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Domestic Ninja

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My 8th most commented on blog post of all time is titled “I think I’m sexist.” That post includes a scanned questionnaire I filled out (during premarital counseling) in regards to who should perform what household duties. Here’s that questionnaire in case you didn’t catch it the first time…

Most of you thought my responses were pretty sexist (and rightfully so). I tend to have a much more “leave it to beaver” view of how I’d like my household to be run, than the typical person. Fortunately, Girl Ninja was likeminded (for the most part) so there was no real drama when we went over these tasks.

So how did it turn out for us? Is Girl Ninja making the bed and doing all the grocery shopping as I desired? HECK NO! The reality is, I’m doing far more chores than I could have ever imagined. There is one primary factor that is throwing off my leave it to beaver dream; Girl Ninja works a helluva lot harder than I do. And I’m not scared to admit it!

Most of you know, I have the incredible luxury of working in my underwear, errr, I mean working from home. Girl Ninja however, works at a zoo, with 24 wild animals, aka kindergarteners. She typically leaves the house around seven each morning and gets home between five and six.

Since I work from home, and my job is eleventy-billion times less stressful, it’s only right that I take on more household responsibilities. Yes, I’m turning in my man card, and learning how to be more domestic. Making the bed, doing the dishes, and even ::gasp:: doing the laundry are some of the newest additions to my resume.

While it was a tough pill to swallow at first, it’s time to man up and serve my wife by minimizing the amount of crap she has to do when she comes home. How big of a tool (see image below) would I have to be expect Girl Ninja bust her a$$ at work all day, only to come home to a sink full of dishes and a disheveled bed?

stick toolThere are still a few things, however, I try and avoid. Specifically, anything invovling food. I hate grocery shopping, I’m not the greatest cook, and I couldn’t bake a cake to save my life, so when it comes to food preparation, Girl Ninja is in charge. The only thing I’m good for, when it comes to food is eating it, Yeah…I’m real good at that!

Once Girl Ninja transitions from teacher to stay at home mom, we can re-evaluate who does what around the house. But as long as she is working 50+hours a week, I’m going to shut my mouth, wash as many dishes as necessary, and like every second of it.

Who typically does what in your house? Are there any chore role reversals in your house (i.e. man does all baking, or woman mows the lawn)? Anything you wish your partner did that you always find yourself doing?



  1. Well, when both people work, it’s kind of hard for one person to do all the cooking and cleaning without feeling like an indentured servant instead of a spouse.

    Being able to throw a load of laundry in while working from home has got to be one of the best perks of working at home (I really missed that the most when I briefly went back into an office environment).

    Both of us can do any chore if need be because we both travel for work and have to do it all on a pretty regular basis. In general, I do the cooking, groceries, and cleanup while my husband plays with the kids. I do laundry probably 3/4 of the time except when I’m gone most of the week. He does the lawn, I weed the flower beds. He fixes all broken things. He takes out trash. I feel tired a lot.

  2. We both share the chores. My wife has mowed the lawn and raked. I have vacuumed and baked. Most of the time we fall along the traditional line, but at the end of the days these things need to get done. With children your fine yourself doing all kinds of things. We don’t think in terms of that’s a his or her type chore, we just look at what needs to be accomplished and do it.

    • agreed, a little give in either direction is necessary. Could you imagine if I said “No, I will not do those dishes!” I’d be sleeping at a friends house if I did.

  3. I think for my boyfriend and I, it’s pretty old fashioned. He’s in the military and is pretty big on being the provider so tho I pay for some stuff, he usually pays more (since he also makes more than me).

    He works fr early morning til abt 6 p.m. So I do the cooking, baking and tidy up the house while he’s at work. He prefers I do the cooking/baking, coz I’m a better cook hehe but for thanksgiving, he would do the turkey etc and I’d do the baking (cake, pie etc). It got started by accident coz I slept in on Thanksgiving Day, and since he’s an early riser he started the bird without waiting for me. Since then, we intend to continue this tradition 🙂

    We do grcoery together, with me choosing what to buy (coz I plan the cooking/baking) and we do laundry together (coz stimes thr’s a lot to carry). But now that he’s moved into a unit with a washer and dryer included, I’m seeing a lot of solo laundry time while he’s at work.

    When he comes back fr work, he’d watch tv or play video games while I prepare dinner. I don’t mind it, coz just watching him play makes me happy, coz he’s home and not on deployment 🙂

    • Sounds like you take on many “traditional” chores happily. Also sounds like you guys work together, which is essential! Gooo teamwork!

      • Oh, I make the bed coz he leaves work before me but he takes out the trash, clears the dishwasher and put the plates, pots and pans away after they are done. He’s pretty good at doing whatever I ask him to, like stirring cranberries when I make cranberry sauce (from scratch, booya!) And doesn’t really complain when it’s time to do chores so I’m pretty happy abt that. I think coz in the military he always has to follow orders when he does sthg hehehe

        Of course this only happens at most twice a year, when I come visit (which explains why I’m not working coz I’d be on holiday!). But still, I think this will be the way things will be when I move for good in a couple of years.

        The funny thing is when I was younger, I never thought I’d be happy being at home cooking and baking and doing all sorts of ‘traditional’ roles. But I guess now I kinda understand why my mom gave up her job as a banker to be a stay at home mom/SAHM. And quite honestly I’m glad she did, coz I remember many happy moments with her at home and doing things together. Plus she always bakes and cooks, even til today, while most of my friends complain that their mom don’t have time to.

        Maybe this is why I equate feeding the bf with showing my love for him hehehe

  4. I grew up very traditionally (mom took care of the house and kids while dad took care of the money). My husband, however, is a total feminist. We both make good and equal amounts of money and chores are evenly split. If one person cooks, the other does the dishes. On Saturdays we clean the house, rotating who does which chores every week. The other side of the coin is that he does not want the pressure of being sole provider. Once we have kids, we plan to hire a housekeeper and both work on opposite days (we’re college professors). It was not the way I thought things would work out, but he has shown me the light 🙂

  5. Hooray for being flexible. As for us, Hubby makes the bed (he gets up after I’ve already left for work) and does most of the repairs around the house. He is also in charge of splitting the firewood for our wood stove. I do all the laundry, 99% of the cleaning, and the mowing. We just started gardening this year, and he did most of that. We share cooking and kitchen clean up, as well as big yard tasks like raking leaves.

    We pretty much focus on what each of us likes to do and is good at. I enjoy laundry, and he hates it. I like mowing. I don’t have a lot of experience with fixing things, so repairs are better left in his hands.

  6. Both people in my house do work, although it seems like I’m more willing to do tasks that I dont mind/enjoy (like taking out the garbage & compost) and very hesitant when it comes to things I dont like (dishes). Although, whoever is at the house more in a given week usually picks up the slack and does more of the work.

  7. I recently decided that if my future wife isn’t going to cook, clean, and do laundry, that I will just hire someone to do it for us. I hate that stuff and would rather pay someone to do it and have the free time.

  8. Things are split pretty even for us….I tend to do more tidying as I go and throuough cleaning – but if I start, Jordan steps up and helps. For cooking and house-hold stuff – we both really enjoy it and enjoy doing it together. It’s just another opporutnity to hang out together.

    • Yeah, I help out with cooking as much as I can, but Girl Ninja likes to/wants to do it, so I usually just do things like cut onions since they make her cry 🙂

      • Ninja, cutting onions make everyone cry :p but I always say it’s coz I’m touched and honored I get to prepare the food and coz bf is home safely :p

  9. I recommend leaving your bed permanently disheveled. 😉

    We split chores fairly evenly because we both work. My husband will cook, but I usually have to tell him what to cook (he knows how, anyone can follow a simple recipe). We both are working a lot, so… we have had some issues with chores not getting done quickly. But we are both to blame in this!

  10. I grew up in a home where my mother worked 50-60 hour weeks, and my stay-at-home dad did all the cooking cleaning etc. What a shock to my system when I moved in with my significant other at the time, who thought I should do all the domestic things, and I expected the same from him. Suprisingly, the relationship didn’t last. My hubby and I now share all the responsibilities within our home, domestic and financial included. Except folding laundry. I prefer to do it myself because I cannot stand not having my undergarments folded just so, lol!

    • Haha, not a traditional way to grow up at all. Glad you found someone that is willing to work with you and not against you 🙂

  11. I am a SAHM to a 5 & 3 year old and I also babysit out of my home a few days a week. My hubby easily pulls in 60 hours or more a week (he’s a truck driver) and here’s how it goes down in my house:

    Hubby’s chores –

    *All outdoor duties: Cut the grass, weeding, clean the pool, shovel the snow, rake the leaves, take out recycling, take out garbage
    *Any home repairs
    *Any car maintenance: he does own oil changes, minor repairs, tops up fluids, takes to mechanic when he can’t fix it
    *All grilling! (I hate BBQing)
    *Pest control AKA spider squashing (if he’s not around I suck it up and do it or put a cup over it under he’s home)

    My chores –

    *All indoor cleaning – dishes, laundry, vacuuming, mopping, cleaning bathroom, dusting, etc, etc, etc – Done weekly
    *All childcare responsibilities when hubby is working/sleeping
    *All finances
    *All menu planning
    *All shopping (is this a chore? Hmm….YES when I have to drag 2 kids around! NO when I go by myself!)
    *All planning in general – appointments, activities, major purchases, holidays

    Shared chores –

    *Cooking (Hubby is a fab cook!)
    *Childcare duties when he is around
    *Going to kid’s appointments (doctor’s etc.)

    It’s never going to be 50/50 for us and we both accept that. I personally wouldn’t want him to take on any chores around the house because I am a bit of a perfectionist and he’s definitely not! The odd time I take out the trash or do the weeding and he’ll empty the dishwasher or throw in a load of laundry. We both have a good understanding of what things need to be done and if we can help each other out with our chores we appreciate each other for doing it.

  12. Good morning Mr. Ninja,

    My husband and I are a gay couple, so I’m not certain how valuable my data will be for you in terms of male/female gender roles. 🙂

    What surprises me most about your chore chart (as it also did back when you originally posted it), is just how few of the “both of you” boxes you checked. Going down the list myself, my husband and I would check “both of you” to almost everything: we both work, we both pay bills, we both do our own laundry, we both help out with the dishes (he loads, I unload), etc. (And we both equally don’t make the bed… 😉 ) The only large area where that’s true is in the car gassing up and maintenance as we have only one car and my husband uses it almost exclusively, so he takes care of it almost exclusively as well. However, even then we still are splitting the responsibility because I’m the one who paid for it.

    You bring up an issue that also resonates with us, which is about workload vs. chore load. My husband works full time and goes to law school at night, so he certainly has a more demanding life than I do in terms of professional responsibilities. There are times when I feel like I should be doing more of the household chores than he does because of this, and I feel somewhat guilty that I can get out from work and go to the gym, read a book, etc. and he’s in class until 10:00pm. We’ve talked about it, and he feels that it’s important for him to still pull his share of the weight at home; he doesn’t want to use being a student as an excuse to be a bad husband. There are certainly times when he turns to me and says “Honey, can you take care of ____ this time?” when he’s in crunch mode, and I’m happy to oblige.

    Also, it’s important for us to feel like we’re both doing chores fairly. For example, my husband is usually the messier one around the kitchen, so it makes me happy that he’s the one usually responsible for cleaning up the kitchen. (Stupid coffee grounds all over the counter, rabble rabble…) When one of us cooks it’s not unusual for the other person to do the dishes. I have much less stuff around the house than he does and I’m better at keeping it organized, so he’s usually the one to tidy up around the house when people come over. And while he’s tidying up around the house I’m the one going through every room with the vacuum.

    • Oops, meant to say “The only large area where that’s *not* true…” when talking about car stuff. Sorry for the typo!

    • You’re right Jared, it really comes down to working together. There shouldnt be a “Well I worked two hours longer at the office then you, so you have to do two more hours of chores” mentality. Both parties just need to be willing to help each other out and pull their weight. Sounds like you both are doing a pretty good job of it.

  13. I am a stay at home mom and hubby works full time and is in school. We are both capable of doing any chore/work necessary (although I literally have never mowed the lawn), but currently I take care of 90% of the household maintenance type stuff. When he is home, I’d much rather have him relax and play with the kids than clean the bathrooms. However, most weekend he will cook the majority of the meals…yay! And we are both so looking for the day that this MBA is over-10 months!…then we will re-evaluate these roles (although, he might not know that yet:).

  14. I am a stay at home mom for another 5 days or so. (Well, I will still stay home, but I will be working part time. I will be fully clothed at all times though.) Anyway, I handle almost all chores that my kids do not do. My husband helps with dishes and laundry, but he does work all day and I am home all day. I am not trying to be June Cleaver, but I am home and someone needs to feed the family. Cooking is almost 100 percent my responsibility and I hate it. I take that back, I don’t hate cooking, but the task of always coming up with what the meal is and such gets on my nerves. I don’t mind during the week, but on weekends, I want a little break. (Hint to Ninja, learn how to cook, at least a little. Nobody is born knowing how to cook- it is a learnable skill!)

    Our lawn is also cared for by the kids.

    • Girl Ninja enjoys cooking and making dinners so it’s not so much a chore for her as it is a time to unwind. Lunch, however, is usually a “fend for yourself” type of thing. I have a few dishes I make (anything on the grill, chicken teriyaki, etc), but could definitely improve my culinary skillz.

  15. It always surprises me for a smart man how sexist you are… but you found a woman willing to deal with that so great! When there are no children and both couples work, I see it fair to split the chores or hire a house cleaner (I hate cleaning). However, when one spouse stays home to raise the children, it seems logical to have that spouse (male or female) take on most of the chores. However, just as you are planning to have children do chores to feel a part of the household, you as the working spouse should also plan on doing chores. Can’t cook to give girl ninja a break? BBQ (very manly) or crockpot a meal. After all, staying home with kids is EXHAUSTING. Make sure you appreciate that fact when you guys transition into that. Good luck. As long as you’re both fine with it.
    I was raised by a working single mom (she got to do the job of both parents, lucky her) and always said I’d want a more equal partnership when I get married, so I always look when I date: is the guys house clean, can he cook, does he seem to do laundry? Most things can be learned, such as cooking (I am not great at it, but learning). I’m sure girl ninja appreciates it if you do dishes while she finishes cooking or you set the table while she cooks, right?

    • I don’t really think I’m sexist, I know that I joked that I was, but that was more for satarizing the situation. I think it would be fair to say I have very traditional views when it comes to chores. If I were truly sexist, I wouldn’t have made the bed this morning and I wouldn’t run the dishwasher later. I’d just wait for Girl Ninja to get home from work to do them. I think this whole post shows how much we work together. We both do our part to pull our weight, and if Girl Ninja doesn’t feel like cooking one night, I hop in the kitchen and whip something up 🙂

      • Well then that’s great! I didn’t catch the satire. Good job working together. It must be great for her, coming home to a made bed 🙂 Women love those kind of displays of affection!

  16. First I want to say Good for You, Ninja! I know it isn’t what you had in mind, but things aren’t always black and white and I am glad that you saw that the perfect scenario in your mind is not practical for this point in your lives. I think it’s awesome that you’re willing to pick up the slack, and with the tone of this post, I’m guessing you’re doing it without complaining about it. Seriously, I don’t want to have to ask for help if it is going to come with complaining.

    Around our house we have a very Leave It To Beaver mentality, but do not leave a life similar to that mentality, so like you, some things are divvied up differently. We share cooking and cleaning up after meals. My hubs will do the shopping, but I have to do the meal planning and list making. He will do any chore I ask, but I usually have to ask. It’s frustrating at times to have to ask, but at least he will do them–and usually without complaining. =)

    He does most of the fix-it type stuff around the house even though I’m the engineer. It’s really not (usually) because I can’t. It’s because it makes him feel manly and proud of taking care of his home. And there is a lot to be said about boosting your spouse’s self-esteem. I love when he learns how to fix things he previously did not know how or even when he just changes the AC air filters. They aren’t glamourous tasks, but I appreciate them and let him know that. And it is one way he provides for our family and that is important.

    The child-rearing is semi-shared. He can and will do anything associated with the children. He is the leader in the “play” department, but I get the tasks of bathtime, dressing them, and generally knowing where all of their toys are when they misplace them. It’s a mom thing I think.

    • Thanks Kaye! I’m trying to learn how to navigate through this marriage thing, and a big piece of that is being flexible. And you hit the nail on the head, there would be no point in helping out around the house if I was just going to complain the whole time I was doing something.

  17. Because I live on my own, I am responsible for everything.

    In reality, it doesn’t quite work that way. First, the maintenance fee I pay my co-op association each month takes care of landscaping, garbage removal, snow removal/shoveling, etc., and for a small additional fee they’ll do things like unclog a stopped toilet.

    Second, I have a cleaning service that comes in once a month to vacuum, dust, clean the bathroom, clean the stove and kitchen floor, etc., all for $90 plus another $10 for the oven and fridge. That takes two women an hour, while it would take me about six, and so is money well-spent.

    Laundry is done once a week, pants and dress shirts go the cleaner, and car maintenance I leave to the pros. Cooking is the biggest of my household chores. I decided many years ago that rather than cook every night, I’d reserve one day every other week for food preparation. There are literally thousands of dishes that can be prepared mostly if not all in advance. I often put together a bolognese sauce because it’s cheap and takes very little work, and in summer I make some pesto that I can freeze/defrost easily to put on top of pasta. At the moment in my fridge I have about four portions of Indian lamb chunks cooked with fresh pumpkin in a coconut-milk sauce, and the same amount of a Spanish veal stew cooked in white wine, garlic, tomato, and saffron, thickened with ground almonds. For this dish I just cook the mushrooms at the last minute so they don’t become soggy, and I make some rice. If I get bored with any of these dishes I just freeze the leftovers for later use.

  18. Yeah, but then you’d have to reveal your personal information. Unless, of course, you want me to address you all evening as “Debt” and “Girl.” And what if I need to start preparing four hours early and I catch you at home without your pants?

  19. we’re all over the place – my husband was rad when i moved in with him and he said, “i want a girlfriend, not a maid, so you should know right away that i hire a housekeeper once a month and i’m going to continue.” now, years in, due to me actually taking some pride and satisfaction in cleaning my own house and wanting to save the $65 a month, i do the cleaning, though he helps tidy up the clutter before i clean the house each weekend (de-cluttering takes us about 1/2 hour together, full cleaning including washing the floors takes about 2 hours after that). he would happily continue paying to have someone else clean, but it’s more annoying to have to keep my dogs out of the house for two hours at a time to have that done than to do it myself!

    on other stuff, we’re decidedly non-traditional. my husband is the cook, while i do the grocery shopping. i do all of the financial heavy lifting, though he’s the bigger earner. i handle all yard work (i like mowing in particular: it’s wonderfully self-evident work. see that yard? i mowed it. CHECK! love having tangible results) and laundry, he keeps the kitchen clean and takes out the trash. mostly, we just naturally fell into which things we liked best and the house runs smoothly. sadly, the bed only gets made once a week 😉

  20. I’m really glad to hear that when it comes down to it, you’re not so stuck on your expectations that you’re leaving GN to do everything you think she is “supposed” to do. We can all have our expectations, be they sexist or not – it’s what really happens that matters. Way to go Ninja for not really being sexist at all.

  21. Hubby and I both work F/T, and he also has a P/T job. This is how we divide the chores, but nothing’s set in stone:
    ME: Make the bed, clean the bathrooms, clean the kitchen, lion’s share of the cooking and dishes, takes out the recylcing
    HUBBY: Cleans kitty litter, vaccuums, takes the garbage to the chute, will cook and do dishes if need be (ie: he wants something special), basic maintenance (ie: replacing faucets)
    SPLIT: laundry (I had enough of him putting my tank tops in the dryer and shrinking them Barbie-size). We live in a condo apt., so no snow to shovel, or lawn to weed… YEAH!!

    I was VERY lucky that didn’t follow his parents’ lead in the traditional male/female rolls (his Mom did everything in the house, as his Dad was the bread-winner… very 1950’s). His Dad once questioned why he was doing laundry, as this is “woman’s work”; Hubby warned his Dad NEVER to say that comment in my presence!

  22. Well my hubby works from home so he is home with our twins. Yes hubby is Stay At Home Dad, due to his work being wayyy more flexible than mine right now. Sooo, many of our initial decisions about child-rearing and chores went out the window. We both do laundry, Dr. apts., grocery shopping, etc.. Although he is not as atuned to dust and dirty toilets as I am. But he does most of our cooking (I do the baking) so I don’t complain.

    I enjoy our arrangement. It allows both of us to do what we love (family and career) and also to appreciate the sacrifices and challenges of each others lives. Now of course when I worked at home, I found I did more chores as the at home parent than hubby does now as the at home parent. But the ability to have been a SAHM and for him to now be a SAHD, is/was worth all of it!

  23. my husband and i both work the same amount of hours, but i work a typical 9-6 workweek while he works 2, sometimes 3, 24-hour shifts. yet i still do a majority of the houseowrk. he’s getting better and trying, so that’s helping.

  24. I think a lot your expectations are based on the household you grew up in. If Mom always cooked and vacuumed and Dad mowed the lawn and took out the garbage then your expectations are that way – it doesn’t make you sexist just traditional. I have an issue with letting my husband do things because he doesn’t do them “right” which means my way. So I definitely end up doing more. However, it doesn’t really matter. He loves me and I can lie on the couch all day and he will bring me drinks and snacks and not yell at me to get up off my backside and get them myself. So that is worth me doing all the cooking and cleaning! We have love and not resentment – that is the key no matter who does what.

    • I get what you mean! I asked my bf to hang out the laundry once but he didn’t do it in the way I like it to be (clothes not spread and hung neatly on the lines) and he got offended when I fixed em hehehe since then I had learned to show appreciation more as well as explain/tell him nicely (at another time when we are both relaxed) how/why I do things a certain way. It’s suffice to say we are both doing better now 🙂

  25. I think the questionnaire is pretty black & white, which might make it seem like you’re sexist. It’s not like you don’t let GN login to online banking (right?) or something. For some people, traditional roles are going to work. For others, they’re not. Both are valid.

  26. Just noticed the new banner.
    Hence they do not deserve punching.

    Deserves lots of punching

  27. We bickered for years and finally have found a pretty good balance. He cooks, I bake. He loads the dishwasher and I unload it. He handles getting all the stuff we want on our iPods and I handle most of the “admin” duties like phone calls to customer service. I do most of the grocery shopping but he picks up the slack when I’m overwhelmed and runs whatever errands we have to do during his summers off. We still have the occasional “but I do help” from both sides but it is 100% better than when we first got together!

  28. I do the finances, he does the laundry. I do the baking (rarely), he does the grilling. Except sometimes, I do the grilling. He does the mowing more often than I do. I take the dog to the vet more often than he does. Otherwise, whoever is around when a thing needs doing is the one who does it. Getting the kids at their afterschool program? Shared. Cooking dinner? Shared. Tidying the house? Shared. Messing it up again? I’m better at THAT part of things than he is. But more than most people I know, we each do a bit of everything. We have two cars, but they’re not “mine” and “his.” Rather, one is more often used to transport kids, the other to transport whichever of us doesn’t have the kids at that moment.

  29. I love that your ideas have changed in such a short amount of time and especially that you’ve been open to that change. I’d hate to see GN come home from a 12 hour day at work and have to bust her ass doing chores all evening, which is pretty much what my mom did while I was growing up. (Until I got old enough to be forced into slave labor… ha ha.)

    At our apartment, we split the chores evenly. My husband cleans the kitchen and vacuums. I dust and clean the bathroom. Since we don’t have a yard, we think that is a pretty fair way split up the chores. I’ve always said, if a woman is willing to get out in the yard and work, a man should be willing to do some chores around the house. Neither spouse should feel taken advantage of or burned out because of household work. We’re partners for a reason! 🙂

  30. I know you’re being over-the-top, but if there was a man card, you wouldn’t lose it for doing housework – stepping up, taking responsibility, and working* around the house is manly.

    *I won’t say “helping”, that’s condescending – it drives me crazy when people ask if the father is “helping” with the kids when they see the mother without them in tow. No, he’s not helping out, he’s PARENTING.

    I know I commented on the original post, but if you think GirlNinja is going to have *more* time to do housework once BabyNinjas arrive, you have another think coming, as my mother would say!

    • “I know I commented on the original post, but if you think GirlNinja is going to have *more* time to do housework once BabyNinjas arrive, you have another think coming, as my mother would say!”

      Amen. Amazing how much of your time and life such little people can take! =) I love them for it though!

  31. BF cooks, I do laundry, we both clean somewhat when things get nasty and grubby.

    He loves to cook, I don’t mind laundry, and when we have kids, it’ll probably stay that way, just with sharing the chores with the kids then.

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