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Writer's Block: Grimm Question [Jun. 4th, 2009|07:15 am]

What was your favorite fairy tale as a child?
That the Ice Cream Van played music when it had run out of stock

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Reducing Company Costs, using Multi Fuel Stoves. [Jun. 4th, 2009|06:41 am]
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Multi Fuel Stoves or Wood Burners are building a growing and loyal fan base in the SME heating market. There are varied and interesting reasons for this, I will be touching on a few of them in this article. Firstly though I'd like to look at the areas were multifuel burners can have a significant immediate and beneficial effect on a companies bottom line.

The first and most obvious, Heating bills, horrendous rise of and the holy grail of their reduction. Using Multi Fuel Stoves, Stoves with Boilers and Cookers, to reduce utility bills, is open to companies in smoke control zones or those who have premises in a none controlled zone. Companies that can burn there own fuel, which gives them a zero heat source with a carbon neutral foot print. As well as companies that could use any of coke, pellets, peat, smokeless fuel, biomass etc. Due to space I'll limit my list, but there are many organizations giving free impartial advice on the correct fuel for your needs and geographical area. The Solid Fuel Advisory Board or your local renewable fuel supplier are good example as is Business link. Just by comparing their heating bills with the estimated fuel costs for Multifuel Stoves. Companies are opting for the Mulitfuel option.

Unlike many other environmental heating sources which, because of the large capital outlay involved in their installation and lead time to break even point. This heat source is available at very low purchase and installation costs, meaning its available to have an immediate impact on utility bills, for the sole trader in a workshop up to large concerns with premises to match. With the smallest units costing around £300 plus flue pipes, its not hard to see the economic logic of Multifuel stoves.

There's no doubt that a major factor in the rise of Multi Fuel has been the explosion in the Grants and Interest Free loans available to SME's looking at reducing their carbon footprint or minimising energy usage. These can be for a few hundred pounds up to thousands, so linked with the lower purchase, installation and fuel costs means there can be minimal capital outlay from the company.Yet the owners gain a financial benefit from the heating bill reduction as soon as the system is in use.

This rising interest in multi-fuel is based on some hard facts that have a virtuous circle appeal about them.These heating systems are quickly and easily installed by HETAS & CORGI (for the central heating version see below) engineers, meaning minimum disruption to the all important business day. They are amazingly cost effective in set up capital. There are loans and grants available to many companies.The fuel is low cost meaning they have an immediate impact on the companies utility bills.

Looking at the environment side and its benefits.We could point to the gas liquefied in the Middle East and shipped to the UK, all at huge cost to the planet before we burn it to keep warm. Instead multi-fuel stoves fuel is easily sourced in every corner of the UK. It's very cost effective plus low impact or, if your lucky enough to be able to burn wood, carbon neutral. On the subject of wood some of the biggest savings made on energy bills have been companies with their own heat source as a by product of their business. The interesting thing here is the double saving. Companies that had been paying to remove say, off-cuts of wood are now using them as fuel which is not only carbon neutral but cost neutral. Using any version of multifuel heating also has the added interest and kudos it attracts from clientele who visit the work spaces that have already installed it. With more individuals and organizations actively reducing their own energy use, its only natural (pun intended) for them to be more receptive to a closer business relationship.

Companies that have installed Stoves or Cooker in staff rooms, have noticed that the ability to cook fresh food and boil drinks is having an effect on staff moral. I'm sure we can agree that, some one who's eating freshly prepared food has a better diet than one the lives for the ping of the microwave. Staff also appreciate" their " company doing its bit for the environment. Leading by example like this is showing savings across entire companies. Employees are inspired to be aware of waste and its cost implications. Studies show that employee's who are engaged with a company and their shared aspirations will be more involved in working for the companies good health.

All of the above things have an effect on the bottom line. Now we'll take a look at the various options open to companies that are considering installing multi-Fuel Burners on their premises.

The most obvious one would be a free standing stove. These burners are ideal for workshops, small offices and retail units. There are a wide variety of sizes and shapes so there is generally one for any enclosed space. Because of their adaptability, free standing stoves look just as much at home in an office or a lock up. The available of models with hot plates, built in ovens, cookers or the tradition multi-fuel stove, gives an idea of the flexibility in the designs currently on the market. Companies that bought multiple stoves report great success in heating large open plan area's.

All companies using this option have greatly reduced there fixed costs for very small outlays. The ways of using grants and interest free loans was discussed above.

The option having the greatest impact in the market today, the Multifuel central heating systems, offer the greater savings, but have a larger capital outlay. The beauty of this type is this, when the fire is lit not only is it performing any or all of the variants listed above, but due to its built in water jacket, its heating the entire building.Users of multiple roomed premises, that have installed this system, are enjoying the benefits of heating their entire premises from one heat source. True, for the cost of one fire its possible to heat an entire building!

The cost savings are huge, with this difference in price staying in the company. Straight to the Bottom Line.
Another option for the even larger concerns is slim high powered Multifuel Boilers, these can be set up with pellet hoppers which are auto regulated. Its just a matter of removing the ash. A time friendly cost effect heating system.

As we have seen Multi-Fuel stoves can have a massive effect on any sized business's fixed costs and the all important bottom line. With opportunities for grants or loans and the relative low cost of the purchase, installation and fuel, any business owner should be looking at this heating option. Also remember its also helping our shared planet. Very much a virtuous circle, low capital outlay, reducing costs, aiding staff moral, reducing the companies carbon foot print and adding to the bottom line. Worth a look, it won't cost the Earth, but, it might help save it.


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Pub Profits, Benefits from Multi Fuel Stoves [Jun. 4th, 2009|06:35 am]
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The Pub is at the heart of Britain's communities, a direct link to ancient times and a strong thread in our islands story. The French have Cafe Culture, large swathes of Britain still identify with pub culture. A sense of belonging to and with their local. Yet all we hear is that this Great British institution is under attack. Drive or walk anywhere in the UK today and your confronted by closed, boarded up pubs. Signs advertising vacancies to run once thriving watering holes litter the eye line. A central part of our social life is being dismantled right in front of us.

There seems to be an avalanche of bad news for the hospitality industry. The smoking ban,whilst giving us clean air, has left large parts of a Publican's business shivering,quite literally, outside in the cold. The ongoing use by Supermarket's of cheap alcohol, as a lose leader, would on its own have been a hammer blow. Yet they also have had to deal with an economic downturn.

When belts are tightening something gets sacrificed and with this accumulation of challenges many Pubs are struggling. At the same time other establishments are seeing numbers return and stay longer. We will look at one of the latest trends that is showing an upswing in profits,but, is not a flash in the pan gimmick. This is some thing that is connecting The Local with its community and that should be any self respecting boozer's very raisodetra. This is the Multifuel Stove.

Yes that's right a Multi-Fuel Stove. Remember the days when people would sit around the open fire in the Pub chatting? When the Pub was central to relaxation and life's little moments of enjoyment. The modern version gives a unique and timely twist to that British tradition. The twist? Put the fire outside. Simple, effective,low cost & profitable. With added Green benefits.

Imagine your at home, you and yours are looking for something to round an evening off, just a couple of drinks for you two and the Kids. Or nip down to the off licence or to the fridge for a can costing half the Pub price, in the warmth and comfort of your own home? Exactly, the best Landlords, always know that you have to give your potential client a reason to come and a reason to stay.

We are seeing this with the explosion in "Open Mike Nights" the return of live bands in larger bars, Poker nights, Quiz Night and in an attempt to keep smokers on board,shelters and outdoor heating. If we concentrate on the usual outdoor heating, its either Gas canisters or Electric overheads. Neither are they in any sense cheap or for that matter good for the environment . In fact most people who will, if they notice them, say they don't work and/or that they are an eyesore.

The more proactive landlady is now reaping the rewards of their clever thinking. Lets have a look at how it works and then the various options being deployed by successful Pubs.

Lets start with the economic climate. Its a succession of bad news stories, Joanna,Joe & the Bloggs Family are looking for and would like a brief respite. So whats needed is a reason to bring them to their Local, make then stay and just as importantly return. A Multi-Fuel Stove is an amazing weapon for any Publican to have in their armoury. The establishments that are using this method are seeing the return of family groups. Because of some simple facts. A Stove gives a Beer Garden a Focal Point. It radiates heat, the flames grab peoples attention and are almost hypnotic. The Health & Safety implications are taken care of by the HETAS engineer who has fitted the unit. Even the feeding of the flames helps generate a shared experience. Least we forget,they have rebuilt a sense of community in their Pubs. The first building block of any community? The Family.

The Smoking Ban, regardless of your personal opinion on "the filthy habit" has hit most hospitality business's very hard. Its difficult to lose the "pint and a couple of ciggies and then home" crowd. With out making the regular's, who happen to smoke, disaffected and cold. Initially, it seemed that smokers shelters and outdoor gas or electric heating would act as a olive branch to this market and might mitigate this blow. What business's with Multfuel Stoves have realised is this. You can recreate the snug but, have it outside. Thebusy Pubs that are doing this, show an increase in the amount of visits and the length of stay. At the very least numbers are stabilising and starting to rise. Its always been true in any business, if you treat the customer well and they feel you have their interests at heart, they return again and again. Just the type of regulars these Pubs are attracting and retaining.

The Pubs that have installed Multi-Fuel Stoves outside have insulated themselves against the prevailing current trends that are killing the Pub. Falling custom numbers & Falling Profits are not the fear they are for other hostelries that haven't installed a unit. Frequency of visit and length of stay results are bucking the industry average.

There are two types of options that are by far the best on the market. The first is a free standing stove, used as part of a shelter they can heat suprisingly large areas. Great focal point. Brilliant way to entice and retain custom. A system that is more expensive to fit, gives in many ways a lot extra. This is a Stove with a Boiler. Pubs with this system linked to radiators in the shelter are seeing an even bigger increase in numbers with no increase in the running costs,if they were using a free standing stove.

The Cost, is the clincher in this deal, with units costing as little as £350 plus flue pipes and installation any Publican who isn't giving this option serious consideration is either blessed with the worlds most loyal customers or is negligent in the ways of make money. The fuel costs for MultiFuel Stoves is easily checkable via organisations like Solid Fuel Advisory Trust,Business Link or the local renewable fuel supplier.

Lets look at a hard to quantify benefit. The Pubs that have started to use Multi-Fuel Stoves are having a DIRECT impact on the carbon foot print for the business. You doesn't have to be a marketing guru to realise that companies are getting a better response from customers if they are actively reducing their reliance on any product that could be seen as harmful to our shared planet.

What we have looked at is the trend in falling numbers, not only of Pubs themselves,but, also the dwindling numbers of punters visiting the ones that remain. What we have found is a solution, not the only one or even something that will work for every establishment. Yet definitely an avenue that most Publicans should investigate with some urgency.

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Wood Burning Stoves,Getting the Best Results [Jun. 4th, 2009|06:29 am]
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When looking at buying your multi-fuel stove you will be told it gives out this many KW's or so many BTU's. This can be a bit confusing. What you need is to measure your room height,length and width multiply this figure. This gives you your squared room size. Then its just a straight forward conversion. So if you've got a straight stove it works out around 4m2 per KG. If you are interested in a multifuel stove with a boiler 7.2m2 per KG is your guide. This is a rough working system,because you'll have variables like your room being north facing,your insulation and double glazing. But its close enough. Lots of websites offer free down loads for working out the amount of radiators and their sizes to get the maximum from your stove.

So you've got your lovely new stove what next? Well hopefully you've got a HETAS fitter. HETAS are the governing body for all things wood burner fitting in the UK. So firstly my advice, you can attempt to fit it yourself, but remember a couple of things. Your stove should have at least 12 inches (30 cm) from the wall or walls. Your Multi-fuel stove should sit on a construction hearth this can be either the newer metal versions or the more traditional concrete base This will protect your floor boards from the heat. Next your flue should connect to a registration plate, this increases the draught and protects you and yours from anything that drops down the chimney.

Now some people might not have a chimney or want their stove in another area. If this is the case, use a double lined flue as it passes through the wall. Your flue pipe should have at least a metre clearance above your roof base,this insures against getting smoke in your upstairs rooms and and also allows the natural power of wind to assist the wood burners draught. A little bit more on Chimneys, they are classed the same as a flue which means its a class1 flue.Personally I'd fit a flexi-liner within the chimney, but its not always necessary.
To top it off, pun intended, fix a flue cowl in place, this protects the inside of the flue from the elements and debris & helps with the air flow. which will maximise your draught.

So you've installed your wood burning stove, what to do now? Make sure that you get a HETAS fitter to check your master work. This will usually cost you around £50,why? I hear you ask. Well, with the current building regulations you must or when you come to sell you multifuel warmed home your HIPS will not pass it! Harsh but true.

With a stove with a boiler, please use a fully certified plumber, its a wonderful thought that the log burner is also heating your entire home.So you need to make sure its correctly integrated with a pump so that you can use your existing gas or electric system on those chilly summer nights, whilst saving your multifuel stove with a boiler for the other 11 months, well it feels like winter lasts that long. Seriously, use a CORGI fitter because you have a potential bomb in your home if the connections aren't carried out correctly. Bomb I hear you cry! Let me explain, if the boiler runs dry you will get a build up of heat which will expand in the chamber then BANG! Stoves with a boiler are great for your pocket and the planet,but should be fully respected for their potential dangers.

Your stove is in place, its correctly fitted,so what do you do now? Light a big glorious fire and watch the flames.

Sorry no, well not yet. To get a longer lifespan from your wood burning stove and to make sure that the coating is properly absorbed my top tip is this. Make a small fire in your multi-fuel stove,let it burn for an hour or so,then let the unit cool,repeat process. Some stoves will give off smoke, this is harmless its just the coating embedding its self to the metal.
Now your good to go.

Maintenace of a stove is very straight forward. You'll be offered stove glass cleaner,you don't need it, just take a damp cloth wipe the glass when cool.Then get a piece of newspaper and rub the glass. Sparkling clean. Empty your ash pan once a week, if you've got a garden put it in your soil, its a great fertiliser.

Once every 18 months have a chimney sweep come round and clean any build up out of your flue pipes
Now have many happy warm years with your wood burning stove and remember keep the home fires burning

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Wood Burning Stoves : Which Logs To Use [Jun. 4th, 2009|06:25 am]
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With multi-fuel stoves, if your lucky enough to live in an area not covered by our current clean air acts you can burn logs. Logs are fantastic on wood burning stoves. See and hear the the flames consume a chunk of a tree as it heats your room and if you've got a stove with boiler, your whole house.

Like most things, keeping a multifuel stove is very easy once you know what your doing. Hopefully this won't sound patronizing as an article. I say this because some of this will be new and useful and some blindingly obvious, if you know. But this is to help the person who's looking at the idea of wood burning stoves as a way to cut costs, help to save the planet and just as importantly have an amazing central feature.

Firstly, lets talk about logs baby!

Easy way for people not to get the full benefit of their stove, the wrong wood.This means more cost ,more wood.There's only so many trees.Less enjoyment. Cold!

Log burning the easy way:

Best wood:
Apple (great aroma)

These will give you a decent burn rate, great flames and some great snap crackle & pop sounds. As you get more familiar with your own particular multi-fuel stove try doing a cocktail of wood. Sounds lame try it
you might like it.

Wood to avoid:

What you'll find is your either piling the logs on or for ever poking round to get more than a lazy ember. Please take this piece of advice keep away from the B E F.The more of this wood you buy the more you spend and utility bills are high enough. If you use the best performing wood you save money, simple.

I'll cover the next two very quickly,

Log size. Sorry, size is important .The excepted wood burning stoves industry standard length is 14 inches or 36 cm. This means that to get the best results from the best wood it should be this size. Always quarter your logs so that you can stack the logs in the stove to maximize your heat output. To do this you should cross the logs over each other. Each stove or stove with boiler manufacturer will have a slightly different spec. So general rule of thumb build the wood up as a log cabin in the grate area.

The next wonderful thing about log & multi-fuel stoves is, if they are used correctly, they have a minimal impact on the environment. Not only do they save money as they heat your room, if your lucky enough to have a boiler stove you can heat your entire home.

Wood either left to rot or used as a fuel uses up exactly the same earth harming stuff that it stored during its life. If you source your wood from a reputable supplier, he'll be re-planting two for every one.Its in his business interests to have a renewable supply

The dryness of wood is very important to get the best use from your stove. Its generally agreed that at least a year or for the very best results two years is the length of time that your wood should be stored in a dry, warmish store. In Europe we are seeing the rise of kiln dried wood. This is all I know ,they take virgin freshcut wood, then dry it in a kiln like those used in the pottery industry. Not sure how that impacts the environment.

Finally, a few words on stoves with boilers. All the benefits of a stove but with the added extra of heating your entire home or workspace. Think about that, your radiators run off the logs your burning in your wood burning stoves. Suddenly you'll sit higher in your chair,why? The money you will not be paying to the utility company will still be in your back pocket. Its relatively easy to hook your wood burning stove up to your existing system. So in the summer you can have a quick warm from your gas boiler and the rest of the year, your house is heated by the logs you burn in your stove.

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Comparing Multi Fuel Stoves [Jun. 4th, 2009|06:21 am]
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Now if your reading this you've probably been thinking about the benefits of having a multi-fuel stove in your home or workspace. So you'll know they look great, save you hundreds of pounds if used as part of your central heating system and help in small way in battling global warming, all fantastic and worthy things.Well I'll say it, isn't it amazing the name variants you can have,for what is in effect a box with a fire in it?

Lets clear up a couple of the easy ones, a log burner is designed for the burning of wood. Multifuel or Multi-fuel? this one just comes down to your education, they mean the same thing, but, as with most things people like to stick with what they know, so either/or. A multifuel stove will burn, coal wood, smokeless coal, coke,biomass fuel (solid) and brickets. A wood burning stove is confusingly used a an industry standard term, so please ask your retailer to clarify. This brings me on to a few words of caution.If you live in a large urban area you should be subject to the clean air act. You cant use coal or wood in these areas unless you have purchased a DEfRA approved stove, these are expensive, but have been modified to allow you to burn wood in urban areas.

Well lets get started. A free standing stove is the traditional style,its designed so that heat can radiate from the front and two sides. Heat will come out of the back,but your HETAS fitter will position this correctly for you.
This stove can be positioned in an existing chimney breast or anywhere in a room,where the flue has an outside wall to release the smoke through.(I'll come to flues later)

Now the built in, this is designed to slot into the wall cavity, so that,usually the glass front and/or sides are visible,think how a flat screen TV looks on a wall. The heat will come into the room via the glass.

I hear a lot of people being pro cast iron or pro rolled steel. Lets cut right to the chase, cast iron is the traditional way, now I'm not saying that makes it either better, because its the tried and tested way, or worse, because its old hat. The differences are slight and depend on what you want. Basically, the rolled steel version heats up quicker than the cast iron stove. The cast iron stove will retain heat for long after the fire has gone out. Other minor things to look out for before you make your decision, very rarely the cast iron stove can crack, I stress this is very rare and the rolled steel with again rarely warp. So you pays your money you makes your choice. What its really down to is the "look" you want for your room and sometimes the sales mans own preference.

Multifuel stoves with boilers, these are one of the best things on the market right now. You can heat the room the stove is in as well your radiators throughout your home or workspace. As long as its fitted by a HETAS fitter and attached by a CORGI approved plumber you will save hundreds of pounds over a year. There are even gizmo's that can have but your gas and stove generated boilers working in unison.

Flues, very straight forward they connect to the pipe at the back, but generally the top of your multi-fuel stove they release the smoke either up the chimney via flexi flues or via a hole in the wall which is lagged.

Always check with your district/borough/city/county council for available grants, some times,if your a business, you will find info on development agency site. This can be time consuming , but, very worth while financially.
So best of luck hope this helped, please feel free to visit my websites for more specific advice.

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Multi Fuel Stoves a Beginners Guide [Jun. 4th, 2009|06:16 am]
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Firstly, Let me explain my initial involvement. One of my business partner had decided to purchase a farmhouse in Bulgaria and when he was kitting out the house with its furnishings he invited out. It was a lovely hot day when we arrived, but quickly the weather turned nasty, snow up to a meter deep! We finally struggled through the whited out countryside to a beautiful pink farmhouse heavy with snow. As I remember we walked the last 1/4 mile! We entered the living area and the very first thing we saw was what I in my stupidity, or cheap Bulgarian wine, believed to be a TV. After I realised it was a multi-fuel stove, my first thought was "why no gas, how are you going to heat your central heating" remember the snow? Well after 15 minutes we not only had a toasty room, but every radiator in the house was hot to the touch.

Now my past experience of wood stoves was like most peoples, you know a couple of old timers sitting around a pot bellied stove chewing tobacco in an old western on the telly, so the experience was an epiphany. What would be the outcome if we used the brand in his living room to develop an ethically based company around. In this article I wont divulge how we set the company up. Mainly because its a novel in its own right, but because what I what to do is give a little advice to people looking to lower those large nasty utilities bills, whilst helping good old mother earth. Another thing multi-fuel stoves are hypnotic , sitting in front of those flames is so relaxing, especially in these stressful times.

So lets start with the basics,
What is a stove? This may sound odd if you know, but, let me explain. I've been asked if its a cooker a boiler or even an open fire. What it is, is a sealed unit that can come in many shapes and sizes. From the pot bellied stove, as discussed above, to a Prity built in, that has three glass sides! It can be a stove that just heats one room, a cooker, a stand alone boiler or a combination of all three. Oh before I forget, the difference between a open fire or basket and multi-fuel stove is very straight forward. The open fire draws cold air in towards the fire, remember being at your grans and your fronts hot and your back is freezing? Well thats the back draft, the other problem is a large percentage of heat literally goes up in smoke! With wood stoves its sealed so its heating the air in the room, acting, if you like as a separate radiator.

Multi-fuel or multifuel, this is another term that can be a bit confusing to the novice, so here goes. Multi-fuel means that the stove can burn any of the following; wood, coke, coal, wood-coal, peat, brickets or biomass (that's stuff like pellets or even corn, another article I feel).

This brings me seamlessly on to an important part. Can you burn wood and/or coal in your multi-fuel stove. As a general rule of thumb if you live in a smokeless area, no. If you remember your history lessons, Britain was blighted by smog and chemicals in the air until the mid 1960's and if you live in a city you should only use a smokeless fuel, but who buys all the wood and coal for sale in the petrol stations in Manchester is beyond me, maybe outer towners from Cheshire?

Now using a multi-fuel stove with a built in boiler as part of your central heating. Now this is some thing that really will save you pounds over a year. Remember that gas bill that looked like you were paying Fred the shreads pension? Well this is how it works I'll use my business partners Prity built in as an example. Im not going to muddle your mind with Kw's and BTU's, this is a beginners guide after all. Simply put the stove has a built in water tank next to the fire, this heats up and flows via a connecting pipe in to your radiators.

In the summer when hopefully, hollow laugh, you wont need a roaring fire you switch back to your existing boiler. You can even get a gizmo that can have both systems working in unison. Its not something you should attempt unless of course your a fully qualified plumber think CORGI.

Finally a couple of words of caution, when you have your multi-fuel stove installed only use a HETAS trained fitter. This means that you pass all current building regulations including for insurance and HIPS. Have your flue pipes swept by a reputable chimney sweep on a regular basis. We have this information on our websites as do the majority of other reputable companies. With a nice bye for now, a lot of local authorities across the UK now offer a grant scheme for individuals looking to install multi-fuel stove, so check out your councils site. I hope this has been of some help and you feel ready to make the leap. Heating comfort with a green conscience!

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Hi Every One [Jun. 4th, 2009|05:12 am]
Just  starting out and looking forward to a fruitful time.
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