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Life and Times of an itinerant slacker in Sacramento. Thrills, Spills Galore coming soon. Not to mention lots of opinions.

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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Be Scared, Be Very Scared

I sent a friend directions to our place on Google Maps . I got a quick response of "what's all this about klowns in your neighborhood?" I took a closer look at Google maps for my neighborhood to find that, yes,Virginia, Google (the source of all knowledge and all that is good in this world) reports klowns in the neighborhood. Let's just prey to God they ain't from outer space and they ain't killer klowns.

View Larger Map

Move your cursor across the image to get a chill.

Well at least Megan's Law doesn't show any offenders too close to here.

You may be asking, so what's the big deal about klowns. Maybe you're thinking I'm an irrational fearful klown hater. Having grown up in Chicago in the 1960s and 70s, I know what evil lurks in the sick twisted brain behind all that greasepaint. Three words, dammit just three words; John Wayne Gacy. Who says klowns ain't scary?

Pogo John, the burger flippin' klown says so,that's who!

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Sacramento and The Talk of the Town

Well, it looks like "dead-cow-gate" is still the top story here in Sacramento, Perhaps the region has found a new mascot. What better symbol could represent a region with over 14% unemployment,
tens of thousands of foreclosed houses, and a nearly bankrupt largest employer.

Sacramento Bee cartoonist Rex Babin summed it up pretty well.

In addition to pens drawing, lips are flapping. Perhaps the lizardlature will pipe in next week when they get back to town. People are pointing fingers at the security people who shot the cow. This makes no sense to me, since if the veterinarians could have done their job properly, security wouldn't have had to leave their donuts.

I still don't understand why this is a big deal. If the calf wasn't born at the fair, it would be somewhere like this.

And later it would look like this.

mmmmmmm, scallopini, aaaggghhhhhhhh.

I guess my point is, no matter what happens, a cow and calf aren't looking at a bright future. I say get over it.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

When Goals Meet Non-Goal

I just read an interesting article in Zen Habits is one of the more popular blogs on the interwebs, In fact, the dead tree media even claims this is a “blog you should know”. Naturally, I had never heard of it until a couple of weeks ago.

The blogs author, Leo Babauta, is a guy from Guam who's spent a lot of his life on the west coast, and has recently moved to San Francisco. His writing style is out of this world. If E B White was alive today, he would approve. Actually, if E B White was alive and read much of my blog today, he'd probably be dead by tomorrow. Who has time for dead white men these days?

Up until his most recent post, Babauta has written books and blog entries instructing people how to establish nested goals (i. e., short term goals supporting mid term goals supporting long term goals) all in a Protestant Work Ethic inspired effort to help everyone improve themselves by focusing on the Important Things in Life.

Given that background, I was surprised and pleased as punch to see his most recent blog post. He has put forth a change in approach, now saying that “the best goal is no goal”.He looks at the limitations we might impose on our lives by allowing lives to be subservient to our self-imposed goals.

I can only hope that this many younger folks in America are able to come to a similar realization. I find it discouraging that some research has shown that “getting rich” is the predominant goal of most younger Americans.

I am not trying to moralize about this. My most pressing concern is that if “getting rich” is the goal, it's a sure thing that most will fail. This is simply because “getting rich”means having more than the vast majority of the people around you. In a roomful of highly paid executives, the person with the smallest private jet will be poor in his own eyes, at least until he leaves the room. Therefore, only a small minority can “be rich”at any time. Since outside of lake Wobegon, all the children can't be above average, most of us can't be “rich”.

Now the hippie type slacker who defines “being rich” by having a loving family surrounded by good friends has a pretty good chance of making it.

In soundbites, the lesson is;

If you want a good life, quit being a human becoming and start living as a human being.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

For This? For This, I Left Wisconsin For Sacramento?

Today's big news in Sacramento:

Rampaging, Pregnant Cow Shot To Death At State Fair

Calf Didn't Survive, Fair's General Manager Says

Read all about it in the Local Sacramento News.

This is so wrong (or right, I'm not sure) in so many ways that I find myself dizzily trying to control my shpilkes that gets a hold of me at times like these. I'll probably miss something wrong with this, but here goes.

Wrong Thing Number 1:

In the words of Frank Zappa, “this doesn't happen here,things like this don't happen here,who could imagine it could happen somewhere like. . .”

This should happen in Wisconsin. This should not happen here.

This should happen in Wisconsin, where I remember weird stuff involving rampaging cows coming up in the nightly news right after the film from a barn fire. I think the most common phrase on the ten o'clock news was “No livestock was damaged.” Here in Sacramento, we're supposed to be about corrupt politicians and bankrupted treasuries. I always thought Wisconsin was the place where the cows run wild. Maybe all those commercials are true. maybe California really is the America's Dairy Land. Please, somebody, tell me it ain't so. I remember, almost twenty years ago, quietly walking across an English cattle pasture,and minding my own business. I felt inexplicably uncomfortable. After checking my shoes for abnormal prairie muffin crumbs, I looked over my shoulder to see a tightly packed crowd of about forty cattle following about ten feet behind, staring at me with their big stupid brown eyes. This gives me that same feeling. The insane cows are following me again.

Wrong Thing Number 2:

I was at the fair on Sunday. Despite the big cash box heist the week before, everything seemed on the up-and-up.

The high point for us was a llama that sweetly nuzzled our faces with a dry nose and surprisingly pleasant breath. Pretty good for a species that usually spits its cud at people.

We went to the birthing area, since no one can resist the lure of newborn piglets and calves. Hatchling chicks aren't bad either. We saw a pregnant cow who was reportedly about two days late as of Sunday. I fear it was she who rampaged this morning.

Rampaging cows and stalked by a field force of Fearless Fosdicks following rifle-jamming veterinarians sounds a lot more entertaining than teenage art contest winners and fried Twinkies(tm) on the midway. Given the proven abilities of Cal Exp Security, I am pleasently surprized a veterinarian or two didn't get shot along with the the cow.

We definitely went to the fair on the wrong day.

Wrong Thing Number 3:

We are supposed to be sad about this tragedy. A cow and a calf had to be killed. Don't mention that if they had performed successfully, playing the role of carnival freaks for the next week or so, with in a month or two their names probably would have been changed to Sir Loin and Scallopini. Don't mention State Fair's famous barbequed tri tip (that's a popular local beef roast for you mid westerners) sandwiches for sale just outside the birthing area. Seriously, these animals are bread and kept a live for our eating pleasure.

(Note to readers – they may have been dairy cows, but it's just more entertaining if they're bread for meat, and not really that much difference.)

Although I spent a few years being a vegetarian, I am not a PETA advocate. I do not think eating meat is an abomination. I view meat as food. I believe that morally enjoying meat requires us to accept that you kill animals to get the stuff. It makes me cringe when I hear parent tell their kids crap like, “pigs give us bacon”. They don't give us jack. We pull the delicious stuff off their dead bones.

I find it to be seriously disorienting to see people who eat meet crying about “how terrible this is”. I imagine having a rampage and getting fatally shot is a better way to go than the slaughterhouse routine. Perhaps I am projecting my feelings on the cows. Let me be more clear...I would rather be shot on a rampage than chained to a post in a feedlot, shocked with an electric prod, and given the slaughterhouse treatment. Maybe it's just an ethnic thing on my part.

I've rambled as much as I want to, so I must now say,

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Everybody's Getting into the Act

Even Pig From Pearls Before Swine has figured out there's something amiss in the energy industry:

Pearls Before Swine

I love Pearls Before Swine. I have thought about getting this tshirt, but I'd never have the guts to wear it.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Parable of Harpoons and Holes in the Ground

Long ago and not really that far away a great country was faced with a problem. They were threatened with losing a major energy source. This was a clean burning fuel that almost everyone used to light their houses.

Year after year, the energy companies reported more and more difficulty finding their oil. As sources nearer to the great country ran dry, the great whaling ships circled the globe in search of their oil-filled prey.

Whale oil was becoming more and more expensive every year. A growing great country needed an energy source that had the capacity to grow with the country. A dwindling source of energy would not do.

Other sources of energy existed at the time, however none were as easy to use as whale oil. Provincials in the country's southern plains were experimenting with a viscous and tarry black liquid that seeped out of the ground. When they could get the liquid to burn, it produced a lot of heat, along with clouds of black smoke that would never do for lamps. The supply of this petroleum seemed unlimited. The more holes the people drilled, the more this strange black petroleum liquid gushed.

The great country's government needed to take action. They knew the country needed more energy soon. There was a choice; would government policy support greater and greater efforts to pursue fewer and fewer whales, or would the government support development of new energy sources and technologies?

Possibly some argued that the maximum resources possible should be directed towards pursuing and harvesting more whale oil more efficiently. After all, whale oil was the only proven liquid energy source. Who could tell what that messy petroleum would be good for. Only a nut would want to burn petroleum to heat and light his house. That stuff stinks!

Others may have argued that the nascent petroleum industry was the way to a great future. Perhaps they saw the futility of spending more and more of a nation's treasure in the pursuit of a finite and dwindling energy resource.

In that day, long, long ago, the forward looking view ruled the day. Rather than providing subsidies to the proven but dwindling whaling industry, the government adopted several policies, including lucrative tax incentives, that rewarded investment and development of petroleum.

Everyone got lucky. Petroleum refinement technologies came online to make many versatile fuels, plus it turned out even the gases that leaked from the holes in the ground were an efficient and valuable fuel. As if that wasn't enough, petroleum's unique properties provided the basis for a chemical industry that revolutionized everyday life. “Better living through chemistry” was the mantra of the age.

The decades passed.

The great country's supplies of petroleum dwindled. In order to keep growing, the great country needed to scour the world for petroleum, not unlike globe-traversing whaling fleets of a previous age. Every year, explorers went further and further afield, drilled deeper and deeper holes. The price of fuel rose without relief.

There were some developments in new and untried energy resources.

By this time, after many generations of generous subsidies to the petroleum industry, the government could not find the courage to meaningfully subsidize the new frontiers of energy. The government made token subsidies to the new energy industry, while other countries leaped forward with bold initiatives. The politicians traveled the country to boast about their token programs that provided a few million dollars toward developing new energy sources, while subsidizing the petroleum industry with 10s of billions of dollars.

Other countries developed new and daring technologies while the great country's citizens sat home and watched it all on their giant flat screen TVs (manufactured by the very same other countries), wondering if it was their fate to remain a great country, or if they would fade away like the whalers of old.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Tomorrow The World

International Hanginininsac readership statistics show disturbing trends. Why doesn't anyone in Ireland read the blog. I can understand the lack of readers in China, since I'm probably banned there. I'm sure the Chinese leadership shakes in fear. I'm not sure what it is about Sub-Saharan Africa. I thought I'd have a lot of readers there, since I get email from Nigeria all the time.

This map shows readership over the last several months.
Anyway, what it is is what it is.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

M C Escher stairwaysapoozalah

This is one of the coolest interactive lookie-loos I have ever seen. I just had to post it here.

Tribute to Escher in Barcelona

This is fun to play with for a minute or two.

That's me story and i'm sticking to it.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

It's been a quiet week hangin in Sac.

It's been a while since the last substantial post to Hangininsac.

I'd like to say I was just too busy doing all sorts of way cool and interesting things, but I'd be a liar if I did. The dreaded Sacramento summer heat finally arrived last week. Daily high temperatures over 100 degrees F caught me off guard after a thankfully mild spring and early summer. I spent a lot of the last 5 or 6 days languishing in the heat. Really hiding inside from about 11 AM to 8 or 9 PM. Even with the hot afternoons, it's still been cool enough at night to have open windows and fans.

The next six weeks are normally the worst weather of the year here. It's like January in Wisconsin. After that, It'll be September and if it's too hot I can feel more justified in complaining.

While wallowing indoors, I took some time to upgrade the little computer. The Netbook came with Microsoft Works, which, in addition to being named with an oxymoron, absolutely sucks. Word was not a reasonable option, since on grounds of principle alone, I refuse to pay more for a Microsoft program than was originally paid for the computer & its original software.

Open Office came to the rescue. I am writing this on open office at this very moment. I have used the word processor a few times, and I'm starting to like it better than Word. Open office rules. I'll have to find something that needs the spreadsheet. They even have an Outlook-clone misinformation generator.

(I am trying my best to no longer refer to Microsoft as The Evil Empire, since after Steve Jobs's almost embarrassing attempt to smear Consumer Reports in retaliation for their pointing out Apples embarrassing product deficiency, we now have The Right To Choose between two Evil Empires. I just love oligarchy capitalism. (Almost as much as I love using parentheses too much.))

My hack musician career has been taking off. My flute (really flute and low part recorder) trio has been invited to play at a “private concert” of the Saturday Club. The pressure is on, because I think the Saturday Club's expects high quality performances at these events. We're scheduled to play November 20, which is the anniversary of Mexico's 1910 Revolution. That's the one that wasn't against France and didn't happen 12 days before Syttende Mai. Anyway our second rehearsal sounded pretty good for the most part. I have a lot of difficult music to learn. At the onset, I was worried about being dumped because playing a super sized plastic recorder with flutes is kind of weird. The flute “kids” seem to think the ensemble sound is OK, since they haven't kicked me out. Playing music written for flute really drives home how much easier life is with all those extra flute and clarinet keys versus the seven holes you get on a recorder. My fingers are getting a workout. Maybe that will make my typing improve.

This would all have been a lot easier if I had just originally taken up flute instead of clarinet. However, in suburban Chicago in 1970, boys did not play flute. No uhuh, it just wasn't done. Clarinet was already dangerously close to the legal limit for fem-ness. Guess I was supposed to play trombone or something manlier.

I'm about talked out. Time to get back to wood shedding.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

In Which We Played Some Oldies for Some Oldies

I had my date playing at the Crown Plaza assisted living facility in the Arden area. I know we went over well, since no one threw anything at us.

This is a very nice facility, it was well lit, cheerful, and very clean. The rooms are built around a large two-story atrium where we played. The folks looked like they were very well cared for. From what I saw, I would recommend this place to anyone who needs that level of care.

I played clarinet to accompany Ralph, an 87 year old retired dentist, church organist, and occasional clarinet player who lives in his own place in my area. I wore black slacks, a white shirt and a thin tie from the early 1960s (thanks to my dad for not throwing that tie away). I could have been mistaken for the skinny Schmenge brother who became an accountant instead of joining the band. We looked something like this, just dump the accordion, and add a piano.

I suspect Ralph is older than most of the residents I saw, and he and his wife are still going like gangbusters. Ralph played the well- tuned grand piano that lives in the atrium, and I played clarinet. The atrium had a stone tile floor, so the reverberation was awesome. I love playing clarinet in a big echoing room.

I couldn't see most of the people who were listening, since they stayed in an open upstairs lobby where the big bingo game had just ended. The only people I could see were about 10 people in wheelchairs who probably didn't want to play bingo that day. One of the men didn't look a lot older than me, and another guy looked a little like an older Benny Goodman. Both a little scary to see.

It was like being in the Lawrence Welk Show. Our program varied from old Cole Porter show tunes,to pop tunes like "Stand by Me" to the "Clarinet Polka",which I didn't completely choke on. We started the program with a duet of the Ellington classic "Don't Get Around Much Anymore". I was worried that choice might seem a bit cruel for people in a home, but they just seemed happy to hear old familiar tunes.

We played for about ninety minutes. We enjoyed playing together, and a few of the residents said they enjoyed hearing us. A lady in a wheelchair even flirted at me! A Groupie!

It just doesn't get better than that.

That' s my story and I'm sticking to it.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Homeopathic Humor Comes in Small Doses

"Le canard, Il dit quain, quain." means "The duck says quack, quack" for you Anglophile peasants.

I have always gotten a kick out of Homeopathy. I agree that's a strange place to find your kicks. But if the shoe fits. ..

What I love about Homeopathy is that the practice is based on a paradigm that I would describe as pure sophistry, and the practitioners are quacks. That said, these folks can be pretty entertaining.

My favorite story, which I won't bother documenting comes from the recent British trail "concluded that homeopathy is no more effective than placebo". A BBC interviewer asked how many homeopathic medicines can work when they are so dilute that they cannot possibly contain a single molecule of the active ingredient.

The Homeopathic practitioner quacked back something like ; "Well, you see,the nature of the pure water is changed." I love magik too!

I promised a joke, so here's the joke:

OK, you got your joke. Now Laugh, Dammit!!

BTW I spent Sunday afternoon with Hangininsac's official Brooding Dutchman. Expect a deep thoughts posting soon. You've been warned.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Grateful Dead Giants of San Francisco

This rare video, taken in 1993 at Candlestick Park, combines two of the best things about San Francisco, The Grateful Dead and the Giants. Two bad both institutions are in an equally moribund state these days.

This is one of the better live renditions of the Star Spangled Banner I have heard in a long time. After hearing this, I have to ask, "So how come the Dead's singing usually sucked so bad in their concerts?"

The announcer's comment at the end is an unexpected bonus. "How'd (they) get the Grateful Dead? They just asked for them." Worthy of Lao Tzu.

That's my story and I'm sticking ot it.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Something Special - A Charm School Lesson From Wisconsin

Is it jsut me, or does Wisconsin seem to generate more than its fair of bad crazynes.

Today's lesson comes from the story of Madison Wisconsin's very own Keith Rasmussen. Keith broke several rules of gentlemanly manners and comportment, and is probably a good candidate for AA.

Hangininsac is proud to publish an exclusive fabricated interview with Rasmussen:

Mr Manners: So, I heard you had an interesting evening.

Rasmussen: Well, it started out good,until I puked at the strip club. Then everything went downhill.

Mr Manners: Ah, that was your first social blunder. Better society pukes in the bathroom sink, or in the alley behind the strip club. Puking in the VIP lounge tends to make strippers reluctant to give lap dances, and attracts unwanted attention from bouncers. What happened next?

Rasmussen: They threw me out, like I was some kind of bum.

Mr Manners: And this surprized you.

Rasmussen: You bet your p0lite ass, I was mad as hell. So I rammed their building with my truck.

Mr Manners: Do you think that was a good idea?

Rasmussen: I took off as quick as I could. Decided it was time to go home. If some tattle tale hadn't called the cops, it would have been no problem at all. I tried to be my smoothest when I talked to the cops, but they dragged me to the jail.

Mr Manners: Ah, yes, when I get stopped, I usually greet police by asking, "How can I help you?

Rasmussen: I told them I was "not good, but I had seen some nice strippers". Then they gave me a sobriety test. It's those damn cops with ESP. It must've been their second sight that clued them in. They asked if I had been driving, but, hey, I'm way too smart for that old trick, so I told them Martians had been driving my truck.

Mr Manners: Well boys and girls, let'sreview what we learned today:

(1) Puke in puke friendly areas only.

(2) Don't ram your truck into a strip joint.

(3) The police won't appreciate hearing about Martians and strippers, especially if a strip joint has recently been rammed and you truck is freshly dented.

By the way, I guess driving a vehivcal through the wall could be considered "entering or leaving a controlled access unlawfully". No foolin.

Well children, drive carefully and don't forget your manners.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Happy Independence Day

This is too good not to share.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Travel and Time

First, a few words about travel in the early years of the 21st century.

Warning, Warning. Danger Will Robinson! It’s nothing like what Walt Disney promised us in Tomorrow Land. I want my supersonic personal air transport unit and I WANT IT NOW!!!!! We were sold a bill of goods, and I am not amused.

Add Image

We are at the Milwaukee airport waiting to start our flight to Sacramento via Minneapolis. Travel just isn’t what it used to be. Airline travel is a lot like what I remember about Greyhound in the 1970s. Really, more like Greyhound if it had been run by the East German Police. This airport’s greatest distinction is Renaissance Books, a used bookstore located in the terminal. I killed some time looking at a large illustrated edition of Paradise Lost. In the engravings, Satan was the coolest looking of all the angels, as it should be.

The luggage screeners just gave my briefcase the old wipe-for-explosive-residue routine. (I don’t know if that actually does anything, or if they do it for our entertainment). When they took my case for “further screening”, I was glad the Irish Historical novel I just finished reading was in our checked bag. After all, Irish history is little more than the stories of terrorists who won, or the current Sinn Fein and Provos (provisional IRA) terrorists who seem to be winning a war of attrition, that, thank goodness, has been a cold war for the last few years. I guess the evil of terrorism is in the eyes of the beholder. However I was not amused when Gerry Adam’s mates blew up one of my client’s offices in the National Westminster Bank building back in the day. I like freedom fighters as much as the next guy, but when they blow up places I frequent, I say the heck with them. The guy they pulverize could be me.

On the bright side, traveling cattle car class is one of the few experiences where the skinny and shorter guy wins. I have plenty of room to relax (no knees in chin, no girth flowing into adjacent seats), and the seats are well enough padded that my Diminished Gluteal Syndrome doesn’t give me a sore backside. Otherwise it’s a very unrewarding experience. I’m lucky flying was so much easier and more pleasant when I had to fly for work.

Rental car experiences have been good the last several trips I’ve made to Wisconsin. Even a couple of years ago when I left the lights on all night and the rental guys came out, jumped my car and brought me a new replacement car. They didn’t even laugh at me, I was embarrassed enough already.

We booked our hotel through We got a deal, $51 per night for a room at the Sheraton by the Dane County Coliseum. That was an unbelievable good deal. That’s why I’m bragging. The catch with Hotwire is that we were only able to select “a 3.5 star hotel” in the downtown region”, and had to pay in advance, before the hotel’s name was revealed. We got lucky.

When we arrived late at night, we found out we got luckier. They were pretty full so they upgraded us to the Executive floor (remember Pink Floyd - “I’m in the high fidelity first class traveling set I think I need a Learjet”? The room had duvet comforters instead of bedspreads, and an awesomely large big screen TV. Our room was on the 7th floor, which was inaccessible to the riffraff staying on the lower floors. The floor had a lounge area with an even bigger TV, free cookies and soda, and free breakfast. A free cheerios, oatmeal and milk is a great deal. My only criticism is that the towels were not executive towels. They weren’t oversized and were no more soft and thirsty than any middle class towels. What indignities we suffered. We had to have our electronic room key cards re-coded twice, when the elevators stopped recognizing them, and allowing us access only to the floors full of riffraff rooms.

Now, on to the main event.

We went to Madison for our parents’ 60th anniversary party. It was a good visit. I won’t talk too much about the party or the relatives, because no one could possibly care, beyond the folks who’d be tattled upon. If you were all there and you know it was good. If you weren't,you probably wouldn't care anyway. I can say that my sister arranged and executed almost everything for this pretty big party, including a gorgeous wedding cake that tasted like the best sour cream coffee cake ever. It was the first wedding cake my parents ever had, and my mom loved it.

I get to Madison at least once a year to visit the parents and sister that live near Jon Johnson in Wisconsin by the big school there. I enjoyed this visit more than most. I usually visit alone in the autumn which certainly beats June’s weather, not to mention fall colors. I usually get some time to myself to poke around in the downtown / university area and walk in the University Arboretum. These are all good things taken at face value.

Spending all that time in town tends to reinforce a feeling that I’m past the springtime of my life. I moved away from Madison over 20 years ago. My life then was certainly far from perfect; I was in a marriage headed toward failure and my career was less than ideal for both me and my employer (I was headed toward failure with them as well). All that said, I was young and the future seemed a lot bigger than the past. So much has changed around Madison in these decades. Taking the time to idle around the local scene usually leads to an uncomfortable feeling. A feeling that this world has moved on, and no one bothered to save a seat here for me. That is not an encouraging feeling. It makes me wonder what’s left beyond rolling up my pants and walking on the beach along with J Alfred Prufock. I think I really need to buy more peaches at this Saturday’s farmers market.

I will dare to buy a peach.

I will dare to eat the peach.

I will take care of my pet cat.

I will pet him.

I will call him George.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

About Me

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I must enjoy shouting into a vacuum, but I think about getting my act together one of these days. My mom says I am very handsome and intelligent.

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