Posts Tagged With: PCS

So far…

Okay, so my last few posts have been RIDICULOUSLY wordy. Sorry. As I said in my last post, at this point we have been in this hotel room for 54 days…Now, I’m sure you are wondering “What?! you’re in HI! Go kayaking, swimming, mountain climbing…!” But see, here’s the thing. All of that costs $$$. We are NOT on vacation, and until we get reimbursed for the PCS, every expense piles up. Every 10 days, another $1100 goes on our CC for the room. When you can’t bake, you spend a lot on microwave food. Blech. Or restaurants. Or pizza. (The only place that delivers to the island is Dominoes, FYI) All of these are pretty pricey options. Since our hotel room has a kitchenette, you only actually get HALF of your per diem– so for us, that’s $60 a day for food. It sounds like a lot, and on the mainland it would be. But here? Not so much. A trip to Teddys Bigger Burger (think 5 Guys) for 2 of us (2 fountain drinks, 2 burgers, 2 fries) = $26.95 Chili’s (mango tea, strawberry lemonade (no alcohol!), 2 Mexi-bowl salads and some guac = $43.51 (I have a stack of reciepts here that I’m looking at). So if we get $60 a day to eat– just by going to Chili’s and a burger joint- we’ve already gone over budget into the land of un-reimbursed spending. My advice? If you are on Ford Island? Head over to the Mini-NEX (I know – I warned against that earlier but this is the exception!) over across from the Air field and museum. Inside is a Subway. Go to Subway. It’s healthy, it’s (comparatively) cheaper and healthier as options go.  And it will keep you within budget. This will become important.

Now- as to activity time. Part of this is me. I feel guilty leaving my poor dogs in the hotel room for extended periods of time. I also dislike the idea of driving to a beach, looking for parking, cooking in the sun, and then riding all the way back to the lodge soggy or sandy or burnt. Ugh.. I’m actually just waiting until we are in our house. The reason for this? We signed the lease for a cute little house 9 houses up from the beach!! Yup! We are going to be living within walking distance to a beach! Which means: no parking issues, no staying any longer than you feel like it, no sitting in traffic coming and going… I can simply grab my towel, sunscreen, waterbottle and book and walk down the street. Best of all?? (Because, yeah, it gets better!!!) ‘Our’ beach is dog-friendly!! Say whaaaat?! YES. You read right. We scored a beach bungalow with a dog-friendly beach. THIS is why we have been in the hotel so long. We decided it was worth the wait.

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Originally, we had looked at a townhouse in the same area. Well, we went to actually LOOK at it (the day we were going to sign the lease!) and it wasn’t sitting well with me. The house was great, and spacious by Hawaiian standards–but it was in a cul de sac that felt REALLY crowded to me (multiple car households?), and the fenced in yard (reason we chose the place!) was 110% burrs. Yeah. The same burrs that chased us out of the hotel dog-park.  It was unusable. So, on a whim, we went back to the leasing office and I asked the agent “Okay, it looks great,buuuuut…. do you by ANY chance at all have one of the single houses available for us to see?”  (When you have dogs- shared walls are less than ideal. If we took the townhouse, we were going to share a wall, but thought the yard made it worthwhile. Upon sight, we decided it wasn’t.) He just so happened to know of a house coming up… The lady was in her driveway (she was moving out that day!). He gave us the keys to a similar property (same floorplan, but attached unit) so we could ‘see’ the inside. We loved the layout… SO we scouted out the location that was going to be available: close to dog park, close to beach, close to office… Went back to the office and signed for that house. Only catch? It was going to need renovating… and wouldnt’ be available until June…  We decided it was worth the wait. So here we sit. Still inthe hotel. But we move into the Beach Bungalow on Saturday!!! Only catch– household goods, although already on island (here since April) can’tbe delivered until June 20. FFS…  So we will be camping in our house for 2 weeks. Near the beach. I think we’ll struggle through it somehow… 😉

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Westward Expansion: Doggie Details

****PLEASE NOTE: these tips although solid and legit, are NOT all-emcompassing! There is a LOT involved in shipping your fuzzball to the island of Hawaii. Please be sure you get the complete ‘checklist for 5-day or less program’  from the military vet (civilian vets seldom have them) and cross check it with the Hawaiian Dept of Agriculture!! I’m jotting stuff down as I remember them in retrospect now, but will try to create a seperate post with a more thorough list later!****

 

Well, it took me 4 days to drive cross country. I left Florida @ 11 am Monday April 7, and pulled into SanDiego around 5 pm Thursday evening. The way I planned my route was simple: go straight. Stop after 9 hrs. I used a website called TravelMath, to help plot out my stopping points ahead of time. (Remember: I went from VA to FL in March, to be with my family first– so this part of thr trip was FL to CA) This way I was able to be sure I had a pet friendly reservation for every night. Nothing worse than hitting exhaustion point and having nowhere safe to sleep!! Courtesy of such sites as BringFido and PetFriendlyHotels— I had a safe and clean place to crash every night of my journey.

So anyway, I Left The Villages, FL @ 11 am. I had planned on an earlier start, but decided to get my pups pre-flight check /vet appt out of the way. This appointment, must be done within 10 days prior to flight. Now, obviously it is a better idea to leave a few days flex, just in case of flight delays! I had planned on the pups flying with me on the 14th, which put me at 7 days, with 3 to spare. Plans changed though, and they ended up flying out on Friday the 11th ahead of me! (Thank goodness I didn’t wait until San Diego to get that vet appt!! ) ***As a reminder, during this appointment you MUST get a certificate (or even a notation!) of acclimation, in addition to the health certificate and a note from the doctor stating that they applied a flea and tick preventative like Frontline or Advantix 2. Be sure you get seperate certs for EACH animal! The vet I went to tried to give me one cert with both pups info on it. No bueno. Each animal crate MUST have an original AND a copy of the form for each pup carried within the crate. Place the original (BLUE INK) in an envelope or page protector taped to the top of the crate and write on it “for Hawaiian Agriculture Use ONLY! DO NOT REMOVE” and a seperate envelope containing the xerox copy for the airlines. They will keep that copy for their records,so you don’t want them grabbing the wrong one! Be careful! Now, the Letter of Acclimation… That is actually just a line or two from the vet hat specifically states that your pet cannot be left on the Tarmac or in any space for longer than 15 minutes of it doesn’t register between certain temps. (**Actual wording, courtesy of our pet movers: “Pet can be transferred between cargo facility and aircraft for periods not longer than  15 minutes in temperatures between 20 and 85 degrees.”)

The crates also must have a gallon sized Ziplock baggie of food (in case of delays!). This will be taped by the cargo people to the top of the crate. I suggest writing your pets name and what brand/flavor food is contained therein, (esp. if your pup has any wheat allergies!!) as well as amount given. Just in case. Since my pups were being picked up by the pet movers early (again: Island Pet Movers, they are WONDERFUL!) and boarded for a few days (long weekend) I also bought 2 collapsible bowls each, attached them to the outside of the crate door with a carabiner and wrote their names and food instructions on the bottoms. Inside the crates, you need to have an absorbent thing (diaper pad type thing) and for their comfort, I also put in 2 crate pads (like dog beds) underneath the potty pad. I’m not optimistic that the potty pad served it’s purpose (my dogs love to shred paper, so really….expectations are not high). My theory was, if one crate cushion was soiled, it can be tossed and there would be a clean one underneath. I know they aren’t intended to be disposable, but we all know our pets… 😉 They cannot have any toys, but I spoke to the cargo dudes, and they let me tuck a little (no longer stuffed) bee in a Baggie on their crates for them to play with when they get to the boarding facility.

Now,the flight… My pups flew cargo. Believe it or not, there is NO difference between flying as excess baggage and as cargo. None. Same place on the plane! However, by flying them cargo, you check them in ahead of your flight– In a separate building all together. You aren’t stuck with 2 stressed puppies in crates, being dragged/wheeled/carried through a busy airport. I don’t know about your dogs– but mine would be barking and stressed by that. The way this worked out, I brought them to cargo, presented my paperwork, and held each pup as they checked the crates for contraband. Once that was done, they secured the crates with their own zip ties,added some hardware to Oliver’s crate (each crate must have 4 screws down each side!!) and they kept the crates side by side on a flat dolly type mover in their warehouse until flight time. It was relatively dark, cool, and quiet, so the pups both calmed right down! (***or maybe it was the Sentry calming collars the IPM people recommended?! ) Either way, when they were calm, I felt calmer…

Now… Back to my cross country trip

 

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I like to move it, move it…!

Just kidding. This sucks.
I’m sitting here under my magnolia tree with my mom, phone and a cup of coffee, just doing my best to stay out of the way. It’s been. Two steady days of these guys packing everything, and the guys out back are STILL working on putting up our new fence. Point of observation: these guys, have taken 2 days to pack up and inventory every damn thing we own. The guys in my backyard, have been here since Monday. So five days and still not done the friggin fence. For real. These movers are hauling ass. These fencers aren’t hauling anything. :-/
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So, the movers are here. They got here around 9 am, and got right to stickering , inventorying and loading the trucks. Now, the trucks… The trucks that showed up are many and large…I suspect we are going to be over our weight allowance (please not by much…!) and seeing 3 trailers here is not helping to ease that suspicion. The trailers are soft sided, like a heavy canvas curtain that just slides back. Inside are 7 truck height (8′ High,4′ wide,12’deep)crates (so we are currently equipped with 21 crates. Let’s see how many we fill, hmm?
When I tell you this is overwhelming, take it as the understatement of the century.
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Once the trucks leave, mom and I will begin the whole house scrubdown. At some point today we will be meeting with KK our property manager. Had a call from him last night, and I have to say– I really like him. He hustles. He called last tonight to tell us that he may have a renter for us, as soon as beginning of the month! This would be SUCH a weight off my mind, as it would take the burden of a mortgage off our shoulders. So, cross your fingers… Meantime? Dad is blowing up moms phone. He is so excited about us (sister, brother and I) coming home in the next few days…:-) ❤ Personally, I think he just misses the pups… 😉
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Regression

I don’t care how old you are. When shit hits the fan, and you feel like you have too much on your shoulders–having your mom swoop in feels like a rescue. Mind you, we may just be spending the next few days drinking wine and throwing stuff out, but somehow– that’s enough. Having another living, breathing, person under the same roof– who has done this before, who understands the stress of an overseas move, and sharing the stress of dad’s illness. It helps. I’m NOT losing my mind (appearances to the contrary). Or at least if I am, I have company along the way. 

Thus far, we have killed a couple cups of coffee, discussed daddy’s treatment plan (as of right now, subject to change–of course), and laughed at my students ‘We’ll miss you’ artwork. ❤  My kids made all these little cards and pictures, featuring lots of little pictures of them and me. I love every one of them… Other things accomplished– my car will be legal (or inspected anyway) today at 4, I received my GLB (Gov’t Bill of Lading, not Gay-Lesbian-Bi! lol!) today for this weeks move, and now have an estimated HHG (Household Goods) delivery date of May 5. Theoretically. We’ll see if that works out… 😉 Anyhow– there’s that. So, today is more of the same: tossing stuff I don’t need/want, packing things I don’t want broken, and making sure my important-keep-my-hands-on-it crap is in my car (not to be trifled with/lost by movers!). Onward through the fog…

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Time for a SITREP

So, Friday was a SeaMonkeyMobile Marathon. My morning began at 7, with a hot date at Safe-Lite Glass to have some chips filled in his windshield. Windshield repair went smoothly (though, stepping ankle deep in a puddle afterward, sure made me shake my head!) Next up was getting his car cleaned and detailed. I ended up finding a place to get his car done, but oh wow. It was pretty funny… Keep in mind, I chose it because of it’s close proximity to the VPC…So it HAD to be CLOSE. Car could NOT get dirty between there and VPC. (Hawaiian import rules: no dirt ANYWHERE on or in your stuff) Of course.. it was pouring out. :-/ Of course. So I went to this place. This is the ‘waiting room.’
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It was– a dive. It was a hole in the wall front, and a single bay garage in the back The garage looked like a personal garage (crap EVERYWHERE), I was greeted by Mr/Ms. AlexA. (you figure that one out). I will say– his makeup was MUCH better than mine… He (She?) reminded me, 100% of LaFayette from True Blood. Seriously!!! Do-Rag, scarf, makeup and all!!) Detailing the car took almost 2 hours, in which time I got to listen to Mister Sister wailing along with Whitney, Beyonce, and Mariah. Trust me– you had to be there. End result was good though, car was clean, and I had PLENTY of time to get to the VPC which was only just on the other side of the same plaza I was in! 😀 WIN! (Finally!)

The VPC process…

Oh man. VPC is supposed to be for ‘Vehicle Processing Center’ though I think “Vast Paperwork Created” works too. When you go to VPC, plan to carve out 2-3 hours for that process (no joke) and double check your paperwork before you go!! Fleet and Family had given me a couple papers on what was needed (a hitlist, if you will). However, QUESTION EVERYTHING. GO TO THE SOURCE. Go to the Whereismypov.com (it will redirect you to a more secure site) and make sure you have everything listed on it’s website. Navy tells you ‘bring 4-5 copies of orders’– VPC asks for *7* copies of orders. (See how your day could be ruined by not taking time to double check??), proof of his windshield repair (since chips were still visible), registration, inspection, etc…OH! And– here’s where I almost got screwed: a SPECIAL POA for the vehicle!!! I have a General POA (General, as in ‘All encompassing’. General as in “I could sell him to the Sandanistas or enlist him in the Foreign Legion” but apparently NOT General as in “I can ship his %^^&* car to his next duty station…”) for the Sea Monkey, but that isn’t good enough. This POA must also have his VIN number specified, my name on there, etc. Anyhow, car gets inspected (as does driver…groan! “Are those contacts or are your eyes naturally that gorgeous..?” ) Inspector spent most of his time hitting on me– though that ended when he got to the trunk. Inside the trunk of the Toaster (our name for the SeaMonkey Mobile– it’s a Scion XB) was the weirdest damn assortment of things. In his trunk, was a cargo net, 2 glow sticks, a roll of duct tape,  and a Marlin Spike. Of course. A Marlin Spike. NATURALLY. All inappropriate comments ended then and there. 😉
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Car was immaculate, my paperwork was in order (and I had even made 6 copies of EVERYTHING, so that was good!), inspection was done and I finally got out the door. Sea Monkey Mobile is now en route to it’s new home in HI, and they tell me it “should arrive @ April 11” — a few days before I arrive, which would save me the trouble (and expense!) of a rental vehicle. Sweeeeeeet…..

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Lightweight…

Today I got the note from the movers who came and took our UB Packout– official weigh in for my ridiculous crap was 358 lbs. Remember: You are allowed up to 1000 lbs. :-/  I packed like I’m planning on being homeless on the beach. A cabana, lots of towels and a plethora of lawn chairs. (Oh! And dog beds and a griddle!) WTF. All I can do is laugh…If you lose your sense of humour along the way, the ride will be miserable indeed…

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Division of Me and MrsUSN

Well, it was never my original intention for this to be one of those blogs where I use it as a personal journal. That’s why no names, no rate, no rank, none of that have been used.  But– life happens.  Anyone who has been  a military spouse knows, life (and Murphy’s Law) tend to ‘happen’ at the worst possible times. Or so we think at the time– somehow they always end up being blessings in disguise. Heavy disguise. Invisible Man levels of disguise…

Anyhow– Initially, I wanted this blog to chronicle our move to Hawaii and all the chaos involved in that. I had no idea life would toss us a curve ball like this one. My dad was diagnosed this week with a Metastatic Malignant Melanoma, I mentioned it yesterday. Well, obviously this has really screwed with my chi. To put it mildly. But part of this crazy life (Mil or Civ) is adapting, improvising adn overcoming. This is one of those moments where ones’ tuck n’ roll skills are really important.

Since SeaMonkey is away, adn I am handling this move and now this, a sick parent– I’m going to need this blog to pull double duty for me. I understand, not everyone wants to read about my personal life, and admittedly- I don’t expect it will be anything thrilling. But it’s a vent. It’s a place for me to keep sane during this craziness. So, I’ve added a page to this blog– the division of me adn MrsUSN. When you go to mrsusn.com you will find my moving info. If you want to know how I (personally) am doing– I’ve added a page.. In the menu on the right just click ‘Brain Salad’ and you can see whats in my head lately. Hopefully this will keep my blog relevant to strangers looking for moving advice, or friends/family wondering how I’m doing.

****03/10/14  EDIT: I had to remove the ‘Personal’ Page–simply because I coudln’t find a way to send my updated posts directly to it. Everything defaults to the main page. SO, buckle up or get off the ride, because it looks like anyone who stays is in for both the personal and more public sides of my life. **** ❤ Mrs.USN ****

In the meantime, please enjoy this pitiful look at how my packout went the other day. 2 Days into dads diagnoses, I just couldn’t think straight. As is evident by this shipping manifesto… (go ahead, count how many folding chairs and coffeemakers I packed! ) It truly is ridiculous.  (FYI: the bins marked ‘clothing’ were actually just beach towels. Yeah, beach towels. No clothes were packed…)

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I need more time…

Holy hell what a week…

So, this week (from Wednesday on) will go down in the books as the WORST week of my life, thus far. Wednesday, I got a text from my mom “Dr’s office called, bad news, both gotta go in. Uh oh.”  So, needless to say, THAT was on my mind. That evening I found out just how bad the news could be… My healthy as a horse dad, was just diagnosed with Malignant Nodular Melanoma, Stage t4b.  I hate that I didn’t have to ask what that meant. For the uninitiated, cancer runs on a scaling system of 0-4. t4b means tumours, stage 4, and the b indicates a likely spread to organs. My folks walked into the office expecting to hear ‘you need to have surgery’ and walked out with my dad only having 4 months to live.  4. Months. 4  months.

I don’t think I have to tell you, I went to pieces. Still am. We all are.

How am I supposed to move halfway around the world away from them right now?! I just want to go down there and be there for them, and help them in any way I possibly can. But I can’t, not yet. I have to move my house, ship his car, hire the property manager, rent my house, and give my notice at work.

So, after 2 days of pretty much non-stop sobbing I came up with my tentative plan. I need to save my dad. I’m not ready for goodbye. I called HR for my school district today and got my leave balance: 35 days. I asked the hardest question: “Can I use my sick leave for a terminally ill parent?”  The answer lifted a weight: YES.  I know right about now you are probably thinking ‘What about FMLA?’– well, FMLA goes into effect AFTER you have used up your own leave. It also is unpaid and really just exists to protect employees jobs, should they need extended leave. I’m not coming back here. I don’t need it. What that 35 days WILL allow me however, (with a doctors note explaining this) is to leave as soon as the packers move me out. I’ll head straight for my parents home, down in FL. I will use my last 3 weeks stateside to be with them. I need to be there.  Additionally, what I will be able to do is give my “last day” as May 1, so I can still be on payroll, but use my sick leave for the month of April and still get a paycheck. That last paycheck is how I will be able to afford to fly home if dad loses this battle. Which he can’t. He just can’t.

I spoke to my sister and brother (Seattle and Rome,Italy) and we’ve decided to spend “St.Paddy’s with Daddy.” So we will all be converging on them at the same time, flying in from our various points on the globe. He will be one month past diagnoses and should be already following whatever agreed upon protocols it takes to fix this. I’m guessing he’ll be feeling it by then, so having all 3 of us home to help should be good for both him and mom. The part I’m dreading though, is going to be when I have to get in the car and leave. At some point, I will have to leave for my cross country trek and then board the plane that takes me so far away from him. I hate it so much. This move that I was excited about, is suddenly weighing so heavily on me. SO much is depending on how his treatments go and how he responds to them. I’ve found cases of Stage 4b’s actually recovering! I HAVE! It’s not a big percentage, but it’s big enough for me to have faith. And pray. Not gonna lie– right now, I’m taking prayers, wishes, karma, light and love, and anything else anyone is willing to give to keep my dad.

Meantime– today was my UB packout. You’ll forgive me if this wasn’t a priority?

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In a nutshell: I didn’t pack. I haven’t slept since Tuesday night. I’m a hot mess. Packing did not happen. Since sleep didn’t go so well either though, I was up early and tried again to pack. I grabbed some of the Rubbermaid tubs I have saved from so many moves, and started throwing things in them. Now, mind you, the UB packout is supposed to be things you need to set up your new home. The vitals. What did I consider vital this morning? Sigh… yeah. Not much. As a result, when this shipment arrives in HI — opening these boxes will be like Christmas in the Alzheimer’s ward.  I say that not as any kind of insult to anyone with Alzheimers, but simply a commentary on how random my packing was this morning. Example: one box, labeled by the movers: “Dog beds and Griddle.” Because, you know, I TOTALLY kept those items together.  (What?!)

Sigh.

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Sigh.

Sigh.

I already warned the SeaMonkey– I’m pretty sure I packed a coffeepot, linens, a beach cabana, and about 65 folding chairs. Don’t ask. I was (and am) distracted.

Oh, I failed to mention the part where I fell apart on the movers. Yeah, that was magical. One of the movers was about to remove a strip of blue painters tape from one of my rubbermaids and I flipped out. On the tape, in my dads neat-but skritchy handwriting were the words “Muffin Pans”. I flipped out. “NO! Don’t take that off!! My dad wrote it…” and I fell apart , before managing to squeak out “…he’s stage 4.”  He understood immediately, and bless that man, he took clear packing tape and covered the painters tape. “We’ll protect it. It will be there when you get to Hawaii. And I’m sorry about your dad.”

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One thing I am always amazed by— when confronted with cancer, even in a stranger, people are compassionate and want to help. This man had been in my house for 30 minutes, I blew up on him over a piece of tape, and he was still so kind and took measures to protect what was so important to me at hte moment.

A little kindness and understanding really do go a long way. ❤

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Comin’ up quick…!

So, this week.

OH, this week.

This week? Oh NO!

Whats on this weeks agenda…? Well, I’ll be interviewing potential property managers, packing out another load of stuff for goodwill, getting the info on shipping the SeaMonkeyMobile, getting said SMMObile ready to ship (oil change, nearly empty tank, replace windshield, deliver to port…), waiting for the call that says when the movers are coming, pay for the pet movers and car shipping, do our taxes,  and —oh yeah!— packout on Friday!!!

Wait…what?

Yup. First Packout (UB) goes out on Friday. What that means is, all the urgently needed crap goes first. (Urgently needed in HI but somehow not here for the remaining  6 weeks..?) Wait.. 6 weeks?!?!?

OMG. Shit’s gettin’ real folks. I am moving to a tropical island in the South Pacific in a few weeks time. I had a feeling this was going to happen fast, even when it seemed like it was forever away. I think that has something to do with SeaMonkey being gone. Deployments, schools, underways, field-ex’s, whatever the reason he’s gone– we dread them and hate all the lost time, but somehow, they always go SO fast.  I might be an anomaly. I seem to always be hearing or bumping into wives who are CONSTANTLY bemoaning their husbands absences. Don’t get me wrong, I hate that he’s gone, but I understand it’s not personal. He’s off to work. I’m pretty sure this is what it must have been like for Lois Lane and Superman. She understood, when he took his glasses off and put on his spandex (er…SuperSuit?) he was off to do his job. She just hoped at the end of the day, he would be home, take off his cape and put on his Clark Kent flannel PJ’s. That was their time.

This doesn’t mean, I don’t wish he were here to handle some of this…He is going to owe me SO big for this….

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Oh IZ…. you sing it, big guy!

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