The Last Summer Break

Summer 2012

This would be the last Summer break for me, and others like me that were taking a 5th year in college.

Kevin and Caleb were gearing up to go to Thailand again.  Marty was already working a little bit and getting ready to go back to school to get his credentials.  Stu was done with school, but still actively looking for a job.  Matt had a free Summer (for once); free from studying abroad or going on medical missions trips.  Me?  I failed to find an internship before the school year ended, yet I still tried putting my application out there.

This Summer is actually encompassed by one day in particular.  It was quite hot, so of course Matt and Stu rode their bikes over to my house to utilize the pool.  Stu was tired of applying to jobs, I was tired from finding an internship and Matt was tired from working out everyday, so we just used the day to relax.  We didn’t need to be adults quite yet anyway.

We got pruny, so we went inside.  Matt and Stu brought out their laptops, while I turned on my desktop.  It was around this time that Matt jokingly suggested that we find a game that we could play together.  He reminisced on all those times we played the Gauntlet series together.  Even pulling some late night sleepovers to enjoy it.  I then remembered downloading and playing a cooperative game from Steam a while back.  I pointed it out to them, and told them what the game was like.  Honestly, I didn’t even sell it very well.  After all, this was a game that didn’t excite me enough to want to keep playing then, why would it change now?  I figured it would be one of those times where there would be a unanimous “naaaaw” and then move on to the next idea.

That game was Spiral Knights.  And as it turns out, I was wrong.  They loved the concept so much they began downloading it immediately.  The funniest thing happened next:

Not too long after, my brother came home from a long day of work.  He was probably slightly annoyed at the fact that he came back to his room (we shared a room) and saw 3 half-naked guys (from swimming) playing computer games.  He questioned us on what we’ve done all day as he turned on his own computer.  Glancing at our monitors and hearing us out, he got really interested and began downloading Spiral Knights as well.  He even told us to wait for him.  We spent the remainder of the evening completing some missions together.  It was great!

Really, the title of this blog should be “A Summer of Spiral Knights” or “The Adventures of poostu, Maluweee, smhappyguy and gimsh”.  This was pretty much what we did for the rest of the Summer.  Exercise a little bit, have some fun in the sun and then play Spiral Knights (which we later codenamed “pumping iron” to sound less embarrassing when talking about it in public).

Perhaps more so because it was the last, but this Summer break was easily one of my most favorite.  I wouldn’t have traded having an internship for fellowship with friends during those months.  Alas, the nights came quicker and Summer came to a close.  As school started up and we did our respective things, our digital adventure came to an end.

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Operation Cheesy Cat, Attempt #2

Our college days were over.  We graduated, got jobs and started growing up a little bit.  For Eddie, Lauren and I, our friendship continued in the form of a Facebook message thread and scattered hangouts.  At some point, Lauren would introduce us to the game Hearthstone.  An online collectible card game that was free to play, who could resist?  Not me.

Naturally, if I found out a friend played, I would add them to my friend list in the game.  One of these friends was Katrina.  She posted on Facebook that she played too, so I messaged her for her game ID.  I was a little surprised that she responded, I was afraid she would ignore me because the last time I spoke to her, we were sophomores.

Once a blue moon, I’d log on and see that she was playing too.  We’d chat a little bit, though it never moved too far from small talk.  It was kind of weird talking with her, because she basically didn’t exist socially from 2010 to 2013.  In those sparse conversations, I learned one piece of vital information; she had a boyfriend.  No, it didn’t mean she was off limits for me; rather she was off limits for Eddie.  At least for now.

Months would pass and the conversations continued.  And then something happened.  Since our conversations were usually 1 – 2 months apart, the question of “what’s new?” often had legitimate and fresh answers.  On this particular evening, I happened to ask how things were going with her boyfriend.  She said that they had broken up a while back and I expressed my sympathy.  At this point, a trigger went off in the back of my head.

DING ding DING! Operation Cheesy Cat Greenlighted! Go go go!

But I needed a catalyst of some sort..

Another grade hangout!

I just knew if I could get those two in contact again, something would happen.  All the magic, romance and cheesy stuff they experienced as Freshmen would come surging back.  I just needed them to look at each other again or something like that.

But first I needed to test the waters.  The next time I saw Katrina on Hearthstone, I talked to her about the idea of helping me plan a grade reunion.  She liked the idea too and I asked her to also help me hype it up and promote it too.  As soon as that Facebook event was made, I messaged Eddie.  Being upfront, I told him “I’m getting you back together with Katrina”.  I think he was skeptical again, but Lauren supported my idea.

The plan was simple.  Have a grade hangout, let them reacquaint and let the magic happen.  I even went as far as essentially structuring everything around her.  That is, scheduling the hangout on the only night and time frame she was free and such.

Little did I know there was still so much energy between them.

Again, not so much my story to tell, but before we even got to our grade hangout, Eddie and Katrina got back together and became official.  She ended up messaging him to make sure things wouldn’t be weird.  They met up for coffee and reconvened.  The grade hangout still happened, but it was now just a formal presentation of the new Eddie and Katrina.

Operation Cheesy Cat was a success.

After Eddie thanked me profusely, he told me I won the award for Wingman of the Year 2015.  I jokingly told him to commemorate that with a trophy or medal.  And now that they’re married, he did:

One of my finer moments in life, I’ll treasure this forever.

Operation Cheesy Cat, Attempt #1

When we were still in college, Eddie was never shy about telling the stories of his past.  Specifically, he enjoyed solemnly telling the story of how he dated Katrina during freshman year.  I won’t get into the details because it’s not for me to tell, though I’m sure he’d gladly tell it again if you asked him.  But basically, they met, they liked each other, they entered a relationship and it ended abruptly with Eddie having a dream/vision of God telling him “Eddie, I need you to be single right now.”; to which Eddie reluctantly obeyed.

Fast forward four years where Eddie and I are roommates.  We’re having tea with friends and I’ve finished hearing Eddie’s story for the third or fourth time.  As he finished, this time I couldn’t help but think:

“Your story doesn’t have to end here Eddie”

I didn’t say it out loud, but perhaps I should have for the drama factor.  Rooming together, Eddie and I learned we were both hopeless romantics.  Every now and then we’d come up with the silliest situations where one of us would be able to find that special someone.  For Eddie, sometimes a scenario would be dreamt up where he’d get back together with Katrina.  And it was only with those scenarios where Eddie would let out a big sad sigh and say “but that’ll never happen”.

Enter Josh and Operation Cheesy Cat

A small opportunity would arise in the form of an alumni friend visiting.  For whatever reason, I took charge and tried to get everyone together for dessert.  It was a shot in the dark, but I used this to reach out to the architecture majors (one of them being Katrina) in hopes that I could coerce them to come out.  After I made the Facebook event and everything, an idea popped into my head.  If the stars aligned, I could use this to get Eddie back together with Katrina; or at least get them in contact with one another again.  With little to no responses from the architects, I bugged Eddie to text her.

“I deleted her number a long time ago” he said.

That didn’t stop me.  I got her number from a friend and texted Eddie this:

He declined; he refused to do it.  I’d say the plan was falling apart, but honestly this whole thing was tenuous at best.  It relied heavily on Katrina physically being there for anything to happen.  In the end, it was a failure.  We still had a good time hanging out with the grade though.

Take note that I tried.

Locked Out

Remember when Razor Scooters were cool?

I owned one.  Rather, I should say I still own one.  It has been sitting in the garage for a long time now.  More importantly, I actually bought this scooter myself in 7th grade.  I scrounged up whatever lunch money, birthday money and whatever I had together to purchase one, back when it was still expensive from all the hype.  My parents didn’t have any intentions of buying me one anytime soon anyway.

I took pride in it; it was mine.

So, one day after school, my sister and I decided to ride our scooters around the backyard, because why not?  It was a pretty nice day outside and I wanted to ride my new scooter as much as possible.

I forget how or when, but our family was gifted a scooter about a year earlier for some reason, and my sister decided to claim it as her own for the longest time.  Though, probably due to poor storage, it was noticeably rusty and rickety.  The wear and tear on it made it slow and the wheels didn’t do a whole lot of spinning.

Seeing the pristine condition of my scooter and the soft glide it had with every stride, my sister wanted to use my new scooter.  I quickly said “no”, because 1. She has a scooter, 2. I was so happy to be riding my new scooter, and 3. She spent lots of time NOT letting me ride “her” scooter when we only had that one, so I was just returning the favor.

She pleaded a few times more before she stormed back into the house.  She was so mad she locked the door behind her.  Yes, because I let her taste her own medicine, she locked me out of the house.

12 years old, no cell phone or keys in pocket, no backpack, no water bottle, no snacks or food.  And I already conceded to the fact that my sister probably went straight to her room to take her typical 3 hour after school nap.  So I didn’t even waste my energy and time trying to knock on the doors or windows.

So I just scootered around and day dreamed.  What else could I do?  I couldn’t even work on my homework even if I wanted to.

It was nightfall by the time my dad got home.  He saw me scootering in the backyard like an idiot.  It was cold outside and I was only wearing only shorts and a t-shirt.  I told my dad what had happened, and I thought for sure my sister would be in big trouble.

My parents barely gave her a stern talking.  For locking me out, potentially getting me sick and what not, she was talked to as if she had accidentally left the milk out.

You know what the worst part is?  Two weeks later my dad bought my sister a new scooter because she really wanted one..

Feels Bad Man.

Sleepover Shenanigans

We were but 8th graders when this story took place.

Our grade’s guys were having a Sunday School social in the form of a sleepover.  Although, it might be better to call us boys at this time period.  Of course, the sleepover location of choice was the Leung mansion, complete with huge backyard, pool and indoor basketball court.

The afternoon and night was filled with countless multiplayer games of Halo, Risk, and other games you can play with a deck of cards.  As the night wore on, many succumbed to fatigue and went to go sleep.  It was down to Matt, Stu, Caleb, Marty, me and a couple others.  While the others did their own thing, we sat around discussing what we should do, for it wasn’t quite late enough to sleep yet.

With a single deck of cards and 5 of us, we couldn’t play Big 2, so we sought out to play poker instead.  We failed to find any sort of poker chips, or anything that resembled some, so someone had the grand idea of playing strip poker.  It’s totally fine; we were just a bunch of boys hoping to find some cheap laughs in our sleep deprived state.  And it’s not like we were going to play the whole thing out, the first few rounds were pretty lame in that most of us just lost our socks.  Except for Matt, he wasn’t wearing socks, so he lost his shirt right away, to which we ogled at his six pack (of course).

It got to a point where we were just about ready to go to bed, so we agreed to play one final round and loser had to strip down to their underwear.  But before that, Marty needed to use the bathroom.  As soon as he left the area, someone whispered:

“Hey, let’s rig the deck so Marty loses!”

Working fast, we also knew we had to make it look believable.  So we rigged it in such a way that the cards still needed to be dealt out and Marty would have a decent hand.  We made it so we would beat his hand with only slightly better cards.  So, being a good sport, Marty accepted his defeat and proceeded to carry out the deed.  Sporting a fancy camera flip phone, Matt took a multi-shot of the moment.  It was a super low quality four frames, but it would be a gem we would always reference.  While Marty was undressing, Matt and Stu would hum a song they were learning in band, which they coined as “the stripper song”.  According to Dr. McDaniel, their band teacher, it was a song for strippers.  So, I guess it was appropriate.

Normally, you might expect me to write “and here are those pictures revealed!” but no, those picture were lost with Matt’s first phone.  Though the pictures remained safely stored on it, Matt’s phone would be stolen about a year later by what he suspected to be high school upperclassmen.  Gone forever are those photos.

But as a consolation, with the help of Matt and Stu, we were able to hunt down the name of that song we so lovingly hummed countless times.  Now, just imagine us humming this:

Mmm, yes…

Diamond Formation

It was Summer and we were in middle school.  With our free time after church service on Sundays, we almost always made our way to the Lollicup a block away.  It was the best way to quench our thirst and satisfy our sugary needs.

But before we freely roamed the streets of Chinatown, we found ourselves asking the question “is it safe?”

There were a couple announcements made during youth service saying that kids like us really shouldn’t be wandering around Chinatown without any sort of adult supervision.  The overarching theme of this was to make it sound unappealing or unsafe.  Innocent and naive, we just took it for fact.  I’m sure there was good reasoning for this.  Looking back at it now, there were certainly some kids that would ditch service or Sunday School to roam around Chinatown instead, so I’m sure they were trying to discourage that.  On that note, the church was probably somewhat liable, in that parents expect their kids to be at certain locations at certain times.  Or maybe there was an incident I don’t know about.

Before it became all gentrified, I remember Chinatown looked a lot slummier when I was 6 or 7.  I clung close to my mom on the short walks to the restaurant we frequented on Sundays.  I remember seeing lots of poop, trash and smokers.  Of course, I’m sure my young self exaggerated the things I saw.

So, the very first time we took the streets on our own, Matt, Stu, Caleb and I invented the diamond formation.  Rather than walk around like a defenseless herd of sheep, we chose to instead walk in such a way that we could possibly defend against any sort of danger (strangers, crazy people. etc.)  This was our logic:

“Well, Matt is super buff, so he should walk in front.  Caleb and Stu are like 4 feet tall and probably weak, so they’ll walk behind Matt along his sides.  Josh is pretty strong, so he’ll walk in back, so he can watch all of our backs.”

Thus, we walked in the shape of a diamond.  We kept our heads on a swivel and remained in a tight formation and walked to Lollicup, got our drinks, and back with no trouble.  After that day, we concluded “well, I guess there’s nothing to be that afraid of”.

Even though we’re 11 or 12 in this story, I’m sure we were ready to throw down!

Oh, where was Marty?  Probably being super mature and hanging out with all the girls of course.

From then on we just freely walked to and from Lollicup after service.

A Review of 2016

I was laid off and became unemployed.  And after ten weeks of diligently looking, I was offered a job at Kaiser Permanente.  You may read all about that here:

[ Part 1 ]  [ Part 2 ]  [ Part 3 ]  [ Part 4 ]  [ Part 5 ]  [ Part 6 ]

I said goodbye to a good friend.

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R.I.P. Titus

I reached legend in Hearthstone.

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I 4-0’d my first prerelease.

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Eldritch Moon, Midnight Prerelease

I saw Little Mermaid at the Hollywood Bowl.

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I went to Disneyland

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I was gifted a Fitbit, which has made me all the more healthier and motivated to exercise.  Though I wish my results were as visible as my girlfriend’s.

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I travelled to San Diego twice.  First to celebrate Cheeseburger Eddie and Katrina’s engagement and then to celebrate a cousin’s high school graduation.

I travelled to Sacramento / San Francisco with family to visit my sister.  You may recollect that here:

[ Day 1 ]  [ Day 2 ]  [Day 3 ]

I travelled to Portland with friends.  You may recollect that here:

[ Day 1 ]  [ Day 2 ]  [Day 3 ]

I travelled to Las Vegas with my extended family for Labor Day Weekend.  It gave me a chance to try Shake Shack for myself.

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I travelled to Joshua Tree National Park for Cheeseburger Eddie’s Bachelor Party.

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I travelled to Pismo Beach, for much needed catch up time with friends.

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For the first time, I officially served as both a camp director and a camp counselor.

I served in women’s tea.

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I went to what felt like so many weddings.  Congratulations to the Sha’s, the Cheng’s, the Chan’s, and the Ho’s.

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I won a charity auction.

I successfully escaped 4 exit games.  First with my Hikoi small group, twice with my coworkers for team building and once more with my family.

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Villain’s Lair @ Exit Game [23% completion rate]

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School of Sorcery @ Exit Game [40% completion rate]

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The Lab @ Exit Game [45% completion rate]

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The CSI Room @ Logiquit [30% completion rate]

On to 2017…

Throwing Exceptions

In programming, we have what’s called an Exception.  As you might guess, it’s essentially an action your code takes if something out of the ordinary occurs.  It’s usually used for errors or to deal with extreme cases like too much data, or the wrong data input.

Anyway, keep that in mind as I circle back to this story.  As I said, I gave up those same 10 things all over again during my 4th year in college.  Part of the reason I did this was because things were going okay.  If you talked to me then, I would say “because life is too easy right now”.  I didn’t feel distant from God, nor was I too distracted in my studies.  To put it bluntly, I was probably trying to force for some sort of spiritual ascension or enlightenment.  I decided upon this just a few days into the quarter and I just started up cold turkey.

Great.  Now what?  Once more, I aimed to use my spare time productively.  I read more, biked more and even cooked more.  Being vegetarian was slightly harder now that I didn’t have the dormitory cafeteria to supply my meals.  Still, I carried on with confidence.

And then came the exceptions.

It all started when I watched a movie with some friends.  I told them I couldn’t because I was fasting watching movies (again), but as I finished saying that, I asked myself “why”?  Initially I did this because I wanted to focus on my studies more.  Which I did; because I finished my homework and was on top of things, I was able to set aside time to hangout with my friends and they just so happened to want to watch a movie together.  “For friendship and for fellowship” was what I told them and myself, as weird as it felt at first, it sat well with me.

Similarly, I seized an opportunity to play League.  With homework finished and all that, there was literally no harm in playing just one game.

And then I had some meat.

It was meant to be one of those joke wagers.  You know, one of those “if you guess what I’m thinking right now, I’ll give you $100”.  Except Lauren was watching One Piece, and he said “if you guess what episode I’m watching from just this paused screen, I’ll buy you a carne asada burrito from Alberto’s”.  And by 1 in ~500 chance, I managed to guess correctly.  More surprisingly, Lauren actually stayed true to his word, as much as I declined.  I told myself “why not?” and just ate it.  Part of me thinks Lauren wanted this to happen all along.  He has a tendency to troll people.

There’s probably some other instances that occurred that I can’t quite remember.  I don’t know if I became more lenient on myself, became more lazy, or became a better student, such that free time was actually free time.  This actually became a 20+ unit quarter for me due to the senior projects (yes, plural) that I was involved in.  One of those projects involved spending the weekend before finals week road tripping up to San Luis Obispo with the team to showcase our unmanned vehicles to Northrop Grumman executives.  So, I’d like to think my focus was pretty strong, with or without my fasting.

Fasting for no reason?  Probably not the best practice.  I recall bits and pieces of a lesson that Spencer taught a while back advising against that as well.  Thankfully, with little to no consequences, I was able to experience that lesson for myself.

Desert Bus for Hope

A while ago, I discovered the comedy troupe known as LoadingReadyRun.  I enjoy watching their videos from time to time as it it appeals to my nerdy side.  Their content usually consists of things about video games, board games and card games; among other nonsense.  Notably and once a year, they host an event called Desert Bus for Hope, which I’ll let you read about here.

I remember hearing about this event, but never thought much of it.  When November rolled around, I had remembered it by chance.  I read some articles about it, saw some snippets and found some gifs; I decided this was something I wanted to be participate in.

During the week that it aired, I tuned in with whatever little free time I had.  Admittedly, I would sometimes watch a little bit during my lunch breaks.  I made an account so that I could immerse myself in the chaos that is Twitch chat.  You would think that a lot of things go unnoticed in chat, but they do a pretty good job of keeping tabs on what’s being said.  I was the one that asked what ‘creepy doll’ was.  You can view that snippet here.

I even submitted a question for their trivia:

Part of the reason why I tuned in was because I had found out they had sold out of their exclusive pins within the first day.  Remember, tell Josh something is exclusive or limited edition, and he’ll want it so bad.  The only way to get one after that announcement was to win a raffle or auction.

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So then I made a donor account and brainstormed on what to bid on.  Part of the appeal of a charity auction is that some people use it as a money sink to get a better tax break.  These generous donors set the bar high with some items going for thousands of dollars.  I’m not swimming in money so I kind of had to look for reasonable things to bid on.  I eventually won a silent auction for two tickets to see a screening of “Director’s Cut”, a movie produced and written by Penn Jillette (of Penn and Teller).  Of course, the tickets were for a theater in San Francisco, so they were of little use to me.  There was a bit of a mixup as I waited to receive said tickets, which lead me to be in direct contact with Penn’s wife (text messaging) for a bit.  I thought it was cool that I wasn’t just forwarded to some support personnel, but rather straight to the source.

In addition, the auction lot includes the following:

A signed copy of a Spider-Man / Deadpool comic that featured Penn and Teller:

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A signed magic kit:

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A signed copy of Penn’s book, “Presto!”:

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All pretty neat, though I was happiest to see my pin come in the mail:

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All cool stuff aside, donating to this cause felt especially good.  It hit home the more I learned about Child’s Play and what they do.  I remembered the time my sister was in the hospital and how boring and dull life must have been for her during that period.  I thought about how there are probably a lot of kids out there that don’t have parents by their side the whole time, Netflix or a stack of their brother’s DVD collection.  How tragic if there wasn’t even a TV in their hospital room!  Anyway, I can relate a little bit.  I’ll leave you all with these:

Defending John Chow

A while back, John preached a sermon.  Within the sermon, he told a story to help illustrate a point.  I won’t quote it verbatim, but here’s the quick version of the story:

It was a mission’s trip in Thailand and the team had just spent a week at an orphanage in the mountains.  While the team was housed there, they had found many opportunities to play and interact with the kids; so naturally great bonds and friendships were formed.  Of course, after a great week together, it’s hard to say goodbye.  John had ordered a couple of vans and drivers to take them to the second part of the trip.  With the drivers being paid by the hour, you can imagine how anxious John was to try to stay on schedule as much as possible.  Kids are crying, people are hugging, the team is snapping last minute photos with their favorite orphans, kids are savoring every last second they can with the team and the drivers are off to the side smoking a cigarette because they’re waiting on them.  And after telling the team to finish and get into the car multiple times only to have it fall on deaf ears, John yells “GET IN THE CAR NOW!”.  It kills the mood and everyone obediently files into the vans and they leave.

I remember that day.  Everyone on that team does; it’s so iconic.  Every team since then has joked about it.  I bring this up because there’s one minor detail that John left out.

I was in the van.

Yup.  Dedicated and obedient Josh was following orders and diligently sitting in the van while all of this was going on.  The whole time I watched my friends and teammates dilly dally as I wondered if I was doing the right thing.  I made my goodbyes quick and simple since I was never good with goodbyes to begin with.  The whole car ride to our next destination I couldn’t help but think “why didn’t these guys just follow directions?”.

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I know, I know, the point John was trying to illustrate was to not let your emotions lead you to sin and other bad things.  He went on to admit that he regretted his actions and that the rest of the team probably did the right thing after all.

But really team.. Why were you all so defiant?

And that’s probably one of my bigger pet peeves too, loitering.  I know it’s probably not the same as the way people loiter before going to lunch on a Sunday.  But what happened that day was probably a mixture of thinking “oh, no one else is in the van, I’ll just keep doing this” and abusing the mantra of “It’s easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission”.

Well anyway, I followed your orders John.  I understood your thought processes and logic.  And I don’t think you can fault yourself too hard.

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