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The Benefits of Slow Smoking

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  1. cosmicfolklore

    Cosmic

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    The Benefits of Slow Smoking

    For guys who didn’t grow up around other pipe men, and watching the experienced smoker ssssllllloooooooowwwwllllyyyy sipping away at their pipes, it might take a lot of trial and error to figure out that almost every problem you might encounter from smoking a pipe would come from just smoking too fast. How fast is too fast? I’d say that you just can’t slow down enough. When you think you are going as slow as possible, slow down even more. I see guys making large billowing clouds of smoke, and if you are into smoking just for the visual effects of making clouds, then keep on, more power to you. However, here are some of the benefits to slowing down and keeping the clouds minimal.

    Taste is affected by how slow you smoke. When you get a really flavorful tongue pleasing taste of tobacco, it is not coming directly from the smokes and combustion. This is cigarette mentality. What you taste is the surrounding tobacco to the combustion heating up and giving off its essential oils. This goes for aromatics, latakia blends, to Virginias. Slowing down and not allowing the full width of the bowl to cherry up, is giving the surrounding tobacco time to heat up and give off its flavor before combusting into smoke. Plus, if you are just allowing smoke to drizzle into your mouth, you are giving the flavor time on your tongue, enjoy that flavor, relish in it. Puffing harder faster doesn’t give you more flavor, just more smoke. In fact the harder and faster you draw the smoke in, the more your flavor receptors on your taste buds will get overloaded and overheated. Slow down and sense every nuance of flavor the experience provides.

    Thusly, by heating surrounding tobacco to have them release their essential oils, you also speed up the cake process and breaking in of a pipe. The oils and tars are released and get pushed to the inside of the chamber. The faster you smoke, the more you increase the temperature of combustion, destroying those oils that are needed to cake the bowl. So, smoking faster does not help you break in a pipe nearly as much as just slowing down. I realized this when I started practicing for a slow smoking contest. As I limited my puffing and just allowed the smoke to drizzle into my mouth, I noticed that I had to scrape my pipes much more often than I did the years I had been smoking at a moderate (too fast) a rate.

    You don’t get more nicotine from smoking faster. This is cigarette mentality also. You are only pulling in nicotine from the small blood vessels of the mouth and sinuses, unless you are inhaling. And, you may be inhaling because you are smoking too fast, not giving your blood vessels time to absorb. The pipe hobby delivers nicotine much slower than cigarettes. You have to go slow and allow the nicotine time to pass through the walls of your skin and blood vessels. Stretching a small bowl out to an hour gives you way more nicotine than a large bowl huffed in thirty minutes. No one celebrates smoking faster. This is why we have slow smoking contests. Smoking fast is just a neophyte behavior. If you want the full benefits of smoking a pipe, then stretch that experience out as long as you can. This is what makes the nicotine reaction in our bodies different and more relaxing than that of the cigarette smoker’s. We actually process way more nicotine, but only over a much longer period of time.

    Your pipe will smoke better the slower you smoke. Whether a bent or straight pipe, it has the potential to gurgle if smoked too fast. Gurgle comes from condensation formed from temperature and pressure changes, like the condensation coils on your air conditioner or the copper coils on a moonshine still. I hear, so often, people suggest dryinog out aromatics to reduce condensation. It seems logical, but you are removing all of the flavor toppings by doing that. And, bone dry non-aromatics have just as much potential to gurgle a pipe, because the natural bi-product of combustion is H2O. Drying out a tobacco will not solve the problem. Air pressure is most affected by turbulence. This is why well made straight pipes don’t tend to gurgle, and a well made bent pipe can. Curving the flow, rough surfaces inside the stem, small diameter holes, and drawing too hard by puffing, increases turbulence. You can actually take a gurgler of a pipe and just slow way way way down and get way more enjoyment from that pipe in flavor, nicotine, and a gurgle-free experience.

    Live slowly. The reason for the boom of the cigarettes over the pipe came, when we were persuaded that we needed to rush, rush, rush to make a living and get everything that needs to be done, done. All of our time-saving inventions were taking up all of our time. Cars go faster, microwave meals, drive thru, iPhones, computers going faster and faster to download less and less relevant crap. You get the feeling that you don’t have time to smoke a pipe. If that’s the case… then why did you want to smoke a pipe in the first place? Is it a decoration or accessory for you? For me, my pipe is a time machine. It takes me back to an age when men had time to live and enjoy living and being alive. I savor those flavors that men enjoyed back in the time of Isaac Newton, George Washington, etc… From the time I light my pipe till I have finished the bowl, time just melts away. I never feel rushed to finish a bowl. It’s not a contest to get to the bottom. I could care less if I finish a complete bowl. I smoke at my leisure. I try my best to make it stretch as long as possible. I don’t want the sensations to end. If I do have something hounding me to get finished, I just set the pipe aside. Feeling anxious or rushed does not mix well with the pipe.

    I remember as a kid when I used to run up to my granddad with some daunting question, he’d tell me to hold on… he’d pull out his pipe and make me wait, wait, wait, till he packed the bowl, lit it, sat down, and eventually he’d get to my question… He taught me patience in a world wanting me to rush faster hurry up and come on. In fact, I can’t think of many things that are designed to make us slow down as much as this hobby. Sure, sure, sure, if billowing clouds of smoke are your thing, I won’t tell you that you’re wrong. If hot-boxing a pipe down in 45 minutes or less is your thing, by all means continue. But, not to brag, but I have yet to find a pipe small enough that I couldn’t make it last an hour or more. There are no rights and wrongs. I didn’t write this to make anyone feel bad about huffing huge clouds of noxious smoke. I just wanted to share some things that I noticed about the hobby. Smoke however you want; however, if you are a billowing cloud of smoke sort of guy, please don’t stand next to me. I don’t want someone to think I just bought a pipe and started smoking today. I grew up around pipe men, and they’d definitely crack a giggle at the clouds.

    Slow down, give it a try…

    Michael
    Posted 5 years ago #
  2. grouchydog

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    What a wonderful post - thanks for the effort to write all that.

    As a newb, I find it hard to slow down to what is probably an optimal pace. It's a hard balance to find between pace/cadence, correct pack and staying lit.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  3. cosmicfolklore

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    It is a balance, as one thing affects the other. Packing too tight or too loosely leads to faster cadence.

    Optimal pace? I think "optimal" is just the speed (or lack of) that brings you the "most" enjoyment, IMO.
    I just wanted to share a few thoughts that came up and seemed like it would make good fodder for discussion.
    Thanks for reading it.

    Posted 5 years ago #
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    Very well said. I'm one of those people who hasn't had the opportunity to hang out with real pipe smokers very often. I've had to learn through trial and error, lots of errors, how to smoke my pipe. I've endured having my tongue fried so bad it took three days before it stopped hurting. I've completely burned up three cobs. I've ruined a couple of briars freight-training them. I've rolled down the window of my truck and ruined a shirt from the hot ash blow-back. I've burned the rim of a couple of pipes so bad the garbage can didn't want them.

    BUT

    I love my pipes. I like the mechanics of piping. The ritual of selecting, both pipe and tobacco, loading a bowl, charring lights, tamps and puffs. Finishing with a light cleaning and starting the process over. I like that piping gives me something to do. Something to look forward to. Something that makes me slow down.

    Thank you all for helping me. Thank you again Michael for a wonderful post.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  5. voorhees

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    Thanks cosmic this is so true. Alas I am still guilty at time of puffing away like a freight train. I think it really boils down to mood. If I have my pipe to relax after a days work, it usually takes me a third of the bowl before I start to relax and get my cadence in rhythm. Likewise if I start the day with a pipe(usually weekends)it can last me a long time.
    I still have trouble smoking Vapers slow enough. Its a hit or miss.

    Jason
    Posted 5 years ago #
  6. cosmicfolklore

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    I still catch myself puffing sometimes. Something gets on my mind or I get anxious about things life throws in my path, and then when I realize I am puffing, I just set the pipes down, and come back when I get my head right.

    I find that I smoke latakia and cigar blends too fast. I think I love those flavors so much that I want more, fast, right now, and that leads me to kill that flavor that I want so much more of. So, I have to make more of a concerted effort to smoke those slower. It is counter intuitive sometimes.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  7. beefeater33

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    Very well said. You make some excellent points. I find myself, as I gain more experience, to favor the smaller bowls more and more. I just don't have time to smoke a 2-3 hour bowl very often. I found with a larger bowl, I tended to "hurry it up", and smoke it faster. I work full time, maintain a house, have 3 teenage daughters etc, etc. I can actually savor a small bowl to the end, and not feel guilty about dumping half the tobac out. My last 3 PAD buys were group 1 Dunhills, they fit my personal style. My smallest MM cobs are my favorites too.
    Thanks for a great post Cosmic!

    "We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of the dream..."
    Willy Wonka
    Posted 5 years ago #
  8. ithelouniverse

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    Top shelf post bubba!

    Posted 5 years ago #
  9. fadingdaylight

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    Awesome post. I'm pretty guilty of smoking too fast. I find a flavor I enjoy, or smoke when I am stressed, and it's going to be a freight train. After smoking cigarettes so long, I tend to pack, light, and just puff puff puff till the damn thing is gone. It's worse for me if I try to sit and smoke and do nothing else. If I smoke my pipe while I am reading, doing yard work, just about anything really, I tend to focus less on it, thereby enjoying it more. Sure, I wind up with a few relights along the way, but who cares. Thanks for this in depth reminder of what it's all about. I love the point about patience and slowing life down. Being in the military for so long, I am used to life at 90 all the time. A big part of taking up the pipe was to be able to take time to slow down and step back. But alas, it has become another rushed part of my day. I needed this post this morning. I just finished up a quick, frustrated bowl. Thanks again cosmic, your words hit home on this one.

    - Jason
    "Lost in thought and lost in time... While the seeds of life and the seeds of change were planted... Outside the rain fell dark and slow... While I pondered on this dangerous but irresistible pastime..."
    Posted 5 years ago #
  10. cmdrmcbragg

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    Great post and so very true. If you get tongue bite: you're doing it wrong. If your smoke tastes like crap quickly: you're doing it wrong. If you finish an entire bowl in an hour: you guessed it, you're doing it wrong.

    The most useful piece of advice I have seen repeated about smoking cadence is the singularly descriptive word: sipping.

    Sip on that briar and all will be good.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  11. mso489

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    I think some fast pipe smoking is attributable to youth and hormones. For much of our lives, we believe
    that the faster we go, the better. You get more done; you make more money; you make more contacts;
    you enjoy more life. Kids start this way, unable to contain or focus their energy, ever, in many cases.
    When either adversity or age forces to you slow down a pace or two, you can either consider it the beginning
    of the end, or you can attune to the benefits of a more gradual and deliberate and deliberative approach.
    This can also be practiced by young people, as an optional way of living and smoking, in a selective way.
    Young people are still going to move faster, but they can choose to slow down and discover the benefits of
    that choice when it is beneficial. Try it; you'll like it. You can still charge about at will, but when you settle
    in with your pipe, consider the benefits of going slow. Try this in other areas of your life. Try enjoying
    a relaxed, easy meal with your partner, etc.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  12. tabriar

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    @mso489, philosophically that might sound good, but I respectfully disagree.

    I've seen plenty of "old codgers" puffing away like freight trains. At one pipe club meeting an older guy's pipe was so hot when I tried to hold it, it burned my hand. I'm a young(er) guy, and my pipes never get beyond warm. If they do, it's usually because it's a junky piece of wood and/or improperly cured.

    I think fast smoking has more to do with inexperienced pipe smoking (too focused or worried about trying to keep it lit), and maybe sometimes a person just naturally has a nervous/anxious disposition which might cause them to fiddle and fidget more (which causes them to puff more frequently or voraciously than necessary).

    @OP, great post with lots of good info!

    Posted 5 years ago #
  13. soggycitybob

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    Very well said. It's easy enough to say, "slow down", but the reasoning is essential to understand.

    Posted 5 years ago #
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    In my case I was 48 when I took up the pipe.

    Assumptions and generalizations are rarely accurate but if I told you once I told you a thousand times, don't exaggerate.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  15. curl

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    so, is there such a thing as a slow cadence sipping of the pipe without it going out?
    it seems that each relight creates the big cloud of smoke that you disdain.

    i guess the slowly sipped pipe that never goes out and never gets hot depends on it being packed correctly.
    and i guess a correct pack depends on the tobacco.
    and all this depending is based on experience, no?

    Posted 5 years ago #
  16. apatim

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    GREAT POST... and completely on the mark!

    I recommend making this a sticky in the newbie section!

    Enjoying my days on earth.

    Tim
    Posted 5 years ago #
  17. puffdoggie

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    +1

    Posted 5 years ago #
  18. cmdrmcbragg

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    @curl, I think you got a good read on it. Check out some videos from Slow Smoking competitions. It isn't easy to keep a full pipe burning on a charring light and one relight. I have to relight regularly while smoking and don't concern myself with it beyond the momentary annoyance where the pipe was burning fine ... and now it is out. Seems to happen about halfway to the mailbox for me without fail.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  19. cobguy

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    huge clouds of noxious smoke.

    I sense you are holding back ... how do you really feel about these "fast puffers"?

    Great post and always a good reminder to avoid "Chosting" (just learned that word in another thread)

    Posted 5 years ago #
  20. cosmicfolklore

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    Thanks guys...

    Disdain? LOL, this is like dealing with the media. Just twist those words however you want, LOL. On many posts I have said that there are as many ways to smoke as there are smokers. As a kid I once saw a guy put two pipes into his nostrils and chug smoke out of his mouth like a furnace. I applaud that sort of thing. I just don't want to bring a guy who smokes like that out with me on a business trip, LOL.

    No, if big clouds of smoke is your thing, go for it. I realize that some people like that visual element of smoking. I just offered these words as a list of benefits for folks that may run into issues, and most issues relates back to this. It's your pipe. Smoke it hot, smoke it fast, smoke it upside down, go for it. Whatever enhances your experience. The above is just why I prefer my own method for myself.

    On pipes going out... I'm a clencher (breathsmoker) most of the time, so I may have a pipe in my mouth for tens of minutes before I even realize it has gone out, But I have no qualms about relighting that thing. Just expect it. Anticipate that it won't go out, but have a lighter or matches in case it does.

    On packing your pipe, there are many videos on various techniques for loading your pipe. I just put the stuff in the pipe and go. At this point in my smoking, for me I know how a proper pack should "feel." Yeh, experience is the best teacher, but there are also hundreds of posts on this topic to help ya with that.

    Happy smokes

    Posted 5 years ago #
  21. curl

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    this is a good thread
    thanks for sharing your thoughts

    Posted 5 years ago #
  22. aquilas

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    Great post, cosmic, and very well said. Actually, a few months back I saw a post from you regarding slow smoking and it has stuck with me ever since. I think you mentioned something to the effect of growing up, you saw little wisps of smoke flow out of the pipe smoker's mouth and that's just how you learned it. It was a bit more involved of a post than that, but that hit the nail on the head for me. I've been practicing it ever since and it's been great, though still working on it.

    To add onto slow smoking, doing something while smoking somewhat forces you smoke slow. By that I mean, if you're doing something to keep your mind occupied, such as reading a book or mowing the lawn, your mind will be far too focused on the chore at hand rather than puffing away. I noticed this last week while washing my car. I decided to light up some butternut burley in one of my cobs and it was like a different experience. I was able to keep the tobacco lit from top to bottom. My pipe never got hot. Even though it was an aromatic, I was able to get a lot of good flavor out of it, when normally, I'd get a cigarette flavor from the burley.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  23. fadingdaylight

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    Jeez cosmic, such harsh feelings towards fast smokers. I had no clue you were such a prejudice smoker... rofl

    Posted 5 years ago #
  24. settersbrace

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    I'll second cosmic's OP going into a sticky. It took me a long time to get that smoking slowly and sipping the pipe was going to greatly enhance the overall experience. Smoking a cob will teach you that quicker than a briar IMO because it'll heat up quicker. With the open draw on the cobs it's easy to just keep it barely lit and just squeeze every molecule of taste out of whatever your smoking. I spent a good deal of today driving and had a pipe clenched the whole time while listening to some old podcasts from here. With the windows up and the air on I could hardly tell the pipe was lit because there was no smoke drifting around. Had it been a cigar, it'd been a different story.

    I'm in agreement also that the pipe does act as a time machine. It helps smooth the rough edges and jangled nerves of even the most stressful of days and having gone from cigars to pipes, pipes to cigars, cigars to chew (never again) and now pipes exclusively, I can say that there's a huge difference in how I handle the curves that life throws at me when I have my pipe to turn too. Traffic doesn't bother me anymore, stupid people don't bother me......quite as much and my overall feeling of contentment is more prevalent.

    Great post Cosmic!

    De gustibus et cloribus non disputandum.
    'There is no arguing about tastes and colours.'
    Posted 5 years ago #
  25. lostandfound

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    I third making the OP a sticky. Mso's post also rings very true.

    Jerod
    Posted 5 years ago #
  26. claypipesarchaeologist

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    Thanks, Cosmic! This advise makes a huge difference in flavor!

    Posted 5 years ago #
  27. rolldog

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    +1 on making this post a sticky for new smokers

    Posted 5 years ago #
  28. voorhees

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    Smoke it upside down? Only when enemy planes are overhead, as to not give up my position.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  29. lucky695

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    this was so very informative!

    "A pipe gives a wise man time to think and a fool something to stick in his mouth." - C.S. Lewis
    Posted 4 years ago #
  30. jmatt

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    I'm not norally a very fast smoker, but I read this thread today and took it as a challenge. Came home and loaded a fairly large pipe with some Orlik Golden Sliced. I'm gonna say it was the equivalent amount of tobacco of 2 1/2 Escuda Navy Deluxe coins.

    Lit the pipe.

    Smoked for 1 hour and 3 minutes before my first re-light
    Smoked 34 more minutes before second re-light
    Smoked 24 more minutes before third re-light
    Smoked 24 more minutes and the bowl was done. Nothing but ash left over.

    So a total of 2 hours and 25 minutes with three re-lights. (and I never tamped in between re-lights, which I would have done if I was in a slow smoke contest)

    I think I probably could slow down another 10% as I wasn't trying to win a contest or set a record. I was just sipping away. Nice.....long.....slow......relaxing pipe.

    Thanks to the OP for simply posting this as an idea for some and a reminder for others.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  31. johnnyreb

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    I just read this whole thread...too fast!

    Rebels been rebels since I don't know when
    Posted 4 years ago #
  32. lucky695

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    and now your brain burns doesn't it Johnny?

    Posted 4 years ago #
  33. virginiacob

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    cosmicfolklore,

    Very well said. I still find myself having to discipline myself to not smoke too fast and to slow down. I do fine that I truly achieve the benefits that you outline in your post when I do. It's very rewarding when I can take my time and really savor the unique flavors of the tobacco blend I'm smoking and truly enjoy the pipe smoking experience.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  34. frank13

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    This thread and the advice herein, have helped me immensely. My bowls are lasting longer, tasting better, and my briars are staying cooler. Thank you very much. I also agree, FWIW, (in my newbie-arsed opinion), with making this thread a sticky.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  35. cosmicfolklore

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    Wow, I'm totally honored. I'd like to reiterate that I am no expert on pipe smoking trying to sell one way to do things. I just like to write, and I am excited getting the most out of my pipes. I'd just lit up a bowl of ODF and was puffing away too fast, when I saw that I had responses to this thread, so I had to slow it down. LOL. So, thank you guys for reminding me to slow it down. It's easy to get carried away.

    Mmmm, got to love that deep savory smoke of ODF, especially savored slowly.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  36. frank13

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    Very nice... I've been on a huge latakia/Virginian kick, lately. LEO and/or Lane's "Crown Achievement." Marvelous stuff...

    Posted 4 years ago #
  37. terry

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    Interesting post. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  38. titus

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    Brilliant post! Working on SLOWING DOWN right now!

    Posted 4 years ago #
  39. dhizzy

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    If I do have something hounding me to get finished, I just set the pipe aside. Feeling anxious or rushed does not mix well with the pipe.

    Seconded.

    For me, less is more when it comes to pipe smoking. If I'm in a rush or at work, the pipe is a no-go. it is the one time a day that I get to relax and having a pipe while doing just about anything besides reading, listening to music or watching television is out of the question.

    By the eternal! There is a man whose form should be cast in deathless bronze and the statue placed in every college in the land. It is not book-learning young men need, nor instruction about this and that, but a stiffening of the vertebrae which will cause them to be loyal to a trust, to act promptly, concentrate their energies; do the thing - "carry a message to Garcia!" Elbert Hubbard "A Message to Garcia" 1899
    Posted 4 years ago #

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