Living in a Post-Apocalyptic World

Gaye Levy Gaye Levy  |  Updated: December 16, 2020
Living in a Post-Apocalyptic World

Back in the 60’s there was a tune recorded by Barry McGuire titled “The Eve of Destruction”. Yes, that was a long time ago but yet today, I can still feel the power of its lyrics:

“Don’t you understand what I’m tryin’ to say
Can’t you feel the fears I’m feelin’ today?
If the button is pushed, there’s no runnin’ away
There’ll be no one to save, with the world in a grave.”

Almost fifty years later, the context is different but the feeling is back: we live in a world gone crazy mad. To cope, many of us prepare for the worst while hoping and praying that a cataclysmic event never happens.

And yet, as I discovered during my recent vacation, most people are oblivious. Ask fifty people whether they prepare (or tell them that you are a prepper) and forty will say “what do you mean”? Five will ask if you are one of those crazies they see on television. The remaining five, if you are lucky, will nod their heads and continue the conversation, having found that rare, like-minded person that understands that prepping is a way of life that is crucial to long term survival.

Living in a post apocalyptic world

This brings me to the topic of today’s article: living in a post-apocalyptic world. I have touched upon this topic before but a recent email from a reader brought it back into focus. She asked:

Do I want to live in devastation, hardship, danger, heartache? Do I want to be alive to worry about the health and safety of my children and grandchildren? Do I want to face cancer, radiation, atmospheric poisoning? Do I really want to be prepared to kill my neighbors if they come after my “stash”?

Today I would like to share the dialogue that “J” had with herself as she answered her own questions. Be forewarned. This is not light reading.


I guess that’s the biggest question I ask myself when it comes to all this “prepper” business. Do I really WANT to scratch and scrape and crawl into a hidey-hole for gawd knows how long just for the privilege of saying “I survived”.

What will the world look like after the said “SHTF” scenario? Will it be a place I care to live in? What may become of my beautiful landscape in the breathtaking Pacific Northwest area? What about friends and family? Will they be around for comfort and companionship and encouragement? Will the air around me be filled with fumes and deadly particles? Will the sweet, clean water of the Pacific Northwest be contaminated with radioactive materials and rendered unfit for consumption? What about plant life and livestock and the healthy soil needed to grow these two things?

I guess the answers to these questions are all the same: It depends.

It depends on what kind of world catastrophe hits. It depends on the quality of the surface of our world. It depends on the time required to return to some sense of “normalcy”. It depends on the sustainability of our gene pool. It depends.

Will it be a pandemic event such as a vaccine immune virus? I’m picturing in my head the Zombie Apocalypse here…laugh. But in reality it will probably be something far more innocuous such as a vaccine resistant flu virus that spreads like wildfire and kills through dysentery, fever and dehydration…specifically targeting the old, the young and the weak.

Will it be a catastrophic natural event such as earthquake, massive and widespread flooding, solar flare eruption, global storm upheavals such as tornado’s, hurricane’s, volcanic eruption….all of which will wipe out the electrical grid, destroy habitat and reduce the world to primitive, pre-industrial conditions?

Will it be a total collapse of the world financial system? Rendering a crippling blow to the economy and creating a “trickle down” catastrophic global situation triggering anarchy, rioting, looting, food shortages, and chaos.

Will it be the dreaded “finger on the button” CRIME against all humanity? The ego and power hungry dictator that assumes god-like power over mankind’s life, death and the future of our mother earth by unleashing nuclear or biological or chemical annihilation thereby poisoning the soil and the air for many hundreds of years to follow.

That brings me back around to my original self-question: Do I really want to survive in such a landscape of devastation and hopelessness?

I’m in my late 50’s after all. Would I help or be a burden to those around me? Being in this age group makes me more vulnerable to sickness, injury. My natural defenses are decidedly less hearty than my younger counterparts. Will they end up spending precious resources to maintain my life? Is it worth it to save an aging old woman at the expense of a child or a potentially strong and healthy young adult? Both of which have strong capabilities for strengthening the group dynamics. Do I want to live in a world where such choices must be made?

For myself, personally, I have come to consider the “It Depends” statement.

If it’s a short-term power outage the answer would be YES. I have experienced such periods of time when our little community was literally cut off from the outside world for days at a time (10 consecutive days in 2011). No electrical power, no telephone service, no cell signal. Roads blocked on all sides by fallen trees. No method of communication between residents other than face to face at a common gathering area. There is an encouraging (almost heroic) story in this example. Perhaps to be told at a different time.

But the bottom line in this particular scenario is that I WOULD want to survive a simple power outage…because it is indisputably “survivable”. Here’s where my stash of non-perishable food staples, back up generator, fuel reserves, potable water and medical supplies pay off. It’s a relatively short-term scenario with a definite end in sight.

The other SHTF situations are a bit more dicey. In more cases than not, I think I would choose NOT to live through them.

My life has been full and for the most part happy. I would not want to become a burden and force my friends or family to make “the” decision: me or someone with more life potential. I would not want to face a situation in which I might consider killing another human being…even to save myself. I do not want to see my miraculous world crumble and fall or be blasted to oblivion around me.

I do not wish to live in such a world. I am not afraid of death. I am not afraid to embrace it. I do not wish to be “snuck up on” from behind… succumb to insidious conditions such as radiation sickness, cancers, pollution, irradiated soil and air, lawless and morally depraved humans. There are dignified ways to pass from this life to the next…. dysentery, cancer, rape or murder are all roads I choose NOT to travel.

My decision will not stop me from “prepping”. At the very least it will see me through a severe storm event, a volcanic eruption, earthquake or even a tsunami. I will let my family, friends and neighbors know of my preparations….perhaps they would have need of what I’ve accumulated when I no longer have need of it myself.

I may consider it my final gift to those around me.


The question of whether life is worth living in a world that is falling apart is something we each need to ask and answer for ourselves. There is no right answer. Family, heath, faith/religion and a myriad of other factors come in to play as we each decide when and if we will drink the kool-aid.

For an optimist such as myself, this is not a comfortable dialogue. On the other hand, it is an important part of the journey toward becoming a consummate prepper – a prepper that is prepared mentally and psychologically for whatever life and our world will throw our way.

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

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Bargain Bin: Today I share two post-apocalyptic items plus some items from the Amazon Top 10 and some whistles – just to lighten things up a bit.

The Survivors: This is an old British TV series about a rag tag group of individuals survive what appears to be some type of pandemic. We never know for sure. The storyline revolves around how the survivors prevail in spite of the roving gangs that will do anything for food, clothing and even more scary, control. There is even a former government worker who tries to set up an all controlling government, under her rules of course.

The Road: If you have not seen the movie or read the book, check out Cormac McCormick’s The Road. Here is a link to my review: Lessons from Cormac McCarthy’s THE ROAD.

BIC Disposable Classic Lighter With Child Guard: This six pack of Bic lighters is reasonably priced but check around since these often go on sale locally. BICs just work – every time.

Potable Aqua Water Treatment Tablets: Potable Aqua Water Purification Tablets make questionable water bacteriologically suitable to drink. Easy to use and the water is ready to drink in 30 minutes. One 50 tablet bottle treats 25 quarts of water.

BaoFeng UV-5R 136-174/400-480 MHz Dual-Band Ham Radio : The Baofeng UV-5R is a compact hand held transceiver providing 4 watts in the frequency range of 136-174 MHz and 400-480 MHz. It is a compact, economical HT that includes a special VHF receive band from 65 – 108 MHz which includes the regular FM broadcast band. Dual watch and dual reception is supported.

2 Pack Survival Kit Can Opener, Military, P-51 Model: This device makes a great addition to any survival, fishing, hiking or camping pack. It is lightweight and robust and it just works.

FordEx Group 300lm Mini Cree Led Flashlight Torch Adjustable Focus Zoom Light Lamp: Here we go with another flashlight. It is super mini sized, bright and waterproof. Plus, it uses standard AA sized batteries.

rothco safety whistleRothco Safety Orange Flat Whistle – 2 Pack These flat-style whistles are made by Rothco, a respected brand in outdoor gear.

SE 5 in 1 Survival Whistle: I have a few of these. They are a cheap but they do the job surprisingly well.

Windstorm Safety Whistle: This one is my personal favorite although it is a bit more expansive.

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23 Responses to “Living in a Post-Apocalyptic World”

  1. I have often asked myself many of the same questions. Excellent article and thought provoking. I have come to many of the same conclusions. I also believe that preparing for “whatever” is a good policy. We have seen many natural disasters that are truly devastating to those who are not prepared and I refuse to be one of those.

  2. Very honest self assessment on the writers part!
    I prep also for whatever may come, as well as I can. I am in my fifties also with a few health problems. That said, my faith will not allow me to ever just “drink the koolaid” If I survive, there is a reason God still needs me here. I have been through some hellish events in my life, things I did not want to face, nor live through, later though, sometimes years, God showed me why things were allowed to happen in my life, through my personal suffering/trials, someone else has learned something valuable, or more importantly brought them closer to Him.
    I don’t want to think I might have to harm another person to keep my family safe, and I wont know if I even can until I am faced with it. Although Im fairly certain I could, the living with what I have done is what will be on my conscience forever. But a disaster on a national or world wide scale is going to force us into some hard decisions and will bring out the very worst in people, hopefully the very best will soon follow when we need to pull together and become small communities that help each other.
    For instance, my sister lives next door to me, she has started prepping and is off to a really good start, but she doesn’t have the survival skills/knowledge that I do. I hope to be here to help her family with what I know. She has the beans and rice, but no clue what to do with them!
    I think not knowing if my kids and grandchildren are ok will be the hardest thing for me as none of them are prepared at all and live 700 miles from me. My husband drives truck over the road, the chances of him being home when something drastic comes down the pike are pretty slim, so I will not know whats going on with him either. (he does have a BOB in his truck, but were talking hundreds of miles)
    So I guess I do want to survive and thrive in whatever shape our world will be afterwards, and let God decide when its time to go home.
    Everyone’s mindset will be different, and should be respected as their truth.

  3. I am a healthy 70-year young wife, mother, and grandmother. I grew up in Central Louisiana where we prepped for natural disaster every year – boxes of food, water, meds, candles, etc. in the closet and under the bed just waiting for the next hurricane. Some years these goods were used for the emergency and other years we ate a lot of beans and spam (lol) in the winter. Now I live in Central Texas where a drought has set in and find that I’m still prepping but for a much broader potential. Because I don’t have the strength and stamina to go off-grid, I’m canning and dehydrating with as little freezing as I can get by with and I’ve got lots of water stashed in an empty closet upstairs. I’m doing what I can to keep up going, as you say, short-term and with my health and family history, I can probably make it long-term with the cooperation of family and neighbors. I have a lot to offer but couldn’t do it alone. Would I want to live post-apocalyptic – it depends of the environment as it existed.

    My hubby is not on board but tolerates my efforts. And we have the wine cellared under our bed.

  4. Good for you LeAnn!
    A person may be old and sick but has knowledge that many refuse to learn until it’s too late. Staying alive, regardless of the hardships, is the only way you can pass that knowledge on to the younger generation! My closest family is about 300 miles away, but there are younger people all around that may need what I know. I intend to do my best to stay alive, or at least make my death useful in some way!

  5. WOW Gaye!! I’m surprised with your comments. Although I do understand what you are saying. Just last night we were discussing the what if scenario if we got Alzheimer’s. I know I don’t want to let my family go through that so I made the sound of my shot gun. Could I do it, I hope so. However, whatever the world looks like with what is in store for us in a SHTF scenario is different story. 1st of all, do you have the ability to take your life? I’m with LeAnn on this one. Knowledge will help those young ones that you feel are more important than you because of your age. Although I have printed out a lot if information for myself and others, I or “You” may be the best person to have around with the knowledge to survive and make life a better place for our family and friends. Without us, many people will succumb a far worse death. People did die in wars, plagues, famines, droughts, ice ages, etc., many lived, and in the middle of all the devastation, people reproduced and flourished again. It was a hard life, which most of us today have never experienced a world type adversity. last being the depression and WWII. Is it that time again, is the question? Yes, there will be the bad people, the desperate that turn bad. Then there will be the ones that stick together and help each other. There needs to be people that will be able to pass on the knowledge to the younger generation that can only operate their I pods right now. There is an old saying that is so true. (That every generation is weaker than the one before.) Our generation will be that stronger generation to help the weaker. We will need to be the educators.

    With your comment on not being able to take a life, I hope you don’t own a gun, but I also don’t want you to be a victim.

    • John – Keep in mind that the comments in this article were not mine. They came from one of my readers and were meant to provide a though-provoking forum for coming to our own conclusions on the matter.

      For me, the “drink the Kool-Aid” moment would be following a nuclear holocaust where painful death was eminent. Other than that, I am convinced that my reason for being here is to help others navigate through the crisis – whatever that crisis may be.

  6. Lately I’ve noticed the increase discussion around getting prepared for the collapse of the US government. To be honest, I don’t know where I stand on the issue. Judging by our current economic outlook, it could be around the corner, or maybe not for another 30 years. Either way, I’ve been trying to prepare my family, I’ve got most of our food storage ready, just bought a Berkey water filter, there are a couple more items I feel I should get to be prepared. I guess the best preparation any of us can make is to get things right with God. I’m a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and I’m grateful for my faith and the assurance of listening to God’s living prophet. Whatever happens, I feel I’m ready spiritually. Great article by the way.

    • Brett – Although I am not of the LDS faith, I am learned so much from their teachings relative to preparedness. In addition, the LDS people I have met – especially at the LDS cannery – are the nicest people you will ever meet.

  7. Oh my Gaye. Very thought provoking article. I’m in my late 60’s and I have thought of these very things. I have enough knowledge of my Father in heaven to know that he has something in mind for me. To allow me to live this long, when if you asked me 20 years ago if I would ever live to this age, I would have said “aint no way”. Well, here I am. He has allowed me to live through many things, including 3 airplane crashes that were total losses, and my only injury was the black and blue marks left from the shoulder harness. I know I am here for a particular reason.
    I had a eye opening event in my life about 2 months ago. I go to a meeting of old soldiers, and some not so old, that meet twice a month to chat about old times, guns, survival equipment, and the like. 2 months ago, I found out that some of them have a retreat on some mountain in the Appalachians. They have been building and preparing for over 4 years. When they heard of my knowledge of aquaponics in a greenhouse environment, then I was told of this bunker. It seems they (being old and in need of meds) wanted to know if I could grow ‘poppies’. They having been in Afghanistan, so have knowledge of how to process poppies into pain killers. I was so intrigued that they would invite me to join their group. They had about 50 members and were quite prepared. They would have made a great episode of “Doomsday Survivors”.
    Yes I was excited. I could see myself living on a mountain with 50 others. Men with military backgrounds and their families. They were prepared to live a few years in the mountains until the world got back to normal.
    I gave this much thought. Then I asked myself the question, what am I preparing for? Is it my survival? If this is true, then go to the mountain. The only reason I am prepping is for my children and grandchildren. There is no way I could live with a new family on the mountain not know about my real family.
    As far as being old and a hindrance on my children, I see it as I am needed for my knowledge of all the things I have planed for. Would they know to run all the water in my barrels in the basement or the rain barrels on the corner of every building I have, through my Berkey? Could they even cook a meal with my dehydrated food? Could they build a fire on which to cook? At a young age I taught them to shoot all my weapons, would they still remember?
    I feel this is why the good Lord has kept me around. To look after my family. I am the patriarch and it is my duty to teach and protect them.
    No, I will not be going to the mountain. Thanks for getting down to the ‘nitty-gritty’ in this article.

  8. Great article that has also touched on my greatest worries and thoughts on prepping. I too am in my fifties and female and I think in these past three decades the general push has been for the glory of youth. We have forgotten how before this time and culture that it was the elders of our villages and tribes that kept the history and passed on knowledge to the young.
    I think after the initial dog eat dog of a collapse, we will naturally pull together with others and build our own small villages. And when we do, I figure I can help with knowing how to at least cook from scratch and not poison someone else with food. That I have some knowledge on first aid and can help keep the others healthy. Even basic hygiene will need to be passed on.
    We forget that crone was a good word at one time. That older men and women who contributed to the whole were valued and looked after in a natural world. It’s easy to forget in this world that throws away more than it keeps. I don’t know what will happen, I guess we all have been waiting for it since we were young. Growing up with bomb shelters and all the wars since the Viet Nam war. Like others have said, we must be here for a reason. That God has a need for us here and now. Who knows? We might all be the link that keeps the spirit going in each of our villages.
    The ones that teach others how to read. To help them move forward into the light and not sit so long in the dark.

  9. I would fight to my last breath, to survive. I would do all that I could to help my children and grandchildren survive. If nothing more, than to live long enough to teach them the many lost skills that becoming “modern” have been forgotten, swept under the carpet as non essential to know anymore….. canning, freezing, growing your own food, how to treat water and find water, hunt, build. I would live, if for nothing more, than to help them survive. Then I could pass on in peace, knowing I did my best.

  10. I can and will do whatever it takes to survive.My biggest prep worry is nuclear war or enemy invasion.Aside from those two i think im prepared for the rest of the what ifs.I wouldnt hesitate to kill someone if they were trying to hurt me or my family.I have a carry permit and have made that decision in my mind already.One must, if they choose to carry a firearm for protection. Otherwise that hesitation at the moment of truth will cost you your life

  11. Plenty of people SAY that they’d “off themselves” or lie down and die if the SHTF for real…and they use this as an excuse to not prepare. I think most of these folks are kidding themselves, though. Once the initial shock of “The Event” wore off folks would find that they, like all other humans throughout history, have a very strong will to live and survive. I suspect it might be a lot harder to “pull the trigger” than they think it will be. Aspects of the situation might lead them to “hold on” and survive in the hopes that things would get better…hopefully that’s true. In any case, they’ll probably be kicking themselves for not having done more to get ready for bad times when times were good.

    I have no intention of killing myself if the SHTF unless I have absolutely zero other options (as in I’m dying regardless, the only question is a long or a short death). Prepping is no guarantee that you’ll survive, but it does increase your chances and gives you options you wouldn’t otherwise have.

    • JS. I don’t have any intention of laying down to die either. I have heard stories and have seen movies about the stock market crash before the great depression where lots and lots of stock brokers and rich people committed suicide. I suppose if you are use to being rich, the thoughts of loosing it all are overwhelming. I guess I am lucky in that I have never had much to loose. WHAT, did I just say I was lucky to not have anything?

  12. I would say yes. The survival of experience/History is needed. After writing all you know down for the next generation, you can die knowing you did what you could for the country to survive.

  13. OMG! LeAnn, this was a little spooky to read your post. it was like I was reading what I had just said to a friend. short term would I want to survive for my kids and grandkids, yes. in a long term disaster I fully intend to tell my kids wear my supplies are and make sure they can avail themselves of it. I believe God’s plan for me was to try and help my children and grandchildren survive should a disaster. Ihope I’m just saving for a rainy day ,as my parents did, but sadly I feel it will have a much more urgent need.
    Thnks so much for this post I feel I kno u n ur views

    • We eat out of our stock pile, and I rotate, but I told my husband the other day, if we never have to use up the beans and rice I will be very much ok with that! Some of the stuff we have is just like insurance, we may never need it, but if we do…. We do eat beans and rice, just not THAT much!
      When my husband was between jobs, our stockpiles of food kept us alive, you just never know what type of emergency/disaster is coming. So we have had a rainy day here, but like you, I think something much bigger is on the horizon.

  14. A few thoughts:

    She says she does, “not wish to be “snuck up on” from behind… succumb to insidious conditions such as radiation sickness, cancers, pollution, irradiated soil and air, lawless and morally depraved humans.”

    Don’t we have all that now? Pollution? Cancer?
    Perhaps she does not know about things such as the continuing fallout from above ground nuclear testing and the effects from Geo-engineering?

    She says, “There are dignified ways to pass from this life to the next…. dysentery, cancer, rape or murder are all roads I choose NOT to travel.”

    Pray tell, how does one choose NOT to travel down that road?
    Those types of things happen now, just not as widespread as some people think they will when SHTF.

    I wonder why she (and those who hold this view) just don’t lay down and quit right now?

  15. I, too, am not sure I want to live in the post SHTF. That being said, my prepping is in the event that I DO survive – I will have something to help me be as comfortable as possible in the aftermath. How long that will be depends on what it is that we need to survive.

    In the short term though, it is a good idea to have something in place for the short term emergency. The other day, the power went out in my area. I was fortunate to be able to take a shower and fill some water jugs – wake up call? yes in 2 ways. It made me think about what happens when I get home from work and the power is still out? I also am on CPAP and when the power goes out I wake immediately. I did not have a generator so that is on the top of the list to get before winter sets in.

  16. “my prepping is in the event that I DO survive – I will have something to help me be as comfortable as possible in the aftermath.”

    …And that is it.

    …” in the aftermath”.

    And I often think, for those who wold lay down and die. Do they ever wonder how much they could help other people if they lived? They seem so non- shalont about giving up the ghost, but they never seem to consider the people they could help if they had more perseverance. ..The stranger they never knew who cold benefit from knowing them if they only held in a little longer.

    Not too mention the people they do know.

    What I’m saying is, when they give up, they take someone else with them. …Someone who had a good shot at a good life. After the Fall.

    I wouldn’t want that on my conscious.

    I guess, ‘the blind’ have no problem with that?

    The trick question is, What year is it?


  17. oh my, such comments. and what year is it? seriously, one never knows what is in store for us. I think about it often. the more I read and think about it, the more unanswered questions I have. people respond differently to things. when it comes down to it, you just dont know what you will do in resonse to any situation, where you’ll be and with whom, or what mind set you will be in, your health, or financial situation at the time of an event. will you be in a nice relaxed mind set when something happens?Will you be babysitting grandkids, walking your dog, scurrying around the store in order to catch that last ferry of the day, or getting to the bank before it closes. it could be a major gridlock on a freeway,or a similar situation to boston b……, where marshal law was declared and people were forced from their homes at gun point in order to find the man who got away. in this country’s history people have lived through many horrible events, have been tortured, imprisoned because of their ethnicity, or just spilling the beans on our lovely “gimme regime” those who are in a normalcy mindset will get desperate. but the pupulace is beyond the normalcy stage, they are in that final ” apathetic” stage. I have many good friends who think I’m a nut girl, maybe I am, maybe I’m not, but I have had to give up my share of meals to feed others mouths, I have been on the losing end and dont care to be in that situation again. until these apathetic minded peeps have been humbled, they wont change. most will be in denial at first, then shock when reality finally hits them between the eyes. most times people wont take the bull by the horns until they are desperate enough, me included. now, there are those 10% who have, and will loot, rape, shoot, burn and whatever else they want in order to get what they think is theirs to take. I cant say when a major catastophic event will happen, the powerful elite have been working on a lone(1) gimme regime take-over in this country for a long time. if you really want to get a glimpse into post shtf lifestyle look to greece, argentina, italy, france, germany,and many other countries. just a year ago cyprus govt. screwed the depositors out of their money because the gimme regime defaulted. lots of really nasty things occured. in Greece the rioters burned down a bank and killed a bank manager and a young pregnant woman, they attacked people driving in cars, they burned and looted regular businesses, tore apart govt. buildings and threw bricks and rocks at innocent people walking about. search for countries where their govt. defaulted and what events that happened. there is a guy named farfel, he lives in Argentina. he talks about what it was like. how bad things got. I remember growing up hearing about Russia, the food shortages, and mass inflation and the violence and upheaval that occured. some say stock up on gold and silver, ok, so maybe in small increments it may buy you fuel or something that no one else wants. barter will be happening big time. old style skills will be in demand, even if we dont have a grid down situation, simply because people will be forced to resort to ways, when normacy is absent. the gimme regime wont be coming to our aide at least for several weeks, just look at how the victoms of hurricanes went through in the past. Katrina-the national guard was sent out to disarm people just before it hit, they even killed peoples pets and told them they didnt have to worry about their pets, anymore. and must evacuate.those weapons still have not been returned to their owners. I sure hope they overlook me. I wont leave my pets, unless they shoot me or forcable hand cuff me and inter me in a camp. not only can it happen, it has, and will again. We are indeed living in uncertain times. I was taught at young age to be aware of my surroundings, people and to observe what is going on. not to flaunt what I have. hubby took a mandatory course-criminal phycology in the military and helped him to read people and their actions, body movements. doing this on a daily basis may save your life someday

  18. I will do WHATEVER it takes to survive, as I don’t fancy the alternative(death, once your dead your dead forever).

  19. I’ve never heard the term prepper before. Though I do think that it’s a good idea to be one even if you don’t go through an apocalypse. The world is pretty crazy and sometimes it seems like it getting crazier.

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