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A Make-Weight’s View of the Mega Grid.


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#1 Stone in Shoe Bob

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Posted 07 February 2010 - 01:18 PM

Over in Felix’s thread International Register of 'Revolution' Team Fliers he asked if we thought that a register of potential mega-fly participants would be a good Idea. I think there was a clear consensus of opinion well before the end of the second page, there are now nearly 200 posts and there are now a number of sub questions being discussed. One Sunday afternoon a couple of weeks back now, (yes I have been working on this for that long), Stephen asked me to write something for the forum about my experience of the grid as an inexperienced team flyer, to address one of the sub questions running in Felix’s thread.

Before I go on to tell of my experience in The Grid and to share what I have learned from the experience, I think I ought to clarify a few points.

  • Throughout the earlier discussions I had been very conscious of the fact that I may have been shouting well above my weight. I am not a member of any team and my experience flying in the grid limited. I flew on the Sunday at Portsmouth 2008, I was then pulled from the grid the following weekend at Bristol, let's make no bones about it, because I wasn’t up to it on the day. And I have flown in a small grid at my local festival. Beyond that, maybe a couple of times at informal gatherings, such as the recent one at Ainsdale. But WTF in the land of the blind the one eyed man is King.
  • Although I am writing this at Stephen’s request and it was me that suggested that Felix, John & Stephen aka The Three Wise Men (TWM)*, disappear off into cyber space and get this thing sorted, all opinions expressed here are my own, formed from my own experience and are not reached with the benefit of any inside knowledge.
  • Whilst I do not want to pre-empt the deliberations of said TWM, I don’t think you need to be a rocket scientist or Mensa candidate to appreciate that in order to achieve the magic 100 mega-fly the register will have to include more than just members of the established teams. More to the point, if it could be done with just established team members there would be no need for the Register, they already know who the top teams are and how to contact them. It is us potential make-weights that they need to identify, and keep track of.

I have already said that this missive has taken a quite while to research and write and it has now grown way longer than a typical forum post. Fortunately it splits quite conveniently into three more manageable chunks, this one, what I am trying to do and why, the main section, my take on the nuts and bolts of how the grid works and how it feels to be in there, then the final section, will be, what I have learned from the experience and my advice to anyone joining a grid for the first time.

In later instalments I shall be referring to videos hosted elsewhere on the net, when you come across a link I recommend you open it in a new tab, then immediately pause it and return to this thread and carry on reading as I shall be making time specific references.

* - well the whole project was conceived over the Christmas period after all.
Stone in Shoe Bob

It's Good to Share the Joy.

#2 Stone in Shoe Bob

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Posted 07 February 2010 - 01:19 PM

A Make-Weight’s View of the Mega Grid.
I set off for the Portsmouth weekend excited at the show I was expecting to see. I don’t know if it was so obvious to some of the non-Brits but here in the UK there was defiantly a feeling that something big was going to happen and I had volunteered for ground crew so that one day I could say I had been part of it. The original plan was for the established teams to fly the grid and a then if time allowed, something much simpler but more inclusive was pencilled in for the Sunday.

Conditions that weekend were excellent, the teams flew the grid on the Saturday (I believe for the first time in a public arena) and flushed with their success decided to up the anti on Sunday. I was asked to step in to help to bring the numbers up. I didn’t believe I was up to it but Stephen did and told me my country needed me. What could a man do?

We were very lucky that year at Portsmouth, there were three festival arenas, the main display arena, a single-line arena and a dedicated Revolution Arena that served as, base camp, practice arena and marshalling area. The dedicated arena was invaluable. Those who have not seen the grid in action in real life may find it difficult to appreciate the scale of the exercise, fitting a 6x8 grid of fliers into an arena and still having room left for their kites, all on 120ft lines was not going to be easy, I’m sure glad it wasn’t my problem to solve.

Normally, at a festival teams will either, fly their kites into the arena or they will have them setup somewhere around the arena rope and then move to the centre to do their display. Either way time between one team’s display and the next is usually minimal. With a mega grid of this scale, let alone the 100+ that we are aiming for, this is never going to happen. That afternoon we built the grid in the Rev Arena, to be honest I’m not sure if it was the full grid, but certainly a very large chunk of it. Then we wrapped our lines around our handles and set off past the Single-Line Arena to the main Display Arena. Evan as we walked to the main arena passers by were starting to sense something was going on, after all it’s not every day you see near on 50 peeps with kites bigger than they are, plus wives, girlfriends, significant others and kids all walking in the same direction.

When I arrived at the display arena there was a duel line display in progress and some of the earlier arrivals had started to set out their kites along the sides of the arena. There may have been one or two minor adjustments in the main arena but the majority of us had already been assigned grid positions in the practice arena. Because I was so nervous, Stephen had placed me in the bottom row, front of the grid on the ground between two very experienced fliers Jeanette (Too Much Fun) on my right and Simon (Flying Squad) on my left. Simon had been asked to keep an eye on me and to relay instructions if I went wrong or got lost. Although, clearly not all if any of the teams were six strong, as a general rule of thumb, the top teams formed their own columns, so there was a Flying Squad column, a Decorator’s column, an iQuad column and so on.

Getting all those kites set up and into the sky, was a major logistical exercise that probably took longer than the actual display, but that was probably not a bad thing, the compares were doing a great job bigging us up and creating a sense of anticipation and there was quite an audience building up along the arena rope. As I remember it, columns at or near the centre were positioned first then other columns were launched and added to the sides to build the grid in the sky. However I also remember being one of the last to get my kite set up. As I was at the bottom of column six, near the centre of the grid these two memories appear to contradict each other. The apparent contradiction can be cleared up in this video, I wouldn’t recommend it for watching the mega-fly, but for those that haven’t actually seen the grid in action, the first 2-3 mins, though edited, is the best example I can find of the grid being built.

On the field Stephen was running the show and there was a chain of command running out through the established teams. Somewhere behind me JB was ushering people and kites into position and I was a little worried he was going to want me to move, Simon had gone to sort something out with Stephen and I didn’t want to do anything without Stephen or Simon’s say so. At or around the 1:20 mark in the build video you can see the last few kites join the bottom of the grid, (I’m in there) and one kite, I believe that’s Stephen’s slide up between columns 2&3 to take his place at the top of column 3.

At the start of the mega-fly proper, around the 2:40 mark we are better closing that video and opening this one, it is I believe the best video I have seen of the actual mega-fly.

The first thing you will notice is that Stephen moves the rows individually, top row slide left, 2 slide right, 3 slide left and so on. By the time we got to “6 right, Go” two thoughts spring to mind, first, “Oh Shit! I’m in here, doing it, this is way past the point of no return”, there may also have been a short prayer in there as well, and then, “Row 6, Column 6, that’s Evens, Evens.” It may not be obvious unless you have actually flown in a grid but what Stephen did was to make sure that everybody knew what row they were in without having to think about it, a call of “odds left, evens right” would have had many of us counting. At the 0:40 you will notice the vertical threads are done en mass, individual column moves were not necessary as the grid had, more or less, been built by column so we already knew what column we were in.

Beyond that, to be honest, most of the actual mega-fly is pretty much a blur of adrenalin, intense concentration and “OMG, if this does all goes pear shaped and ends up as a big ball of spaghetti, please god don’t’ let it be my fault”. Though there is one thing I remember. I made a mistake and what’s more, I know of at least two others (names withheld to protect the guilty) who totally independently made exactly the same mistake. For me it happened about a third of the way through the display, for a moment, a split second, I took my eye off my kite to take a look at the bigger picture. Trust me on this one, I know it is tempting, but DON’T D IT, wait for the video on You Tube.

What I do remember is the very end of the display, two columns at a time, starting with the two end columns, turned to face out, then radared down to the ground. By the time we got to columns 3&6 arena space was at a premium and we had to land our kites over the lines of those that had already landed and the celebrations were already well underway. As I bent to put my handles over my ground stake, I paused for maybe half a second, I was a little reluctant to stand up again, I was aware I had a smile on my face, nothing wrong with that you may say, the trouble is, this was no ordinary smile this was the sort of smile normally only found on the face of a window licker. I reckon it took at least three days to wipe that smile of my face.
Stone in Shoe Bob

It's Good to Share the Joy.

#3 Stone in Shoe Bob

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Posted 07 February 2010 - 01:22 PM

What I have learned from the experience.

  • It is not difficult, just scary.
    I may have under estimated my ability with a Rev when I walked into the Portsmouth arena but I certainly didn’t when I walked out. I reckon that if I had had a stick with me and had waived it over The Solent we could all have walked across to The Isle of White for a repeat performance. I was now A Team Flyer. :ani_yahoo:

    It took a long while for the penny to drop and for me to regain a grip on reality. The truth of the matter is that there was no great display of Rev flying skill in that mega-fly by me or anyone else for that matter, it was all reasonably basic stuff done at a manageable pace. There’s none of the high speed tight timing moves you will see in some of the top team’s routines. Okay I’m not saying it wasn’t spectacular, but it was spectacular in the same way a Mexican wave is spectacular. Most healthy adults can stand up and sit down, nothing spectacular in that, but get 30 or 40,000 people in a stadium doing it and it starts to become impressive.
  • It is not quite so scary in there, as it looks from the outside.
    Firstly, whilst stood in the grid it is actually less claustrophobic than you would imagine. You have more elbow room, than in non grid team flying where you stand shoulder to shoulder. If you look at the blip.tv video you will see that there is something like a kite’s width between the columns in the sky. Then, if you look at John’s image here, you will notice that all of the columns are flying more or less in the centre of their own window, unlike a conventional, shoulder to shoulder line up where the whole team flies in a common window and those on the end of the line have to fly off centre.

    Secondly, the video is shot from some way behind the grid and though it gives the best spectators eye view it is a different point of view than from inside the grid, if you look at John’s image here, you will see that, someone standing inside the grid is looking square on to the kites and therefore gets a truer view of their relative positions than is apparent from further back where perspective compresses the height of grid. Add to that, the fact that inside the grid you can see your own lines and apart from the Leader’s Benefit, there is not a lot of wrapping going on and I would hope you can see that although you do need to keep your wits about you it is really not quite as scary as it looks.
    Then there are the regular calls of “back to grid”. That call is a sort of emotional tea break and an opportunity for a bit of mental regrouping.
  • In this game, size really doesn’t matter (grid size that is).
    No matter how big the grid is the most you will have to worry about is yours and four other kites, the one above the one below, the one to your left and the one to your right, anything else is somebody else’s problem.

My Advice to Other Potential Make-Weights.
And as they say on all good reality TV shows (if there is such a thing), “In no particular order”

  • Playing with a bit of non grid team is good because it will get you used to listening to and interpreting calls. I don’t want to get all sexist here and go upsetting anybody, but it has to be said, probably around 75%, maybe more, of us potential make-weights are blokes and lets be honest here lads, our brains don’t do multi tasking, so we need to work with those calls until they become second nature.
  • If we can, we need to mix it up, we need to fly with others, not just our mates at our home field, we need to spread the word and share the joy. We need to do it so that so that we can learn how to do it. That is why informal gatherings like the one at Ainsdale, November ’09 and February ’10 in Washington are so important. These are an opportunity for us potential make-weights to try the grid, for new callers to practice that skill and for experienced callers to develop the concept, all in relative privacy away from the public gaze of a festival arena.
  • If it all goes pear shaped at one of these informal gatherings and trust me sooner or later, it will, don’t go loosing any sleep over it, don’t go thinking you are not up to the job, remember this is practice and that is what we are there for. When you step up to do this in a public arena, if TWM have done their bit, you should be flying with skilled pilots who know what they are doing and you will be amazed at just how much this helps you to up your game.
  • Remember, we may all be amateurs, but we need to act like professionals. I have already said it takes a while to build the grid in the arena. If we behave professionally, remember the chain of command, and do as we are asked, setting up becomes part of the show. If we don’t things go wrong, we will look like a bunch of amateurs and Joe and Josephine Public will get bored.
  • Finally – If you do get the invite, think very carefully before you turn it down, it may be scary but, trust me it’s the best kick I’ve ever had with all my clothes on. If you don’t get an invite, don’t hang back and watch from behind the arena rope, if you know something about handling a Rev, and if you’ve read this far I’m guessing you do, a team this big is always going to be grateful for ground crew, the pay is lousy and you get the worst view of the show on the field but there’s always You Tube and you get the opportunity to say “I was there I was part of that”.

Stone in Shoe Bob

It's Good to Share the Joy.

#4 bartman

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Posted 07 February 2010 - 01:54 PM

Excellent! Good read. Good things to know.

Bart

#5 Felix Mottram

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Posted 07 February 2010 - 02:02 PM

Hey Bob,

Excellent posts...

See you next weekend?

Best wishes

Felix

#6 Felix Mottram

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Posted 07 February 2010 - 02:27 PM

Hey Bob,

Excellent posts...

See you next weekend?

Best wishes

Felix


Bob,

On reflection, I simply will not comment further as you have addressed the issues so concisely.

Taking things forward though I have some ideas about individual capabilities which can be dealt with very simply at local events. It is very straightforward to 'up the ante' for individual fliers. The 'team flying' is a red herring! <<<Mega Team Flying>>> is what counts...

#7 Stone in Shoe Bob

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Posted 07 February 2010 - 02:29 PM

@ Bart
Thanks. I had been considering the missive before Stephen suggested it, but I bad knocked it on the head once as I was worried about preempting the deliberations of TWM.

There were a couple of points in there that were originally intended as a response to posts by you and Jinx. I'll leave you two to decide which ones.

@ Felix
Committed now Stephen has my kite bag, CU either Friday night in the bar or Saturday at breakfast. I've just figured out this is virgin territory for me, never been that far north before, do they really eat babies up there?
Stone in Shoe Bob

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#8 Felix Mottram

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Posted 07 February 2010 - 02:40 PM

@ Bart
Thanks. I had been considering the missive before Stephen suggested it, but I bad knocked it on the head once as I was worried about preempting the deliberations of TWM.

There were a couple of points in there that were originally intended as a response to posts by you and Jinx. I'll leave you two to decide which ones.

@ Felix
Committed now Stephen has my kite bag, CU either Friday night in the bar or Saturday at breakfast. I've just figured out this is virgin territory for me, never been that far north before, do they really eat babies up there?


TWM may have been deliberating.

Seems like there may be a consensus developing so we can put aside personal anxieties...

If we can get c30 fliers together for a local fly at Ainsdale and Washington it is surely a small step to scale that up for an international event.

I am wondering who will organise a 'd a r n sauf' event sometime soon?

Felix

Edit 'All being well I will arrive around midnight so the bar will probably be closed by then'

Edited by Felix Mottram, 08 February 2010 - 04:38 AM.


#9 Stephen Hoath

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Posted 07 February 2010 - 02:56 PM

Bob I really enjoyed reading your posts, yes all of it! I had no idea you would take the idea to heart and put in so much work. For which thank you.

For those thinking about flying in a mega team it's well worth the read. As a "team leader" i have found this useful and an important reminder that the best team is as strong as it's individual parts. Each part is as important as the other.

My favourite quote - "Then there are the regular calls of “back to grid”. That call is a sort of emotional tea break and an opportunity for a bit of mental regrouping."

Stephen :blue-grin:

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#10 Stone in Shoe Bob

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Posted 07 February 2010 - 03:06 PM

Thanks Stephen

. . . . .
My favourite quote - "Then there are the regular calls of “back to grid”. That call is a sort of emotional tea break and an opportunity for a bit of mental regrouping."

Stephen :blue-grin:

And if anybody is in any doubt, take a look at the contra-rotating concentric circles. They come back a lot quicker than they go in.
Stone in Shoe Bob

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#11 dazlarsen

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Posted 08 February 2010 - 05:02 AM

Wow,what an interesting read?I would love to be part of a large team fly,but working weekends limits the gatherings/festivals I can attend.The dunstable fly 3 weeks ago was an eye opener for me,as it is the biggest group of flyers I have had the pleasure to fly with 18 I think.I have to admit I was a tad nervous,but with the guidence of Mr.Hoath(thank you)and the rest of the Flying Squad and various other flyers who attended,it seemed easy once you know where to go.I now have more confidence in my own flying ability and look forward to the new kiting season.
All the best

Daz

#12 big bri

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Posted 08 February 2010 - 08:57 AM

Well,what a cracker Jack of a post.Thank You my freind.Brought so many sensations rushing back.A similar experience i also had,but could never have explained it so well.Your talents have no bounds Bob.Thanks for the time and trouble pal.I hope people read it and appreciate the time taken and take on the content/concept.Bravo Bob......

As for the mistake you mentioned Bob.Benefits in a grid.with one Cream cake kite missing was difficult. A move you dont see everyday or practicePosted Image.I applaud your tact also.Your A Gentlman. Our improvisation on the day,Being the only colum with a kite and pilot AWOL.Made up of a scratch group of flyers.Bares testiment to our ,,,,,,,whats the word.Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image ,Yeh,that about covers it


See ya Saturday fellas

BRIAN...

#13 BAZ

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Posted 08 February 2010 - 11:44 AM

What can i say Bob -- TOP READ
I can appreciate the time and thought that went into your posts
I can also appreciate that feeling of anxiety flying in a grid formation or any multiple for that case as i was very nervous the first time i flew with others (Big Bri and the lads at Chester) and that was only four others and myself - let me add that you feel great afterwards
since then there has been ainsdale at the gathering and at dunstable with the flying squad and the others lads - great times
I would say that most people KNOW if they have the basic skills to take part in such an event - i for one didnt have at Portsmouth so i enjoyed the display from the edge of the rope
I think having a seasoned pro take a look at what you can do would be a great help because :-
1- some people think they CANT do it and maybe can
2- some people need a confidence boost,and if a seasoned team flier says you CAN - well lets go for it
3- but also some people will THINK THEY CAN but cant - this i think will be most problematic area
I also think that the rev world as a whole is a great community and the comraderie that lies within will one day make the spectacle of 100 members of the rev family flying in grid formation become a reality - this is true becuase there are the people in this group of fliers who help,encourage and have the vision for such things
once again Bob top man
thanks for the time you put in
lookin forward to the North East shindig
see ya all up there friday

Edited by BAZ, 08 February 2010 - 11:46 AM.

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#14 Yrna

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Posted 08 February 2010 - 11:45 AM

Nice post, Bob. Explains well the whole mix of emotions new people go through, from being terrified to being exhilerated. Good fun, eh?

I've just figured out this is virgin territory for me, never been that far north before, do they really eat babies up there?


What you mean you're going even further north than Ainsdale? You mean there IS more north than Ainsdale?

Have a great time all of you who are going and I hope I'll see you all soon at one of the southern festivals :)

Sanja

#15 Felix Mottram

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Posted 08 February 2010 - 12:04 PM

Wow,what an interesting read?I would love to be part of a large team fly,but working weekends limits the gatherings/festivals I can attend.The dunstable fly 3 weeks ago was an eye opener for me,as it is the biggest group of flyers I have had the pleasure to fly with 18 I think.I have to admit I was a tad nervous,but with the guidence of Mr.Hoath(thank you)and the rest of the Flying Squad and various other flyers who attended,it seemed easy once you know where to go.I now have more confidence in my own flying ability and look forward to the new kiting season.


Hi Daz,

You have referred to the 'win, win' situation where the flier finds that 'it seemed easy once you know where to go' and how that gives a boost to confidence in flying ability. It is a virtuous circle. As has been mentioned elsewhere, there is a fine balance between 'under confidence' and 'over confidence' which needs to be tackled at the outset in order to avoid disappointment to all involved.

Felix

#16 Felix Mottram

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Posted 08 February 2010 - 12:10 PM

<snip>
I also think that the rev world as a whole is a great community and the comraderie that lies within will one day make the spectacle of 100 members of the rev family flying in grid formation become a reality - this is true becuase there are the people in this group of fliers who help,encourage and have the vision for such things
<snip>


Hey Baz,

Thanks for the 100 plug.

I am not holding my breath at the moment but looking forward to next weekends gathering. Anxiously watching the weather forecasts as well.

Felix

#17 Felix Mottram

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Posted 08 February 2010 - 01:25 PM

Thanks Stephen


And if anybody is in any doubt, take a look at the contra-rotating concentric circles. They come back a lot quicker than they go in.


Hi Bob,

I just re-read that other thread to make sure there were no loose ends.

I think that most of the issues are wrapped up.

See you at the weekend!

Felix

#18 big bri

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Posted 09 February 2010 - 01:01 AM

Bob covers it so ,so well.In a way,Like only Bob could Posted Image

One thought i had after the Record Breaking Atempt was.A while after.
How many pilots ther wher taking pictures or watching.That could have been in ther or may wana be in the mix next time.Once the nerves are settled,its not over difficult at all.

I also remember cursing Stephen H.Dave B looking smugly at me.The reason was.As we formed circles.I ended up at 4,Oclock.What i mean is.Burst from centre down to 4,Oclock.Which is easy peasy,Reversing back near gave me a hart attack,but hey.Thats as hard as it gets realy.Dave B had 3,Oclock.Hence the smug look and his nik name.Lucky Dave B.I was lucky enough to have a great confident pilot like Mark Lomas at one side for guidence and support.Dont know who else was next to me.I was mentally challenged beyond my multi tasking comfort zone to notice.

Lets get Felix a perminent BDG and do this 101 kites thing my freinds.Will be Hell of a Buzzzz to be in ther .Shoulder to shoulder with ya mates and Nail The Mother.

One last thing.Over at Ainsdale.I watch Chris from the North East.With NO previous Rev flying experience when he arrived for the day.Just enthusiasm and wana learn attitude.Fly in a Grid of Twenty by late dinner.After a morning of Sink or Swim teaching.Certainly my Star for the Ainsdale weekend.Especially when i think back to when i picked a Rev up for the first time and thought,,,,I think ive made a mistake here.Welldone to Chris,c u on Saturday i hope mate.

BRIAN... edited for some error,but thers more,wouldnt be me would it

Edited by big bri, 09 February 2010 - 01:13 AM.


#19 monkey

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Posted 09 February 2010 - 08:36 AM

I'd have to agree, its really a great read Bob!

And even the seasoned vets are still worried about "omg i hope this all doesn't go to hell and its my fault"

:D
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#20 Stone in Shoe Bob

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Posted 09 February 2010 - 09:53 AM

Thanks Monkey, I did suspect as much, but it does feel good to have you admit it. :)
Stone in Shoe Bob

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