Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Weird News of the Week

An Oasis for Microorganisms

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Painting Calcutta 'sky blue'

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UFOs in Carmel

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Bullet fired in Mexico hits Woman in Texas

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A Survivor, Peter Skyllberg

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Friday, February 24, 2012

Synchronicity: Mystical Mumbo Gumbo

We are excited to share an excerpt from our new book Synchronicity: The Art of Coincidence, Change, and Unlocking Your Mind by Kirby Surprise.  Kirby has been getting a lot of nice press lately and we thought it would be fun for you to be able to get a look inside.  

The experience of meaningful coincidences is universal. They are reported by people of every culture, every belief system, and every time period. Synchronicity examines the evidence for the human influence on the meaningfulness of events, and the way the modern computational model of the mind predicts how we create meaning. It demonstrates that these events, based on the activity of the mind, are caused by the person who perceives them. We've shared an excerpt here from Chapter 9 entitled Mystical Mumbo Gumbo.

Commonality of mysticism and science

This chapter is about how you communicate with different parts of yourself. Even if you fully understand that you are a unitary being, you are still only experiencing a tiny fraction of yourself at any given moment. The part of you that experiences reading these lines has its own moment in time and location in space. I have mine as I sit and write them to you. Ultimately, we are part of the same being. But we have separate windows into that unified being from our own physical perspectives.

The energies that make up our forms seem separated by time and space. This is an illusion created by our brain’s limited ability to process information. All energies are part of the same underlying dimensional fields. Einstein was one of the world’s greatest mystics. He stated a simple truth; all is connected and all is relative. Matter is a form of space. A particle is just a place where the local density of the space is a little higher than the space around it. Look at the clothing you are wearing. Imagine the fabric is space. Pinch a bit of fabric between your fingers and twist it a bit. That’s a particle of matter. Think of the fabric as stretching for billions of light years, across all of time and space. Every particle in the universe is a twist in this fabric. It’s all the same fabric. Currently physics is debating which particles are more twists in the fabric, which are threads of the fabric, and how those threads are woven together. Seems the fabric of the universe is a blend of many dimensions. Some threads are woven more tightly from some dimensional fibers than others. Time functions in much the same way. Einstein declared that space and time were inseparable parts of the same fabric. The matter in your body is part of the same fabric of space-time as mine. The moment in time you are reading these words is part of a larger blend of dimensional time. I am writing these words on part of the same fabric, in the same universal present moment in time, but on a different area of the fabric.

You are clothed in these fabrics right now. You wear time and space, multiple dimensions the same way you wear clothing. They move with you, bend as your thoughts bend, and change as your thoughts change. Like a comfortable shirt or a well fitting pair of shoes, you forget they are there, moving with you, part of you. We remove these fabrics occasionally, re-cloth ourselves in them, and mistake them for the totality of our being. You can see the effects they have around you as SEs (Synchronistic Events). In some ways, SEs are like wearing a long flowing robe. You move, and the fabric flows in the space around you. If you were half-asleep, you might see the motion and not realize you were moving the cloth. You might think the fabric moved by itself, or was being moved by some mysterious force. Mysticism and science have a common goal. They look at the motions of the fabrics around us, and speculate about what caused the motion. Mysticism, literally the study of the mysterious, found its general answer long ago. In a broad, general sense, we are the fabric, and we are the forces that move them. There is only one being. But, the devil is in the details. It seems that the overall unity has no single individual awareness, no personal consciousness. Individual consciousness requires a focus in selected areas of the fabric. You, the human being reading these words now, and I, the human being writing them in my present moment, experience only our infinitesimally small, individual, parts of the greater fabric.

The universe is always more complex than it appears to us.

We can understand that everything is connected, but we can only be consciously aware of tiny parts of the whole at any given moment. Even in deep satori, you can experience the full connection, but not the details. The universe may open to your senses, but you are still not aware of every particle of dust blowing in the sand storms on Mars. You know you are one being, but you are not tracking every hydrocarbon atom in the methane oceans of Titan. You become aware of your individual SEs, and some of the SEs in the world around you, but never all of them, never the vast SEs of all things. SE remains mysterious because, as individual beings, we were not evolved to process such vast amounts of data. Science realized something mysticism was never able to fully grasp. The best way to understand how the universe works is to be incredibly humble about your own understanding. Philosophy and religion have some common psychological foundations. Yes, there’s a personal rant about religions coming again. Please bear with my skeptic’s perspective for a few moments. I have a problem with not believing what I think, or what other people think. Good scientists have some of the personality characteristics that make good priests. Characteristics that good priests, philosophers, and mystics often lack.

Advantages and disadvantages of the scientific perspective

Let’s use that supercomputer in your head for a moment. On your stage of internal memory, that place where you construct reality, imagine a scientist standing on a stage. Make him, or her, somewhat of a comic extreme, a stereotype. Perhaps yours has a lab coat, a pocket full of different colored pens, thick glasses, and an air of personal distraction and disorganization. You’re creating this reality, whatever works in your world. Next to him, materialize a priest. Rather than just any priest, we are going to borrow a parody. This priest is a true believer in a ridiculous fundamentalist religion; the fast-growing church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. I’d love to claim I created this religion, but it was first thought up by Bobby Henderson as a satirical poke at The Kansas Board of Education. Your Pastafarian priest is dressed in the sacred robes of his religion, a pirate costume. Now, in our internal theatre of the improbable, we ask both our newly created thoughtforms; “What causes global warming?” Our scientist fumbles around for a self-conscious moment or two, then begins to write long strings of math on the blackboard that materializes behind him. “Well,” he begins, “We performed a meta-analysis of 1,400 different studies on the relationship of reported atmospheric temperature variation, taking into account 35 separate variables that affect energy distribution of air masses under different seasonal condition, and looked at amounts of solar radiation and carbon dioxide production during a 75-year period. Statistical analysis indicates a .P value of .92878 within a 6 percent margin of error on a confidence band of plus or minus 5 percent.”

My eyes began to glaze over just writing that. What your little scientist is doing is admitting the limits of his understanding. He is describing, in painstaking detail, the precise limits of what he understands, and how probable it is that his understanding is true. Good scientists are never sure. Good scientists know how likely something is to be true, under very precise and limited conditions. Good scientists give you such exact information, that you could perform the same experiment, in exactly the same way, and get the same results. If you don’t get the same results, and you can explain why, in detail, a good scientist changes his mind about what he believed was probably true. Not only does the good scientist change his mind, he is overjoyed at having learned something new, to have helped the process of investigating the mysterious. Science is an inherently humbling profession. Now we ask our Pastafarian priest the global warming Question. Here’s his response:

“First I’d like to state my humble thanks to our lord, the all mighty creator of the universe, The Flying Spaghetti Monster, or FSM as we affectionately worship him. His power and wisdom are beyond all human understanding. Did I mention I represent him? Global warming is caused by the FSM. He is upset with humanity for its iniquities and immorality. Global warming is the result of not following the word of the FSM. You see it is all very simple. FSM is fond of pirates. If you look at a chart of global warming trends, you can clearly see that over the last century the pirate population is clearly in decline. Fewer pirates, more global warming. The FSM is obviously angry with humanity for its persecution of pirates. That’s why we Pastafarians dress as pirates. We are performing a divine service to humanity by increasing the number of pirates and spreading the word of the FSM. We are FSMs chosen people; we need donations to spread the word, hand over yer booty, arrrr.”

Pastafarians, of all denominations, have simplistic answers to complex problems. They are usually sure, in an absolute sense, of the answers they provide. They make declarations about the nature of reality that cannot be tested, can’t be verified, and they stick by them. Pastafarians often declare their humility and humble service to their FSM, while forcing their way of thought on others. Philosophies and religions have positive aspects to be sure. But, all tend to declare the nature of your reality for you. A handy service if you would rather cruise the infinite universe of creative possibility on someone else’s autopilot program. The problem is; unverifiable beliefs limit the way you consider alternate possibilities.

Science has a matching problem. A yin to mysticism’s yang. Some followers of the scientific method have made science itself a religion of sorts. They take the easy, self assured way out. Some devotees of science declare that their way of investigating reality is the only valid means of determining truth. Some priests of physics believe that, until something becomes verified by experimental investigation, it is not true. The problem is, science isn’t supposed to work that way. The scientific method is a humble method. It tests one small, very specific set of conditions at a time. Then it asks others to test the same conditions again independently. If results are reliably reproducible, a small bit of probably true information is added to the knowledge base. Scientists tell themselves stories about reality, just as philosophers do. Good scientists know they are telling stories. They are never sure. The way science is supposed to work is to allow for the possibility of anything not specifically ruled out by valid research. Science is supposed to be where dreams, speculations, experiences, and assumptions, are tested with an open mind. The true scientist is open to alternate probabilities, but sides with the preponderance of evidence. Your conscious awareness evolved as an area of computational processing able to deal with uncertainty. You are never fully aware of the whole of your situation. Your senses always provide you with an overwhelming amount of information. There is so much more to you than a mere conscious awareness can hold at any given moment. The brain evolved to keep the body alive, and to pass on its genes to the next generation. The consciousness it evolved to help you limits and processes the information you receive. You exist in a data stream that constantly dances between being fast, and globally oriented, but lacking in detail, and being slower, more accurate, but missing global connections.

This is the true existential dilemma; to tolerate the ambiguous nature of existence, to remain flexible, to keep moving, to never truly be sure, to find wonder and joy in existence.

You are never going to be sure about SE. You are able to create them, but the more detailed your analysis of them, the more complex they will become. Your powers to create your reality are spectacular, but as an individual consciousness, there are local limits to your abilities. I’m going to start to explain some of the more amazing capacities you have, and to put them into a workable perspective. If I did this from the perspective of spiritual and mystical philosophy, it would sound like mumbo jumbo to the scientist on my stage. If I stick to the minutia of verifiable empirical data, the joy of our situation disappears; the awe and wonder are darkened by seeing only what we know is already there. I like Pastafarians. They often have a delicious sense of humor, whether they realize it or not. I would like to offer you something other than science or philosophy. Please allow me to present you with a good meal. Gumbo is a traditional Cajun dish. It has no definite recipe. Each cook boils the best of his ingredients, shrimp, fish, okra, chopped vegetables, even sausages and shellfish, all in a broth of seasonings that often remain the savory secret of the chef. Gumbo emerged from Louisiana, where a crossing of French, Native American, African, and Caribbean cultures all brought together their own spices and ingredients to the cauldron. There is no scientific formula for gumbo, and no global rules about what it must include. Generally, it is a savory, satisfying celebration of creativity. It tastes good. Rather than being created from a standard recipe, gumbo emerges from the relationship the chef has to his culture and ingredients. To taste a good gumbo is to enter into a relationship with the creator, not to merely consume a product. There are many delightful ways to serve it. Today we are serving SE gumbo. Dip a spoon beneath the broth, and you might find a flavorful chunk of neurophysiology. The next spoonful may have bits of string theory. The broth may be seasoned with perennial philosophy, personal experience, and the timing of SE that appeared and were added to the stock. Gumbo doesn’t require belief.

Dr. Kirby Surprise received his doctorate in counseling psychology from the Institute for Integral Studies. He works in an advanced outpatient program for the State of California where he assesses, diagnoses, and treats clients with psychotic and delusional disorders. He lives in the San Francisco Bay area.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Creature of the Month - The Goat Man by Nick Redfern

In the very early hours of one particularly fateful morning in the hot and sticky summer of 1969, six petrified residents of the Texan city of Fort Worth raced for the safety of their local police-station and related a controversial and amazing story. John Reichart, his wife, and two other couples were parked at Lake Worth – and, yes, it was indeed at the stroke of midnight - when a truly vile and monstrous-looking creature came storming out of the thick branches of a large, nearby tree. Reportedly covered in a coat that seemed to be comprised of both scales and fur, it slammed with a crashing bang onto the hood of the Reichart’s car and even tried to grab hold of the not-surprisingly-terrified Mrs. Reichart, before racing off into the pitch-black night and the camouflage of the dense, surrounding trees. The solitary evidence of its dark and foreboding presence was a deep, foot-and-a-half-long scratch along the side of the Reichart’s vehicle.

While this specific event rapidly, and unsurprisingly, generated deep media interest, and was actually taken extremely seriously by the Fort Worth police – as prime evidence of this, no less than four police-cars quickly headed to the scene of the Reichart’s encounter – it was most certainly not the first occasion upon which Fort Worth officialdom had become the recipient of ominous accounts of diabolical beasts roaming around Lake Worth.

Indeed, until the Reichart’s story hit the newspapers, it was a little-known fact that for approximately two months the police had been clandestinely investigating reports of a distinctly weird beast that was said to be spooking the locals on a disturbingly regular basis. While some of the officers concluded that at least some of the sightings might have been the work of local kids, running around in ape-costumes, others were not quite so sure that fakery was a dominating factor, and took the Reichart’s story to heart.

For example, Patrolman James S. McGee conceded that the report John Reichart filed with the Fort Worth constabulary was treated very seriously, as a result of the fact that: “those people were really scared.” Of course, the Dallas-Fort Worth media loved the story, and did their utmost to promote it just about as much as was humanly possible. Notably, one particular feature that appeared in the pages of the Fort Worth Star Telegram was written by acclaimed author Jim Marrs – very well known today for his books on 9/11; the JFK assassination of November 1963; and countless other conspiracies and cover-ups.

The headline that leapt out of the Telegram was a news-editor’s absolute dream: FishyMan-Goat Terrifies Couples Parked at Lake Worth. Beyond any shadow of doubt, it was this particular story that made the Goat Man both infamous and even feared among the residents of Lake Worth. And it would not be long at all before the monster’s ugly form surfaced once again. In fact, it was almost twenty-four-hours to the minute: midnight was looming around the corner and the creature was reportedly seen racing across a stretch of road close to the Lake Worth Nature Center. Interestingly, the prime witness, one Jack Harris of Fort Worth, stated that when he attempted to take a picture of the monster, the flash on his camera failed to work – a phenomenon that is curiously and eerily prevalent in mystery animal reports and encounters.

The beast, whatever its ultimate nature and origin, was shortly thereafter seen to charge across the landscape to a nearby bluff, with three dozen hyped-up locals in hot-pursuit, and all hysterically baying for the blood of the beast. The Goat Man wasn’t about to become the victim of some crazed posse, however. He had an unforeseen ace up his sleeve – allegedly, at least: towering over the crowd at approximately ten yards, the Goat Man hurled a huge tire at the group; something which resulted in the throng wildly scattering in all directions. One of those present, a man named Jack Harris, said that: “everybody jumped back into their cars” and hauled ass out of the area. The Goat Man had won the day.

But the story was far from over. Yet more accounts surfaced, with some witnesses stating that the creature had dark fur or hair all over its body; while others maintained that its coat was overwhelmingly white in color. Then there were disturbing tales of horrific mutilations of animals in the area: dogs, cats and more – most of which surfaced amid theories that the Goat Man had made a home – or, more likely, a lair – for himself in a relatively small piece of land, called Greer Island, that is connected to the mainland by a small walkway.

The story was on the verge of spinning wildly out of control, when one Helmuth Naumer, who was an employee of the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, offered the theory that the Goat Man was probably nothing stranger than a pet bobcat that someone had clandestinely released into Lake Worth Park, and one that presumably took a great deal of pleasure in jumping onto people’s cars at midnight. Precisely how the bobcat was able to change its color from brown to white, or throw a large tire through the air - for what was estimated to be a distance of no less than 500 feet – remained sadly unanswered, however.

Of course, it’s not impossible that Naumer’s theories might indeed have provided answers to the questions that pertained to at least some of the sightings; however, it most assuredly could not explain the truly surreal photo taken by a man named Allen Plaster, who was a local dress-shop owner. Plaster’s picture displayed a giant, white-hued beast with a torso that appeared to be constructed out of dozens of cotton-balls, and atop which sat a truly tiny head. And while stories and friend-of-a-friend tales suggested Fort Worth police had found evidence that some of the sightings were the work of costumed-hoaxers, this was an issue that to this day remains murky and not fully resolved. Indeed, the legend of the Goat Man still lives on at Lake Worth – and long may it do so!

Nick Redfern works full-time as an author, lecturer, and journalist. He writes about a wide range of unsolved mysteries, including Bigfoot, UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster, alien encounters, and government conspiracies. He writes regularly for UFO Magazine, Fate, Fortean Times, and Paranormal Magazine. His books include The Real Men in Black, The NASA Conspiracies, Contactees, and Memoirs of a Monster Hunter, all published by New Page Books. Nick has appeared on numerous television shows, including the BBC’s Out of this World; History Channel’s Monster Quest and UFO Hunters; National Geographic Channel’s Paranatural; and SyFy Channel’s Proof Positive. He lives in Arlington, Texas and can be found online here.

Note that all pictures are copyright Nick Redfern.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Positive News of the Week

Communicating with Love

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Rescue Mission for Teddy Bear

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Reach for the Stars

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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Contemplating the Nephilim by Scott Alan Roberts

I don’t know if it’s the rebellious, ‘question all authority’ streak in me, or merely a ‘damn-the-cannonballs-and-full-steam-ahead’ bravado, but I continually find myself questioning everything - even the things I tend to believe with the faith of a true zealot. As far back as my conservative, fundamentalist, evangelical seminary training, I tended to buck the system. I have no desire to create the false history that I was some sort of youthful, angst-ridden, anarchistic rebel, but suffice it to say I was, many times, labeled a ‘trouble maker,’ simply for asking certain questions. It was sometimes a serious charge leveled at me, and other times a tongue-in-cheek, wink-&-nudge understanding by my professors that they, too, suspected there was much more beneath the surface of our systematic theological dogmas.

That is the foundational stuff that culminated in my writing a book on the Nephilim. The stories of the bible had been presented to me so many times over the course of my childhood, that I felt I already possessed all the answers. But the detriment to being raised with those old stories is that they start to take on the aura of being just that – tales. We forget that these things, however they actually happened in the course of history, were real events happening to real people somewhere at their core.

It wasn’t until I began thinking through my beliefs and sifting through the stories of faith, that I started noticing the missing elements and recognizing the gaping holes in the theology under which I had so willingly immersed myself. Now, this is not to say that those old bastions of faith were somehow misplaced or irresponsible in their doctrinal approaches, it’s just that they weren’t looking for the deeper answers, therefore they tended to blind themselves to the missing pieces of the puzzle that didn’t fit their theologies. Dogmatic practices governed, manipulated and even ignored the questions, thereby rendering their followers incapable of even seeing the questions that were left bleeding-out like so many open wounds.

I want to ‘know’ things. I want to seek out the ‘reasons why’ I believe something. Faith without an object or foundation is blind, and I hate stumbling around in the dark. It is for these reasons that I set off in search of answers to my many questions.

The Nephilim were always a bit of an enigma to me. I was taught the story of ‘Noah’s Ark’ in Sunday School, and in even greater detail when I was in seminary. Throughout all that education, however, never was I taught that the Sons of God and their Nephilim offspring were connected to the flood of Noah. And as it turned out, the mention of the Sons of God and the Nephilim were actually the preamble to the story of Noah and the Ark. The descent to human women of the beings known as the Sons of God, their subsequent cohabitation and sexual intercoursing, and then the ramifications of these acts on all of humanity, simply raised deeper questions in my mind. First of all, I wanted to know who they were, and secondarily, but not of less importance, I wanted to know why the account was so ignored in religious teachings. I wanted to know more. So I studied and researched and dug deeper.

It is incontrovertible in my mind that humanity underwent huge, creative interruption somewhere in our primordial past. The ancient history of humankind experienced an interference on so great a level as to be seen as nothing short of grandiose, if not catastrophic. The historic ramifications of the acts of the Watchers and their hybrid offspring affect not only the course of human DNA, but the entire thread of religious history, establishing the world’s theologies and underscoring the subtexts of myriad spiritualities.

The story of the Nephilim – no - better: the history of the Nephilim is far-reaching. Their presence on this planet, from our ancient past through to our current events is tangible, yet strangely invisible to those who do not look or ask the questions.

Conscius gigno curator gigno scientia relinquo sapientia. 
Roughly translated, “Awareness begets Curiosity begets Knowledge bequeathing Wisdom.” 
In other words: Think, seek, learn and apply. Repeat.

Scott Alan Roberts is the founder and executive editorial director of Intrepid Magazine, a journal dedicated to politics, science, and unexplained phenomena. He is a radio show host, popular public speaker, and stand-up philosopher. He has been interviewed on scores of radio shows and was editor-in-chief of SyFy’s Ghost Hunters magazine, TAPS ParaMag. He attended Bible college and theological seminary, working toward his master’s in Divinity, but left for a 33-year career in advertising and publishing as an art and creative director, designer, illustrator, photographer, and wordsmith. He is the author and illustrator of The Rollicking Adventures of Tam O’Hare, a historical novel set in Tudor England, Ireland, and Scotland. He lives in rural Wisconsin with his wife and children. His recent release The Rise and Fall of the Nephilim is now available.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Weird News of the Week

A Fungus that Eats Plastic

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Seagrass: Oldest Plant on Earth

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Raspberry Scented Jeans

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Bacon Shakes

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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Positive News of the Week

More generous donations in 2011

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New Species found

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Translating Brain Waves into Sound

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Blind 11 year old Crosses Finish Line

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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The smell of Spring

There are many ways to celebrate the continual change of time.  With the arrival of Imbolc we chose to share a vow of new possibilities from 

The Imbolc Vow

We have all dreamed and planned through the Winter; now it is time to deliver those dreams and plans into reality. No matter how small the first steps we take toward realizing our dreams, they are important steps, and we must make them. The lamb just dropped certainly can’t take to the high mountain pastures yet, but she does not let this stop her from rising to her feet. Our plans may be too grand or complicated to achieve quickly, but we must not let this stop us from taking the first steps toward our goals.

The Imbolc Vow turns what we might fear to be self-indulgence into a sacred promise to the God and Goddess. Take this vow before a candle you’ve made yourself, or in the chilly dawn of an Imbolc morning as soon as you can see the sun.
The Vow
The Wheel turns again and Spring returns.
Warmer’s the rain; Sun brighter burns.
The daring sprout its thrusts does make;
And I, devout, so undertake.
From the belly, from the mind,
Imbolc’s spell as a vow shall bind.
What once I sought I now shall bring,
and make, from thought, a certain thing.

Ashleen O'Gaea, is a Third Degree Wiccan priestess, ordained by the internationally recognized and respected Aquarian Tabernacle Church. She is the author of Raising WitchesCelebrating the Seasons of Life: Beltane to Mabon; and Family Wicca. As a columnist for PanGaia Magazine, she writes on topics of interest to Pagan families and reviews books.

Weird News of the Week

Scorpions found on Venus

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Overcoming the password

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Jail time for bad weather forecasts

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Ghost responsible in domestic abuse case

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Meteorite Infused Wine

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