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I’ve just added a review of Koolaburra boots to my Ugg Boot Faceoff! blog post. Click the link below to read the newest review or the complete comprehensive study I did, if you haven’t seen it yet.

Read the Ugg Boot Faceoff! EMU, Whooga, UGG Australia, BEARPAW & More!


This is my second review of Cougar footwear (you can see the first review on a pair of their rain boots here). This time I’m trying out a pair of hard core winter boots. What? They’re too pretty to be serious winter wear with that silvery floral pattern up the leg? I know, I was a little skeptical too. Until I put them on, that is.

The Ravishing style is rated for comfort in temperatures down to negative 22 degrees depending on your level of activity. I’m totally fascinated by this: you can wear these boots outside in temperatures no less than 14 degrees if you’re mostly sitting or standing, down to  negative 11 degrees if you’re in frequent movement but with frequent stops, and down to negative 22 degrees if you’re in constant motion (and if I’m outside in negative 22 degree weather, you can bet the ONLY reason would be because I’m running for my life from a polar bear… so good to know).

Cougar Ravishing folded to different heights

in black

Next, the comfort. These Cougar boots are not heavy or stiff in any way (things I usually associate with waterproof boots) but they’re also not flimsy like they could tear at any moment. And yes, they are waterproof, not just water-resistant! The lower part of the boot is suede though, so you may want to spray them with some suede protector just to keep them looking nice. The boot shaft is a little tight so if you have serious calf muscles, you may want to try these on in stores or order from a website with free returns, but on my legs I felt snug as a bug in a rug (now that I have a baby, this stuff is slipping into my daily speech). The bungees are mostly for show. You can tighten them a bit, but the elastic straps are attached at the loops in the back, so don’t pull too hard. I wore these all day long without even a hint of a blister or ache. They were super super comfy to walk around in from day one.

all the way up

I’m also loving the height of the soles on these. And this story is totally related, I promise: I had a pair of Northface boots that I used a bit last winter. But, for some reason, all the traction and insulation or whatever they put on the boots made the soles have almost a 3 inch platform (I remember bending down to wash my hands before leaving one day and having an eerie parallel universe moment when I realized I was significantly taller than I was a few minutes ago… bending down to wash my hands? what!?). To get to the point, I ended up not wearing the boots much because although I never did slip, I always felt like I could easily fall off the platform and twist my ankle; it just seemed too risky when walking around on ice, which was the reason for the boots (darn you absentee sidewalk shovelers!). Anyway, the fact that Cougar could add all the necessary warmth and traction in an inch sole (1.5 inches in the heel), made me very happy.

It hasn’t snowed yet, so I couldn’t test the traction of these boots in snow and ice, but it has been rainy and chilly here so I can comment that the boots haven’t had a problem at all on wet floors and sidewalks and that my feet have been very warm. I’d been testing out so many uggs lately though that I forgot to put socks on the first time I tried on these Cougar boots; they’re much better with socks  😉

Another thing I really like, as pictured above, is that Cougar did not skimp on the faux fur at all; I was really surprised how deep I could cuff the boots down. It gives you a few different style options all in one boot. Another neat thing is that the underside of the faux fur is a sweater knit. I’m not completely sure that I would wear these out with the boot trim pulled all the way up to my knees, but it’s nice to know that I could without exposing some unfinished underside like I often find on other brands. Plus that sweater lining means extra warmth too.

I got the beige and silver color but the Ravishing style also comes in a black version with a darker faux fur cuff (don’t worry, it still has the silvery leafy print up the leg).  Get them for $169.95 at here!

And now that you’ve finished this blog post, please Click Here to complete a very short survey on Cougar Boots and the Matchstick company will donate $2 to the Red Cross for every survey completed.

Thanks again to the people at Matchstick for the shoes.

Ballistic (womens)

People don’t just want shoes to be comfortable anymore, they want their shoes to physically do something for them. Brands eager to fill this trend have created shoes that can, for example, hold a pedometer or music player in the insole, give a built-in workout, or, as Gravity Defyer claims, relieve your foot, ankle, knee, hip and lower back pain!

Gravity Defyer delivers this pain free promise with the help of their “Versoshock trampoline technology” which includes memory springs and twin stabilizer springs inside the heels of every shoe. In simple terms, their shoes absorb shock when you step down and propel you forward with each step (also called rebounding) which then reduces fatigue and restores your energy. They’ve got a nifty split shoe diagram on their website and lots more research posted there too on the health benefits of the shoes, so check them out at: or (same site, just whatever’s easier to remember).

Ballistic (womens)

But making claims is one thing; this kind of promise asks for some serious testing. So, when Gravity Defyer offered me some shoe to try out, I decided that my desk jockey (and all around painless) self was not an ideal candidate. Instead, I gave the shoes to my mom, who walks 2 miles to work (often another 2 miles back home too) and is on her feet all day (plus she has to walk the dog a few times in there too). She also had recently been experiencing some knee pain, so I couldn’t think of a better test subject. She tried out one of Gravity Defyer’s bestsellers, the Ballistic style (pictured), and here’s her trial log:

DAY 1 – Put on my Ballistic shoes this morning and had NO PAIN in my knee! I usually wake up in the morning limping with pain so I’m shocked! I went out to walk my dog, Lola, for 20 minutes and still no pain. Very strange. I’m off today and just sitting around the house, so not much more to write for now.

DAY 2 – Walked 2 miles to work and the shoes feel great! I stand in one place a lot at work and after about 6 or 7 hours my feet started to ache a bit, but when I started walking around again, they felt better. By the time I got home (got a ride from a co-worker) my feet were hurting a bit, but definitely not as bad as they usually do and my knee still didn’t hurt at all!

DAY 3 – I reached for my Ballistic sneakers as soon as my feet were out of the bed. These sneakers are like a miracle cure for my knee; it doesn’t hurt at all as long as I have these shoes on. Again I walked to work this morning and I felt great, had tons of energy, but just standing for hours without moving began to give me some pain in my heel. By the end of the day, my heel is still not feeling great, but walking home it started feeling better.

DAY 4 – I’ve figured out a system: I wear my Gravity Defyer sneakers on my walk to work and when I’m out with Lola, and just bring a different pair of sneakers with me to switch into for the long hours of standing in one place. Then, I put my Ballistic’s back on for my walk home. Yay! Perfect shoe day! I’ve been telling all of my customers about these shoes too, they’re impressed. I wouldn’t be surprised if you see some orders pretty soon.

DAY 5 – Today I had a day off but lots of errands, so I’m going to wear the Ballistics all day. I don’t have a car, so it’s a combination of walking and taking the bus to go to the grocery store, the hair salon, the bookstore, etc., and taking Lola on a long walk. I feel great! No foot or knee pain. These are definitely the shoes to wear while moving!

Thanks mom  8)

Paskal (mens)

I also really want to recommend taking a look at Gravity Defyer shoes if you’re a guy or looking for a gift for a male in your life. Their mens dress shoes are seriously wow-worthy. I especially like the Paskal, Philippe, Theodore, Fabian and Gabriel… ok, all of them. No, really! As soon as I convince my ex-skater boy husband that he should trade in his sneakers for some grown up shoes, we’re going for these.

Philippe (mens)

Gravity Defyer also has some other womens options like mary-janes, ballet flats, loafers and mules which you should take a look at. You’ll probably have a hard time getting  your teenage daughter to wear a pair, but for adults, especially adults with pain, I’m sure high fashion style points will be happily traded for insanely comfortable shoes.

Randomly – if you can see it on the sneaker above or if you visit their website, yes, Gravity Defyer’s logo is exactly what you think it is… they call it their seed of life logo and it’s just because it’s cool. 😉

What do you think of this post? Click Here to complete a short survey on Cougar Boots after you’ve finished reading and the Matchstick company will donate $2 to the Red Cross for every survey completed.

Of course, since I decided to leave my new Cougar rainboots in my office the day they arrived, the next morning it was pouring. But when I got back into Manhattan, I switched out my knee-high standbys for a pair of the Tibet style boots in fire engine red with a cute tube sock inspired sweater cuff. I was a tiny bit annoyed initially that the boot shaft was too tight for me to easily wiggle my jeans inside (which were already rumpled from being stuffed into my other boots), but as soon as I got them on… cue the spotlight shining down from above and the heavenly music – I knew it was love.

My pant legs did get wet when I went out for lunch, but, on the plus side, it got the wrinkles out, and my legs stayed dry anyway so, okay, totally forgiven. Plus I guess a tighter shaft means less water will be able to get inside when I do pair them with leggings or take the time to get my jeans tucked in properly. Also, it made me notice that these boots have a really slim foot form that looks fantastic peeking out from under pants. Since the Cougar Tibet is not at all oversized or clunky, they appear much more expensive than they actually are, but more on that later.

Cougar Tibet

As I’ve mentioned in the past, I’ve always hated that rainboots are usually really heavy! I cross my legs too when I’m sitting and all that weight pulling on one foot would actually cause me pain sometimes. But these boots are different: they’re not just a lighter weight because they are a mid-calf style, you can actually tell they’re just a better quality material – who knew there were different grades of rubber?! So if you think those cheapy $15 rainboots are just as good as any other pair, they’ll probably keep your feet dry (although for how long a duration is probably debatable), but that’s about as far as an equal comparison will go. Surprisingly though, the Cougar Tibet style is actually pretty affordable – only $75! I would have priced these at easily over $100 if I was given them blindly.

Here’s something else that makes them a little bit better than your average every day rainboot: Cougar boots have perforated insoles (anti-sweaty feet), breathable polar fleece insulation rated to as low as -11 degrees F (yep, negative temperatures, depending on your degree of activity) AND they’re guaranteed to be leak proof for at least 6 months of normal wear. Try getting all that from another brand at this price. Pair these with some regular wool socks and you’re looking at boots you can wear comfortably on the worst icy rain days (when I’d usually have to decide between staying dry and staying warm, and my toes would end up being totally numb by the time I was about 2 minutes from the door). I think I’m going to do a happy dance while I toss my old rainboots in my donation pile.

Wait, socks? Ah yes, the sock cuff is just that, a decorative cuff; unfortunately, the way it had to be attached makes it so that you cannot pull the cuff up over your leg, it does need to stay folded for aesthetic reasons. Also, the boots do have a really strong rubber smell when you first get them, but just air them out for a day. Really, I’m just being nitpicky now.

English on the front, french on the back

Can I add one more thing I really love though? As pictured above, the Cougar brand shoebox is intentionally designed to be bagless from the store to your house; “every step counts.” Whenever you’re buying boots, the shoe boxes are huge and whatever bag you’re given to carry them in inevitably ends up being even larger and more annoying – so being able to eliminate that step is a fantastic design idea! (Great job on handle length too – as a short person, I appreciate it). I’ll admit that carrying my Cougars in New York City like this made me feel a bit cooler-than-thou. 😉

Cougar, a Canadian family company, has been making footwear since 1948. Nowadays, they specialize in shoes that are able to withstand the harshest elements and look pretty darn fashionable at the same time. Their slogan: “For the world you walk on. Love what you wear.” How very apt.

* Half sizes, size up.

Thanks to the people at Matchstick for the shoes (and the delicious hot cocoa! – I promise the chocolate did not effect my review, although, much like the cheery red color of these boots, it definitely helped put me in a happy state on a really crappy rainy day).

Welcome to the ugg boot faceoff! Want to know the difference between the $200 uggs and the $50 ones? Are there any differences between the two most popular brands? Not sure if you should believe the hype? Just looking for a great ugg boot? You’ve come to the right place. With SO many companies now making ugg boots at SO many different price points (and with conflicting information online and lots of biased testimonials from brand loyalists), I decided it was time to create a complete review.

Intro – Although there is still some disagreement, I believe the term “ugg boot” describes a particular style of boot (almost everyone would draw an identical picture when you mention it) not a specific brand. So for the purposes of this review, the particular brand that started the mainstream ugg boot craze a few years ago will be referred to as UGG Australia, their actual brand name, and any item referred to as an ugg, will mean the common style of the boot.

I discovered in my research that while most of these boot brands use Australian sheepskin, every brand I reviewed makes their shoes in China. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, just don’t be surprised when you look on the boot tag. Also, most of the brands will warn you about dye transfer.  You might not think much of this (what does it matter if the inside of your pant leg changes color, right?) until you realize they’re talking about your TOES turning colors, since you’re wearing these babies sans socks. If you really can’t stand the idea of purple-ish black toes lurking inside your boots, don’t get uggs with black shearling interiors. And although sheepskin is water resistant, it is NOT waterproof and you should use weatherproofing spray on your uggs whether you plan on going out in the rain or not – trust me, if my husband had sprayed his sheepskin slippers right away, they would probably not have terrible coffee and baby drool stains on them right now.  😉

Last, I’d like to mention that I was given some of these boots by the manufacturers for the purpose of reviewing them and others I purchased myself. I always strive to write fair and accurate reviews with pros and cons for each item, and I only accept shoes from companies that accept this policy, so you can be sure you’re getting my honest opinions. Now, on with the show!

UGG Australia Classic Tall

UGG Australia Classic Tall

UGG Australia – One of the first and most popular names in ugg boots, UGG Australia was named Footwear News’ “Brand of the Year” in 2003. The brand has now ventured into many non-ugg styles but still keeps their signature ugg alive with things like this season’s collaboration with Jimmy Choo.

The Review – Super soft, obviously, and these were also the lightest weight boot of all those reviewed. But the shaft of these boots tends to be a bit wide which allowed little wisps of cold to get to my legs. This led to me wearing them with socks, clearly an ugg no-no, but it was January. I don’t know if the socks killed the shearling, especially on the inside of the heels, or if it would have compacted the same way after a few months of wear, but I pretty much had to continue wearing them with socks after that, so be warned. Unfortunately, the super flexible outsoles did start thinning noticeably from wear within less than a year, so, although the boots continued to be comfortable til the end, they had a pretty short life. However, I never had a problem with a seam coming undone or any other kind of manufacturing defect; the issues I mentioned were due to normal use, so these boots are clearly well-made. And I should mention that the sheepskin exterior of the UGG boot (the part not touching any part of your foot) was the softest out of all boots reviewed, very buttery. UGG Australia boots have a blown rubber sole like Whooga brand boots, but the pattern they’ve grooved in gives the UGG soles slightly more traction. Although these are on the high end price wise, you’ll feel you’re paying for higher grade materials and not just a hyped-up brand name.

Random – Starting with the Fall 2010 season, UGG Australia will start adding reflective security stickers and labels on their shoes and shoe boxes to help fight counterfeit replication. And I have to give them points for their biodegradable (polythylene) shoe bags.

Price: $180   Fit: runs large – whole sizes order down one size/ half sizes, order down a half size

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Whooga Classic Tall

Whooga Classic Tall

Whooga –  This is a relatively new brand that specializes in ugg boots. Whooga uses only Australian sheepskin with merino wool and their boots are sewn by hand using Australian manufacturing techniques. They offer 9 color options including 2 cool metallic versions.

The Review – The Whooga boots actually had the thickest shearling out of all the boots I reviewed; it filled the spaces between my toes from the top as well as from the bottom. With other ugg boots I obviously felt the fleece around my entire foot, but after a bit of wear the shearling molded into a little hollow foot igloo. The Whooga boots, with their twin faced fleece, are enveloping, like being swallowed in soft warmth that somehow stays in place. And the shaft of the boot kept the fleece touching my entire leg without being restrictive, which was one problem I had with the UGG Australia brand, as above. These boots keep you super warm without being overly warm – it’s really a try it to believe it kind of thing. You definitely don’t want to ruin the experience by wearing socks or tucking in your pants – so for the winter, give up your skinny jeans for a while and wear something you can pull over the outside of the boots or scrunch at the top.

On the other hand, the exterior sheepskin (the part not touching you) feels starchy to the touch and the outsoles are a little more stiff than other brands; but those details are hardly worth the extra $60 that separates these from UGGS and EMUs. The blown rubber sole was a little slippery right out of the box on smooth linoleum surfaces, but they seemed to have a more normal grip after about an hour of wear. Finally, and perhaps most tellingly, I didn’t notice the Whooga boots on my feet after I wore them over a long 10 hour day. All of the sudden I was like, wait a second, I’m supposed to be thinking about these boots for a review! Now that’s the sign of a good shoe: when you’ve got such happy feet, you totally forget you even have them on.

Random – I LOVE Whooga’s packaging. The shoe box has a ribbon and bow attached to it so that every time you take your shoes out, it’s like opening a present. Great idea!

Price: $122 Fit: slightly big/half sizes visit the website for a fit guide

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EMU Australia Stinger Hi

EMU Stinger Hi

EMU -Founded in 1994,  EMU Australia uses a Border Lester/Merino cross sheepskin from the Western District of Victoria, Australia. They actually have two versions of their classic ugg boot, the Stinger and the lower priced Bronte. But there’s no mixing up the two options, they even have different shoebox designs.

The Stinger Review – The EMU Stinger style has two great features the other brands lack: a removable insole and arch support. Those features are pretty cool, but for those who have been unable to wear the ugg style due to flat feet, injury, or the need for orthotics, I’m sure it seals the deal. Also these boots did have the most grippy, traction-y rubber outsoles. Even the slipper style, which I would assume most people would keep for indoor use, has a great sole. However, the fleece in these EMU boots, while warm, was not as soft or thick as it’s similarly priced competitors and the outer sheepskin was also a little less soft. Unlike Whooga and UGG Australia which have interior shearling that appears to be brushed, the EMU shearling is a little nubby and rough.

The Bronte Review – The less expensive EMU Bronte style shares few of its big sister’s perks. It does not have the removable insole, no arch support, and only the boot exterior is sheepskin; the interior is lined with EMU’s micron 20 100% merino wool which they say has the same insulation properties as sheepskin. It feels like the stuffing fiber used for toys and pillows: a little scratchy but it is still warm. The wool also appears to be thicker than the Stingers lining initially, but it’s very airy (think cotton candy) and smooshes down flat pretty fast. You can tell these are a better quality than the Payless Airwalk boots, but I would rate them lower than BEARPAW – the BEARPAW boots are less expensive and much nicer; you’re just paying for the EMU name here. One big plus though is that the EMU Bronte has what appears to be same great outsole as the Stingers, except that its labeled as being made of TPR (Thermo Plastic Rubber) instead of just plain rubber.

The Stinger style features a contrasting leather EMU logo sewn onto the outside of the heel of the boots. The Bronte has a tonal logo that peeks out from a hole in the heel. Other online reviews say these boots do stretch with wear but my toe was uncomfortably right up against the front of the shoe when I sized down (I am usually a half size) so I recommend ordering true to size and half sizes, order up. But if you’re willing to be a little uncomfortable for a week or two while the boots stretch, it might be worth sizing down instead if you’re between sizes.

Random – The slight curve at the heel of the soles of these shoes identifies this brand from farther away than you could read the heel tag.

Stinger Price: $179   Fit: true/half size, order up (see review for more details)

Bronte Price: $99   Fit: true/half size, order up

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BEARPAW – BEARPAW, founded in 2001, makes their boots with sueded cow leather exteriors, but they are lined with the same Australian sheepskin wool as their competitors. BEARPAW claims that the leather helps their boots last longer and are a little more water resistant than their full sheepskin counterparts (you should still treat with waterproofing spray though).

The Review – I really wanted to try BEARPAW boots as a mid-price ugg option. When I first picked them up, the shearling felt nice, comparable to the EMU Stingers actually. But when I slid my bare foot inside, I was completely surprised – I think they saved the nicest shearling for the footbed! It definitely seemed extra soft and cushy there. I was also surprised that the (comparably) slightly thinner shearling around the boot leg didn’t lessen the warmth of the boot, maybe because of that extra layer created by attaching the sheep wool interior to the cow leather exterior; if anything these boots are extra warm. BEARPAW boots have a stiffer heel cup than other brands initially, but after wearing them for a few hours, it softened right up. These boots also seem to have a slightly wider calf than EMUs and Whoogas, but that does make it a little easier to tuck your pant legs into them.

What really impressed me about the BEARPAWs though, is that they’re soft on the outside but they held their shape way better than the other full sheepskin brands which tend to get toe creases and look slouchy in the leg after a few days wear. So the cow leather actually makes these boots appear newer longer and look more expensive than they cost (plus that leather smell, yum!). All in all, BEARPAW certainly exceeded my expectations!

Random – Interestingly, when pulling the boots on and off I noticed that the sheepskin was separated a little at the seams on the interior matching where the boots were stitched on the outside. This did not effect comfort at all but, curious, I went back to check this on the other brands and I could feel the same seams and separation in the interior fleece on of them, it just wasn’t as noticeable to the eye).

Price: $72   Fit: true/half size, order down.

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Airwalk Regan Flat Boot

Airwalk Regan

Airwalk – Airwalk was founded in 1986 and continues to operate as an independent brand deep in the alternative sport and music scene, however, through a take-over in 2007, a line of Airwalk shoes are also sold in sister store, Payless Shoe Source.

The Review – Surprisingly, these were the heaviest boots I reviewed in terms of weight, so I would recommend the lower ankle/mid-calf version just for that reason (ever cross your legs for a long period of time with really heavy boots on?). But maybe the super thick soles will last longer; that full inch of height will certainly help keep you out of puddles. The shoes are made of all synthetic materials and the faux shearling lining is really on the skimpy side, but they are still pretty warm considering. I would definitely wear these with boots with socks though – only real fleece will give you the air circulation that regulates your body temperature and keeps your feet from sweating. Overall they’re a pretty great option under $50!

Random – These Airwalk boots come in half sizes (all the other brands I reviewed only offer whole sizes) so you can be more certain of a perfect fit when ordering online.

Price: $39.99   Fit: true/half sizes available

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Koolaburra Lexie

Koolaburra – This brand does make the same flat uggs that I have been reviewing so far, but Koolaburra pressed me to try one of their slightly different styles as those are really what separates them from the other ugg brands. Koolaburra’s twists on the basic ugg include some awesome accessories attached to their boots like studded belts draped around the shaft, leather rosettes pinned down the sides, wisps of feathers & beads, and varieties of fringe. They also have some interesting new soles: a sporty sneaker bottom (on the Modern Classic collection) and wedges!! I think they said it best themselves: “Koolaburra is perfect mix, juxtaposing the ethos of rocker chic daring with boho sensibility.”

The Review -I have to say that I was more than a little excited to try one of Koolaburra’s ugg wedges. I choose the Lexie style, which has about a 2.25 inch wedge heel and a working lace up shaft (also a key trend in boots this season). UGG Australia has been doing a wedge boot for a while, but their version looks like a normal boot, they just lined it with their sheep shearling. Koolaburra is the first brand I’ve seen to keep the traditional ugg style, swapping only the flat sole with a wedge. If you’re addicted to your uggs, these wedges are a great way to keep the comfort but make your style a little sharper. The leather laces up the front of the Lexie allow you to adjust the fit of the boot AND makes tucking in your jeans or leggings beyond easy if you want to show off these babies. Or, if you just love the sheepskin peeking out but don’t really need the boot to open on occasion, you can knot the laces in the perfect place and put them on like normal uggs.

I was completely amazed that these boots, even with the mid heel height, were equally as comfortable throughout the day as any of the flat ugg versions I tried (and I did a lot of walking in these). I bounced through the door after a long day at work and didn’t pull these off til I crawled into bed. These boots have a natural crepe rubber outsole with an EVA wedge midsole, and they have replaceable sheepskin lined insoles like EMU does. These Koolaburra boots are very warm and have very soft, brushed sheep shearling- I wasn’t able to tell the difference between Koolaburra and UGG Australia when I did my own blind touch test of the inside of each boot. Koolaburra is a high-end boot brand, but I say well worth the price, especially when you consider that you’re getting a new style the rest of the world doesn’t already own.

Random – This Lexie style has a 7.5 inch mid-calf shaft height but Koolaburra also made an identical knee-high version called Shasta and lots of other wedge styles which I highly recommend you check out!

Price: $285      Fit: True to Size, half sizes order up.

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*****I’m hoping to still add reviews on uggs from SHOO Republic, Australia Luxe Collective and Mou to really turn this into the most comprehensive ugg review on the planet, so stay tuned for more. And if you come across another brand you want to see added to the running, definitely let me know! You can comment here or email us at

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