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Geocaching On A Budget


derekdoubleut
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I just started 'caching this past weekend. I got the GPS receiver dirt cheap from an associate, but don't have a tons of money to invest in trade items.

I don't want to buy cheap dollar sotre items that people don't want, either.

I want to get items people actually need.

Any ideas?

I already got scolded by someone for not leaving a "good enough" trade item in one cache.

Thanks.

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You can simply sign the log and do not make any trades, do not take anything, and do not leave anything, known as TNLN, this is a very common practice, and not frowned upon at all.

 

Go find the cache and have fun. There is no reason why you cannot fully enjoy this activity without spending a bunch of money.

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Small first aid kits, water bottles, baby wipes, keychains, rain ponchos, wet naps, batteries, eyeglass repair kits, and other little things like this are usually in the impulse aisles of chain stores and don't cost much. Watch the Sunday papers for small items on sale. Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars are always popular with kids and can be had for as little as 49 cents each when on sale. Ebay is a great resource for small items in large lots. (Just watch the shipping charges.) Promotional items from trade shows are always popular but are getting harder to come by. Don't knock the dollar stores just yet. They get some interesting items from time to time. I paid just $1.00 for some Lego sets that sell in stores for $5-$7.

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I buy my cache containers at the dollar store - many pens and spiral books for cache supplies

 

I buy many (not all) trade items there also. It is not what I call junk. Calculator-pen sets - clip on calculators, mini calcs, key chain calcs, many kids toys - pet supplies - leashes brushes (pet theme cache) - and many electronics items. Stickers, stamps and ink pads, fancy colored erasers, etc. So if you watch what you are doing you don't get junk. If you take your time you can find some pretty decent stuff there. Have had some good comments about my swag.

 

survival stuff is relatively inexpensive and sought after - the think survival blanket - the chemical light stix - whistles - mirrors - compasses - etc -

Edited by CompuCash
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A decent trade item really doesn't cost very much. For example, ribbons from a local teacher's store that say things like "You did It!" or "Good Citizen Award" only cost pennies. Believe it or not, I would rather trade for your signature item than anything else. Even if it's just a stamp on a piece of paper.

 

Personally, I think there is more pleasure (and less pressure) to leave trade items that someone would enjoy without concerning myself about getting something in return. And if there is something that I really like sitting in a cache? Well, if I needed that badly, I'll go buy it.

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On a budget? That would be me! Caching can be done dirt cheap and simple.

- - Do day trips and incorporate caching with other activities. The wifey wants to check out a new mall? She drops cash, you find cache. Hubby wants to go fishing? He casts, you cache. You have a new incentive to visit friends and family that may be a distance away. Pack a picnic lunch and you're out nothing more than the gas and park admission fee, if any.

 

- - Cheap trade goods? Your own handmade can be sweet and a special treat for the next trader. Friendship bracelets are popular. Beadwork. Remember the old "God's Eye" you make with yarn and popsicle sticks? Add a loop for hanging and put it in a baggie. One of my coolest prizes was a small "portrait" made by gluing a few small, colorful stones to a piece of tagboard and decorated with pen to make a small family of quail walking in line, then wrapped with plastic wrap.

 

- - Cheap trade goods? Have you ever been to an auction house? I would amaze you the kind of stuff you can pick up foa dollar. I got a box with dozens of lanyards and racing memorabilia for $2. I've been passing them out.

 

- - Cheap trade goods? Snag free stuff at the county fair; I've got a bunch of mini first-aid kits from a local hospital I've been handing out.

 

- - Cheap trade goods? Check out the "miscellaneous" bags at your local Goodwill / thrift store. You can often find lots of McToys still in their baggies, Matchbox and Hot Wheels, new boxes of crayons, pencils, plus other goodies.

 

- - This is a great hobby for us cheapskates: You can enjoy it tremendously without breaking the bank. Go have fun.

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I just started 'caching this past weekend. I got the GPS receiver dirt cheap from an associate, but don't have a tons of money to invest in trade items.

I don't want to buy cheap dollar sotre items that people don't want, either.

I want to get items people actually need.

Any ideas?

I already got scolded by someone for not leaving a "good enough" trade item in one cache.

Thanks.

If money is an issue, don't even trade. It's not required. TNLN is common, esp. with veteran geocachers.

 

I can't believe someone would berate you for leaving something "not good enough", unless you did something like leaving a dirty golf ball and taking a brand new Mini Mag Lite.

 

As far as inexpensive, but useful items, I can think of a few. Walmart sells emergency rain ponchos for 87 cents. I stock up on them whenever I visit there.

 

I also found a bag of decks of mini playing cards in my local supermarket. The bag contains 10 decks and sells for $2.50. They are sold as party favors.

 

I've also seen Matchbox cars on sale at 2 for a buck. I'll buy a bunch whenever they are on sale.

 

Another cheap, useful item is Post Its. You can buy a block of 12 packs for $4.50 at Staples.

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On Saturday I found myself at a surplus store, the kind that has boxes of hospital supplies, 6000 motel shampoo bottles, all kind of hardware clips, etc. I would be embarassed to tell you how little I paid for sewing kits and Ohio key chains. I usually trade for about the cheapest thing in the cache just to get it out of there. At one cache recently, I didn't find any one item that was worse than any other item...so I took a signature item and left a Ty Beenie.

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Wal-Mart has many good, but inexpensive items for $1.50 or less. I personally love fishing, so I leave fishing lures as one of my signature items. I get the $1 ones that will catch fish in the area that the caches are in. I also work for a technology company and we have lots of vendors that give away some cool and useful trinkets (like LED flashlights, emergency whistles, pens that glow w/ neon, t-shirts, brand-new nike golf balls, etc.)

 

Just a few ideas... B)

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I generally don't trade, but if my little boy sees a McToy he likes, I generally carry some packs of swivels or snells. You can find stores where you can get packs of 6 or 8 pieces of kid-safe fishing swag for a quarter a pack. I wouldn't recommend packs of lead sinkers unless you want to inspire a lead thread. Plus they make your pack heavier. B)

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I want to get items people actually need.

I think you've set yourself up for failure if you want to supply people with things they need in a Geocache.

 

Most of us don't really need anything (except maybe love, money and time, none of which is likely to be found in sufficient quantitiies in a cache).

 

Relax. Ignore anyone that gives you grief for not trading. Then, because it feels good to trade, figure out things that will be fun for others to find, not things they need. I personally make puzzles out of coathanger-like wire that I think are pretty cool and that have received a fair bit of possitive feedback.

 

Good luck.

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Auntie Weasal and I must shop at the same store, mine has all sorts of novelty joke itemsfor $1, including whoopee coushins. If nothing else its really fun to watch the expression of the clerk when I buy 10 whoopee coushins in one purchase.

 

Also try your local coin store, mine has a cigar box full of foriegn coins at 8 for $1.00. I polish the old ones with some Brasso and they look good as new. I put the coins into small cloth bags that I make with a sewing machine, they're very popular.

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Some budget caching tips:

  • Combine geocaching with other activities. If you have to go somewhere anyway, check if you can search for caches there on the way or while you're there. There's nothing sweeter than to be able to go caching on a trip paid by your employer. :blink:
  • Search more than one cache at the time. It's cheaper in the long run to do a day tour to an area of eight caches than to drive searching them on eight separate days.
  • Plan your route. My GPS doesn't have maps, but with only MapQuest maps and some paper road maps I've been able to optimize my route on a several-caches-tour, and probably saved few liters of gas too. Not to mention time.
  • Use the parking coordinates, if provided. Usually it doesn't pay much off if you try to find the most optimal parking spot. It's just unnecessary, polluting, time-wasting, neighborhood-disturbing and expensive driving. You may also as the cache owner separately the parking instructions, if (s)he hasn't provided them.
  • Ride bicycle, walk or drive public transport to the caches near you. It's most likely cheaper, and moving with your muscular power is also good for your health.
  • Don't trade. Of course, you can keep a small supply of trade items with you in case there's something in some cache you REALLY want, but generally I see no point recycling worthless trinkets from a set of coords to another.
  • Make your lunch at home and pack it with you. It's probably cheaper than going in a restaurant. Plus, you know what you get. It's nice to eat your provisions in the great wide open after finding that cache. Tap water from home is also cheaper than soda from gas station.

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Also try your local coin store, mine has a cigar box full of foriegn coins at 8 for $1.00. I polish the old ones with some Brasso and they look good as new. I put the coins into small cloth bags that I make with a sewing machine, they're very popular.

Oi! You! Get out of my head!

 

I do this, too, only I buy off eBay. You can get a pound of world coins (guaranteed not to be worth anything) for about $8 -- and a pound is a lot of pocket change. Then you get the fun of looking them up online and figuring out what they are and where they came from. I enjoyed that bit so much, I had to be smacked up-side the head to make me stop buying them. I have enough coins now to geocache for, like, a thousand years. I put them in tiny coin envelopes and put my stamp on them.

 

I get some satisfaction knowing I'm not the only person on the planet merrily distributing whoopee cushions and old coins. I'm not sure what it means, but it's nice to have company. I tried to come up with a "Johnny Appleseed" comparison here, but all the names I dreamed up were fairly family unfriendly.

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I already got scolded by someone for not leaving a "good enough" trade item in one cache. 

 

I can't believe someone would berate you for leaving something "not good enough", unless you did something like leaving a dirty golf ball and taking a brand new Mini Mag Lite.

 

Upon cursory glace at the OP's logs, it appears as though there may have been some initial newbie confusion with the practice of TSLN (took something, left nothing); and maybe some potential item trading by the OP for travel bugs (meaning he may have left a travel bug, and taken an item).

 

Generally, the OP should know that these two acts are generally frowned upon by the geocaching community. Trade up, trade even, or don't trade is a frequent mantra round these parts (whether or not its adhered to, well, that's a different story).

 

On a more positive note, it looks like the OP has received some good advice regarding items for trade, and can move forward from his first wobbly steps on the geocaching stage.

 

Welcome.

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I definetely cache on a budget. I generally TNLN, but I have been carrying around some small playdoh packages that we got from McD's in the happy meal. They are sealed, and last a long time. I got this idea when one of my kids saw playdoh in a cache and we didn't have anything to trade. They were not very happy.

 

I call myself a casual cacher. I carry around a notebook with the cache pages in them for areas I might be in. Whenever I'm in the area for a meeting, shopping, or visiting family I stop and visit a quick cache. My wife has become very understanding and just sort of sighs at me now. What I have noticed is that my wife is now the first to say, "Hey this would make a good cache container" or "Is there a cache in there?" when we drive by a park.

 

Caching is not an expenseive hobby, at least for me.

 

Agent Okie

 

69 finds w/o gps

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I'm going to ditto the sentiment on personal signature items.

 

You can make them, buy them, have them made in bulk, etc. There is at least one thread here that talks about people's sig items.

 

I make hand-stamped bookmarks, which of course goes along with the fact that I am a librarian. People seem to love them, and I have received more than one e-mail saying, "my son/daughter was so excited to find a CL bookmark in the cache." Who knew?

 

Personally, I love finding sig items, and was THRILLED when I recently scored one of Auntie Weasel's Coin sigs!

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I have the same budget issues, as in I don't have one. One good thing about goin to college, though, is that there is usually someone, somewhere giving something away for free.

 

eg. The first week of this semester people were giving away free microsoft office software (some sort of organization/note program). Now the disks are just sitting of tables in the various lounges. I just grabbed about ten of the cd's over the week. :blink:

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I have two suggestions.

 

1: Keep your eyes open for deals - I just bought 12 compases on keychains which are really neat at a liquidator. I'm not even going to say how cheap I got them.

 

2: Homemade items. I've seen ideas in other threads for making cool items, and I personally would think that most of them would be cool. Anyone who takes the time to create something for a cache is trading up IMHO.

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We too are on a limited budget. I work paart-time (Searching for fulltime) I've found garage sales to be a great help. I also check the end caps at the local grocery stores. K-mart. Wal-mart even some of the drug stores. Each have items for a $1 or under. I've found mini radios, flashlights, calculators, tape measures, cool magnets, other neat stuff, etc. If you look carefully at the Dollar Stores, you can find some neat stuff that is not junk.

I wonder if we may be putting too much emphasis on what we retrieve rather than what we found, the cache. I don't care what I find in a cache, sometimes I take something that someone else might not consider a nice item, just because it's a treasure to claim for my hunt.

Several of the items I take, I place in other caches anyway. I think that might be what some cachers intend to be done.

Lilbluyze

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Don't give up on dollar store items. If you look you can sometimes find real gems. For instance I found a splitter for the cigarette lighter in a car the other day so you could hook up your GPS and your PDA at the same time. Only $1. You can find flashlights and other assorted items that are appreciated also for $1. Another area to explore is garage sales. There are lots of items that are cheap that would be greatly appreciated at a garage sale, and lastly if you are talented make your own items. They are greatly prized. Currently I look for the signatue item cards left by other cachers. I am starting an album of them.

 

Remember it doesn't have to be expensive to be appreciated.

 

:blink:

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Personally I like the following inexpensive items:

  • Things from nature or made from natural materials. I always leave several polished agates, that I found and polished myself. Other things from nature:
    • Interesting seeds (e.g. trees or unique plants), with sprouting instructions
    • Film canister of sand or dirt from some interesting place, labeled with its story
    • Interesting rocks and minerals
    • Interesting shells, with information about where they came from
    • Simple woodcarvings
    • Pressed flowers - either alone, or on a blank card: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&ie=...+greeting+cards
    • Dried, brightly colored leaves in a zip lock bag, with information about where they came from.
    • Go to your favorite quiet outdoor place(s) with a camcorder and tripod, and record the sound for at least 20 minutes. Transfer this to your PC and copy it to audio CDs. Label the CDs with your story of that place.

    [*]Anything you made yourself

    [*]If you are a photographer, put your best photos on a CD.

    [*]Used music CD's

    [*]Interesting old books

    [*]Lottery ticket/scratcher

    [*]Interesting coins or currency

    [*]Mystery objects found with a metal detector

    [*]Technology items that were once expensive but are now worthless, e.g. super strong magnet from stepper motor

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I wonder if we may be putting too much emphasis on what we retrieve rather than what we found, the cache. I don't care what I find in a cache, sometimes I take something that someone else might not consider a nice item, just because it's a treasure to claim for my hunt.

It's a funny thing...I usually don't take anything out of a cache, but I care what's in it. If a cache is clean inside, and everything's in good shape and there's good swag, I like the cache better. It makes me cheerful.

 

If it's shabby or empty, it feels sad. If it's really shabby or empty or moldy or neglected, I actually find myself having a bit of contempt for it. Yes, I realize that last bit sounds a touch -- how you say? -- insane.

 

I've found a couple recently that were three year old hides, but they were in splendid shape. It made me feel like people had been lovingly tending them all this time...knocking the dirt out, giving them a wipe-down, replacing old baggies, trading up. I got the feeling people liked the cache and wanted to take care of it. I make an effort to follow the example.

 

Then again, I also pat my car and tell it what a good job it's doing.

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It's a funny thing...I usually don't take anything out of a cache, but I care what's in it. If a cache is clean inside, and everything's in good shape and there's good swag, I like the cache better. It makes me cheerful.

 

If it's shabby or empty, it feels sad. If it's really shabby or empty or moldy or neglected, I actually find myself having a bit of contempt for it. Yes, I realize that last bit sounds a touch -- how you say? -- insane.

 

I've found a couple recently that were three year old hides, but they were in splendid shape. It made me feel like people had been lovingly tending them all this time...knocking the dirt out, giving them a wipe-down, replacing old baggies, trading up. I got the feeling people liked the cache and wanted to take care of it. I make an effort to follow the example.

 

Then again, I also pat my car and tell it what a good job it's doing.

 

I completely agree.

 

I pride myself on taking care of my caches, and do maintenance as often as necessary - which is why I really appreciate it when finders report problems (full logbook, crappy swag, ripped ziplocs, etc) in their online log.

 

And, I just feel I have to comment - this has been the "nicest" thread I have seen here in days! Great ideas, lots of encouragement, and NO SNARKINESS!

 

Good luck to you on your search for cool swag, and welcome to our insane sport!

 

And, yes, I pet my car, too....

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I just started 'caching this past weekend. I got the GPS receiver dirt cheap from an associate, but don't have a tons of money to invest in trade items.

I don't want to buy cheap dollar sotre items that people don't want, either.

I want to get items people actually need.

Any ideas?

I already got scolded by someone for not leaving a "good enough" trade item in one cache.

Thanks.

Whoever scolded you is an ungrateful geocacher who has lost sight of this sport. I'm on a tight budget also, and can't afford to put Garmin E-trexes in my caches for FTF.

 

Every cache I have ever visited had nothing but inexpensive toys for kids (along with cheap hotel soap, and other wierd items). All I want to do is a sign the log and be on my way. My Daughter likes the kids toys and we trade fairly.

 

My regular sized caches are filled with toys (Stickers, plastic animals, marbles). I only filled one of my caches with better trade items (Patriotic Coffee cups, Playing cards, etc). This is because the cache requires you to find 6 of my other caches and solve a field puzzle. To date, no one has taken any of the nicer items.

 

It's your cache, put it together however you want to. if someone doesn't like the your items, tell them to spend their own money and fill caches with trade items that they want to find.

 

Bill,

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Upon cursory glace at the OP's logs, it appears as though there may have been some initial newbie confusion with the practice of TSLN (took something, left nothing); and maybe some potential item trading by the OP for travel bugs (meaning he may have left a travel bug, and taken an item).

 

Generally, the OP should know that these two acts are generally frowned upon by the geocaching community. Trade up, trade even, or don't trade is a frequent mantra round these parts (whether or not its adhered to, well, that's a different story).

I'm relatively new here, but so are many of the cachers in our area. I've been asking around about the L - travel bug, T- cool swag question. Those cachers here seem to think it's OK, but in the long run, several such trades could lead to an empty cache.

 

While I travel with two small children, even they find caches that are full of SUCH cheap junk (and I don't mean inexpensive - I mean used up, worn out, thrashed, mutilated, beyond well-worn crap) that they don't even want to trade for it. :P But at least the 4-year-old now understands the idea of "fair trade" even if some of us (adults) don't seem to get it..

 

How do I spread the word (without offending, as only I - so clearly - can) that the cool-swag-for-travelbug trade isn't really fair?

 

As for the original question...we're on a budget, too. But we don't want to leave junk. So, if we have nothing, we enjoy the cache for its location, TNLNSL. When we see great prices on good stuff, I grab several. (Recently I found pocket knives for an obscenely low price - I'm sure they were mismarked, but neither the checker or I verified it and we walked away with all that were available on the shelf. Good deal for me and cachers to follow). Garage sales have also been a source of some rather interesting (and inexpensive, though, again, not cheap) stuff for that special cache. :laughing:

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I wonder if we may be putting too much emphasis on what we retrieve rather than what we found, the cache. I don't care what I find in a cache, sometimes I take something that someone else might not consider a nice item, just because it's a treasure to claim for my hunt.

Several of the items I take, I place in other caches anyway. I think that might be what some cachers intend to be done.

But don't count the dollar store out yet. The other day I found

"Magic Towels" When put in water they grow to become a washcloth. Great for kids and what adult can't use a wash cloth? There are a variety of them now in Halloween styles too. I found one that has a mummy on it. Just so happens I was going to a grave yard in Dixon for a Cache. LOL If you walk around the dollar stores sometimes you can find some cool stuff. Good luck and happy caching!

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Sorry I tried to get the qoute from another post here and I think I did it wrong. So excuse my mistake at the beginning of my post. If someone can point me in the right direction on how to get something like that in the grey box I would greatly appreciate it.

look right above the window you type in - there are several buttons and selections for text atributes. Assuming you already copied the text you want - the click the quote button -

 

you should see

[QUOTE]

 

do your paste and click quote again - you should see

[/QUOTE]

 

when you are done what you pasted will be in the gray box - if you want to quote the WHOLE entry just click the quote botton above his post and you can then start typing your answer.

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  I wonder if we may be putting too much emphasis on what we retrieve rather than what we found, the cache.

 

I don't think so - like BooBoo said -

 

While I travel with two small children, even they find caches that are full of SUCH cheap junk (and I don't mean inexpensive - I mean used up, worn out, thrashed, mutilated, beyond well-worn crap) that they don't even want to trade for it.

 

Got THAT right - if a little kid doesn't want it - it really must be bad!

 

This is one of my pet peves. I put nice, fun, cool, and new stuff in my caches - see previous posting about the dollar store for examples. I also order some neat electronic (flashing LED pens, or pins, etc.) on-line to put in them. When I go to a cache - even my own! - and find old golf balls and 14 used army men, stones, marbles, and grubby old used junk, it ticks me off. I let the owner know his cache is full of crap, also. For my caches it ticks me off because those that logged trades (even the next day) did not put in what they said.

 

Back on topic - and staying on your budget, I'd rather see someone log an TNLF if you don't fee you can trade even or up. And then don't take anything and if you do log what you took and what you left. I'm on a budget too - I can't afford to keep taking the crap out of my caches and putting good stuff back in.

Edited by CompuCash
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I just started 'caching this past weekend. I got the GPS receiver dirt cheap from an associate, but don't have a tons of money to invest in trade items.

I don't want to buy cheap dollar sotre items that people don't want, either.

I want to get items people actually need.

Any ideas?

I already got scolded by someone for not leaving a "good enough" trade item in one cache.

Thanks.

Just make signature cards (business cards with your own unique design) and trade them only. You don't need to trade stuff. Personally, I value these cards above anything else in a cache. I love collecting them.

 

Costs only pennies per card to make them yourself or you can look into a publishing service.

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Personally, I value these cards above anything else in a cache. I love collecting them.

OH! Well, THAT explains it! I didn't really get what these signature cards were for. Didn't know people traded them. I thought they just piled up in the caches (which is what's happenning around here...caches full of fraying cards left too long). Thanks for filling me in!

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