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Saturday, 22 July 2017

5 Surprising Burglary Statistics And Safety Tips

In summer, when the weather is fine, it's so easy to be more relaxed about ensuring windows and doors are locked.  Near us, people have been burgled when having a barbecue in their back garden because they left their front door open.  It only takes minutes for some crafty crooks to relieve you of your property.

This guest post, from SimpliSafe who produce wireless home security systems, is a great reminder that, come the warmer weather, we need to be more, not less vigilant.

Two front doors in pastel pink in adjoining houses on a terraced street

A burglary is committed every thirteen seconds according to SimpliSafe, but only 12% of those are pre-planned. According to the British Crime Survey, there are over 1 million burglaries and attempted burglaries each year. However, our technological era makes it easier than ever to outsmart today’s burglars. In order to keep yourself and your family safe, it’s important to take a closer look at the statistics, such as what motivates burglars and how they operate, along with how burglaries are classified in the first place.

Let’s begin by breaking down what constitutes a burglary. According to the Theft Act of 1968, burglary is defined as:

"Entering any building or part of a building as a trespasser and with the intent to steal anything in the building or part of the building in question and/or inflict or attempt to inflict bodily harm on anyone therein. As long as the person entering has no legal right to be present in the structure a burglary has occurred. Furthermore, the structure need not be the house itself for a burglary to take place; illegal entry of a garage, shed, or any other structure on the premises also constitutes household burglary."

Burglary is also broken down into the following four subcategories:

Completed burglary - With or without force, a person without legal right to be present enters a residence.

Forcible entry - Some kind of force, like breaking a window, is used to gain entry to a residence.

Unlawful entry without force - The burglar doesn’t use force to gain entry.

Attempted forcible entry - The burglar attempts to gain entry with force.

Now that we understand what burglary is and its types, let’s take a look at the data, along with what that data suggests are the best preventative safety solutions.

1. Half of Domestic Burglars Know the Victim Personally

Half of domestic burglars are strangers, but the other half are known by the victim. Those familiar to the victim use their knowledge of the home and its surroundings to break in when it is vulnerable, such as when the homeowner is away.

Safety Tip: Share your spare keys and home codes only with those that have earned your trust. Aim to avoid sharing information about you being away from your home on social media. Those following your social media accounts may just be waiting to find out when you’ll be away from your home.

2. 60% of Convicted Burglars Were Deterred By Security Systems

Whether you’re on vacation or not, peace of mind is priceless, and is something security systems designed for today’s threats can provide. Home security is anything but an antiquated protection measure; according to Police.uk, households with simple security measures are five times less likely to be broken into than those without.

Safety Tip: Invest in a technologically-advanced system with comprehensive features that go beyond burglary detection and that include multiple sensors such as motion detection.

3. 72% of Burglars Use Open Windows or Doors, or Force Them Open

Summertime also means that many households are leaving windows open for fresh air flow. that Vulnerable windows and doors are the preferred entry methods. In fact, 15% of burglars get into the household by simply walking through an unlocked door.

Safety Tip: Be mindful of keeping doors and windows shut, locked, and alarmed when you’re away. It’s also a good idea to do some summer landscaping to keep shrubs and trees short, making it difficult for intruders to hide out on your property.

4. Only About Half of Victims Had Their Stolen Property Insured

The property stolen the most are mobile phones (43%), wallets (38%), and cash (37%). And roughly 65% of burglars who stole these items worked to get rid of them immediately.

Safety Tip: On top of making sure burglary is covered in your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance plan (you can often score a discount when you prove you have professional monitoring in place), it’s also not a bad idea to look into modern day options for safes, such as ones that look like other household objects. You should also make sure to turn GPS tracking on your phones and computers to help recover items if they do happen to get stolen.

5. The Number of Domestic Burglaries is Continually Dropping

When compared with 2005 data, the number of burglaries in 2015 has decreased by 35%. This continual decrease is arguably thanks in part to advancing technology that both residents and law enforcement are able to take advantage of; homes are getting smarter, and that includes the modern security systems that people have to choose from. 

We’re getting better at fighting and preventing this desperate crime, but it’s because of the minor investments worth making toward your peace of mind, which is priceless.
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Friday, 21 July 2017

Buying a New Car May Be Your Best Option – If You’re Smart About It

If you are in the market for a car, one of the first questions you may have considered is whether to buy a brand-new vehicle or a used one. Although some money saving experts warn against buying a new car, you shouldn’t automatically rule out the possibility. But you do need to take several factors into consideration before making your decision. Doing so could save you a few thousand pounds and a world of aggravation. 

red car

The advantages of buying a new car

Even ignoring the pleasure of owning something new, complete with that new car smell, there are some good reasons to opt for a new car over a used one. For one thing, you can order a new car that meets your specifications exactly, as opposed to accepting whatever features and accessories are present on a used car. 

Some of those features can be very important, such as the use of state-of-the-art technology that allows new cars to give previously unheard-of kilometres per litre of petrol. While some examples of “state-of-the-art” have offered little other than bragging rights and potential failures, other examples have actually made the cars much safer, with improved handling and braking and better occupant survivability in the event of a crash. 

The new car is also less likely to have problems, and the problems it does have will likely be taken care of under warranty or recall so you won’t be faced with a big bill. And since a new car has essentially been un-driven prior to purchase, the likelihood of it having been abused is virtually nil.

One additional advantage of buying new has nothing to do with the car itself but is as important to many drivers as any feature – greater flexibility in financing. The new car will cost significantly more than a similarly-equipped used example of the same make and model, but the purchase price can be spread out over several more years than can the cost of a used car. And there is always the factor of manufacturer or dealer incentives that can shave thousands of pounds off the sticker price.

As long as we’re on the subject of price, this would probably be a good time to touch on some of the things you’ll need to look for when shopping for a new car. You’ll want to have a pretty good idea as to what kind of car would best meet your needs. For example, if you have a large or growing family or frequently need to carry a cargo of any size, a two-seater sports model would not be a very wise choice. And whatever you buy, try to stick with a make and model that has a good history of reliability, and that retains its value reasonably well.

Once you’ve made your mind up about what to buy, it is time to go shopping. Be certain to educate yourself, not only about the car itself but about the ways a dealer can get you to spend more than you really have to. 

black car in traffic

Rule #1: Don’t succumb to the hard sell or up-sell


Car dealerships have gotten a pretty shaky reputation over the years, and while some of the criticisms have been unfair, the suspicion many customers hold did not form in a vacuum. By educating yourself and being prepared, you can still avoid car purchasing horror stories and come out on the winning end of a deal. The first and foremost challenge you will face is recognising and not falling for the hard sell or up-sell.

Quite simply, you can recognise a hard sell whenever a salesperson seems to be pressuring you to make a deal that you’ve not yet decided to make. Some, like the example in the above link, will take even a mildly positive response to a suggestion as a commitment to buy. Thankfully, instances such as this are pretty rare. 

More common is the salesperson who tries to convince you that not making a deal immediately will either make it unavailable or much more expensive in the future. While there are some times, such as shortly before new models come out or near the end of a sales promotion, when you can get better deals than you normally could, the need to do anything immediately should be understood as being nothing but a sales tactic and not taken too seriously.

Unlike the hard sell, the upsell is a pretty standard sales technique that is used by most dealerships, and it goes something like this:

Customer: “I’m looking for a midsize sedan with an efficient engine, automatic transmission, and air conditioning only.”
Salesperson: “I understand what you’re looking for, but once you get accustomed to the satellite radio, backup camera, Wifi, and undercoating, you’ll wonder how you ever did without them. And we can give you the entire package for…”

Despite the salesperson’s claims, the extras you didn’t want will cost you, and there is no guarantee that they will ever be anything more than conversation pieces, Avoid the push, and save your money. And to keep on saving, do your homework on financing your new car.

Smart financing can save you a lot of money


Once you’ve decided to buy a new car, and before you even go to the dealership, take some time and find the best financing options. There are almost as many financing decisions to make as there are regarding the make and model that will best serve you, and neglecting to educate yourself on those options can end up making your new car significantly more expensive.

One of the first questions many people ponder is whether to purchase or lease the car. If your primary concerns are the initial outlay and the size of the monthly payment, leasing can be pretty attractive, since both the deposit and the monthly payments are likely to be significantly lower. And that is fine if you want to replace the car with a new one in a few years, and don’t mind being on a constant payment plan. But if your main concern is minimising the total cost of transportation, taking out a loan and purchasing the car is much less costly in the long run. 

white car

If you are purchasing, you might be tempted to arrange financing at the same dealership where you’re buying your car, especially if they are offering discounts on the sale price or cash-back incentives. Keep in mind, however, that many dealerships make more profit off their financing than they do on the cars they sell, and they don’t make all that profit by giving you the best deal.

To get a better deal on financing, spend a little time researching the different financing options available to you from more than one lender, even if you’ve been a loyal customer at your bank for many years. Different lenders offer different terms, loan sizes, and incentives, because even in a time of tight credit, they are as competitive in their market as the car dealers are in theirs. Compare the terms and costs of your desired loan from multiple lenders, and apply for the one that is right for you.

Not every car buyer needs a brand spanking new car. But if you have decided that a new car is the best choice for you, take care in shopping not only for the right car but also for the best financing option. You will be far less likely to suffer buyer’s remorse, and much more likely to enjoy your purchase long after that heady new-car smell has worn off.
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New Releases, Free & Bargain Books Link-up Week 30 2017

New Releases Free & Bargain Books Link-up Badge

How are you all this week? It's the end of term today so we're bracing ourselves for six weeks of chaos.  And, of course, it's tipping down with rain!  This is probably our fault for buying a new garden umbrella.  Have you noticed that everytime you buy something new for the garden the weather changes?

We're in the middle of home renovations too so the house is in chaos.  We've had to move our bookshelves and it was quite an eye-opener, I can tell you, to discover exactly how many books we've been squirrelling away.

You can never have too many though, can you?  And talking of books, have you caught my recent review of the latest Ivy Nash thriller, Break In, by the irrepressible John W. Mefford?  I honestly don't know how he manages to come up with such engaging and exciting plots every time.

As usual, there are plenty of great books on the linky and don't forget you can always add your own to spread a bit of the book love.

Don't forget that I still have plenty to be won on my competitions page and don't forget my problem page here.

Happy bargain and freebie book hunting on this link.

Have a great week!

Sharing the Love of Books

Enjoy our selection of New Releases / Free & Bargain Books this week

Authors, please feel free to add your own books
Readers, please free to add your own finds
(any genre except erotica welcome)

This weekly link up is hosted by Beck Valley Books & these awesome book loving blogs...

Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Sunday
Lynchburg Mama | LibriAmoriMiei | Ali - The Dragon Slayer | Wondermom Wannabe | Deal Sharing Aunt | Rambling Reviews

For Pre-orders post - PRE-ORDER / genre / title /author
For New Releases post - NEW / genre / title / author
For Free Books post - FREE / genre / title / author / end date
For Bargain Books post - SALE / price / genre / title / author / end date

(Strictly no Erotica please. Steamy romance is fine but watch those covers people, in case any underage child is viewing it!)

Click here for this week's awesome selection!

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Thursday, 20 July 2017

Problem Page Edition 30 2017

This week - should you hug your married friends when you greet them, confessing your love to a work colleague and what to do when he forgets your one year anniversary.

Woman in a bikini lying in the water on the edge of the seashore

If you would like any advice, feel free to treat me as your agony aunt. Just message me or pop a comment in the comment box at the end of this post. I promise to be gentle.

Here are this week's questions.

Q: Whenever I like a guy, I always find out the next day that he has a girlfriend. Should I ignore him and move on?

A: How can you not know if a guy has a girlfriend? Are you meeting these guys when they’re out and about in the evening in clubs and bars?

One of the first questions I’d be asking is “are you seeing anyone at the moment” when it becomes clear the relationship has potential.

Rather than chase men who are ‘safe’ because they have girlfriends and there’s no risk of commitment, why don’t you look for love elsewhere - via friends, hobbies, sport etc and really get to know them.

That way you will know if they are single and have the chance to form a relationship that has far more potential than a quick fling after a night on the town.

Q: Women are advised to date a minimum of 3 guys at a time, otherwise she will be taken for granted. What should you do if you can't find another 2 guys?

Women are told that if they only date 1 guy at a time, he will take her for granted and never ask for commitment because you're not seeing anyone else anyway. If you can't find 2 more guys you want to date, should you lower your standards?

A: Where on earth did you get that piece of advice from? I would have thought the more guys you date the more you will be taken for granted and the less likely you will be to win any kind of exclusive relationship.

Game playing in relationships rarely works. There is no ‘formula’ and playing with people’s feelings generally means you’ll end up alone.

My advice would be to find one man at a time to date and if he doesn’t show you respect and kindness, move on.

Q: How can I get him to understand that I'm trying to move past what happened to me in the past and for him to bring it up all the time doesn't help?

A: You have to be firmer and tell him, unconditionally, that you do NOT want to discuss it any more and when he does raise it, change the subject or simply walk away.

That’s fine unless what happened to you in the past also involves your boyfriend because if it does then it may be understandable that he needs to talk about it.

In that case professional counselling for both of you might be an idea because it sounds like you both need help to move forward.

Q: I met a married lady friend and we greeted with a hug. Was it wrong of me if my hand slid from her back to her lower waist and she removed my hand?

A: It depends whether you were trying to, as the expression goes, ‘cop a feel’.

If it was an accident then you have nothing to worry about.

If you were flirting with her, she clearly didn’t like it so if you want to keep her friendship I wouldn’t do it again.

Who instigated the hug? People’s attitudes to physical contact when greeting varies of course, but I don’t usually hug my married friends - particularly not ones of the opposite sex.

Q: If you and your boyfriend agree on taking a break due to personal health reasons and he cheats on you within 3 weeks, how are you supposed to take it?

A: Why would you instigate a break for ‘personal health’ reasons? Was it you or him? People don’t usually split up because one of them is unwell - that’s all the more reason to care for one another (remember the ‘in sickness and in health’ line in marriage vows?).

If it was him then I’m afraid he was using his health as an excuse to break up.

If it was you then I don’t understand why you would ask for a break as such.

In any case, I always think ‘breaks’ of any kind are usually an excuse for the instigator of the break to go off and sleep with other people.

I’m sorry he cheated on you but I suspect you’re much better off without him.
Q: How do you tell someone you work with that you love her?
A: Love is a very strong word. Don’t you mean you find them very attractive and have a crush on them? Without knowing someone I’d hesitate to call it love.

If she is married or in a relationship I’m afraid you’ll need to keep your feelings to yourself.

Does she have any idea you feel this way? Are you friends? Do you talk to each other?

If you have no idea how she feels about you, announcing your love might freak her out a bit.

I’d also be careful if she’s senior or your boss.

I would concentrate (if she is single) on developing a friendship with her - ask her out for a coffee or something, get to know her as a person and take it from there.

Q: Is it okay to be upset at my boyfriend? It’s our one year anniversary and I got dressed up thinking we’d do something special.

It's our one year anniversary and he went out and ate and came back. I hadn't eaten, having dressed up thinking we'd do something special together. Is it okay to be upset about this?

A: Men don’t ascribe the same importance to birthdays, anniversaries and special occasions that we do. 

Lots of them show affection in completely different ways and HATE being made to show affection - Valentines Day is a case in point.

You don’t say whether this is a wedding anniversary or the anniversary of you being together.

If it’s the latter, it’s possible he doesn’t see it as particularly significant.

Did he know it was your anniversary? Had you discussed it in advance or did you just expect him to automatically remember?

Again, if it was a wedding anniversary I would have been a bit miffed but I would have made sure something was booked in advanced and I’d told him we were going out.

This is a tricky one because if you aren’t married and you create a hoo-hah about him missing this, then you may end up having the ‘commitment conversation’. Are you hoping the relationship will go long term? Do you know how he feels?

Are you prepared for the fact that he might not see this as a long term thing?

You know it’s not so much how we’re treated on special occasions that counts, more how we’re treated through the rest of the year and if he’s a decent, honest, faithful bloke who’s just made a bit of a cock-up, I’d forgive him and book somewhere nice for you to go next weekend.

Definitely a situation to play by ear - and make sure you take charge of next time.

How would you have responded to these questions? I'd love to know. You can find more advice on my problem page

Disclaimer: All materials included in this post are intended for informational purposes only. This post/information is not intended to and should not be used to replace medical or psychiatric advice offered by physicians or other health care providers. The author will not be liable for any direct, indirect, consequential, special, exemplary or other damages arising therefrom. 
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5 Quick Tips For Health In A Rush

Do you worry that you don’t have much spare time to look after your health? Well, you can get some comfort knowing that you don’t have to have heaps of spare time in order to be healthy. In fact, the following quick tips can help you drastically improve your health even if you are always busy rushing around!






Credit

Take Some Home Tests

When you have a packed schedule, you might find it hard to book a doctor’s appointment. You needn’t worry about that anymore, though, not now you can carry out some home tests at home. All you need to do is order one online and wait for it to arrive. You can get a range of tests, such as a thyroid check or blood test. You take the test, pop your sample in the envelope, and then send it off to the lab. After a day or two, you should have your results. That’s much faster than waiting to see your doctor!

Batch Cook Healthy Meals At The Weekend

Do you find that you eat too many ready meals and other convenience foods because you just don’t have the time or energy to cook? There is one way around that. You need to start batch cooking at the weekends! Batch cooking just means making a big batch of food - it could be a large chili con carne or lasagne. You then just portion it up into meals that you can use throughout the week. Then, if you get back late from the office one night, you just need to reheat one portion of the meal.

Drink Smart

When you are constantly on the go, it is important that you stay as hydrated as possible. This can keep your energy levels high and your mind active. So, it’s a good idea to always carry a bottle of water with you in your handbag. If you would rather not drink out of plastic bottles, there are lots of metal alternatives that can be refilled. See if you can go a week with swapping your coffee for water - you will feel much better once all the caffeine has been flushed out of your system!



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Meditate

Even though there are Buddhist monks out there who can meditate for hours at a time, you only need ten minutes for your daily session. So, you will be able to squeeze in some meditation no matter how busy you are! If you have never meditated below, there are now lots of apps that can help you get a good introduction. Lots of people swear by Head Space, so why not give it a go?!

Get An Early Night

Not getting enough sleep can cause a lot of health issues. For this reason, it’s important you aim to get at least seven hours of sleep each night. Once you start getting enough, you will find that you can enjoy higher energy levels and much better concentration and focus!

There you have it - health doesn’t have to take a long time!
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Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Try Tennis For Free This National Great British Tennis Weekend 22-23 July

Wimbledon may be over but there's no chance of rain stopping play now that Caitlin and Ieuan have found a sport they can actually play together.

woman playing tennis on court
Image credit: Pixabay
Ieuan's never been keen on taking up ballet and Caitlin is too worried about the possibility of being hit during Tae Kwon-do but, they have recent discovered tennis and have been playing out in the garden in relative harmony.

Those of us parents facing 6 weeks of full-scale sibling rivalry when school ends this Friday are very appreciative of the prospect of some peace, I can tell you.

And there are some pretty good reasons to encourage our youngsters to take up the sport, not least because we Brits are very proud of our tennis champions and we all know the importance of starting kids young.

Caitlin balancing a tennis ball on her racquet
Look at that concentration - and yes, that court is a bit, um, overgrown
Here's ten very good reasons to play tennis, courtesy of Tennis Wales who are organising the Welsh version of the National #GoHitIt campaign to encourage as many of us as possible to pick up a racquet and practise our serve.

1. Tennis may help you to live a longer life - scientists and doctors say tennis is one of the healthiest activities that you can participate in.  The overall physical, mental and emotional gains it delivers could add years to your life.

2. It can make you happier - tennis engages the mind and body at the same time. Tennis players are more confident, healthier, less stressed and more socially interactive.

3. You'll make friends.  Tennis encourages interaction and communication.  Especially if you're playing doubles with a partner.

4. The whole family can join in - no matter what your age, ability or fitness level, tennis is great for bringing the family together. Few other sports can offer the opportunities for families that tennis can.

Caitlin practising her serve
I'm not going to tell her that's backwards as I'll stand more chance of winning.
5. Tennis teaches life lessons - players, particularly youngsters, develop a work ethic, learn sportsmanship, how to manage mistakes, enhance their discipline, learn to compete and learn teamwork.

6. Tennis can be anything you want it to be - competition, social play, a good workout or time with family or friends.

7. Tennis is fun - whether at entry level, for the under 10s or the senior leagues all players have fun while getting a workout at the same time.

8. It develops your mind.  Tennis requires alertness, tactical thinking and problem solving.  Evidence suggests it may generate new connections between nerves, promoting a lifetime of continued development of the brain.

Ieuan practising his serve
Not totally sure about Ieuan's co-ordination to be honest ...
9. It builds fitness - the constant movement and action in tennis will burn calories, build muscle, increase bone strength, improve flexibility, fine-tune coordination and enhance overall health and fitness.

10.  Tennis is a sport you can play your whole life - you can play throughout your lifetime from the earliest ages to your later years.

And from the point of view of teaching our kids sportsmanship, then tennis is a great way to teach them both competitiveness AND how to deal with defeat graciously (NOT McEnroe style).

If you want to join in with #GoHitIt, you can find your nearest participating court at https://www.lta.org.uk/go-hit-it.

And this weekend (22 - 23 July) is the perfect opportunity to hit your local tennis court (or playing field or garden!) because it's the National Great British Tennis Weekend where selected venues will be offering free tennis for everyone, regardless of age, ability or fitness level.

To find your nearest participating court visit https://clubspark.lta.org.uk/OpenDays.

Ieuan balancing a tennis ball on a tennis racquet
That's more like it.
Tennis Wales are also hosting Tennis Tuesdays to encourage more female tennis players back into the game.  The sessions as specifically geared towards women who used to play and want to return to the game.  There is also a Nike rewards programme attached to session attendance.

Find your nearest participating court at https://clubspark.lta.org.uk/TennisTuesdays.

If you are looking for a local league to get involved with to hone your competitive streak and make some new friends, then go to https://localtennisleagues.com.

Enjoy your tennis!
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Encouraging Your Kids To Travel Could Be One Of The Best Things You Do For Them

We all want the best for our kids. We want them to get the best education, to have their pick of jobs, and to live incredible lives. But have you considered that you should be encouraging your children not only to do well in school but to travel? 

Woman hiker walking under some trees

Encouraging your kids to travel could be one of the best things you ever do for them. It can be scary, picturing them in a foreign country far away, maybe even on their own. However, there are so many ways it could help them to learn and grow as people. When your child is old enough, encouraging them to explore could mean the following things: 

They Experience Different Cultures And Walks Of Life

When you encourage your kids to travel, they will experience different cultures and walks of life. This will change the way they relate to the world and other people as a result. They’ll become more accepting, and see the world with a much wider view. They should often be able to see the bigger picture and develop an appreciation for people and things that are different to what they know.

It Looks Great On A CV

There’s no denying that an extensive experience with travel can look great on a CV. If you encourage your child to travel, make sure you also encourage them to do CV-worthy things too, such as volunteer at homeless shelters and schools. They can still explore and have lots of fun while doing this, and they don’t have to spend the entire time doing it. They may even be able to get some paid work if they’re lucky!

Image credit: Flickr
Develops Important Life Skills, Such As Independence

Travelling will not only enable your children to take on new challenges; it’ll help them to develop important life skills, such as independence. Sure, you can book homestay accommodation for them; just make sure you don’t hold their hand too much. Encourage them to do their own research and be as independent as possible. This will only ever be a good thing for all of their future endeavours.

Push Their Educational Horizons

On top of all of the things above, seeing amazing things for themselves will push their educational horizons. For example, your child may not have an immediate interest in architecture, but all that could change when they see some famous historical structures for themselves, up close. They may develop new interests, passions, and appreciations for all kinds of things.

Will you encourage your kids to travel when they’re old enough? It really could be one of the best things you do for them! Not only that, there’s only usually one time in a person’s life they have the opportunity to do this kind of thing before their own kids and jobs get in the way. 

If you want to start them off early, make sure you take lots of trips with them while they’re young, helping them to develop an open mind and appreciation for different cultures. Have fun with it!
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