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Dumb Luck or Just Plain Dumb?

I’ll try to keep this brief.  Sort of.

Went camping this past weekend.   Not far – a place only 70 miles east of us.  Counts as the local Renaissance Festival.  We booked a site at a camp ground about 5 miles from the Festival site (VERY close to Lake Ontario) and planned to stay there Friday & Saturday night.

Got there Friday afternoon, got the camper parked & set up.  Settled down with a cocktail, played some Yahtzee, stared at the campfire for a while (magical) and turned in.

Did the Festival the next day.  Really interesting event.  Saw lots of skits, one man acts, couple of girls doing gymnastics kind of stuff, but everyone keeping it true to the period.  Spent the day there, couldn’t quite get to see everything but resolved to return.  Also resolved to get reservations at the State Park a little farther from the festival site, but we need to plan 9 months ahead for that.

Anyhow.  Get back to camp late afternoon early evening.  Having a cocktail, playing yahtzee again.  Realized that rather than pack up in the morning and head home, we could easily be home getting ready to sleep in our own beds in less than two hours.  Figuring I was about to sweat a bit while packing up camp (it was near 90 still at 6:30 – weird for these parts) I popped out my bionic ears (yeah – my hearing aids) and put them in my pocket.

Packed, hitched up the camper, rolled on out of there.  Got home, unpacked what we had to for the evening and settled down on the porch to unwind.  Had the TV on, so I reached into my pocket to get my bionic ears and – they weren’t there.  $3K worth of miniature hardware NOT IN MY POCKET!

I was pretty much shitting bricks by that point.  It was dark out, no point in searching our yard.  Besides I hadn’t really gone into my pocket for truck keys or anything while we were parking the camper.  My fear?  When I pulled the truck keys out of my pocket at the camp or when we stopped for gas, the wire to my bionic ears got caught up in the keys and they inadvertently flew out of my pocket.

So.  I slept poorly, waited till morning, grabbed breakfast.  Did a cursory search of our yard near the camper.  No luck.  Saddled up the truck and started the drive back to the camp ground.  On the way, I stopped at the gas station where I filled up the night before.  A Fast Trac with 4 pump islands.  The specific Island I used was occupied, so I headed inside and asked the cashier if anyone had turned in a set of hearing aids last night or this morning.  She looked excited, like she was glad I asked that question and she scampered back to the office.  But – no luck.  When I headed out of the store my island was open, so I took a good look around.  Guess what?  Found one.  To my right ear (the better ear actually)  Sadly, it looked like it had been run over once or twenty times – hard to say.  The battery was still with it, but it too was a wee bit crushed.  I put the thing in my ear, closed the battery hatch and waited.  Nothing.  No little chime telling me hello.  Looked around some more, didn’t see the other one, so I continued on to the camp – another 15 miles off.

Got to the campground, drove in like I owned the place.  Technically, I didn’t have to check out for another 30 minutes or so, so I kinda did own a piece of it still.  Drove back to the campsite we had, parked no where’s near where I was the night before and started looking.  Some lady in a golf cart came by, asked if I had lost anything.  Figuring she was one of the owners, I played nice and admitted that I think I may have lost a hearing aid here the night before.  She looked suitably concerned  and started looking too.  Then the gal from the next campsite over came and started looking.  So two minutes at the campsite and I have 3 sets of eyes on the ground.  It took another whole minute of looking before I actually found my left bionic ear and it looked to be in perfect shape. Didn’t dare try it out just yet, I was just glad to have it.  I thanked my assistants and headed for home.

Once home (3 hours after I left – 95%  of the time spent driving) I put new batteries in both bionics and tried them out.  The left ear worked fine, the right ear chimed ok and the volume control worked, but I think the connection to the mic was broken.  Internal command functions all chimed like they should, but I don’t get any boost of external sounds.  Kind of sucks, but I’ll test out how good the warranty is.  Even if the warranty won’t cover my being a dumb-ass, at least I’ll have to replace only one device, not both.  Still can’t believe how lucky I got, finding both like that.

I fear for my new neighbors

A little background.  As of this very moment, We have lived in our current residence for 23 years and 1 month.  Exactly.  Prior to this year, of all the houses nearest to us, only 1 has been sold/bought and even that was over 10 years ago.  Last year the owner of the house to my east passed.  Cancer, x2.  She was a tough old bird and stretched her second bout with cancer from an 18 month sentence into well over 5 years.

Her 59 year old son (Scott) inherited the house.  He was trying to decide if he wanted to rent it (NO, NO!!!) or sell it and hold the mortgage.  He had some minor repairs done, repainted the interior and was about to tackle the kitchen.  Even did an estate sale and got rid of a TON of his Mom’s stuff.

Then his girlfriend found him dead at his computer one morning.  Jeanette, being a girlfriend and not mentioned in the deed, was left to her own devices.  She had a house and was not destitute by any stretch.  She smoked Hav-a-Tampa cigars and apparently disliked bra’s.  Not that I noticed.  Much.

Anyhow.  The house now fell to Scott’s 3 cousins, all out of state.  Eventually the kitchen was re-modeled and the house was sold.  Almost.  I was doing some spring clean-up earlier this year and happened to talk to a couple that had just done a walk through of the house with a realtor.  Apparently I did a hell of a sales job on the neighborhood because they put in an offer.  The offer was accepted.  But during the closing process (painful here in NY) one of the 3 cousins passed away and that threw a monkey wrench into the title search.  Took an extra 6 weeks to straighten that out.

About a month ago, that couple FINALLY got to move in.  They have weird schedules, people are coming and going all the time, but it’s not my life and they’re plenty quiet. However this weekend I noticed different people over there.  Some dumpy guy with his pants way south of his butt and always a cigarette lit, and a really skinny gal in a sundress.  And 5 kids under 6 years old.  So that was pretty entertaining, trying to figure that out.

Then last night, I noticed the two older kids dragging dead branches out of the woods and putting them into the dog run attached to the back of the house.  Odd.  Then I noticed the adult male in the dog run spraying something on the wood and half dead leaves.  He was spraying a LOT of what ever it was.  He disappeared into the garage then came out and arranged the wood into what looked like a pile for a campfire – which was confirmed when he tried to LIGHT the wood inside the dog run, in a pile not 4 feet from the house.

Well, what ever he used wasn’t very flammable.  I could see the flames gutter out.  Then he disappered into the garage again and came out with a gas can.  Yes, a gas can.  He poured that all over his sad looking campfire.  At least had the sense to take the gas can back in the garage before he came back out and lit the pile of wood on fire.  The pile of wood that was not 4 feet from the house.

All the kids and the skinny female adult were all standing around watching this “catastrophe in progress”.  I’d had plenty by that point.  I had been watching all this from my back porch (i.e. our summer living room – covered, screened, TV, fridge, 384sq. ft. of summer enjoyment), not 50 feet from the that dog run.  I got my shoes on, walked over and asked him what he was doing.

I pointed out that the town we are in does not allow open fires like that.

He said “well I was gong to put rocks around it”

Me:  “The only rocks around here are around my pond.  You aren’t using those.  And there are no rocks around it now, so – it’s an open fire.”

Idiot: “But it’s on a concrete pad!”

Me: “Open fire.  Needs to be in an approved fire pit, steel pan, screened, lid.  And you’re 3 feet from the house!  Put it out now!”

Idiot:  “But, but in my town . . .”

Me:  Pointing across my back yard- “That’s the local fire house right there, not 200 feet away.  Should I get them?”

Idiot: ” But . . .”

Me: “Put it out, now.  You start THIS house on fire you’re putting my house at risk.  Oh – and where are Paul & Randi?”

Idiot: “They’re on vacation.  Randi is my sister”

Me: “So you’re house sitting?”

I left at that point because I was about to laugh in his face and call him a fucking idiot in front of skinny bitch and the kids.  I did look over there later and noticed that he’d drowned his mistake in plenty of water.

I just can’t believe a supposed adult can’t see the problem with having a freakin’ campfire that close to a house!  Hope I get to talk with Paul and Randi when they get back.  They’ll have questions about the scorch marks on the concrete and how their canopied love seat swing in the back yard got busted.  Yep – I saw that one too.  Randi is going to hate her nephews.

 

Poke this!

Day 4000 something, I think.

Some idjit staring at his idjitPhone screen wandered through my backyard last night, apparently in an attempt to track down his next Pokemon thingamawhatzit.  He was totally oblivious to where he was.  I’m assuming he got to my back yard from the street out front, walked along my lilacs and behind the camper out to the church parking lot behind me.

He wandered aimlessly around the parking lot for a while, started back towards my yard then FINALLY (after about 10 minutes of me staring at his stupid ass) looked up and noticed me staring at his stupid ass.  He waved at me like the village idiot he is and wandered off out the parking lots normal exit off to my west.   The dude was at least in his mid 20’s and not someone I recognized from our neighborhood.  He’s lucky he didn’t walk out in front of me while I was driving, because I might not have been able to stop in time. (Kinda on purpose)

What ever company it was that started this stupid activity ought to be forced to shut it down.  Someone is going to get themselves dead because of this aimless wandering.  Maybe after a few families sue the games inventor because one of their sons or daughters walked out in front of a semi while chasing a pokemon and got flattened, they’ll wise up.

In the mean time, if anyone wanders across my yard again uninvited, they will be forcibly detained until the town cops can get to my house and arrest these fools for trespassing and total lack of common sense.

In non-ranty news – we’re headed up to the Adirondacks for a week of camping.  Going to meet up with one of our boys and his wife & daughter.  My mission?  Spoil my grand daughter.  Period.  She’s a hoot.  Not quite 2, going on 13.  She will definitely keep the 4 adults entertained.

Oh – and it rained today, for like the first time in a month.  Now I’ll have to mow the yard next week dammit!

&^$%@ Aging!

Day 4293  (since I gave up the evil weed tobacco)

So I had this thing going on with my foot.  Sort of a feeling of pressure or swelling, right under the ball of my right foot.  Used to only get it after a couple miles of running and it would go away after a while.  I had always figured it was related to an old softball injury I had that was a fall out of having plantar fasciitis, or something along those lines.

One time, while rounding 2nd base with as much speed as I could muster (I was a locomotive!), I felt my right foot sort of explode.  At the time, it hurt pretty intensely.  Ended up pulling myself from the game then & there because my foot was swelling up immediately and I really couldn’t put any weight on it.

Went home, did some ice & elevation treatment, got the swelling to reduce.  Next day it wasn’t nearly as bad, so I just kept motoring.  Figured I’d ruptured what ever tendon/ligament that was causing the foot pain I was associating with the fasciitis (wasn’t plantars, but it was something on the bottom of my foot). Two weeks after the explosion, I was back on the field like nothing had ever happened.

Fast forward to this year.  That pressure on the bottom of my foot was becoming constant, worse when barefoot on hard floors.  Pressure, numbness, tingly toes – all that got my GP’s attention and he gave me a referral to a podiatrist.

Saw the podiatrist yesterday.  He took pictures (X-rays) of my foot – 3 different views.  I looked at the screen shots – I saw bones, couldn’t make out much else.

The doctor came back into my treatment room and jokingly asked me how hard I’d been treating my feet.  I honestly told him that I beat them up pretty good.  I’ll play almost any sport, had my fair share of sprained ankles, nails into my feet, stubbed toes, dropped stuff on them – it’s a tough life being one of my feet.

Bottom line?  Doc says I have little pockets of arthritis all over my foot.   Then to top it off, I have this weird condition with my 3rd metatarsal bone.  It’s longer than it should be and that, combined with the stiffness from the arthritis is keeping my foot from flexing properly and the end pad of that metatarsal is where I’m getting that pressure feeling.

Had no idea at all.   Apparently what ever dangly bits were left from that self-inflicted tendon rupture have been re-absorbed – I always was big into recycling!  So now we’re trying a quick hand made orthotic to see if shifting the contact pressure at the ball of my foot helps.  After 24 hours I gotta say it actually feels a little worse.  I have a follow up in 4 weeks, but if this extra padding feels this poorly after a week I may drop it.

But arthritis?  Seriously?

 

We be trippin’

Day 4258 (since I quit smoking 8/22/04)

Yeah, the weather was this beautiful.

Yeah, the weather was this beautiful.

What a trip. We live maybe 2 miles from the local airport. Getting there is never a problem. Checked in, got our boarding passes, checked our bags, did the security dealie and made it to our gate probably 15 minutes before boarding.

Got on our plane, it was one of the smaller regional jets. All 44 seats were booked. Pilot came on the PA, said something about a weight restriction and asked if we could get two people to de-board for a $400 bribe. One guy took them up on the offer Got $400 and a ticket to his final destination that actually had him getting there sooner than he would have had he stayed on. Sweet deal for him. Because only one person got off, it looked like the ground crew off loaded some fuel. Then we pushed away from the gate and sat there. And sat there, then we sat there some more. Total of 30 minutes. Rather scary as we had only a 50 minute layover and had no idea of what our gate arrangement was at O’Hare. Best guess for the delay? Waiting for an open gate at our destination (O’Hare) so we could fly straight in and not circle Illinois for a half hour because we were now operating on limited fuel. Oh joy!
Made Chicago. Came in at Gate B24. Had to get to Gate B2 (of course). And? Our next flight was actually scheduled to be boarding as we were pulling up to the gate. The people nearest us on the plane were all very cool and let us get out ahead of them. Get to the concourse, get oriented and head off. It was about 863 miles from B24 to B2 and that terminal had none of those handy slidewalks. At a hair over 6 feet, I can move out when needed, but at a whopping 5’1”, the spousal unit hates it when I put it in gear. So we walked at her best speed which is a leisurely stroll for me. Didn’t dare even hit a restroom on the way because of the already boarding issue I mentioned.
Got to gate B2 in outer Mongolia just as the tail end of our boarding group was headed up the jetway. Non stop flying!! The rest of the trip to New Orleans? Boring and uneventful. The best kind of travel.

Wednesday evening we hit all our usual haunts – Pat O’Brien’s, The Bayou Club, strolled down to the far end of Bourbon St to get dinner. Such a relief to have made it in one piece.
Thursday morning we caught the 2nd Line parade that marked the start of the French Quarter Festival. Here’s a few requisite pics of the parade happenings:

This guy nearly speared the spousal unit with his trombone slide.  Ironically, the same way we met back in high school.

This guy nearly speared the spousal unit with his trombone slide. Ironically, the same way we met back in high school.

A fine front line of trombones - my personal favorite.

A fine front line of trombones – my personal favorite.

After the parade, we scooted down the side streets (helps to be familiar with the Quarter) and hit Jackson Square where the Preservation Hall Band was going to get the music part of the festival going. If you’ve never seen these guys and they come to your city – go see them. They play all the old jazz/Dixieland standards and the sousaphone player alone is worth the price of admission.

Most of the bands/music we wanted to hear were scheduled for 3 of the larger stages – 2 right on the river and the 3rd at the split of Decatur & North Peter St, right in front of the statues of Bienville and Iberville (Early settlers/founders of New Orleans) One stage was right next to where the riverboat Natchez docks. Here you can see the Natchez through the stage behind a band named “Bag of Donuts”. (Odd name, odder band, but if you were to have a party with 500 – 600 of your best friends and needed a band to play that evening, you’d want these guys. They play EVERYTHING and do it well.)

Bag of Donuts.  Would make a great party band.

Bag of Donuts. Would make a great party band.

Here’s another shot, same stage, different day. The Natchez is returning from it’s lunch cruise and is offering a nice backdrop for Kim Carson. If you like the older Loretta Lynn style country music, she’s right up your alley. Doesn’t do a thing for me (in spite of her cuteness), but the spousal unit likes that stuff, so I took a bullet on that one.

Kim Carson with a Natchez backdrop

Kim Carson with a Natchez backdrop

That was pretty much the routine for Thursday and Friday. Hop from one stage to the next, check out some stuff we never heard, catch other stuff we knew we liked. Never, ever caught a bad act. Probably saw a dozen groups the first two days. On the weekend there were 27 stages going all through the Quarter and a total of 255 groups performing. The spousal unit counted. Usually I’m the weird one doing that, but there was time to kill during a band changeover I guess. . . .

Oh! Can’t forget this. Every time we are in New Orleans, Doreen H. sets up her little band on Royal St. right in front of Rouses Market. This year was no different. Awesome clarinet player, she’s actually a professor of music at one of the universities in New Orleans. She just plays on the street to help sell her albums and make a bit of grocery money. Yeah – we have a couple of her albums.

So anyhow. Doreen’s making her clarinet sing and a couple of unicorns come strolling down Royal, cutting between Doreen and the small crowd we’re in on the sidewalk across the street. To say I was shocked at the couple would be an understatement. I was shocked enough that I didn’t get my phone out in time to record this couple walking down the street. But, remember I said I could move out when I needed to? This was one of those times. I got lucky, the unicorns stopped for a photo op and I got a shot of this as they were getting going again.

Coulda been bowling Thursday, but I would have missed this!

Coulda been bowling Thursday, but I would have missed this!

Yeah. She’s wearing a unicorn horn, weird fuzzy boots, a diaper, pasties and a whole lotta blue body paint. I also noticed as I walked up behind them that the diaper was barely hanging on, and they did a VERY thorough job with the body paint. 1pm, walking down Royal St. Whoda thunk it?
Of course later that day I missed a completely naked girl walking down Bourbon St during the early evening. Oh well. Naked women I’ve seen, but blue unicorns? That’s different.

Saturday morning, everything changed. 7am CDT my phone rings. One of my brothers is calling. Never good. I answer the phone, asking what’s up? My brother, never one to mince words just blurts out, “Mom’s in the ICU in Columbus”
Mom is 77 and just started a trip with her sisters. They were headed for Tennessee to see one of my other brothers and were stopping in a bunch of spots along the way to see cousins, various points of interest, etc. Didn’t have a lot of details at that point, but since I am Mom’s POA and Health Care Proxy, I had shit to do.

I talked to my aunt who was in Columbus with mom. Friday morning she had a scratchy throat, hurt to swallow. They found an urgent care clinic, the people there did an exam – throat swab, peeking down the throat, etc. Rapid strep test comes up negative, diagnosis is post nasal drip and mom leaves urgent care with a prescription for Nasacort or some such juice. They tour the Columbus Zoo. A bust – it’s cold enough all the animals stay inside. Late that night, mom woke her sisters, said she couldn’t even swallow water and was having a lot of trouble breathing.
Soooooo, they get her to the ER at Mount Carmel West in Columbus. ER doc takes a look and pretty much knocks mom out and gets her intubated. This is like 3am Columbus time. They get an airway established, start pumping oxygen. Based on what he saw while trying to get the tube in place, the ER doc figures mom has epiglottitis – inflammation of the epiglottis – that little flappy thing that steers air to the lungs and food to the belly.
That got them to the point where they started calling. Mom being a Jehovah (that’s a whole ‘nother set of entries – some already made, check for categories on religion) so her DNR is rather specific – and in my fire safe.
Our trip was done through Travelocity. Easy, painless, hides bunches of details that until then, I didn’t give a shit about. Air travel was through United. Called them about re-arranging our return tickets. Saturday morning I’m on the phone with them (after the worlds’ worst biscuits and gravy breakfast) trying to change my Monday return flight to something Saturday afternoon. Cindy (the spousal unit) would fly home, I’d go to Columbus. After being on hold with the brains of United’s customer care center in Calcutta three times., the best they could do was to get the two of us home to Rochester late Sunday to the tune of $1800 dollars above and beyond what we’d already paid. Honestly, the trip didn’t cost much more than that to begin with.
Luckily, I explored a bit while choking down that nasty biscuits & gravy. Checked stuff out on my phone and knew what I would pay at Southwest to do exactly what I wanted. Ended up at the hotel courtesy computers making reservations with Southwest to get Cindy home and me in Columbus by 11pm that night for $1000 less than United wanted. Made the reservations, asked the front desk to get us a cab (foregoing the return trip we already had set up for Monday) and went upstairs and packed. We had 2 hours to make the first flight.
Long story slightly shorter (I do NOT want to know how fast the cab driver was driving to the airport, but he got a really nice tip for his efforts) (I think he was driving almost as fast as I do – I just prefer to be holding the wheel when I’m going that fast) lets just say Cindy got home and I made it to Columbus. My brother D was there to pick me up. They got me the last room available at the hotel where they were staying (damn their good taste!) and we crashed for the night.
Got to the hospital Sunday morning. Mom was awake, somewhat alert, and already shaking her finger at us like we weren’t supposed to be there. Too bad. My aunts said she looked much better than she did Saturday morning. Made me wonder just how bad that was. By the end of the day she was able to communicate by writing. At one point they actually cut off the fentanyl because she had trouble with her veins blowing. Apparently Fentanyl can cause trouble with that. Turned out to be a blessing in disguise, because with the fentanyl clearing out her mind cleared up too. Through the day her communication got better and better. Getting off the fentanyl also turned out to be a blessing in regards to extubation – but more on that later.
Got to talk to doctors, found out what the plan of action was, what was done Saturday morning, and cleared up mom’s rather specific DNR needs with regards to the Jehovahs Witness crap and her own desires to avoid that ugly permanent vegetative state.
Monday was the big day. There were tests to do to determine whether or not the breathing tube could be removed. Mom passed every one with flying colors. Getting off the fentanyl early helped with all of that. Apparently mom tolerated the tube – oh, I don’t even want to go there. But it got her off the fentanyl. By Monday afternoon the tube was out and mom could talk. Sort of. She sounded like Donald Duck. Apparently the end of the air tube actually projects through the vocal cords (how long IS that thing? And do you understand my reluctance to go there?)

Tuesday mom busted out of ICU and got a room in the general population. We were also trying to do a changing of the guard. We tried for 3 days to get our aunts to go home, but they refused to budge. Tuesday morning, I put on the last of my clean clothes and I was out of my daily prescriptions (I packed 1 day extra in case we could take a bump on the way home – never planned for this!) Our youngest brother (K) was headed to Columbus from home. We had asked him to hold off – we knew there was no immediate danger of mom jumping ship and there wasn’t much he was going to add. But by Monday night D and I knew we couldn’t stay longer. Mom was safe-ish and we all had to get back to our real lives. So K arrived Tuesday early afternoon. We had lunch at a place called Katalina’s. Ex gas station, funky little place, but they had THE BEST tacos. Really good lunch and it was near the place where we got mom a wheelie walker with a seat. Win win. Good food & ran an errand.
D, his wife and I finally got home Tuesday night. Mom was discharged late Wednesday. The gang stayed that night in Columbus. They hit the road late Thursday morning and arrived home Thursday just before dinner.
In the end, mom is ok and can now really start to rehab. Her throat malady is cleared up and the teeny bit of aspiration pneumonia she acquired is all but gone. She’s seen her doctor here in town and he’s all up to date on her little excursion and is following up. The scariest part of this whole mess is that had mom been at home, alone Friday night when things started to go sideways she probably wouldn’t have survived. As it was, the ER doctor said she may have been within 30 minutes of not making it as it was.
Mom has asked how many days of vacation we lost. That I told her. It was only 2 days. She hasn’t asked what we paid to make our changes. Wouldn’t matter, I won’t tell her anyhow. Bottom line was she was sick, needed us and we were able to do what was necessary.
The side bonus was that for what may be the first time since Dad died (1993) we 4 brothers were all in the same room at the same time. (I didn’t mention J – the resident Jehovah’s witness and only brother who lives outside our home county. He just chose Tennessee instead of upstate NY) I have to get hold of his wife (also a Cindy) and get a copy of the pictures she took. Haven’t seen them on Facebook yet, but I know she has them.
Best part of it all? Our trip to the French Quarter Festival got so fucked up, we’re going to do it again. Just don’t tell my mom.

Little sign in the hotel bar.  Yes - those are mine.

Little sign in the hotel bar. Yes – those are mine.

It’s coming

There is really a new post in the works about our recent trip to New Orleans. It’s a bit of a bruiser size wise and it’s just taking a bit of time to get through. Here’s a little teaser:

Mandatory NOLA photo

Mandatory NOLA photo

Actually, I lied. We were farther into the square than I thought. Col. Jackson’s statue is actually right behind me. We’re closer to the center of the square.

Countdown

Well. Got more snow than was originally called for. Thought they were calling for an inch of snow Sunday night into Monday. Ended up getting a couple inches Saturday night and another 4 or so Sunday evening into Monday morning. Driveway was warm enough that half of it melted and we don’t fret a couple of inches of snow in the driveway. Maybe now I can put the snow blower away for the season.

24 hours from now (1:53PM EDT 4/5/16) I fully expect to be in one of Boeing’s finest jets headed south out of Chicago, kinda sorta following the Mississippi River down to one of the most fun cities in the country. Going to need a cocktail or two tonight just to get me to sleep.

Everything there is to know about the festival is here: French Quarter Festival I do believe I heard that last year there were 750,000 visitors over the 4 days of the festival. So come on down – there’s plenty of room! I’ll be at the Zydeco stage.

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