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Exclusive articles, interviews, and insights covering downsizing & decluttering, genealogy, photos and other media, aging well, travel, and more. We’re here to help you capture the big little moments and stories to bring meaning and even order to all of life’s collections for generations.
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MOVING & DOWNSIZING
Tips for an Easier Move with Artifcts

Reading time: 5 minutes 
 
I grew up in the same house. My first move was to college. Me and my minimalist tendencies, I would have been fine with a backpack of clothing and a laundry bin of bedding and essentials. My mother being the maximalist had different plans. Let’s just say I was the only freshman with a banana hanger.  
 
Fast forward 20 something years. I’ve moved three times in as many years. And yet … it’s still not easy. The stuff doesn’t move itself. It requires planning, staging, boxing, moving, unpacking, and, in our case, a good dose of, “Mom, did you pack my [insert name of thing here]. I can’t find it.” Let’s just say if finding things post-move was a varsity sport, I would have lettered in it by now. 
 
As a founder of a tech company dedicated to ‘stuff’ you’d think I’d have it figured out by now. I don’t. Each move for me is an opportunity to assess what worked and what didn’t, and to reassess what we have and why we have it. I still have my minimalist tendencies although I’ve swapped my maximalist mother for a super maximalist (and very sweet and sentimental) spouse. 
 
So, what’s a girl to do? I’ve pulled together some tips based on what I wish I had known, and what I had wished I had done the first, second, and yes, third go-around. 

      1. Hire a move manager. If you’re anything like me—trying to juggle work, kids, and aging in-laws—a move manager is key. You don’t need to be downsizing to work with your local NASMM partner. Contemplating a move? Call them, you won’t regret it. It takes the pressure off you and gives you a trusted, vetted, and expert resource to help you pre-, during, and post-move. 
      2. Artifct fragile, valuable, or especially sentimental items before you pack. You never know what will happen during the move. Best to have the memory, photos, and details saved. In our case, moving an overly excited golden retriever can do as much if not more damage to cherished belongings than a dropped box in transit. And, if something happens to one of your valuable items, you can share the Artifct with your insurance agent to expedite the claims process!  
      3. Artifct all other special items as you unpack. If you physically must unpack and put away every last item, Artifct the ones that mean something to you, and don’t forget to use the “In the future” field to note what you want to happen to the item in the future. Not only are you unpacking (yay!) you’re also creating a roadmap for your family of what to do with all your stuff one day down the road. It’s a win-win. (Added bonus: Use the “Location” field to note the item’s new location. It’s been a life saver in our house the past few weeks since our move.) 
      4. As you unpack, set aside items you haven’t used in a year or items you completely forgot you own. Hold off putting them away until you ask yourself, "Do I really need this? Do I want this?" If you are limited in space and holding on to an item for purely sentimental reasons, consider Artifcting it and then donating or re-homing it. Moving can be a great time to embrace the art of Swedish Death Cleaning
      5. Got children? You probably have their stuff too. Get them involved early and often. Giving them something to do helps you and them! You can check out our Pint-Sized Perspectives on Moving for more tips on moving with children. As for our older children, if you’re reading this, your stuff awaits you. You know what will happen to it if it remains unused or unclaimed for more than a year. Chop, chop! 
      6. Worried about critical documents and sensitive ‘stuff,’ such as passports, tax returns, and the like? Skip the boxes and carry them with you.
      7. About those boxes. Serial mover? Think twice before trying to reuse old boxes, the integrity of which may have been weakened during the last move. Reusing boxes may also be prohibited by movers and insurance agents. Better to be safe than sorry and either use re-usable plastic bins (like we did for the last three moves!) or invest in new boxes to ensure your ‘stuff’ doesn’t get damaged in transit. 
      8. Don’t forget to mark and position the boxes or bins that you need for immediate use in your new home. Nothing is worse than not being able to make a bed or take a shower after a long day of moving. Our daughter should know—she ended up in a sleeping bag for a day or two on move number two until we could locate her bedding.  
      9. And just for laughs, don’t forget to turn off or redirect your auto-shipments. No sooner had we moved out of our last place than a 30 lb. bag of probiotic dog food arrived. I hope the new occupants saw the humor in that! We did; our golden retriever, not so much.  

@Sasso is holding out hope for that missing bag of dog food. 

 
Have your own tried and true tips for moving? We’d love to hear from you! You can reach us at Editor@Artifcts.com. 

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© 2023 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Stuck in the Middle, With Stuff: The Sandwich Generation

Reading time: 4 minutes

Got stuff coming at you from both ends – kids and parents? Feel like the peanut butter and jelly mushed in the middle of a generation sandwich? 

Well, I do. I’ve got stuff coming at me from my mom and dad80 years of collections and counting—as well as stuff I still can’t shake from 26+ years of parenting. Bottom line, it’s a lot of stuff.  

Until recently, I felt that having lots of stuff required having bigger spaces and storage, lots of storage. The responsibility fell on me to keep it all and be ready to receive more if or when my parents are gone and as my kids move out but are not yet willing to “receive” their stuff. 

Times and circumstances changed quickly for me, however, and my “storage unit” mentality shifted from “more is better” to “why do I have all this stuff, and do I really need it.” I have moved and downsized twice over the past three years, forcing me to take a hard look at what I have, what I need, and what I want to keep for my kids. Thankfully for me, Artifcts came into being just as I was embarking on my first downsize.    

What I See Now When I Look at My Parents’ Stuff 

On my mom’s side of the fence, she has lots of stuff. Some of it is really important—mementos of her early days with my father, pieces of family history she’s carefully curated over generations. She is certainly the family-keeper. Other things are, well, I assume just things. The problem is sometimes I’m wrong.   

Take for instance a brick that was tucked in the back of her hutch. Family heirloom or home improvement project gone awry? Family heirloom! Turns out it is a brick from the church she and my father were married in way back when. HOW was anyone supposed to know? Even she admits that she only told me the story when I had the brick in my hand, ready to put it in the garbage bag. Family history crisis averted. Family history Artifcted. 

 

Family history, Artifcted!

I’ll give my mom a lot of credit—she’s Artifcted over 200 items, a lot of them we’ve done together, or she’s done with her grandkids. She’s led the way in capturing and sharing our family history through Artifcts. I know she has a lot more to do, and I am hoping to get other family members involved in helping her in the months ahead. 

My older brother retires in a few months, which I think makes him the perfect person to pass the baton to as our family history documenter/Artifcter. As he combs through the generic and obvious stuff, I’ll ask him to put aside anything with a possible story or deeper meaning. The 12-year-old food cans in the cupboard are trash. But what about the vintage kid art (did I make that?), the scraps of cloth in a bin (unfinished baby blanket?), or gold Egyptian hieroglyphic pendant (travel memento?). Those unknowns must have a story behind them. We are lucky that our mom is still with us, and that she is there to tell us the stories as we decide what to the keep, toss, or donate.  

The Kids’ Items Got Some Tough Love, Too 

On the kid’s side, oh – that’s the guilt factor! I have those odd drawings, the report cards, the clay ceramic blobs shaped like an abstract [insert word here]. The kids just look to their futures and walk out of their rooms without even dusting. After months, you go in and look around and find things that you wish you hadn’t found. Then, you realize they’re not coming back to clean it out. Then you realize you’re moving and they’re still not coming back to help.   

For me, I packed up what I thought was important and then started Artifcting the things that I knew were important but would sit in a box FOREVER if I hadn’t Artifcted them. What’s the point of boxing things up if you’re never going to look at them again?   

Yes, the kids may get upset that I didn’t keep their heartthrob concert poster signed by [insert name of a not so famous side-stage performer], but a quick Internet search revealed it would cost more to buy a poster tube than the poster was worth. What to do when faced with such a tough decision? Well, Artifct it and be done with it! If the kids complain, I’ll show them the memory, have them add to the story, and make a real moment out of it. 

The moral of this tale is simple: sandwich life is tough enough without all the stuff weighing you down. Artifct! Artifcting has enabled me to document our family stories, enjoy reliving moments with my family, and most importantly, let go of the stuff that doesn’t matter! Well, at least not all of the stuff. My wife likes to remind me that we still have bins that have not been opened since the last move, but that’s another story and task for another day.  

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© 2023 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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How Swedish Death Cleaning Helps You During a Move

Reading time: 5 minutes 

Today's story features insights from MaryKay Buysse, co-executive director of the National Association of Senior and Specialty Move Managers (NASMM). We're so grateful to her for sharing her perspective and insights! 

The new show streaming on Peacock, The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning, has returned author Margareta Magnusson’s concept of “Swedish death cleaning” to the headlines. The idea she outlined in her book is deceptively simple: Continuously organize and declutter your home to reduce the burden on loved ones of sifting through hundreds of objects to decide what is significant and should be kept, and what needs to move on out, “to make the later years of our lives as comfortable and stress-free as possible.” (Did you catch last week's piece in ARTIcles on Swedish Death Cleaning a Marriage? Check it out, too!
 
Artifcting is a means to continuously and easily practice Swedish death cleaning: Keeping track of and acting on “what’s next” for the items you Artifct, while also preserving the memories and stories. As August is Make-A-Will Month and a very popular time for home moves, we think it’s important to bring you matter-of-fact tips and perspective to help you deal with all that stuff!

“You Just Need a Moving Truck and Dumpster”

We know that some people say, “Oh, don’t worry, push comes to shove, in just two days you can clear out a house of all the stuff.” That sounds great – but you might struggle to imagine how that would exactly get done. There’s a good reason for your disbelief. 
 
“Haste equals regret!” emphasized MaryKay Buysse. “No one’s life should be so marginalized that we believe it can be downsized in 48 hours, start to finish. It’s not just rent a dumpster and a van. It should be done thoughtfully and intentionally. You must honor that life, that home" ... and Artifcts can be the tool move managers use to get it done! Listen in > 
 
“That’s why we think Artifcts is transformative for the move management industry. It has the power to change how a move manager works and speaks with their clients for this very reason – honoring the history and memories. Artifcts has so much value.” 
 
What she said! You stand to lose so much history, so many memories, and maybe even provoke family arguments over heirlooms lost, not to mention the potential financial value to all that you toss. Do you know that sometimes people give up on moving altogether because they don’t want to deal with the stuff? Don’t let that happen to you!

Top Tips for Accelerating Your Moving Process

There’s a better way to get through all the stuff. First, bring Artifcting into the process to recognize and record what you cherish and hold onto those memories, even if you do not keep all the stuff. Because, as MaryKay also emphasized, when it comes to sorting and decluttering for a move, “Every object has to have its moment where the client and move manager discuss it.”

For all the rest, the reality is few of us really knows what lurks in every drawer or closet, “And despite the popularity of all these new approaches to organizing, decluttering, and minimalism, people still seem to have the same amount of stuff,” said MaryKay. 
 
Professional move managers have time-tested strategies to accelerate the process and reduce the physical and emotional stress on you while setting in motion your intentions for all your ‘stuff.’ Here are a few of our favorite tips from our conversations with MaryKay: 
 
Bite size to-do list.

Tactical lists really will help make you more efficient. There’s a reason why science-backed research on habit formation as well as professionals with decades of experience in downsizing and decluttering recommend starting with smaller (and maybe less emotional, too!) tasks first. You score some wins, find a process that works for you, and get stuff done. Wins building on wins.  
 
The move manager you hire will consult with you and then prepare a customized list to keep you on track for your move goals, whether the move is in one year or three months, upsizing or downsizing, domestic or international. Action lists will include sorting, space planning, and more! 
 
Group items.

Listen in to MaryKay's take on "grouping" to help make more rapid progress:

Here are a few examples, so you can get the idea of how grouping can help:

  • Perhaps with your move you want a reset on all linens (towels, pillows, sheets, etc.). You can donate those to better use and start fresh. A whole category, done!
  • If moving to assisted living and there’s no oven in your suite because main meals are provided, then you have no need for any of your baking or cooking tools. Done! Well, except for an item or two that is sentimental or becomes decorative. Aprons and muffin tins anyone?
  • If you are no longer in love with a collection, have dropped a hobby, or are changing lifestyles, you may let friends, neighbors, loved ones, collectors groups, or fellow hobbyists (or aspiring) know, so you can sell, donate, or rehome these items.

Work with a specialist.

Digitization and organization of legal, financial, and other documentation – family research, artwork, and photos, for example – ideally saves you from moving all of it, provides secure storage and backup storage, and make these resources available to you whenever, wherever you need them. We are not saying toss every hard copy. But digitization is your ally and creates a personal archive for you and your family to last generations.

For the physical copies you keep, professional archivists can help ensure the items are protected from the elements and remain accessible to you, like the recipe card from Grandma you’ll need the next time you want to make her famous spanakopita or when you want to redecorate and display the newspaper article you were featured in! If you don’t have someone local, you can at least shop smart for safe ways to store and display your treasured items. Explore Archival Methods and Gaylord Archival.

Monocurate describes benefits of archival preservation

 
 
 
 
© Monocurate, LLC.

If your top priority is digitizing and organizing photos old and new, a professional photo organizer in your area may also be able to help get you started.

Involve Family.

This tip is more like a strong warning: Do not overlook the adult children. Now, in your situation, you might swap out “adult child” with another family relation, a close friend, or a neighbor. The point is, who else is close to the person who is moving—or death cleaning—and may have strong feelings about what’s going where? 
 
No one wants to watch grown adults fight over ‘stuff.’ Bring in others and do it early to avoid more emotional pain and trauma.

Happy Artifcting!

______________

Know someone who is planning to move? Gift them an Artifcts membership to help them through the process and beyond!

Green gift box with pink bow

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© 2023 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Introducing Artifcts' Allies in 'Stuff'

We want to help each person to transform stuff from a potential burden today and on future generations to the source of immediate connection, history, legacy, and financial security. We cannot do it alone. 

The world of ‘stuff’ is broad and sometimes overwhelming! Artifcts helps you to connect the stories and stuff, enjoy walks together down memory lane, support your wills and insurance coverage, and think through and document what to keep based on those hard tradeoffs between the emotional and financial value (and space!).  

Others can help you preserve, sell, move it all, and more!

Today We're Unveiling Artifcts' Allies in 'Stuff'

Our allies are resources to help expand your awareness of the possible for you and all your ‘stuff.’ The organizations represented cut across multiple categories:

      • Digitization & Preservation
      • Organizing, Decluttering, & Moving
      • Valuations & Sales
      • Family History & Documentation
      • Preparedness & End-of-Life
      • Artistic Renditions

We have met with every company directly, reviewed their products, and are confident they can help or, at the very minimum, inspire. We have focused on those with broad national, and many international, footprints and services. Yet we know sometimes going local is what's needed, required, or desired. Learn about the possible in the world of stuff here at Artifcts! Head over to Allies in 'Stuff,' click to read about each company, and download the Allies map to have on hand as a reference.

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© 2023 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Home Inventory Apps: You Deserve More Than an Inventory of 'Stuff'

A Home Inventory App That Captures More Than an Inventory of 'Stuff'

We did say, "It's that time of year again." Many of us are making plans to get organized once and for all. We tell ourselves, "2023 is the year. Yes!" But are you setting yourself up by relying on old habits and processes that never worked before? Why would they work now?  

Case in point: home inventory apps. Is that your tool of choice? Don’t get us wrong, we know inventory apps are critical across industries and even in private households. But they are unifunctional. These apps are administrative in orientation with not a whisper of fun or human connection. They support management and listing of large volumes of objects with hyper specific meta data fields so you can keep track of them and their value. In our opinion, that’s a lot of work for a very limited scope of value and use to you!  

Let’s Review the Newcomer: Artifcts 

Taking a page out of the book of publications you find online (like this one) that, for a fee, rank “best” tech apps and gadgets, here’s how we’d review Artifcts’ pros and cons compared to home inventory apps: 

PROS:

  • Modern and intuitive interface with multiple view style options 
  • Capture any object or collection with photo, video, and/or audio
  • Use preset categories alongside custom tags to categorize according to your own preferences 
  • Track important documents, manuals, and more 
  • Includes built-in optional fields covering smart categories such as weight, dimensions, location, and even future intentions for the object 
  • Private by default but permissionable and shareable for individuals, groups, and even social media 
  • No file compression – your files are secure, private, and exactly as you created them 
  • Ad free, and you own your data. Download in a click in multiple formats!

CONS:

  • Intended for personal use; not suited to business inventories. We did mention fun, right? 
  • Limited to five media files and three documents. Focus on what’s meaningful and interlink related Artifcts if you like with the @ feature. 
  • Beta features are released first to desktop. And usually released to mobile one week later; we want to ensure each feature meets your expectations. 
  • No barcode scanner. Got us here. Most 'stuff' people Artifct are too unique for barcodes!

We give Artifcts 4 stars as a home inventory app, but a full 5 stars a tech startup redefining "artifacts" to help transform 'stuff' from a burden to a source of connection, history, legacy, and financial security.

Where Artifcts and Home Inventory Apps Coexist 

There exists an interesting opportunity for Artifcts and home inventory apps to work for you, together. How do we know? Members of the Arti Community have told us! Here are three recent examples. (Names are changed for privacy.) Let us know if you have others! 

Meet Jeff. He’s spent several months cataloging his personal library using LibraryThing. He stepped back, proud of his work and realized, "Oh, but that one and that one and that one are uniquely special. They are gifts from people I admire, they are signed copies, I sought them out in off-the-beaten path shops." Essentially some of Jeff’s books are particularly valuable to him and maybe the world.

  • At Artifcts ... Like Jeff, you can easily attach your inventory to an Artifct as a document, include a link to the inventoried book’s listing in the “location” field of your Artifct, or tag your Artifct #LibraryThing so you know which Artifcts exist in that app as well. 

Meet Sandra. She hired a moving company that offers complementary digital inventory to ensure they know what she is moving and the condition of the items of particular value to her. Great!

  • Sandra (and you!) can Artifct those objects and attach the mover’s inventory or cross reference it if it has as digital presence. And, if you like to keep track of items by room or location, simply tag your Artifcts #livingroom, #teddysbedroom, and #garage for easy future reference. Click the tag and all Artifcts with the same tag in your personal collection will appear. Now, that’s a nifty home inventory app. 

Meet the Shroads Family. This family has traveled far and wide in the world and curated a valuable art collection along the way. They have a file with hardcopy receipts and related documentation as well as a running inventory in Excel that they update faithfully during tax season as part of their general estate management. But the details of the when and where and even the ‘why’ of specific pieces are becoming blurry and not everyone has access to these important supporting documents.

  • Through Artifcts, the documents, the details of each person, and critically the ‘why’ of the moment of the purchase coexist. Now individuals can permission and reference these Artifcts in their planning documents and not worry about how to unite separate bits of information stored in different locations. 

Happy Artifcting of those home inventories and beyond!

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© 2023 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Pint-Sized Perspective on Decluttering and Moving

This piece for ARTIcles was inspired by a neighbor who spoke with Artifcts co-founder Ellen Goodwin about the woes of all that "kid stuff" to get through in preparation for a move this summer. Thank you for being our muse! And if you missed our adult-sized version of decluttering to move, give it a read ->  

From the time Violet was a baby and stretching well into toddlerhood, she moved a lot, bopping around Maryland, Virginia, and Texas. Her age made it easier on us, the parents, in that she didn't fully realize what was happening. She was also in a phase of life during which she naturally was outgrowing everything from books and toys to baby furniture and clothing at a fast pace, so purging during each move was simplified a bit. 

Then she turned six.  

"I'm ooo-l-d," she whined. Insert palm in face on every parent who hears this sweet nonsense. Mitigating her pain somewhat was the fact that her 6th birthday was in fact extra special - it fell on Easter. So, we called it "B-Easter," and managed an impromptu egg hunt blended with tea party, followed by chalk, bubbles, kites, and bikes. Not bad! 

photo of chalk on pavement "Happy B-Easter"

What we were less prepared for was the storm brewing behind this sweet looking little Texan's face after sharing a few days later that they would be moving. You'd think we stole her puppy! "But you did make a New Year's Resolution to buy a house this year," teased my husband. (True story! What kind of "resolution" is that?!) 

Violet began plotting. How could she pack EVERYTHING? How could she make her new home JUST like her current home? She packed boxes herself. She filled bags and tried knotting them closed before I could even look and confirm it was really just full of her Beanie Boos. It was cute and annoying simultaneously. We had to get going! 

colorful collection of Beanie BoosClick the image to view the Beanie Boo collection Artifct.

While the word "fair" is banned in our household Try it! It's amazing how many other, more informative words your kid will use when fair is off the table it was deemed "fair game" to use her passions and personality to help manage the situation. Decluttering was going to happen as packing proceeded. Not everything was getting on the moving truck, whether you were 6 or 36. And we did not want to end enemies.  

Tried & Tested Pint-Sized Strategies

Here are the strategies we used with our 6-year-old, and more recently with a set of adult children who were equally disinclined to part ways with a lot of stuff all at once.  

  1. Don't make it an "all at once" task. Friendly disclaimer: We know, sometimes a move is unexpected and abrupt. This then does not apply. In general, you have some notice, maybe even months, to prepare for a move. Consider starting with your child's least used and noticeable items in deep drawers, backs of closets, bins and boxes that have collected dust, and 'stuff' that truly doesn't fit (or work!) anymore. Something small each weekend. Let them play and experience it one last time if they want as they sort into piles to rehome, donate, recycle, resell, or maybe even trash. Smallest box is for the move.  
     
  2. And time it. Ask them to focus on the task for no more than 15 minutes. For 6-year-old Violet that was less than one episode of Sofia the First and totally manageable.  
     
  3. Know thy child. Appeal to sweet spots. Violet loves, loves, loves to be a helper. Extending that to helping others who have unmet needs for new books, clothes, and toys was a major source of success and pride. She even made cards to go with her donations. And the donations were not generic. We brought some into a women's shelter, for example, where we knew who would directly benefit locally. Seeing is believing, even when you're six. 
     
  4. Take photos and videos (and Artifct it!) of special items that don't make the cut. Have you noticed how kids of all ages, even at 56, love to browse photos and videos on their phone, in social media, etc.? We even have a video of 2-year-old Violet dancing and the moment she stops you can hear her say, "I want to see!" Sometimes you just like to see something to trigger that happy nostalgia or moments of pride from that hard one roller skating derby or large collections of anything that can't possibly come or maybe will but cannot be displayed in its entirety.  
     
  5. Embrace porch or garage sales. There's simple logic in favor of selling a large amount of 'stuff' even for low prices and gaining the power to buy that new whiz-bang toy or container of slime or funny hat all by yourself! Kids don't generally have money of their own and this is a good opportunity to reward their help in the decluttering process. Violet sold books she'd outgrown and a several movies too. 
     

Special Case: Moving to a New Country

Another friendly disclaimer: In a country as large as the US, another state can sure feel like another country ... No matter the excitement and motivation to make the leap and move to a foreign country, I empathize with what you will go through in terms of energy, cost, and general discombobulation. Every move we made was hard but heading into a foreign culture amplifies the desire for the comfort familiar objects, foods, music, and more can offer.  

International moving and shipping fees, or conversely long-term self-storage fees, may mean your decluttering and downsizing tasks are more extreme. This is definitely a time Artifcts can help. Want to show off your transformer collection ... special dolls ... cool bike ... but can't take them with you? Artifct to remember and show your new friends what your life was like in your home country! 

We bet you can adapt these ideas to your own kids. Or, if you are a professional organizer, we hope these tactics can help you as you work with clients in similar situations.

Happy Artifcting! 

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© 2022 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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