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  • bisexualblogs 8:53 pm on April 19, 2015 Permalink  

    Preparing for Pride Season 

    These days I try to get ready for summer a few months in advance. This is partly because some things like ordering flags, leaflets and stickers can take a while to sort out and get delivered. It’s also because you’ll be a lot busier nearer the time than you are now. The weeks fly by and big events tend to sneak up on you. You think you have loads of time but before you know it you’re rushing round town searching for something to stick signs to just 10 minutes before the parade starts.

    *dashes into shop wearing a bi flag as a cape*
    “Do you have any broom handles?”
    “Washing line poles!?”
    “OK. Thanks. Bye!”
    *dashes out*

    purple umbrellas

    Earlier this year I managed to pick up a bunch of purple umbrellas in Poundland and Wilkos are now selling purple bubble wands for 100 pence each. Soon I’m going to get some washing line poles and make some more signs.

    I wrote a piece in BCN last summer for people who have never taken part in a Pride parade before, and the BCN website has a guide on how to run an outreach stall on their page of resources.

  • bisexualblogs 2:10 pm on April 12, 2015 Permalink  

    Help, where did everyone go!? 

    Having a quiet meet up can be scary, especially after a few months of meetings with a high turnout. Try not to be feel too worried. Your group is probably not fading into nothing!

    Here are several possible reasons why it wasn’t as busy as

    • The weather was too bad, so people wanted to stay at home.
    • The weather was too good, so people wanted to do something else!
    • It was too close to Christmas/New Year/Easter/a bank holiday, and people were away, were too tired or didn’t have enough money to come.
    • It happened on the same day as, or a few days from another bi event.
    • It was during the school holidays.
    • There were roadworks or problems with public transport.
    • Some people were ill/busy/feeling lazy/couldn’t find childcare/ had work the next day/didn’t feel the need to come/ didn’t have enough spoons etc. etc.


    Chances are if your group usually runs without any problems then this is just a quiet month. They happen from time to time and there’s not much you can do about any of the above. If you think that your next meet up might be a quiet one, you could always bring something like a few board games, or change the format of your event to cater to a lower number.

    If you are noticing that your event has become quiet for several months in a row, why not take a look at your current advertising strategy? Is there anywhere new you could promote your event? Could you re-design your flyers and social media sites? Are you displaying the event information clearly enough? Is it easy to find out what’s on when? If your blogs and websites are rarely updated and it’s difficult to find out information, people will soon stop looking and forget about you. If you use sites such as Facebook and Twitter, try to post bi related news, links and resources in addition to any information about events. Give people a reason to revisit and get involved!

    Have you been reminding people enough? I hold my pub social on the second Thursday of the month, every month. I find that if I don’t remind people about it a few weeks before, a few days before and on the day of the event only half the people show up!

    If you feel you’ve got that side of things sorted, ask around and see how people feel about what you’re organising. Do they enjoy it? Would they like something to change? Does it clash with another event? Do you hold it just before payday; the time of the month when people are least likely to be able to afford to come?  Perhaps your venue is too inaccessible or your event too expensive?

    Another thing to consider is that something might have happened that you weren’t aware of, such as a falling out between attendees or an incident of discrimination from an attendee, that has put people off coming back.

    If any unacceptable behaviour has occurred, you will need to speak to the relevant person(s) and explain why it was wrong and that it mustn’t happen again. If it does, you may need to ask them to leave the group. Depending on the incident, telling someone to leave may be your first point of action. Once an incident has been dealt with, you may need to explain to other attendees what action you’ve taken, and invite them to come back to a future event. You might also need to review your group guidelines and  anti- harassment & anti- discrimination policy and make sure it’s visiable on all your sites.

    Whatever the reason, I wish you the best of luck in overcoming it!

  • bisexualblogs 2:25 pm on April 5, 2015 Permalink  

    Bi Inclusive Name Changes 

    Recently I’ve noticed a few charities and organisations have changed their names to include the B and/or T in LGBT. This has been a really positive thing for me as it feels like after years and years of being and feeling excluded by LG named institutions things are finally (slowly!) changing for the better. The LGBTQ Taskforce, and The LGBT Foundation in Machester are some of those that have made the switch in the past year.

    The latter changing its name has been a really great thing for me because for years the charity, formally known as The Lesbian and Gay Foundation, dealt with questions about changing their name in a really hurtful manner. I also once attended an event for Intenational Celebrate Bisexuality Day where one of the charity’s staff members was a speaker. The first thing he did was launch into was a painful, lengthy explanation of why the charity wouldn’t change its name to include bisexuality. It was so unnecessary and so uncalled for. Couldn’t he have given a speech about bisexuality or the issues bis face in Manchester instead?!


    The fact that some big charities have made the change gives me hope that many more will follow. For me it kinda feels like there is no excuse for any LG named organisations now. I can point out those who have already changed along with a list of reasons why they should when I question their uninclusive and erasing name. (Just to clarify, I’m talking about charities that support all LGBT people, but are named something like The Lesbian and Gay Foundation, rather than charities that have a more specific group of services users where the name is an accurate reflection of who they support.)


    However one thing that does worry me is tokenistic name changing. I would much rather have a lesbian and gay named charity that fully includes bi and trans people at all levels than an LGBT named charity that doesn’t. The latter causes so much damage, as they speak and act on our behalf in ways we don’t want and don’t agree with. They come up with new projects and ideas without consulting us or having any training about us. This leads to advice giving and polices that harm us. These are spread further when other charities and organisations (such as health care providers) work and consult with that LG focused charity to improve their own services, thinking they are helping all LGBT people.


    In addition, changing a name (or planning a name change) obviously doesn’t  automatically stop them from doing stupid and hurtful biphobic things either. Organisations and charities need to be fully aware of bi erasure and biphobia, and have a sound understanding of what we want and need in order to be fully supported. Bi people need to be in positions of power and decision making. Bi people need to be staff members, volunteers, and service users. All staff need to have the relevant bi training.


    I know we still have a long way to go but I’m going to celebrate every little good thing along the way, even if it’s just one name change. :)






  • bisexualblogs 7:00 pm on March 29, 2015 Permalink  

    Bisexuality in The Sims 2 

    The Sims franchise is a series of four games where you get to build and create your own neighbourhoods, houses and characters (which are known as sims). The artificial intelligence turns the game experience into a wonderful, interactive, large scale doll house. Instead of four separate games, think of it as one gameplay experience that gets updated every 4-5 years with infinitely better graphics and game play mechanics.

    The Sims series has always been good in its attitude towards all things LGB. (Sadly I can’t include the T here, because so far in the franchise sims can only be male or female. There’s no reason why sims can’t change between the two or be genderqueer, so EA/Maxis should change this. Although you can have hair, make up and clothing however you want for any sim male or female.)

    Right from the start of the series you could direct your sim to romantically interact and fall in love with any other sim regardless of gender. Whilst same-sex couples couldn’t marry in the original Sims game (launched in 2000), they could move in with their loved one and adopt. If they went down this path both partners were listed as parents.

    The second instalment was released nine years ago. In this game you can still make your sims interact, flirt, kiss, date and have sex in exactly the same way regardless of gender. They can now have a “joined union”, which is the same as a marriage in terms of game play mechanics. They can adopt and both be listed as parents just as before too. Also when you call a matchmaking service that first appears in Sims 2, you can choose the gender of your date.

    One day a few years ago I discovered something that made me love the franchise even more. It’s known as the “boolprop testingCheatsenabled true” cheat. When turned on you have a wide range of benefits, such as being able to fulfil all your sim’s physical needs in the click of a button. Another possibility is the option to show a sim’s gender preference. (Ignore the fact that it says debug in the picture below. There’s nothing buggy about it. You just can’t find out the gender unless you use the cheat!)


    One of the pre-made characters in The Sims 2: Mary-Sue.

    When you click on this it makes a little box appear in the corner of the screen. It has a statement from the sim saying “My autonomous gender preference is for females/males/males and females.” This is what makes the game awesome for me, it doesn’t just do the usual gay/straight divide. The fact that this cheat exists is proof that bisexuality is programmed into the game. If you wanted to, you could still make a sim romantically interact/have sex/adopt etc with a sim of any gender (and therefore have a neighbourhood made up entirely of queer families and couples!), but this programming means that if free will is turned on, the sim will romantically interact and develop relationships with sims of their preferred gender if left to their own devices.

    I’ve just done a bit of reading on the gameplay mechanics and they’re quite complicated…but apparently in The Sims 2 nearly all the characters start off with a neutral attraction to either gender (which effectively renders them bi by default). They then go on to develop an attraction to one gender depending on the gender of who they interact with. So for example, if a female sim flirts with a woman, she will become more attracted to women. If she flirts, kisses and has sex with a man later on, she will become less attracted to women and more attracted to men.

    However in the pre-made neighbourhoods that are installed with my game, many of the characters start off as LG and B rather than all B. In addition, some characters that have only interacted with one gender still have a preference for the other. About a third of the kids my sims have grow up to be LG or B regardless of how I play them or who they interact with. So who knows what’s going on!?

    A bisexual sim that is already living in the town when you install the game.

    Mary-Sue is already living in the neighbourhood with her husband and twin daughters when you install the game. My game lists her as bi despite only romantically interacting with her husband. Also in my game both of her daughters are in relationships with men (no reason, I just happened to play it that way), but one is straight and one is bi.

    My criticisms of The Sims 1 and 2 (apart from the erasure of trans people and identities mentioned above) is that there are no pre-existing LGB familes when you install the game. Also whilst some sims have been coded to already be in love with someone when you start playing (such as Darren having feelings for Cassandra, despite the fact that she is engaged to Don), no one has a pre-existing same-sex attraction for a specific individual. I suppose one reason why the game was designed that way it is to prevent it from being banned or given a higher age limit in other countries, but it’s still unequal, still a shame, and still a missed opportunity.

    In The Sims 2 there is a pre-existing sim who starts the game with a positive attraction to both genders, (rather than no attraction to either gender). Disturbingly she is a someone who uses another character for cruel scientific experiements and in the PSP version of the game she’s cheating on her husband. SIGH.
    The person she experiments on is a pre-existing character who starts the game with a negative attraction to females, which would make him gay. In addition, He was also taken away from his mother by social services as a child. This is a bit to close to the “abuse makes you gay/bi” myth/stereotype for comfort.

    I will write about The Sims 3 and 4 in another post, though I will mention briefly that “joined unions” have been scrapped and any sim can now marry a man or a women.

    The Sims has been such a huge part of my life and I’ve now been playing the game for over half of it. It’s very enjoyable for me because it doesn’t force me into a heteronormative or biphobic gaming experience. My characters can be with who I want them to. I also love using the cheat to find out what the sexuality of my sims is as soon as they grow up to be teenagers. It’s exciting to find out who they are!

  • Blogging in Shadows 6:41 pm on March 26, 2015 Permalink  

    Bitterness as Healing

    There’s a stereotype of an angry black person that I used to be embarrassed about.  Nowadays I feel that if I’m angry, then it is for good reason.  My daily life is marked by bigotry in many forms.  I fight against it as much as I’m able, but the constant onslaught makes me feel hopeless sometimes (and yes, this can lead to suicidal and/or self-harm feelings too)  So if I get angry at the world, so be it; I’d rather that, than being angry at myself.  If bitterness is a healing for me – if it helps me face another day then that’s how it will be for now.  Rage can keep my heart beating.  And being alive as a visibly bisexual, black, disabled person is an act of resistance.  I’m not going to wait until the world changes before I let myself live in it.  I’ll be wary of folks until I get to know them.  I’ll roll my eyes at white gay men who say they have an ‘inner black woman’ but then insult people like me.  And when new LGBT initiatives start without a single black or bisexual person involved or targeted, I reserve the right to kiss my teeth, and put my energy elsewhere.  Let me be bitter, if it means it’s the only way to live.

    Like a dog for kicking
    This black soul be thinking.
    An essential way to living
    Is with bitterness as healing

    Expect me to keep on smiling.
    Complain if I stop singing.
    Black kids get a harsh upbringing.
    With bitterness as healing.

    Bruised skin from all your beatings.
    Hard heart, but somehow still believing.
    This is my own way of coping
    With bitterness as healing.

    Feel my anger sure start boiling.
    Hatred all around, I can’t be hiding.
    From Ferguson to Gaza, we all be living
    With bitterness as healing.

    Don’t ask me to keep on grinning
    As I watch black trans folks dying.
    All black lives are mattering
    So I’ll keep on with this  bitterness as healing.

  • Traveller_23 12:58 am on March 24, 2015 Permalink  

    মতামত: ব্যক্তিগত কৃতি 

    শীতের ছুটিতে এবার দেশে ফেরত গেছিলাম, তবে তেমন কোন খবর
    নেই যা নিয়ে লেখা-লেখি করা যায় 

    অনেক দিন পর ব্লগে পোস্ট লিখছি, এবং প্রথমত এর জন্য দুক্ষ প্রকাশ করছি। সত্তি কথা হোল যে আমার জীবনে এ মুহুর্তে লেখার মতন তেমন কোন বিষয় নেই। আমি সাধারণত একটি বিশেষ প্রসঙ্গ নিয়ে বেশ কয়েকটা লেখা ছাপাই ব্লগে, এবং আমার গত কয়েক পোস্ট ছিল মানুষকে আমার উভকামিতার কথা খুলে বলা নিয়ে। আমার এখনো এই ধারাবাহিকতার সব পোস্ট গুলো বাংলায় অনুবাদ করা হয়নি, তবে আমি এখনি অনুভব করছি যেয়ে এ নিয়ে আমার আর তেমন নতুন কিছু বলার নেই। 

    আমি শীতের ছুটিতে বেশ কয়েক সপ্তাহ কাটিয়ে এসেছি দেশে এই কয়েক মাস হবে, এবং যাওয়ার আগে আমি ভেবেছিলাম এবার বোধয় আমি আমার পরিবারের বেশ কিছু সদস্যকে আমার উভকামিতার কথা খুলে বলব। কিন্তু সবার সাথে ওঠা-বসা এবং ছবি তোলার মাঝে আমার নিজের কাছে মনে হয় - ব্যাপারটা কি আসলেই এত দরকারী যে সবাই কে সামনা-সামনি খুলে বলতে হবে? ব্যাপারটা এই না যে নিজের পরিচয় নিয়ে অবাধে বাস করাতে আমি আর বিশ্বাস করি না। বরং এ স্বাধীন ভাবে বাস করার কারণেই আমি নিজেকে এই প্রশ্ন করি। যারা জানতে চায় তারা সহজেই আমার ব্যাপারে সোশ্যাল মিডিয়া অথবা পারস্পরিক বন্ধুদের কাছ থেকে জেনে নিতে পারে। এই কারনে মানুষকে সামনা-সামনি বলা - বিশেষ করে যারা আমার খুব একটা ঘনিষ্ট না - এখন আমার কাছে আর খুব একটা গুরুত্বপূর্ণ ব্যাপার না। আমি কাকে পছন্দ করি বা ডেট করছি - এ প্রসঙ্গ নিয়ে আমি আমার অনেক আত্বীয়-স্বজনেরই সাথে কখনো আলোচনা করি না, এবং  সে মানুষের জেন্ডার তাতে কোন ফ্যাক্টর না। এক কালে আমার মানসিকতা যখন অন্য রখম ছিল আমি হয়তো জোর করে এ সমস্ত প্রসঙ্গ নিয়ে কথা তুলতাম সচেতনতার জন্যে, তবে আজ আমি মনে করি একই সাথে নিজের ব্যক্তিগত জীবন কিছুটা নিজের জন্যে রক্ষা করা উচিত। আমার আত্বীয়-স্বজনেরা আমার উভকামিতার কথা একদিন নিশ্চয় এমনিই জেনে যাবে। 

    তবে এই সবের শর্তেও হয়তো এই বিষয়ে আরও এক-দুইটা লেখা আমি ছাপতে পারি। আমার মা-বাবা এখনও আমার উভকামিতার কথা জানে না, এবং তাদেরকে সত্তি কথা খুলে বলা আমার মতে আমার নিকটতম বড় ধাপ। আমি কবে এ ধাপ পার হব তা জানি না, এবং এ করনে এখন কোন সময়ের ইঙ্গিত দিচ্ছি না। ইতিমধ্যে আমার আরো অনেক কিছু করার আছে। আমি আমার চাকরির উপর ফোকাস করেতে চাই, যা নিয়ে আমি সাধারণত এই ব্লগে লিখি না। আমি আমার বিশ্বাস নিয়ে শান্তিতে আছি। এ শান্তি সহজেই আসে যখন মানুষ বোঝে যে ধর্ম অনেক ভাবে ব্যাখ্যা করা যায়; এবং যারা LGBT পরিচয় কি তাই জানে না বা কোনদিন তারা LGBT মানুষের সাথে মুখোমুখি হয়নি, তাদের কাছ থেকে মঙ্গলকর ব্যাখ্যা আশা করার কোন মানে হয় না। অনেক মানুষ আমাকে বিভিন্ন LGBT অধিকারে বিশ্বাসী ইসলামী পাণ্ডিত্যের সোর্স পরার পরামর্শ দিয়েছে, হয়ত এখন সময় হয়েছে এগুলো সব খুঁজে বের করে নেয়ার।

    আমার ব্যক্তিগত জীবন নিয়ে তেমন কিছু লেখার না থাকলেও যে আমার লেখা থামিয়ে দিতে হবে তা নয়। আমার ব্লগের ড্যাশবোর্ডে বিভন্ন ছিটে-কাটা লেখা পরে আছে - বেশিরবাগ LGBT অধিকার, বাংলাদেশ ও ইসলাম নিয়ে। আমি আশা করছি যেয়ে এগুলো একটু গোছগাছ করার পর সামনের কয়েক মাস ধরে এগুলো চাপবো - তবে বিষয় গুলো বেশি জটিল হলে হয়তো বাংলায় অনুবাদ হবে না!  আর এ ছাড়া আমি অবশ্যই এখনও Twitter-এ একটিভ আছি। 

  • jen 11:34 pm on March 23, 2015 Permalink  

    Coalition, please 

    Doing the bisexual community info outreach stall in Sheffield last weekend, one of the conversations I had with quite a few stall visitors was about the Bisexuality Report. What was it; why it was useful; how it came about.

    Each time I started along the lines of, "think back to 2010 after the Coalition Government was formed? One of the good things was, because it was a formal coalition, they laid out on paper what they were going to do. On LGBT issues there was an LGB&T Action Plan. It was incredibly helpful for people outside Westminster, outside the well-funded London clique groups like Stonewall. Because now we knew broadly what to expect and when, so we knew: this thing should come up next May, we have time to prepare and know what to look for, and what to chase up on if it doesn't seem to be happening." That then led onto talking about how the LGB&T Action Plan lacked a bi strand and evidence base, which gave momentum to the "Bi Life 2" idea and led to my proposal for the Bisexuality Report in 2011.

    Having a coalition government meant a written plan with a timeline both parties had broadly signed up to.  Prior to 2010 there was never that kind of open agenda: to know what was going to happen next you had to be part of the Westminster bubble. You had to already be in the clique in order to influence the clique. Here instead was an open plan for all to follow.

    Of course it hasn't meant that as grassroots community group organising types we magically have gained offices, staff and so on. But within what unfunded projects can do it has been massively better.

    Which parties are involved in the next government will affect what winds up in any new five year agenda for action, but from the perspective of the less cash-heavy end of the third sector, I do hope it's a coalition. That way we all have more chance of engagement with what happens from here to 2020.
  • bisexualblogs 12:07 pm on March 22, 2015 Permalink  

    Rainbow Sheep 

    With a family as large and as complicated as mine, I’ve always known that statistically I cannot be the only one who isn’t heterosexual. However growing up in a rural area in a Christian, farming family is a very effective way to make you feel like you are. Nothing LGBT was ever mentioned. Nothing queer ever spoken. (Though we used to go and watch cows being milked a lot.) So it’s no surprise then that at 27, I’m still only out to a few family members.

    I made a rare trip back home this week for my uncle’s funeral. Once the service had finished, we all shuffled awkwardly into a function room with chairs lined round the walls but no tables. Everyone was slopping tea as we all tried to shuffle seats round so we could sit in small groups and make the kind of awkward small talk you can only make with relatives you only ever see at funerals.

    “Do you have a boyfriend yet?” my grandad’s sister asks.
    “No.” I reply.

    I see a man who looks friendly so wonder over and ask how we’re related. He’s my mum’s cousin. During small talk I notice he uses the word partner instead of girlfriend or wife. A few questions later, I discover he’s living with his male partner in Blackpool! I confess that I too am not straight, and immediately ask him whether he is out, and how other family members took the news if he is.

    He said he told everyone when he was 40, and whilst it was a shock to all, most relatives have been ‘ok’ with it. I guess because these things are never talked about, word never got through to my immediate family. He also said he has a niece and a nephew who are gay. (I had to look this one up to find out what they are in relation to me. My mum’s cousin is my ‘first cousin, once removed’. The niece and nephew are my second cousins.) It turns out the nephew actually lives in Manchester, so I was both saddened and heartened to learn that when I thought I was alone, I was actually living in the same city as an LGBT family member for three years.

    Anyway, what a sad and surreal way to find out you’re not the only rainbow sheep in the family. Though I’m happy to know there are at least four of us!

  • bisexualblogs 6:00 pm on March 20, 2015 Permalink  

    Nottinghamshire Pride 2014 

    Originally published August 2014

    What a wonderful day! It felt like everyone had come out to join us. I arrived at the parade start point at about 10:30am and was joined by more and more BiTopia members until it was time to start marching. Whilst we were waiting we took photos, played with poi, and even got interviewed by Notts TV! (I’m still not sure if we actually made it onto the news though.) The weather was boiling, but sunny and there was a fantastic festival feel in the city centre as the parade snaked slowly round the streets. Some of us held the banner, others handed out stickers and leaflets. Most of us were either wearing or waving bisexual/rainbow flags. During the parade a few people came up to look at our banner and ask who we are. Some people took our picture and some even stayed to march with us!

    After the parade ended about half of us stayed together to go for lunch, then we wondered round the stalls and stages before heading our separate ways.

    As someone who has experienced biphobic abuse at Prides in the past, I’m always a bit nervous about attending but I didn’t have any problems at all this Pride. I was also delighted to discover two of the stalls were selling bisexual related merchandise, as at most Prides I’ve been to there is only gay, lesbian and rainbow merchandise for sale.

    These kind of events are so important for bi visibility and reducing bi erasure, so I’m really happy and proud we managed to get such a large presence at Pride. There were about 20 people for the parade, which is amazing considering we’ve only been running for 7 months.

    As I said before, what a wonderful day!


  • Traveller_23 10:28 pm on March 18, 2015 Permalink  

    Opinion: Personal Milestones 

    I was in Bangladesh over the winter, but it seems I don't have
    much to report back. 

    I haven't written for the blog in quite some time, and so first and foremost my apologies to anyone who's been waiting for an update. In truth, I haven't been writing because I haven't had much to report. As you may know, I write thematically - and my current series of posts focus on coming out to different people in different situations. And I feel I've now reached a point where I've written almost as much as I can on this topic. 

    I spent a sizeable part of my winter break in Bangladesh, and I had originally intended to speak to various members of my extended family about my bisexuality during this time. However, in the midst of all the reunions and family photos sessions, I realised how unimportant the issue had become to me. I don't mean to say I no longer identify with the principle of being open and comfortable with one's sexuality. Rather, as a result of this principle I lead a fairly transparent life now. Those who want to know about me can easily find out through social media or mutual connections. This means telling people, especially people who I am not particularly close to, is a low priority in my life. Any conversations I would have had with certain relatives would have felt forced. I would never discuss my intimate personal or romantic life with some of them, no matter what the gender of my partner - we just aren't that close. Once upon a time I may have contemplated braving through a few awkward conversations to create awareness, but there needs to be a balance between that and what is one's personal space. My extended family will find out in time anyway, as I tell the remaining important people in my life about my bisexuality. 

    On that note, I have the odd story I may still want to tell, but I feel the next (and possibly only) important milestone left to me on this theme are my parents. I don't know when this milestone will pass, and so I will give no indication of dates. In the meantime, I want to focus on other things. I have my career to work on, a subject I do not discuss on this blog except where it becomes relevant in terms of my sexuality. I am at peace with my personal beliefs, which comes easily when one realises religion is always down to interpretation. This holds true no matter what the status quo insists, and however much judgement they pass without genuine awareness of LGBTQ realities. There are many scholars, past and present, who's works people have recommended - perhaps it is time I get around to looking into them. And just because I have fewer personal stories to publish doesn't mean I can't continue to write about issues that are important to me, which will usually converge around LGBTQ equality, Bangladesh and Islam. I have a collection of thoughts, notes and mutilated essays on these very topics sitting on my dashboard. Over the coming months, I will be concentrating on publishing these, once I've managed to organise them in a way that makes sense. Until then, I will be on Twitter as usual. 

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