Digital ravings of an analog girl

         Shoes and the meaning of life.

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February 11, 2010

Big ups to Woosh!

Woosh customer support now answers their phone with ‘Hello Ritsa, what can I help you with today?

I finally caved last week and got a broadband connection at home.  After extensive research (which is quite difficult with a dial-up connection) I chose the folks at Woosh.  Woosh seemed quite happy to have won a new customer.  I bet they’re sorry now…

The lovely Maria* from their sales centre welcomed me to the programme, and assured me that I would be able to install the ADSL router and set up my connection myself.  ‘Errr no, Maria.’ I protested.  ‘My online moniker is technebish for good reason’. (N.B. Nebish is a Yiddish word referring to a person who is awkward, ineffectual, a bit of a dope). ‘No worries,’ said the lovely Maria, ‘if you run into problems, just call customer support and they’ll talk you through it in 10 minutes.’  Famous last words…

After laying out all the contents of the router box, I proceeded to read the instructions all the way through.  They may as well have been in Swahili for all I comprehended.  I tried in vain to match up the dozens of cables and widgets with the ‘items in this box’ diagram.  I still had 4 bits left over that I could not classify.  Oh dear…

Anyway, it took 4 rather long and painful calls to the Woosh customer support line, to get me online… during which I was heard to utter such gems as ‘so is the ethernet cable the one with the squidgy end or the angled end?’ and ‘is that the hole with the drawing of  cactus above it?’  Total phone time was about 80 minutes, of which 65 minutes was me asking idiotic questions.  Through it all, the 3 customer support operators I spoke to were patient, polite, …well… saints really.  Snaps for you Woosh customer support.

At the end of the process, I still have 3 cables and 2 dangly bits left over.   However, I can now carry my laptop around the house and get online from any room.  I could be typing this while sitting on the toilet (I’m not, but I might be next time).

*Maria’s name has been changed to protect her from the murderous wrath of her colleagues in customer support.

October 27, 2009

The gentlewoman and the Government…

Filed under: Uncategorized @ 5:08 pm
Tags: , , , ,

I’m now in my last short week of gainful employment.  I feel like I should be more panicked about my impending destitution, but I just can’t get upset or excited about it.  Unlike most successful career women (yes, I consider myself to be one), I’m not defined by my job.  Truthfully, I’m really looking forward to some unemployment.

But alas, this can not be a long term status.  Creditors and panicked family members are demanding to know what I’m going to do next.  So, I have a couple of options:

  1. Get me another job, or some overpaid contract work, that will return maximum income for moderate effort.
  2. Find me a filthy rich, sugar-daddy who will keep me as his mistress, in exchange for appearing at his side in a low-cut dress at special occasions and the odd sexual favour (I mean occassional sexual favour, but if he likes odd ones, I guess I could do that too).

Man wearing money sign.

My search for a candidate for option 2 has been quite fruitless so far.  There have been a few gentlemen proposed by well meaning friends and colleagues, but I think they fail to understand the extent and importance of the ‘filthy rich’ requirement.  Although I would make a excellent mistress, I am not for the faint-walleted.

So, it looks like option 1 will have to be the goer.  For this reason, I find myself dating the Government.  Yes, the Government.

The Government is a somewhat timid lover.  Always open to meeting up; always pays for the date; always enthusiastic; very interested in me and what I think; says and does all the right things… but oh so slowly! 

Every move the Government makes, has to be checked and counter-checked by the Powers That Be.  I’d really like to date the Powers That Be, but the Government is also jealous and possessive, and won’t introduce me.

There have already been several dates with the Government, and so far, …nothin’!  Only loving gazes, compliments, and more dates.  When will we get to hand holding, necking, …closing the deal!  Maybe the Government is just a tease…

Yep, I’m getting a fair idea of what being in a relationship with the Government will be like…

August 20, 2009

…Of sleeplessness and surrender…

Firstly, let me apologise to those of you who have come here expecting light-hearted wit or an expose of some embarrassing exploit.  I ain’t got nothin’ for you tonight.  Tonight, I am tired. 
All my favourite paintings depict sleeping

All my favourite paintings depict sleeping

It’s because I haven’t slept much lately. This is not unusual.  I have suffered with chronic insomnia periodically since my childhood and almost constantly for the last 12 years.  It wears you out.

I can not convey to you in words the depths of my obsession with sleep.  If I could get a decent run of sleep, I’d dream about sleeping.  If Johnny Depp knelt before me, and offered me eternal love, or a solid 8 hours of kip every night for a week, I’d be off for my first unbroken snooze right now.  If he threw in a big fat diamond and a large house in the South of France, made of dark chocolate, I’d hesitate… then head off for my first snooze.

Sleeplessness has become a feature of my everyday life.  Mostly I manage it – just spend the allotted time in bed pretending to sleep (fake it till you make it).  Pretending to sleep is almost as good as real sleeping actually.  I find this true of many things in life.

But sometimes, as for this past week, I have a particularly bad run where even faking it seems impossible.  That’s when I start doing stuff like cleaning my house in the middle of the night (complete waste of time, I always have to re-clean the next day, and I can never find the stuff I’ve ‘tidied away’), writing odes to my belly button, or insomnia-dialling my ex (it’s just like drunk-dialling, but unfortunately you remember it the next day).  I have made sure that I do not have his phone number electronically programmed anywhere, so I have to dial by hand.  Most of the time, this results in me waking some poor unsuspecting resident of Southern California at 5am.  Much preferable to actually speaking to the ex…

It’s ironic that I call my ex when I’m sleep deprived, as it was in this state that he convinced me it would be a good idea to get married.  He had spent months trying to talk me into it, but I was very staunch.  A pairing between him and me, was unthinkable; stupid; a disaster waiting to happen. 

So it was while I was in an unthinking, stupid state that I agreed to allow the disaster to happen.  In essence, I surrendered.  Not something I do often.  I am stubborn, and a control freak.  And thus far, surrender has not worked out that well for me.

But tonight I’m desperate, and I’m willing to surrender to any experimental treatment to help me sleep.  Go ahead, I’ll try anything I haven’t already tried (caveat – I’ve tried a LOT of stuff).  Give it your best shot – I’ll report the results.

Oh and Johnny, in case you’re reading, I’m particularly open to any suggestions you have…

July 29, 2009

The secret handshake for the mile high club

Filed under: Uncategorized @ 7:37 pm
Is this man getting a bit of afternoon delight?

Is this man getting a bit of afternoon delight?

A couple of weeks ago, right after I had strained my muscles and my dignity trying pole dancing, I met my friend John* for dinner.  John was visiting from Perth, and I had not seen him for a good 10 years, so we had a lot of catching up to do.

Over a wine or seven we traversed each other’s lives.  Then, just as the big purple pole dancing bruise began to flourish on my right thigh, John leaned forward and whispered “Do you know about the foot nudge thing on planes?”  The conversation went something like this:

John: Do you know about the foot nudge thing on planes?

Me: Err… no.  What’s that?

J: You know, when the person next to you nudges your foot.

M: Nope. What thing?

J: Well, when someone nudges your foot on a plane, if you nudge back, it’s all on.

Me: (Trying to appear urbane and well travelled) What’s all on?

J: You know, you’re on for some groping under the blankets…

M: Oh shut up! You are not!

J: No really!  Happens all the time!

 Anyway, more incredulous exclamations ensued (blah, blah).  The upshot of it is that this has happenned to John several times.  In a row. Lately.

So, how does it work?

Well, a woman, usually aged 35 – 55 finds herself sitting next to John (or presumably any well-dressed handsome man of mid-to-late 40s) on a long-haul flight.  They exchange introductory pleasantries that make it clear there will not be constant chatter during the several hours of the flight.

Sometime after the meal is served, the two parties involved settle in with their respective blankets and try to nod off.  Once the man’s eyes are closed, he will feel a light nudge from the woman’s foot – light enough that it could have been an accident.  Up until this point, it all seems fairly familiar to me.  Here’s where it gets weird… and dirty…

Instead of moving his foot away from the accidental nudge, the man leaves it where it is and maybe even nudges back.  Then one or all of the following ensues. 

  • Woman’s foot begins to rub up and down man’s foot and ankle. 
  • Man reciprocates.
  • Woman casually turns on her side so that her breast rubs against man’s arm.
  • Woman’s hand steals under the man’s blanket and strokes his thigh/cups his balls/plays with the family jewels.
  • Man reciprocates. May also fondle breasts, pinch thighs, whatever…

The ettiquette of this encounter…

As with any social interactions, there is ettiquette.  So, here are the rules according to John:

  • Fly economy.  All you lucky sods that fly business or first class won’t get to experience this.  It’s just too hard to reach across the divide.  I’m sure you’ll be inconsolable…
  • Under no circumstances should you open your eyes, move or make any noise during the encounter.  It is imperative that you pretend this is not happenning.
  • Afterwards, pretend it didn’t happen.
  • Don’t be put off if your mile-high handshake partner is with their spouse.  John tells me that he once did this with a woman who’s husband was sitting on her other side. The chance that his wandering hand may have encountered the husband’s hand on the woman’s thigh only added to the dirtyness and excitement.
  • This encounter does not have to lead to what is usually the natural conclusion of this act.  In fact, according to John, it usually doesn’t.  However, I can’t imagine trying to get off a plane doubled over with blue balls.  I wonder if that would set off the heat sensors that detect swine flu?  John?

 I am both amused and miffed about this. 

Firstly I’m amused as I think this is the kind of thing that the readers of Penthouse write in letters to the editor (or in reality, the editor writes in letters to the editor).  Has this really been going on all this time?

Secondly, I’m miffed, because I once flew from Hong Kong to Brisbane sitting next to the cutest German chef who could not keep his feet to his side of the barrier.  I kept moving my feet out of the way (he had really big feet, so I figured he needed the room).  Damn!

Anyone else heard of this?

*John is a handy generic name to disguise my friend’s identity.  Shame it’s also his real name…

July 14, 2009

The beginners guide to sex simulation


Not me...

Not me...

Owwwww.  I hurt.  My shoulders hurt, my wrists hurt, the joints of my fingers hurt.  My sides hurt – but thank goodness, only when I breathe.  I have a wide blue bruise flourishing on the outside of my right thigh.

Was I beaten up this weekend?  Nope.  These injuries were sustained while pole dancing.  Yes, pole dancing.  The pole dancing was in aid of my friend Gillian’s impending nuptuals.  I guess dry-humping a pole is on a list of must-dos for the single girl.  Crossed off mine now.  Thank God!  Now I can get married!

Not Nearly Drunk Enough

I agreed to try pole dancing, under the inducement that it was ‘great exercise’ (see what I think of exercise here) and ‘fun’ (see what I think of fun below).  A large group of us rocked up to the studio about 6pm, not nearly drunk enough.  Only six of us then had the bottle to try out our stripper chops, including the hen, Gillian.  The other five were dressed for exercise.  I had chosen (unwisely and age-inappropriately) to dress for the pole.  So there I was in short shorts, fishnet tights and fuck-me boots.  It was not pretty.

The instuctor took her place at the front of the class.  She wasn’t exactly what I expected.  Rather portly, with the officious bossy manner of a Victorian schoolmarm – we’ll call her Miss Campbell after my high school headmistress.  “Right ladies!” she bossed “Remember to face your audience, make eye contact, try to seduce them.”  As my ‘audience’ consisted largely of middle aged ladies, I wondered whether I might not better seduce them with a box of Continental Roses and a glass of Sherry.

Miss Campbell then hooked her ample calf around her pole and swung around it a couple of times, coming to a stop in a demure crouch facing her audience.  We all followed suit, with varying levels of success, and ended up more or less crouching by our poles.  “OK, now place your hand on the inside of your knee and push your legs apart, then bring them back together quickly” Miss Campbell demonstrated, ending the manoever fluttering her eyelashes with her hand over her mouth in an ‘Ooops, I slipped’ gesture.  What bit was I exercising here I wondered?  Certainly not my good judgement or self respect.  As I said… not nearly drunk enough.

What followed was an hour of various methods of swinging around the pole interspersed with getting up off the floor with maximum fanny flashing to the audience.  We also learned how to pretend-hump the floor, ride the invisible man backward-cowboy-style (although I have a feeling some of us already knew that one), flick back our hair a-la the wet Flashdance and slap our own arses.

Everything you wanted to know but were afraid to ask

My pole dancing experience has left me with more questions than answers frankly, but here are the answers I do know, for anyone who wants to know, but is afraid to ask…: 

  • Is pole dancing good exercise?  If you measure ‘good’ by how much pain you’re in a few days after the event, then yes, it is.
  • Is it fun? Well, if you can avoid catching your reflection in the mirror, or in the eyes of your audience, then yeah, I suppose so.
  • Will I be able to use these moves to seduce my husband, boyfriend, potential boyfriend, best friend’s husband?  Well, it depends; is he a neanderthal, sexist, internet porn-watching, wanker?  Ah, who am I kidding!?  Probably…  
  • Do I need to prepare before I try it?  The ‘school’ will make you fill out an extensive form about your health and sign a waiver absolving them of any responsibility for your idiocy.  In terms of preparation… I have just one word for you.  Brazilian.
  •  But wait… Isn’t pole dancing exploitative and demeaning?  Yeah, in the professional pole dancing arena those dufuses shoving $10 bills in the gyrating g-string of the pole dancer are exploited and demeaned.  In the girls-night-out scenario, it fits right in with the other exploitative and demeaning activities we undertake to farewell a girl’s freedom.

Yup, that’s all I’ve got to say about it.  If you have any questions, just ask.  I’ll be forthcoming as always.  If you want to see a video of me pole dancing click here.

July 6, 2009

Good grief!…

This just in courtesy of Stuff and The University of Buffalo Psychology Department…

“People who are sensitive about their looks and concerned about being rejected because of them are more likely to be interested in cosmetic surgery than those who are less sensitive.”

…errr…  Am I missing something here?  Do we really need to conduct studies to figure out that insecure people are more likely to go under the knife for cosmetic surgery?  Glad it’s not my tax dollars…

Also from the same section of Stuff

pie thumb

“New Zealand’s national food, a piping hot meat pie with tomato sauce, contains worrying levels of trans fats, research by consumer group Choice shows.”

Getting closer to my tax dollars – that one uses Australian tax dollars and Australian subscriptions.

…and finally, my personal favourite, from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University, New York…

“An international research consortium involving 34 institutions has found that people who inherited gene variant NRXN3, active in the central nervous system, have a 10-15 per cent greater chance of being obese.”

…So let me get this straight… if your folks are fat, you’re more likely to be fat?  Albert Einstein would be so proud that the college named for him is doing such ground-breaking research!

I’m putting out a grant request for a million-dollar study to investigate whether skintight white pants make you look like a slapper.  Invest now.  It will be ground-breaking…

July 2, 2009

Adapt or die…

Filed under: Uncategorized @ 7:25 pm
Tags: , , ,


There are many tragedies going on in the world today, and for the most part, I find I am momentarily sad about them when I hear, and then real life distracts me and I get over it and move on.  But today, I have been sad all day.  ‘What could have saddenned you, oh perenially cheerful Ritsa?’ I hear you ask (yes, the voices in my head speak like the Children of the Corn)… Well, it’s the chronic, soon-to-be-fatal illness of my longtome companion, mentor and past employer, the print magazine. 

In a tweet (via @bernardhickey) I caught up on the latest Roy Morgan Readership estimates for New Zealand.  This has saddened me for a more prolonged period than usual.  The same day another tweet announced the demise of Vibe magazine.

OK, I have to declare my interest here.  Much of my working life (and certainly the most fun part of it) has been spent in publishing offices and printing plants.  In addition, I fully disclose that I am a magazine floozy.  I spend more money and time on mags than I do on shoes.  And I’m not very particular – I pretty much pick up and read any periodical.  My house is littered with trashy gossip mags (of course), weekly news mags (I like Newsweek and Time), intellectual wank mags (The Economist, The New Yorker, Private Eye), business mags (HBR, Businessweek), in-flight mags, glossy fashion mags (I like In Style, Elle and Vogue), special interest mags (NZ Quilter or Pig Farmer anyone?) even status wank mags (Tattler and the deliciously wanky Prestige from Hong Kong).  You get the picture right?  I’m not fussy…

So I’m deeply upset that the universe of disposable reading material is curling up and dying.  And it’s all their own fault.  I point the finger of blame firmly at print publishers.  And they point the finger of blame at anyone they can think of (including me as a blogger).

From fat to extinct

For years, successful magazine publishing has been a fine balancing act between satisfying readers with useful, insightful, entertaining and ‘exclusive’ content and satisfying the advertiser with engaged and numerous readers (except in subscription only oddities like Consumer magazine).  Any publisher who says only one of those matters is lying, or delusional.  And for years, magazine publishing, when it succeeded, has been a bit of a goldmine.

Enter the internet and digital publishing.  Gosh, then we added self publishing!  Suddenly anyone who wanted to could publish content for all the world to see.  And then the unthinkable happened – the world saw, and read, and followed, and subscribed.

In the meantime, the print publishers thought they would jump on this bandwagon too.  They began to publish their magazine editorial online and their magazine advertising too.  They struggled to make this pay, while watching their print circulation head south (and consequently their ad revenue too). 

Why there’s a picture of Vikings at the top

Print publishers have tried to adopt the online environment, but in much the same way as Vikings tried to adopt Greenland.*  It seemed like a good idea to Great Chief Timeandahaf when they first arrived in Greenland.  They set about their usual raping, pillaging and plundering and all was well for a time.  Then the weather  turned a bit cold and Timeandahaf and his Viking warriors found that a horned helmet and a long moustache didn’t really keep you that warm (although it worked a treat at scaring rape, pillage and plunder victims).  So did they put on the seal skins and build warm snow houses like their neighbours the Innuit?  Nope, they just kept doing what they’d always done and consequently sealed their own fate.  The Viking were the stronger, more dominant force for sure.  They had the power and the money.  But they didn’t survive.  The mild-mannered and adaptable Innuit did. 

Please don’t go toward the light! 

So magazine publishers, I challenge you to adapt.  I am a voracious reader of the print form and I want the print magazine to survive.  But even such dinosaurs as I no longer go to a print magazine to find out which car to buy, or what Ashton Kutcher had for lunch.  In both those cases, I ask Ashton Kutcher on Twitter. 

I want my print magazine to provide me with in-depth analysis, editorial, and entertainment I can’t get anywhere else.  Don’t just focus on information – I can get that virtually anywhere.  Get some real thinkers to to write some engaging stuff that I have to pause and think about every couple of sentences.  Delight me with fantastic writing styles.  Don’t bother with short-from, abbreviated dross (except for you NW.  You should keep up the short-form snipey dross – I love it!).  Dazzle me with fantastic high-quality photographs and illustrations that I’ll want to rip out and keep.

And then give me all the information I need online.  I’ll even engage with your advertisers, as long as I’m not expected to sit back and look at a banner ad.  It’s an interactive medium.  Interact!

Just give it a shot.  Please.  And I will be faithful.


*The Viking history used to illustrate this point, may in fact, not be based on any historic research at all.  And may in fact be based on Asterix comics and something I made up.  Just a bit…

June 24, 2009

Karma and the Greek girl

Karma.  Not a word I use often. Frankly, it doesn’t suit my image.  People think of me as analytical, lucid, practical and considered.  (OK, maybe ‘considered’ is stretching it a bit)  I’m much more likely to use words like ‘consequences’, ‘payback’ and ‘return on investment’ than ‘Karma’.  But dammit, those words are limited by time, space and area of reference.  They don’t encapsulate the concept of the universe slapping/kissing you on the mouth the way that ‘Karma’ does.

So here’s where I fuck up my image.  I believe in Karma.  There I’ve said it.

Karma has slapped/kissed me so many times that I can no longer be a karma agnostic.  Not only is the world a small place, but time is compressed by karma too. Just look at today’s Dom Post and tell me Karma is not alive and well.

The back-story

So here’s a real-life Karma story from me.  In 1993, I was a circulation manager for a Hong Kong based publisher.  I would spend every third month in Bangkok, because that’s where the magazines were printed, and because I had a thing going with a Bangkok-based writer for one of the mags.  It was because of my romantic connection, rather than my work connection that I found myself visiting a Cambodian refugee camp on the outskirts of Bangkok where my writer-boyfriend was to interview several detainees and the camp manager for a story. 

While he went off to the Manager’s office, I wandered aimlessly through the dilapidated, dusty, smelly camp, and in the process collected a band of small followers – children from the camp.

Now here’s where I make my second confession.  I really don’t know what to do about children.  I don’t like children in general.  I like particular children, just like I like particular adults.  However, children in general do seem to like me.  On this day, I was a curiosity – big, tall white girl in (unwisely chosen) mini skirt and stiletto heels (give me a break – I was young, I had great legs and it was really freaking hot!).

The Karmic decision

I ended up in what must have been the kids dorm, and not really knowing what else to do with my band of small followers, I picked up one of the donated books in the dorm – Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak, and proceeded to have story-time in the little dorm.  One little girl sat on my lap, and all the rest of the kids sat on the floor around me, all rapt attention.  This is not quite as cute as it sounds, because those kids had not washed for some time and they smelled!  Also, I’m not sure why these kids were so attentive.  Not one spoke a word of English, and I’m not well known for my melodious tinkling voice… Ours is not to reason why…

Now, the second choice that day (close second I might add) was to head back to my air-conditioned car and listen to Billy Joel on my Discman (emember the Discman?).  But I didn’t choose to do that on this particular day.  I don’t know why.  An hour and several iterations of the story-book passed, and my writer-boyfriend showed up and I drove us back to Bangkok.  I have to admit, I didn’t really reflect further on this day in my life.

The Karma! The Karma!

Fast forward 15 years.  I have moved back to NZ and I’m busy struggling with renovations to my house.  My struggle is not made easier by the fact that my friendly electrician has been arrested for drunk driving and is unable to work due a a head injury he doesn’t remember getting.  There are live wires hanging from the ceiling in the hallway (guess he forgot to tidy up before he left for a drink with his mates).  Not good.

So I look in the Yellow Pages and call the local electrician from up the road to come rescue me before I give myself a live-wire perm.  He says he can send his apprentice at once.  A few minutes later, a knock on the door announces his arrival.  As soon as I open the door, the electrician’s apprentice says ‘Ritsa?’.  He seems dazzled by my beauty (happens all the time…NOT!) ‘Yup, that’s me.’  He fixes up all my wiring, working quickly and tidies up after himself.  As he’s leaving, he says ‘Are you Khun Dong from Bangkok?’ It’s my Thai nickname – it means Miss Big Nose (but in a loving way :) and it was kind of an honour to acquire a nickname from my Thai colleagues).  My new electrician’s apprentice was one of the children in that refugee camp, that I haven’t thought about in 15 years. 

He tells me he was orphaned in 1990, aged 7, and spent 9 years in that sad, smelly refugee camp before being allowed to come to New Zealand as part of our refeugee programme.  He tells me that he and his fellow inmates talked about me often for years after that day, and that he decided to come to New Zealand because of the strange, tall white woman who read him a story one day.

He tells me that the first thing he bought for himself after arriving in New Zealand was ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ by Maurice Sendak, even though he couldn’t read it. He recognised the pictures. 

This one small incident, that I barely remember, changed this man’s life.  I was moved and I cried.  I still cry about it.  Not because I had such a profound influence on this man’s life, but because I know how close I came to going to my car to listen to Billy Joel.  What would Karma have sent me if I had?

June 22, 2009

The Rainbow Gods Have Spoken

This weekend while driving home from town I spotted the most gorgeous rainbow (tried to take a pic with my phone, messed it up, and also almost messed up a cyclist in the process – so sorry, no photo).  One end of it was planted firmly on the big yellow mansion in Mapuia which used to be the home of Jonah Lomu.  The other end terminated somewhere in Roseneath.

This strikes me as a little unfair.  What do mansion dwellers and Roseneath residents need with a pot of gold?  Would they even notice it amongst their other pots of gold?  How about a rainbow that starts in Poririua East and terminates in …say… the Newtown Flats?  There’s some folks that could use a pot of gold!

Clearly the rainbow gods aren’t socialists…

April 23, 2009

Ode to my belly button

Filed under: Uncategorized @ 6:28 am
Tags: , , , ,

It’s late.  I can’t sleep.  I’m too tired to read.  There’s only mindless crap on TV.  I can’t face housework.  So I’ve been lying here contemplating my navel.  And I have composed an ode to it.  Here it is:

O’ mysterious navel,

Deep and bejewelled.

Have your folds

many lint-seekers fantasies fuelled?

Do the depths of your vortex

A secret conceal?

Is the ring made of gold?

Can the crystal jewel heal?

Has the ingoing spiral

had its praises sung?

Is there room in your cavity

For the tip of my tongue?


I reeeeaaaallllyyyy need to sleep…

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