippy sixties occult novel. Unfortunately, main character spends huge amounts of it drunk or stoned and so it comes across rather like when your coworker wants to tell you a long and rambling story that makes no sense about a dream he had or that time she was soooooo drunk.

#36 Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas R. Hofstadter. 4. I'm not sure quite how to rate this. On one hand, it's unquestionably brilliant and I learned/remembered a lot and put together a lot of interesting information in novel ways. On the other hand, while he's brilliant, he's not as clever as he thinks he is, and so many of his little jokes and dialogues are so unbearably twee it drove me bonkers.

#37 Firstborn/Defending Elysium by Brandon Sanderson. 4. Clever science fiction concepts with strong characters. One features the younger brother of a Napoleonic starship admiral. The other is around a psychic phone company secret agent.

#38 Legion by Brandon Sanderson. 4. The paranormal schizophrenic thing isn't new, but this is a particularly cute take. He's a detective, and all his personalities are experts in different fields.

#39 Legion: Skin Deep by Brandon Sanderson. 4. Schizophrenic detective tries to recover a literal thumb drive.

#40 2K to 10K: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love by Rachel Aaron. 3. Some very good advice. Unfortunately, I was already doing most of it. :(

#41 Icon by Genevieve Valentine. 4. See, now this is what I'd wanted the previous book in this series to be! Global politics via fashion. In the Hunger Games, did you like the part where the stylists descended on them and they had to deal with Capitol politics best? The whole book is that.

#42 The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi. 4. Starting up a new science fiction universe with a bang, Scalzi mostly uses this to set up the pieces for a long game. But the characters are so delightful. They all sound like Scalzi, but different aspects of Scalzi at least, and that means you're in for some hilarious snarking.
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I just finished the first draft of the book I've been working on for a bit over a year. 132000 words. Oof.

It needs editing. And probably to lose a bunch of those words. But for now, I'm going to just bask in being done. Except for the last line, which I'm still not sure about.

New story!

May. 8th, 2017 12:08 pm
jethrien: (Default)
I have a new story in this month's Allegory magazine: http://www.allegoryezine.com/mainpage.htm#Story11



Apr. 9th, 2017 10:23 pm
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I took ARR up to the Palisades to go on his first real hike today. (This was a trial run for our vacation in Acadia in June.)

Damn, kiddo. You're a hiking champ. The trail turned out to be quite a bit more challenging than anticipated--I'd been under the impression we were going to a waterfall at the top of the Palisades. No, we climbed down and back up the full height of the Palisades in two and a half miles, mostly over the course of two enormous and extremely steep stone staircases and a bunch of very muddy stream crossings. ARR loved it. He had to scramble up steps that were nearly chest high on him, and he did it like a pro. People on the trail were flabbergasted by him, cheerfully climbing up and down while chattering all the while about the woods safety rules I'd drilled him on earlier in the day. ("He's how old?" I kept hearing.) He did so, so well. Got a little upset when he fell and got all muddy, but was fine as soon as I washed his hands off. (I had clean pants in the backpack, because I'm not an idiot. We changed when we got back up to the snack bar.)

So we got to see a really impressive waterfall, and a cool snake, and poked the Hudson with a stick because the stick needed to be "good and wet" for some reason. And he had a marvelous time, and I'm so damn proud of him.
jethrien: (Default)
When your sandwich is cut into triangles, not squares
When you want your red cup, but nobody cares
Because kiwis come covered in tiny brown hairs
That's why you never will eat

Trying to "fly" with a fork
And I'll sigh--too much work
I will try
To feed you

Tears stream
Down your face
You dropped a cracker I cannot replace
Tears stream
Down your face
But I
Will feed you
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