Push Winners, Hibernatin’s Over, and I’m Gonna Kill That Darn CAT!

Kyo-monster!LOL…  Why is it when the little, adorable, champagne tabby kitten followed us home, everything he did was cute and funny, but now that he’s become a nearly-grown tyrant it’s… well, not so much?  Somewhere in the last month, after picking up the books he shoved off to bomb the dog for the 32nd time, or picked up the broken bits of some irreplaceable dollar-store figurine that he shoved off, or tried to find a pencil that didn’t have the damn eraser chewed off, his little antics stopped being quite so funny.  Everyone walks around with shoes on, covering their heinies, in fear of the tabby terror and his 20 claws that come flying out whenever you least expect it. 

OH, and here’s a really good one for you:  The smarty-pants can open up the metal tin that we keep their food in.  I’ve had this tin for about 20 years and no cat has ever opened it before, but KYO-monster can and does often.  He also likes to perch on the middle sash of the windows and watch the birds, which means there’s this horrid scrabbling noise and a galumph! that I am compelled to investigate and make sure nothing’s destroyed.  So much for the idea his little vest keeps him on his best manners.

And the monster will eat anything.  ANYTHING.  Especially if one of the kids is currently eating it.  I’ll be in my room, reading (snicker, yeah… we’ll go with that) and I’ll hear a scream from the other room, followed by “KYO!  GET OUT OF MY FOOD!  YUCK!  Now I have to get another bowl of cereal.  STUPID CAT!”  And I wonder why my grocery bill has gone up since his arrival.  It was cute when he was eating a nibblet or two of corn that fell from the table, “Awww, look!  Kyo likes corn!  Isn’t that funny?”  But now that he thinks he’s the KING of the house, it’s not nearly as “funny” when he jumps up on the table, landing (as planned, I have no doubt) squarely in your food.  “It’s got hair in it now, must be MINE  =^.^= ”  What a BRAT!

But we still love the little Booger (oddly enough, that’s Mag’s nickname, too… Booger… and he’s her cat, so it makes sense he’d BE one).  And I have to say with this last month’s general malaise, I’ve appreciated the distractions.  Ah, lovely February.  I think it’s the worse month of all for my Seasonal Affected Disorder.  I just start feeling like the sun will never come back, it’ll never get warm again, and why bother.  I read two and a half books in February.  I did finish Tainted, by the way.  It kinda felt a little long and by the last 100 pages or so I was skimming to see what happened next.  All I have to say is, NOW I know why I don’t date!  Dang!  And the last line of the book, I think, was the most frightening of all.  YIPES!

I also read Graceling and want to re-read it again.  I haven’t wanted to read anything since because I just loved it too much.  I don’t want to pick up Fire now because I know Katsa and Po aren’t in it.  I hope Cashore writes another book with them in it.  I’m sure there’s more than enough story to go forward.  Bitterblue’s rule could give plenty of material.  I have a feeling she’d become a graceling, she just had that kind of feel to her.

And I’m behind on the Lord of the Rings readalong.  I don’t want to leave Tom Bombadil :-(  Endings and leaving great characters are depressing.  But the sun is shining, my windows are open and the spring birds are back, so maybe I can finally quit hibernating and get back into a routine, not to mention eating better… I feel so icky from it all.

OKAY…. so I’m only about three weeks late with the winners for the Push giveaway, but here we go.  There was a total of 29 entries, and of those there were about 15 unique entries, but I’m going ahead and giving away two copies since it’s taken me so long to get off my lazy behind and do it.  So the winners, chosen by number at Random.org, are:

5.  Sue who said, “I have a couple that inspire me… Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner and A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry.”

7.  Marci who wrote, “The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd has inspired me. I love her ease of writing style and her word choices.”

Congrats to the winners!

Off My Butt and Back to Work

Okay, so I’ve been a bit lazy of late.  I blame it all on LOST, truly.  It’s not all LOST’s fault, but I’m blaming all of it on the show anyway. :-D

Mags and I have been rewatching the past seasons, we’re about halfway through season 2 now, and it’s “brother” everything around here right now.  “Are you going to school, brother?  Don’t forget your backpack, brother.  Do you have Math Bowl after school, brother?  Or cheerleading, brother?”  Meh, she rolls her eyes at me and says, “Mom, stop it.”  but I know she loves it.  I know she laughs as soon as she leaves and is just too cool to give a chuckle in my presence.

We’re also almost done with Stargate SG-1, and working our way through Atlantis as they were televised concurrently.  LOST and Stargate, it’s all their fault.  Seriously, though, I’m loving Stargate Atlantis so much more than SG-1 right now for two reasons: 1) The Ori really suck as bad guys, honestly.  The Goa’uld were such better baddies… not to mention beatable.  I just don’t see us kicking much Ori butt and it’s a bit depressing. and Atlantis have Wraiths to fight (and now we’re getting the Pegasus Galaxy’s version of the Replicators… meh).  Wraiths are creepy/cool/bad/ugly-but-beautiful aliens who suck the life from their victims with “mouths” in their palms.  The SECOND reason that Atlantis is better than SG-1 (at least the last two or three seasons of the show) is:

Ronan Dex

OMG… Faint!  He’s soo HAWT!  He’s played by Jason Momoa, who’s okay, but I totally have a character crush.  He fiercely guards his friends (even McKay, lol), loves deep, and has honor and integrity I wish could be found in more people.  AGAIN… lol… Maggie rolls her eyes a LOT when we watch Atlantis.  She really hates it when I lick the TV screen.

*Sigh* have to wait until the mail comes tomorrow for more Atlantis.

Which is some of the other things that has been capturing my interests, btw.  There’s fairly good evidence that the “Lost City of Atlantis” was actually Minoa, which experienced severe destruction after being repeatedly swept over by wave after wave of a powerfuls tsunami when the iland volcano that is now Santorini in the Agean sea suffered a mega eruption 10 times that of Krakatoa which blew out it’s cauldera.  80-90% death toll, and whoever was left were slaughtered in the invasion of the Peloponnese Greeks, who were possible the only major empire in the eastern Mediterranean Sea to have remained unaffected by the disaster.  Cool, eh?

Then there’s the whole science of “free energy” that I’ve been studying up on.  The Hutchison effect has got to be one of the most bizarre phenomena I’ve ever seen.  Through the manipulation of energy, they’re able to transmute substances into unknown elements, levitate objects, and even cause a sudden and instantaneous death on the cellular level.  It’s totally weird and completely real.  It’s quite possible that we could see the elimination of need for fossil fuels, except for two things… DOLLARS and EGOS.  DOLLARS, because energy barrons are NOT going to allow any kind of invention that would allow us to go off-grid.  Simply put, “If I can’t slap a meter on it, then I won’t fund it” as J. P. Morgan told Tesla.  As to EGOS, well…  The mainstream, “accepted” scientific experts have ranted a lifetime against the idea that energy could be free (because they’re paid by BARRONS to “research” such claims) and if such a shift were to occur in our understanding, then they’d have to admit they’re wrong.  OMIGOD!  Nooooz!  The universe would implode from the sudden intake of breath!

Then of course there’s the whole Paradox of Choice that will keep us bound to environment-polluting, resource-sucking fossil fuels.  Basically, if it requires making a decision in our modern world full of 175 different salad dressings and over 200 choices of breakfast cereal, we become paralyzed and, instead of making an informed decision, we opt for inaction. 

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Then I realized this morning that I’d totally missed the PUSH deadline.  Crap.  LOL…  So I’ll be getting the entries compiled and getting a winner picked quickly.   So you get an extended chance to enter.  I have a review of Tainted by Brooke Morgan to post tomorrow, so I’ll get the winner picked for Thursday then.  I’ve been such a slacker! 

I think part of my problem has been that I was pushing myself too much and it sucked all the fun out of everything.  I think I’d rather enjoy the books I’m reading than “get them done”.   Okay… back to finish Tainted now :-)

Snow, Pain, and Birthdays

This week has been a poop-fest with the sky having diarrhea and dumping the white poo all over the place.  I guess I can’t complain too-too much, at least I’m not on the east coast.  I’ve only got 14 or so inches here, they’re getting almost 3 foot before it’s all done.  But 14 inches is enought to cause 2 days of no-school and, so far, a delay this morning.  So with the chil’uns at home, I can’t read, can’t think, and my computer is not my own. 

Ah, and I’m still depressed over the not-so-Superbowl let down.  Honestly, I’m more depressed about the commercials than anything.  Seriously, if that’s the best they could come up with, what’s the future going to hold?  Is there anything left to live for?  Maybe I should look at the whole end-of-the-world-in-2012 stuff with hope, rather than scoffing at it.  Yay, Indianapolis will host the last Superbowl in history (it’s the host city in 2012).  Maybe that’s what will cause the end of the world.  I’ll prognosticate that the Cubs will win the 2012 Series, too.  Rosie O’Donnell will marry the Donald by Thanksgiving of 2012.  And the Democrats and the Republicans will shake hands, set aside all differences and plan for true bipartisanship as they look ahead to the first woman president (oh, let’s just say Sarah Palin, that’ll give everyone some fun) being sworn in in the coming January, 2013.  Of course the world would end in 2012.

Oh, the malaise goes deeper.  Mags came home sick on Monday and finally started feeling better yesterday.  At least with the snow days she’s not been counted absent.  And then Tuesday evening I started feeling an infection setting in in a broken lower tooth.  OMG, I’m looking forward to getting my insurance issues settled out so I can take care of that, but in the meantime I’m using some antibiotics that my oldest daughter had been prescribed last year (the doc switched her to a different antibiotic after a day, so it’s a full bottle).  Lower teeth pain is about the worst, I think.  There’s just no where for the stuff to go, so it causes ear ache, jaw-hinge pain, and sore throat.  And I just want to die.

Seems an apprapo feeling given the day.  Perfect timing, I must say.  It was on this day, 11 years ago, that I had the same “I wanna die” feeling caused by pain… just before they slipped in the epidural.  Yes, on February 11, 1999, Booger made her way into the world.  And the school system has given her a “go ahead and sleep in” birthday present.  Oh, for the days of cupcakes, but apparently “healthy foods” rules now prohibit parents bringing in good-treats for their kids to celebrate their special days with their classmates.  I could buy pre-packaged snack cakes and bring them, they have to wait until they get home to eat them, but why?  It sucks the fun out of taking a break from your work, wishing Maggie Happy Birthday, and sinking their teeth into a lovely sugary-cake treat, before going back to work.  I’m glad I’m not a kid, they have it hard nowadays.  I remember when we didn’t take ourselves so seriously.

Oh well, hopefully I can get back into the groove soon.

Yay! I Am Now a Microlender :-)

As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, I was really inspired by Dawn’s post about Kiva.  I was signed up, but wanted to loan to someone in Vietnam and none were available at that time.  Apparently, the site will email you if you’ve not been on for a while, because I got a “Please come back” email this morning and followed the link back.  I figured I’d check to see if there were any Vietnamese loans available, but I wasn’t holding my breath.  Lo and behold, there were about 8 or 10 this morning in various stages of financing.  I’ve been watching it all day, waiting until I’d put money on my card before selecting someone.  Let me tell you!  These loans go fast!  By the time I’d gotten back from Wal-mart (I load a prepaid card there), there were 5 loans left.  I want to do one more in Maggie’s name, but have to wait for her to come back from walking her friend home.

So here is who I’ve loaned to, and I’m so excited about it!

Dang Thi My's Group

Mỵ Đặng Thị operates a family member’s general store selling school products such as pencils, pen and notebooks in her community. Mỵ is a 52-year-old woman living in the town of Đông Anh – Hà nội. She is married and has three school-age children. Mỵ has been in her business for over 10 years and earns approximately 2.000.000 dong (VND) a month. (That’s $108.53 a MONTH, USD)

In 2006, Mỵ joined SEDA to gain access to financial services to help improve her living conditions and enable her to engage in business activities. Mỵ has successfully repaid a previous loan of 4.142.000 VND from SEDA which was used to invest in expanding the business. She is now requesting a new loan of 5.014.000 VND which will be used to invest in expanding the business. This will be her fifth loan from SEDA. Mỵ plans to use the additional revenue to pay for the tuition fees of her children.

Mỵ is the leader of a 5 member group accessing a loan offered by SEDA. While each member of the group receives an individual loan, they all are responsible for paying back the loans of their fellow group members if someone is delinquent or defaults. The official name of this borrowing group is Tiên Hội (2).

About the Other Borrowers in the Group:
1. Đỗ Thị Tân is a 47-year-old woman who is requesting a 5.014.000 VND loan to support her clothing business.
2. Lê Thị Tý is a 42-year-old woman who is requesting a 5.014.000 VND loan to support her business in the services sector.
3. Trần Thị Vịnh is a 52-year-old woman who is requesting a 5.014.000 VND loan to support her business raising livestock.
4. Lương Thị Hải is a 45-year-old woman who is requesting a 5.014.000 VND loan to support her business running a food stall.

About SEDA:
The mission of SEDA (Center of Small Enterprise Development Assistance) is to provide microfinance services to low income and disadvantaged people in rural areas of Hanoi and the northern provinces of Vietnam.

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Silly me found out I could’ve just used my PayPal account and not had to wait for the credit card… der!  But then I might not have picked this group, so maybe this was the way it was meant to be.

After I checked out and everything, Kiva offered to email the following to my address book for me, hmm.. how nice?  a bit spammy…  I passed on this service.  I’ve already invited everyone in my address book to join Kiva.

I just made a loan to someone in Viet Nam using a revolutionary new website called Kiva (www.kiva.org).

You can go to Kiva’s website and lend to someone across the globe who needs a loan for their business – like raising goats, selling vegetables at market or making bricks.  Each loan has a picture of the entrepreneur, a description of their business and how they plan to use the loan so you know exactly how your money is being spent – and you get updates letting you know how the entrepreneur is going.
  
The best part is, when the entrepreneur pays back their loan you get your money back – and Kiva’s loans are managed by microfinance institutions on the ground who have a lot of experience doing this, so you can trust that your money is being handled responsibly.

I just made a loan to an entrepreneur named Đặng Thị Mỵ’s Group in Viet Nam.  They still need another $1,175.00 to complete their loan request of $1,375.00 (you can loan as little as $25.00!).  Help me get this entrepreneur off the ground by clicking on the link below to make a loan to Đặng Thị Mỵ’s Group too:

http://www.kiva.org/app.php?page=businesses&action=about&id=170125

It’s finally easy to actually do something about poverty – using Kiva I know exactly who my money is loaned to and what they’re using it for.  And most of all, I know that I’m helping them build a
sustainable business that will provide income to feed, clothe, house and educate their family long after my loan is paid back.

Join me in changing the world – one loan at a time.

‘An inexpensive feel-good investment opportunity…All loaned funds go directly to the applicants, and most loans are repaid in full.’
— Entrepreneur Magazine   

Thanks!

———————————————————
What others are saying about www.Kiva.org:

‘Revolutionising how donors and lenders in the US are connecting with small entrepreneurs in developing countries.’
— BBC

‘If you’ve got 25 bucks, a PC and a PayPal account, you’ve now got the wherewithal to be an international financier.’
— CNN Money

‘Smaller investors can make loans of as little as $25 to specific individual entrepreneurs through a service launched last fall by Kiva.org.’
— The Wall Street Journal

I did, however, paste that to my facebook… LOL.  So everyone THERE got spammed. :-D

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Mags just came back, I showed her Kiva, signed her up for her own account on it, and then showed her the Vietnamese loans available.  The funny little bugger picked the same group as me.  I told her the $25 loan was part of her birthday present, which is on February 11th. 

Question I asked Maggie, “How do you feel knowing that you’ve just loaned money to a family in Vietnam who are going to use that to expand their business and pay for their kids to go to school?”

Answer:  I feel kinda proud :-) 

Question:  How do you feel that the family lives in Vietnam, as opposed to loaning to someone in South America?

Answer:  I like it because my daddy’s country.

Question:  What are you going to do when they pay the money back?

Answer:  I want to buy toys for their kids, and presents for them, but I don’t know where to send it.

Ooookay, not the answer I was expecting, exactly… lol… but she does understand that she can either re-invest her $25 into a new loan, or cash out.

Do the Book-y Dance of Joy!

A book I’ve been dying to get finally came in the mail today:  xxxHOLiC volume 1 by Clamp.  xxxHOLiC is my favorite anime… I like it even better than Fruits Basket, can you believe that?!

This what’s on my desktop:

xxxHOLiC desktop

and then, lo and behold, it’s like page 2 of the book.  :-D   The picture makes me giggle because Watanuki has neko ears (or are they fox ears, maybe?) and a chain attached to his neck and Yuko is holding onto it.  She soo OWNS him. *gigling some more*

If you’ve not seen the show or read the books, the picture may be pretty, or may even disturb you, but if you have seen it, then you totally get the pic!

Quick summary of the story:

Watanuki sees spirits, and those spirits chase, harrass, and attack him.   He accidentally (or, is destined, depending on your take) finds his way to Yuko, who promises to grant his wish and rid him of the spirits, but it will cost him.  He has to work for her until the debt is paid off.  He cooks, cleans, serves and does her shopping, and in the process he learns a great deal about himself, the world around him and about helping people.

I like the philosophy and treatment of the supernatural in xxxHOLiC, as it is very similar to my own. 

So, do you believe in destiny, that your steps in life are prearranged?  Do you believe everything is chance and choice?  A mixture of both?

Motherhood From the Frontline

This was my “rainy day” post from BethFishRead’s Bloggiesta mini-challenge… Enjoy :-)

When it comes to children… especially when they’re your own and you can’t drive them out to the country and dump them because they know their addresses and how to get home… sometimes SANITY is a battle ground, and I feel like I’m battling them for it.  AND, I’m losing.

First off, the odds aren’t in my favor.  There are THREE of them and ONE of me.  Then you gotta add the 3 cats and the dog to that number, because they tease each other with the pets… “Look Maggie, your cat loves me more than you” wait for it “MOOOOOOOM!!!!  Maggie hit me!”  Well, the math adds up to 374 of them to the half-wit ME. 

Seriously, I used to have brains.  I did.  I once took the Mensa test and was well above the entry number.  My IQ, last I checked, is 168.  But see, that was before kids.  Nowadays, I’d be shocked if I could beat out a bunch of Broccoli in a game of Boggle.  My mom always said, “Insanity is hereditary… you get it from your kids!”  And the older they get, the more I realize she’s RIGHT.

I watched a program on PBS about negative emotions the other day… okay, I just watched a segment of the show while COPS was on commercial break, but still… and they said that negative emotions like stress and fear burn memories deeply into your psyche.  That’s why everyone remembers where they were on the morning of September 11, 2001, but few remember what they were doing on September 10th, the day before.  It is ALSO why my mom STILL remembers EVERYTHING I EVER did as a kid, and points out that “Paybacks are a BITCH!” whenever I’m word-vomitting what dastardly deeds the girls have been up to lately. 

Really, I began to understand what my actual role as a parent was when Sam and Gwen were about 7 and 8.  We had went to the mall and had stopped into the store where a friend worked.  Because I was engaged in adult conversation, and because I had taken longer than the generous minute and a half they allowed for such foolishness, the girls began to get antsy and started running around the store.  After a few loud rounds of “THWACK!  Mom!  She hit me!”, I made them sit in time out and confined each of them to their own tile square on the floor.  That I hadn’t set them far enough apart soon became evident when their arguing and tattling reached my ears.  And what were they fighting over now?  A piece of tracked in DIRT.  DIRT!  My darling dimpled dears were debating the ownership of a clod of DIRT!

So what role did I discover I was truly filling?

Wild animal handler.  I’m just here to make sure they don’t get loose and annoy the public.  I feed them, clean their cage and try to learn ‘em some manners, but mostly, I’m crowd control.

OH, and I used to hear or read the statistics that some parents only spend about 3 minutes of quality time conversing with their children and I’d think “How horrible!  What terrible and selfish parents can’t make time for their kids?!”  THEN I got teenagers and NOW I think, “GOOD GAWD!  3 minutes?!  They deserve an award!  At least a medal for bravery!”

Santa – Weird, Creepy and just plain WTF?!

Yeah… I know this is NOT getting any reading done… or baking and housework, which is what I had planned to do today… BUT!  I just had to share :-D

Everyone, in the western world to be sure, has had their picture taken with Santa.  Most of us have had our kids -and dogs and cats, even- on The Big Man’s lap for a snapshot, as well.  While most of them turn out fair to middlin, occasionally The Man in Red has a bad photo moment.

Also… No doubt there will be many happy, colorful and pretty pics posted on blogs and the internet at large wishing Merry Christmas to all.  Ummmm…. I don’t know if you know this but, *whispers* I’m not normal.  Yeah, shocker, I know… so I googled around for the um, overlooked and underviewed holiday pictures. *evil grin*

First off, I have to share a wonderful blog that I stumbled upon in my googled search for “creepy Santa” images.  Sketchy Santas has a treasure trove of Santa pics ranging from quizically odd to WTF?!

I could NOT stop laughing at this pic of Jazz Hands Santa.  I found it at Sketchy Santa, and it has the highest number of comments, many of which are as funny as the picture itself.  I mean, SERIOUSLY!  How does one explain this?  The teenage boy looks as if he has his pants down around his ankles, but at least his shorts match Santa’s suit.  WHY, oh gawd why, is he holding a SAX?  It begs the “And one time, at band camp…” line to be said without thought when you look at the pic.  And WHERE is Santa’s OTHER hand?

Santa looks like he’s enjoying himself, too. 

I don’t know if this was a case of teen boys having too much time on their hands and deciding to have fun at the expense of a mall Santa, or if he lost a bet… Maybe he won the bet?  Who knows, but it’s got to be the funniest Santa Pic ever.

Here are a few other Not-Quite-Right Santa Pics for your perusal and enjoyment:

They're all cryingEven Santa’s crying!

 fake santa or fake baby I’m not sure which is creepier… The Santa or the baby! They both look fake.

 Santa PeepersWhat’s up with Santa’s eyes? Did one of them kick him in his jingle balls? 

You know… I just don’t know what to say about this one.  It looks like he’s making faces at the little boy.  Or telling him he’s going to sneek into his house on Christmas eve and steal all his bottles and toys if he keeps on crying.

Maybe he’s making the face because the kid has a stinky diaper?

IDK… Could you imagine having this in your baby book for your first Christmas?

*shivers*

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hungover Santa

I wasn’t sure WHAT to make of this photo, until I saw this pic

 ho for blow

hohoho… Hello, Little Girl… Would you like some candy?  MMmm… just sit right here on your special Santa’s lap.  Don’t worry, that IS just a candy cane in my pocket, but I’m also very, very happy to see you *creepy grin*

Makes you wonder about the Santa in your own mall, doesn’t it?

LOL.. I’m sure this one’s not a pedophile and all, but the pic is wrong in soooo many ways.  The way he’s holding her shoulders.  The way he’s leaning into her.  The way she’s sideways and looks like she’d want nothing more than to be a billion miles away from Mr. Creepy with the beard.

The look on his face doesn’t help, either… it’s like he’s beein waiting his whole life for this moment to happen and he can hardly contain himself… lol.  Definitely a “Bad Santa Pic”

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OMG!  The look on the little boy’s face is PRICELESS!  Granted, Santa’s creepy, but the veins are popping out on the toddler’s forehead even!  Oh, he was scarred for life, I’m sure!  And the sister looks like it’s just the funniest thing ever!  It could be a pic out of my OWN childhood… lol.

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The Burger King King is coping with the recession by moonlighting as a mall Santa!  Who knew!

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And a few NON-Traditional Santa pictures… some creepy, some funny

Grinch Kitty

Santa's Trial 

 

Santa's deadBurn Santa BURN!

Madonna and Santa Baby

Santa Bum

Santa versus a 747

Evil Santa

Zombie Santa

Have You been Naughty?

And a couple videos for fun.  The music in them are fun, too :-)

and the ending of this next one was a bit of a surprise.  I called the kids in to watch it, and they hadn’t ever seen the clip, so evidently it’s not a US one.

Hope you haven’t been NAUGHTY.. lol… and Hope you have a very Merry Christmas!

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