The Japanese calendar is marked with six days that rotate through from January 1st to the end of the year, and these days are pretty important to the Japanese when planning weddings, funerals and when to start doing new things etc. Sensho days for example are good luck in the morning, but not afternoon. Senbu days are bad luck in the morning, but OK in the afternoon. The day I’m writing this blog post is Taian which is the most lucky day, but yesterday was a Butsumetsu day, which is the most unlucky. (Take a look at the Rokuyo explanation near the bottom of this Wikipedia page on the Japanese Calender for more information.)
Although I note the types of days, like most Japanese people, I don’t really change what I do based on the type of day, unless I was going to be arranging a wedding or funeral or something. I have to admit though that I laughed out loud this morning when I realized that yesterday was a Butsumetsu, or most unlucky day, as I also recalled the mental image of my 5D Mark II bouncing off the concrete of a bridge, through gaps in the bottom of the hand rail, and down into the river below.
I was over at a small country town called Mitake, mainly to visit the museum gallery of a famous Japanese artist called Gyokudo Kawai. Just outside the gallery there’s a bridge, from which I had just shot 12 vertical images with my 70-200mm F2.8 lens, which I stitched together for this photograph.
I was shooting quickly on a family day out, so didn’t use a tripod. My wife was in the gift shop though, so I had time to change out my lens, for the 24-70mm F2.8 and shoot one more image with the entire scene in one frame, rather than a hand-held stitch. I was using the Black Rapid strap, attached to the Arca Swiss style plate on the tripod ring of the 70-200, so there was no strap on the camera. As I released the 70-200 lens from the body, I had to undo the rear cap of the 24-70 at the same time as hold the body, and although I’ve done this a million times, for some reason today I fumbled. The body twisted over to the left and simply dropped from my hands.
I broke its fall a little with my foot, but the camera just rolled off, bounced on the concrete and then almost with a will of its own, it jumped through a 25cm of so gap in the side-rail of the bridge. In one of those slow motion “Nooooooooooooo!” sort of moments, I peered over the edge of the bridge and watched the 5D Mark II, without a lens attached, drop face down into the stream that ran beneath my feet towards the river that we see above, joining it at right angles.
It wasn’t a deep river, but deep enough for all but a centimeter or so of the back right side of the 5D2 to submerge. Immediately a kindly Japanese couple came over, having shouted the “Noooooooo” that I only managed to whimper in my heart as the camera dropped. I left my camera bag and 70-200mm lens with them as I went down the bank to get my camera from the stream. If this was England, or any country other than Japan, the couple would probably have made off with my gear to complete my perfect Butsumetsu day, but in Japan, they simply watched, concerned, as I retrieved my camera.
As I pulled the camera out of the stream, water flooded out. I was surprised at the amount of water that had gotten in, and realized that the majority of what was flowing out was from the battery chamber in the body, which didn’t have a battery in it, because I was using the battery grip. As I made my way back I put my head through a large thick cobweb. Fearing that I probably now had a spider in my hair I groped around, and found a rather meaty specimen perched above my right ear, which I promptly pulled away and through to the ground. Removing what I could of the cobwebs as I walked back with the soggy 5D2 in my other hand. As I got back to the couple on the bridge, we looked into the mirror chamber of the camera to see lots of grit and silt clinging to everything. The guy asked if I thought it would be OK, but I replied that I doubted it.
As I started to realize the gravity of what had just happened, my wife came back from the gift shop, and smiled, as she saw me standing talking to the couple. She thought that I was having a photography chat, as the guy also had a camera. A 5D Mark II in fact. From my expression she soon realized that something was wrong, and as she drew closer, I shook the camera, once again sending drops of water to the ground, to her horror.
We thanked the couple for their kindness, and I apologized with “Osawagase shimashita”, a common Japanese phrase meaning basically “I caused a fuss”. It’s a polite way to apologize in such cases. As the couple walked away, we put the 24-70mm F2.8 lens into a plastic bag, as I didn’t have a rear cap for it, because one lens should have been on the body, and then I put that in my camera bag. I took the Black Rapid strap off the 70-200mm lens and put both into my bag too, and then wiped the camera body as best as I could with wet tissues that my well-prepared wife happened to have with her. I flicked the on/off button on the 5D to off, and to my surprise the LCD showed the Cleaning Sensor message, but this turned out to be the last time it would. I took the batteries out, thinking that leaving them in might not be a good idea, because of shorting, and I removed the Compact Flash memory card, and put that in a card case which went into my pocket.
The 5D Mark II went into a canvas bag that my very well-prepared wife also had with her. I used the canvas bag for the body, in the hope that the cloth would wick away some of the mosture. We made our way over the suspension foot-bridge to the other side of the Tama River, and stopped on the way to watch people enjoying the water. There were people practicing rolls in canoes, and fishermen, as well as families having picnics. We heard screams of excitement and turned to see an inflatable dinghy with a group of young women navigating the rapids and screaming, and waving at the people that turned to see the origins of the excitement.
It was surreal. I was standing on the bridge smiling as I watched other people having fun, but my mind kept flitting back to the soggy 5D2 in the bag in my hand. My wife grabbed my hand and asked if I was OK, and we laughed about the whole thing, and started to make our way off the bridge, and up the steps through the buildings you can see in the above image, back towards the small Mitake train station.
After a two hour ride back to Tokyo, we called in a couple of shops at Shinjuku, and I went into Map Camera, the place that I’d bought the 5D2 at in January this year, to ask whether I should give them the camera or take it directly to the Canon Service Center to be looked at. I didn’t take out the supplemental guarantee that Map offers, so I am to take it directly to Canon when they re-open after the current holiday on Thursday, the 24th.
When I got home, after calling into a bar restaurant for something to eat and a few beers, I decided to shoot the 5D Mark II as a record of how it looks right now. As you can see below, things don’t look too great! 🙁
I’ve called my insurance company, and should receive a call from a rep on Thursday morning, when they return to normal office hours after the current three day “Silver Week” holidays. This is the first time I’ve had to claim on insurance, though I’ve been insuring my gear for the last four years or so. Hopefully there won’t be any problems. I’m keeping my fingers crossed, and I’ll update you later when I know more.
Thanks to everyone that sent best wishes, condolences and OMGs on Twitter and Flickr. You brought a smile to my face and made the experience a little easier, believe me. 🙂
The insurance company called this morning, and agreed very quickly to pay for either fixing the camera or to replace it. Which route we take depends now on Canon. I took the camera to them this morning and they are checking to see if it’s better to fix it, or replace it.
There is around 10-15% depreciation on the camera, but for some reason the insurance company said that can/will add 30% so I may even make a few bob on the deal. That certainly wasn’t my intention, but if they throw it at me!?
Anyway, things look to be sorting themselves out nicely. I’m now just anxious to see hear what Canon say. To be honest, if they can’t make the camera 100% I would rather just replace it.
Thanks again for all of your well wishes and support folks!
I can’t watch, please remove the photos. The pain, the sadness it’s too much. At least put a “Graphic Nature” warning for mature audiences only. The carnage is too much for my weak stomach.
Good luck, I hope the insurance and/or servicing works out perfect.
Martin, I feel your pain and it brings back the memories of my camera demise. ” In one of those slow motion “Nooooooooooooo!” sort of moments ” Funny that’s the same as what happened to me. It only lasted about 1 second in real time but lasted 10 seconds in my mind as you turned around and watched the camera fall. In my case from top of a 10 ft rock on the west coast of Ireland. Good luck with your insurance. I only had normal house cover and try explain that if fell on the kitchen floor and not scattered in pieces on the coast.
Hope it works out for you, and don’t forget this will not stop you producing your art.
I feel for you Martin – bad Butsumetsu day indeed, and having to carry on with your family day out with a “smile”… Fingers crossed for no problems with your insurance company
I remember a day out with a group of other photographers shooting the sunrise on a
northumberland beach when someone screamed in horror as his camera rucksack he’d left at what he thought was a safe place on the beach and containing a his spare camera,lens, etc was about to be drowned by a large wave from the incoming tide, I managed to dash over and save it from the wave and he was most grateful !!!….. hopefully the photography gods have noted my good deed and are protecting my 5d mk2
It’s like looking at screen captures from a horror movie Martin. So many times I have pinched a D700 or D300 in the crook of my arm as a lens cap went on to a lens and off of another. I’ll try to take a lesson from your experience here I suppose. I try to be good about removing the rear cap of the lens to go on to the body and letting it sit in the bag while I remove the lens that’s mounted….usually the body is clamped in a tripod head or at least on an R-Strap or other neck strap….it’s these fast-breaking scenes
where we have just the hand-strap on or the lens mounted to the strap that get us I guess.
Just this past weekend I used a two camera strap from Cameraslingers to carry my bodies and lenses up to a hawk festival in a nearby town. http://tinyurl.com/kjjlgx When I wanted the the 70-200 f/2.8 to have more reach, I swapped it over onto the D300 for the 1.5x crop factor to get closer to the hawk’s eyes with an effective 105-450mm f/2.8 reach. Problem was I had the right side of the dual strap attached to the foot of the 70-200 so now I was all crossed up. Frustrated, I turned to maneuver and the D700 that now had the 18-200VR on it knocked it’s lens’ hood against the ground enough to move it cockeyed and off the plastic track for the hood. When I managed to unscrew it from that derailed position it was OK, but the Hoya C-PL split into two parts [again]….one attached to the lens, and the filter + split ring in my hand….oh well. Second time for that C-PL- time to buy a B+W I guess. Live and learn eh.
I’m sorry Martin. I hope the insurance works out.
David, I totally agree, but you’ve seen the photos now. They’ll be in your dreams, or should I say nightmares for a while now.
Sorry to hear about your similar experience Neil. For sure, that second or so that it took to fall seemed to last an age.
Mike, I have confidence that the Camera Gods are smiling on you for your good deed. Could you please cut a potato in two, chant something about smooth insurance payments for a minute while rubbing the two halves of the spud, then stick it back together and bury it in your garden? That should help. 🙂
Phil, I’m totally with you. I have been there with my Black Rapid double strap as well.
I definitely don’t knock these sort of straps, and will continue to use mine, but I need to change how I use them for sure. I will probably try to get into the habit of putting the strap onto the body before changing from a lens without a tripod ring.
I might also go back to standard straps that have quick release mechanisms. I don’t really need the Black Rapid for some of my shooting, but I use it because I no longer have straps on my bodies. If I could put a standard strap back on more easily I would have the best of both worlds. Still, I have to get used to changing lenses etc. when I do use the R-Strap, or double strap.
Paul, thanks for the well-wishes too. I’m keeping my fingers crossed. 🙂
My sympathies are extended to you. Been following your saga on Twitter.
So sorry to hear about the unfortunate demise of the 5D Mark II, I think it would be our duty as your sponsor and on behalf of the listeners to help in covering some of the costs in either repair or insurance claim costs. So please accept from WebSpy $500 towards any such costs.
Regards the WebSpy crew
Could not help but think spider…web spy…spider…web spy. 😉
Nice that just another added moment to story had to unfold.
Could have been worse if it tried to duck down your shirt!
Sorry to hear about the results from the adventure, but certainly looking forward to the insurance claim outcome.
Kind of like injured pets, it never happens on 10:00am on a normal business day, always at the most inconvenient hour for diagnosis.
Wish you the best!
Sorry to read about this Martin, but considering the sort of drop it had and what it’s been through it’s survived quite well. Of course I suspect a lot more damage might have been done inside and you might have to right this one off. At least it was only the body and not the glass as well.
Hope it’s fixed/replaced soon.
Ouch…!!! Hurts too much.
Oh well… the universe balances. Maybe you were meant for a newer one. In the meanwhile, keep us informed.
Martin this is awful! A real horror story for sure. I really feel for you. All the best with the insurance claim.
I should mention however, that the spider bit gave me goosebumps as my vivid imagination played the scene over in my mind. I suffer from arachnophobia, and darn it, if that had been me, I would have dropped the camera all over again!
Sorry to hear about this. Reminded me of when my camera bag was stolen…felt the same sense of loss…but you are ok and you can always replace a piece of equipment. Looking forward to hearing more on this, but of course, even more, listening to your podcasts. Larry
Martin, your horror story has inspired me to get insurance for my new 5Dmk2. Do you have any recommendations for insurance in Japan?
Thanks and hope you’re able to get a new one!
I agree with @David Lee, take down the pictures. Looks like a car crash. So sad. I had not have insurance for my camera and will definitely think about it now. But as you said, hope the insurance came through.
Martin, very sorry to hear about your accident. Hope it never happens to me, but just in case, I have two questions:
1. Are you going to have a Canon repair facility assess the damage and perhaps attempt repair?
2. Are you keeping the camera body from drying out? I have heard that in situations like this it is best to kept the body submerged in distilled water until it can be professionally cleaned, but am not sure this is really the right thing to do.
Thanks Karen, Jack, Landon, Steve, Paul, Thysje, Larry, John, Yeong Bing and Morton! I really appreciate the best wishes etc.!
Thysje, I am not fond of spiders either, unless they’re in front of a macro lens. Not arachnophobia, but they’re not my favorite critters. To be honest though, the way it all happened, I really wasn’t that bothered at the time. For the rest of the day though I kept feeling as though there was still something stuck in my hair. It certainly wasn’t nice. 🙂
John D, I use Ace Insurance through a rep called Human Corporation. They have always been pretty good and flexible with how I manage my gear list, but I won’t know if I can really recommend them until they pay up for this claim. I’ll keep you updated and can forward contact details if they come through.
Morton, yes, I’m going to have Canon assess the damage. Having said that, I do not want to use a sub-standard body, so unless they assure me that the current camera can be returned to 100% of its former self, I want a new body. I have been paying insurance for years, for just this sort of accident. I don’t want to compromise now that it’s happened.
On your second question, no, I didn’t keep the camera from drying out. I heard about that for salt water, but have never heard of keeping it wet for fresh water. Plus, there was simply no way to do it. I can’t imagine me carrying a bucket or plastic bag full of water for two hours on the Tokyo train system.
Jack! I don’t know what to say! That is so kind of you! I don’t know how much this is going to cost at the moment, but I’ll keep you informed. In the meantime, thank you and WebSpy for your continued support and generosity!
Martin, a very sad story, but with the insurance there will be hopefully a happy end.
I had a similar experience just a few weeks ago. I was getting some night shots at a construction side that I had checked out in daytime. The thing that I did not realize was that some fine sandy ground I was hading for was actually creamy mud, short story I stepped on it and sank about 80 cm into the mud and ditched my D300 with my Tokina 11-16 into the mud. After getting out of the mess the D300 was covered with a super fine creamy mud, the only thing I could do was to wipe it clean with a wet hygiene towel and then to suck (first aid with my mouth) all the command buttons clean from the mud. It felt like a very sandy toothpaste with a earthy flavor but i got it done.The lens I cleaned very, very, very carefully with distilled water. After this experience I really started thinking about getting a gear insurance.
Heinz-Erik Neu (saigon)
Oooh, that sounds like a very close shave Heinz-Erik! I’m pleased you managed to suck all the grime out. It must have been a very scary experience though. Thanks for sharing. These things all help to make us appreciate the need for insurance.
Martin, I had better experiences in my life, but there is nothing we would not do for our beloved camera equipment, I guess.
The D300 works perfectly and I could not detect any scratches on the lens ( no filter on it to avoid lens flare at night).
Wow !! That looks like the worst thing you could do to a camera. Hope it all works out for you in the end.
I’m actually notoriously clumsy… dropped a few lenses onto the concrete while changing, so I bought this strap that doesn’t work properly. If I just let the camera dangle from my neck it will drop after about 10 mins. I did this to force myself to always be aware of the possibility of losing it, and now always have a strong grip on it… kind of crazy thing to do eh ! lol !!
Take care !!
A quick update on the insurance — They called this morning, and agreed very quickly to pay for either fixing the camera or to replace it. Which route we take depends now on Canon. I took the camera to them this morning and they are checking to see if it’s better to fix it, or replace it.
There is around 10-15% depreciation on the camera, but for some reason they said that can/will add 30% so I may even make a few bob on the deal. That certainly wasn’t my intention, but if they throw it at me!?
Anyway, things look to be sorting themselves out nicely. I’m now just anxious to see hear what Canon say. To be honest, if they can’t make the camera 100% I would rather just replace it.
Thanks again for all of your well wishes and support folks! I really appreciate it!
Oh, just saw your update. Please post your insurance company/agent. Sounds like a winner and I’m thinking my gear now justifies insurance!
Wow, Martin, glad it all worked out in the end, but must have been somewhat stressful until you heard the good news from the insurance company. I am now using a BlackRapid RS-5 Strap on my 1DMkIII, with the normal Canon strap on my 5D, it makes it much easier to manage two camera bodies at sessions. However, I think I will replace the RS-5 with the usual Canon strap for my upcoming trip to Vermont next week, as I will be shooting with a tripod (not something I do in the usual course of business). Thanks for making me think of changing straps! Sorry for how it came about though. 😉
My insurance is with Ace Insurance, through an agent called Human Corporation.
You can contact them with the following address (rebuild the address yourself): insurance at human-corporation.com
Note that this company only deals with gear insurance in Japan. If you don’t live in Japan, you’d be better off finding somewhere in your own country.
For Japanese inquiries, please address your mail to Marutaka-sama (丸高様). For English inquiries, please address your mail to Sashika.
I actually don’t use their standard form to list my gear, because it involves hand-writing it out. I keep all my gear listed in an Excel spreadsheet, including the name of the piece of equipment, serial number, how many of each (for batteries etc.) and the price.
Note too that there are two types of insurance. One for Japan domestic, and one for international cover. For the last few years I’ve maintained two lists, with some gear covered for international travel all year round. Recently though, I changed all my gear to just Japan, and I’ll insure the items I intend to take abroad when I take them, and just for that term. It will take more work, but the cost difference is significant.
If you have any questions, mail me, or ask the folks at Human Corporation directly.
That moment you described when you break the camera’s fall with your foot is one that must be familiar to a lot of us. I can also remember such moments when time slows down as you watch the demise of a treasured piece of equipment, that split second of self congratulation as you manage to get your foot into just the right position only to watch as it canons off to even greater harm! 🙁
Carl, that’s exactly how it was. 🙂
By the way all, Canon have gotten back to me with their estimates. Apparently they can fix the 5D Mark II, and not write it off. They want $1,300 for the parts and labour mind. The battery grip will cost $360 to fix, so that’s essentially written off, because they only cost $260.
I would have preferred a new body, as I will always feel that it could be sub-perfect from now on, but I guess that’s the price I have to pay for my clumsiness.
Sorry to hear the bad news regarding your 5D MkII – That sounds like a total nightmare…
I had a similar moment with my precious D3 on 24th September so I have a feeling that I know
a little bit of how you must have felt…
I was on holiday in Scotland and, as is normal for me on holidays… my brain drops a gear or two and sometimes I can be
down right dumb!
I was in a hotel room (huge Victorian room with 12 foot high sash windows…) I had the urge to do a dust check photo to check
my sensor was not too dirty (changing lenses on windy glens with clouds of circling midges made me dubious of continued cleanliness)
Obviously I can’t do a test shot through glass so I attempted to open one of the monster windows… it budged, eventually (the counter weights had long since stopped performing their roles) I opened it about 3-4 foot and it jammed… too low to fasten it open with the support brackets… undaunted… I pointed my D3 and 24-70 out of the open window and framed some clear blue sky (yes, in Scotland!)
Funny thing then happened…. the monster window unjammed itself and slammed closed on my camera (not quite on my head.. but close!) – This was a damn heavy window… (20kg maybe!)
I extracted my D3 in disbelief at my stupidity… wondering how easy it would be to just roll the clock back 30 seconds.
The petal hood (reversed) was jammed on the lens at a rakish angle and white paint from the window had transferred itself over the NIKON logo…
I remained calm (sure!)
I swapped Lenses to test the D3 and it seemed happy…
I tried the zoom ring on the 24-70… nothing… jammed solid!
Fortunately… after a bit of effort I managed to get the zoom ring to turn again on the 24-70 and although it sticks slightly at
50mm and the housing (part of the screw thread for the petal hood) is at a slight angle… the lens seems perfect…
This is a testament to Nikon and pro gear… I think that the D3 body must have taken the majority of the blow… I guess you could say
I was lucky… but also certainly stupid and embarrassed.
My stomach did a little flip–you know the feeling you get when you drive over a wavvy section of road–while reading the horror story of your 5D2 dropping to its demise. I think I would faint. 🙂
Now you have a good excuse to upgrade when you are ready. 🙂 I did exactly the same thing with my foot while breaking the fall of my 24-70L zoom and needless to say Murphy’s Law seems to take over. I soccer kicked my lens to the only pile of rocks in the area while gracefully keeping my composure as I watched it travel in through air in slow motion. (all this while my wife watched). I felt bad that she might feel bad that I felt bad if you know what I mean. It’s as if everyone knew you got hit where it really hurts.
What horrid bad luck Martin. I heard your brief mention of it on your podcast on the drive to work today. What a horrible experience. Thanks Goodness you had insurance. Lets keep our fingers crossed that Canon can restore it to its new condition and within a reasonable period of time.
Wow! That’s one hell of a story too Chris. I’m glad it turned out OK, but I know exactly what you mean about those intellectually challenged moments we have. It always seems so obviously stupid afterwards!
Peter, I definitely felt a little tripped out for a few moments as it happened. 🙂
Jim, I know exactly what you mean. I felt the same way. I know that my wife knew that this was a bad thing to be happening, and part of my calmness was to reassure her that I was alright, although I was reeling inside. Sorry to hear about your 24-70mm. Was it ruined or did it survive the ordeal? I hope it came through it OK.
Jared, yes, thank goodness for that insurance. I actually received a phone call from Canon earlier, saying that the repairs were done. I’ll go to pick it up tomorrow morning. Hopefully it will be back to its former glory. I’ll be giving it a thorough check I can tell you.
Really sorry to hear about this, a nightmare scenario. Touch wood it would never happen to me. Makes me think I should get some insurance to supplement my guarantee for my 5D mark II. Any suggestions of a good company.
Yes, insurance is important Will. Unless you got an extended warranty including accidental breakage, the standar 5D Mark II warranty wouldn’t cover this type of accident. Map Camera in Shinjuku sell good coverage including water damage, costing 5% of the cost of the camera/lens, but it is restricted to the first year, and only one claim. I personally feel safer covering everything myself with insurance, and this time was very pleased that I did. 🙂
I live in Japan too, in Miyazaki. Could tell me the name of your insurance company you use? The only cover I have for photo equipment is the fact I pay by credit card, which covers for a couple of months I think, and the store/maker warranty. I am only covered for accidents, loss and theft if it happens within 2 months of purchase by credit card.
I had a 70-200 IS lost or stolen at Yamakasa festival in Fukuoka a couple of years ago. Still hurts to remember it. It wasn’t insured and 6 months later or so I bought a used non-IS version.
Ooh, losing the 70-200 must have hurt!
I use a company called Human Corporation, but they are just agents for Ace Insurance. You should be able to go straight to Ace.
Just in case you don’t know, I believe in Japan, if you think something has been stolen, and intend to claim on that basis, you have to call the police when you realize an offense has occurred. They have to look into it at the location of the offense and provide a report on which you base your claim.
I’m “in love” with this camera, and don’t even have one yet. Soon i’ll manage to…
But i can imagine the felling, once i’v dropped my laptop from chest height to a nice solid floor. I was a bit lucky, only bloke the lcd, and had bought an insurance, at the same time as the machine, for thieft, spilling liquids and ACCIDENTAL FALL 😀 but now i’m about 75 days without it.
Even so, 5D mark II is, at the moment, 5 times more expensive than my laptop was. That’s got to hurt.
as soon as i’ll buy a 5dmk2, i’ll get insurance for it! its too precious!
I’m please that I was insured too JC.
Good luck in getting your 5D Mark II!
thx, but unfortunately is not a matter of luck… it’s all about money, lol
the best sentence i saw about this machine was: “…is a tool that one just cannot afford not to have.”
Wow! I can’t imagine remaining as calm as you were in such a situation. I just finished taking care of an insurance claim on my 5D Mark II due to one of our cats peeing on the bag it was stored in. I may tinker around with it some on my own, since Canon returned it immediately as unrepairable.
Ooh, that sounds nasty Norby!
If I had one, I think my cat would need repairing too if it peed on my camera. 🙂
The camera Gods must be smiling at you again, and I write this in a good way! Whatever the outcome of your Cannon 5Dii your name is written on a new Cannon5d mark3…
And I am sure your good wife already knows this!
I eagerly await what you have to say about your new camera and the review.
A uncle of mine dropped his week old camera into the sea, it never worked again and he never had any insurance. All my cameras live in Pelican’s cases, there worth every penny.
Ooh, that sounds nasty Alistair! I hope your uncle is helping you to buy a new one!
No amount of Pelican case would have helped me on this day, as I generally take my gear out of the bag/case to shoot with it. 🙂
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