Discolor Online

Weblog of the sweetest person you never want to piss off.


Family Weekend

Saturday I awoke feeling much more human, especially after getting myself up to normal Seattle-style caffeine levels for the first time in a week. Mmm, delicious coffee. I'm still not exactly a coffee snob but if I had to drink Applebees' coffee on a regular basis I would just quit and switch to tea.

Chris spent the day investigating some game stores and miniatures rules with Rick so I alternately worked oncatching up on Green Ronin stuff and doing fun or interesting things with Kate. One of the things we did was head down to the Sound Transit Safety Fair, where Martin Luther King Jr. Way was closed off for a few hours and there were safety and information booths, bands and student performers, and speakers as well as a light rail car parked in Othello Station and open to the public to roam through. I took many photos with my phone but haven't begun to mess with them to see if they turned out, let alone if I can get them off my camera. I spent much of my time at the street fair talking talking to State Rep. Zack Hudgins who was on hand because transportation is one of his key concerns in the legislature. I took the opportunity to ask Rep. Hudgins if it was likely that we were going to see relief from the "rental" tax on car-sharing programs like Flexcar and Zipcar and he admitted that no, especially with the projected budget deficits the legislature was not going to be in a position to offer any tax exemptions, and went on to explain that before the state budget situation he wasn't in favor of lifting the tax. While I was disappointed that the situation isn't going to be resolved in the way that I'd like, I'm all too aware of the forces that pull our representatives in government one way and another and I accept that they often have to jockey for position and influence, anticipate the ways in which well intended legislation can be abused, and keep an eye on several competing interests at once. Goodness knows, I'm certainly not cut out for politics. Hudgins was quite open and spent an age talking to me about all sorts of things: light rail and car-sharing, Proposition One (the new transit vote) this fall, lead testing (he was aware of the "lead in the pipes" issue that broke here at New Holly), the increase in crime, violence, gang activity, and drugs here in the south end combined with the lack of services and how that's impacting the community spirit in New Holly and the neighbors who are going to be surrounding Othello Station when the light rail finally starts running. I found him open and honest and willing to go into as much detail as I cared to hear (he apologized a couple of times, saying he didn't want to be a "wonk" when he felt he was getting too deeply into detail but I assured him that I was really enjoying it). Didn't always have the answers I wanted to hear but it was always stuff in the realm of disappointing but not outrageous.

Chris came home from his gaming sojourn just in time for me to run off to the store to pick up a few things and then Kate and I were out for the rest of the night on a babysitting favor. We got to spend time with a sweet little girl of nearly seven months old who reminds me SO much of Kate as a baby. I could go on and on about the ways in which I see these children as being similar but mostly I was pleased that my baby-minding skills aren't too rusty. She went to bed like a dream (which I was pleased to reassure my friends when they called in for a "Nervous Parents" check-in) and made one tiny squeak over the monitor when she turned over or hiccuped or something. Kate really wants to start babysitting herself and I thought it would be fun and interesting for her to see a little bit of what it takes while there's an adult at hand and, indeed, she was interested and happy to be along. Extra bonus, my friends repaid my favor with ice cream! Not just any ice cream, but Molly Moon's Salted Caramel which my whole family just loooooves.

Today was a casual day of catching up on computer work combined with cleaning and purging around the house. I currently have three big garbage bags of clothes and shoes to go out to donation, boxes of books to go out, and we noticed that one of the shelves in the office is sagging precariously under its load of books and games so those are getting a good culling as well. I feel like I got a good deal accomplished without knocking myself out completely and heading back into the land of the permanently exhausted. Also got some homemade dinner (baked "manicotti" made with no-boil lasagna sheets, from a recipe I saw on America's Test Kitchen) which was awfully nice and got thumbs up from the whole family to boot.

Tomorrow it's a date with our nutritionist and then I go in for a battery of allergy tests. I'm tired of the low-level allergy symptoms I suffer with constantly and my sinuses have definitely become a huge problem this year that has dragged on. Time to take more action.

Finally, I also heard from my mom again about my grandma. Grandma waqs moved out of ICU, which is absolutely cause for celebration. She had her first round of dialysis and that has also seemed to improve her recovery as the pain killers and anesthesia that were lingering in her system are now (finally) being processed out. She's still very weak but got up for a short walk (to the door of her room and back) which she was utterly unable to even consider on my last day in Arizona. Thanks again to everyone who has been keeping her in their thoughts, prayers, and well wishes. I'm cautiously optimistic that she'll see a better recovery from here.

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Home, Exhausted, Unsettled

Got home this afternoon and promptly fell into bed for a few hours. I just had to shut down and get some solid sleep. I'm sure my physical exhaustion is partly from the stress, the unpredictability, in addition to the driving, sleeping in the Yuma heat on an old pull-out sofa with my mom... just all of it packed together.

My mom changed her ticket so she's not leaving Arizona until Sunday but then she also has to get back to her home and her job. She let me know today that they've moved my grandma out of ICU but that she's still completely out of it, very weak, barely able to eat or drink. Her blood sugars are unstable (as low as 50 yesterday before I had to leave) and her kidneys (which were barely hanging on) have shut down so she's scheduled for dialysis now too. I'll be anxious for updates as long as I can get them.

It is really good to be home with my family even if the rest of the drama isn't settled. I have a lot of catching up to do.

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In Arizona

Sunday night I got a text message from my mother, saying that my grandma was in the hospital. Monday I got an update: my grandma had a 97% blockage in the left pulmonary artery and was facing three choices, none of them great. They could do nothing and she would have a massive heart attack at any time (hours, days, or months but more likely sooner than later). They could try to do a bypass, but the area of the blockage is particularly hard to bypass and grandma's other medical conditions made it highly unlikely she would survive that surgery without other serious complications (including risk of losing her leg or not making it through the surgery at all). They finally decided to put in a stent as the third option. There was up to a 25% chance that she wouldn't make it through this procedure, especially after she fell into a coma a few years ago after another procedure. I got this news at 7:00pm on Monday night and was on a plane by 9:00pm. I had to come.

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get a direct flight, or even a flight to somewhere like San Diego or Phoenix or Tucson. Instead I flew to LAX and drove the rest of the way to Yuma overnight so I could be by my grandma's bedside before she went in for her procedure. I made it in time to spend a good few hours with her before she went under and I'm really glad about that. She was so happy to see me, even as sick as she was.

She made it through the stent procedure alright and was more or less lucid, though in pain and very groggy, most of yesterday. Her husband, my mom and i took turns sitting in the room with her and keeping her company (or just being nearby). Before the procedure, there was talk of having her on a balloon pump for a few hours after the surgery, but that turned from 6 hours, to "until 6pm", to "overnight" and they finally did remove it late this morning. Unfortunately all this meant that my grandmother was very uncomfortable and has spent her time today almost completely sedated. She has several gruesome and painful hematomas. After removing the balloon pump today they had to apply hard pressure to the wound for over 2 hours to keep the wound from bleeding.

I have to leave tomorrow evening to get back to the LA area so I can make my Friday morning flight. I was really hoping that she would be in much better shape by the time I had to leave. When we left her tonight the nurses were saying she might still be looped on the drugs until "afternoon" tomorrow. At this point I'd really like to be able to say goodbye and have her remember that I was there. Seeing her in the condition she's been in, I also hope this is the last time she's in this situation. While I don't wish for her death in any way (and she's told me she's not ready to go... "I have to get better, I told that little boy [that would be the x-ray tech] in x-ray that I was going to come dance the tango with him!") I don't want her to suffer anymore, either from the symptoms from her failing body or from the effects of the interventions. This has been an emotionally draining trip, with some really good bonding moments for the family and a lot of stress and difficult feelings too. I hate uncertainty.

Even so, glad I came. I hope for better news tomorrow.

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It's Wednesday and I've crossed 22 things off my To Do list for the week. That's almost one whole legal page, which would be inspiring except that almost everything I've handled so far has been the easy stuff. It's going to be slower going now as I tackle the more time intensive items.

I ordered The Bank Job through Amazon Unbox almost a month ago and haven't watched it yet. Since it's a rental I have one month to watch it or it'll expire. I tried to watch it with Chris last night after a late dinner but Kate was still roaming around and all the nudity and deviant sex just wasn't appropriate so we had to bail on it (and by the time Kate went to bed I just didn't have it in me to start up again. Unfortunately, once you start watching an Unbox rental you have 24 hours to finish watching it before it automatically expires...and Chris is out tonight playing 40K. Looks like I will have to watch it alone and before Kate gets home. I'll probably park myself in front of the tv with my laptop and try to get some reports and stuff generated at the same time. Multitasking, woo.



Procrastination by way of rant

I'm getting ready for the annual Green Ronin Summit in just under a month and have a to-do list that started at three legal pages long (both personal and business-related). Needless to say, it's going to be a challenge to blog very much. I broke off from GR business today when Kate got home from school and worked on a couple of items from the list but it's slow going. I should be upstairs folding massive amounts of laundry so I can uncover my bed in time to sleep... but I worked hard all day and I am procrastinating. Folding laundry is so dull.

So, a rant to get my blood pumping.

On our most recently flight (that would be returning from the Alliance Open House in Las Vegas) I ended up on an airline I rarely fly with anymore: US Airways. We hadn't packed too heavily for the trip but did have enough things with us (odds and ends from the show, a few extra books and whatnot) that each of us had one checked bag. At US Airways, you have to pay $15 to check a bag. ANY bag. Then, when we were aboard the plane, we were informed that in order to have any beverage, you're expected to pay. Water? $2. Soda/juice? $2. Coffee, $1. A Bud Light could be had for a mere $7. No free "snack" either, only a $5-$10 "snack pack" option. Then, adding insult to injury, once the plane was in the air video screens dropped down to broadcast commercials for Coke (and other "sponsor's" goods). Wow. What a load of crap.

Airlines are in dire straights and have been for some time but so are everyday people who are being squeezed more and more as well. People can't afford heating oil for the winter, aren't able to pay their mortgages, have seen their retirement accounts shrinking amidst the Wall Street mess. Thanks to the TSA or Homeland Security or whoever decided that liquids and gels are some sort of legitimate threat (Salon had an excellent series of articles on this, calling it a "trumped up ruse.") but now passengers are faced with being both unable to bring their own FREE water from home and being forced to pay for it either inside the airport or on the plane itself? What if the flight is delayed while you are trapped in your seat in the sweltering plane for an extra hour (as happened to me this summer)? What if you were just taking a short hop that turns into something bigger? What if you intended to stop on your layover to buy yourself some food and water but instead had to run the entire length of the Dallas airport like a marathon sprinter with a computer bag slung across your back? No water for you unless you have $2 in your pocket? Outrageous.

And while we're at it, a pox on this whole damn "snack pack" thing as well. Just let me bring my own peanut butter sandwich, don't give me that peanut butter is a gel BS, and let me avoid your weird and creepy concoctions of pretzels and bread crisps with cinnamon sugar, or the combo of chips, some greasy salami, almond-honey butter on sesame crackers or whatever else the lowest bidder agreed to stuff into a "snack pack" to substitute for a meal. I'll pack a lunch if that's what I need to do, but let me meet my own needs! That means if my TMJ is acting up (a condition which is not made any easier when I have to grit my teeth through the entire airport security experience, by the way) I might want to bring a nice, delicate pudding cup, a soft PB&J, a banana or (if it's particularly bad) some sort of enriched beverage that doesn't need to be bitten or chewed at all. Nuts, pretzels, beef jerky... that's not going to be any help to me, thanks. But no, my pudding cup isn't allowed through security. It's absurd.

Finally, on this particular US Airways flight, in addition to all the irritations about food and drink, we were also on a plane with a group of chuckleheads who had been in Vegas for some sort of frat boy bachelor party or something and were loudly continuing to hoot and yuk it up a few rows ahead. While I was fishing around in my bag for my earplugs, I dropped one and was looking for it under the seats when a flight attendant stopped to "help". I'd already done a pretty thorough search (even pulling the cushion up) and wasn't able to find it, told her multiple times that I didn't need help, but she kept insisting she could help. Finally I broke down and showed her my remaining earplug. "You expect me to find that on THIS carpet?" she exclaimed. Through gritted teeth I said, as neutrally as I could, "NO, I don't expect you to do anything! As I said, it's FINE, I'm FINE, I don't need ANYTHING. Thanks."

US Airways really hit all my buttons and I left swearing that I was not going to fly with them again. Unfortunately, they're not alone in this behavior... all the airlines are doing it to one extent or another. Still makes me mad, though, and I have to think it's not going to help air travel (or the economy) in the long run.

Ok, I have too much laundry to sort. Must get back to it.r

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Cribbing from JFK

Forty-eight years ago, John F. Kennedy gave a speech. I was recently struck by how appropriate it remains. Cribbing from this original speech, here's how I think the speech would go today, if he were, say, endorsing Barack Obama:

September 14 12, 1960 2008

What do our opponents mean when they apply to us the label "Liberal?" If by "Liberal" they mean, as they want people to believe, someone who is soft in his policies abroad, who is against local government, and who is unconcerned with the taxpayer's dollar, then the record of this party and its members demonstrate that we are not that kind of "Liberal." But if by a "Liberal" they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people -- their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties -- someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a "Liberal," then I'm proud to say I'm a "Liberal."

But first, I would like to say what I understand the word "Liberal" to mean and explain in the process why I consider myself to be a "Liberal," and what it means in the presidential election of 1960 2008.

In short, having set forth my view -- I hope for all time -- two nights ago in Houston, on the proper relationship between church and state, I want to take the opportunity to set forth my views on the proper relationship between the state and the citizen. This is my political credo:

I believe in human dignity as the source of national purpose, in human liberty as the source of national action, in the human heart as the source of national compassion, and in the human mind as the source of our invention and our ideas. It is, I believe, the faith in our fellow citizens as individuals and as people that lies at the heart of the liberal faith. For liberalism is not so much a party creed or set of fixed platform promises as it is an attitude of mind and heart, a faith in man's ability through the experiences of his reason and judgment to increase for himself and his fellow men the amount of justice and freedom and brotherhood which all human life deserves.

I believe also in the United States of America, in the promise that it contains and has contained throughout our history of producing a society so abundant and creative and so free and responsible that it cannot only fulfill the aspirations of its citizens, but serve equally well as a beacon for all mankind. I do not believe in a superstate. I see no magic in tax dollars which are sent to Washington and then returned. I abhor the waste and incompetence of large-scale federal bureaucracies in this administration as well as in others. I do not favor state compulsion when voluntary individual effort can do the job and do it well. But I believe in a government which acts, which exercises its full powers and full responsibilities. Government is an art and a precious obligation; and when it has a job to do, I believe it should do it. And this requires not only great ends but that we propose concrete means of achieving them.

Our responsibility is not discharged by announcement of virtuous ends. Our responsibility is to achieve these objectives with social invention, with political skill, and executive vigor. I believe for these reasons that liberalism is our best and only hope in the world today. For the liberal society is a free society, and it is at the same time and for that reason a strong society. Its strength is drawn from the will of free people committed to great ends and peacefully striving to meet them. Only liberalism, in short, can repair our national power, restore our national purpose, and liberate our national energies. And the only basic issue in the 1960 2008 campaign is whether our government will fall in a conservative rut and die there, or whether we will move ahead in the liberal spirit of daring, of breaking new ground, of doing in our generation what Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman and Adlai Stevenson and Rev. Martin Luther King did in their time of influence and responsibility.

Our liberalism has its roots in our diverse origins. Most of us are descended from that segment of the American population which was once called an immigrant minority. Today, along with our children and grandchildren, we do not feel minor. We feel proud of our origins and we are not second to any group in our sense of national purpose. For many years New York represented the new frontier to all those who came from the ends of the earth to find new opportunity and new freedom, generations of men and women who fled from the despotism of the czars, the horrors of the Nazis, the tyranny of hunger, who came here to the new frontier in the State of New York. These men and women, a living cross section of American history, indeed, a cross section of the entire world's history of pain and hope, made of this city not only a new world of opportunity, but a new world of the spirit as well.

Tonight we salute Governor and Senator Herbert Lehman Barack Obama as a symbol of that spirit, and as a reminder that the fight for full constitutional rights for all Americans is a fight that must be carried on in 1961 2009.

Many of these same immigrant families produced the pioneers and builders of the American labor movement. They are the men who sweated in our shops, who struggled to create a union, and who were driven by longing for education for their children and for the children's development. They went to night schools; they built their own future, their union's future, and their country's future, brick by brick, block by block, neighborhood by neighborhood, and now in their children's time, suburb by suburb.

Tonight we salute George Meany community organizers like Obama as a symbols of that struggle and as a reminder that the fight to eliminate poverty and human exploitation is a fight that goes on in our day. But in 1960 2008 the cause of liberalism cannot content itself with carrying on the fight for human justice and economic liberalism here at home. Since this administrations first response to the attacks of 9/11, For here and around the world the fear of war and terrorism hangs over us every morning and every night. It lies, expressed or silent, in the minds of every American. We cannot banish it by repeating that we are economically first or that we are militarily first, for saying so doesn't make it so. More will be needed than goodwill missions unilateral military actions or talking back to Soviet Russian politicians or increasing the tempo of the arms race War on Terror. More will be needed than good intentions, for we know where that paving leads.

In Winston Churchill's Bill Clinton's words, "We cannot escape our dangers by recoiling from them. We dare not pretend such dangers do not exist. People the world over have always been more impressed by the power of our example than by the example of our power."

And tonight we salute Adlai Stevenson Senator Joe Biden as an eloquent spokesman for the effort to achieve an intelligent foreign policy. Our opponents would like the people to believe that in a time of danger it would be hazardous to change the administration that has brought us to this time of danger. I think it would be hazardous not to change. I think it would be hazardous to continue four more years of stagnation corruption and indifference incompetence here at home and abroad, of starving the underpinnings of our national power, including not only our defense but our image abroad as a friend.

This is an important election -- in many ways as important as any this century -- and I think that the Democratic Party and the Liberal Party here in New York, and those who believe in progress all over the United States, should be associated with us in this great effort. The reason that Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman and Adlai Stevenson had influence abroad, and the United States in their time had it, was because they moved this country here at home, because they stood for something here in the United States, for expanding the benefits of our society to our own people, and the people around the world looked to us as a symbol of hope.

I think it is our task to re-create the same atmosphere in our own time. Our national elections have often proved to be the turning point in the course of our country. I am proposing that 1960 2008 be another turning point in the history of the great Republic.

Some pundits are saying it's 1928 1980 all over again. I say it's 1932 all over again. I say this is the great opportunity that we will have in our time to move our people and this country and the people of the free world beyond the new frontiers of the 1960s 21st century.



Warning: Politics Ahead

I did not intend to rant about politics on 9/11 but it just worked out that way. In fact, as disgusted and fed up as I am with many political things, I feel my fury to bother writing about my feelings ebbing away before I begin much of the time. However, I've talked to many people recently who have said things to me like "Politics just isn't my thing" or "I'm trying not to pay attention to the election" and it makes me seethe.

John McCain's ads are LIES.

I feel like echoing passionate, freaky little Dennis Kucinich: WAKE UP, AMERICA!

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Another trip

Grand Canyon
Originally uploaded by Nikchick.
We were in Las Vegas the last four days to prepare for and attend the Diamond/Alliance Open House, which was being held at Bally's this year. Because we were traveling light and didn't send out our usual full convention display our set-up took an amazingly short amount of time and we found we had a lot time to kill. We tried to entertain ourselves in the usual ways (finding entertaining lounge acts or hitting any of the numerous wonderful places to eat) but I'm finding that I may, perhaps, be done with Vegas for those things.

Instead we decided to be spontaneous, rent a car, and toodle out to see the Hoover Dam. In the taxi on the way to get our car the cab driver told us that the South edge of the Grand Canyon was (as we'd said) too far to go in an afternoon, it would be a lot shorter to hit Grand Canyon West, home of the Hualapai Skywalk. Pramas already blogged about how that turned out.

We did get some night photos out at Guano Point, though, and I managed to get them uploaded before I had to leave the hotel this morning. I still have a bunch of Finland photos waiting to be put up and now I have Hoover Dam and Vegas restaurant photos to add to the queue but I thought the Grand Canyon photos should get a quick viewing while I try to catch up.

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Feels like midnight

We're reaching that time of the year when the days are growing ever shorter and my energy level crashes to match. A couple of nights this week I stayed up late (or got poor sleep) but surprised myself by staying up ridiculously late last night. An after-work dinner with visiting GAMA dignitaries turned into an evening of drinks and gab-festing, which lasted well into the night. Long enough into the night that on the way home I was hungry enough to drive out of my way to the only late-night drive thru I know of for greasy, cheesy burger. I can't remember the last time I did that but it's been years for sure.

When I did finally get to bed I did not sleep well and awoke tired and groggy for my 8:30am conference call. It was not a good day to have to be getting ready to go to Las Vegas for the Alliance show, either. I had too little coffee or food because I was trying to get a handle on a lot of silly little things and had an abbreviated work day since I had to drive Kate to her dad's. As of two days ago, I wasn't sure that he was going to keep her for the whole time I'm scheduled to be in Las Vegas, which had been weighing on me a little as well. Normally Kate and I have a continual game of Punch Buggy going on drive but today I was so dazed I didn't have the energy to count the few VWs I managed to spot.

Pramas and I need to leave for the airport tomorrow by 6:45am and I haven't packed, haven't planned, haven't researched, haven't prepped. It may turn out that I'll get home late Tuesday and have to turn around for another unexpected trip by Friday (and will have to figure out what to do with Kate if that's the case... which I won't know until the last minute of course). It's been a very long summer and more than anything I'm realizing that I'm tired. Very, very tired.

No rest for the weary, though. There are things that have to be in place before October's Green Ronin Summit! I hate looking around at 8:30pm and feeling like it's after midnight. Bleh. Hopefully no one will mind if I sleep through Vegas.

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Two Years Makes A Difference

Originally uploaded by Nikchick.


First Day of Seventh Grade

First Day of Seventh Grade
Originally uploaded by Nikchick.
As promised, Kate's first day of school photo.



After a busy but very fun PAX schedule, I spent Labor Day laying low and doing little more than combing through recipe books and magazines so I could make out a menu plan and go grocery shopping once I get paid. Since Kate came back to Seattle two weeks early, needing school clothes and supplies on the heels of our Finland/Gencon two-week whirlwind (and I didn't get any child support all summer) we were feeling significantly less flush than usual but not so much so that we couldn't at least enjoy some fun at PAX. Kate and I attended with three-day badges while Pramas worked the Flying Lab booth and then we all got to enjoy connecting in the evenings with friends and seeing Jonathan Coulton and The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets doing their late night musical performances. We even ducked out of PAX for a little while on Saturday to enjoy the nice weather and a final summer bbq with the usual suspects at R&C's. J&J were there with the fabulous Miss V so it really felt like the gang was all together again.

Labor Day evening I got an unexpected call from my brother who wanted to know if we were free for a visit if he came up to Seattle. He's been very busy since starting med school and until this summer it had been 18 months since I'd seen him so we were happy to make time, especially since Tuesday was Kate's last day of summer vacation. In honor of the day she got to take Uncle Chad to the Family Fun Center in Renton and we belted him with water cannons on the bumper boats, drove go-karts, played laser tag, and spent good money on games that gave tickets for plastic junk.

We met Chris after work and had dinner at Marco's Supperclub in Belltown after an unfortunate delay in the form of a flat tire on the Alaska Way Viaduct. There's a dime-sized circular hole in the tire where we ran over something (a bolt perhaps) that I heard crack against the wheel well and then started losing pressure fast. Luckily I was able to limp the 1/4 mile to the Seneca St. exit and get onto 1st Avenue without the tire completely shredding and Chad was all brotherly and changed the tire for us. That means today I'm headed out to get new tires on the car (they needed to be replaced soon anyway).

Kate is off to her first day of 7th Grade. I took our annual first day of school photo and will put it up soon.

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