For our final episode, we answer your burning questions including the Base.cs origin story, Saron and Vaidehi's favorite niche data structure, and what are some good resources to check out next. We also take a look back at some of our favorite moments from the show's history, and find a couple of fun themes.
This episode of the Basecs podcast is based on Vaidehi's blog post, Base.cs from her basecs blog series.
[00:00:02] SY: Welcome to the Base.cs Podcast where we explore the basics of computer science concepts. I’m your host Saron, Founder of CodeNewbie.
[00:00:09] VJ: And I’m Vaidehi Joshi, Author and Developer.
[00:00:12] SY: And she is the brilliant mind behind the Base.cs Blog Series. Today, we’re talking about…
[00:00:17] VJ: The show, this show actually.
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[00:01:13] SY: We have finally come to the last episode of the Base.cs Series. It’s been three years. I feel like it’s been longer actually, but it’s been three years and I am so happy with how the show came out. Vaidehi, are you happy with how the show came out too? The right answer is yes.
[00:01:29] VJ: Yeah. Yes, very happy.
[00:01:31] SY: Okay.
[00:01:31] VJ: Yeah, I feel like we’ve gotten so much great feedback over the years and it’s been nine seasons, and I remember in the beginning we really weren’t sure if anyone’s going to like it or anyone’s going to listen or this was even a good idea and people have just been so nice, like our listeners are great and I just want to thank them all for sticking with us and tuning in and like tweeting at us and telling us they liked it and asking us for stickers. It’s been great.
[00:02:01] SY: Yeah. I mean we’ve had such great support on this show since the very beginning. I remember first announcing it and being like, “Oh, okay, this wasn’t a bad idea.” That is great because it’s risky. I think it’s risky putting out a new show, period, but then I think it’s doubly risky when you’re like, “I’m going to teach you computer science,” something that’s usually very visual and hope that people can still follow along and still get value from it. So it was a relatively risky show and I’m glad it turned out well.
[00:02:29] VJ: I remember like when the first episode came out and we saw like the downloads, we were like, “Whoa!”
[00:02:35] SY: Yeah!
[00:02:36] VJ: “People like it! Oh, no! We have to keep doing it.” But it’s been really fun. Our friendship has grown a lot.
[00:02:45] SY: It has.
[00:02:46] VJ: We’ll make a lot of nerdy jokes. It’s good.
[00:02:48] SY: Yeah.
[00:02:48] VJ: Good times.
[00:02:49] SY: We do. We have good chemistry and we have good banter. Okay. So we put out a call on Twitter for all of you to send us any burning questions you might have about the show. So we’ve got a couple that we wanted to share. The first one is from Brent M. Clark, and Brent writes, “I don’t recall ever hearing how you two met. Tell us your origin story.”
[00:03:09] VJ: Oh, good question, Brent.
[00:03:11] SY: That is a great question because I don’t know if I know the answer to the question.
[00:03:15] VJ: This is getting down to the nitty-gritty.
[00:03:18] SY: I think we met on Twitter first, right?
[00:03:21] VJ: I think like we came to know of each other maybe on Twitter, but like I knew of you back when I was sort of starting out my career because you and I both went to the same coding bootcamp way back in the day. But we met in person at a conference in Chicago and I think that’s when we were like, “Oh yeah, we’re friends now., but we’re friends from afar.”
[00:03:43] SY: We’re officially friends. We’re friends. Yeah. We were friends from afar for like a while because we both went to the Flatiron School and I think you graduated the cohort after me.
[00:03:52] VJ: A couple of cohorts, like a year or something after you.
[00:03:54] SY: A couple of cohorts after me. Okay. Okay, because I remember we had that. I remember when I was first introduced to you, that was like the connection that we had.
[00:04:02] VJ: Yeah. And then I think there’s somewhere like on audio format or video format, you talk about how like you saw Base.cs and you were like, “Hmm, okay. Is she really going to do this?” And then like I get it and you’re like, “Hmm, okay, let’s make a podcast together.”
[00:04:16] SY: That’s exactly how it went.
[00:04:19] VJ: And that’s how the show was born.
[00:04:21] SY: Yeah. I was like, “That’s a really…” because I’ve always wanted to do something a little bit more educational with the podcast because I love Radiolab, you know that show. Well, now they do kind of everything, but they used to be a very science-focused show, and they would teach all these really intimidating scientific topics and they would do it in an audio format and it worked so well. And I was like, “Man, I really want to do that for coding.” And then I saw your like declaration of weekly blogging for a year, and I was like, “Whoa, that’s intense!” But then you did it. And I was like, “Oh, maybe this is like the thing we can take and do like the radio lab for coding.” So yeah, it worked out.
[00:04:57] VJ: Yeah. That’s the origin story.
[00:05:00] SY: All right. Now we have Jade Dickinson who writes, “What is your favorite niche data structure?” That word niche is kind of throwing me off. I don’t know what’s considered niche.
[00:05:09] VJ: I guess like fancy. I don’t know. I’m thinking of it like…
[00:05:12] SY: I’m pretty basic. I’m a pretty basic person. My favorite is trees. I love trees.
[00:05:17] VJ: That’s pretty basic. Hey, they’re important.
[00:05:22] SY: It’s very uninteresting answer to that question. What about you? What’s your favorite?
[00:05:26] VJ: I like red-black trees just because they’re like…
[00:05:30] SY: Oh, that is fancy.
[00:05:31] VJ: I mean I just feel like they’re like so odd because they’re like, “Oh, you could only use these two colors and there’s like an interesting history behind it.” And people, if you like went up to someone and you’re like, “I love red-black trees,” they’d be like, “What? Why?” And I guess that makes it niche.
[00:05:45] SY: Yeah. I’m okay with that. I’m totally good with that answer.
[00:05:48] VJ: Yeah.
[00:05:48] SY: All right. We have Laurie next to ask, “During the course of the podcast and all the topics you focused on, how has it changed your views about what knowledge and skills are necessary for being a successful coder?” Oh, that’s a good question.
[00:06:03] VJ: I want to hear your answer to this first.
[00:06:05] SY: Me first?
[00:06:06] VJ: Yeah.
[00:06:06] SY: Okay. It has taught me, this is going to be really bad, but that’s okay. It’s the last episode. It doesn’t even matter. It’s taught me that you do not need computer science to do coding and to be a successful coder at all.
[00:06:21] VJ: Yeah. I’m glad you saved that for this episode.
[00:06:28] SY: You do not need to know any of this stuff. Well, because I feel like every time, you know, we go through this topic and we’ve learned some new concept and we had like this whole story around it and you do like an amazing job explaining it and then one of my last questions is almost always, “Great! How do we use this in real life?” And your answer is almost always, we already do, we just don’t have to think about it. And I’m like, “Okay, cool.” So that was useless. Okay. Moving on. But you know what I mean? Like it felt like it was great just for my own intellectual curiosity, but in terms of like, “Do I need it to be a better developer?” Not really. That was my take. That was my takeaway. What about yours?
[00:07:06] VJ: Interesting. So for me, whenever we get into a certain topic, you’re right, we would sort of end the conversation a lot of the times being like, “Okay, so where can we see this in real life and like where’s it actually used?” And you’re right that I would also sometimes say like, “You may not even have to think about this,” but there are also times where I would give an example like… I’m like thinking of like the Google’s auto-complete or like what a Stack Overflow is and like how that relates to something. I remember various examples where the way that something was used was something that I worked with every day and it was cool to see the data structures or the algorithms that were powering it because then suddenly it was a little bit demystified because it wasn’t suddenly like, “Oh, I don’t know how you’d build that,” or, “I don’t know how this works.” I don’t have to think about it. But it was empowering to know that the things that were making that thing work, making that concept go, they weren’t like magic. They weren’t that hard actually because in the span of 25 minutes, we usually were able to like cover all the basic concepts of how something actually functioned. I think it’s empowering and that you don’t need to do this every day, but a lot of the times these concepts can be used as like a, “Oh, you don’t know about it? Oh, well, no one in computer science even really know coding.” And it’s like, “Well, you don’t need to know it every day.” But like the minute that the two things connect, you have that light bulb moment where you’re like, “Oh, that’s how that works. It was this data structure the whole time,” and then it’s not scary anymore.
[00:08:42] SY: Yeah.
[00:08:43] VJ: And so I would just like to say I still have never used a linked list in my life, in my six-year career or whatever, but it’s cool when I like run into it and I’m like, “Hey, I know what that is. I’m not scared of it. I know what you look like. I know how you work and I know I can handle you.” So that makes me feel confident and that probably just makes me a successful coder in general.
[00:09:04] SY: I like that even though the actual knowledge itself, you may not be applying on a regular basis, the fact that you have that knowledge gives you the confidence that then translates to being a successful coder.
[00:09:14] VJ: Totally.
[00:09:15] SY: I like that. Good answer. All right. Next we have Allie Teration, hopefully I’m saying that right.
[00:09:22] VJ: Alliteration.
[00:09:23] SY: Oh my God! Is that what that’s supposed to be?
[00:09:29] VJ: I have to assume so.
[00:09:30] SY: Is it Alliteration?
[00:09:31] VJ: I hope so because it’s great.
[00:09:33] SY: That is amazing. Thank you so much for being named that. That is wonderful. Okay. So have Allie Teration said, “For people who have listened to all the episodes and want to keep learning, what are some good resources to check out next” Which is actually very similar to Tony Gorez who asked, “What is the best path for a self-taught developer to learn data structure and algorithms such as school courses, websites, et cetera?” So those are pretty similar. So how would you answer those?
[00:10:01] VJ: I would say there’s probably a few different approaches for how to keep learning. First, you can start by finding other resources that sort of cater to your learning style. For me, that’s often like a book or videos or something very visual. I realized that people who are listening to this podcast are probably auditory learners or at least learn somewhat auditorily. I don’t know the word.
[00:10:26] SY: Yeah, it sounds right.
[00:10:27] VJ: Really? Oh, great.
[00:10:28] SY: I have no idea.
[00:10:30] VJ: Yeah. I think understanding how you learn and then finding resources that cater to that is probably the best first step. If you like books, I will just sort of tease that maybe there are some things, some projects that I am working on and stay tuned. Maybe there will be more resources in the future after Base.cs, the podcast finishes. There’s also a great book called Grokking Algorithms that’s very visual and illustrated that focuses just on algorithms, which is really fun. The other thing that I would say is like aside from finding resources, I think it can really help to sort of dig deep into one concept that you already know a little bit about or you’re interested in. So like maybe that’s a data structure, maybe that’s like how compilers work, and just sort of digging deep into it is going to teach you a lot and you’ll learn that a lot of other related things along the way, and sometimes that might mean trying to implement a data structure or algorithm. That’s a great way of learning the building blocks of how something works. And sometimes that could mean finding examples of a data structure or algorithm in a language or a framework that you use every day. Maybe you go look at the source code of it and then you learn more about the practical aspects of using it or implementing it. But I guess the other thing you can also do in addition to all those things is you can try teaching or explaining what you’ve learned so far to someone else, which surprise, surprise is literally what we’ve been doing for three years on this podcast.
[00:12:00] SY: This was actually my secret way of getting a free CS degree. That’s really all this was.
[00:12:06] VJ: The truth comes out.
[00:12:08] SY: Yeah. I could finally admit it to you.
[00:12:11] VJ: You know what you have? You have a Base.cs degree.
[00:12:15] SY: Hey! There we go.
[00:12:18] VJ: You don’t need a CS degree. You got a Base.cs degree.
[00:12:20] SY: Even better.
[00:12:22] VJ: Ooh, that’s like a great sticker idea. Too bad I’m realizing this in the last episode.
[00:12:27] SY: Yeah. It’s kind of too late. We’ve kind of missed the boat on that.
[00:12:32] VJ: Yeah. But my point is like, you learn a lot and you’ll get better at a lot of these things if you teach them to other people and explain them to other people because when you don’t know something, it’ll be pretty evident when you’re trying to teach it that you don’t know it or you’ll run across something and be like, “Oh, actually, I don’t know the answer. Let me look it up or let’s look it up together.” And I think that’s always a really good way of getting better at something, especially if you’re self-taught because you’re improving your own knowledge and you’re teaching somebody else along the way.
[00:13:00] SY: And then our last question comes from Ab Develops. I read that as like developing your abs, like your physical abs, which I don’t know, you know, which is pretty, pretty cool. Good job. They asked, “Will there be a Base.ds Podcast?” You want to share what Base.ds is?
[00:13:19] VJ: Yeah. So Base.ds is the series I worked on in 2019. So 2017 is when I wrote Base.cs and then a couple of years later I wrote Base.ds and that’s uncovering the basics of distributed systems instead of computer science. So shout out…
[00:13:38] SY: I love that it worked out, like name wise.
[00:13:41] VJ: I know.
[00:13:41] SY: Not Base something else, like that’s amazing. You have to keep going and just have different opportunities.
[00:13:45] VJ: Yeah. Someone tweeted at me and they were like, “What’s going to be Base.es?” And I’m like, “Hang on, man. I need a year off.” No projects this year. But yeah, shout out to Ab Develops for knowing about Base.ds. That’s great. That’s actually a great shout out to any listeners. If you like computer science and you’ve liked this show and you want to learn something that’s sort of related, but also extremely different, check out Base.ds because distributed systems is sort of like taking everything you know about computer science, sort of throwing it out the window and then turning it on its head because instead of one machine, you have a whole bunch of machines and things get really wild, but it’s fun.
[00:14:25] SY: That sounds intense.
[00:14:26] VJ: Yeah. Yeah. It’s a lot of cool concepts but sometimes they can really make your head hurt. But anyways, to answer that question, will there be a Base.ds podcast? We are not working on one right now. I think Saron and I both need some time off.
[00:14:41] SY: A little break would be nice.
[00:14:42] VJ: Yeah. But you know…
[00:14:43] SY: It’s been three years.
[00:14:43] VJ: Never say never.
[00:14:44] SY: Yup. So now what are we going to talk about?
[00:14:47] VJ: So now we’re going to shift gears and we’re going to look back at the last few years, and specifically we’re going to look at some of our favorite moments. So both of us have put a list together of our favorite moments from the Base.cs Podcast, and we found that there’s a few common themes that come up again and again. So we kind of wanted to string them together for you as a nice little farewell.
[00:15:14] SY: Yeah. What’s our first theme?
[00:15:17] VJ: The first theme is children.
[00:15:20] SY: Very cool. Okay.
[00:15:23] VJ: So we have D, which we’re going to leave alone because it has many children. So it doesn’t violate any rules.
[00:15:27] SY: We’ve got babies.
[00:15:29] VJ: Many, many.
[00:15:31] SY: It was busy. Yeah.
[00:15:33] VJ: It’s like the theme of…
[00:15:35] SY: It’s just making babies. Sponsored by my mom.
[00:15:42] VJ: Oh my goodness. Because we can work our way up.
[00:15:46] SY: We’re swallowing.
[00:15:48] VJ: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
[00:15:49] SY: One child at a time.
[00:15:50] VJ: This is like some planet earth nonsense where with the parent it’s the child. Don’t tigers do that? I don’t know. Something about cubs and don’t let parents eat cubs.
[00:16:01] SY: That sounds very accurate.
[00:16:03] VJ: I’ve been watching a lot of nature documentaries recently in case you haven’t noticed.
[00:16:07] SY: I can tell. Yeah.
[00:16:09] VJ: If you delete the root node, well, the moment you do that, you’ve automatically violated an important rule, which is that now you don’t have a heap. I was kind of pausing waiting for…
[00:16:27] SY: I was like, “What’s wrong?”
[00:16:30] VJ: Well, you took away the root node.
[00:16:33] SY: No, the children are what it says.
[00:16:36] VJ: Oh wait, they’re not parents. They’re orphan. They have no parent.
[00:16:39] SY: Oh, I’m so sorry. Let’s just take a moment to appreciate the fact that we’ve really done nothing.
[00:16:49] VJ: We just met like the baby, baby of the family. That’s all we’ve done. We were like, “Oh, hello!”
[00:16:54] SY: I’m imagining stuff when like trying to have a conversation with the parent and the parent’s like, “I don’t have time to talk to you, but here’s my child.” And then the child is like, “I also don’t have time to talk to you. Here’s my other child.” And that child’s like, “I also don’t have time to talk to you.” And then the final talk is like, “Damn it. I don’t have any children.”
[00:17:09] VJ: You’re just holding an infant by the end and you’re like, “What did I do?”
[00:17:12] SY: Yeah.
[00:17:14] VJ: “This is not what I was here for.”
[00:17:16] SY: Can I just say how much I appreciate the diversity of topics within the topic of children?
[00:17:24] VJ: There’s idiom children, there’s orphan children, there’s random infants that’s being handed around.
[00:17:30] SY: Yes. I mean, we’ve done a really good job of just covering all the bases for the different ways you could talk about children.
[00:17:37] VJ: I just want to put out a disclaimer, no children were harmed in the recording of this podcast. We do not facilitate this or condone this.
[00:17:44] SY: Yeah. We do not condone.
[00:17:46] VJ: It’s just unfortunate because trees really led to children metaphor.
[00:17:49] SY: They have a lot of children. Yeah. Like it’s not our fault. We couldn’t help it. We had to. Those were the rules. Okay. So another theme that has come up a lot is food.
[00:18:04] VJ: Oh, yum. They make algorithms seem really hard because now you suddenly have all these little like boxes you have to check off. So it’s like if I told you to make brownies, but then I’m like, “But don’t use this type of flour and make sure your chocolate chips are this size, and the oven, if it’s above 350, well, that’s inefficient,” like all these crazy qualifications and you’re like, “I just wanted to make brownies.” Don’t you just combine stuff and it’s like, yeah, you can make brownies 500 ways, but we’re trying to find the best brownie.
[00:18:36] SY: But when it’s time for me to get that awesome pepperoni, then I can say, “Hey, fridge operator, where is it?” And it uses whatever little magical system thingy to go find it much quicker than it would for me to go through the fridge and myself and try and find it.
[00:18:52] VJ: Exactly.
[00:18:52] SY: Is that the idea?
[00:18:53] VJ: Yes. That’s a great way of summarizing like hashing function, like they send them out for bacon and then they come back and then they’re like, “Send them off for bacon,” and then they come back and then they’re just perpetually stuck going out for bacon and then the chef never gets the bacon.
[00:19:09] SY: Yeah. Oh, there’d be so much bacon everywhere, just never being resolved or returning in any place. It’s just bacon galore.
[00:19:23] VJ: Oh, I like the pass the baton.
[00:19:24] SY: You like the baton? Yeah.
[00:19:26] VJ: That’s great because you can only in this family, this tree, only one person can speak at once, which means you can only be looking at one node at once, which is the baton. That’s great.
[00:19:37] SY: Yeah.
[00:19:37] VJ: Think about all the family barbecues. They’d be so much more organized if there was only one baton.
[00:19:42] SY: You know? You’d have the chicken done on time.
[00:19:43] VJ: You do a talk over each other.
[00:19:45] SY: Hot dogs done on time. I love how you’re thinking about like communication and relationship building and I’m just thinking about food.
[00:19:53] VJ: They’re both important.
[00:19:54] SY: Yup. Always thinking about food.
[00:19:58] VJ: I love that bacon one, by the way, like…
[00:20:00] SY: That was a good one.
[00:20:02] VJ: I feel like that episode, I think we were talking about stack overflows, but I remember like you were talking about the bacon thing and you can hear it in the clip, there’s such despair in your voice. You’re like, “But you would just keep going out and then the chef would never get the bacon and what would happen?” I was like, “Yeah, that’s like a stack overflow.” And you’re like, “No, but the bacon.”
[00:20:24] SY: Priorities, Vaidehi. Priorities. I also realized that most of our food references are not like vegan friendly at all.
[00:20:31] VJ: Yeah.
[00:20:31] SY: Like we talked about pepperoni and hot dogs and bacon. I know we did one about cheeseburgers too. I remember what a cheeseburger one. So yeah, not very healthy. And then the brownies, like we’re not definitely not dieting. That’s for sure.
[00:20:44] VJ: No. Well, aside from children and food, I think if there’s any one thing that you come away with from this podcast, I hope that it’s the knowledge of this one specific thing that computers are really good at, and I’m going to let this clip speak for itself.
[00:21:04] SY: Okay. So that’s like if my process is running on a treadmill and I’m like maximum speed and all the buttons aren’t working because I have to finish my 10 minutes of jogging, but then I really, really have to pee, I can’t just stop running and then pee and then go back to running. So I like pee on myself. I have no choice.
[00:21:29] VJ: Or what actually you probably do is you’re going to pull that red. You know that red button or that string where it’s like this treadmill just stops and then you go do the other thing?
[00:21:36] SY: Okay. Yeah.
[00:21:38] VJ: It’s like kind of like a stack overflow where it’s like the process cannot continue anymore. I’ve run out of space and ability and time.
[00:21:44] SY: And I don’t have my stats. I don’t know what my heartbeat was, like all, it just shuts down.
[00:21:48] VJ: Yup.
[00:21:49] SY: That’s better than peeing on yourself. That’s a better way to explain that.
[00:21:52] VJ: Computers have been highly trained to not pee on themselves.
[00:21:59] SY: That is very good to know. That is very good to know.
[00:22:03] VJ: That was a good one. I don’t know how we got there from that.
[00:22:06] SY: I don’t know how we got. I’m trying to remember like what was the start of that conversation to get to where we got to, and I have no idea how we ended up on a treadmill having to pee in ourselves. I don’t know how we got there, but we found a way.
[00:22:19] VJ: Yeah.
[00:22:19] SY: We always find a way. And finally, we want to leave you with one of the most important things that came out of this show, which is Vaidehi’s beautiful song about Dijkstra’s algorithm.
[00:22:32] VJ: Oh, no. And it goes a little something like this. Dijkstra’s algorithm, Dijkstra’s algorithm. Everyone thinks that it’s so hard, but really it’s just fun. Dijkstra’s algorithm. Dijkstra’s algorithm. That’s it.
[00:23:02] SY: Vaidehi, that’s like the worst song ever.
[00:23:05] VJ: I know.
[00:23:06] SY: You don’t even rhyme anything.
[00:23:07] VJ: I know, but there’s some melody.
[00:23:11] SY: It’s funny because after I heard it, I was thinking literally the same thing. I was like, “This is the worst song ever.”
[00:23:18] VJ: Well, I was just like…
[00:23:19] SY: A really nice melody.
[00:23:21] VJ: Yeah. It does, but I would like to say that the message of that song actually I feel like applies to this whole series. I feel like it could be the Base.cs Podcast song because, don’t worry, I’m not going to sing it again, but I do feel like everybody thinks it’s so hard. All these concepts are so hard and intimidating, but if you have the right friend to learn with you it doesn’t have to be hard. It can be fun.
[00:23:45] SY: That’s true. And you had two friends, you had Vaidehi and me.
[00:23:49] VJ: Yeah.
[00:23:50] SY: Okay. Well, since you said it, I think we have to, can you please sing the Base.cs Song?
[00:23:56] VJ: I’ll try. I think the melody is going to be weird, but I’ll try.
[00:23:59] SY: That’s okay. You can do it. I believe in you.
[00:24:00] VJ: All right. Base.cs Podcast, the Base.cs Podcast. Everyone thinks computer science is so hard, but it’s really just fun. The Base.cs Podcast, Base.cs Podcast. And that’s a wrap friends!
[00:24:28] SY: And that’s the end of today’s show. If you liked what you heard, please leave us a review and make sure to check out Vaidehi’s blog posts. Link to that is in the show notes. I also want to give a huge shout-out to DigitalOcean and Heroku. DigitalOcean is a simple developer-friendly cloud platform, which makes managing and scaling apps easy with an intuitive API, multiple storage options, integrated firewalls, load balancers, and more. There’s also a robust community that provides over 2,000 tutorials to help you stay up to date with the latest open source software, languages, and frameworks. Get started on DigitalOcean for free with a free $100 credit at DO.co/basecs. That’s DO.co/basecs. There’s a reason over nine million apps have been created and ran on Heroku’s cloud service. They not only manage over two million data stores, but they make over 175 add-on services available to you. So whether you’re creating a personal app, a free app, or an enterprise app, start building today with Heroku. This episode was edited and mixed by Levi Sharpe.
[00:25:40] VJ: Bye everyone. Thanks for joining us.
[00:25:42] SY: Thanks for listening. Hope you enjoyed the show.
[00:25:47] VJ: It’s like a little finicky, like a cat where like I don’t want to pet it unless his tail is up.
[00:25:53] SY: Is that how cats work?
[00:25:54] VJ: I don’t know. I was about to ask you. Is that what they do?
[00:25:56] SY: Okay.
[00:25:57] VJ: I know there’s a certain time where if a cat’s tail is up, you do or don’t want to pet it. One of them means they’re happy and the other one is like, “Hey, go away.” Anyways, heaps are cats or cats are heaps. What if you had a heap of cats? That seems hard.
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