Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Birthday to My Uncle, John Fabian Imparl

Another year has gone by. Today is the birthday of my father's beloved older brother, John. Dad speaks highly and often of you, John. May you be at peace and rest wherever you are now.

While our paths did not cross here on earth, I'm eagerly awaiting the day they will intersect. Since your birthday always coincided with Christmas, here's yet another separate commemoration of your day, too. Dad tells me your parents--my grandparents--always went the extra mile to ensure your birthday was celebrated properly and didn't get swept away by the festivities of Christmas, huge and important as they are.

May you always rest in peace and receive at least as many blessings as you gave to others during your short stay on this planet. Dad and I and the rest of the family will see you soon. May God bless you and us.

Your nephew,

Steven Damian Imparl

PS You passed away while serving in the United States Army and attending the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center (DLI-FLC) at the Presidio of Monterey, California. You might like to know that I, your nephew, am pretty good at languages, too. Peace to you.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Is It Friday Yet?

Yes, it is. Monday seemed like it endured for about three weeks. Yesterday, I kept arguing with myself all day about whether it was Wednesday or Thursday. Today, finally, is Friday.

It has been a busy week, as I continue to work hard to grow my law practice. I remain optimistic about economic recovery.

Training this week has been roadwork (or "coldwork," given the outdoor temperatures around here lately), shadowboxing, and mental training. I am starting a new sports mind-training program based on neuro-linguistic programming (NLP). I'll post about that soon. I'll also post about various content I find online. There are a lot of collections of photos, videos, and free (public domain) e-books available, not to mention Web sites and blogs galore.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Good Sunday Morning Workout

Sunday's training provided a good workout and a good start to my year (yes, happy birthday [November 28] to me). I've decided to renew my commitment to health and fitness and a good workout on the morning of my birthday seemed like a good way to do it.

I don't know where the rest of the guys were, but Glen gave Howard (a fellow lawyer) and me plenty of intensity. While I prefer to have a larger group of guys (more camaraderie, more chances to train with different styles, and a faster pace on rotations), it's nice to get the more intensified treatment when just one other boxer attends the workout. Here's the recap:
  • about 30 minutes of roadwork
  • one round shadowboxing
  • one round on the punch mitts with Glen
  • two rounds on the punch mitts, working on combinations to the body and head
  • lots of rounds of drills, several of which reminded me that Howard is a southpaw
  • two rounds of sparring with Howard
  • three rounds of heavy bag drills
  • five rounds of abs
  • three rounds of 30s as the finishing touch
 I felt good and finished strong. I always strive for a solid finish. Physically, it's always good to build up more endurance so I can control the pace and keep the pressure on my opponent. Mentally, the strong finishes during training reassure me that I have a little left in the reserve tank when I need it most. That increases my overall confidence.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Escape from Starbucks

It's a dark, Saturday afternoon at a Starbucks in Chicago. I'm sitting in a comfortable chair near the door, and the place is buzzing with activity: the occasional blast of chilly air as someone enters or exits the door; the whirs and whines of blenders and other electric-powered devices preparing our coffee drinks with their 16-syllable names, and the incessant chatter that some individuals nearly yell into their cell phones. Above me, a recording of piano music from a Peanuts TV special plays a cheery little tune. That music bears the strong imprint of Vince Guaraldi's style.


In a different time and place, that music might carry me away to some boyhood memory of being fascinated by the adventures of Charlie Brown, Lucy, Snoopy, and the awful, squawking voice who was supposed to be the teacher in a school classroom. Today, however, my reverie is broken by these damned people who are arguing with someone at the other end of their mobile phones. Damn, why do they always have to yell and argue into those phones about the most inane crap? Don't they realize I don't give a rat's ass about what Keesha, Jack, or some third party did or is doing, and how awful it supposedly is?!?


Alas, there's no cause for worry because my silent, mini-rant itself is being interrupted by a man seated--like I am--in a single chair, his being just a few feet from mine. My beef with this guy? He's listening to something via headphones, reading a book, eating, and talking to himself--all at the same time. I sigh deeply as that audible self-talk triggers frightening memories in me. I have an uncle who suffers from paranoid schizophrenia; he used to talk to himself a lot, too. It's an unpleasant sight. When I stop and practice mindfulness, I can see my thoughts in mid-flight. The memory really is a lot worse than what is happening in the present moment.


I’m thinking of leaving. After all, laundry waits for me at home. I’ve let it pile up so long that I even have to wash workout clothes, if I want to get to fight club tomorrow morning. I hate to leave, because I want to learn how to deal with aversion without running away from it. At the same time, I’ve learned a little from this experience, even if I’m not working with aversion in the best way.


I try to keep an open mind about and be kind to people who suffer from mental illness; I am working to make things better for them. The man next to me just returned with a sandwich, and he’s complaining to himself: “My meat went dark…” Agh!


Dang, now on the recorded radio stream, that wretched “Me and Mrs. Jones” song has started playing. Bleh. Since I was a boy, I’ve hated that obnoxious little ditty that seems to glorify adultery and extra-marital affairs. That’s it; I can’t take anymore. I’m leaving.
  
A few minutes later, I arrive home to my toasty-warm apartment. Are there any football games on tonight?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Always Improving

Kierkegaard in a coffee-house, an oil sketch b...Image via WikipediaDuring the last few days, I've been doing about an hour of roadwork each day, in the blustery weather. It hasn't been anything fancy: just long, slow, distance, a few sprints to spice things up, running sideways for short distances, and running backwards when there are no people, cars, or dogs nearby.

Why do I do it? I want to improve. I know I am building and maintaining a foundation for endurance, but I want my training to be comprehensive; I want to be a complete boxer. I've gotten wiser in my training. In earlier days, I'd be at the gym 5 or 6 days in a row, in the middle of sweat-drenched August, doing intensive workouts and sparring on at least 4 of those days. While I could often see my speed improving, notice my punches having greater power, and my defense protecting me more effortlessly from my opponent's blows, I frequently sensed that I was putting out a lot more than I was taking in.

I could call it over-training, and perhaps on some level it was, but that explanation was too facile for my taste. Others over-trained. I engaged in some more exotic behavior that defied labeling. No, "over-training" could not explain what I was doing. I was somehow immersing myself in an angst worthy of Kierkegaard, using that angst as a platform for my practice and development as man, as free agent in the universe, and as boxer.

For now, I continue to work on improvement each day. There's some Zen dying to leap out of the shadows and illuminate the nature of improvement itself, but it will have to wait.
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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Autumnal Renewal

It's the middle of October, and a time of renewal for me. I'm working on a number of projects, including marketing efforts, and staying focused on my work. Indeed, I'm renewing my commitment to making my law firm and my writing career successful. I have no lack of dedication, but the situation is frustrating because it is taking very long to generate new opportunities and cultivate them to the point where they develop some sweet fruit that can nourish me, both metaphorically and literally.

I'm not complaining; indeed, I consider myself blessed. I am taking a dream I developed over 16 years ago and I'm making it reality. That dream is to be self-employed, running my own law firm and earning a significant portion of my income from my writing. The flexibility and range of opportunities are unmatched and suit my personality very well.

I am a little disappointed that I am behind schedule on several things, including:
  • my marketing efforts (with the law firm marketing consultants I have hired);
  • completion of my minimum continuing legal education (MCLE) requirements, which are now overdue;
  • pursuit of several additional writing and blogging opportunities that seem like they'd be great for me;
  • completion of my currently quarterly update to my book, Internet Law, and writing the update that must immediately follow it; and
  • of course, my boxing training.

I know things will soon get back to a more manageable routine and something that seems like order emerging from the chaos. It won't take long to get there, and I'm determined to enjoy the experiences I have along the way.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Resuming Blogging: What I've Been Up To

It has been a good summer overall, but busy in ways I don't particularly like. Instead of being busy doing work for clients and writing, I've been hustling to generate new business and, with the great recession happening, it has been fairly slow going.

Nevertheless, my indomitable optimism and confidence is keeping me going. It really is a matter of attitude. I've tried to ignore or deny that--whining to my coaches (or myself) between some of the tougher rounds--that I was tired, that the other guy was stronger, that my whole fight plan was dissolving before my very eyes. One of my former coaches told me that I win or lose the bout, in my head, before I even step into the ring.  I didn't like it much, because in one sentence, he pretty much erased all my excuses for losing.

Glen's giving me a lot of good help; he'll make a boxer out of me one of these days. I had a great one-on-one session with him the week before last and a good practice with him and the guys on Sunday morning. I know I keep saying this, but I need to give more time to developing the mental game. I had some really good sparring on Sunday with Howard and Greg, and some great drills with the two of them and with Dwayne and Jim. I need to take all of that, synthesize it, and develop some more specific rehearsal and visualization exercises.

Despite what might seem like some minor complaints, overall, I am pleased with my recent progress. My footwork is getting smoother and I'm definitely more balanced and at ease when moving. Probably my biggest challenge is to stay relaxed in the ring. It's amazing, but when I feel my arms, shoulders, or legs tensing up, I can tell myself simply, "Relax," and I'm able to let the tension flow right out of me. The big, remaining challenge is to maintain the self-awareness that tells me I'm tensing up and reminds me to relax. I can get there. I will get there.

Finally, a nice move Glen has me practicing is throwing a hard right hand to the chin of an opponent who is rushing me. As with any technique, it takes lots of repetition to master. I'll write more about it in a few days, but it helps me to focus on this move. I know I am making progress.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Six-figure Solopreneurs

As a self-employed small businessman, I'm keenly interested in developments in entrepreneurship.  In this two-part feature from Inc. magazine, Marla Tabaka, a life and business coach, talks about how solo entrepreneurs can earn six-figure incomes.

http://www.inc.com/marla-tabaka/six-figure-solopreneurs-the-common-link.html

http://www.inc.com/marla-tabaka/six-figure-solopreneurs-the-common-link-pt-2.html

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

New Visual Theme for Blog

I've been trying out Blogger's new "Template Designer." I like it. It seems easy to use and offers a variety of starting templates that one can customize. I'll be trying some new themes over the next few days to see how they look.

A Brief, and Far Too Tardy, Update

I'm a guy who often says that blogs should be updated frequently and regularly, if they are to be effective. During the last month--really, the last few months if I want to be candid about it--I haven't updated this blog frequently or regularly, so I have been violating my own rules.

It's the summer, usually the most productive and enthusiastic time of the year for me. My plan is to do more blogging during these summer months.

Training is going along reasonably well, though not optimally. I don't want to turn this blog entry into a complaint-fest, so I'll wrap it up by remembering the words concerning improvement that my grandfather, John Sebastian Imparl, often told me when I was a little boy. There is indeed much room for improvement, and I intend to use every cubic nanometer of it!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sunday Morning Blackhawk Talk

This morning, I was trading text messages with one of my closest friends. He has recently returned from two weeks in Europe and, since he and I talk fairly frequently, we have some catching up to do. Part of our ongoing conversation over the past two days has been the Stanley Cup Playoffs between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Philadelphia Flyers.

In a text to my friend this morning, I wrote:
"Yeah, nice goal by [Blackhawks forward Tomas] Kopecky to wrap it up [broke a 5-5 tie in the third period]. (I once had an opposing counsel with that name.) Flyers will likely play more intense defense in game 2."
The lawyer I mentioned is attorney James L. Kopecky. I don't know him well, but many years ago, he and I represented opposing parties in some construction litigation. It was as competitive as any litigation I've done in my career, if not more so, but I'm still happy to remember Mr. Kopecky's thoroughness, professionalism, politeness, and civility. I believe Jim is in solo practice now. I'll plan to contact him this week to reintroduce myself.

For all of you AHL fans, of which I am surely one, the final round of the Calder Cup playoffs gets underway this week, starting Thursday. The finalists are the Hershey Bears and the Texas Stars. It, too, looks to be a good series. You can get more details here.

So many sports, so little time!

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Calling All Albertans... Event on Saturday, May 8, 2010

I'm posting this announcement much later than I had hoped, but here it is anyway.

My friend Steve Boissoin, who lives in Calgary, Alberta, sent me an announcement about the "Rumble in Red Deer," a boxing event that will happen on Saturday, May 8, 2010, in Red Deer, AB. From the announcement:


Alberta's Best Amateur Boxers & White Collar Boxing: Your next door neighbour, your teacher, your coworker battling it out in the ring for 3 rounds after only 12 weeks of training.

The Red Deer Boxing Club and Piper Creek Optimist Club present the Rumble in Red Deer 2010 - Fight for the Cure.  Featuring Red Deer Boxers, from lightweight to hard hitting heavyweights, who will be defending our turf against opponents from all over Alberta.  Plus White Collar Boxers who have stepped out of the office and into the ring after only 12 weeks of training.  Last years’ event was sold out so get your tickets early, or call 403-304-5400.  Proceeds support the Red Deer Boxing Club Programs, and Young Adult Cancer Canada.

General Admission Doors open at 7:00pm - Boxing starts at 7:30pm

This is another "Fight for the Cure" Boxing Event. All proceeds go towards supporting the programs at the Red Deer Boxing Club and youth affected by cancer. We chose this cause because no one is left untouched by this terrible disease, even our own at the club.
All the additional details you need are available at the following site:

http://www.rumbleinreddeer.com


Best wishes to Steve and the Red Deer Boxing Club for an amazingly successful event. They're promoting a great cause that will benefit the lives of many people. Good work!

And, Steve, I was serious about my offer to box in the event next year, if you can use another "white collar" guy in the ring, so please place me on the list of people who will get advance announcements. Heck, I might even have a Canadian lined up who would be a suitable opponent (an engineer who is finishing up his Ph.D. in optics at Carlton University in Ottawa.)

Keep up the fine work, and my apologies for the delay in posting this.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Sunday and Monday Roadwork; Mental Game

protection_passive1.Image via Wikipedia
Did 35 minutes yesterday and today.  It went well.  I didn't get to yesterday's fight club session, and I'm bummed about it because those are fun.  I'll see if I can schedule a one-on-one session with Glen this week.

I'm making some progress on the mental game.  So far, I am mainly using visualization of footwork, proper balance, and practicing punches and defense.  It's good to do mental rehearsal of the basic boxing techniques.

Since the proper movements and their sequence can be fairly complex, practicing it all in my mind first is very helpful.  That practice also seems to make defense and counter-punching flow a lot more naturally.  Additionally, I find the mental rehearsal/visualization to be useful for planning strategy and alternatives to it, just in case my opponent doesn't go along with the brilliant bout-winning strategy I intend to use!
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Friday, April 16, 2010

Working on the Mental Game

Recently I have been doing more work on the mental aspect of my sport.  No matter how much time I spend on it, I don't seem to spend enough time cultivating a proper state of mind.  I am working to change that.

I see participation in sport as a complete endeavor: whether we win or lose, we enjoy the most rewarding experiences when we play the game consciously with all of the aspects of our being--physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.  For that reason, I want my engagement to be more complete, more integrated.

Soon, I'll write more about the specifics.  At this point, I want to ask you, my readers, how you do mental training?  I'd especially like to hear from the other boxers, but I'm confident I can learn much from any athletes who want to share their routines and experiences with the mental component of sports.  Please post your thoughts as comments.  Thanks.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Simple Training Update

I've just been doing some roadwork over the last week or so.  Boxing-specific training hasn't happened a lot.  I know that's a temporary situation.  If things go well, I'll be able to get back to the gym tomorrow.  Work has been nuts lately; I've been working hard to get new clients and that is starting to bear some fruit.  I am determined to maintain a positive attitude.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Spring is Here; Staying Positive; A Sprinkling of Shakespeare; Two Online Friends Have Upcoming Bouts

Birth place of William Shakespeare, Stratford ...Image via Wikipedia
I am back to blogging, I think. It's been a weird several weeks. Indeed, it has been kind of a weird year so far.I've been enduring one of those on-and-off training periods. I don't like it, but I know it's impermanent and things will improve soon. My training continues, albeit somewhat erratically. Again, that will improve.

My mother has been hospitalized during the last two weeks and that doesn't help things. Happily, she is doing better and, hopefully, will be able to go home soon. I don't like hospitals. (Who does?) It's hard seeing beloved family members being so ill. I'm glad Mom is recovering and feeling more well now.

I'll have more to say soon. For now, much of what I have to say is too whiny to write here. To keep from indulging self-pity, I'll express my mental state using the first four lines of William Shakespeare's Sonnet No. 29:
"When in disgrace with Fortune and men's eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself and curse my fate..."
That's all I'll quote because I'm starting to annoy myself by even copying this much. 

Must. Stay. Positive.

Although my own training (to say nothing of any competitive opportunities) is moving along sluggishly, two of my friends are preparing for bouts that are coming up very soon.



Please visit their blogs and encourage them in their upcoming matches. Both of them have been training hard and seem ready to go. Oh, and if you don't mind, tell them I sent you. :-)

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Sunday "Fight Club"

Pulling awayImage via Wikipedia
Sunday's workout was a good one. I got to work lots of drills with Howard and Jeff. Howard is a southpaw, so I got some needed experience with a left-handed opponent and sensed I was learning a lot.

It seemed like we did an unusually large number of drills on Sunday, but we can't have done many more than usual because the workout lasted the usual duration. I'm getting a lot more confident with the "3-punch answer-back" drill. Here's how it works.

DO WHILE practice round continues
  • Boxer A throws a quick left jab, right cross, and left hook at Boxer B.
  • Boxer B slips (or blocks) the jab and right cross, and blocks the left hook.
  • As soon as "B" blocks the hook, and preferably before "A" is back in a safe guard position, "B" quickly launches his counterattack.
  • Boxer B throws a quick left jab, right cross, and left hook at Boxer A.
  • Boxer A slips (or blocks) the jab and right cross, and blocks the left hook.
  • As soon as "B" blocks the hook, and preferably before "A" is back in a safe guard position, "B" quickly launches his counterattack.
ENDDO

After practicing this drill for several rounds, I tried my 1-2-3 combination in sparring and it was a lot faster and smoother. As with any of these skills, the key to improvement will be to practice them hundreds of times so that I can get to the point where they flow with the greatest of ease.

I got in two good rounds of sparring, one with Howard and one with Jeff. It's good practice to work with them; we keep it fairly intense, but not so intense that we forget to practice and tune up our skills. After sparring, we did our usual rounds on the heavy bag, abs, and "30s."

I did 30 minutes of roadwork after the morning gym session. It was a good day of training, and I'm grateful for it.
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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Help Nerd of Steel Find a New Boxing Gym

Dodger StadiumImage via Wikipedia
I'm a little late with this, but we do what we can, right? My buddy, Nerd of Steel, who publishes the Nerdcore Boxing blog, is looking for a new gym in the greater Los Angeles, California area. Most recently, he has blogged about his quest here.

I'm taking the liberty to ask my readers to help "Nerd" with his search. He hasn't asked me for any help--and by offering, I don't mean to imply that he needs it--but I know how it is to be displaced from a boxing club where I trained for a long time, and to start over at a new place. Others, including my former coach, Bernard O'Shea, and Chad Robbins, one of the owners of Go Time Chicago, helped me during that transition a few years ago. Therefore, if I have the chance to try to help a fellow boxer who is going through the same thing, I will take it. That's especially true when the boxer is an all-around good guy and is becoming an online friend, like Nerd of Steel.

So if you can help another boxer find a new place to train and minimize the interruptions to his training resulting from the move, please visit Nerd of Steel's blog and offer your suggestions in the comments to a blog entry such as this one. Thanks.
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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Sunday's Training

drop1.Image via Wikipedia
I had a good workout on Sunday. As always, Glen was his enthusiastic self, and I had recovered enough from my cold/flu to actually put in some hard work. We have a new boxer in the group, Howard, who is also a lawyer. Like the rest of the boxers, he's a very likable fellow with decent boxing skills. He's also a southpaw, so it's great to have the opportunity to practice with another left-handed opponent.

We did a lot of drills. In addition to the attack and defense--the punches, slips, blocks, and other maneuvers that make up a boxer's arsenal--I paid special attention to balance and footwork. I noticed I was moving more smoothly and positioning myself a lot more effectively. Footwork and balance are really basic, and they seem basic after I do them well, but I don't think one can practice them too much. When I am well-positioned on my feet and in a state of balance, I can move a lot better, punch better, protect myself better, fight my fight (rather than the opponent's), and stay more energized. It can be surprising how tiring poor technique can be!

Howard and I sparred a spirited three rounds. He's a skilled strategist and knows how to use his left-handed stance to his advantage. Still, with the recent practice I've gotten with Scott, who is also a lefty, I was pretty confident during all three rounds. After those rounds, Glen gave us each a few suggestions for improvement, and Howard and I shared with one another our assessment of the work. It went well. We finished by doing a few rounds of heavy bag drills, abs, and then the crown jewel of the workout: the thirties.

I'm pleased with my progress, even though, as always, I see lots of things I can do better. We've got a good guys in our group, and everyone is very encouraging, so that's a huge help. I'm making some new friends, so that's a bonus. It's great to work with Glen. He's upbeat, keenly interested in our progress, and willing to explain and demonstrate moves for me as many times as it takes for me to get them right.

Often when I am close to doing a combination well, I'll ask Glen some questions about strategy I can use in case my opponent anticipates or counters any of my punches. I always want to stay a step or two ahead of the other guy. Glen always enthusiastically explains defenses and counters I'll likely face, and gives me concrete pointers for beating them.

I'm keeping up my training fairly regularly, despite my blogging about it less than I prefer. As some other things in life quiet down, I hope to write more here. I had also hoped to play hockey this winter, in a league, but there are only so many hours available. With the economy in the recession, I am really having to hustle to generate new business for my law firm. When I have fewer clients, my writing becomes a lot more important so I need to focus on that. At this point, boosting income and wealth is important, so I have to emphasize my professional life more. While I might play ice hockey next winter or in a summer league, or roller hockey in the summer, sadly that sport will have to stay on hold for a while. For now, my athletic endeavors will be aimed at becoming a better boxer.
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Saturday, January 09, 2010

Happy Birthday to My Grandfather

Alpine Ibex, picture taken in the Julian Alps ...Image via Wikipedia
On January 9, 1895, my grandfather--my dad's dad--John Sebastian Imparl, was born in a small peasant village in Slovenija. At the time of his birth, Slovenija was occupied by Austria, so he grew up bilingual: he spoke his ancestral Slovenian at home and the required German in school. Sometime during the first decade of the 1900s, my grandfather and his immediate family left Slovenija and moved to the United States.

My grandfather had a hard life. A naturalized United States citizen, during World War II, he served in the U.S. Army in the Western Pacific. After he returned home, he faced considerable suffering. His beloved wife and my grandmother, Genevieve Kolenc Imparl, passed away in 1947. Their oldest son, my dad's brother, John, followed her in death about one year later, while serving in the U.S. Army and stationed in California. The remaining three children thrived, but I can only imagine the pain my grandfather must have felt during the last few years of the 1940s.

Even in the face of all of that adversity, my grandfather persisted, determined to make a good life for himself, his family, and his later descendants in his adopted homeland. I remember, as a boy, listening to his stories, such as his tale about having been visited in the "old country" by his guardian angel when he was 13 or 14 years old. He also shared several pearls of wisdom such as, "The biggest room in your house is always the room for improvement," and "No news is good news." With my propensity to interpret things literally, I must admit I puzzled over those little maxims until I was a grown man before I really understood them. Even so, those wise words give me fond memories and food for thought today.

I remember my grandfather was always kind to my parents, his remaining children, my brother, and me. In his later years, he didn't have much but he always offered the best hospitality he could and I always felt welcomed and safe at his home. He passed away on January 27, 1978, when I was freshman in high school. I miss him.

Rest in peace, Gramps. You live on, not only in your descendants' fond memories, but also in our very bodies, in our DNA. We're working to make you proud of us.
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