Archive for December, 2014

the bad points of being geeky (g2)

If you can tell, probably considering I mention it every time I write… I am pretty geeky. I prefer PC over Mac any day as I refuse to pay three times the amount for something I could build comparably myself. My skill set has gotten kind of dated though considering I started when DOS was still a big contender. Anyone even know what that is anymore? If you watch some older movies, you may see it when a computer screen only has two colors.

When I talk HDMI and VGA cables to my kid, I have to pull back and remember this all sounds like yiddish to them. I sort of became hooked into helping the after-school program my kid goes to revive some donated machines. One was little problem since it was XP and only just dropped from Microsoft’s radar, but the other was Windows 98. I stared in awe at this thing, other than a little bit of minor dust on the inside, looked pristine for being over 15 years old. I had new parts in a storage bin that didn’t have the shiny newness the inside of this thing had.

However, USB was just an up and coming technology when 98 came out, only grasping a firm hold when 98SE came along. The set up at this place has requires me to use wi-fi adaptors to connect to internet as they don’t have the funds to run that kind of elaborate cabling so it wouldn’t be a hazard. It’s been frustrating to say the least, mostly because trying to find software for something that old is near impossible. Windows ME (did anyone actually buy that one?) is the highest I can upgrade this box to as it only has 63 mg of ram. In the 90’s, RAM (Random Access Memory, what your computer can hold in memory to do tasks more efficiently.. yes, kind of works like our own) averaged about $25 per meg (thank you, chipset glue company competition!). These days, RAM is in gigs which equates to:

1024 mg = 1 gig of ram

A “decent” gaming system today should have at least 4 gigs, ideally 8 (since most of its really in the graphics card itself). So that would be 4096 to 8192 mg. I had again… 63 work with. Hell, even a basic office machine should have 2-4 gigs. It’s really whipping this llama’s ass. Mainly because its behavior has no logic and I cannot rely on anything new to resolve its issues.I am also one of those who has moved a lot, so my computer part cache from that period is pretty depleted or even nonexistent. I still have one floppy drive, that’s about it.

If you managed to muddle with me this long and caught any of that, you are probably a geek too. My apologies, I hope I kept that simple enough to follow along with most of it.

I guess the epiphany I had while watching this stupid thing not connect to the internet…again, occurred when I looked around and realized I had at least two other machines that were not mine laying aside to be worked on. The number of motherboards and graphics cards I had piling up was getting mind-numbing. I was feeling suffocated by the crap around me, a lot of it not mine. I wonder how in hell I got wrangled into all this considering I have little time to do my daily stuff.

If you are a single parent, you know what I’m talking about. There is absolutely nothing more overwhelming at times that having everything on your shoulders. I don’t mean having the ability to pick up the phone and call a sibling or parent to help either, as I have none of that. I don’t often ask friends for help in anything and I hate bothering any of my family about anything I have going on privately. I have no desire to be the topic at the holiday table, if you catch my drift. When I was struggling through welfare and borderline homelessness, I never once contacted my family and they don’t know anything about it. I just don’t.

With that said, when you’re a geek and people find this out, you become their go-to. Don’t get me wrong, I’m completely to blame for allowing this. I love a puzzle, and I love to figure something out. Which means, I won’t give something back until I have restored it or made it better. Hence, I am the Sanford & Son of geekery.

But why? When I first started out, I screwed up my machine so many times, I could reinstall my operating system blindfolded. I had nothing of value on it, so I had no fear. The average user can do nothing to a computer that cannot be undone. Note I did say “average,” not the guy who uses the dvd drive to park his big gulp or the gal who is convinced spraying 4 ounces of a household cleaner on their keyboard is a great way to thoroughly clean it. Yes, both of those happened. The latter one worked in tech support. We turned her keyboard over and cleaner poured out.

My problem isn’t the inability to say “no.” I’m actually quite good at that one. It was my first word even. I will be saying “no” to the New Year’s invite I received this year in fact. Mostly because I’m so damn exhausted from work and my second job as unpaid computer repair that the thought of being social makes me itch.

I guess, with the age of technology being what it is, I wonder why am I still in demand? My kid can type on a computer almost as quickly as I can and I have been clocked around 56 wpm (you never know how fast you can type until you have to clearly type “heal me” during a boss battle). I still see people terribly scared of their computers.

Again, I’m saying “average” user. The after-school place I mentioned has already managed to destroy 3 keyboards and 4 mice in the time I have managed to revive one machine. There is one boy in particular whose hands and feet I would love to completely encase in duct tape because he just cannot understand how kicking and slamming things harder don’t make things work better. I managed to stop him just as he was reaching for the back of one computer to yank the chords out, while it was still on. Sleep mode apparently didn’t end quick enough to suit him.

With that said, most of the average joe’s who just want to troll facebook for their exes or type up a report for work just seem very scared of this magic box that makes cool and often strange things happen. Just in my immediate circle, I have quite a few that know a lot more than they give themselves credit for knowing. They will give me a long laundry list of stuff they tried when something fails to work and even though they get it working, they just want me to reassure them that that yes, their logic functions work awesome.

I feel lately like my computer skills are kind of eating at my ability to do anything else, but then again I wouldn’t change it for anything. I currently have two fairly decent machines that play quite well that I paid little out of pocket for and I manage to keep them running in spite of their quirks and issues. If I had no skills with it whatsoever, I’d give it up just because I couldn’t afford to get someone else to fix it. Maybe that’s why I don’t hesitate to fix someone else’s when they ask.

I guess if there was any significant message aside from my grumbling it would be, be a little braver, try a little more and you probably know a lot more than you think you do.

Oh yeah, and the most important one…. Google It.

Pet peeve: It’s not a CPU, I don’t care how many times someone calls a computer a CPU, its not a damn CPU. It’s a box, machine, computer, PC, Igor, Priscilla but not a CPU. Don’t do it.


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My New Years Eve Gift (G-uno)

It’s about to get all kinds of sappy on here so if sugar isn’t your thing now’s the time to hit the next post. For those of you with a sweet tooth this one’s for you! New years Eve is my husband’s birthday. He and I have celebrated thirty-four birthdays together starting with my seventeenth. I have been unlucky in many aspects of my life, but this is the one area where I consider myself to be “lottery jack-pot like” lucky!

He showed up in my study hall during my junior year in high-school. It wasn’t until four months later that our teacher finally realized he was not scheduled to be a student in this particular study hall. When she confronted him with this newly found observation his reply was that he felt it was the best way to share a class with me without actually being interrupted by the educational process. She responded by having him removed from the class.

My husband sees the world from an entirely different viewpoint than most people I know. Rules have their place, but this is his life, and if the rule doesn’t make sense why should you continue to follow something that does not apply to your situation. He has reminded me on more than one occasion that the nobles in life are only noble because someone had the intuitive to decide that no other man should have the right to govern his life. Having been raised to follow  the rules in life, you can imagine the intrigue that came with thought process! Not to mention it was being delivered with the most handsome face and beautiful green eyes I had ever seen.

He is like an invincible hero type character in life strong physically and mentally. He is one of those people who just decides something can be done, and he does it irregardless of what the goal may require. Fearless, highly coordinated, and incredibly capable at most endeavors. His Achilles heel is his inability to recognize the more complicated emotions of other people. He never stops to wallow in any hardship he encounters and in turn doesn’t see the need for others to get bogged down in all that time-wasting wallowing either.

He is hands down a stubborn Swede with a pension for perfectionism. He can be unrelenting once he has made up his mind. He is also an amazing husband, friend, and lover. The kind of father who drops anything he is doing to spend time with our children, or help them with anything they may need. Over the years we have laughed, stayed up all night just talking or making love, we have fought just like anybody else in a life-long relationship, and raised two amazing children. In all our years together, never once have I not known for even a single second that I have been the luckiest woman in the world to have had this man in my life.

We’ve always joked that everybody celebrates his birthday. It’s tradition for the person whose birthday it is to be the recipient of gifts, but the truth is that even though it’s his birthday he is my gift in this life. My News Year Eve gift, a man worthy of being celebrated by everyone. 😉

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the family call (g2)

Damn, is it really Monday again?

During the holidays, I called my self-exiled uncle. I’d pretty much ignored my phone for the holidays, leaving facebook check-ins and holiday cards to be the only external family/friend communication I would allow. Not that I am annoyed by my family, in fact, I find their craziness rather entertaining. It’s more that I was enjoying the fact that the constant buzz was silenced for a while. After doing more customer service jobs than I care to admit, I hate the phone. I also watched grand glued to one for most of my childhood. I hate the phone.

With that said, I did finally call my poor uncle back who seems to the one who is a bit stranded from the rest of family and the grand spent most of their time ostracizing. My uncle actually moved for work reasons when the economy went to hell, but stayed because he loved the work and other reasons I don’t feel the right to get into.

We chatted about how things were going in our worlds, but as always happens, the conversation eventually turns to our family, its history and where it all went so wrong.

My uncle still feels a lot of hurt from my grand for being so tormenting through the years. Grand had a lot of pull in our hometown, so grand’s mouth going off badly to the right people made it difficult for my uncle to get and keep business. I can tell this stings him especially since since its his own parent, who has never given him such abuse his entire life, who suddenly turns on him like he is a pariah.

My uncle is also still harboring a lot of guilt. This is the uncle grand enlisted to take me away from my mother. I’ve dismissed it because the past is irrelevant and only the present can I change. My mother passed before I knew any of this, so the only ill will I have is guilt over being so pissed at my mom for things that were never her fault and a lot of pride that she never took the petty route of finger pointing, but I moved past all that in spite of not knowing and I wish he could too.

I can see exactly why my uncle was enlisted. He is a great go-getter type that when you hit his emotional triggers, especially anger, he doesn’t ask a lot of questions. He makes the ideal champion for doing something you don’t quite have the guts to do yourself. Grand is vicious, but mostly a coward. If any of us could have nailed down and documented grand’s web of deception, they would have been completely gutless, or pleaded ignorance. It also would have taken someone with no emotion whatsoever to not want to jump in the middle of it before it became worse.

My uncle knows a version of my grand I have never seen. Apparently, when my uncle was coming up, his parent was a little in the background of things, kind of wishy washy but mostly just took care of things and existed, but not substantially and most certainly not intensely. Center stage belonged to their spouse. I’ve come to realize that was the true core of the family. Grand would have been the sledge-o-matic without the humor.

I can tell my uncle is also still stingingly jealous of his younger brother. His brother was grand’s favorite. In spite of going in and out of jail for most of his youth and young adult life, never really settling, leaving women and debts in his wake, he remained grand’s favorite. He finally bucked up when he met my aunt, a feat I’m still amazed at her for accomplishing, whether she knew it or not. However, I can tell my uncle is bothered that he worked his butt off, paid his debts and was treated vastly different.

I try to walk him through it as best I can. That I think their spouse’s death coming a mere month after they’d lost their father was most likely the trigger to the dementia they were predisposed to have and set it all off. Although 30 years later, everyone was shocked at the doctor suspecting dementia was the core of the problem from back then, this was not surprising to me. It’s hard to explain to 3 grown children who know a parent one way in what ways they are so wrong about that person later. My mom had a taste of the altered person grand became, so there was an unspoken understanding we had about it and just never bothered to explain it since it just wouldn’t have done any good.

I try to tell him as kindly as I can that he made a perfect tool because he had not been in the area at the time and didn’t know how badly grand had changed. I’m not really eager to make him feel great about things with my mom and me since I can never understand why people are always so sorry AFTER a person is gone. Wouldn’t it be more effective to tell them while you can? I know she forgave him and that should be all that matters, and I know he needs to understand that. I do my best in that at least but I really don’t get why we always spend such effort on regret after the fact and not taking the chance when we have it.

He starts to vent his ills towards his brother, something unrelated to grand, but a beef they had pretty much all my life. He vents about rebuffs that seem small to me but ones that he has seemingly left festering for years. I try my best to bring his irritation down to a level that is more readily understood, trying to point out that he is getting hurt over what could easily be understood by simply asking. He dismisses the idea.

Again, I don’t understand why you would let something bother you for so long if you don’t wish to take the 10 minutes it would take to pick up the phone and clear it up. This bunch is a lot like grand in this way, but grand revelled in the muck of bad feelings. It allowed them to hold that imaginary standard of self-proclaimed martyr.

In the end, I hope I helped shelve some things for him, alleviate some stresses and maybe, just maybe, put some perspective on this stuff he has been shouldering. When I hang up with him, I make my internal vow to not be like grand, to eject the crap that doesn’t matter, to focus on the present, to ask when I’m starting to assume,  to not spend my time worrying about the shit I didn’t do and just do the shit I can.

I looked at my kid and just said “You know, I don’t care if we have one of the most epic battles of insult flinging known in history when I suddenly drop dead, but if I do, understand this… I love you, you love me and that’s really all that we need to know, no matter what. Don’t you dare carry that crap around with you if it does though. You got that?”

My kid just nods sagely, as though I’ve already created the wiser generation and I’m just catching on to this. Maybe I am 🙂

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Death The Ultimate Get Out Free Card? (G-uno)

My generation grew up playing Monopoly the board game, and one of the most coveted cards you could draw was “the get out of jail free card.” It occurred to me this weekend that death shares in some ways the very same concept. A lot of people are willing to give a complete pass to someone who they have held to the proverbial stake for most of their lives when they are faced with the offender’s impending demise. Many hold onto their grudges right up to the actual demise, and then there are the ones who carry their vendettas straight to their own death beds. Some hold onto their grudges right into their own graves.

We are nothing if not complicated souls, but this weekend in particular I did a great deal of thinking about what motivates us to give someone “the get out of jail free card.” I came up with a few thoughts, the first was that maybe the person holding the life-long grudge decides that the offender’s death is enough of a punishment. Another thought was that maybe religious beliefs required some to issue forgiveness in order to receive forgiveness for their own mistakes they’ve made in their lives. Maybe they are simply exhausted from the weight of carrying so much anger for such a long time. Worst yet maybe they realized that what they had believed to be the terrible tragic event that was inflicted upon them was actually not what had happened!

In any case the one thought that rang through my mind like a raging bell was how awful it is that we become so invested in persecuting someone, that we become our own jail keeper in life. We nurture our anger to a point where we become consumed. We actually prolong the damage that someone has (in most cases has unintentionally), or is even unaware that they have inflicted upon us. Maybe we become so consumed that our own perspective becomes distorted. How awful would it be to spend a lifetime locked in our own self-made prison? How awful would it be to unknowingly have been the offender in someone else’s life story? Maybe we should be more generous in our perceptions about offenses we feel have been committed towards us? Maybe we should actually communicate our perceptions, and feelings to those who obviously impact our lives in such a great way before a life-time passes us by… 😉

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Christmas Contentment (G-uno)

Unlike G2 our Christmas was straight up insanity! Between Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day we celebrated five different ways with five different groups. Due to divorces and extended family members this is the norm for us on holidays. This is not something I completely enjoy because it involves juggling a great many personalities, a great deal of preparation, and an overabundance of work which can be extremely chaotic.

I have to say the morning of Christmas Eve started with mad cleaning, cooking, and a wonderful surprise. Our daughter called with the news that her boyfriend of six years had proposed to her. He had given her a ring so beautiful that she herself could not have picked out anything better, if you knew our daughter you would know this was indeed high praise. She was so happy! The kind of joy all parents hope their children will experience. We love the young man she has agreed to marry. He is smart, kind, and clearly loves our first-born in the way that every parent hopes for their child to be loved.

As I rushed around preparing for our Christmas Eve dinner feeling very happy about the news of our daughters engagement we received a call from Hospice saying that our loved one had become unresponsive and that we should contact family members sooner rather than later. News that I know will devastate my husband and our children. So in the middle of cooking we have to drop everything contact numerous other family members, and rush to his long-term facility. Did I mention our guests for the evening were from out-of-town? They came with us to be with our loved one. After extreme panic, and distress it turned out to be a false alarm. Our loved one was experiencing heat exhaustion. His room had reached 81 degrees.They had him covered in heavy blankets. He sleeps on a special mattress to prevent bed sores, and this mattress is much like sleeping on an electric blanket. All of these details had escaped our loved ones nurse’s attention. We were thrilled that he was not dying and emotionally drained by the experience!

I went home tried to pick up from where I had stopped on our mad dash to the nursing facility. I was emotionally drained but still committed to trying to make a nice dinner for our guests. Let’s just say having a hostess who is completely shaken, and crying is not really a great experience for anyone. Our guest were very gracious, but my heart was just not in this celebration. It took every thing I had to make it through this dinner. After they left I went back up to be with our loved one. I just needed to know he was okay, and not alone.

Then came Christmas morning. Our plan was that my sister, and I would cook breakfast. Mom, our brother, my husband, our son and I would go to our daughter’s apartment to have breakfast with her and her fiance who had to work on Christmas. My sister who had not been feeling well bails and I am rushed to do all of the cooking. I now also need to pick up my Mom, and brother who were suppose to ride over with my sister. All misfortunes aside it turned out to be a very nice breakfast with a lot of happy conversation about the future wedding.

After breakfast my husband, and our two children took Mom and my brother home. Then we headed up to the nursing facility to spend a couple of hours with our loved one. He faded in and out, but seemed quite content to listen to all our chatter. Then we were off again to my sister-in-laws house for dinner, and our annual reenactment of the 12 days of Christmas (don’t ask let’s just say it involves a lot of crazy singing and memory skills), there were 31 of us so you can imagine the amount of preparation this involves.

Christmas is never simple or quiet for us. This year I lagged behind in every single attempt I made to try to enhance everyone’s Christmas celebration. The miracle is that in spite of everything Christmas happened, and I am left with the feeling that all is well for this moment in my little world. I hope that however you spent your holiday that you also found some contentment in your little corner of the world. 😉

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the holiday finale (g2)

I probably got all of four hours sleep and I had to forcibly pry my offspring out of bed and even then they were hesitant. Considering the amount of noise I made, I really don’t understand how I wasn’t busted, much less how in the hell my spawn ambled to bed at a decent hour because they don’t want to be skipped, and then be hesitant to see the stash in the morning. They have been like this as long as I can remember.

This child has not had one bad Christmas their entire life, so I have no clue why the casual attitude about the big S. I have also been trying to subtly get spawn to clean their room in anticipation of said item of furniture… only to have no luck at all. All it took upon the magic morning was to tell them they could not use it until they got it into their room. Within an hour everything I had been bitching for months to be done was done to some extent and the piece of furniture moved into its new home.

Even though annually I had little interest in what I got, my curiosity alone still had me up at 4am on the big day when I was a child. I had to itemize EVERYTHING and I loved to see what everyone else got and the excited faces they made when they got just THE thing. I loved it even more if I was the one to put that look on their face, but no one is very resourceful as a child to meet those kinds of desires. My demands of Santa were wild, elaborate and utterly impossible. I wanted a grand stand show, baby! I guess its no wonder why my grand would have such a hard time. However, at the same time, why would you give a board game to an only child? Checkers sucked when playing both sides.

Spawn is another thing entirely and casually surveys the area, cracks a side grin when they really like something they see but is hesitant to touch it. Maybe wary it might disappear? Only rarely do I get to see the jump up kind of happy and usually its the thing they didn’t ask for but I made up as I went along. This year had a lot of video games on the wish list, and I selected a few key ones I knew that were at the top of that list to which to whittle it down. As I type this, I think spawn has cracked into the 2nd one since this morning. This is how my holiday progresses, I watch while spawn savors. They would make a great wine taster if they didn’t think everyone who drank alcohol had a problem.

We lounged in our pj’s, we didn’t brush our hair, we didn’t call or visit anyone, we played games, ate a macaroon in honor of grand’s favorite and spawn ate an entire box of peeps in honor of mom’s favorite, made chicken and dumplings just like grand used to make, ate till we were about sick, talked, laughed, bitched, fought and laughed again. As the day wears on, I’m content, but realized I’ve only had about four hours sleep and I’m starting to feel it.

I’m very thankful I will not be seeing work until Monday. I’m thankful for today. I’m thankful for the weird understated, subtle kid I have. I’m thankful I am able to afford the insane overnight shipping it will take to send my uncle food from his past. I’m thankful for those who had a wonderful holiday, and I’m thankful for the ones still here to make a shitty one better. I’m thankful to our readers, that you find us interesting enough to visit, we pretty much feel the same way about you too.

And now, I’m thankful I’m home, and close to a pillow.

Have a very special, wonderful, content holiday!

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tomorrow is christmas (g2)

Tomorrow is the big unveiling and this year I have caused myself a great amount of physical exertion by picking the largest items on the kid’s list this year. Why is it the big ones that are normally the cheaper ones? Also, that kid is fucking crazy if they think they are getting two damn consoles for Christmas. Fuck that.

My holidays are generally pretty tame. If I spike my coffee with Bailey’s my kid calls me a lush. I’m shocked they didn’t try to have an intervention the time I drank TWO WHOLE BEERS! We generally spend all day in our pj’s, make a big breakfast, play video games, marathon watch TV (on the computer), and slowly surround ourselves with the aftermath of what was once a pristine pile of boxed perfection in paper like elaborate icing and the bounciest of ribbons overflowing.

So much setup time…. so little demolition time.

Is it still worth it? Hell yes. I could plot the whole year to get that look of amazement that lasts all of five seconds. Usually, about 1/3 of kid’s stash is stuff they never asked for and there is almost always one nugget among them that is favorited above even the ones they requested.

During the quiet moments when the kid is fully exploring some new discovery under the tree and figuring the innermost secrets of said item, my mind tends to wander.

I wonder about those who might be waking up to a Christmas morning where they are alone for the holidays. I spent quite a few years on my own with no one really, but I don’t remember being lonely. I know I would pick up extra shifts during the holidays since when you’re the one with no family, you’re the best candidate to cover for everyone else.

It wasn’t for avoidance that I did it, I just figured that… somewhere along the way, someone probably had to work a shift that allowed members of my family to be at home for the holidays and it was fine that it was my turn. Later on, I knew my life would probably change in a way I might not be able to, so I worked as many as possible while it didn’t matter.

When I wonder about the ones alone, I wonder if they are OK with it the way I was or does it make them feel painful or lonely. The holidays open up the fast track to all the feels so its difficult to keep out the inner bastard that likes to tell you awful things for no reason.

If you happen to be the latter and think no one is wondering how you are, remember that there is at least one.

Try to do something for yourself on Christmas morning, a present to yourself.

Make a breakfast you never make, but love.

Write something, anything. If you write about how you feel, and realize a lot of it is negative, argue with each point made as to why its wrong.

Take a walk or a drive and pretend you’re a kid trying to find the BEST houses for Christmas lights. My kid has helped me enjoy the holidays a lot more than I ever did at their age just by trying to see it through their eyes.

Stuff a stocking with all your favorite stuff. Yes, go buy some if you can. I like to wear our stockings after we empty them. Don’t judge me.

My toes smell like chocolate when I do that.

Yes… I wash them before they get stored again.

Play CoD or WoW or whatever your online fix is, you never know, we might even end up running a dungeon together.

If Facebook is your fix and its depressing the hell out of you, remember that people who seem impeccably, impossibly happy online are usually proportionally the opposite in real life. Meaning if it looks like they hire a professional photographer to follow them around every day and docudrama their awesomeness and there are mountains of “I’m so glad to have you… *GUUUSH*!” posts, they are very likely both addicted to one or more substances and at least one of them is banging the best friend of the other.

I often like to figure out how bad it really is based on the number of perfect Christmas photos they post. Yes, I have a twisted sense of humor but its usually true. Happy people are usually busy off being happy, they don’t usually feel the need to prove it.

With that said, if you happen to be one of those souls kind of beating on yourself and flying solo this Christmas, I really hope you shut your inner bastard the hell up. If you are able to be home for the holidays, make it a special snow day for yourself. If you’re working, I’m both sorry for that and thankful to you. You never know when you will be someone’s hero and in reality, heroes are rarely the flamboyant or suited.

And for anyone having it so rough that you think no one cares, remember there is two of us that do. And we didn’t have to meet you to care, how about that?

Happy Christmas!

Merry Hanukkah!

Feliz Kwanzaa!

Good Pancha Ganapati!

Holy Newtonmas!

…and all that jazz.

Be well, be nice to yourself. You’re always more loved than you realize.

This is what I’m about when I’m thinking about warm and fuzzy music. You’re welcome.

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