Sunny 9 for 2008 July

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[Comments] (1) Teehee: Me: "lily, those pink shoes don't match your blue dress."

Lily: "Yeah, but they match my skin."

She got me there.

[Comments] (4) I don't make this up people: "Lily, you really need to start practicing wiping on your own so you can get good at it before school."

"No, I just want to get really good at pooping."

Me reading a book "Boa Constrictor, Boa Constrictor, what do you hear?"

Lily "Hey, snakes don't have ears."

She's been so good at cleaning up her messes lately. Thanks Sherry, for training her so well. She came back from AZ cleaning up great. I love it!

nyc recap: Well, I've blogged all my pics of my trip to nyc. As if that didn't take long enough, I have procrastinated way to long writing it in words. Warning- this post will be long, so don't feel obligated to peruse every paragraph (*peruse-not to be mistaken as 'to skim' as it says in my Verbal Advantage, rather to examine in great detail...I thought it was really interesting that most people misuse this word, or so it says). If I had a private button on this blog, I would use it on this post to spare you guys all the mundane details of my awesome trip so everyone wouldn't have to get so jealous.

WED NEW YORK! I see you...from the plane and the Statue of Liberty looks so small compared to the movies. Julie and I landed in La Guardia within 10 mins of each other. We met in the bag claim and hugged and peed our pants with excitement. We got our bags and went outside. We were immediately greeted by this man asking us if we needed a taxi. Why yes we do, so he asks where we were going and I had the address printed out and as I read it aloud he grabbed the paper out of my hand and started carrying my luggage. Julie and I looked at each other as he walked past the line of taxi's and took us to the parking lot. By now I was freaking out because he didn't have a taxi cab, he had a Crown Vic and there was no way I was getting in a car with a stranger. I started seeing headlines in the newspaper "two girls get abducted and sold as mail order brides outside nyc airport" or "two girls found chopped up in the trunk of a car in nyc". Yes, I watch too much Law and Order: SVU. I started wondering why I had ever thought to go to a big scary city without Aaron to stave off strange men. Luckily, Julie took control and asked to see his license and id. He was legit with a chauffeuring company, however he was charging twice the amount as the regular cabs were. No, thank you. Of course he was rude as we said no, and as we were waiting in line for a taxi, we saw a few other people fall victim to his scheme and also walk away. At least we weren't the only ones duped.

So we took a taxi to our 'hotel'. It was on a nice, quiet residential street on the upper west side. I really loved the location. That's why we booked it. Technically it was a hostel. We didn't share a room with strangers, but we shared the bathrooms. At least we had a sink in our room. The bathrooms were old and scary. The shower wasn't any scarier than the one in the first basement apt Aaron and I lived in, except I knew I cleaned the shower. I hoped this one was cleaned regularly, but just in case, wore flip flops anyway. Hey, I camp, so I'm not that squeamish about bathrooms as long as it isn't long term. We got our own soap and toilet paper to take in and out with us, so that was good. We never had to wait for the bathrooms either so it was no problem really. I would totally stay there again. The price was right, and it was two blocks from the subway. Very ideal compared to the alternative of staying in New Jersey and coming into Manhattan everyday, and we would have been screwed when we needed to come back to the hotel when we needed to.

So after we checked in and freshened up, we got down to business. We headed to Canal Street for some serious shopping. But first we bought a hot dog to split for lunch at Gray's Papaya, a famous place I guess. It was good, I guess. I got a few things...couple purses, jewelry, a hat, a shirt and belt, some more jewelry, and I kick myself for not getting those white Ray Bans. So cute. As I was looking for a Coach for Erin we asked this guy if they had anything and he told us to follow him. He led us across the street and down the way to an alley with these other guys using walkie talkies. The other guy then unlocked this sliding retractable door and was showing us all these cuuute Coaches. I got on the phone to call Erin to see which color she wanted and the man about had a heart attack. He was so scared he closed it down until I was off the phone. I guess he thought I could be calling the cops or something. Anyway, all in a genuine New York experience, eh? We also hit Urban Outfitters. Such a cool store. I wish we had one in TX

We walked around a lot more and it actually started raining. The forecast called for rain the whole time we were there, so I bought an umbrella and lugged it around in my purse the whole time in case, but luckily it just rained that night. I had to buy a zip up sweater too, there was like no selection since it was June, hello!, because it was so chilly at night. It saved my rear every night and waiting in line at the Regis and Kelly show since 5AM. I can't believe it was still cold that I just didn't think I would need to pack a sweater. The weather was so nice though, the whole time, so refreshing from the TX heat.

We ate dinner at a place called Josie's and I sat like elbow to elbow to the other tables in the restaurant. It's crazy that people get used to that. You can totally heard everyone's conversation. That's how it is every where and I guess you just extend the courtesy of pretending they're not there so people can have a little privacy. Dinner was good. My salad had the best tasting mangoes in it and I am not even a mango person. After dinner we walked a few blocks to the studio that Regis and Kelly taped at so we would know where to go in the morning to wait for standby tickets. Incidentally, the temple is just a block away from it in Lincoln Square. We also got to see Juliard. While walking around as I mentioned on my other blog, there were cleaners on every street. The price you pay to live in ny and have no room for washer and dryers...these places charges by the pound to wash and fold your laundry. As tempting as that sounds to me, I still prefer to wash my own clothes. I would give up washing the kids clothes and Aaron's in a heartbeat though.

We saw a city bus totally crunch a Lexus that was to the right of him, as the bus was taking a wide right turn. I guess he didn't hear because he didn't even stop. I wondered how that worked there. I mean the driving is so crazy that when those things get in accidents, what do they do. There is barely any room to park and trade info. Or if your taxi, say, runs over a pedestrian, what do they do? Everyone drives so crazy there, I was so glad we walked or used public transpo because I could not bring myself to get behind the wheel there.

Also, we saw a clearly mentally unstable person drop her drawers in the middle of the sidewalk and pee in a planter right in front of everyone. Julie and I were stunned...our first day turned out to be quite eye opening. We went to bed early (11) in anticipation of getting up at 3:30am to get ready for the Regis and Kelly show.

[Comments] (2) ny day 2: Thurs- At this rate I'll finish my summary by next week. Thurs morning we got up at 3:30 to shower and leave by 4:50 to walk to the studio to wait in line for standby tickets for the Regis and Kelly show. We were the first ones there when we arrived at 5:10ish. It is so nice to get up early and be in a big city with hardly anyone on the street. Don't get me wrong, there were people, but not a lot. I love having the streets to myself. So after about 10 minutes of waiting a man and his mother showed up and then ten minutes later another woman and her daughter came in line. It was all over from there, people just started trickling in. We froze our tails off and waited until 7:30 to get our ticket for the show. We walked down the block and ate breakfast at this European Cafe and Bakery called Euro Pan right next door to the temple. We had omelette's and toast and went straight back to see if they were going to let us in. Even though we had standby tickets, we weren't guaranteed to get in until they knew all the ticketed people where there. By 8:45 they knew we were a shoo-in and while walking into the studio, guess who was walking behind us??? None other than Gelman and his daughter. He was talking to her and he was the same ol deadpan Gelman he is in the show except in miniature form. Seriously, there, people are tiny in real life. I would look like a blimp on tv apparently since I don't weigh 95lbs like Kelly does (but, you know, I'm pretty close to 95 lbs ;) I sat in the back by the same couple who stood behind me in the line because the first seats Julie and I got together had a bad view behind the camera men. So we split up and got in the middle. I got to be on tv because the couple next to me were the only two who gave Regis and Kelly a standing ovation and Regis got a kick out of it, so the camera panned up the audience and showed us. Yay me! On tv! Mike Myers was the guest and then Nael Naim was the musical guest. Since they don't tape on Fridays they taped their second show and let us stay. That show had Chris O'Donnell, JC Chasze, and some gospel singer as musical guest. They were both good shows. All I will say is Mike Myers is killer funny.

After the show we took the subway downtown. Thank goodness Julie was there to show me the ropes of the subway. So confusing. We did a "walking tour" that was in this nyc guidebook that started on Wall St. All of Wall St was so cool. We saw Federal Hall where Washington was sworn in as first pres of US, NY Stock Exchange, Am Stock Exchange, Trump Tower, and there were lots of little kiosk on the street. I bought Aaron a few ties on Wall St. How cool is that? Where'd you get that sweet tie? Oh this? On Wall St. In New York City. And they were $5 each. I wonder how many millionaires on their way to work at the NYSE spill coffee on their tie in their limo and stop on the side to pick up a tie to wear. A tie just like the one Aaron has. Ha.

We bought a pretzel on Wall St too to tide us over. You have to eat at the NY food stands while you're there, right? We apparently spent a lot of time on Wall St because we also grabbed lunch at this cafe that was to the left of Trump Tower. I sat there eating my salad wondering how many rich people were sitting in the same cafeteria as me. Has Donald Trump ever eaten there? Am I lame? Yes. Excuse me, I was just so star struck by the entire city.

We went to Trinity church and saw all these old gravestone pounded smooth by the elements. I love that these stones went all the way back until 1700's. So much history. And of course I got the picture of the bronze tree root system that was uprooted by the collapsing of the World Trade Centers. We walked right by the World Trade Center site and the memorial structure in the park near it. We went into Century 21--a huge department store with discount designer clothes. It was so crazy and unorganized, it stressed me out just being in there. It was like TJMax on steroids. We didn't bother looking too hard. We were too exhausted to look around. All that walking around and getting up at 3:30 setting in. We went to St Paul's Chapel and saw the booth that Washington liked to sit in while at services. It is also the chapel that the rescue workers for 9/11 went to rest and meditate while volunteering.

We wandered around some more and ran into the ticket salesperson for the organized bus tours that take you around town on these double deckers. For $40 and a whole 24 hours worth of using the buses we were sold. It was nice getting to see so much without having to walk. Don't get me wrong, I loved walking everywhere. It was one of my favorite things about new york. These things took us everywhere. We didn't do it all at once...we would get on and off the bus when we saw H&M for example, or what not. On the tour we saw the Seaport and Brooklyn Bridge, Chrysler Building, Waldorf Astoria, Empire State Building, Radio City Music Hall, and Times Square area. We ate dinner on Broadway at O'Charley's right before the show. We had tickets to Curtains with David Hyde Pierce. He is hilarious and boy can he sing. I loved it, the music was awesome. It was sooooOOOooo (a la Melis Wood) good. O'Charley's sucked there and it's expensive as every restaurant in ny is priced at $15 and rising. Long story short, go see Curtains, don't eat at O'Charley's even though it is right by the playhouse your going to. After the show, we took the subway home and crashed. Home...ha, our home-y hotel.

More later when my fingers have feeling.

[Comments] (3) The Happening: Last night I made a really good pasta that Aaron and I loved. I threw together for the sauce 2 mangoes, 1 avocado, handful of cilantro, 3 cloves garlic, 2 green onions, about 1/2 cup olive oil, salt and pepper, couple dashes of paprika and ground cumin, and a pound of shrimp. We tossed it with fettuccine. Very good. It was also a good night because we got to watch Last Comic Standing. Love that show.

Gunnar has been cracking us up lately. He says a lot of words now including poo poo when we are changing his diaper. The cutest would have to be when he says "vroom vroom" as he carries either a tractor or car around with him at all times. That or a ball. Then he will says "ball" or "ba ball" when he wants to throw his ball into his basketball hoop. I really don't understand why it is that boys love cars and balls. How are they born with this? I mean he will find every single ball/car in the toy area and carry them all around with him. Too funny.

Lastly, Aaron and I have finally plunged into the previous seasons of Battlestar Galactica after 2 reliable critics (Hailey and Sumana) have suggested it. We love it. We are addicted to it. You must check them out if you get the chance. It is nice to have something to watch during the summer because literally, the only thing I am watching this summer is Last Comic Standing. It frustrates me though, that there is such a good show and "Hollywood" has to go and sprinkle sex into everything. That and/or some half naked woman traipsing around every other scene. So bittersweet to live in 2008.

[Comments] (1) sweets and treats: I spent the whole morning making three batches of freezer jam, each with a different brand. Two of the batches were just of strawberry, and the third was strawberry blueberry mixed. I am excited to see how they turn out as they are still setting. It's been years since I have made freezer jam and I was feeling particularly homemake-y.

Last night Aaron and I went on a sweet date. I love getting a babysitter. Not the actual acquiring a babysitter, but having one so we can go out. I really hate getting sitters actually because I don't want to make someone feel like they have to tend since I asked them. I don't want to be the one the YW talk about "she keeps asking me, and I hate babysitting." We went to Cheesecake Factory for dinner and then The Dark Knight movie afterward. Incidentally, Cheesecake Factory is having a sale on their cheesecake slices on July 30th, their 30 year anniversary. They are only $1.50, the price they were when they opened. But it is for dine-in only. Who knows if we will make it down there for that. Maybe my mom and I will go to lunch or something.

The Dark Knight was very well acted, as predicted. It was very fast moving and a chaotic movie. I think I will have to watch it again to really understand it. I must be going deaf because I didn't catch many of the lines. Pretty good all and all, but I am looking forward to the next one. It seems like this is a little like the 2nd Lord of the Rings. As awesome as it was, it's a series of movies, and it leaves you wanting. That's all I'll say.

nyc day 3: Woke up got ready and walked a couple blocks for breakfast at this amazing bakery called Leavin Bakery. I got a chocolate chip banana bread slice and a chocolate chip cookie for later that must have weighed no less than a pound. It was huge, but for $3.75 it had better be. We hopped on the subway to Times Square. Good thing Julie was with me, a seasoned NY tripper who knew the subway system, or I would have been completely lost.

We took the bus tour to Greenwich Village where we got off so Julie could take pictures of the apt of Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the City. We also stopped at this Indian (from India) boutique where Julie haggled for about a half hour with the guy and finally bought a comforter and pashmina and table cloth. She got a good price, but who really knows. I mean for all we know the things could have been made in China for dollars. We got back on the bus and went to Soho and Noho and got off the bus for the H&M store. I scored tons of jewelry for cheap. Think Forever 21 but even less. I was disappointed that that one did not have a kids section. But it was probably a good thing because I had a hard enough time stuffing everything into my luggage as it was.

We then toured the Native American Museum and took pictures of the Raging Bull (near Wall St). We got to see St Patrick's Cathedral. It was being renovated though and it had ugly scaffolding in front of some of it. Gorgeous building none-the-less. We saw the Empire State building again, walked through Times Square again. We walked around Rockefeller Center, home of the Prometheus statue, and saw the NBC corporate building address "30 Roc". We saw the studio where the Today Show tapes. We had a long leisurely dinner at this nice restaurant called Brasserie Ruhlmann where I dropped $55 for just me. Food is so expensive there, it was kinda a good thing that Aaron wasn't with me. I can't imagine spending twice the price as I did on food. It was pretty expensive because I ordered the tuna tartar for an appetizer and then "rabbit" for the entree. The tuna was very tasty but I did not like the texture, but it tasted so good I still ate it. The rabbit was good. It was game-y-er than chicken and turkey, but tender. It came with noodles that were good too. It was just nice mostly to sit and people watch and relax. We sat outside and the weather was perfect. And our view was awesome looking over Rockefeller Center.

We then made our way back to the Times Square/Broadway area and walked around before we headed to the "Wicked" theater. We were literally the LAST row. Dang scalpers...our tickets said $61 but we paid a little over $100 for them at least a month in advance. It was nice though because the theater was better built and I didn't have to crane my head like I did during "Curtains" because I couldn't see over the next person's head in front of me. The show was awesome, need I say more? While walking out of the theater, there was a crowd of people waiting at the back stage door where none other than the actors of Elphie and Galinda were exiting. Julie got their autographs on her play bill and I snapped pics of them. I felt very touristy. Oh well.

We took the subway home and fell into bed. We had walked so much in that city but I loved it. I couldn't help but notice that everyone there wears nice shoes...I mean girls mostly. They are all cute and stylish, but if everyone was walking as much as Julie and I were, their feet must have killed. I saw some wicked corns on some girls feet in places I didn't know you could get corns. We saw one girl who had stuffed toilet paper in the heels of her shoes and under the front straps because I guess she had killer blisters. I had packed some cute shoes for just in case but I didn't have the guts to wear them ever. I just wore my trusty flip flops the whole time. Now, they are not just any flip flops, they had arch support! They were so comfortable and not once, not once! did my feet hurt or were sore for any other reason than we were walking 10 miles a day. Seriously, they hardly hurt. Get it? My flip flops are awesome. Enough said.

nyc day 4: Sat was "Museum Day" for us. We first stopped at breakfast at this place called Cosi that Erin loves, so we tried it. Bagels were good and their flat bread for sandwiches was even better. They had samples. We first went into the Am Museum of Natural History, made famous among other things by Night At the Museum. It looks nothing like it did in the movie, but it was pretty amazing. I love history, Julie not so much. She was pretty miserable because she was having killer cramps and could barely walk. The thing about most museums is that they guilt you into paying "their price" for admission, which is a suggested $11-17 depending. It is really free, but they make you feel like a cheap skate if you contribute less. I did want to support them though so I paid $5.

It took about 2 hours to sprint through all 5 floors, hitting most of the popular exhibits. My favs were the geological area with all the stones, rocks, crystals, etc, and the "caveman" exhibits. It is crazy though how many animals and creatures I had never seen before. I now believe there are hundreds of species of spiders undiscovered in the rainforests because of all the bizarre "things" I saw. It made me realize I know nothing about what's out there. After the museum we made our way over to the "MET" (Metropolitan Museum of Art) which would have been so cool to see, except Julie cried Uncle and we were off to find a drug store with lots of pain killers.

We thought lunch would help too so we got this genius idea to go eat at Bobby Flay's restaurant on 5th ave. I mean we were on 5th ave, how far could it have been? A $13 cab ride later we got to Mesa Grill just minutes after they had closed for lunch, not to open again until 5. Blast! Our day was not turning out as planned. We took a cab ride back to the hotel where Julie could take a nap (another $15) and I went off exploring by myself. I didn't want to go far and I didn't want to take the subway by myself because I would for sure get lost so I walked down to the Lincoln Center again and walked around all the table displays that were there for a fair that weekend. I was gone for about an hour before Julie called, and just in time because we had dinner plans with Leonard and Sumana, my cousin and his wife. We had a little time to kill though and hadn't really eaten much so we stopped by Pink Berry!! Gotta try Pink Berry. It is the best frozen yogurt with fresh fruit. SooooOOOooo good.

We took the subway to Queens and met them at Sac's. They treated us to this wonderful Italian place where we had gourmet pizza. The biggest thing I remembered was that their bread basket had this focaccia bread with a little bit of marinara. It was like pizza without cheese. I could have stopped there, it was so good, but the pizza was even better. Good choice Leonard and Sumana! We then walked to a crepe shop and split crepes. I really enjoyed the food that day, to say the least.

After that big meal and good conversation, we said our goodbyes, and Julie and I went to go walk off our big meal at the Brooklyn Bridge. We took the subway back to the station right before and took the 20 minute walk to the middle of the bridge and "look out" station where we took pics. The view was so unique to NY and the whole city experience. Very fun. We ran into some British ladies vacationing there. Most people it seemed were not from there, or even the US really. Most people had accents. For the most part though, the people we talked to were very friendly. We didn't really encounter the "new yorker" snobbery you hear about. It was crazy how many non-US citizens were vacationing there though since the dollar is so weak and it's cheap to come here. I was a little disappointed to not hear so much of the ny accent. That would have been fun.

Our last night here, we packed some and got ready to leave the next day.

nyc, last day: We got up and packed all our stuff. We had one last hurrah for brunch at a close by place near our hotel called Alice's Tea Cup. That just goes to show how awesome our hotel location was that all these places we went to were only a couple blocks away. Anytime you have brunch somewhere, you know it is going to be a treat, and this place was no exception. It was very quaint and unique. Their motif was Alice In Wonderland, of course. Everything was Alice. It was so cute, but not in a kid sort of way. It was just neat to see all the collectibles they had displayed. Our table itself housed a small display of things. We ordered one of each on the menu, haha. Not really but we did try a couple sweet scones, one pumpkin, and one chocolate strawberry. For the main meal we had eggs and hollandaise sauce atop their ham and cheese savory scones served with a side of hash browns that was cubed potatoes with chicken bits. It sounds weird but it was really good. It was all so good and we just sort of lost track of time in that little wonderland because by the time we rolled ourselves out of there we were running a little late. We hurried back to the hotel and got our stuff and Julie ran up the street to hail our taxi since it was a dead end and no cars really went down to where we were staying. We loaded up and our cab driver hauled buns to the airport. We got there just fine, and would you believe it, that my checked bag was exactly 50 lbs. Now can I pack, or can I pack?

Our flights were leaving about 30 minutes apart, so Julie and I said our goodbyes and I boarded. I immediately missed nyc already. It was my first time there, but not my last. I heart NY.

[Comments] (5) Tallahassee or bust: My trip to FL to see my new niece was a treat. I got to see Aly and Dave's new house for the first time, and I got to meet miss Molly for the first time as well. Molly is named after an amazing character in literature, as all of Alyson's children are. I got to watch the miniseries of the book Wives and Daughters, all 5 hours of it, and I approve. Such a good story, and I recommend it for anyone who is a lover of English lit.

When I first arrived, Molly was a tiny little thing, but when I left she had grown to a little chub. That girl eats like every hour and a half. Seriously! She's a doll with a good natured disposition. Except in her carseat. Even then, they were squawks of protest and not all out bull horn. I loved watching Aly with her. It was like she was a first time mom again. Samuel is 5 and 1/2 so it has been awhile since she's held a baby and it made me jealous. She said, "It's like Christmas morning everyday." I remember that feeling, and it is the best.

I spent time cleaning up for Aly, cleaning bathrooms, sweeping and mopping floors-her whole house is wood flooring except the den, dishes, washing and folding clothes, and this and that. I didn't do much, but if anything I was good company. Some of the fun outings were picking blueberries, going to Riverside Cafe on the banks of the St Mark's River, Steak and Shake, and Panera. Mostly eating out, haha. I like Tallahassee, it reminded me a lot of Houston. Very green and lush vegetation. We just hung out and it was so nice to have a relaxing week, where I could help out, and yet recharge myself. The best part was Alyson's cooking. I tried to help on a few meals, but she knows her way around a kitchen so I mostly stayed out of her way and held Molly. She is such a good cook, it's a wonder how she stays so thin.

Thanks to Aaron for taking the kids to AZ so that I could have this vacation and so I could see my sister without bringing chaos to her house. I owe you one.

[Comments] (2) Deliciousness: Aaron and I are properly matched because we both love rhubarb cobbler. I normally shop at HEB and they don't carry rhubarb...So when I noticed it at Sun Harvest when I occasionally drive that far for some deals, I was super excited. It is a whopping $3.99 a pound. You can buy steaks for that price, this is a vegetable (or is it a fruit?) that grows in the ground. How hard can it be to grow to cost that much?! But I buy it anyway because it's so dang good. Here is the recipe we use: "Rhubarb Crunch"

1 cup flour

3/4 cup rolled oats (I get to use my food storage)

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 t. cinnamon

1/2 cup melted butter

Combine the flour, oats, sugar, cinnamon, and butter and mix until crumbly. ---Press half of the mixture into an ungreased 9" square pan.

Cover mixture with 4 cups chopped rhubarb

Sauce Mix:

1 cup sugar

2 Tbsp. cornstarch

1 cup water

1 tsp vanilla

red food coloring (I omit this)

Prepare sauce by mixing in small saucepan the sugar, cornstarch and water. Cook until thick and bubbly and then two additional minutes. Remove from heat and pour over rhubarb, then top with remaining crumb mixture. Bake at 350 for about 50 minutes, or until bubbly. Serves 9, but everyone will want seconds do you might want to double this. (It serves us just fine--the kids like it too.)

I actually have never made it, Aaron has made it each time. I knew I wanted him around for some reason. ;)

[Comments] (1) Too cute!: When I put Gunnar to bed he always wants to lay his head on my shoulder while clutching his water, monkey, blanket, and occasionally a ball when I don't feel like fighting over taking it away. Then he usually starts sucking his thumb. So tonight was the same and I gave him a tight squeeze and said "give me a hug" and he did. Then I said "I love you" and then thought since he has been saying lots of words now, I wonder if he can say love. So I said "say I love you" wondering if he would respond with "dah!"--his filler word. He then raised his head and looked at me and then held up his fist. It was the cUtest thing in the world. He was trying to sign I love you, which surprised me because I haven't shown him that sign for awhile. Lily usually tries to do it, but then gets mad when her fingers won't cooperate. She says "it's not working" because she can't figure out how to keep just the middle two fingers down, instead it looks like a hang ten sign. Gunnar just did a fist, which is perfectly ok with me. I knew what he meant, and it melted my heart.

Sunny 9 for 2008 July

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