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(it should be noted i've been playing around in the inspector part of google chrome and learned a lot about how browsers calculate widths. for example i learned that divs are width: auto not width: 100%. if you give a div a width of 100% it will have the same problem with adding paddings and borders. chrome adds up the width of your left margin, borders, and padding and gives the right margin a negative of that value.)
so i set my css
i put margin before width because i want my margins forced to 0 and then my width to be automatically calculated from the left over space.
it never renders as i'd expect. there is always 49px of margin on the right or left (depending on which side i placed a margin of auto). i have no idea where its getting the 49px from. is there any other property i'd need to set to make it act like a div?