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Mr. & Mrs. "Buddha" - April in Vegas - More VP and Coupons !!

Discussion in 'Vegas Trip Reports' started by Buddha, Apr 18, 2014.

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  1. Buddha

    Buddha VIP Whale

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    My Trip Report

    Las Vegas -- April 9 - 16 @ Main Street Station :

    Well, folks … Nancy and the “Buddha” were back to Vegas for trip #51, following our last trip way back in November. We are not fans of winter or summer trips, so we stick to our usual Spring and Fall trips. We booked our April Southwest flights back in October, when the SWA reservation window first opened up. Our flights were priced at $178 per person, each way out of Chicago Midway, but we each had a $100 SWA voucher credit from our September Southwest flight to Vegas. That was as a result of a 2 hour delay in getting our Chicago to Vegas plane out of Detroit. Using those vouchers gave each of us only a $78 price from Midway to Vegas, plus we each used 10,680 Rapid Reward points for a free return flight back home on April 16th.

    We will each be earning 993 Rapid Reward points on the flight to Vegas, but the free flight home gets us no bonus reward points. However, we used our Southwest Visa for double Rapid Reward points (712) on the first flight. Also added to that were the Early Bird boarding fees of $12.50 each way, per person … well worth it, to avoid the anxiety of getting a decent boarding position, and early enough to get luggage space for our carry-ons.

    Our room reservations were once again set up with the assistance of our host at Main Street Station. My usual mailer offer from Main Street Station for 4 comped nights came this time with only 3 comped nights (damn bean counters). But, with an email to our host, the 4 nights (Wed. thru Sat.) were all covered. I also did not get my usual $35 in free-play, but instead two $20 dining coupons … good enough !! Added to that was Nancy receiving her usual 3 comped nights (our Sun. thru Tues. nights.) at the California, which our host just attached to my nights at MSS. And now, we were able to stay all 7 nights in the same room at MSS, and not have to move from MSS to the Cal, but we can still do our casino play at both properties.

    Next was the rental car for the week, and I searched the Alamo reservations page, as our usual source for decent prices, along with RR promo points from SWA. We really try to max out our SWA - RR points on any and all trips we take. My first search on the Alamo web page showed the their cars at well over $200 all-in for the week … I passed. About a month later, the all-in price dropped to $189 for a mid-size, and I booked it, but in the following days, it dropped to $183, and eventually my final re-booking came in at $175 all-in. This booking also comes with 2400 RR points from a SWA code, plus being charged to our SWA-Visa card, this price will also yield 350 additional RR points. Collecting all of these SWA Rapid Rewards for this entire trip will eventually add up to over 5600 RR points for a future trip.

    Our daily itinerary is semi-planned, my dozens & dozens of ACG and LVA coupons are organized, our bags are packed, the early-bird boarding passes ( # A-25 & A-26) are printed, and we are raring to go !! If you have read any of my previous Vegas reports, this will pretty much follow a similar pattern, so I will not necessarily go into a lot of detail.

    Wednesday - April 9 :

    As is our regular plan, we park our car at the local commuter lot for the week (now $12), and catch the 7:50 am commuter train ( $2.75 each - Senior fares) into downtown Chicago Union Station. From there, we walk over to the elevated (the “L”) CTA transit trains, and board the Orange Line ( $1.10 each for Seniors) for a 30 minute ride directly to Midway Airport. We no longer drive in from the suburbs, and the park in one of the airport parking lots, as the morning drive traffic is terrible, and the week-long parking would cost over $65 … so our present method is more relaxed, and much cheaper.

    TSA screening at Midway was much easier than usual, as our boarding passes indicated that we qualified for the new TSA “pre-screening” … a separate TSA line, keep our shoes on, belt on, 3-1-1 toiletry baggie kept in carry-on, and laptop computer kept inside my briefcase. Pretty slick, as we didn’t even have to go through the x-ray booths at Chicago Midway (and also McCarran airport), and we were soon on our way to Gate A - 15. Our plane is scheduled to depart at 11:40 am, so we have time to grab some grub from the McDonald’s, in preparation for the 3 hr 45 min. flight to Vegas.

    After take-off, and reaching cruising altitude, we enjoy a couple traditional free Bloody Mary’s along with the standard in-flight snacks, and settle back for the ride, as we read the paper, do puzzles, practice our video poker, and arrive in Vegas 10 minutes early, and 88 degrees. This was a whole lot better than the winter from hell that we had this year back home, with brutal low temps as low as -18* below zero, and a season total of 85 inches of snow !!! Off the plane with our carry-on bags, and onto the shuttle bus to the rental car facility. at Alamo, and we are soon up the escalator picking out a new Hyundai Elantra for our week in town.
    We head down Warm Springs Rd., across LV Blvd., to Dean Martin Way (Industrial Rd), and head up and over to the Dollar Tree store on East Charleston , picking up a case of water, a few snacks, and some incidental toiletries. It is now about 3:15 pm, and we still have some of the day & evening left to enjoy..
    Back down west on Charleston to 7th Street, heading north past the El Cortez to Stewart Ave, and heading west directly to Main Street Station. Check-in is quick, up to our room at MSS (# 801), with a good view to the south, and at the extreme east end (next to Main St.) away from the railroad tracks. We unpack our bags, as we receive delivery of a house coffee-pot to our room.
    Then it is off to the El Cortez for our arrival dinner at the diner cafe, using the special 2/1 ACG coupon that I printed off from an ACG / Cortez promo. Using the 2/1 coupon, Nancy ordered the turkey club sandwich & fries, and I opted for the hot open-face turkey sandwich & gravy… delicious and satisfying, at a final cost of just $10 + tip. We finished off the evening with ACG free-play at the Cortez (+13), assorted free-plays at the Four Queens (+ 44), along with some additional VP at 4Q (+35 for me, and -34 for Nancy). We followed that up with match-play coupons at the Las Vegas Club (- 10), and the Plaza (+ 40), along with ACG free-plays ... Vegas Club (+5) and the Plaza (+ 8).
    After this very busy and active day, we are weary, and opt for some TV time in the room, and catching up on some emails, using the free downtown wi-fi signal that I can get through our south-facing window. More fun to come …. ZZZZZ ……

    Thursday & Friday & Saturday - April 10 - 11 - 12 :

    These three days of casino play will be spent mostly at MSS, as my comp offer came from them, and we will both be playing on my B-Connected card, in order to maximize the daily play to around $7000 per day. We both typically play quarter 8/5 Bonus Poker (99.17 % game) and 9/6 JOB (99.54 % game) … and there are plenty of those single-line games at MSS for Nancy …while I prefer the 3-Play / 5-Play machines at MSS (both in quarters and nickels) in order to maximize my coin-in, and the additional opportunities for a big hand. We will also periodically be doing several match-play coupons from the ACG book, and the Las Vegas Advisor rewards book, on our coupon runs at the Riviera, Palms, Orleans, Longhorn, Jerry’s Nugget, Rampart, and the LVC & Plaza downtown.
    .
    Thursday began with a free breakfast buffet at the Fremont, using a Las Vegas Advisor 2/1 coupon, plus my player points. The strange thing about these LVA 2/1 buffet coupons (as I’ve stated before) is how the Boyd properties treat them so differently. Fremont allows you to take the LVA coupon directly to the buffet cashier, plus use player points. Sam’s Town also has you take the coupon to the cashier, but will NOT let you use points … but Main Street Station makes you bring the coupon to the Player’s Club for a separate voucher, but DOES let you also use points. Our Friday & Saturday breakfast buffets both came from comps from the MSS hosts, due to our play on Thursday & Friday.

    The MSS video poker machines these days were very erratic, up one session, and down the next … win $175, lose $137 … lose $85 , win $65 … over & over again. We have often said that our ultimate goal each trip is to just break even in the casino … but a winning trip would definitely be acceptable.

    For our three dinners on these nights, we had an assortment … using a $20 coupon at the MSS buffet. This was their “steak & shrimp scampi” night, along with all their regular fare, including some very delicious cod and tilapia, which was actually better than the pieces of steak being passed out. We used my other $20 mailer coupon at the 777 Brewpub, splitting an appetizer and a large order of Fish & Chips. On Saturday, we used a 2/1 coupon at Magnolia’s for an open-face Turkey & Gravy for Nancy, and the Beef version for me.

    Upon returning to the MSS casino each evening for some additional video poker, we would settle in at our usual machines, finishing with an assortment of wins & losses, but over the 3 days here at MSS, we accumulated about 25 or 30 scratch cards on quads and straight flushes. We would also hit the LVC & Plaza for MP’s win at each, and then pick up a breakfast comp on our way back to our room … and then watch a little TV before …. ZZZZZZZ

    Friday & Saturday followed a similar pattern of activities. Our video poker has its usual ups & downs, winning, losing … losing, winning … as we progress from session to session. We periodically take a break between sessions, and head out to do a few Matchplays, MP’s at the LVC, Plaza, Jerry’s Nugget, Gold Coast, the Palms and Orleans bring us a profit of $70 to add to our pockets. Our additional Saturday night activity was a visit to the Riviera Comedy Club, to see Jimmy “JJ” Walker (Dyn-O-Mite!). He was entertaining, but the 2nd comedian was much funnier. And, while at the Riviera, we did a couple MP’s, but only won $10.


    Sunday -- April 13 :

    Sunday is our usual “moving day”, but we really are not moving at all. This is the morning that we go down to the hotel front desk, and I check out, and Nancy checks back in … to the same room. This is a practice we started a couple trips back, with the help of our host, putting Nancy’s 3-night offer from the Cal, connected right behind my reservation at MSS. After the “sign-in” was completed and the room is left in the hands of the house-maid, we headed for the car for our usual Sunday destination … the Rampart, out west in the Summerlin area. This is a beautiful property, and our first destination is their diner, for the early bird $3.99 breakfast offerings, which also includes your coffee.

    The Rampart casino has lots of full-pay VP here. Nancy likes the single-line slant-tops for quarters, around the back side of the Round Bar with 9/6 JOB, and 8/5 Bonus, as well as 16/10/4/4 Deuces (99.73 %) …. and, I settle in at my favorite 10-play uprights, at $2.50 at max nickels ... except on this visit, only the full-pay 8/5 Bonus remains, as the JOB and DW have been slightly lowered. We play for a couple hours, again with the results being very erratic, and eventually leave with both of us having minor loses … but we did make a $20 win with a couple ACG match plays wins.

    As is also our Sunday schedule, we head for the Gold Coast, Palms, and the Orleans for some match play coupons (+ 50). Next, we stop at Hooters and Ellis Island for a couple of LVA free-play coupons (+48), and then over to the new Silver Sevens (old Terrible’s) for a nice early dinner buffet with a 2/1 coupon. As I mentioned in my November report, this new buffet is surprisingly improved over the previous ownership. After dinner, we head north on Paradise to the back entrance of the Riviera. Here, we make a quick in & out for a $10 MP win.

    We head back to MSS, and we went directly to our rooms, watched a little TV, and absolutely crashed after a very busy day.


    Monday & Tuesday -- April 14 & 15 :

    Since today & tomorrow are from Nancy’s offer from the Cal, we played there. So, our breakfast today (Monday) is at the MSS buffet, using the California - ACG - “Earn 250 points, Get a free buffet”. getting the voucher at the Cal’s player’s club, and then using points with that voucher.

    We will be doing our VP at the California these two days, and both playing on Nancy’s card. Nancy has her choice of several 8/5 Bonus machines, and her favorites are the slant-tops right in front of the cashier’s counter. I sometimes play those same machines, or a couple of their 9/6 JOB uprights over in the alcoves over-looking the tables. But today, I have decided to try the 50-play nickel machines with 7/5 Bonus, but I only play them with 10 lines.

    We play our VP at the Cal for about 2 hours (-25), while at the same time, I purchase a 25-game Keno ticket for $10, and allow it to play in the background, while we do our VP.
    We also take a walk around Fremont St., hitting the LVC and the Plaza with match plays (+15) … and upon returning to the Cal, we check our Keno card and find that we won back $1.20 . Not our lucky day, I guess.

    We settle back in at our earlier machines, but things are a little better now, as the cards have improved somewhat (+60). We continue our VP play for another 90 minutes, but mostly just hover, a little up, a little down, and it’s time to stop for dinner. Tonight, we met our friend, Ingrid at the RIO buffet, treating her to dinner for her April birthday. Of course, Nancy and I use ACG and LVA - RIO coupons, and Total Reward points, to make this a free party. I think we talked & laughed as much as we ate, and it was a fun time, and great to visit with our Vegas friend.

    After returning to downtown, we decided to play a little more VP, in order to reach our usual player points daily total. That’s what keeps our offers rolling in. After that, Nancy stops by the Host office at the Cal, and receives a full comp for our MSS buffet breakfast in the morning …. ZZZZZZZ ……


    Tuesday morning (19th) begins with our breakfast at the MSS buffet, with Nancy using her comp voucher. The Cal does not have a buffet, so it comps the MSS buffet.

    We play VP for a couple hours at the Cal, at our usual machines with very mixed results, with Nancy at (-45), and me at (+80). From there, we once again visit the LVC (+5) and the Plaza (+10) with MP’s. Back to the Cal for a new session of VP at our usual places, and this time the cards were more favorable … with both of us hitting a several quads, and a straight flush for Nancy. Anyway, we came away from that session at (+150) … and time to take a break up in the room, and check in on our Southwest flight for tomorrow’s early-bird boarding. This time, we received # A-27 and # A-28, and a whole lot better than searching for seats & luggage space at the end of the line.

    For dinner, we are meeting long-time friends from Canada at “Willy & Jose’s” at Sam’s Town. WOW, the food they serve there. Not only do they give you the complimentary chips & salsa, but we order an appetizer steak nachos (huge). And, the follow-up entrée platters of enchiladas, burritos, and shrimp fajitas were just as huge. They had to roll us out of there in a wheelbarrow …. Thanks, Claire !!! A very nice time to see you & Deb again ….

    Wednesday -- April 16 :

    Our bags are packed, our early-bird boarding has been logged in, and all paperwork organized for later, and we check out from 7 nights at MSS … no charges. As it’s become sort of a tradition, we hop on the I-15 South, and head for the South Point Hotel / Casino, for a final getaway breakfast buffet. This time, Nancy and I use a 2/1 buffet coupon (and points), printed from the LVA website.

    The buffet at South Point is always good, with a solid variety of choices. And, after you go through the cashier here, don’t forget to pick up your complimentary Bloody Mary … no need to order juice. J

    After a great breakfast, there’s always time for a some VP action, before ending our trip. Nancy finds her single-line 8/5 Bonus machines, and I’m only a short distance away at one of the many Triple-Play machines, which contain both 9/6 JOB and 8/5 Bonus. Nancy has one winning sessions, but three other losing sessions (-45), while I was doing only a little bit better (-40). Not the good VP that we used to enjoy at the South Point casino.

    Leaving South Point, we gas up the rental car on LV Blvd, at the Circle K just north of South Point ($3.47 /gal)., and make the return to the “car barn” - $175.00 all in total. Shuttle bus quickly delivers us to Terminal 1, we print out our Early Bird boarding passes at a kiosk, and are soon passing through the TSA-Pre-Check dedicated line, on our way to Gate C-4. Our Southwest plane, coming from Sacramento arrives in short order, and we are soon loaded up for our 3 hour 20 min. gate-to-gate flight to Chicago Midway. And, with the jet-stream behind us, we arrive at Midway about 15 minutes early.

    Back through the Chicago transit system, and onto the suburban Metra commuter train, we find our car sitting where we left it a week ago …and we pull into our garage just a few minutes later. Vegas trip # 51 is complete … # 52 coming up in September …..


    Summary :
    >> 7 nights @ Main Street Station … all comped through our two mailer offers
    >> Alamo rental car - Hyundai Elantra --- $175.00 all-in total , and 2400 SWA - Rapid Rewards credits
    >> Meals with cash out-of-pocket --- $31
    >> 10 free meals, from room offers, comps, coupons, and player points
    >> Tips --- Maids, waiters, waitresses, service personnel, shuttles --- $78
    >> MatchPlay coupons : + $185
    >> Casino play : About 36K coin-in cycled & re-cycled
    >> Video Poker (including Free-Play) : Nancy + 287 , Me - 225

    Hope you enjoyed the read (beware of typos), and inaccurate date due to old age & senility. Questions & comments are always welcome.

    Next trip in September …. Viva Las Vegas !!!!

    Buddha
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2014
  2. daveg000

    daveg000 High-Roller

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    Good solid report! We never fly out of Midway to Vegas, (Milwaukee is so much more simple), but there are times we take the free flight junket to Beau Rivage out of Midway.

    We live in Kenosha, WI and the trip to Midway is horrible for me. There is a Metro Station here, I haven't taken the train since I was a kid, but I'm sure it ended up at Union Station.

    My question is how far is your walk to the CTA transit trains, and the orange line? In the station?, a block away?

    Sounds like a relaxing alternative to driving an hour twenty, Parking at an oulaying private lot and shuttling to the airport. Much cheaper! no tolls. no gas.
     
  3. edinpa

    edinpa Tourist

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    Jim, another great report from the master. suspiciously your final results looked a lot like our last trip!

    Ed
     
  4. Joe

    Joe VIP Whale

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    Great report.:thumbsup: You got TSA pre-check both ways? Or, you paid for the process? Background check, interview in Chicago, good for 5 years etc.

    What was the parking situation at MSS? Paid, then reimbursed and then a parking pass issued for the rest of your stay?
     
    Christmas
  5. westie

    westie VIP Whale

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    Great report as usual Jim. We also had TSA “pre-screening” on our boarding passes which I did not note until I took off my shoes and the guy in line behind me said there was no need. Can you enlighten us as to who and how one gets pre screened without paying?
     
  6. Joe

    Joe VIP Whale

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    My wife has randomly gotten pre-screening listed on her boarding pass on 3 of her flights, me not once yet and hers was only on one leg of the flight. I was told it is through the airlines, in our case SWA.

    But there is an application process to get it that involves an application, fee and in person interview. For us the closest location for the interview is Chicago.
     
    Christmas
  7. tringlomane

    tringlomane STP Addicted Beer Snob

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    Another good report! Thanks for sharing!
     
  8. Buddha

    Buddha VIP Whale

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    Dave .... Once we arrive at Union Station in Chicago, we walk (plus two escalators) to the northwest exit. The walk to the overhead CTA Orange Line is about 5 or 6 blocks. Don't use the "Quincy/Wells" station, as there is no elevator, just stairs. We go to the next station north, "Washington & Wells", where there is a 2-stage elevator.
     
  9. Buddha

    Buddha VIP Whale

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    Joe & Westie ....

    We did not apply for the TSA Pre-chk ... it just appeared on our boarding passes for departing from Chicago Midway. I looked into all the benefits, and it said that it was because we were regular SWA customers, and were given the Pre-chk clearance. And then, when we got our boarding passes for leaving Vegas, the Pre-chk was also on those.

    That's all we know about it, but we hope that we stay on the list ... not sure if I would pay for it ... ???
     
  10. Buddha

    Buddha VIP Whale

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    We did no TSA application, no background check, nor an interview. It was automatically on our boarding passes ... both ways ... supposedly due to our connection to SWA.

    The MSS parking garage was no problem ... but I had to show my Sapphire player's card when we first entered. When we checked in at the hotel counter, they asked if we needed a parking pass. The gal filled out a large card, with our room # and dates, and we then just showed that on each and every entry into the garage.
     
  11. Viva Las Vegas

    Viva Las Vegas Ramblin' Gamblin' Man

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    The Kenosha train pulls into Ogilvie Train Station, not Union Station. There is a Pink or Green line train one block north of the Ogilive train station (the Clinton Street Stop @ the corner of Clinton and Lake), which you can take east to Clark & Lake (the next stop), at which time you will get off to wait for the Orange line train to take you directly to Midway. It's $2.25 w/ free transfer between the pink/green line train and the orange line at Clark/Lake. Take the stairs down when you get off the train (instead of walking toward the main entrance/exit which will add a block to your walk). The conductors are typically friendly and will tell you the fastest way to walk to Clinton Lake.

    I'd give myself an hour after arriving in Chicago to catch the two trains and make it to Midway to be conservative. It's about a 3 block walk from the Midway CTA station to TSA lines / bag check.

    I work downtown and live near O'Hare, and I typically fly out of Midway after work to Vegas, with a return flight to O'Hare. I always take the Orange Line to Midway. My upcoming June trip is the first time in a few trips both legs are out of O'Hare (thanks to SWA flights being more expensive than United for the times booked).
     
  12. westie

    westie VIP Whale

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    I am sure that is what happened to us as well, but as I mentioned I totally missed it on my boarding pass.
     
  13. breanna61

    breanna61 Super Moderator

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    I've lucked out and had TSA pre check on my last couple flights. I haven't been to Sam's Town in years....perhaps I'll take the shuttle over from Harrahs and try the nachos. Thanks for the tip.
     
  14. Buddha

    Buddha VIP Whale

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    One item that I forgot to mention about the Riviera Comedy Club ....
    We have been using the ACG coupon (two free tickets) there for the last 4 or 5 trips. On our past visits, we just presented the ACG coupon at the entrance door, and went right in. However, on this trip, about ready to enter the Comedy Club, I was told that the coupon now has to be exchanged down at the main box office, down in the southwest corner of the casino. Soooo ... if you are using one of these ACG free ticket coupons, save yourself the double trip, and head to the box office first.
     
  15. gotavegasjones

    gotavegasjones VIP Whale

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    Well done Buddah. Thanks for taking time to write and post your report. Enjoyable read.

    later, GVJ
     
  16. D in the D

    D in the D Low-Roller

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    Great report. Love the attention to detail. Thanks for sharing.:beer:
     
  17. VPDana

    VPDana Low-Roller

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    Thoroughly enjoyed your trip report. I could imagine everything you did because I was there at the same time. We had fun separately while we were both there at the same time. (Huh). You certainly keep records of a lot of details. We are much more casual, but we seem to move around a lot like you. Glad we all had fun!
     
  18. higgiel

    higgiel Low-Roller

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    Buddha: Nice report. You definitely make the most of coupons. Thanks for writing. :wave:
     
  19. Buddha

    Buddha VIP Whale

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    VPDana ... Yeah, we always try to jot down everything as we go through the day, and then summarize our scribblings at the end of the day. My wife carries a little note pad, and records every $20 she puts in a machine, as well as every free-play she does, and every matchplay we do ... and all the results of each of those plays. I'm the random scribbler.


    Higgiel ... Thanks, I'm not sure we could exist without our many coupons. It's a major part of every trip, and every day's activities for us. :thumbsup:
     
  20. Ty

    Ty ?

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    Budda, I enjoyed reading your repost, thanks for sharing.

    How do you manage a carry-on for a week long trip?
    Tye
     
    Christmas Trip. Sam's Town & MSS
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