OpenGeofiction

Mahhal: is the latitude problem a "dealbreaker"?

Posted by Luciano on 29 November 2016 in Korean (한국어)

I'm going to try to keep this simple.

I recently asked for feedback on Tárrases. The main criticism that "holds weight" is the latitude problem - the country seems too temperate for its almost-Antarctic latitude (64° S).

This criticism applies not just to Tárrases but to all of Mahhal.

I have attempted to mitigate concerns about latitude with a "just so" story about a warm Harda Current and some geothermal heating of inland bodies of water (a la Iceland, essentially). But the story might not be geophysically plausible.

I am not willing to make Mahhal a more "arctic" country (i.e. more sparsely populated, colder, less agricultural, etc.). I have a strong pre-existing imaginative vision for the country that dates to my childhood.

So I have a question for the community.

Does Mahhal's current climate (temperate rainforest, like Southeast Alaska, coastal British Columbia, southern Chile, or southern Norway), population (pretty high: 20-30 million), etc., violate verisimilitude? Is the latitude problem a "dealbreaker"?

Please vote simply yes or no.

If the majority votes yes, then Mahhal will either be moved (a la Karolia) or, more likely, deleted, to be replaced with some other country that will match verisimilitude.

I'm happy to comply with the community consensus on this matter. But I'd like to have a record of community support for the plan before putting any more work into it.

Thanks and happy mapping.

Edit: to clarify, I do not want to be compared to other countries. Of course there are countries with worse verisimilitude issues (perhaps most countries in OGF!), but my goal is to view verisimilitude objectively and set an example without hypocrisy. This is important since as a volunteer admin, I should be enforcing the rule with others.

Location: -63.267, 93.062

Comment from eklas on 29 November 2016 at 06:16

No! Definitely not.

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Comment from eklas on 29 November 2016 at 06:18

I think there are far worse verisimilitude violations in other countries.

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Comment from isleño on 29 November 2016 at 07:11

It feels odd to be voting on this, but (as you know) my vote would also be 'no.'

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Comment from Yuanls on 29 November 2016 at 07:33

I vote no. Mahhal isn't a big problem the way I see it.

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Comment from Ernestpcosby on 29 November 2016 at 10:19

I don't think so, especially considering the amount of work put into making the climate work

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Comment from Ūdilugbulgidħū on 29 November 2016 at 11:44

For Tárrases there isn't an issue with latitude - assuming it has a climate something like Bod%C3%B8 Norway, - 66 dgrees N, this can be explained by a coastal warming current. There might be an issue to do with the distribution of settlement related to the climate parameters you determined. Why would people live 300m up a mountain here, where it will be much colder and particularly windier, than at sea level? You obviously have a vision which explains this, so there are many greenhouses for example. I like that. There must be a lot of road gritting that goes on into the winter too, because steep gradients and icy roads don't generally mix!

So for sea level Tárrases, the climate is absolutely fine; for inland Mahhal you need to think carefully to make it geophysically comparable with the temperatures you set for the coastal areas like Tárrases. Noticeable temperature gradients might be likely as maritime influences diminish. The west coast Mahhal must be less maritime than the east. Iceland's climate isn't affected by the vulcanism (though there is the geothemally warmed soil, and the heated greenhouses). So if it is temperate inland, it might have to be even warmer at the coast? The exact degree that applies to would need a bit of research.

I'm not exactly sure what you're voting on. Have you set the climate for the whole of Mahhal? Temperate rainforest away from the coast might be feasible from sea level to a limited altitude. It would probably be less like B.C. and Alaska though, if its a question of using the same geophysical parameters as apply on earth. Norway has a very strong coastal warming current unlike N America (or Chile). But there are forests inland in Norway, so that could also be believable in Mahhal.

If you are voting on whether temperate rainforest is feasible for the whole of Mahhal I think, yes, that breaks verisimilitude. But its not a simple question - and I'm sure you are thinking more logically, as with Tárrases: there will be a range of different climates over the country.

A different question perhaps is whether having a real world northern hemisphere biome - conifer forest - in the southern hemisphere of OGF, would violate verisimilitude. My opinion on that would also be that yes, it would,

I'm happy to say this because I see that others have all voted no, so there's no chance of you removing Mahhal, one of my favourite countries in OGF!

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Comment from Sarepava on 29 November 2016 at 13:28

As you've mentioned Karolia, let me say that my decision to move it was based on a much more serious verisimilitude problem, namely a central European climate on the equator (caused by there being no suitable territory at the correct latitude at that time). Mahhal has never struck me as being particularly out of place as temperate forests do extend quite far south. But the bigger issue here is that the community has no problem with it because the intent and the quality of mapping are good. Why shouldn't be deviate a little from the geography we know if the result will be interesting? There are much bigger realism issues in the OGF world as a whole which we all know about ('let's cover the world in grid cities, motorways and nineteen-runway airports, build railways with right-angled curves, and have every parliament building a copy of Budapest!').

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Comment from Luciano on 29 November 2016 at 14:23

@everyone - thanks for the "no" votes - I guess it ameliorates my insecurities about the issue, somewhat.

@udi, specifically - I appreciate the detail of your feedback, but I am confused by one aspect of it. You have said before, and repeated here, that you find the issue of conifers in the southern temperate or subarctic to be lacking in verisimilitude. I can understand concerns about climate, but concerns about biomes and ecosystems are puzzling to me, because, unless I'm missing some crucial information, aren't biomes and ecosystems fundamentally arbitrary, once we control for geophysical and climatological factors? I have always figured the lack of conifer forests in the southern hemisphere is largely what you might call an "accident" of history - the wrong seeds failed to float up on the wrong shores. Indeed, there are extensive plantations, nowadays, of species like douglas fir and spruce in countries like Chile, Argentina, and New Zealand, for purposes of timber cultivation. The trees clearly thrive in the environment, it's just that they didn't make it there on their own. I recall visiting a beautiful, thriving stand of California redwoods in New Zealand, too (closer to the equator, but the same concept). So personally, I feel zero insecurity about positing conifer forests for Mahhal, yet I'm worried about whether the climate makes sense. Your concerns seem opposite. Why? You have more knowledge and experience than I do, I'm sure, so I'd like to understand better.

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Comment from Thunderbird on 29 November 2016 at 16:14

Mahhal - No, but Tarrases Yes

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Comment from Ūdilugbulgidħū on 29 November 2016 at 16:59

I know you wanted a yes/no, but I've commented in detail again. You ask:

aren't biomes and ecosystems fundamentally arbitrary, once we control for geophysical and climatological factors?

I would say not, even assuming that you could control for geophysical and climatological factors. There is a pattern, the pattern is related to their history - and to global history. Introducing arbitrariness into biomes and ecosystems removes something very interesting - you could call it 'the background'. It is something that doesn't usually get noticed, but every photo of the natural environment contains elements of it, which places it in a particular part of the world, if you know what to look at.

Of course, I know that this has been discussed before and the general consensus is that this is not important. I can accept that, but it also means that there is less verisimilitude than there could be, for example if a narrative of global history existed before things were fitted into it, You probably also understand this.

I have always figured the lack of conifer forests in the southern hemisphere is largely what you might call an "accident" of history.

This is not really 'accidental'. Again, it is an effect of biogeography, in this case phytogeography. As we are all gods, of course, we could do away with biogeography and place whatever plants and ecosystems we want wherever we want them. I've seen a few pictures where it has already happened. That is probably something too big to be discussed here, but for me, as I explain, a world without biogeography isn't realistic, it certainly lacks verisimilitude. If spruce, Douglas fir etc are naturally found in the southern hemisphere as well as the northern, how can there be nothofagus forests or podocarps? Because - as is happening in many parts of the world today with invasive species - some species compete more strongly than others, and some species would lose (or would have lost) out. Conifers are very diverse, of course there must be some elements of randomness in their evolution, but their current distribution is not random.

So, it would be interesting to explore some 'mixed' ecosystems, but it would be hard to make them believable. Perhaps more than that, a world with this arbitrariness lacks a believable narrative behind it - or even an approach to developing a narrative. Again, I understand that most people are not interested in this aspect - that's not the point of OGF. I do like to think about how the places I map developed over time though, so perhaps that's why I've thought about it more. I think though that at some point I'll have to fit them all into a world that makes a bit more sense to me.

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Comment from Luciano on 29 November 2016 at 21:15

@Thunderbird -

splitting your vote misses the point. In terms of climate region and bioregion, Tárrases and Mahhal are the same country - they are only distinct as political entities (and that is tenuous and awkward at best). If you think Tárrases violates verisimilitude (and you're free to think that - I think so too - that's why I'm running this poll), then Mahhal logically follows, since, in the long run, Mahhal is intended to be mapped the same way. Which is to say, I think you're misled by the fact that Tárrases is currently mapped to a high level of detail, while Mahhal is not. That's a kind of coincidence. Imagine if I said I think that Jefferson has verisimilitude, but Patriot City does not. I think your reaction would be "huh?".

@Udi -

I am despairing, now, of feeling my point is being understood. One last quick effort. ...

Why would OGF-world's phytogeography and biogeography be the same as Earth's, when the continents are laid out differently? And... if putting conifers in the far southern hemisphere is lacking in verisimilitude (because it doesn't happen on Earth?), then surely the peculiar political and linguistic situation in e.g. Ūdzđąnąrąt likewise lacks in verisimilitude (because it doesn't happen on Earth?) - the point being, I don't actually think that.

There has to be a three way distinction (at least), in questions of verisimilitude, between "impossible," "possible" and "actual". Earth's existing biogeography and level of linguistic diversity (maxed out at about 2 languages per 1000 km sq in Papua New Guinea) is "actual". An OGF biogeography with conifers in far south, or an OGF linguistic geography of 10 languages per 1000 km sq, is "possible" but not actual. Intensive agriculture at 300m at 64° S on an otherwise Earthlike planet, climatologically, or having Dutch evolve independently in 3 different countries (actual current OGF "canon"), is "impossible." Where's the line?

And by the way, to be honest I didn't think through the whole "settlements at 300m" thing. Mostly, there are farms on Tárrases wherever the land is sufficiently flat - that was the only criterion I considered, and elevation wasn't on my radar. That is one criticism I am taking very seriously, and will be working to revise.

@everyone

Please understand, I'm not trying to pick fights or start arguments. Really what I'm trying to do, when you get down to it, is cover my own ass. ... I don't want to invest several years in a geofiction project at Mahhal, while working as an admin at OGF (enforcing rules about verisimilitude among other things), and then have people complain that I'm a hypocrite because my own work lacks verisimilitude.

This diary entry is my CYA for that future moment when I'm enforcing the verisimilitude rule with some user and they complain "but wait a minute, you made a 20 million population country with temperate rainforests at 64° S!" It comes down to a very personal strong aversion to hypocrisy.

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Comment from Alessa on 29 November 2016 at 21:37

In a word: no. (It may arguably push up against the line a bit, but I still say no.)

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Comment from dono87 on 29 November 2016 at 22:50

To express a dissenting opinion, I have thought for some time that Derindonderak (perhaps independent of Mahhal, perhaps not) lacked some verisimilitude for being such a large city at such a high latitude. Most large cities are trading cities with a large/decently populated hinterland (domestic or through trade) or have a substantial rural/agricultural population to support the urbanites.

Would Derindonderak/Mahhal have populous neighbors/natural resources to support this sort of coherent development? Especially if it was a large city before the development of international trade and containerized shipping?

That said, our OGF world is lacking for so much detailed (and high quality) mapping that we shouldn't lose any of it at all!

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Comment from wangi on 29 November 2016 at 23:57

Just a thanks for this leading me to find the OSM mapping of Steinkjer, Norway. It's 64N, and supports reliable cultivation of wheat: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steinkjer#Climate

So, i think you're fine - a version, upgrade, of the Gulf Stream hitting the coast, sure. It also gives you a major weather issue if it "wonders".

L/

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Comment from Alejandro24 on 30 November 2016 at 05:41

I've been wondering the same, but in Auhstrasuno Tero.

I vote no, the warm Harda Current should be enough to keep a more or less temperate climate at those latitudes.

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Comment from isleño on 30 November 2016 at 08:22

This diary entry is my CYA for that future moment when I'm enforcing the verisimilitude rule with some user and they complain "but wait a minute, you made a 20 million population country with temperate rainforests at 64° S!" It comes down to a very personal strong aversion to hypocrisy.

I admire this sentiment, but I don't believe that this vote is what protects you against accusations of hypocrisy. If it was, then the hypothetical accuser could demand that their case also be settled by public voting, or we'd be hypocrites for not giving that option. So in my mind, what protects you is the fact that Mahhal's climate is arguably plausible; plus the fact that the admin team doesn't pursue arguably plausible cases like this... not as far as I'm aware, anyway.

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Comment from Ūdilugbulgidħū on 30 November 2016 at 09:52

There has to be a three way distinction (at least), in questions of verisimilitude, between "impossible," "possible" and "actual".

Of course, this whole world is 'impossible' - because it is fictional. I think first you have to define your rules, which, although they are there, so far seem rather haphazard. When you have 'verisimilitude' (and the rules that lead to it) clearly defined then you can determine "impossible," "possible" and "actual" relative to this.

Why would OGF-world's phytogeography and biogeography be the same as Earth's, when the continents are laid out differently?

My point isn't that OGF has to have the same plant and animal distribution as earth. It can't, because there is land in places where there is no land on earth. But OGF doesn't have any consistent phytogeography and biogeography, at all. This is not realistic. What I'm saying is that a world without any rules for biogeography is 'impossible': logically, if people can pick any real biome and stick it anywhere they want (even with the constraint of a suitable climate) there are different rules that are acting from those in the real world (or some real rules are missing). So N American conifer ecosystem with a disjunct distribution globally in N & S hemisphere - yes it is similar to having Dutch evolve in 3 separate places: impossible. Without rules for this it isn't possible to design with even a loose definition of 'verisimilitude'.

Of course you could always just say that Mahhal is the original location of W coast N American biome, there is no rule to say it couldn't be. Other things would just have to follow on from that, if their designers wanted them to, assuming one day the verisimilitude idea was made more explicit.

Where's the line?

As admins, others have much more say about this than I do. I'm just pointing out that if you design a world like this, without a framework or overview, it won't be 'realistic'. This world isn't designed logically or realistically - its designed to allow people to map what they want with as much freedom as possible.

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Comment from Luciano on 30 November 2016 at 14:33

@isleño -

"... the hypothetical accuser could demand that their case also be settled by public voting..." - This is not a bad thing. This is, perhaps, an excellent outcome within an active and democratically-minded community.

@udi -

I'm still not buying the conifer problem (I'm maybe too dense, or too stupid about the point you're trying to make about bioregions). Nevertheless, the fact that we're now arguing semantics leaves me feeling that I've made at least some kind of point with this exercise, which connects directly to isleño's point, too: the only way we're going to resolve verisimilitude issues, in the long run, in my opinion, is by developing tools to build community consensus around what is and is not verisimilitudinous - because we aren't going to find any organically emergent way to define it in our world.

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Comment from Ūdilugbulgidħū on 30 November 2016 at 15:33

the only way we're going to resolve verisimilitude issues, in the long run, in my opinion, is by developing tools to build community consensus around what is and is not verisimilitudinous.

I agree. Currently verisimilitude is not clearly defined, but more than that, there is no apparent requirement to define it clearly. The rules are vague, therefore consensus and consistency are not possible. What tools could be used to make this happen? I don't see them.

If you're not getting the point on biogeography - that the biological distribution of species is based on the movement of tectonic plates over a period of time- it is perhaps because I didn't dare mention plate tectonics again. This seems to be beyond the line that some people have drawn as a rule. Of course, a world without tectonics is not realistic; it would seem impossible for an earth-like world to exist without it (e.g. no volcanoes, no mountain chains), and evolution - including human evolution - wouldn't have happened the way it has (so we wouldn't be here to map it). So tectonics and biogeography go together, if you have one you have to have the other.

However, you are probably pushing against an immovable object here: this world's purpose is not consistency or realism, it is freedom to map what you want, within some parameters. This means it would be counter-productive to some users for verisimilitude to be defined more clearly, and for this to be enforced, whether that be through a vote or by other means. Even if the majority view were different, it wouldn't be possible to change this because this OGF world has not been designed to respond to consensus, rather to a different and more directed target: freedom to map.

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Comment from isleño on 30 November 2016 at 17:27

"... the hypothetical accuser could demand that their case also be settled by public voting..." - This is not a bad thing. This is, perhaps, an excellent outcome within an active and democratically-minded community.

Just for the record, I respectfully disagree. As far as I'm concerned, this diary entry is not what justifies Mahhal's existence.

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Comment from MrOobling on 30 November 2016 at 19:28

Looking at the OGF map, I think in many cases that the areas near the pole are warmer than the real world pole areas. If you look at countries like Ingerland, they are still very densely populated with a latitude of almost 60 (near Stockholm). I don't think it is unrealistic to say that the poles are 3 or so degrees C warmer than in real life. I am not an expert in how climate works but I think this could be explained fairly easily with the idea that sea currents are stronger in the OGF world or a difference in air currents.

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Comment from Luciano on 1 December 2016 at 00:09

@isleño -

"justify Mahhal's existence" ? I didn't mean to make it sound like that's what I was trying to do, here. That sounds rather extreme, doesn't it?

Mahhal exists, in my mind (and perhaps on many pieces of paper scattered somewhere), regardless.

Perhaps if we narrow it some...

What justifies Mahhal's existence, in the OGF application, on the map at specifically 58°-68° South and 90°-110° East? That, maybe, is what I'm trying to work out... As I see it, we have some choices on how to define this:

  1. 1) Mahhal's existence on the map at its current location is justified solely by my own willing it into existence, and everyone else's feelings about it be damned. This is clearly false, since I rely on the creators of OGF to make it possible.

  2. 2) Mahhal's existence on the map at its current location is justified only by administrative fiat - i.e. because the benign creators and administrators of OGF allow it. This seems to be the current situation, but it strikes me as too arbitrary to lead, in the long run, to a sustainable geofiction community. What if the current group of admins quit, and some new group takes over who have some different notions about verisimilitude? After years of work, they announce that Mahhal "doesn't make sense"?

  3. 3) Mahhal's existence on the map at its current location is justified by some degree community consensus, created through a negotiation of standards about questions like verisimilitude. This is, maybe, what I'm suggesting as an alternative to #2.

  4. 4) Mahhal's existence on the map at its current location is justified by the inevitable playing out of all the complex geophysical and cultural forces that created the OGF world, from plate tectonics to ocean currents to plant and human migrations, etc. This is perhaps what Udi is proposing, but it seems unlikely we're going to succeed in running a "world simulator" at such a level of precision.

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Comment from isleño on 1 December 2016 at 11:29

I used the phrase "justifying Mahhal's existence" because you said the country would most likely be deleted if the result was yes. So I think a number of people saw this vote as being about whether or not Mahhal should exist in OGF.

In any case, it's justified because it conforms to the rules. And I think those rules and their application would probably change less with #2 than with #3. Unlike a shifting pool of voters or an evolving group consensus, admin "referees" (despite obvious imperfections!) are at least expected to strive for consistency and fairness, and can be confronted if they don't, so I imagine they'd be less prone to reversing on such an issue.

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Comment from Luciano on 1 December 2016 at 15:16

I'm happy to have seen everyone's feedback, both short and long. I've decided to try to move the complicated and difficult conversation about verisimilitude to my "bliki", but users are still welcome to vote simple yes or no here.

Thank you all for participating. I'm sorry if I offended anyone.

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Comment from Aiki on 1 December 2016 at 20:43

Hello Luciano,

I come a bit late on this talk but I've just had a quick look at climate models (ocean currents, prevailing winds...). I made a draft for Mahhal with these models and the information you provided on the country (e.g. Harda current).

  • Prevailing winds

    • Up to -60° - more or less - prevailing winds are blowing NW=>SE
    • Over -60° prevailing winds (polar easterlies) are blowing SE=>NW
  • Ocean currents

    • Harda current warms waters on Mahhal eastern coast until it meets "Antarctic" circumpolar current, turns east and colder. We could say that a branch of Harda current flows west of Mahhal for some distance before it stops.
    • Part of "Antarctic" circumpolar current turns north, approaching Mahhal western coast and warms itself a bit before turning westward when it reaches Antarephian south coast.
  • Geography

    • Tell me if I'm wrong but it seems that there is 2 main parallel mountain ranges in Mahhal (drawn in brown on the model). Due to prevailing winds and rainshadow effect, the climate is dryer east of these ranges.
  • Effects on Climate

    • Northwest Mahhal: westerlies blow over warm Harda current waters. We may say that this region has a Cfb oceanic climate, maybe a colder version as in Norway and not as in France.
    • Central West Coast: westerlies tend to strive with polar easterlies. The region could have a cfc Subpolar variety of oceanic climate, like southern Chile or Alaska panhandle.
    • Southern West Coast: the ocean is truly cold and may freeze near the coast. The region could have an ET tundra climate.
    • Northeast Mahhal: westerlies have turned colder over the land. The region could have a Dfb Humid continental climate. Think of Hokkaido or New England. The water does not freeze but most of its warming effect is blown eastward, especially in the winter.
    • East Coast: going south from -60°, the weather turns colder but the water doesn't freeze in the winter. The region could have Dfc subarctic climate as Murmansk or Arkhangelsk: water is still "warm" but the winds blow over cold land.
    • Central Mahhal: Dfc Humid Continental Climate but colder than on the eastern coast. The enclosed sea freezes in the winter.
    • Highlands and Hinterland: ET tundra climate when low and EF ice cap climate elsewhere (e.g glaciers).
  • Conclusion

    • Mahhal makes sense with the overview you made of the country but most of population would live Cfb and Dfb regions and preferably along the coast and lowlands. I wouldn't consider any major cities inland.
    • Due to Mahhal latitude, I would "reduce" the population. I would say: maximum 5 millions.
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Comment from Luciano on 1 December 2016 at 22:49

@Aiki -

Your work on this is absolutely awesome. I had made some very rough sketches, on paper, that show basically the same thing - which is why I began worrying about this so much in the first place. I felt like my original idea wasn't going to work when submitted to a higher standard of analysis. So your work confirms that.

I'll give more thoughts on this later.

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Comment from Ūdilugbulgidħū on 3 December 2016 at 17:01

Great climate map, Aiki. Thanks.

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Comment from Aiki on 4 December 2016 at 12:03

You're very welcome :-)

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