30 Day Project – Nature Dwellers

The capstone! It is complete! To be honest, I’ll probably keep working at it after I graduate because a couple of my subjects dropped out last minute and I’d like to expand the project a bit more.

I chose to do a photo essay, which is new territory for me, but I think as a first attempt I’ve done alright. I was particularly worried about cohesiveness because being disjointed is usually what causes photo essays to fail. It’s hard when you have many subjects and many locations to get the images to blend together naturally but still be unique. It’s a balance I struggled with, but I tried to keep it simple using shapes and framing to keep the essay from derailing.

To really tell the story I decided to include extended captions. My essay was about people who still enjoy the outdoors, either in work situations or hobbies, even in the modern age when there are more and more gadgets to distract people from exploring nature. I interviewed each subject to get a sense of why they enjoyed the outdoors so much, how they came to understand this passion, and how it has changed their lives. A few of my subjects also commented on the changing global landscape and how they think less time spent outdoors will affect future generations.

Enjoy!

Susan Hazelwood has been birding since 1980. Susan explained the difference between bird watching and birding is that birders have more expertise on the birds whereas bird watchers just appreciate looks.  She wears the title Birder with the utmost respect. But birding wasn’t always a great interest of hers, “Birding was something my husband did. I tried to ignore it, but it wouldn’t go away, so here I am!” Susan could only avoid it for so long; eventually the lure of travel and being outdoors convinced her to take it up as a hobby of her own. The farthest she’s traveled is Alaska, but she likes to go on many birding vacations with other birders around the United States. Her favorite bird is a Trogon, found in the southwest, which she proudly displays it on her license plate.

Susan Hazelwood has been birding since 1980. Susan explained the difference between bird watching and birding is that birders have more expertise on the birds whereas bird watchers just appreciate looks. She wears the title Birder with the utmost respect. But birding wasn’t always a great interest of hers, “Birding was something my husband did. I tried to ignore it, but it wouldn’t go away, so here I am!” Susan could only avoid it for so long; eventually the lure of travel and being outdoors convinced her to take it up as a hobby of her own. The farthest she’s traveled is Alaska, but she likes to go on many birding vacations with other birders around the United States. Her favorite bird is a Trogon, found in the southwest, which she proudly displays it on her license plate.

Ducks fly after being startled at Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area in McBaine, Mo. Eagle Bluffs is a destination for migaratory waterfowl birds, such as ducks and geese. There are many reasons why ducks and other birds form flocks. Being in a flock allows the birds extra protection, easier foraging, and better aerodynamic efficiency while they fly. Ducks also form family units and like staying together.

Ducks fly after being startled at Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area in McBaine, Mo. Eagle Bluffs is a destination for
migaratory waterfowl birds, such as ducks and geese. There are many reasons why ducks and other birds form
flocks. Being in a flock allows the birds extra protection, easier foraging, and better aerodynamic efficiency while
they fly. Ducks also form family units and like staying together.

Susan Hazelwood with her trusty binoculars.

Susan Hazelwood with her trusty binoculars.

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Deb Schultehenrich is a quail, pheasant, and duck hunter. Always trailing behind her is her dog, Gus, a German Shorthair pointer. Her family passed the hunting enthusiasm on to her at a young age. “Hunting is something I have always done,” says Deb. But her passion for the outdoors goes beyond hunting birds. “I like the fact that every time you go outdoors you experience something different than the last time you were outdoors,” says Deb. “Maybe there’s a turkey gobbling, or the first Dutchman’s Breeches are blooming, or the prairies have turned bright gold, or the snow is piled high on the cedar trees, or maybe it’s just the smell of fresh hay being cut. It’s the place I am most comfortable.” Deb’s noticed a decrease in environmental enthusiasm in the community however. “I am concerned this lack of interest in participating in outdoor activities is having an affect on the public’s relationship with the environment,” says Deb. “This disconnect with the natural environment makes them less likely to advocate for environmental causes or public land acquisition and protection.” Deb attributes this decrease in interest with the changing global landscape. Fewer and fewer people are growing up on ranches or farms, and therefore have less association with the land than people have had in the past.

Deb Schultehenrich is a quail, pheasant, and duck hunter. Always trailing behind her is her dog, Gus, a German Shorthair pointer. Her family passed the hunting enthusiasm on to her at a young age. “Hunting is something I have always done,” says Deb. But her passion for the outdoors goes beyond hunting birds. “I like the fact that every time you go outdoors you experience something different than the last time you were outdoors,” says Deb. “Maybe there’s a turkey gobbling, or the first Dutchman’s Breeches are blooming, or the prairies have turned bright gold, or the snow is piled high on the cedar trees, or maybe it’s just the smell of fresh hay being cut. It’s the place I am most comfortable.” Deb’s noticed a decrease in environmental enthusiasm in the community however. “I am concerned this lack of interest in participating in outdoor activities is having an affect on the public’s relationship with the environment,” says Deb. “This disconnect with the natural environment makes them less likely to advocate for environmental causes or public land acquisition and protection.” Deb attributes this decrease in interest with the changing global landscape. Fewer and fewer people are growing up on ranches or farms, and therefore have less association with the land than people have had in the past.

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Bradford Farm is a part of MU Extension that conducts research in agricultural and wildlife studies. They also offer educational opportunities to the community about how to manage their crops and land, and how to be as sustainable as possible. Tim Reinbott is the superintendent of Bradford Farm, and wants to help educate the public as much as possible about incorporating wildlife into their agriculture.  Tim came from an outdoorsy family with a father who taught him to appreciate the outdoors for what it is: our livelihood as citizens of the planet. Reinbott says he’d like to encourage farmers and landowners to be more accepting of wildlife and plant more diversified crops and grasses so that they offer better protection for certain kinds of wildlife that aren’t damaging to their land. “Wildlife is much more than pests to farmers,” says Reinbott. He thinks the best way to share this with the community is to hold workshops at the farm, particularly with 4-H clubs and their families.

Bradford Farm is a part of MU Extension that conducts research in agricultural and wildlife studies. They also offer educational opportunities to the community about how to manage their crops and land, and how to be as sustainable as possible. Tim Reinbott is the superintendent of Bradford Farm, and wants to help educate the public as much as possible about incorporating wildlife into their agriculture. Tim came from an outdoorsy family with a father who taught him to appreciate the outdoors for what it is: our livelihood as citizens of the planet. Reinbott says he’d like to encourage farmers and landowners to be more accepting of wildlife and plant more diversified crops and grasses so that they offer better protection for certain kinds of wildlife that aren’t damaging to their land. “Wildlife is much more than pests to farmers,” says Reinbott. He thinks the best way to share this with the community is to hold workshops at the farm, particularly with 4-H clubs and their families.

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Virgil decided from a young age that being outside and fishing was what he wanted to do with his life. It was almost everyone’s way of life in his rural, farming community.  But with age came more complications and distractions. “I went through the stages of schooling, and kind of forgot what fishing was about. Then came an opportunity for me to go fishing with mentors along the way,” says Virgil. His father died when he was six, so he had to find other adult figures to take him fishing. As an adult, Virgil would take friends fishing, and one of them suggested making a business out of it.  Virgil then became a fishing guide and outfitter, traveling through Canada and Alaska with small groups. His business eventually led to him traveling abroad, which he thanks fishing for every time he goes.  But what really matters to Virgil is camaraderie. “The fellowship people have when they’re hunting and fishing has lent itself to be the best thing that has happened to me.” His favorite job is to take families on trips, which to him makes it a special outing.  Virgil says there’s more opportunities now to get families out and fishing together, but people are involved in many things in the modern age, so trying to find time is hard for younger generations to get out into nature and explore it. “A lot of people find other things to do with their time than fishing, which in my opinion is not good, because any outing you do with your family and friends is pretty hard to beat.”

Virgil decided from a young age that being outside and fishing was what he wanted to do with his life. It was almost everyone’s way of life in his rural, farming community. But with age came more complications and distractions. “I went through the stages of schooling, and kind of forgot what fishing was about. Then came an opportunity for me to go fishing with mentors
along the way,” says Virgil. His father died when he was six, so he had to find other adult figures to take him fishing. As an adult, Virgil would take friends fishing, and one of them suggested making a business out of it. Virgil then became a fishing guide and outfitter, traveling through Canada and Alaska with small groups. His business eventually led to him traveling abroad, which he thanks fishing for every time he goes. But what really matters to Virgil is camaraderie. “The fellowship people have when they’re hunting and fishing has lent itself to be the best thing that has happened to me.” His favorite job is to take families on trips, which to him makes it a special outing. Virgil says there’s more opportunities now to get families out and fishing together, but people are involved in many things in the modern age, so trying to find time is hard for younger generations to get out into nature and explore it. “A lot of people find other things to do with their time than fishing, which in my opinion is not good, because any outing you do with your family and friends is pretty hard to beat.”

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One walk over 35 years ago led to Mike Jenner’s passion for rock climbing. Mike was a student at Mizzou at the time, hiking around Capen Park when he saw a couple of guys rock climbing. Curious, he stepped over to them and asked them about it. They were generous enough to let him make his first climb that day. Now Mike travels all over North America for climbing. He thinks that Boone County is a great place to practice his hobby, but his all time favorite is in the Sierras in California. Mike spends many resources and tolerates the injuries from rock climbing because it’s a great mix of skills. “Rock climbing allows you to focus, to drive everything else out. It takes strength, but it’s also a mental sport,” Mike says. You may be strapped into a harness but there’s a lot of courage involved in rock climbing according to Mike. Unlike many other outdoor activities, Mike believes that rock climbing is on the rise. He attributes this to indoor climbing gyms, but he thinks it’s a lot harder of a transition from inside to the great outdoors than most people think. “It’s a good thing that people are climbing more, but I also hate to be climbing in a crowd,” says Mike. Even though Mike wants some quiet when climbing, he usually climbs with friends that he’s met around the country. It’s a good idea for safety reasons, but he also just enjoys the company.

One walk over 35 years ago led to Mike Jenner’s passion for rock climbing. Mike was a student at Mizzou at the time, hiking around Capen Park when he saw a couple of guys rock climbing. Curious, he stepped over to them and asked them about it. They were generous enough to let him make his first climb that day. Now Mike travels all over North America for climbing. He thinks that Boone County is a great place to practice his hobby, but his all time favorite is in the Sierras in California. Mike spends many resources and tolerates the injuries from rock climbing because it’s a great mix of skills. “Rock climbing allows you to focus, to drive everything else out. It takes strength, but it’s also a mental sport,” Mike says. You may be strapped into a harness but there’s a lot of courage involved in rock climbing according to Mike. Unlike many other outdoor activities, Mike believes that rock climbing is on the rise. He attributes this to indoor climbing gyms, but he thinks it’s a lot harder of a transition from inside to the great outdoors than most people think. “It’s a good thing that people are climbing more, but I also hate to be climbing in a crowd,” says Mike. Even though Mike wants some quiet when climbing, he usually climbs with friends that he’s met around the country. It’s a good idea for safety reasons, but he also just enjoys the company.

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Jim Karpowicz got his start in filming from his family. His dad and brother were both in the television business and Jim spent a lot of time learning the ropes and fumbling with cameras. “As a little kid I was always drawn to the creeks and the woods, and I realized as an adult I’d have to cobble together some sort of career that paid money that would have something to do with the outdoors.” He decided that with his basic knowledge of TV equipment he could start his own business as a nature videographer and filmmaker. “I was able to take the skills I learned at the TV station and concentrate on the outdoors,” says Jim. He continues with a laugh, “I guess it sort of worked, I was able to put a few kids through college, pay a mortgage.” He takes his job seriously though, spending a lot of time while out on the job thinking about frames and setting up equipment, but he says even in that process he has to look up at his surroundings sometimes and admire the career he’s built for himself. He’s been able to travel all over from Nevada to Nicaragua, and is amazed every time that he’s paid to do something he enjoys so much.

Jim Karpowicz got his start in filming from his family. His dad and brother were both in the television business and Jim spent a lot of time learning the ropes and fumbling with cameras. “As a little kid I was always drawn to the creeks and the woods, and I realized as an adult I’d have to cobble together some sort of career that paid money that would have something to do with the outdoors.” He decided that with his basic knowledge of TV equipment he could start his own business as a nature videographer and filmmaker. “I was able to take the skills I learned at the TV station and concentrate on the outdoors,” says Jim. He continues with a laugh, “I guess it sort of worked, I was able to put a few kids through college, pay a mortgage.” He takes his job seriously though, spending a lot of time while out on the job thinking about frames and setting up equipment, but he says even in that process he has to look up at his surroundings sometimes and admire the career he’s built for himself. He’s been able to travel all over from Nevada to Nicaragua, and is amazed every time that he’s paid to do something he enjoys so much.

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69th CPOY Judging

The only judging I was able to view in person at all was the documentary category, which is a shame, but I was glad I got to see this one out of all of the others. It’s a category with an extremely wide variety of subjects, and the winners from this category produce some of the best photojournalism I’ve ever seen. Documentary photojournalism to me is basically the essence of what photojournalism was created to accomplish. It shows people from all around world, particularly now in our modern age of high speed information sharing, issues that they couldn’t really see on their own. I think this category requires the most bravery and persistence. Because of this I’m usually in awe by what I see more so than in any other judging session.

This year there were a number of great stories, stories I would be particularly happy with being able to pull off. It amazes me how fast the judges go through these stories, considering the number of entries and how good most of them are. The judges are of course, trained professionals that have discerning eyes but it is nonetheless impressive to me.

In the first round of serious discussion and narrowing down in this category (I think they made it down to around 10 images), one of the judges remarked how difficult it was to choose. But what I really noticed was that the judges were largely in agreement. They immediately picked out a couple that they knew would be at the top of the pack, and spent more time discussing the ones at the bottom, and why they were there. They were doing this partially for our benefit, but I think if they had been sitting alone in a room together they probably would have said all the same things.

In my time as a photo editor at the Missourian I’ve found it’s useful to talk out what my initial reaction is, and to get the opinion of fellow editors or photographers. It’s reassuring, and it really explains where I’m coming from, which is useful from an editorial standpoint because we’re trying to show the most truthful image possible. If I have a reaction to something for a personal reason, that doesn’t benefit, or actually harms the journalistic integrity of the newspaper, then my opinion is pretty much moot and the edit needs to be given to fresh, less biased eyes.

The main justifications for stories being moved to the bottom of the pack were that the story didn’t have enough focus, and it wasn’t in depth or personal enough. If the story was too unfocused a comment such as, “it tried to do too many things,” was usually said. I find it hard as a photographer sometimes to just pick one thing to go for, but it’s necessary for cohesion. With words you can spell it out clearly to readers, with images they have to tell the story without words at least initially. The images have to be clear, especially when working as a group. There is no room for confusion or you lose the viewer. And it’s especially important for the documentary category to have depth. These stories are meant to be long term, with lots of time and research spent. You can practically feel the weight of the stories if they’re done well. As a photographer I sit in awe at how many hours the photographer had to spend and how much they had to care to do so much work. If the photographer doesn’t care about their work it shows, and it tells the viewer that they shouldn’t really care either.

I’m Trapped in a Glass Case of Emotion

So I’ve been freaking myself out lately. I’m stressed about finishing stories, getting people to return my calls, emails and messenger pigeons, and personal life is not helping matters. I normally have such a good memory and now I’m starting to forget things. Blerggggggg.

I hate admitting to being overwhelmed, but I am. It seems like every other minute someone is demanding something from me. And I know they’re not demanding in a mean way, they just expect me to fulfill my obligations. But my obligations are smothering me. Work, school, family and friends all want a piece, but I only have so much to give. I’m out of my comfort zone and it’s terrifying.

All I want to do is watch Anchorman and take photos of my adorable dogs.

See? Adorable.

See? Adorable.

But sadly and gratefully I’m in college. I have to take my own measures of de-stressing to clear my head, or I will keep forgetting things and crying in random intervals because I’m not sure what else to do.

So today I went to Rockbridge State Park, and it was beautiful and serene for that half hour I spent there. Leaving wasn’t something I wanted to do. As I drove back into city limits the pressures returned to my shoulders and I think I physically hunched over more. I’ll try to stop being so negative. And whiny. It’s annoying.

Autumn time is the best time.

Autumn time is the best time.

Phone Interviews

During my induced bed rest this week, I decided I couldn’t spend all of the day curled up in a ball cursing my body. I wanted to remain productive, so I attempted reading in small doses, and I even got an interview done.

No, I did not tell the individual to come to my sick bed, that would be highly unprofessional considering I was sweaty, crazy-eyed and switching between tearing my clothes off to throwing every blanket available upon my person every 30 minutes. (Such is fever folks.)

So I called the person. It helps them out often, because they see it as less of a hassle than meeting in person, and they’re thankful that you don’t wish your illness upon them. They’re busy people and have better things to do than be ill.

Phone interviews, while they shouldn’t be your first bet in all situations, are not the end of the world. If illness, distance, or time is an obstacle, suggest a phone interview. My experience with them has been positive. People speak candidly on the phone. I attribute that to the fact that you’re not looking at them while they speak, they essentially feel less on the spot. And what was helpful for me is that I could put them on speaker (in a private setting obviously) and type out what they were saying without it being rude. If you type while they’re speaking in person it comes off as rude and ruins the whole conversation vibe.

Interviews should be conversations, you’re getting information from the person, but you’re both generally invested and interested in what is being said. Feel free to discuss things related to, but not exactly what you were searching for when you set out to do the interview. Topics should flow easily, but still keep in mind the questions you need answered. It’s a bit of juggling act, but once it’s mastered it makes interviewing a much more enjoyable process, probably for both parties.

The main issue I found with phone interviews is that it’s easy for someone to ignore a voicemail. Be persistent, but not too pushy. I called and left a voicemail, waited a day and called again when I thought they may be free to get them personally, not an answering machine. It’s important to be clear in messages with your objective, who you work for, your name, and your contact information. If they don’t understand it they will just ignore you. They’re not responsible for the article, the reporter is.

Framing

We talked about framing in news lecture this week. I believe it’s a very important thing to know going into journalism. It’s something that I’ve thought about a lot as a photojournalist.

As a photojournalist, framing is key. As a photographer in general, framing is important because it can make or break the shot. Framing a photo is essentially choosing the content, just like when a painter decides what they want to paint. They may have a whole other world and imagination to choose from in their head, but what counts is what is seen. It’s the same with photojournalists. When they snap a photo they essentially blind the viewer to all of the things they kept out. Powerful stuff.

So of course, from an artists’ standpoint we want the photo to be pretty. “Visually appealing” would be a better way to phrase that. But from the journalist viewpoint, we need to find a way to make the photo both visually appealing and informative. It has to tell the story as it is, hopefully without bias or obvious neglect. If it’s not possible to do both, it’s more important to tell the story accurately than prettily.

I know it aches every artistic bone in the body to turn your back on the pretty, but journalism isn’t about presenting pretty things all the time. It’s about presenting the truth. And photojournalism is a great way to aid truth telling by adding that extra piece of evidence, when used correctly.

An Alien Has Taken Over My Body

No joke, that can be the only thing to explain why my innards have turned against me.

First I have headaches and a sore throat and the strong desire to walk around with a pillow strapped to my head. This week’s adventure is Nausea: The Musical. I didn’t think trying not to puke while walking to class would be the type of multitasking I’d partake in this semester. And not eating is really not helping the headache situation.

If this keeps up I’m going to quarantine myself. I’m not going to be responsible for the alien invasion that destroys the planet. I don’t normally get sick, so I think alien takeover is a reasonable prediction to make about the cause of my symptoms.

I have interviews to do, a paper to write, and a presentation to give. But I’m not complaining, just slowly wasting away in silence. Good bye everyone, it was nice knowing you.

Multimedia Woes

I like multimedia, it’s necessary for photojournalists to be able to create multimedia. However, I am not super technologically savvy. Especially with older technology. AKA the wack video camera Madalyne and I checked out for our multimedia project.

It required a tape, strike number one. Madalyne had to buy a pack of three for $14. Strike number two: We don’t know how or have the means to put it on our computer. Strike number three: It looks like the footage is damaged in some way. Did we tamper with the tape? Spill something on it or play football with it? No. It just doesn’t want to work. You’re out, wack camera with tape.

So this means we’ll have to re-interview our two subjects. We won’t be able to re-film that b-roll, but I took stills at the event, so it’ll have to do.

Woe is me, booo hooooo. I’m done crying now.

Derek said he is going to tell the Missourian to never check those cameras out to anyone again. Praise be.

Nothing Inspirational to Note

Not all weeks are fantabulous, even when you use words like fantabulous.

So no, today I may not find anything particularly inspiring, encouraging, or plain old good. But tomorrow and the days that follow will bring something else. Let’s just hope this is rock bottom, because honestly this kind of emotion doesn’t jive well with the need to finish classwork.

Here’s to a hopefully better and more productive tomorrow.

Reporting Death

Death is not an easy thing, and it never should be. This week’s story about an Ashland teen who committed suicide is not easy for anyone involved. And while reporting a story of this nature is incredibly difficult, it’s not nearly as difficult as it is for the family of the deceased.

I know this from first hand experience. I too lost someone close to me at a young age. And I still keep the obituary saved as a bookmark.

Notice that none of my brother’s family is quoted. It’s true that Nathan See and Preston Turley were very close to Willie. But the immediate family side is not there. No, my brother did not die at his own hand, but if I were the reporter doing this story I probably would have wanted to get a comment from the family. I’m sure that the reporter tried, but I was 19 at the time, I don’t think I had really lost my “innocence” until then, and I certainly was in no mood to speak to a student reporter at the Missourian. I could barely even speak to my friends and family.

My parents were similarly indisposed. My parents didn’t answer many phone calls in the first couple days, only direct family and Pastor Ramsey at First Presbyterian got through. Losing someone at such a young age is not expected. It has an even more tragic effect since the deceased did not have time to complete their life. Willie was excited to become an educator and he was so close to graduating. He wanted to become a loving husband and father and grow more in his faith. He had so much potential ahead of him.

When those years are suddenly snatched away the question of “Why?” is always on the mind. I’m sure Jacob Meadows’ family is asking that question even more since he took his own life. They’ll never know for sure why he did it, and that will upset them for the rest of their lives.

I still grieve for my brother. More than two years later, I still think about him and burst into uncontrollable sobs. So when reporting about death, especially if the deceased is a youth, remember that the family is not thinking about how their loved one will look in print. But they will remember if you dishonor them in any way. My parents cut out newspaper clippings and I watched news videos online and saved that obit. It may seem a bit morbid, but it’s a way of remembering them, of remembering their death and not taking life for granted.

Don’t take it personal if the family tells you to go away or stop calling. They’re in no mood to be polite and personally I felt like I had nothing left to lose for the first couple days. It felt as if the world had ended and reason had abandoned us. It’s still important to do a good job. So finding those other sources, such as Preston and Nathan, is the next step. And if that doesn’t go through, simple is always best.

My brother, Willie, and I outside our house in Litchfield, Minnesota in 1995. It's okay to say he looks like Harry Potter.

My brother, Willie, and I outside our house in Litchfield, Minnesota in 1995. It’s okay to say he looks like Harry Potter. He does.

Battle Rising

It is the fourth day of the first week of classes. And I am still trying to get my schedule in order. I’m trying to figure out when I’ll fit my paying jobs in around my time at the Missourian and studying. And of course I had an oil change and had to replace two tires this week for my beloved vehicle. That makes two trips to the car doctor in one week. But hopefully I’ll get my schedule set for the next coming weeks, because I need to start writing articles. I don’t like being behind, but that’s usually my luck for the first week of school.

Today however I learned that I’m going to be working extensively on Battle High School. I’m excited about this since I went to Columbia Public Schools, and it’s the new school in town. If I were in high school now I’d be attending Battle, so I’m very interested in how it shapes out to be.

Having gone to CPS I also know a few of the faculty and staff over at Battle after they were shuffled around to cover the new school. Thankfully I was a good student, so this won’t burn any bridges between the Missourian and Battle.

The staff photo class for the Missourian is currently working on a big photo project called Battle Rising, which is obviously about Battle High School. So I think it will be easier to get visuals to go with the story. Not to mention I’m in the photojournalism emphasis and know quite a few of the photographers and photo editors. And if need be I’ll always have my D-SLR with me to snap some images to go with my text. Overall I think the situation will work out in my favor, as long as I embrace it.

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