Business, Linguistics, Translation

Habits vs. comfort zone

The big aha-moments, you know?

– when you realize that even, if you fail an exam your life continues and the sun doesn’t really care about you just rises, like it did for the past couple of million years.

– when it becomes clear that you don’t know, why your business GROWS and when it goes better it is usually thanks to a lucky situation or to another random event.

– when you understand that even the growth or fall of your hair depends on what you eat

 

when you get the difference between your comfort zone and habits

 

It was a beautiful summer. I am not sure there was any period in my life before, when I had so many revelations in such a short time. I’ve overcome my biggest dilemma: do habits really stop me from growing and make me an annoying person?

I so much feared having a habit that in the past couple of years I just had none. I fought against them. The only habit was running, which I justified with necessity. Running is something special for me – for all runners, I believe. When I run my thoughts fly, the best creative ideas reach me during runs and I feel so good afterwards, I am happy, balanced and calm.

Beside running, I avoided every regularly repeating action, which lead to the insane situation that lately whenever I had no urgent work to do, I sit at home bored, thinking about the many things I should/could do – sales calls, client hunting, painting my office, brushing the cats, shopping clothes, going to the hairdresser, whatever).

It was James Clear, whose newsletter helped me to start this phenomenal change of my life. While I thought, I’d have no habits at all, in reality I had the worst ones (sitting around bored or watching series’ endlessly thinking that I am relaxing in between the long and exhausting translation sessions, going from 4 hours to 10 days, depending on the project(s))! This led to a series of problems, from an unhealthy diet to procrastinating my own life and seeing the days passing by without me being part of it. I just worked and “relaxed” in between.

I still had my ideas about what I need to do, I just didn’t want to take time to realize them, since I always feared to do something repeatedly – aka having a habit – which makes me boring and will close me into a cage. Most of the time I tried to understand, what could be an unusual thing I could do to “free myself from the imaginary chains”, maybe going for a walk in the morning and not after work or watching a movie after lunch in the middle of my usual working hours.

When I realized that my happiest moments were those, which I didn’t revolutionize for the sake of being random – so when I worked and ran – and when I understood James Clear and the idea of sticking good habits, my life became something wonderful. I could slowly form it as I wanted.

I had my willpower back. Better: I didn’t need to think about my willpower anymore, since I “habitized” the activities of my days. Just a few things, which I couldn’t accomodate into my daily life and which gained – or will gain in the next months – a fix place in my life, growing it towards a better one:

1. Exercises: I just stand up from my desk – from any desk and couch really – and do exercises. I am not a mono-sport-fan anymore. There are days, when I do pilates, when I walk or when I run or go by bike to Rimini. It depends, if I have 40 minutes or an hour or two to dedicate myself to this activity. The only important thing is to move.

2. Weight loss: I plan my diet. The smallest change was here, which gave me the biggest result: I now insert every meal I consume into my calorie-counter profile and try to understand from the past days, where I had too much from what. I am not planning ahead, I am learning from the results of the previous period. This requires from me to insert every day, what I ate and drank. (thanks to the barcode scan function I’d say it takes between 2-4 minutes every day).

Learning from my past days and results also freed up my soul from wanting to change the truth (inserting less food, than I had or not inserting something at all. The goal is to have it all and to know where I do something wrong, not to seem cool and keep a weight which I am uncomfortable with).

3. Socials, which I like: I use socials beside facebook. I discovered twitter, instagram, pinterest (since I use pinterest, I also cook tastier, that social is amazing, you just click yourself to the food you imagine and you are right there at the receipt. I imagine this is true for whatever topic you search. I love hashtags and I seem to be more up-to-date on certain topics, since I broadened my social-ism.

5. I sleep eight hours again every night. Beside keeping a healthy diet I also realized that sleeping is as much important as exercise.

6. I see my shortages in a new way. I am not sure, how to explain this better. I see everything through health. Global health too, the planet, the animals, forests, businesses and minds are just as important as my teeth. Everything has its scope of lasting long and evolving.

Sometimes I see so many opportunities in the world around me that it makes me dizzy. I know, something will change in my business too but it is too early for me now to understand, what I want to change. I want to become an expert I want to see the world like Neo did, in all its particles to understand more than others, to see in words another level to see opportunities there where others only see a news. I just did so much for myself in the past months that I know now, I am capable of doing anything with my mind and my body, if I keep them healthy.

 

I am getting out of my comfort zone thanks to my new habits, which I form just as I want to. I grow and see where I can do more where I should do less. I guess people have right when they say that forty is the new twenty.

 

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Linguistics, Translation

Wine translators wanted!

On my way back from the airport a couple of day ago I took the train. From Milan to Bologna nothing interesting happened.

From Bologna to Riccione our compartment of six people was full already in Bologna, everyone with big luggages and a need of space. Six people for almost two hours in less than three square meter. Challenge accepted! It is strange to me, how Italians do not care about making private phone calls in public. I knew so much about my fellow travellers from starting whose mother will come to the train station, who among them is going on a vacation and who is returning from one, what they ate and what they will do with whom the next day, it was like a Big Brother live in front of my eyes.

One would think after these open-ear-phone calls greeting them would be obligatory. (well…even, because you are with them for like two hours and education dictates so…) This is far from the truth. When I had to get off the train, I took my backpack and yes, said hello to the remaining five. None of them returned my greeting. They were young, had the ability to hear, I suppose, it was not, because I was a foreigner, since my “ciao” sounds like that of a native. I felt ashamed for having said hello, like I would have not understood the social situation, in which we are.

Strange, right? When you question yourself, because the majority of people behaves incorrectly…

This was my first thought today morning. Yesterday I placed my first job posting on proz. I am member of this translation workplace since 2009. Although loads of translators think it would only be a place to bid for jobs, there are plenty of other things, you can: place jobs for instance, use the extensive and good organized forum, host your e-mail and/or website, write blog articles, buy CAT software for less and much more.

However, I placed this first job on proz. I was quite accurate. I made it clear that I am not an agency, nor have the job yet, I rather am searching for people with entrepreneurial spirit, who are interested in tourism, wine and food and possibly also have experience in these fields. I took time to place this ad, since I know from the translators’ point of view, whenever I get from the same company two ads with similar requisite in a short period, for the second time I don’t even respond to that. I posted a very – well…. – inspirational message and addressed only those, who are willing to work in a team and are not looking for getting jobs, being paid but want to act actively in working out who we offer our help to become internationally understood.

Without noticing I only thought about my past experience with Proz and tried to make the ad as appetizable as possible for my fellows. I remember, I narrowed down the field to the exact point, where only people with experience in tourism and wineology could write, then I thought, it might be a good idea to include something more, since I really was looking forward to seeing applications to choose from. I mean, choosing between people is also something I need to learn, why not starting with learning from the very beginning? The job was from one source language into five different target languages.

In the first afternoon I got all together 24 quotes. I could go on and on analyzing the 24 applications, starting with: why are agencies responding to an ad, if the “Freelancers only” button is chosen? Or I could express my non-believing in why am I not able to find a Chinese translator? You would think, that like some bad tongues say in our profession, Chinese and Indian translators are our biggest competitors, since they beat our prices? I had three English native for half of the price, than the Chinese applicant.

What I really would like to point out though and why the first part of the blog starts being interesting is the fact that some translators seem not to have understood the social – professional – situation, they are in. Just like on the train, where they speak loud enough about their private life, penetrating the music I listen to with my padded headphone, but ignore my hello, when I leave the train, since I am just a nobody, who disturbs them or who knows, what else I want from them with saying “hello”.

From 24 responses actually only two, maybe three are useful. The others have sent me template responses. I felt bad and read my ad over and over again, have I specified everything? Does it seem, like I’d be an agency? Is my face not visible on the ad? I am four times “Dear Sir”, I have a quote from a translator who claims to have 25 years experience in almost every possible field (SAP, legal, automotive, geology, patents) BUT tourism or wine; a guy, who looks amazing – well…I see now, how pictures are important to me, strange, no? – but writes only that he is so busy that he actually can’t tell me anything more before Monday. Well, the ad is open until May 20th, why the hurry, wouldn’t have it been better to take time and wait until he really can respond? There is someone, who just substituted the specialty fields and my name in his template, which rather remained generic, so I know he is a fast learner – have I asked for fast learning? – delivers on time – well, I hope so, if you claim to have 5 years experience – but calls me Agency in the second sentence. I already have a bunch of people, who I fortunately found on #bp14conf, but I still needed more languages and more services to offer (like a copywriter, who is also a translator. Should I better search for “single-function-devices”?)

Before I placed the job, I told myself to respond to each and every applicant, since they took time to send me their offers. Now that I see most of them either hasn’t taken time to prepare the application, nor has read the job posting, I am not sure, if “RTFM” would be enough as a response. (obviously I am not writing anything like this, but am so close to point out that what they did was basically throwing away an opportunity, since I really had the only way to choose among them by what they write. They had my attention, I needed them and they just send me generic messages, which by the most pisses me off) Amazing, right? You’d think, it is important to them to show off, but it seems that being quick is even more important than being accurate. So much about those only talking quality.

Quality is not a word. Quality means that you care and know what you do. Just like my hairdresser (on the video at 0:44). He is not a barber, he is not just cutting, he gives me the feeling, when I am in his salon to being far from reality for some hours – not even my phone has coverage there – the air is fresh, coffee is served for free, I don’t feel for a single moment out of my comfort zone and I am not one of the puppets, who pays too much attention on appearance, but I like being treated well. I like smiling faces, I like the smell of good products, I like to be as much important as any other guest there. He is not just giving me one service of haircut, he gives my face the perfect frame and my afternoon the perfect style. He knows what to cut and what to say, like a translator should know what to write and what to emphasize…

I truly believe, quality has in every business the same roots and leads to same potentials.

Well, my ad is still on, so if you work from Italian and are Russian, Chinese, Arabic, English or German native, you think to have entrepreneurial spirit and you are interested in tourism, wine, food, hotels, and want to work with cutting-edge technology, like easyling and want to make your own voice count while building a good team, well…my availability is everywhere on this page. Write me, please!

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Business, Linguistics, Translation

Record, report, export, read and act!

My time-management problem started, when I started freelancing and it never ended ever since. I find every day something, what completes my puzzle. Yes, time-management for me was a puzzle, which I still haven’t completed yet.

Managing your time starts, like managing a diet. You have no idea, how big a portion should be. You think an adult person really needs 2000 kcal / day (by losing 0 (zero) kcal doing exercises (in most cases of true professionals, who sit straight at the desk for about 8-10 hours per day) and by assuming that the sort of walk to reach your car and buying groceries or take-away Shushie is enough cardio for a day). Then you run a mile and know the difference.

I had no idea, what time could be measured with (a clock, so funny, hahaha). I needed to understand, that all my activities take different amount of time. Thanks to Andrew Morris I started to think about a day, like a container for all my activities, and what I can fit into one of them. I know, I already split my time to get hobbies and free-time back into my life, I am not talking about this. (that already works with setting working hours and whatever happens, sticking to it. Hard enough sometimes, but nobody touches my free-time and my exercise time anymore!)

Now I am in a much further phase, where I need to organize my business and I have no time to do it, because I work all the time. I have various software to manage my business and my time. TO3000 is known. It helps me to set up my projects, to track how many words I translated for what client, in what specialty field, for how much. This is the tool, which helps me to kick a$es. Having over 40 clients, three source languages and four CAT tools more or less regularly I need to know, who to keep, who to welcome and who to let go.

ManicTime manager – also suggested, by another brilliant colleague, Helen – gives me an exact cross-section of what I do, when I am at my pc. Now, what you can see on the image below is breath-taking.

manicttimemanager

Not, because all the colors are beautiful – also – but, because you can see, how I really spent my time yesterday. And it is completely the truth.

Another breath-taking fact is that I was all day in front of my computer and worked only 2:16 hours with Studio and 5 minutes with memoq. (Yesterday I also had an Excel translation, which was easier to do in Excel so the other 26 minutes count too, but still: I started being at my pc at 8 AM, was here until 6:20 PM and only worked 3 hours. True, I had a free afternoon).

Now, what you can not see, but I include here is that the whole day I only was 7:17 minutes on Facebook and I emailed away 2:04 hours and I was 42:35 minutes on skype. So here it is, I worked only 25% and used google chrome 48% of my time (yes, I use internet based dictionaries and I have a google email account (business, obviously)), but still…can I not do it for less time? Is this, where an administrative help could help? Emailing 2 hours per day?

This is, why I love recording, what I do with every mean, I have. Should this be TO3000, Manic Time, Studio,  or the apps, like MyFitnessPal, Runkeeper, My Library, whatever, because I learnt that data becomes information only after being processed.

Here is the last breath-taking fact for today.

I need to let agencies learn that I will have emailing time and won’t interrupt my day all the time just to confirm and “yes” any question, because they have time in that moment. Not too bad for a free tool, right? Let’s see, how this can be embedded into my new idea: separating two hours – yes, both of them continuously – for my business growth.

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Business, Linguistics, Translation

Your own pace

How to be at the right pace in your business?

This week I am in Hungary. I would lie by saying, it is like every – any – other country to me. Hungary is my heart, my lounges, it is the core of my life and all, what I am. Years back, when I found this sentence: “Everyone is a foreigner, almost everywhere”, I started to think about its meaning to me, and I found that the best metaphor to understand, how I feel abroad, is like being a drop of water somewhere else, than the ocean, where I belong to. I might be needed, I might be in other waters and feel like I’d be at home, but I am not. When I am here, everything feels right I am a drop in MY ocean.

When three days ago it started to snow, I surely didn’t want to stop running. I started with belief, that until March the only thing, I need to do is being at least 3 times on the road. I don’t need to run faster, neither longer, I only need to run. So running in a one day snow at -5°C is quite a fun. Your face gets cold, the dirt on your nose freezes on the wings of the nose, you even feel cold, when you sweat, but you can keep your pace, the snow doesn’t keeps you back. Running on a three day snow, when there were two nights freezing the slush on the road, which is now covered with fresh snow is more an exercise of balance and staying on your two feet. Pace is not interesting anymore.

This same feeling I had this week with my father. For Christmas I bought him a tablet, so we can chat and use skype and he can check train-schedules and local news. He is almost 78. This was the first time, he used anything connected to the internet.

It is wonderful seeing how he learns, now he checks yesterday’s soccer goals on video and he is able to send me photos on Viber, but he struggles to make a difference between Hangouts, Viber and Email. It is all just chatting and writing on the tablet for him, I guess, he even doesn’t understand, what the difference between an app and a website is. Me, being a teacher – I think, pretty good – don’t tell him everything in the detail (obviously I tell him, how things work, but I don’t start by the difference between a bit and a byte, neither on what is Wi-Fi or what chatting means. It is like SMS for him on a different phone, and it is ok for me). I don’t want to prepare him to understand 10 years’ technology, I just want to him being connected to me, anytime, he wishes. Without waiting for me to call him, now on Viber he can call me, when he feels like. He looks at me sometimes and says: “You know, this is a pretty big difference to the radio, we made up of a crystal and a potato during war” and it opens up my mind, who was born with TV in color and remote control (and people in my age from a Western country grew up with computers and DOS already).

How is this all transferable to business? This year I want to learn, how to get direct clients, I don’t want to bend to agencies, who ask me a translation at 6:50 PM for next morning and after I say yes, they actually only send me the translation at 9 PM (well, yes, GMT is an hour back, but come on…) This won’t happen in one go. As my father has to understand that touchscreen is not push-screen, and Hangouts is not an email, so he doesn’t need to look for a Subject line, I need to understand, how to prepare myself at my own pace for this change and challenge. The biggest step is always to know, where you want to go. There will be a way, I am sure.

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Business, Linguistics, Uncategorized

In the jungle

I started my campaign of increasing my prices.

Before you think, how easy it is and come with the ideological s***t, what I just posted last week, I can tell you, there are few and very important problems, when you increase your prices:

1. an agency has more than one of you. Literally you are interchangeable with other translators. There is no agency, who only keeps one translator in a language pair and this for obvious reasons. Neither there is a translator working for only one agency, I think, or if, than that translator certainly has another occupation.

2. you are not the first person, who wanted to change the cards on the table. Vendor managers – yes, for those people there is a name, they are the vendor managers – are used to get emails from translators saying: “I want to have more from the marmalade jar”.

3. you might think, you are sure, when you want to increase your prices, until you get the responses from your outsourcers, who then make you feel, like the most fortunate to be their slave and this is good so, so please shu-up and labor!

I had sent my new year’s resolution emails to my outsourcers.

No-one accepted my increase. Truly, not one agency said: you are right, sure, no worries, sorry, we used you this way. What they did say?

1. We can’t accept your decision to increase your rate to <my_new_rate>. Your <previous_even_lower_rate> was your advance. If you increase your rate, you lose this advance and our PM-s will give the jobs to other translators, because the quality will be the same.

Well…I truly had no idea, how to respond. It was like being punched into the stomach on the day of your worst hangover. You not only confirm to me, that I work for less, than the majority of your translators, but you also confirm, that the only reason, you chose me was not, because I am pretty the best, you can get in the specialty  fields, you work in, but only because you pay me less, than the others? Than a figure comes, which gives me an overview, that I got through them so much money, so if I increase instead of my newly proposed rate only with the half of the amount, I still will even get lot more money, than I got this year and this is the only thing, they can offer me.

The figure was right, don’t get me wrong, but the way, how they got here, was wrong. I can’t possibly work for a low rate, because with this low rate, working 12 hours a day, having my computer all-over-the-time on my back(pack), I get a lot of money. I want to do quality! I need time to think, it is not like assembling a chair from IKEA. What I actually do, requires time and a working mind! I am still perplexed about their response.

But here another one:

2. Thank you for your email, I forwarded it to our boss. Until (s)he gets back to you, could you please proofread for us 220 words for 1 euro?

I was crawling from laughing. I know, why she asked me to do this. Because the girl, who proofreads by them also gave them the goodbye letter. You imagine 220 words for just 1 euro? I told them my rate again and they told me, I would be too expensive, they can’t afford to work with me. Strangely this agency just has sent out to its translators a beautiful email about having taken important steps (conformity to some industry standards, new image, new website, more important international clients) to move from a small translation agency to one of the monster agencies on the market. So what, you grow on my shoulders, but I should get a single euro for working?

The last is the best:

3. Thank you for your email. If you consider to work for these rates, I hope, you understand, that we need to give you other type of work too. In this first step, please do a translation into a foreign language. We will provide a native proofreader. (and after I refused to do this translation into a foreign language, they said:) I hope, you understand how easy task this would have been for you. You just would had to translate, the native proofer will do the main job.

I couldn’t believe it. I question my ability to find good agencies. If I worked for people, who really treat me like this to follow their own interest, what should I wait from agencies, who I will work for? I sent out some applications, no answer yet. Today I continue hunting. wish me luck!

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Business, Linguistics, Translation

How was my 2013?

What has happened in 2013? Ha-ha…I can tell you, what has happened. I became a business woman!

I translated since 2009 regularly – and not regularly since 2001 – so I already had some customers, which got me through the month quite easily. (Un)fortunately this was not my idea of running a business: “to get through the month”.

In January I started working for a very good agency. They became one of my favorite and most prolific clients. I worked for them only in German – Hungarian and translated exclusively automotive texts. I became better and quicker in translating this kind of material, which was necessary, since until this year I almost haven’t worked with German source texts. Beside this agency I worked for five new agencies in January, who found me through proz’ listing.

In February I had my first direct client from Hungary. I had to translate contracts and company material for them from Italian, which is not my specialty field, but since they wanted to buy out one of their clients and they absolutely needed a translation as soon and as good as possible and it was a friend, working there, who asked me, I did it.

I learned the difference between working without an intermediary person in terms of contact with the end client, who can help – and wants to help – in their own interest and how much more one can earn by cutting out the agency. My dream of working for direct clients started…Also in February I have been called by Proz!! Och, how happy I was. Helen asked me, if I want to do a training course and I obviously fell in love with the idea. It took almost the whole year, until we found a suitable time, but then in September I did my first Trados workshop! It was amazing!

Also in February I started to think about setting up my own “General Conditions”, which I should send to the outsourcers to sign before accepting their conditions on my turn. There is obviously some fear, that if I try to dominate a relationship, in which I should be at the bottom of the food-chain, the outsourcer quickly will go to another translator (another point of working for direct clients). The idea is still there…not realized yet.

March and April gave me two new Italian clients. One of them rubbed off during the year – it was a very dubious agency, having their seats in San Marino, Cyprus, running two companies with the same staff…why I started at them? They had a project from my 3 source languages into Hungarian. Yes, one project, 3 source languages, 1 target. It was just mine. I loved that, but started pushing them off later, when they gave me strange conditions, impossible deadlines and started to push to lower my – already low – rates. The other company gives me every month more and more and I finished the year interpreting for their client (see below in December). The only problem is, they pay after 120 days (interpretation gets paid by Easter, yes).

Also in April a third, very good paying agency came into my ways. I have been recommended by a Hungarian translator, who knew my capabilities through another agency. This was the first but not the last time, that Alex recommended me. Very good feeling by the way and this collaboration also led to another interpretation (see below in September) through another brilliant mind: Kriszta.

In May I was at the MemoQ festival in Hungary, and got a deeper insight into this beautiful tool.

In July I have been offered a very large job, which gave me to do for several other months. (until October)

August was a dead month. I had some projects, which I only had to deliver at the end of the month (good paying, I quite enjoyed not to be pinned to my desk all the time). It happens every year. August is like December, clients organize themselves at the beginning of the month and only want to get the stuff back at the end of the month. If I could have it every month like this, it would give me certain freedom. Och, yes, http://kiss2language.com has been launched in August.

September was the month of my first interpretation. I have been in Portoroz for the Sail Racing Academy, organized by BMW and I was  the Hungarian voice of Peter Steinkogler, the sailing coach of the course. Amazing experience, thank you Alex and Kriszta!

In October I finished the large job from July and felt like I would have my wings back. I went to IAPTI’s first conference to London. There I felt for the first time, like I would be in a union of very good and trustworthy people. IAPTI was the first translators association, which I joined in January. During the conference I had so many good laughs, heard of new conference destinations, met a brilliant Dutch translator, found new ideas, and Martha, a perpetuum mobile, whose business school I joined for January 2014.

November was the month of travelling. For the first time ever K2L switched off for a total of 10 days (became a virus, during the holiday season I just did it again)…

December? I joined ATA and registered for their exam. Well…we’ll see. Exciting four months for me to prepare.

The last important job, which I did was at Ducati. I interpreted the presentation of Model Year 2014 for the Hungarian Authorized Resellers. The year couldn’t have ended better.

2013 was the best year, I’ve ever had. So many things happened, so many exciting news made me proud of me and my business, I never earned so much in a year, like in 2013, I never met so many interesting people, like this year, I never had the feeling so strong of being able to succeed.

What 2014 will bring? Well…one thing for sure: a truly powerful and strong Hungarian translator for the translation business!

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Business, Linguistics, Translation

No sex at work

My idea separating my personal and business life took another step: I bought a business computer.

Surely, all things, I do to strap myself away from my business identity aims to have one goal: to give me my free-time (and life) back.

I struggled to have a good enough time-management to separate work time from free time, just by telling me, I need to stop working. It doesn’t work.

So I thought to take a very aggressive step: I separate my life from my business making myself as difficult as possible to work in my freetime or to distract myself from work doing free-time stuff. I will go on til restricting my browser’s available websites at work, if necessary – blocking websites on my business computer in certain hours, so I can’t, really can’t do anything else, then:

– either take an hour off from work so go on with something from my hobbies.

– or sticking to work.

I remember at my first workplace, when our employer the first time let us sign its internet navigation policy, we were just afraid. It was the time, where social media started. (on the first day, when company communication could/had to be managed over skype, I literally didn’t do anything else, than chatting with my colleagues. It needed to be learnt, that only, because I am reachable, I won’t respond immediately.)

Well, it takes me at least one day, until I de-install all the software from my personal laptop and install everything into the new Lenovo Ultrabook, but I am sure, this step will organize for me my day without me having to set up different policies against myself, which I am committed to break in every second, when I want to have 10 minutes off to catch up with facebook friends or watch the latest of the Big Bang Theory, or when I just want to move a 100 words short-assignment for after-dinner while watching the news.

Like Esterhazy said once: when you write on a car: it is dirty, clean writes the dirt. The same happens here: Restriction gives me freedom.

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