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Day #176: Know your spinal cord – Spina bifida

spinal dissection

This is day nineteen of knowing your spinal cord! We covered all the big neuroanatomy and while we may go back and cover some of the minor things, we’re in the middle of spinal deformities. For those just starting, we have a neuroanatomy category to make it easy to find these posts. For everyone else, today we’re talking about spina bifida.

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Day #175: Know your spinal cord – Diastematomyelia

diastematomyelia drawing

Diastematomyelia, a complicated name for a split spinal cord.

Day eighteen! Almost three weeks worth of fun spinal knowledge. For those tuning in, we have a neuroanatomy category just for these posts. Since we’ve covered most of the anatomy portion of the spinal cord, we’ve just started covering spinal disorders. If you’re here you’re probably wondering what diastematomyelia is, so let’s get started!

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Day #174: Know your spinal cord – The tethered spinal cord

brain and spinal cord

This has been a fun series of posts and today is day seventeen! As usual, you can check out all of our posts under the neuroanatomy category. I’ve got some good news and some bad news. The good news is we’re still going! The bad news is we’ve pretty much covered the anatomy. So for the next few posts, we will look at some issues the spinal cord may have. First up, let’s talk about a tethered spinal cord!

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Day #173: Know your spinal cord – The meninges

cross section of spinal cord

Day sixteen of knowing your spinal cord! So many posts, much knowledge! For those who are just finding us, we have a whole neuroanatomy category dedicated to these posts. If you want to take it from the top (literally) you should start with the medullary pyramids post. If you’ve been following along or only interested in this particular topic today we are covering the meninges and you’ll learn my really dumb way for remembering them, so let’s get started.

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Day #172: Know your spinal cord – The lumbar cistern and cerebrospinal fluid

Spinal anatomy

We are well on our way to finishing up the know your spinal cord series that I am doing. Today is day fifteen and as usual if you’re just tuning in we have a whole neuroanatomy category dedicated to these posts for you to check out organized in reverse chronological order. If you want to start at the beginning, that would be the medullary pyramids. Today we are at the other end of the cord, this is the lumbar cistern!

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Day #171: Know your spinal cord – The cauda equina

spinal cord and brain

Here we are at day fourteen of knowing your spinal cord. By now you’re all experts on the spinal cord and I’m not even sure what I’m doing here. For those just joining us, we have a neuroanatomy category with all the posts so you don’t have to dig for them. If you want to start at the beginning, that would be the medullary pyramids. For the rest of you this is the end, not the end of the posts because we have a lot more to cover, but the end of the spinal cord. Let’s talk the cauda equina!

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Day #170: Know your spinal cord – The spinal cord enlargements

Mitochondria in a spinal cord section

Mitochondria in a section of spinal cord

Here we are at day thirteen of knowing your spinal cord! As always, we have a whole special category for these posts called neuroanatomy and if you’re not after a specific topic, I recommend starting at the medullary pyramids. Today’s post is about something important that we haven’t touched on very much, the cervical and lumbar enlargements of the spinal cord, so let’s get started.

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Day #169: Know your spinal cord – The central pattern generator

V0008396 Brain and spinal cord: dissection, back view. Coloured line

Day (or really post) twelve on knowing your spinal cord. We have a whole category for the posts, neuroanatomy. Today we are going to talk about the curious case of the central pattern generators (CPG’s). Unfortunately, we cannot talk about them without talking about the experiments that found them, meaning we will be covering animal studies. In particular, some animal studies that might not sit well with some people. I attempted to be general where I can, just know that it is coming.

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Day #168: Review – Static magnetic field stimulation applied over the cervical spinal cord can decrease corticospinal excitability in finger muscle

Fig1

Figure 1 of the paper showing how the intervention was applied to the spinal cord

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, this is my second critical review paper. You can read my first looking at spinal reflexes here. Today we are looking at a novel way to modulate spinal cord excitability. Overall I find the paper very interesting. Although the authors performed a limited experiment and no follow up (as of now) has been done, it still looks very promising and would provide a new way to explore the circuitry of the spinal cord. This is my second attempt at a “critical review” so you can take my opinion on the methodology and findings how you will.

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Day #167: Know your spinal cord – The reflex pathways

Gold leaf spinal cord art by Greg Dunn design

Beautiful spinal cord art, used with permission by Greg Dunn design.

Day eleven, we’ve almost spent two weeks covering your spinal cord! Tomorrow we will take a brief break as every two weeks I have a review paper due to my PI in the spinal cord feild, so tomorrow I will share it with all of you as well. For today, remember we have a neuroanatomy category with all of the posts we’ve done. If you’re new I would suggest you start with the medullary pyramids post and work forward, for the rest of you or those of you who are only interested in reflexes, let’s talk about some legos.

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Day #166: Know your spinal cord – The spinocerebellar tract

Spinal cord section by Ramon y Cajal

Drawing of a spinal cord cross section by Ramon y Cajal, a famous Spanish neuroscientist.

Here we are on day ten of knowing your spinal cord. As always, you can find the aggregated posts in my totally new, fresh off the line category, neuroanatomy. There posts are organized in reverse chronological order, so the first post on the medullary pyramids would be at the bottom, which is where I recommend you start if you’re new. For everyone who’s followed along or those of you who are just interested in this one tract, let’s talk about the spinocerebellar tract!

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Day #165: Know your spinal cord – The rubrospinal tract

Art by Ramon y Cajal

Drawing of a spinal cord slice by Ramon y Cajal, a Spanish neuroscientist and Nobel prize winner

This is day nine of know your spinal cord. Now for my usual bits, we have a whole category that I created just for these posts. They are in chronological order with the newest posts first, so I would recommend you start from the beginning post or dive in where you’re interested. That said, we’re going to tackle one of the smaller, but still important tracts, the rubrospinal tract!

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Day #164: Know your spinal cord – The grey matter

vintage spinal neurons

Drawing by Ramon y Cajal, a famous Spanish neuroscientist.

Today is day eight! I can hardly believe it, but here we are, day eight of spinal anatomy. For those of you who are just joining us, we have a whole new category just for these posts and they are in order from newest to oldest, so start at the bottom and work your way up. For those of you who have been following along, today we are tackling the grey matter of the spinal cord, a somewhat complex region where all the action takes place.

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Day #163: Know your spinal cord – The spinal nerves

Spinal cord

Here we are, a week into knowing your spinal cord (remember we have a new category for you to find these posts). If you’re just starting out, you may want to look at our new neuroanatomy category and start with the first post. For those of you who have been following along, we covered some of the major tracts of the spinal cord, so let’s dive into the structure some! First up, let’s talk about spinal nerves and what exactly these guys do.

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Day #162: Know your spinal cord – The spinothalamic tract

Antique engraving illustration: Spinal cord and brain

Day six already! Today is day six of knowing your spinal cord and we’re talking about the spinothalamic tract today. If you’re interested in the other posts, the first covers the medullary pyramids and I even have a category just for these posts. Of all the tracts of the spinal cord, this is probably my favorite becuase it is just so weird! You’ll see what I mean, so let’s get to it.

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Day #161: Know your spinal cord – The medial lemniscus tract

spinal drawing

Here we are day five of knowing your spinal cord. If you’re just joining us, I’ve created a new category where you can find all the posts. Or you can start at the beginning with the medullary pyramids (technically not part of the spine, but close enough). If you’re all caught up or just want to learn about this specific tract, then let’s get started.

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Day #160: Know your spinal cord – The corticospinal tract

spinal cord cross section drawing

We’ve made it to day four of knowing your spinal cord. I’ve introduced a new category just for this, which makes these posts easier to find for future reference (yours or mine). For those of you just starting out, you may want to go from the first post on the medullary pyramids. For the rest of you, you’re probably here to learn about the corticospinal tract. This will be fun, so let’s get started.

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Day #159: Know your spinal cord – Organization

spinal cord

For those of us just tuning in, today is the third part in a … well a lot of posts on the spinal cord! If you’re just joining us, you should probably start from the top (literally) here and this post covers the anatomy of the cord. Today we are going to talk spinal organization, for that reason we also should talk about how the brain is organized, which will help us make sense of why the spinal cord is organized the way it is, so let’s get started!

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Day #158: Know your spinal cord – The anatomy

leonardo da vinci spine drawing

Now that we took it from the top, let’s get an overview of what exactly makes up the spinal cord. There is a lot, so we’re not going to do a comprehensive review since that would be a whole class and not a single post. Most of the structures we cover today, will have a seperate post where we can go into detail.

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Day #157: Know your spinal cord – Medullary Pyramids

brainstem drawing

I’m excited that today we are starting the know your spinal cord series that I’ve been working on. Today we are going to take it from the top, no really. We’re starting at the top of the cord and we will work our way down. So without further delay, let’s look at the curious case of the medullary pyramids!

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Day #156: Experiment results

cervical spine

Well to say it’s been a busy week is probably an understatement and it doesn’t seem like it will be slowing down anytime soon. As it stands today was the end of our data collection. We managed to get ~15 subjects to go through our protocol and while I cannot share anything (yet) I can talk about the stuff I’ve learned and what is coming.

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Day #155: Experiments!!

So it turns out when you have 12 hours of experiments to do there isn’t much time for other things. Yesterday we had 3 experiments, today we have another 3 experiments (technically I’m writing this yesterday night, confusing I know). So basically I don’t have a whole lot of time to write. I’m going off to get some sleep and tomorrow (today, again confusing I know) I get to do this all over again. I hope wednesday I will have a bit more time and we can get into why the spinal cord is so cool! In any case, stay tuned!

Day #154: Review – Spinal stretch reflexes support efficient hand control

Fig1(A)

Fig 1 (a) from the paper, showing the multijoint perturbation away from target (red) with simultaneous flexion at the elbow and either flexion, extension, or no perturbation at the wrist joint.

Today is that critical review paper I promised. Everything following this introduction explains how the experiment was done, what they found, and why I think it is particularly interesting. To me the experiment was so well thought out I couldn’t think of anything I would change. Instead I focused on the methodology they used and why it highlights the importance of a well thought out experiment. This is really my first attempt at a “critical review” so take it how you will.

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Day #153: The week ahead

plan for the week

Tomorrow is more experiments! We’re doing all the experiments tomorrow. Okay, not all of them, but we have an ambitious three experiments lined up for tomorrow so it will definately be a long, long day. Still recovering from surgery too… so yeah it’s going to be a time. There are a few other things going on this week, so let’s look ahead and maybe talk about what I’m thinking of doing for the next round of themed posts (educational topic posts).

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Day #152: Improving my writing

writing

One of the outcomes of my recent meeting with my PI (my main one), is that I am going to be actively working on my writing. While I do this to improve my writing, this is far more informal than the writing I would be doing for a confrence or journal paper (both of which I’ve written). That isn’t to say that I cannot improve, there’s always room for improvement and I could use a LOT of improvement.

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Day #151: Surgery at the VA, a runthrough

VA hospital

Nice and foggy today, look at that nasty roof! Got to love the VA (even though it looks more like a prison, which I guess it sort of is.

Now that I’m somewhat out of my anesthesia sickness (seriously not fun), I figured I would give a rundown on what having surgery through the VA looks like and some of the things you have to do pre-surgery to get ready. Since I’ve never had a surgery outside of the VA, it would be interesting to see how much of this applies to other hospitals, but I suspect that the answer would be not much.

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Day #150: Surgery update

Well I’m alive, despite the VA’s best efforts. I’m struggling with some serious nausea to the point of vomiting, which has never happened to me before. I’m also in a lot of pain, but that was expected. In any case, start to finish (start as in the operating room and finish as in getting home so +30 minutes or so to the actual finish time) it took ~9 hours total good times for everyone. Anywho, I feel like death so I’ll write more later.

Day #149: An auspicious start

Brain

Well we did an experiment. I wish I could talk more about what we did, how we did, and why we did. Alas, I cannot. So instead, let’s talk about the vague how it went metric as in, maybe we found something maybe we didn’t, also this experiment highlights several quarks between the my school lab and the clinical lab.

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Day #148: Experimental design

 

EEGCap

Today is day one of ten for the time that I have to do some experiments. It’s an awkward time for sure, I mean surgery, school, etc. However, that’s just the way things work in academia, I actually had a break, so I’m ready to go to be honest. Which really means this isn’t horrible timing. I’ve already discussed the million things going on these weeks, but let’s talk about what goes into experiments, really.

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Day #147: First day in the lab

lab

A semi good photo of our lab!

Today is the first day in the lab since break. It was nice to have some time off, I got some housework done, got to spend the bulk of my time sick (not my idea of fun), and best of all I got to see some of the city. It’s been good and now that I’m ready to get back to it, the week is looking to be busy.
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Day #146: Back to school!

Back2School

My photo, but not my school, just one I visited.

Tomorrow is the big day, back to school, back to classes. This means that any and all house projects will inevitably come to a screeching halt until spring break (most likely) and it marks the shift in blog posts from life outside the lab to life in the lab. There are a few things I like to do to get ready for classes the day before, so let’s talk school.

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Day #145: A day out

dinotastic

Well, I moved. Okay, I moved over a year ago. The problem with that is I have been so busy with everything, I haven’t had a time to get out and see the sights. Sure, I’ve visited a few places, but in the terms of what this new city has to offer, I have yet to see pretty much anything outside of school. So let’s take a look at my visit the local museum of natural science!

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Day #144: Another day spent at the VA

VA hallway

An endless VA hallway, it feels like a metaphor for something… can’t quite put my finger on it.

It’s been an interesting few days, I’ve had several meetings with my PI and my Co-PI, I’ve got classes starting again, and I have a surprise experiment. However, I have something else coming up that I failed to mention, I’m also having surgery! Which means the inevitable jumping through hoops to get ready. Each VA seems to do things differently, so this will be a fun attempt at explaining how it works.

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Day #143: Meeting with my two PI’s

Exo

Some of our exoskeletons from the lab

Today was an interesting set of events. I had my meeting with my two PI’s (which I still think would make a hilarious television show). The meeting went well, I’m very excited, but I’m also getting ready to be very, VERY busy. Let’s breakdown how it went shall we?

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Day #142: So you want to record from the brain…

EEG setup

My college helping me set up for the experiment I just did. This is how we add gel to the head, there is a tiny hole by each sensor, we then insert a blunt tip needle (we do NOT puncture the skin!) to add the gel between the sensor and the top of the head to eliminate the air gap caused by the hair. Unfortunately it looks scary, but we need something tiny to get around the sensor (if you look close you can seethe tiny, tiny opening each senor has). The lights on each sensor tell us how good of a connection we have, red means bad, yellow means we’re getting close, and green means good. 

Today’s post was inspired by a conversation I was having yesterday in the comment section (you know who you are and thank you for the questions). I thought I would elaborate on how we record from the brain and why. There are a lot of different ways we can do this, some of them are super invasive and others are non-invasive. In the lab I work in now, we do things non-invasively there are good things about this and bad things about this, so let’s get into it!

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Day #141: PI meeting result

brains

Well I’ve had my first meeting with my main PI (vs my Co-PI). It went well, I’m very happy with the result and while I’m not at the end of my PhD (yet), it seemed like we were in agreement with my progress. I still have the meeting with my PI and Co-PI coming up, but let’s go over some of the things that we talked about in this meeting.
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Day #140: A meeting with my PI

 

EEGCap

Tools of the trade, an EEG cap I set up for my experiment

With the term about to start (we get another week, even though some schools are already kicking off), I have a few things that I need to do prior to the start. One of those things was make more work for myself, no really. I made a few emails between my two PI’s (which sounds like a TV show) and arranged for a meeting.

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Day #139: My cat cannot lay down right…

hikari

Huh, maybe it isn’t big enough for her to fit? No, she’s just a big weirdo, keep reading…

Well today is another day of painting the house. Like I mentioned this has been an ongoing project since I moved last year, let me just say painting takes longer than you think it will. In any case, with all the stress of possible war, I need a way to relax or at least something else to focus on. In that regard I thought I would share one of my fuzzy daughters.

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Day #138: Stress painting

Tali

Tali expressing exactly how I feel at the moment.

Today is one of those days where I’m stuck trying to figure out what to write about. Granted they happen infrequently, but this is a little different. With all the stress from the impending probability of war I just want to relax. I’ve been thoroughly engrossed in painting my house, a project I’ve been working off and on for the past year. It’s nice to be able to do something mindless, something I can distract myself with. Basically I’m just going to be doing that for the day.

Day #137: The reality of war

IwoJima

Fun fact, this is a staged photo. For an even more “fun” fact, you should learn about what happened to these people after the photo was taken and made popular.

Well, 2020 is off to an … interesting start. We have all of Australia burning, Indonesia flooding, and trump starting a war without congressional approval (that last one is a rather large crime fyi). So in typical american fashion, people are starting to fetishize war again. Of course these are the people who have never been to war, so as someone who has some experience on this, let’s talk war. It’s going to get messy so let’s just throw in a CW for combat talk.

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Day #136: A look forward

a look forward

The obligatory photo of a path that goes on into the distance (taken from the hike we went on during the neurotech confrence).

Yesterday we took a look back at the past decade. I’m not a fan of looking back, it’s not how I’ve survived this long, it’s not something I’m particularly comfortable with, and even though it wasn’t a bad thing to do, I would rather look forward and talk about the things that will be happening (hopefully) this year. Let’s ring in the new year with the to-do list for this year!

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Day #135: A decade in review

robot

With everyone doing a review of what happened in the past decade, I thought it would be good to look back and cover the things I’ve done over the years. Is it a little self serving? Maybe, but then again it is my blog, so why not? Here’s my decade in review.

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Day #134: New Year’s Eve!!

Newyearseve2020

Well it’s new year’s eve so I’m taking the day off. What? No, no party or anything, I’ll probably be asleep when the new year hits. It’s just a good excuse not to have to blog today and get some house work done instead. Maybe I’m old or maybe I’m just boring, but it beats trying to be social.

In any case, here’s to the new year and the hope that the next 10 years will be better than the last!

 

Day #133: The truth of VA healthcare

VA Hospital

I’m a disabled Marine veteran. From a TBI to my mental health, I’ve got some serious issues. Furthermore, with the rate of suicide among veterans ever increasing it may be odd to an outsider why this is happening. After all, the government provides us with free healthcare, why are so many of us dying, why are so many of us killing ourselves? The answer is sadly straightforward, although grim, so let’s talk healthcare as a veterans.

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Day #132: Rat model validation!

stock photography Pet rat closeup

Yesterday I mentioned that I had some rat data to go through. It was an old(er) dataset, about five years-old to be exact, but it was one that was going to help me validate some of my findings. Unfortunately there existed no invasive human datasets to compare my human data to, so I needed to find an animal model, in this case a rat model. Let’s discuss the importance.

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Day #131: My laptop is ALIVE!

poor laptop

The poor thing has been through a lot, notice my c key is completely worn down. I didn’t know I hit c so hard!

Well after a few days of curing time, my laptop is alive again! In fact I’m writing this on it now. YAY!! I honestly don’t have the money to replace the thing and I already have much needed car repairs to attend to, so this cannot break on me yet.

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Day #130: ‘Twas the night before Christmas, a racist police story

Day 130 - night before christmas

With all the excitement around here, I almost forgot to tell one of my favorite stories! Okay, not a favorite, but a good example of why racist cops are… well racist. Let’s set the scene, it was seriously the night before Christmas and it was the first time I dealt with a police officer, it wouldn’t be the last time, but it was certainly the most memorable. Especially when my name got thrown into the mix, let me explain…

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Day #129: Everything is breaking!!!

Day 129 - repairs

Well it’s post Christmas day and I have to say my stealth wrapping was a hit. Of course, after the first gift (or even the second gift) people catch on, but overall it was a lot of fun and I even got a few apologies for some of the ill will based on my apparent lack of wrapping abilities. I HIGHLY recommend giving it a shot. So let’s talk about the image above for a minute.

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Day #128: Christmas Day

Red Christmas Balls on Old Wood with Christmas lights

For those of you who celebrate Christmas, Merry Christmas! For those of you who celebrate different holidays this time of the year, happy holidays, and for those of you who don’t celebrate anything, that’s okay too. No judgement here for sure. Since today is C-day I figured I would do a quick post and share something a bit personal to me.

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Day #127: Stealth wrapping Pt. 3

santa

For the past two days I’ve been trying to introduce a new way to level up your gift giving experience. It’s a way to make your holidays more magical, best of all, this works for any present giving time, birthdays, weddings, anytime! If you’re just tuning in you should read part 1, where I introduce the first principles of stealth wrapping. Yesterday I posted a few more examples, which you can see here. Today I’ll give some last examples and a few helpful hints I’ve learned over the years of doing this. Let’s get going!!

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