Friday, March 31, 2017

March Madness 2017: Round 3, Match 1: Hidalgo v The Pie

Sorry for the hiatus; I have not been coping terribly well with life the last two weeks. I've been riding and reading and working hard on the house but my interfacing with the world has been suboptimal.


Back on the horse now, as it were, and we'll finish out March Madness on the first week of April, which, whatever. It's madness, right there in the title.

The giveaway will last through the next two rounds, and it will be for a custom quarter sheet: if you win, I'll work with you on sizing, design, and colors. (If you live somewhere warm where you don't need a quarter sheet, please know that a) I hate you and b) we'll figure something else out like a saddle cover or garment bag or something.)


Round 3, Match 1

Hidalgo v The Pie

Well, both are racehorses, of a sort. They both have underdog stories. They both have big awesome movies, but that's really where the similarities stop.

Will it be Hidalgo, the painted mustang pony who proved himself before the whole world and incidentally made Viggo Mortensen look smoking hot while galloping through a desert? I have to say, Hidalgo has been my sleeper surprise of this entire tournament. I never thought he'd make it this far.

OR will it be the Pie, who in the book version at least is also painted but somehow ended up chestnut for the movie even though his whole name is based around the idea that he's piebald? Who carried Velvet Brown to her moment of glory, and was every girl's dream of defying the odds with the horse she loved? Not incidentally, also my favorite Elizabeth Taylor role, and I do love me some Elizabeth Taylor. (Giant, you guys, if you haven't seen it: god damn.)

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Saturday, March 25, 2017

Weekly Blog Roundup

Replacement Post Fall from Equestrian at Hart
The day this was posted I'd had a conversation with a coworker about expensive sports equipment, and explained to her that some riding helmets cost upwards of $1,000. She was baffled and horrified, as I have been for years. Why spend that much money on something you'll have to replace in five years, best case scenario?

Pressure Washing My Trailer from Cob Jockey
I include this because I did the exact same every few years: pressure washed the shit out of my horse trailer and was then astounded at how nice it was. So I highly recommend it to anyone!

Beach Ride from DIY Horsemanship

Roscoe Gets a Neurectomy from Hand Gallop
This is a bit graphic but soooooooo interesting.

The Kindness of Strangers from The $900 Facebook Pony
If you haven't been following along - this is a completely heartbreaking story. I'm sharing it here so I can give a signal boost to a crowdsourcing fund that a kind soul has set up to help out Amanda & Presto.

Please consider donating:

Get Well Soon, Presto

What should be practiced? from Incidents of Guidance
An intriguing question: what should we be doing without thinking?

Spooky from A Enter Spooking
Tristan is not a bit spooky, but I've definitely dealt with my share of spookers. Where's the line?

This week's non-horsey read is not for the faint of heart: Accidental therapists: For insect detectives, the trickiest cases involve the bugs that aren’t really there

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Round 2 Results

First, a farewell to the horses who were left behind after this round:

Ashleigh's Wonder


We have two weeks left in March, so this week will feature our final showdowns, and then next week will feature our champion round.

In the meantime, thanks for everyone who voted in Round 2! Rafflecopter tells me that the winner of the $25 gift card to Riding Warehouse is...

Margaret D.!

Congrats, Margaret - check your email!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

House Post: #@$#@%#$@ Basement

This is not my very least favorite project (that's still the root cellar ceiling, that was the WORST, which I guess I didn't blog about?) but it's probably a top 5 and that makes two out of the top 5 in the basement, UGH.

It's also STILL NOT DONE. Honestly "finish it for the blog post" was the only reason it's as far as it got this week, it fucking sucked.

Why did it suck, you ask?

Well. Scale is tough in photographs, so I measured. This shelving is 48" deep by 9.5' long. So really big. And it is simultaneously very flimsy and very sturdily constructed, in the worst possible combination.

My goal was to cut it down the middle, reattach bracing on the back, and then turn it to a different wall.

It's so long that I measured my depth (actually a little less than half, at 20") at various points and then snapped a line with chalk. Because it's a horizontal surface in a dark corner, and because I had to sort of crawl under rickety nail-filled boards to do so, that took longer than it sounds like. Plus, there was so much dust and paint flakes and sawdust on the shelves the chalk didn't take very well.

Then I cut down the middle, and discovered that there was a lot more bracing than I thought, and the bracing was too thick for the circular saw, so I had to go back over my lines again with a little jigsaw, and holy shit was it angry with me. Even after that, I'd miss pieces and have to bodily wrench the shelves apart, and then parts I didn't want to come apart would come off, complete with rusty nails, and it's a miracle I haven't cut off a finger or needed a new tetanus booster yet.

The last picture is the current state of affairs, but of course there's a TON of bracing underneath that is extra deep. It's actually cut from the top but still not going anywhere.

So on Monday the next step is going to be to move more things out of the way, tip it forward, and cut from the bottom. Then keep it tipped on its face to re-attach the bracing, and while I am hoping to reuse pieces of lumber from the back that is feeling less and less realistic because of the ways it came apart. I may have to go out and buy some 2x2 pieces to replace them and just put the others in the burn pile.

It would've been faster to just build new shelving from scrap. This had better be really useful.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Weekly Blog Roundup

Somewhat abbreviated this week; our snowstorm threw off all my normal routines. It did make for a lovely restful & quiet 36 hours, though.

Bling it like you own it: custom sparkle browbands from SprinklerBandit
I will be the first to admit that I do not get sparkly browbands. All I can think about is cleaning them. Still, this is a great overview and a nice outline of the possibilities. (Maybe if I had a plainer horse I'd be more interested, but Tristan's coloring is so loud I tend to avoid patterns or bling.)

Six things a new OTTB reminded me from Racing to Ride
I liked this - about how we learn and re-learn things all the time in our journeys as riders.

Learn the training scale from Jane Savoie
Nice follow up to the above; I could use all the reminders I can get about the training scale.

Stories of your life and others from Frankly Speaking
Not directly horse-related, but something to read and think about for blogging.

Ground rules from Equestrian at Hart
Crucially important to a good boarding relationship: communication and respect, especially in such a tough business. I try to always be clear and thoughtful when I take or use extra hay or shavings. I'm happy to pay for it, and in return I like to think that I'm trusted.

Say hello to Presto from The $900 Facebook Pony

I don't have a non-horsey read this week because I've been cramming my brain with books instead of longform articles, so here, have this gorgeous video that I'm listening to on repeat lately.

But no one knows me no one ever will
if I don’t say something, if I just lie still

Friday, March 17, 2017

Round 2, Match 4: The Black v Ashleigh's Wonder

First, the winner of Round 2, Match 2: Hidalgo beat out Smoky.

Voting on Round 2, Match 3 is still going on, but it's really not even close; sorry, Brego fans.

I am sorry to say, however, that we have reached what is without question the worst match we've faced so far.

Round 2, Match 4

The Black v Ashleigh's Wonder

For those of you, like me, who are currently in an agony of indecision, voting will end at midnight EST on Saturday.


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Thursday, March 16, 2017

Round 2, Match 3: Beauty v Brego

Round 2, Match 1 has finished, and our winner is...the Pie!

Round 2, Match 2 is ongoing, and Smokey fans - you may want to help him rally!

Time for...

Round 2, Match 3

Beauty v. Brego

Ugh, I hate this match,'s time.

Will it be the hero of one of the best horse books of all time?

Or the companion of one of the best literary heroes of all time?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Round 2, Match 2:

Round 2, Match 1, between the Pie and Flicka, is still going on until midnight tonight! Get your vote in!

Round 2, Match 2

Hidalgo v Smoky

Today's match pits two Western icons against each other, one movie star v one literary star. Who will keep going, and who will go home? (If it's Hidalgo, someone make sure his shoes get pulled before he's let loose on the range this time, ok?)

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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Round 2, Match 1: The Pie v Flicka

Round 1 was really difficult. Let's reflect for a moment on the horses who were left behind.

The Colt from Old Regret
Artax from The Neverending Story
Joey from War Horse
Sleipnir from Norse mythology
Pegasus from Greek mythology
Merrylegs from Black Beauty
Angus from Brave
The Flame from The Island Stallion

In the meantime, we have our first match of our second round.

Round 2, Match 1

The Pie v Flicka

Round 2 is going to be really hard, folks.

This first match pits two beloved literary horses against each other, and one of them has to go home.

Who will it be? When you've voted, make sure you enter the Rafflecopter for this round.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, March 13, 2017

March Madness 2017 Round 1 Results

Round 1 is now complete!

Some of our battles were hard-fought; some of them were total blowouts.

One or two really surprised me, honestly. Some I'm kind of sad about. But that's how it works, right?

Our biggest upset was #12 Smoky, who unseated #5 Sleipnir, but #10 Brego also beat out #7 Merrylegs. Just goes to show that nothing is guaranteed!

Here's what our bracket will look like for Round 2.

Aaaaaaand, without further ado, the winner of our Round 1 drawing for a Riding Warehouse gift card + saddle pad is...

Erin O.!

Check your email, Erin - and if you have a blog, let me know so I can link to it!

Round 2 will start tomorrow, with the Pie facing off against Flicka. There are no easy matches in this round, and I'm honestly no longer sure who's going to advance. Stay tuned!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

House Post: More Basement Organization

I think I am maybe beginning to understand that basement organization is an ongoing home ownership problem that has no beginning and no end.

Previously, it was kind of a mess but I had started anyway.

Also, we added shelving to the root cellar.

I've made good progress in distributing the crap that you can see in this picture, taken almost exactly a year ago.

That picture makes me twitch, actually.

Here's what it looks like right now.

Slightly closer picture & different angle but you'll have to trust me - all that crap is gone! The shelving behind our lawn furniture is also mostly empty.

So, what's next?

That shelving is going away this weekend! I'll do a combination of things to it: cut it up for scrap/burn pile; cut it up to transform into new, more useful, more sturdy shelving; and cut it up to set aside as useful scraps for other potential future projects.

Eventually, I want a project corner: somewhere I can do woodworking, painting, cellar-type things on a usable flat surface with tools to hand. (All of our tools are stored on shelving that is just to the right of this photo. That shelving is deeply meh but is just fine for now.)

First step will be to take the quite nice plywood top off the left side of that shelving and - in a perfect coincidence - fit it without cutting or modification to some hardware my dad gave me to create a work table.

Then, tackle the rest of it. Photos forthcoming!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Weekly Blog Roundup

The very last mach of Round 1 of March Madness 2017, pitting Flame against Ashleigh's Wonder, is tight and will run until midnight tonight - it's your last chance to vote and to enter the contest for a Riding Warehouse gift card + saddle pad.

Myths of Horse Hay from Stable Management
Good facts about hay, backed up by science from the University of Kentucky.

12 Days Old from The Reeling

FEH Clinic Recap from The $900 Facebook Pony
Totally fascinating with lots of useful information.

Squeezing Knowledge into a Turnip from Viva Carlos
I'm thinking a lot about how to get into a lesson frame of mind, and this post was helpful.

The non-horsey read of the week: Welcome to Pleistocene Park, about scientists in Russia working to recreate an Ice Age biome, complete with woolly mammoths.

Friday, March 10, 2017

March Madness: Round 1, Match 8: Flame v Ashleigh's Wonder

Round 1, Match 6 produced our closest race yet, but Brego just nudged out Merrylegs to advance.

Today, the last match of Round 1, and it's a doozy. I honestly don't know which one I'll choose, personally.

Round 1, Match 8

Flame v Ashleigh's Wonder

Two literary chestnuts...that's about all they've got in common.

Flame is the Island Stallion, a counterpart and rival to the Black Stallion, has a completely incoherent backstory but is completely badass nonetheless. (Also, it continued incoherent - aliens? vampire bats? wtf?)

Ashleigh's Wonder is the original star of the Thoroughbred series: raised by Ashleigh Griffin, she becomes a superlative racehorse and the foundation mare for the book series' racing stars.

Flame in his secret island valley

Ashleigh and the foal Wonder

My heart can't even take this, but one of these two redheads will stay home, and one will advance.

ALSO: it's your very last chance to vote, share, and enter the Rafflecopter for the Round 1 prize, a $10 Riding Warehouse gift certificate + saddle pad.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, March 9, 2017

March Madness: Round 1, Match 7

Okay, first: round 1, match 5 results: Beauty crushed Pegasus. I'm not terribly surprised!

I am a bit surprised, however, that round 1, match 6 between Brego and Merrylegs will come down to the wire. If you haven't voted yet, make sure you do so!

And now, on to...

Round 1, Match 7

The Black v Angus

Two hunky black horses for us today, but...not much in common other than that.

The Black is famously untamable, answerable only to Alec, a stallion who survived shipwreck and a deserted island and is the fastest horse of all time.

Angus is a brave, loyal Shire who carries Merida through danger; he has sass, but is ultimately obedient and trained.

Who will it be?

this picture never ever gets old: Alec and the Black

Jessica Chastain cosplaying Merida with a big Shire cosplaying as Angus

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Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Round 1, Match 6: Brego v Merrylegs

First, the results from Round 1, Match 4, Smoky v Sleipnir:


I have to say, that was the first one that really surprised me. Possibly because I have never read the Smoky books and I'm married to a Swede.

Round 1, Match 5, Beauty v Pegasus, is still going on and it's not terribly tight but you still have time to get your vote in!

Here's today's match.

Round 1, Match 6

Brego v Merrylegs

Not a ton in common between these two!

In Brego, we have our first purely cinematic horse. Created by Peter Jackson for his film trilogy, Brego belonged to the prince of Rohan, Theodred, before he was killed. After a period wild with grief, he chooses to become Aragorn's horse, and carries the King of Gondor through to the end of the story.

[please note the egregious error I made in not including Shadowfax in the initial seeding round; Brego will have to stand in for him as well as other LOTR horses like Bill, Asofel, etc., hi, I'm a dork.]

Merrylegs, from Black Beauty, is the quintessential children's pony. Steady, cheerful, wise, and with just enough sass to keep everyone on their toes.

Who will advance?

I mean we could just do a "horses ridden in a sexy manner by Viggo Mortensen" tournament next year and give me loads of excuses to post pictures like this.

If memory serves, those kids get dumped two seconds later.

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Tuesday, March 7, 2017

March Madness 2017: Round 1, Match 5: Beauty v Pegasus

Round 1, Match 4 - Sleipnir v Smoky - is still going on and it's competitive, so make sure you vote!

On to...

Round 1, Match 5

Beauty v Pegasus

Like the previous match, these two don't have much in common. They both start literary, but they've also both had their share of film appearances. Other than that, they're pretty much black and white. Literally.

Beauty is the eponymous star of possibly the best horse book of all time (I'll fight you over that), Black Beauty. His story shows the horrible fates waiting for horses in Victorian England, though his is eventually a happy ending.

Pegasus is the equine star of the best mythology of all time. (I'll fight you over that one, too.) He's captured by the greek hero Bellerophon, who rides him to defeat the three-headed Chimera. (Also, if you want to laugh really hard, his Wikipedia article has an actual pedigree chart for him and it's amazing.)

Who'll it be? These are two of the most well-known archetypes in the equine fiction world, so choose wisely.

The cover of my favorite copy of Black Beauty

Pegasus. There are a LOT of slightly weird images of pegasii on Google Images.

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Monday, March 6, 2017

March Madness 2017: Round 1, Match 4: Smoky v Sleipnir

First, to announce our winners over the weekend.

Round 1, Match 2: Flicka!

Round 1, Match 3: Hidalgo!

And now...

Round 1, Match 4

Smoky v Sleipnir

I am hard-pressed to find any similarities between our two contenders today. Their names start with the same letter? They're both sort of literary? That's all I've got.

Smoky is a sort of Western Black Beauty, living the hardships of the American West through his life, passing through many hands and many circles before ending up with his beloved first owner again.

Sleipnir is an eight-legged steed sired by the magical stallion Svaoilfari on the god Loki in mare form. He's the favored steed of Odin and is frankly kind of terrifying.


Odin on Sleipnir (concept art from Thor)

The choice is pretty stark, and I'm curious to see how this one goes!

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Sunday, March 5, 2017

House Post: Small Updates

Most of what I've been doing around the house doesn't qualify as blogworthy: slowly but surely going through piles of stuff to sort it into keep, throw away, donate. I returned from a recent visit to my parents' house with five stuffed full tupperware of random things from my childhood. Those were in addition to the 5-7 last remaining boxes of random crap hanging around the house. Some of it I do want to keep; some of it I'm content to shove back in the box and think about in a few more years; some of it is going right out the door.

But, it's boring.

So here, have some brief updates on the very slow project of getting the wallpaper down in the dining room. I'm not putting any kind of urgency behind this project; rather, "dining room" is a line on my to do list each day, and all I have to do is make SOME kind of forward progress. Some days that's 10 minutes just tugging at the top layer of wallpaper. Some days that's firing up the actual steamer. Baby steps. I still don't know what to do with the wainscoting, though I have many awesome ideas now, so there's no rush just yet. If I had a clear mental image of the final product I'd be moving much faster.

Before, during, & continuation of one corner.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Weekly Blog Roundup

Round 1, Match 3 of March Madness is open until midnight tonight! VOTE!

Also a PSA: we saw Logan last night, and there was a really terrifying bit with a horse trailer and multiple horses right in the middle of it. Everything turned out ok but if you have any anxiety about possibly awful things happening to horses, be aware. I couldn't watch it.

Can I/Will You Ride My Horse? from Zen and the Art of Baby Horse Management
Are there any other sports where a request like this is so fraught? I can't imagine so.

How the backyard barn lifestyle has changed my ideas about footing from PONY'TUDE
Interesting how a change of circumstances opens possibilities.

Forward and down from Cob Jockey
This is basically exactly what I needed to read this week.

With a side of science from The $900 Facebook Pony

No room for bigotry in equestrian sport from Horse Nation
A bit over-written but hard-hitting, makes excellent points, and is something we're all complicit in.

Your non-horsey read: The Downfall Of YouTube’s Biggest Star Is A Symptom Of A Bigger Illness. An exceptionally well-analyzed read about the ways in which the corners of the internet are testing the limits of socially acceptable speech, and becoming radicalized. It ties together the thrill of being provocative with the echo chambers of the internet, and points out that in any other country we'd call this nascent terrorism, but we don't yet have a name for it in America.

Bonus non-horsey read because this describe exactly my last month in cooking & eating: How to turn a cupboard cleanout into a great meal plan. I'm having a lot of fun being creative with things that need to get used up, with only one bomb so far.

Friday, March 3, 2017

March Madness 2017: Round 1, Match 3: Hidalgo v Joey

Onward and upward! Round 1, Match 2 voting is open through midnight tonight, and it's a tight race between Flicka and Artax, so make sure you cast your vote!

First, to announce the winner of Round 1, Match 1:

The Pie!

And now, on to...

Round 1, Match 3

Hidalgo v Joey

Interesting matchup here - two fictional horses based clearly in historical circumstances! Other than that, these two are pretty different.

Both do come from books - Hidalgo is based on the writings of Frank Hopkins, which may or may not be mostly made up. Joey is the main character of the YA book War Horse. Both horses have extraordinary journeys, and are much the worse for the wear at various points. Both are eventually reunited with their owners.

Hidalgo, though, is a mustang; Joey is (presumably) a decently bred English saddle horse. And though they both got big budget Hollywood films, Hidalgo's was arguably better. It definitely had a hotter protagonist.

Joey is much more of an everyman horse, and his job is to show us our humanity as we learn about his troubles. His story is arguably more textured, and the acclaimed stage show shows some of that texture: it's a relatable story set amidst the horror of war, about larger forces out of anyone's control.

Viggo Mortensen & Hidalgo
yes, please

Albert & Joey

Who will advance?

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Thursday, March 2, 2017

2017 Goals: February Recap

Previously, I set horse goals and life goals.

January Recap

So, how was February?

Horse Goals - original post here
1. Put hands on my horse 5x a week - better and better! I'm mostly pleased with this, actually.

2. Be less perfunctory - I really should have made this goal easier to quantify. I struggled with this one a bit, though.

3. Aim toward dressage schooling shows - good progress, mostly in the nature of keeping him in good work. I'll have to look at the schooling schedule to see how that maps out for the summer for any away shows.

4. Take more lessons - February, check! Scheduled March.

5. Horse-specific income stream / funding emergency fund - Tristan's emergency fund is now at $525/$1500, and my overall emergency fund is at $7,715/$12,000. Still no real progress on the income stream.

6. Do more thoughtful work - Mixed. I am pleased with how much more I'm reading in terms of thoughtful long thinkpieces rather than short articles.

7. Get more media - Sort of still a fail. I'm taking more pictures of Tristan, but none of them have me in it.

Life Goals - original post here
1. Pay off car - still on track for November 2017 with possibilities to move faster that I'm waiting on

2. Read 75 books - 15/75 down:

The Underground Railroad by Coulson Whitehead
Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
No Ordinary Time by Doris Kearns Goodwin

Better with the whole reading-white-men thing! Better, too, with lining up books to read on a schedule, but slower progress due to higher density non-fiction books and less time to read overall.

3. Revive history blogs - Off the wagon in February, but I'm scheduling posts for March now, so...mixed? First post for March published yesterday, a reflection on national identity as shown in the Estonian National History Museum.

4. Do better about food - February was all about focusing on cleaning out the pantry, so I made a lot of meals that used up random things in order to get to the back of the cupboards & the freezer. But, I did do better about food prep, particularly for quality breakfast items like smoothies and mini quiches.

5. Decorate the house - sigh. not really. I did the curtains in the office but...that's kind of it.

March Madness 2017: Round 1, Match 2

Round 1, Match 1 will go until midnight tonight, but in order to get all of these out of the way, we're going to have to move quickly through round 1.


Round 1, Match 2

Flicka v Artax

Another day, another set of contenders who originated in literature and had beloved movies. For both of them, their onscreen incarnations might actually be more famous than their literary versions.

Both are light-colored, both are beloved by young boys. For both, my enduring mental image is of them sick, injured, dying - and down, with their boys urging them to live. (Some of us have never gotten over the Swamp of Sadness, OKAY?)

(no seriously fuck that movie. not that i'm trying to influence voting, but fuck that movie forever.)

(also speaking of terrible movies, for the purposes of this contest, we're going with OG Flicka, Ken's Flicka, chestnut mare Flicka, not the weird black stallion version from the new movie that only shares a name with the book)

Ken & Flicka

Atreyu & Artax

Who will it be?

Once you've voted, make sure to enter the Rafflecopter for this match.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

March Madness 2017: Round 1, Match 1


First, an announcement: not a single brave soul took me up on option b, so we're scrapping that.

I still want to give prizes, though! Let me give you cool stuff!

SO. Each round will have its own prize. A Rafflecopter will run through the duration of each round, and you'll get entries for voting & for sharing the contest. At the end of each round, I'll draw, and then we'll start a new contest.

Round 1 prize is: a $10 Riding Warehouse gift card + Riding Warehouse saddle pad!

Round 1, Match 1

The Pie v The Colt from Old Regret

This is getting serious right off the bat! Who will win? 

There are some interesting similarities between these two: they both started as beloved literary creations, one from a book and one from a poem. Both are nominally part of the British Empire. Both got spectacular, classic, beloved films.

There are also some pretty clear differences. The Pie didn't need to be tamed; he needed to be trained, and the culmination of his story was to take the ultimate amateur to the ultimate professional's test in the Grand National.

The colt needed to be tamed, by a quiet professional, and his story arc ends with him trying to escape the humans, not cooperate with them.

Elizabeth Taylor playing Velvet Brown with The Pie

Random actor in a touring show playing Jim Craig and the Colt from Old Regret

Who will move on to the next round?

Once you've voted, enter for Round 1, Match 1!

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