Thursday, November 29, 2007

Thursday: More Family Stuff

My son came home from school today with good news. A good friend of his still likes him.

The two of them had been rough housing yesterday, and our son tells me that he caused his friend's tooth to come out. The tooth, or, rather, a reasonable facsimile, is back in place today.

That news on the friend front was a relief to both of us. My boy had been concerned about how his friend would take the tooth incident: and I remembered how easy it can be to mis-manage a friendship. Our son may be better at that sort of thing than I've been.

My wife and #3 daughter were out of town for most of the day, so I had the treat of being home when the boy got home from school again.

Or, rather, home from rehearsal. They're still practicing: a week and a half to go until performances. A little less, actually.

Wednesday: Morning, Afternoon, and Evening

My wife and our #3 daughter were out this morning, afternoon, and evening for music teaching, learning, and practice. In order, they got together with my father-in-law, who's learning keyboard from my wife. #3 daughter's guitar lesson is in the afternoon, and this evening both of those two went to practice with a band.

Since I've still got an open schedule (optimism-speak for still without full time employment), I was home when our son got back from school. This is a day when he doesn't have practice for that Christmas thing.

He and I talked a bit after he returned. He's got a new kind of monster dreamed up: and is pleased with how gross it is.

My wife cut my hair: I don't remember when's the last time a member of this family got a profession hair job. Mine had grown out to about two inches, overdue for mowing. Now, it's back to about a quarter-inch. As usual, the beard is up to me.

I've seen these 'typical' American household budgets, with a hundred dollars a month set aside for clothing, another hundred for entertainment: that sort of thing. My first thought, back when, was that the people who thought them up were crazy.

No so, my wife said. This family's finances and living style are nowhere near the fiftieth percentile. Since we've been married, I haven't had a job that required a zoot suit with reet pleat, three-piece with button-down shirt, or whatever outfit is required for "serious" business.

Can't say I'm sorry about that.

Enough of that. If I keep thinking about cash flow, this post might get depressing.

I talked to my father on the phone today, letting him know that we had a particular item that had been in his household for a while. He'd handed it over to us some time ago. There's a lot going on at his end, right now, and I suspect that his memory is starting to develop gaps.

That's life.

The two of us had a good talk. One thing I'm grateful for is that my father and I never had the sort of late-adolescence falling out that so many people experience. That's not to say we got along famously: We're very much alike, and have the sort of temperament that seems to work best when distributed on a one-to-a-household basis.

Two of our kids are a lot like me. My father once referred to the phrase, "I hope you have a son/daughter just like you!" - and added, "the curse works!" As it happens, #1 daughter and son are the two who are like me. So far, we're getting along about as well as my father and I did. Maybe a little better, since I had a little help from my father in learning how to deal with having another 'me' in the house.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Tuesday: Time to Break Out the Winter Coats

I asked my wife to break out my winter coat from storage today. It's getting nippy: about 15 degrees Fahrenheit. That's about nine below, Celsius.

Next thing you know, I'll be wanting gloves and shoes. So far, I'm doing okay with socks and flip-flops.

Our son is still in the Christmas show. That makes him about an hour late each day. He's still excited about his part. My wife and #3 daughter found reindeer antlers (horns?) at Wal-Mart today. #3 daughter was very taken by them, and since they were cheap - make that inexpensive - she and my wife got three.

The things are cute.

I had a good chat with #1 daughter this evening. She called, from Alexandria, and we talked about a colorful Japanese ruler she'd learned about: Oda Nobunaga. She's been very Japan-conscious lately, a by-product of her interest in anime and manga.

I got some writing done today, and made what I trust is not a futile gesture of organizing a square foot or so of my work area.

On a civic note, the traffic lights at the south end of Ash street are working again today.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Monday: Another Week Begins, and Countdown to Christmas

I spent two an a half hours at choir practice tonight. It didn't seem that long: it helps that I like this season's music.

Our son is still in the Christmas show, despite missing rehearsals last week. That's the good news. The bad news is that, one more missed practice and he's out. We didn't have much choice, keeping him out of school: that boy was genuinely ill.

Christmas is bearing down: less than a month away. Happily, my wife gets the gift acquisition done early: at rummage sales, for the most part, I think.

The wind's blowing around the house: a cosy sound, as I've said before. A little snow was scudding across yards and streets earlier. It's picturesque in town. When you meet that sort of thing traveling cross-country, it's a little less so.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Sunday: That was a Good Day

Daughter #2 is back at college now; the cousins/niece and nephews, and their parents who came up to be with Grandpa are back at their home, down the road; and my wife had a short chat with #1 daughter on the phone this evening.

I even got to grill hamburgers for supper. This family spent the afternoon at Grandpa's, too, which delayed my grilling.

We did, however, have a good get-together. One of my nephews spent quite a bit of the time, trying to fix part of the power connection for his laptop. I don't blame him for spending the time at that project: replacing the thing costs $55; and I don't know that my brother-in-law has quite the set of specialized tools my father-in-law does. Yet.

All things, considered, this has been a good Thanksgiving weekend.

Sunday: of Church and Toenails

This morning, getting ready to go to Mass, a cracked toenail reminded me that it needed attention. Again.

I'd hoped to avoid this, with a simple nail-clipping yesterday. No such luck.

Time for more drastic measures.

I asked my wife if I could have nail polish. It's great stuff, for reinforcing the nail until it could grow out a little, and heal itself.

Knowing that there were two daughters, and a niece, in the house, I should have realized how this would end.

After some discussion of a high-pitched and giggling variety, they decided on the color that I'd use. Thankfully, socks cover the toe, and the nail polish does its job, no matter what color it is.

It's pink.

Saturday: Two Daughters, a Son, and a Cousin

Actually, the visitor today is my niece, but I think of her as "one of the cousins," since that's her relationship to our kids.

Daughter #2 came home this afternoon, after a visit with Grandpa. (More relational title confusion. He's her grandfather, my father, and my wife's father-in-law.) She had good memories, and a car-full of stuff from his household. He and we have been transferring material out of his house on each visit, so that there'll be less to move when he does move out.

Daughters #2 and 3 had a great time, visiting, with my wife contributing to the conversation. I was taking a nap through part of that.

Daughter #2 collected me a little later, so that I could make a video of her giving #3 daughter a trombone lesson. I think that worked out rather well: it looks like the files all came out okay. Now, I need to patch them together and put them in a format that the college can read.

The cousin came over around supper time. Daughter #2 collected her from my wife's father's house. The cousin/niece's family is visiting there today. And tomorrow, I assume. There's a fair number of them, so that Grandpa will get thoroughly visited this weekend.

My wife told me why we ran out of light bulbs.

When I replace light bulbs, I put the defunct bulbs into that cardboard cover that the new bulbs come in. That's a perfectly reasonable thing to do: by securing them that way, I ensure that they won't roll away, and quite likely roll off something and break.

After listening carefully to my wife's description of the situation, I now realize that it would probably be a good idea to promptly dispose of the spent light bulbs, and the covers.

Apparently, I haven't been doing that. It's much easier to put them on, say, the kitchen table, where I'll remember to throw them away. Later.

Anonymous members of the household, seeing unattended boxed light bulbs, naturally put them back in storage. And I don't seem to notice the burned-out light bulbs that aren't there.

Which explains why we've got quite a few dead light bulbs, stored carefully where the new ones should be.

Happily, I have a patient wife: and she's used to me by now.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Friday After Thanksgiving:
Getting Ready for Christmas

#3 daughter and our son spent much of this morning, practicing for a play they're planning to do with cousins at the Christmas get-together. While they doing their rehearsal, #1 daughter and my wife had a good talk on the phone.

#2 daughter is with my father today, and will be tomorrow, too. She called in and talked with #3 and my wife later in the day. I'm glad about two things: the communications technology that makes talks like these possible; and my wife's budget sense and diligence that makes marathon chats like those affordable.

While all that was going on, I was doing something of a technologically frustrating sort, not getting something to work for a website I maintain.

Normally, we'd have been going up, sometime around Thanksgiving, to see my father. As it is, the part of the family that lives in Sauk Centre is either ill, or recovering, or getting sick. I'm in one of the last two conditions: I'm not sure which.

Since my father is in his upper eighties, needs a moderately portable oxygen unit, and is dealing with deteriorating health, bringing bugs into his household didn't seem prudent.

What happened today made me particularly glad that we have a modest collection of kids.
  • #3 daughter helped keep our son, the youngest of the lot, productively occupied for much of the day
  • #2 daughter both represented the family at my dad's place, and helped him with housekeeping
  • #1 daughter wasn't so obviously useful, but we don't need to working at something all the time
I almost forgot: #3 daughter and son have the (artificial) Christmas tree up, and decorated, strung lights on a railing, and got other decorations up. This may be the earliest that the house has been Christmasized.

That tree is new-to-us. It's previous home had been with my father.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving Day!

Giant floating pumpkins and a pair of people on a gobbler built for two are ready for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. Thanks to television, I can see part of it without dealing with New York traffic.

My son and I, both at our laptops, have been monitoring the TV. We had a good laugh, when the channel we're watching showed someone in their control room holding up a paper plate with "FEED ME" written on it.

Now, it's time to go to Mass. See you later, and have a good Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

A few minutes early, that is.

Our son bounced up to me around his bed-time today, with the news that he was feeling well. Despite the timing, I believe him. He's been clearly better today, and is about due to get over whatever was ailing him. We'll see how he is tomorrow.

I'm sincerely hoping that I'm not following my wife's lead. She's gotten around to running a fever. Daughters #1 and 3 still have some sort of bug.

It's said that families should share things, but this get-sick-together thing is getting annoying.

This too shall pass, as the fellow said about a kidney stone.

After reading about Seattle teaching kids that Thanksgiving is a day of mourning, I realized how important a Cause can be. Inspired by this resurgence of relevance, I created this poster. Maybe it can be the Cause for next Thanksgiving in some city.

Our Son Isn't the Only One
Who's Sick This Week

Our son tells me that one of his fellow-students players has been sick all week, too. Both of them play Runescape, so they've been communicating through the game.

Our boy is a little frustrated at this point: he's running his anti-virus software, and the scan is taking a great deal longer than he expected.

(Runescape is an online game I mentioned last week.)

Happy Thanksgiving Eve!

I missed yesterday's post. Our son is still ill enough to be out of school, but better. I picked up his homework yesterday, so he's keeping up his studies.

#1 daughter called a few minutes ago. She's got a cold, apparently. Daughters #2 and 3 seem to be doing okay, and my wife isn't admitting any indisposition. Of course, it takes a lot for her to admit that she's not up to doing her job.

Me, I'm hoping that I'm not coming down with a (*sniff* - choo!) cold.

Aside from that, things are fine. I called an employment place in Alexandria yesterday: no job now, but they said that I should call back early next week. Finding a job, when you're a fifty-something, physically impaired guy with mostly clerical, writing, and graphics experience isn't quite a slam-dunk proposition. But, something should come up, sooner or later.

Actually, getting laid off in the spring of 2006 was very handy. All that free time gave me time to get long-overdue hip replacements, have carpal tunnel and 'trigger finger' work done on my wrists and hands.

I spent a lot of time in the shop last year.

More households got their Christmas displays up in the last couple of days. Sauk Centre got those over-the-street garlands up, wreaths on the light poles, and those nice, safe, generic "HAPPY HOLIDAY" signs over Main Street. I've only seen the south one, but I assume the crews got the northern counterpart up, too.

I hope nobody objects to the red and green lights.

That's not as much of a joke as you might think. Fort Collins, Colorado, may not have red and green lights in 2008. The Coloradoan wrote that the city's Holiday Display Task Force wants to limit the city displays to white lights and "secular winter symbols" like snowflakes and icicles.

The Ft. Collins city council voted to keep their discriminatory colored lights, 6-1.

That's probably just as well. If they'd gone to a white-only policy, someone would probably insist on yellow, red, and black lights, too. And the icicles and snowflakes would have to go, since they'd suggest that people whose ancestors came from equatorial regions were unappreciated.

Sorry about that harangue.

Come to think of it, black lights in Christmas displays could be pretty cool: Anybody remember those groovy black light posters, back in the sixties?

Back to Sauk Centre, here's what one household has for a Christmas display, so far.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Christmas Season Begins: Before Thanksgiving?

One of my wife's back molars broke (again) as the the weekend began. She put up with a ragged edge until today. The dentist says that if one more filling breaks in that tooth, it'll have to go.

Our son is feeling better today. Not well: but better. He's concerned about missing rehearsal for the Christmas musical. I'm not sure how that will work out.

Good grief! This Thursday is Thanksgiving Day.

And more households, and businesses, have Christmas decorations up. Sauk Centre was putting up the overhead garlands this afternoon. I haven't spotted the nice, safe, "Happy Holidays" banner yet.

The church choir has started practicing for Christmas. I was the only one going tonight. Among other factors, my wife didn't think she should leave our son.

Not bad, for a Monday

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Damp Autumn, Outdoor Grilling,
Sunday Afternoon Naps,
And Thanksgiving This Year

If the snow that came down early this afternoon had been rain, it would have been a drizzle. It was drizzle, a little later. The grass doesn't seem to be dormant yet: yards around here were a lot greener around sunset than they had been before.

Not that "sunset" was a very definite time. We've had one of those dark gray autumn days.

We went to Mass this morning, I grilled lunch, looked up outdoor gas grills at Wal-Mart, and took a long nap. I think my wife's serious about getting a new one. Those flames shooting out the bottom might have something to do with it.

I was up in time for supper, enjoyed supper for the family, and then settled down to get some reading done while my wife, #3 daughter, and son went to Soo Bahk Do. He was complaining about a stomach-ache, but it didn't seem bad enough to keep him from going.

He and the ladies were back in about half the time they usually take for Soo Bahk Do. I was talking with #1 daughter on the phone. She's been feeling under the weather lately, and wanted some company.

My first clue that the ladies and my son were back was the sound of the van pulling in. The second was #3 daughter scooting through the kitchen, and scooting back with a plastic bucket.

I'm just glad that I hadn't told him that exercise can help upset stomachs, before he went. Under the circumstances, he took the way he's feeling pretty well.

Aside from that, it's been a fine day.

Assuming that our son's actually got a bug, and didn't eat something regrettable, this will put a severe crimp in the family's Thanksgiving plans. My father, "Grandpa Gill," is almost exactly thirty years older than I am. That puts him in his mid-eighties.

He's using an oxygen generator, and careful management of his activities, to keep going, and adding a diseased family to his environment doesn't seem like the best idea right now.

Saturday: Snow on the Grill, Kids in the House

I goofed off for most of today.

My son talked to me before I was actually awake this morning. He wanted to know if it was okay for him to set up a gadget that should connect another computer to the internet.

I said, "go ahead, but don't break the seal on the package."

I knew that was nonsense about half-way through saying it. My son noted that he probably should have waited until all of me was functioning. And, I admitted that he'd have to break the seal to get at the gadget.

We had snow overnight: what I call cat-track snow. Most of it was gone by the time I went out to grill lunch, except for sheltered spots and the north side of things. Sooner or later, it'll snow and not go away for several months. I can hear the wind outside right now, whooshing through the trees. I like that sound, providing I'm in a warm spot.

A friend of our son's was over this afternoon. They played with small metal and plastic cars, for the most part. At least, that's what I noticed. I'm not sure how they got them to go so fast. And, of course, the two pre-teen boys made an incredible amount of noise.

#3 daughter handled the issue of being in the same house with the two boys quite well. At the point where they had found a whistle, she diplomatically suggested that they go outside for a while. I think they took her up on that.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

It was Friday When I Thought of Writing This

Thursday wasn't one of my stellar days. I wrote about the work/business part of it over in Starting a Small Business Without Losing My Mind."

The high point of the day for me was going to our son's parent-teacher conference. That was the first extended conversation I'd had with his teacher. We covered the doing-well/doing not-so-well stuff, with only a few major digressions: not bad, when I'm involved in a conversation.

Back home. I reported on what we talked about at the p-t conference, enjoyed supper, and got back to the frustrating processes that had been plaguing me for two days.

Around 10:30, I'd gotten around to my second try at making an animated gif file out of a video clip. It's simple, as long as you know what you're doing. Which I, at that point, didn't.

After a while, I figured that I'd better check the time. it was about 2 in the morning. No wonder I was feeling a bit sub-par.

This morning (I'm writing this really late Friday night), I discovered that there's a difference between now, and when I was in college the first time around. Somehow, the intervening thirty-some years haven't improved my ability to spring back from an all-nighter.

Good grief. I did it again, today.

Good night. Or, more accurately, good morning.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Wednesday: Big Day in This Household

Our #1 daughter came into town today, as she usually does on Wednesdays. She's got a regular routine that brings her to town, and while she's here, she stops in. My wife had work for her, as usual: this time up in the attic, creating chaos out of order.

Or, rather, the other way around.

#1 daughter found some time to talk with me, too, and the two of us picked up an extension cord for me at Wal-Mart. She looked for some storage devices, unsuccessfully. I knocked around the electronics section, but mercifully didn't buy anything.

My wife and our #3 daughter went to the latter's guitar lesson this afternoon. She's in an interesting position: she's still learning, from a guitarist in Osakis, and she's teaching guitar here in Sauk Centre.

Our son and #3 daughter performed a little of his part in the Christmas musical for #2 daughter, over the phone this afternoon. The two at this end aren't too bad at harmony. Proud dad talking, there. I heard one of "Comet the comic's" jokes: "What do snowmen eat for breakfast? Snowflakes!"

My wife and #3 daughter would have practiced with a music group tonight, but that regular meeting is on hold for a while.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Comet the Comic and an Online Game

This afternoon was almost a write-off, in terms of getting things done: although I did get my working digital camera back. And, in working order.

Our son got home about 5:30. He's got the part of Comet the comic in the elementary school's (Christmas? Winter?) show. I also learned the show's name: "North Pole Star." He took sheet music home with him, and started practicing this evening.

An online role playing game, Runescape, got popular in Sauk Centre recently. From what #3 daughter and our son say, quite a number of the 100,000 or so people playing it right now are probably in Sauk Centre.

Oddly enough, neither of this household's at-home kids are playing, at this moment.

I'm a bit concerned about how much time they've been spending, playing it. For that matter, I'm a bit concerned about how much I'm playing.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Monday: a Mild Case This Week

Our #2 daughter talked with #3 daughter and my wife tonight. Her music/education major has evolved into a music/Latin major. I'm not sorry that she's abandoned plans to teach in public schools. There were two incidents, both involving knives, if I recall correctly, involving student teachers this year.

This may be a foolish thought, but maybe American public schools are looking for teachers in the wrong places. Based on my limited experience, and what I've heard from #2, retiring Marine drill sergeants might make good teachers. Providing that the school administrations didn't undercut their authority, they'd have the skills, and the strength of will, required to maintain a semblance of order.

Don't get me wrong: the local schools seem to be okay, at least on the elementary level. But, either my daughter and I have been unusually "lucky" in experience (direct in my case, indirect, thank God, in hers), or there are 'way too many bad schools.

Enough of that. The way I'm feeling, I may be coming down with a cold.

On a more positive note, they're holding tryouts for the elementary school Christmas show tomorrow. (Or holiday, or winter, or whatever term we're supposed to use now. I lost track a few revisions back.) My son's got his eye on a particular part: we'll see how he does.

The school puts on a pretty good show each year. I'm looking forward to it.

My wife's re-organization of the household is moving along, with lift-and-carry assistance from our son.

Me, I'm trying to make a business work, and looking for a paying job. I had a nibble on the latter today, but I think it got away.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

It's the 11th day of the 11th month: Armistice Day, or "Veterans Day," as it's called now. I wrote a little about this remembrance in "Sauk Centre this Season / Armistice Day," a few years ago. I know that Armistice Day has global significance, but I am an American citizen: hence the picture.

Another week is winding down. My wife, son, and one of our daughters is back from Soo Bahk Do, and I'm getting ready for Monday.

It's been a nice, relaxed Sunday. Our eldest daughter caught a ride to Sauk Centre this morning, celebrated Mass with us, and rode back in the early afternoon. I like these meetings. She kept me company while I grilled lunch. Today's experience went better: no singed fingers.

My son will have to find a new place to work on those computers. He's been using about a quarter of the living room floor, and today my wife told him he'd have to find a new place to work. Later, she told me that she hadn't quite finished clearing a space for him elsewhere.

As I write this, our #3 daughter is talking with our #2 daughter on the telephone. #2 is at college, in Moorhead, some 125 miles up the road. Thanks to my wife's due diligence, we have a phone plan that gives us unlimited long distance calling.

Daughters #2 and #3 are particularly glad of that. They like to talk, and #3 likes being able to check in with 'mom.' Isn't technology great?

She's done quite a job in the basement. The room below the living room is now nearly clutter free, and better organized than it's been in a long time.
With all the history-making events going on in the world, what's happening in one household here in Sauk Centre, Minnesota, seems a small thing: like a little exhibit tucked away in the corner of one wing of a museum.

Memorials of major events remind me of this.

But, it's my household, my family: and so this little cluster of humanity is a big part of my world.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Saturday: Crafty Backyard Grills;
Kids and Computers; Guitar Lesson

I grilled lunch today, and discovered depths of deception previously unknown in my old reliable grill. Just as I was getting the burgers scraped off the grill and onto a plate, the flames reached out and touched me.

Thanks to the after-effects of carpal tunnel syndrome, the thumb and first two fingers on my right hand are still fairly numb. More to the point, they don't sense heat.

Pain, however, is another matter. The pain receptors must be on another circuit.

So, my right middle finger experienced the inside of a tongue of flame for a fraction of a second. Then, having been heated sufficiently, those nerves which handle PAIN sent their special message up to headquarters. No damage done: but that hurt. Most of the neighborhood may know that it hurt. I wasn't diffident about my short, but very sincere, yell.

But the burgers were worth it. I like grilled meat.

My son has two defunct computers, and some spare parts, on the floor of the living room. He hopes to make one working computer out of the assortment. Today, he got the main power switch on one to work: a step in the right direction.

He says he wants to fix computers for a living, when the time comes. He's off to a good start.

My wife's feeling better. She came up from the basement this evening, face filter in place and leaning implements in hand. She's been organizing the house, one section at a time. With two kids and me at home, she'll won't run out of that sort of work soon.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Friday: I Forgot About the Gideons!

My son has finished his first week of the new quarter at school. Now, since it's Veteran's Day weekend, I suppose there'll be another long weekend. Not a problem for me: I may be able to talk my wife into letting me grill lunch Monday.

I definitely need to pay more attention, when making these posts.

Yesterday, after school, the Gideons were outside the school, passing out abbreviated Bibles (New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs). I still have mine, from back when: mine's green, his is red, but they're the same little pocket-sized reference.

As my son explained, about getting the Bible outside, "they're not allowed in the school." I suppose I should be glad there's not some sort of 2,000-foot Christian-free zone around schools.

Anyway, he's impressed with his new acquisition, and with the fact that he found out how he could play an online game that he's too young for.

The Runescape TOS apparently says that kids under the cutoff age can play, if supervised by an adult. Not a bad idea, actually, so my wife and I took turns this afternoon and early evening, while he and #3 daughter played.

I've got a character in that online RPG (role playing game) too: *ahem* just to check it out, of course. ;)

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Thursday: Getting Back in the Habit

I see it's been quite a while since I updated this blog. High time I changed that.

My son had a four-day weekend: Monday and Tuesday this week were the school's quarter break. That was good news: I was able to grill lunch those days. I'd missed Saturday and Sunday: I was getting my son and a daughter up for a visit to Grandpa on those days.

#3 daughter and my son have been digging holes in the back yard. Lots of fun for them, and this household never aspired to a 'house beautiful' yard. We prefer the lived-in look.

(In case I haven't mentioned this before, I often refer to our three daughters as #1, #2, and #3. It's birth order: nothing to do with relative value or consideration.)

My wife spent quite a bit of October being sick: nothing serious, just enough to make her feel lousy, and drastically reduce her efficiency. She's getting better, I trust.

And, I see I've been neglecting this blog. That should end now. I've been reviewing my schedule: more about that in Starting a Small Business Without Losing My Mind.

My wife and the two kids who are still at home came back from Soo Bahk Do (related to Karate) a little while ago, I've got this written, and so it's time to sign off.
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