Kim & Jason News

Adults gather to escape adulthood at summit

Wendy Whitney Scherer participates in a group performance Friday during the opening day of the Escape Adulthood Summit at Olbrich Botanical Gardens on Friday. The program emphasizes the importance of play for those well beyond childhood. (Photo by John Hart)

Wendy Whitney Scherer participates in a group performance Friday during the opening day of the Escape Adulthood Summit at Olbrich Botanical Gardens on Friday. The program emphasizes the importance of play for those well beyond childhood. (Photo by John Hart)

This article was originally published in the Wisconsin State Journal on 7/19/2014 and was written by Bailey Berg.

A flurry of ripped cardboard. Fat markers haphazardly scribbling on sheets of paper. Makeshift hats. Piles of candy. Kazoos.

The Friday gathering at Olbrich Botanical Gardens might sound like a children’s birthday party. But the attendees at this weekend’s sold-out “Escape Adulthood Summit” were all adults.

Bill Thom was one of them. His name tag identified him as a Lego builder, expert napper and Cap’n Crunch fan. What it didn’t say is that he also is the co-creator of a “Device to Save the World” — made up of cardboard boxes — along with more than 60 people on the first day of the two-day event.

The event, created by Madisonians Kim and Jason Kotecki in 2012, is part conference, part retreat, part recess for adults.

“We like to have fun, but we also want to get them talking about what issues they have,” Jason said.

The more than 60 attendees range in ages from 19 to 67 and come from 10 states. Many are married couples, siblings, friends or parents and children. Some are teachers or doctors, others are graphic designers or business owners. One is even a Catholic priest. [Read more...]

20 Tiny Ways to Make Life More Amazing

tinker-book Our lives are stories. Sometimes living a better story requires making a big, hairy, scary change. Like moving across the country or taking a huge pay cut to do what you love. But most of the time we just need to be open to the art of tinkering.

I am super excited to announce a fun side project I’d been working on for an exciting new company called Snippet. They are doing some cool things in the publishing arena and have built a platform with tools that encourage writers to engage and delight their readers with a beautiful, connected experience.

The first of what I hope will be many collaborations with them is a Snippet about tinkering. It features 20 simple ideas – small experiments, if you will – that will get you thinking in new ways and get your story moving in exciting new directions. It also contains lots of interactive “discoverables” like video, photo slideshows and conversations on social media.

I love how it turned out; it’s super cool. And it’s only $1.99.

If you’re serious about improving your story, you should get serious about tinkering. Download it here.

The Escape Adulthood Summit is 45 Days Away!

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Our small team of busy bees is hard at work to make this year’s Summit a weekend to remember!

Kim and I met with the caterer last week to finalize the menu. We weren’t sure if they’d be able to accommodate what we had in mind, but they were more than willing to play with us. Last year was amazing, but this year is going to be epic!

The most frustrating thing about all the planning is wanting to share all the cool stuff we have in store. But our aim to instill as much magic as possible requires that we keep most things a surprise. Which is really, really hard!!!

fp-phoneHere’s what I can say. We have special entertainment booked for Friday night. One of the musicians uses the classic toy to the right as part of one of his instruments. And during the show, we’ll have a cash bar featuring a cocktail custom-made just for this event!

Oh, and the notebooks everyone gets this year are super cool. They feature covers made from actual American Cherry wood, sliced ever-so-thin and bonded to a substrate of kraft paper for durability. Thanks to the natural texture of the wood, no two memo books are the same but all share their origin in the same few hand-picked cherry trees from Northern Illinois and Southern Wisconsin.

With all the other surprises up our sleeves on top of the stunning location, I think that all of this year’s Golden Ticket holders are in for a real treat!

Behind the Scenes of My Book Writing Retreat, Part 2

book-writing-retreat2

Essential ingredients for writing a book: laptop, mocha, a beautiful day, and a cinnamon roll that I’m convinced only contains about seven calories.

You guys! I am thrilled to report that today I completed drafts for all 40 rules that will be in the book! I ended up including 6 of the top 7 rules voted on by you, so thank you to all who voted! (I decided the rule “Thou shalt take yourself seriously” was a theme that ran throughout many of the ones I already had, so that didn’t make it.) Almost all of my writing took place outside near Lake Michigan today, as it was finally sunny and beautiful :)

Tomorrow I will be hitting the sketchbook hard. I have plans to use much of my existing art in the final book, but I need to create a lot more to round things out. I’m looking forward to that!

I will let the stuff I wrote these past few days simmer on the back burner for a week or two before returning to them with fresh eyes. I think I’ve got a good start, but there’s a lot of room for refinement. That being said, here are 10 more nuggets that came out of todays session:

* * * * *

“It’s an incontrovertible fact: it is impossible to hear Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” while driving and not transform into a head-banging, lyric-belting, steering wheel-pounding god or goddess of rock & roll.”

“I bought a cinnamon roll that was about as big as my head. Now, I didn’t need a cinnamon roll as big as my head, but that’s all they had. I felt full long before the cinnamon roll was finished but it killed me to throw the last of it away. It seemed like the equivalent of burning my wallet. But what’s the alternative? I doubt the barista would oblige a request to pay half for a cinnamon roll as big as a baby’s fist.”

“Maybe we should give our kids the gift of doing less. Maybe we should bless them with boredom. If that doesn’t help matters, I’m sure my mom could find something for them to do.”

“When it comes to dishing out guilt and defending the rules that don’t exist, Adultitis doesn’t deal in logic.”

“Play is the miracle drug we’ve been looking for!”

“When we die, will we be judged poorly because we didn’t reply to every email?”

“Give your waistline a gift and throw your guilt down the garbage disposal. You really don’t have to clean thy plate.”

“Taking the time to do nothing once in a while – especially with the people we love – is often the single most important thing we can do in an entire day. In fact, I strongly suspect that at the end of our lives, all of us will wish we would have spent a little bit more time doing nothing.”

“Now all of a sudden you’re an agent of social change at the wheel. You’re Bono in a blue minivan.”

“Warning: if you measure your level of importance and value by how busy you are, there’s a pretty good chance the story you’re living sucks.”

Behind the Scenes of My Book Writing Retreat

book-writing-retreat

Pretty productive writing day yesterday! I have drafts of 28 of the 40 chapters for the book done, a feat I attribute 50% to focus & freedom from distraction and 50% to me drinking coffee for the first time :) Here are 10 things I wrote that I’m pretty proud of…

“No one ever died at the age of 100 looking like a 19-year-old.”

“And if you don’t want to make the bed, no evil will befall you. Sure, the ghost of your mother may haunt you, but it’s not like she wouldn’t have anything else to hound you about, right?”

“The tuxedo I wore was a rental, but if it were still in my possession I’d need a giant shoehorn to put it on and the Jaws of Life to take it off.”

“Our world is aching for silliness. Not just in the backyard, but in the boardroom as well.”

“Let’s face it: the sixty-year-old ladies trying to look thirty, don’t. They look creepy. They make the clown from the Stephen King classic “It” afraid of clowns.”

“Isn’t it weird how someone can wear the equivalent of skimpy underwear at the beach without a second thought but a dude wearing flannel pajamas to Panera Bread is frowned upon?”

“Decorating the office, empowering your receptionist to be more childlike, and adding a little whimsy to your products or packaging may be simple, but they actually do something quite important. They have the power to uplift the human spirit.”

“Confidence is sexier than any cream. Confidence comes from within, not from a container.”

“Instead of jamming as much activity into our leisure time as possible, let’s give ourselves the gift of breathing room. Instead of spending our time watching the penguins at the zoo thinking about what four exhibits we should go see next, maybe we should just spend time, you know, actually watching the penguins.”

“Once upon a time there was a girl who was raised by her grandmother in a magical forest. The old woman was always telling her to be careful, so she was. And nothing awesome ever happened to her. The end.”

P.S. I’ll be posting more updates on our Facebook page, so make sure you’ve liked it to get the freshest news!

Help Write My Book (a Poll)

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As you may have heard, we have a new book in the works with St. Martin’s Press about the “Rules That Don’t Exist.” There are approximately 1,385,984 of these so-called rules, although most of them have yet to be discovered. I have uncovered no less than 118 so far, but alas, the forthcoming book can only hold 40. (I smell a sequel. And maybe even some prequels starring the cousin of Jar Jar Binks!)

Anyhoo, I am on a writing retreat in Milwaukee this very moment, trying to decide which rules should be included in this particular book. So far, I’ve got over 30 of the rules nailed down.

But I could use your help.

I’ve got a number of rules that are on the fence, listed below in random order. Which ones most resonate with you? Which ones would you most like to read about? Which ones does the world most need to know about (and ignore)?

The ones that get the most votes will find their way into the finished book!

What Rules That Don't Exist do you think absolutely MUST be included in the book? (Select up to 5)

  • Thou Shalt Hide Thy Weirdness (43%, 91 Votes)
  • Thou Shalt Not Have Too Much Fun at Work (41%, 87 Votes)
  • Thine Offspring Shall Be Involved In A Million Extra Curricular Activities (40%, 85 Votes)
  • Thou Shalt Do and See Everything Whilst On Vacation (39%, 82 Votes)
  • Thou Shalt Take Thyself Seriously (34%, 71 Votes)
  • Thou Shalt Brag About How Busy Thou Art (31%, 66 Votes)
  • Thou Shalt Not Allow Others to See Thee Car Dancing (30%, 64 Votes)
  • Thine Offspring Must Wear a Respectable and Matching Outfit to School (28%, 60 Votes)
  • Thou Shalt Wear Matching Socks (28%, 59 Votes)
  • Thou Shall Not Say No to Good Things (23%, 48 Votes)
  • Thou Shalt Not Ask Too Many Questions (21%, 45 Votes)
  • Thou Shalt Finish Every Book Thou Has Started (21%, 45 Votes)
  • Thou Shalt Watch the Evening News to Stay Informed (19%, 40 Votes)
  • Thou Shalt Always Take the Promotion (18%, 39 Votes)
  • Thou Shalt Not Step On a Crack, Lest Thou Break Thy Mother’s Back (18%, 38 Votes)
  • Thou Shalt Not Have Fun Whilst Announcing You Have Cancer (17%, 35 Votes)
  • Thou Shalt Not Sit Too Close to the TV Lest Thou Ruin Thine Eyesight (14%, 30 Votes)

Total Voters: 211

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Thanks for sharing your two cents!

Show & Tell Winner: Lego Maniac

lego-maniac

A while back we asked you to send us a photo of something from your childhood that you still have. Our winning entry comes from Joel Conley, who wrote:

I saved all my Legos from when I was a kid, for my kids, right? We play with them often spending hours sitting on the floor surrounded by the colorful building blocks of imagination. Sometimes I get so wrapped up in my awesome Lego creation that I look around and realize the children have gone off to pursue other interests. I shrug, and build on.

P.S. I married a woman who also kept her awesome Lego collection… For her kids… Right?

up-with-people-mugThere is no doubt that Joel’s childlike spirit is shining through big time in this photo. For his efforts, Joel gets a $10 gift code to the Lemonade Stand and this neat “Up with People” mug. Congrats, Joel! And thanks to everyone who played!

The Biggest News Since the Birth of Our Kids

peguins-cant-fly-cover

As of today, Kim and I have been married for 14 years. So it seems like a good time to share some super exciting news with you guys…

We recently finalized a book deal with a major New York publisher!!!

flatiron_buildingSt. Martin’s Press, which is owned by Macmillan Publishers, is headquartered in the Flatiron Building in New York City and is considered one of the largest English-language publishers. They loved the concept for my next book, “Penguins Can’t Fly and 39 Other Adultitis-Ridden Rules That Don’t Exist” (tentative cover above), and so we’ll be working together to bring it to life!

An Itty Bitty Background on Self-Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing

For the most part, almost every single book we’ve published has been self-published. Meaning that we write, print, distribute, and sell our books on our own. Compared to traditional publishing, this is a very good way to go for making money, because even though you have to foot the whole bill yourself, all of the profits go back to you. We have been very happy with this route, and have been able to move a lot of books over the years. On the flip side, a traditional publisher usually gives you more street cred and has wider distribution channels that individuals and small publishers just don’t have.

The trick is getting them to pick you.

An Unlikely Unfolding of Events

A little over a year ago, a friend of mine emailed me a link to a an article in Writer’s Digest that gave a rundown of what big publishers look for in authors. I was surprised to see that the numbers for our email list and the number of speaking engagements were considered very favorable. I started to wonder if the time was right for us to pursue a traditional publisher.

A week later, out of the blue, a literary agent emailed me. I did not know at the time that she is the coolest literary agent in the history of ever. She said she’d seen one of my pieces of art on Facebook via a share from one of her friends, went to our website, and fell in love with our message. She told me about her roller coaster experience of clicking through our site, praying that we didn’t have any books, being crushed when she found them, and then rejoicing upon discovering that they were all self-published. She sent off an email wondering if I had ever considered traditional publishing and hoped to set up a meeting to discuss the possibility of working together. [Read more...]

The Two-Week, Twelve Buck T-Shirt Extravaganza

t-shirt-sale-blog

So I’m getting the itch to create some new products. Problem is, we are running out of space and I’m not interested in living in a warehouse. So for a limited time (just two weeks, to be exact) we are offering an insane deal on ALL of our t-shirts. At just $12 each, they are over 50% off!

Priced to move, baby.

Now here’s the thing: when these shirts are gone, they’re gone. We have no immediate plans to reprint them. (Because I’ll be making new ones instead!) That being said, supplies are extremely limited — especially for certain designs and sizes — so act fast!

10 Reasons You Should Attend The Escape Adulthood Summit

photo-montage
Last year’s Escape Adulthood Summit was really something special. Over 40 like-minded individuals from 8 different states came together in Madison for a life-changing weekend of fun, inspiration, and magic. It was, in a word, awesome.

This year, our goal is to make it awesomer.

There are 70 Golden Tickets available, but 50 are already gone, many claimed by people who’ve attended a previous Summit. Here are 10 reasons why you should consider joining their ranks:

1) The community. It can be terribly lonely when you feel like you’re the only one who sees the value in silliness, the importance of laughter, and the power of a chocolate chip cookie. The Escape Adulthood Summit is designed to connect you with other like-minded souls to give you the assurance that you are not alone. In fact, it’s quite possible that your biggest takeaway might come from the person you sit next to.

2) The location. We have upgraded to the the beautifully stunning Olbrich Botanical Gardens. Surrounded by 16 acres of lush, award-winning, outdoor display gardens, you can plan on some well-deserved relaxation and rejuvenation.

3) The butterflies. We’ll be there for the opening weekend of Olbrich’s famous Blooming Butterflies Event, which only runs four weeks each year. Live butterflies emerge from chrysalises daily in the Bolz Conservatory and you’ll experience the magnificence of more than a dozen species of free-flying butterflies. [Read more...]

Let’s Be Young

A few years ago, Kim and I took a plunge. For years, we had dreamed about hosting some sort of live event for the kind of people who get giddy about making Adultitis all hot and bothered. The Escape Adulthood Summit was born, and it exceeded our wildest expectations. Last year, we did another one, and that one was even better.

Number three is six months away, and — BAM! — we’re determined to kick it up another notch. This year we have live butterflies on our team. Oh yeah, baby.

The Escape Adulthood Summit is a multi-day event based on four cornerstones: Community, Inspiration, Magic, and Fun. Part conference, part retreat, part mastermind group, it’s a one-of-a-kind event designed for people instilled with the soaring spirit of childhood.

It’s your chance to connect with kindred spirits for a madcap weekend filled with fun and inspiration. We’ll talk about how to stay happy and hopeful in an Adultitis-ridden world that’s increasingly more noisy, cynical, and stressful. We’ll share simple, fun, and practical ideas for creating memorable scenes with the people we love. We’ll brainstorm creative ways to break rules that don’t exist. We’ll explore the elusive concept of life balance and discover ways to make life less stressful and more fun.

I used Flipagram to create a 1:37 recap of last year’s hijinks. Check it out below, and then reserve your spot for this year’s shindig. Of the 70 Golden Tickets available, only two dozen are left. (And don’t forget, it’s cheaper if you bring a friend, spouse, sibling, parent, or sworn enemy.)

YouTube Preview Image

P.S. The awesome song is Let’s Be Young by Evan McHugh.

Say Hello to Ginny!

virginia-rose
Season’s greetings!

I am happy to anounce that a new little Adultitis-fighter has joined our family. Her name is Virginia Rose, and she arrived at 2:39 am on December 19, just in time for Christmas. Ginny was born at home and interestingly, she was born “en caul,” which means she was actually born in her bag of waters, which is somewhat rare. Depending on what you Google, it is generally regarded as a sign of good luck (or an omen that she will grow up to be a vampire.)

At 8 pounds, 15 ounces, Ginny weighed in a little over big sister Lucy but under big brother Ben, who was 10 pounds, 4 ounces. Speaking of the siblings, Ben and Lucy are both excited about their new sister. Lucy is thrilled that her prayers for a sister were answered!

Both Mom and baby are doing great, and I am busy holding down the fort. It’s a good kind of tired, and we love having babies this time of year: warm and bundled up inside under the glow of twinkling Christmas lights.

There’s a good chance that Kim will be writing up a blog with more of her thoughts, but I wanted to share the good news with all of you. (More photos here.)

Happy Holidays to you and your family!

What’s something awesome you’re grateful for this week?

Top 10 Reasons You Should Attend the 2014 Escape Adulthood Summit

ea-summit-on-sale

Last year’s Escape Adulthood Summit was really something special. Over 40 like-minded individuals from 8 different states came together in Madison for a life-changing weekend of fun, inspiration, and magic. It was, in a word, awesome.

This year, our goal is to make it awesomer.

There are 65 Golden Tickets available, but well over half are already gone, most claimed by people who’ve attended a previous Summit. Here are 10 reasons why you should consider joining their ranks: [Read more...]

New! Buttons for Sale!

buttons-series-01

Our first series of collectible pinback buttons have arrived and they’ve been designed to allow you to display your inner child on the outside! They are also quite handy in warding off Adultitis. Featuring colorful art by yours truly, the buttons are 2.25″ in diameter, have a pinned metal back and are 100% American made!

The buttons in this series are Bee Optimistic, Naps Rule and Red Rover.

You can buy your favorite individually or save money by purchasing the whole set!

2013 Escape Adulthood Summit Recap in Words & Pictures

ea-summit-recap

After a year of planning, the week before an event like the Escape Adulthood Summit is always filled with a mix of excitement (I can’t believe it’s finally here!), anticipation (They’re gonna love all the surprises!) and a bit of self-doubt (Did we add in enough magic? Have we forgotten anything?)

I am happy to report that the second annual Escape Adulthood Summit was a rousing success! [Read more...]

The 2013 Escape Adulthood Summit: First Thoughts

ea-summit-montage

“Because this is better.”

That’s the answer Chris Guillebeau gave at the annual World Domination Summit when he was asked why it was worth pouring all the effort and money and man hours into putting on the annual event in Portland when he could easily reach more people through his blog and bestselling books.

This past weekend, I knew exactly what he meant. [Read more...]

Last Chance to Own These T-Shirts!

last-chance-tshirts

Today is the END of our super awesome t-shirt pre-order! We may decide to keep the best-sellers in stock, but there are no guarantees, so if you see a certain design (or color) you like, your best bet is to snag it right this minute. Chances are it may not be available anytime soon because we’ll be busy creating the next thing :)

Join Us In Celebrating the 100th Birthday of the Lovable T-Shirt!

13-day-tshirt-sale
We’re throwing a party, Escape Adulthood style! It’s our version of a summer blockbuster hit, with yippy skippy new t-shirts to help you celebrate in style. But wait. There’s more. [Read more...]

Ugly Cake Initiative: The Results

ugly-treat-results
The purpose of this post is to feature some of the repulsive results from the recent Ugly Cake Initiative (We shared our family’s experience here).

We heartily congratulate all the people who took up the challenge to fight Adultitis by whipping up something ugly in the kitchen. And we offer our sincere condolences to any brave souls who ingested any of the creations. (Although to be fair, most were reported to be very delicious.) Take that, Martha Stewart!

Without further ado, check out the gruesome goodness! [Read more...]

Small Rebellion #6: The Ugly Treat Initiative

ugly-treat-small-reb

According to the Interwebs, the first week of April is Laugh at Work Week. If there’s one thing work could use more of, it’s laughter.

Inspired by our most recent Champion of Childhood award winners who made an epic ugly cake for a co-worker, we are introducing a new Small Rebellion and we’d love to have you join us! It’s called The Ugly Treat Initiative, and the instructions are very simple:

Step 1) Make a delicious dessert that also happens to be really, really UGLY.
Step 2) Bring it to work to share.
Step 3) Enjoy laughter and improved morale with your colleagues. (And possibly be awarded a primo parking spot for a month.)
Step 4) Share your stories and pictures at one of the following locations:

You can tackle the mission when it’s most convenient, any time during the week. You can make cookies, cakes, cupcakes, pies, strudels…anything, really. Just make sure it’s sweet and tasty. And butt ugly.

The only other requirement is the sharing part, even if it’s not an official place of employment. Eating an ugly cake alone does not generate much laughter. And please, share this Small Rebellion with friends, families, and mortal enemies. The more the merrier!

Need some inspiration? Try here, here and here.

Happy Birthday, Kim!

kim-beach

I have many speaker friends who wish they had a Kim to do for their business what she does for ours. Believe me, I know how lucky I am.

There is a reason that Kim gets top billing in the trademark “Kim & Jason.” I may be the artist and speaker, but she’s the inspiration. She’s the lifeblood of our business. She’s the one I aspire to be like. Not only is she the world’s best business partner, but she’s also my wife, best friend, and partner in crime on this crusade to annihilate Adultitis.

She’s also celebrating a birthday today. (Twenty-nine-ish. Again.)

I thought it would be cool to all go in on a super awesome gift for her. Yes, all of us! So here’s what I was thinking: There is nothing that drives Kim more than encouraging and inspiring people to fight Adultitis. If you would be willing to do something to tick off Adultitis today, and then report back here what you did, I know for a fact that Kim will be overjoyed.

It’s a unique gift sure to be enjoyed as much by the giver as the receiver. And it seems like a fitting tribute to the most passionate Adultitis-fighter I know.

So please, do something fun today in honor of Kim, and share your adventure in the comments below.

Happy birthday, Kim!

Once Chance Only Sale: Penguin Possible T-Shirt

ocos-penguin-tshirt
Since we like making stuff way more than we like managing inventory, every once in a while, we create something we think is cool, take orders for a week, and then buy the exact number of goodies we need to fill those orders. So whether it’s two or two thousand, I get to make cool things, you get a chance to own them, and we don’t waste any money on stuff that takes up space in our basement.

Now, does this mean we will never, ever, EVER offer this product again? Not necessarily. But if you see something you like, your best bet is to snag it while you can. Chances are it won’t be available anytime soon because we’ll be busy creating the next thing :)

Our latest offering is a t-shirt featuring an inventive penguin. May he serve as a whimsical reminder of the power of possibility. Printed on a Gildan Soft-Style 4.5 oz, 100% cotton pre-shrunk jersey knit with tapered neck and shoulders for a better fit. It’s SUPER soft and destined to become your favorite t-shirt :)

Your chance to order this item goes “poof!” on Friday, February 22, 2013. Get it now!

Your Golden Ticket is Waiting

Bloop
I created this painting last year for the inaugural Escape Adulthood Summit. We used the metaphor of a fish escaping from a fishbowl as a theme. Every group’s table featured a real live goldfish as a centerpiece. And each team used things like noodles and egg cartons and glue to create a “vehicle” their fish could use to escape. The t-shirts everyone received were emblazoned with a depiction of the Bloop! graphic above. And after two days of laughing, thinking, playing, sharing, and eating yummy things, I presented each of the attendees with a print of this image.

It’s something I think we can all relate to. It certainly applied to our decision to even host the Summit in the first place. For too long, Kim and I assumed an event like that would happen years from now. When our kids were older. When we had a bigger tribe. When we had more money we could afford to lose. In order for the Escape Adulthood Summit to become a reality, we had to escape the confines of our preconceived notions and self-limiting beliefs. [Read more...]

Vote for Mushrooms

types-of-mushrooms

So I submitted my first shirt to Threadless.com. It’s all about mushrooms.

It cleared the first hurdle of acceptance, and now it is up for scoring on the web site. If the scores are high enough and the comments prevalent enough, apparently they will consider printing it and offering it for sale on their site. It would be a pretty neat honor for me, and nice exposure for my work.

Voting ends on Thursday. If you think it is worthy, I would so very much appreciate it if you’d give it a high score and leave a comment here.

Thanks!

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