Wednesday, August 31, 2016

INVU4URAQT


"INVU4URAQT" used to be an autograph saying kids would write in yearbooks at the end of the school year.

Starting from childhood, there were things to envy: a friend's new bicycle, new clothes, new toys, or having parents who able to buy anything one's heart desired.

But I think it is possible to observe good fortune without wanting it for yourself.

A wealthy friend travels the world but spends most of her time alone. Another is successful but waited too long to have a baby. Another has everything except her life mate who died too young. And another goes on a dozen cruises a year to every corner of the world—sometimes taking the same exact cruise twice—for what reason? It seems like he is searching for something he'll never find.

It so happens my husband and I are surrounded by people who have made a ton of money throughout their careers. Many people believe "if only I were wealthy—it would solve all of life's problems." But wealth and resources are not panaceas. Despite the resources a person has, it doesn't guarantee life will be wonderful. Once critical issues like having food, clothing and shelter are answered, everything beyond that speaks to enhanced quality of life. But it doesn't necessarily lead to happiness. 

Perhaps because our parents lived through the Great Depression, David and I don't subscribe to planned obsolescence. One of our TVs has a cathode tube! My friend, Reg, can only shake his head with dismay. 

New and bigger isn't always better. Seeing people who are able to do extravagant things is interesting and fun to observe. All it takes is a catastrophic illness to make a person realize how grand it is to simply be alive. When you are alive, you have something not even John F. Kennedy Jr., has! Money can't bring you back to life. (At least, not yet!)

Envy can be such a destructive force. It can make a full and satisfying life seem deficient.

There will always be things we see, admire and wish to attain. Having goals is good and helps propel us forward, but only if the quest is driven by personal desire--not envy.

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Sunday, July 31, 2016

LA Story

Fern tree across from the hotel

Okay so some of you guys know I went to Los Angeles last week. There are more details about the gathering I attended on my other blog

American Express made it easy to get my flight using miles, but booking a hotel was an adventure. I looked and looked, using many of the usual sites and didn't feel like there was a significant difference between them. It's not as simple as it should be.

Basically, I know nothing about LA, so didn't feel like I could find a place on AirBNB and confidently know it would be convenient in terms of getting to the W Hotel in Westwood—the venue of the #140confLA event. So I tried to find a reasonably priced room in the W Hotel, which is across from the Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden at UCLA.  (BTW, there wasn't a reasonably priced room, but I bit the bullet and booked it anyway since the event was taking place there.)

Being a little bit nervous traveling by myself because I usually have my trusty Sherpa a.k.a. husband David Horsfall with me, I wasn't sure how to get from the airport to the hotel. So I called the hotel and I asked them what was the easiest way to get there from LAX? One person at the W suggested I call Uber; another person at the W said they didn't think Uber went to the airport, and suggested a taxi, and finally the third person suggested taking a shuttle from LAX to the hotel. So I went online and found the shuttle's website was kind of broken, and trying again when I went to our store and I was able to reserve a ticket and it looked like it was all good. 

It'd been a long time since I've flown on Alaska Airlines because back when I was doing a lot of web-press printing, I frequently flew back and forth between Seattle and Portland on Alaska for press checks. (Press checks involve the designer going to the printing plant to view and supervise the quality of a project being printed.) 

Over the course of maybe 10 trips from Seattle to Portland and back, I was pulled out of line and searched every flight, because as everyone knows, I look exactly like a terrorist. I wrote a letter to the president of Alaska Airlines, who said there were reasons why I was "selected" for the experience of being embarrassed and handled by people prior to every flight, but I never got an adequate explanation. So I stopped using their airline for about a decade.

Anyhow. the experience I had on Alaska Airlines was very positive this time. I was happy, and it seemed like a good omen. 

Not.

The flight from Seattle to Los Angeles is about two hours and 45 minutes. Alaska checked my carry-on bag because the flight was full, so after landing, I picked up my rolling bag and headed out to the transportation area.

It turned out I'd just missed the shuttle, so I had to wait more than an hour for the next one. Drats! But I wasn't in a hurry — just tired and hot. When the shuttle finally arrived, I asked the driver if they stopped at the W Hotel, and she said yes. So I boarded and was on my way.

It took about 45 minutes to get to the W from the airport because of traffic. I walked into the lobby and the three people at the desk were (to quote Meryl Streep's character in The Devil Wears Prada) "moving at a glacial pace." After 10-15 minutes, someone finally helped me. But in searching for my reservation, it wasn't to be found.

She called the "other W" hotel, in Westwood (at this point, I had no idea where I was or that there were TWO "W" hotels) and they confirmed my reservation was at the other one. 

So I summoned an Uber, and within a half hour, I finally arrived at the hotel, more than three hours after I'd landed at LAX. This means it took longer for me to get from LAX to the W Hotel than it took to fly from Seattle to Los Angeles!

Hot, tired and exhausted, I checked into a room that was large enough to house a family of 4. It was freezing cold, but a pleasant change from the outside temperature. I showered, changed, then went to the lobby to meet Marsha Collier and her husband Curt. We both had looked forward to that moment, so it was amazing and great to finally meet in real life!

The #140confLA event was attended by a ton of people. At the end of the evening, I took the elevator up to my room, opened the door, and was hit with a blast of cold air.

Fiddling around with the thermostat, I was unable to adjust the temperature. I took a hot shower to warm up, but found myself shivering under the covers, even after piling the extra down pillows on top of myself for warmth.

I called the front desk around midnight and explained the situation. A nice maintenance man came up, armed with a space heater. A SPACE HEATER. In the W Hotel. I mean, was this room really worth $400? 

The space heater remained on all night and throughout the morning while prior to my departure. When I got back to Seattle, I received a questionnaire from the hotel. I had some major issues, like, why doesn't the hotel have a standard recommendation for transportation for hotel guests? And why isn't the desk staff on the same page? The front desk person at the WRONG W hotel told me this mishap happens frequently. Um. Doesn't this protocol seem like something that needs to be fixed?

They took note, and the W made a gesture of peace by offering me another night there. I don't know if it will make sense to stay there the next time I go to LA, but I sure hope they get it together by then.

As my friend Reg Saddler says, it was a case of "first-world problems."

Stand of mature bamboo in the UCLA botanical gardens across from the hotel

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Thursday, June 30, 2016

Resilience. Self reliance. Resourcefulness.

Me, hugging my first dog, 1972.

A baby boomer looks back.

I think kids born in the 1950s and 1960s had the opportunity to try and fail, and their experiences engendered real, contextual learning that prepared them to succeed. Sometimes our parents would say, “good job,” but a pat on the back wasn’t the driving force propelling baby boomers to achieve.

When I was in high school, I ran track. No one came to watch me at a track meet, but it didn't make me feel bad because no one else's parents were there, either. Participation in team sports was driven by the individual child and not by parents who herded or guided kids to take certain paths.

Parents weren’t hyper-vigilant. I believe it's because it wasn't needed. For example, choosing to be part of a team meant there was an intrinsic desire to work cooperatively to achieve a goal. Improvements were based on learning from mistakes, and healthy competition provided important lessons.

These days I think it’s difficult to stay out of the affairs of our children. We want to smooth their paths. But does parental assistance (or interference) really help them, or does it disable their ability to learn to solve problems on their own?

When I was a teenager, I wanted contact lenses. But didn’t feel I could ask my family to pay for something so extravagant. I also knew I would need things for when I moved out for college in the fall: dishes, silverware, glasses, sheets and towels, pots and pans, small appliances, and a bicycle. In order to make it happen, it took planning. 

I worked three jobs — part-time after school, a baby sitting gig in the evenings, and a weekend job at Jay Jacobs, where I served on their fashion board. I was able to pay the $600 needed to buy contact lenses, and also saved enough for the bicycle and other things on my list.

This all sounds very much like, “I had to walk ten miles in the snow to get to school,” but it's meant to say hard work is often necessary to get where we want to go. And when self-identified goals are in our sights, we have real incentives to achieve them.

It makes me wonder if every generation feels life was tough when they were young? The saying, “Where there is a will, there’s a way,” is profoundly true. I hope our desire to make life easier for our kids allows them to develop goals, and devise ways to achieve them without mom's and dad’s help.

Resilience. Self reliance. Resourcefulness. Encouraging these qualities could be among the greatest gifts we give to our children.

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Saturday, April 30, 2016

How to Deal with Disappointment


It’s weird how you can be merrily be rolling along when something you don’t want to happen, happens. 

I was in the eighth grade when my family moved from Seattle to Arizona. Middle school is an awkward time, and I was just hitting my stride socially and emotionally. Suddenly I found myself leaving my friends and life for a place with virtually no racial diversity—very different from Seattle. I was initially regarded as somewhat of a freak.

Even so, I managed to adjust to Arizona, and after two years, my dad’s Boeing assignment was done, so we were able to return to Seattle. When we got home, everything was different. Our house had been rented, and the yard, which had always been meticulously maintained, had been completely neglected. In fact, as we drove up to the house, Caesar, a neighborhood kid, was playing with friends and popped his head up from the tall grass that, much to the chagrin of our neighbors, used to be our lawn.

The worst disappointment was learning my parents were going to divorce. At that time, divorce was shameful. Asians stayed unhappily married forever rather than cast shame on their families. But my dad had fallen in love with another woman.

I was embarrassed to be from a “broken home.” I knew people talked about us. There was nothing I could do to alter the situation, so I just kept forging ahead, maintaining my grades, and taking after school and weekend jobs to help. I was thinking of my own misery and not thinking about the deeper humiliation my mom must have been experiencing. 

As harsh as it was to have divorced parents and to live a new life at poverty level, I filled out my own college applications, applied for grants and ended up at a community college because it was the only school that offered me money. 

Working my way through college was amazing accomplishment, but I’ve often wished I could say I’d had financial support from my family.

Many parents today want to avoid subjecting their kids to negative fallout. Not just in instances like divorce, but in any challenges their kids could face where there is a potential of disappointment.

Today I was talking with a friend about her disabled child. Despite the disability, her son is able to attend college part time. taking one to two classes each quarter. In his classes, he performs at an exceptional level.

She believes her son should be on the Dean’s list because he maintains a 3.7 GPA. But the school has a rule that says students must be full-time students in order to be considered for the Dean’s list, so he isn’t eligible.

My friend is upset because she feels her son is disabled, and therefore not subject to the rules that govern able-bodied kids. That said, able-bodied kids taking a full load also have a challenge—juggling the work that comes with taking additional credits. 

She will fight tooth and nail to change the school’s policy, and knowing how smart and tenacious she is, there is a good chance she will succeed.

It’s frustrating and sad to have a child who is less abled, and to see rules in place that exclude them from prizes and recognition. But is it the child’s disappointment, or the parent’s?

Her story came on the heels of a discussion with a colleague yesterday about the tendency for today’s parents to protect their children from failure and disappointment. Preemptively smoothing paths for children is well-intentioned, but I think can be a disservice because it impedes opportunities for children to learn to resolve problems on their own.

A disabled child is very different than an able-bodied child. But in both cases, there is a certainty — at some point everyone experiences disappointment. 

We’ll never become desensitized to disappointment, whatever the cause. Things will always happen that we don't want to happen. My wise friend, York, offers an answer: “Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.” These are words I’ve come to live by.


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POSTSCRIPT: My friend was successful in forcing the University of Washington to change their policy, and it now allows part-time students to be included on the Dean's List.
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Monday, February 29, 2016

Enjoy free books, movies, music, digital media & the Internet

Through The Seattle Public Library

The Sally Goldmark Library in Madrona is our local branch.
Sometimes I think my husband, David, and I are the only people in Seattle who don’t subscribe to Netflix or Hulu.

I guess one reason why is, we aren’t huge consumers of video content and we'd regard it as wasteful to pay for something we won’t use.

We like watching films and television series, but since we opened Alki Surf Shop, we have even less discretionary time, including TV time. We spend an average of about an hour each evening watching films or programs.

Truth be told, we’d dearly love to “cut the Comcast cord,” but there are certain channels that would be a bummer to lose, like Bloomberg News, and any channel that airs "Law and Order" episodes :) 

The concept of getting rid of cable became more of a possibility when David discovered a treasure trove of content available through The Seattle Public Library (SPL). He regularly visits the SPL web site, and when he sees movies or TV shows that look promising, we “get it in the queue.” 

Built in 1919, our branch
was a former firehouse
We’ve come to rely on SPL to supply us with most of our viewing entertainment. Most everything is available regardless of the original source, including new movies and exclusive programming like House of Cards, Game of Thrones or Orange is the New Black.

I imagine what we’re doing harkens back to the early days of Netflix. When we request movies and shows, we receive them in the order they become available. SPL notifies us when the media are delivered to our neighborhood library branch for pick up. You’re allowed to check out 50 items at the same time, so patrons can binge watch/read/listen.

I found some pretty amazing statistics about our library. Among them:
  • In 2014, there were 13,810,274 visits to the central library, branches, and virtual visits
  • 11,744,874 books, DVDs, CDs, audiobooks and digital downloads were circulated
  • In addition, 831,412 reference questions were answered. 
When I want to check facts, have a grammar question, or need information on a company, SPL’s Quick Information is amazing. It’s like having a research assistant at the tip of your fingertips. SPL even offers homework help.

Earlier this month I wrote a story about our AirBNB houseand its lack of connectivity. Through one of the blog comments, I learned about SPL’s wifi hotspot program.

Thanks to the Seattle Public Library Foundation, and a $225,000 grant from Google, SPL now has 150 portable wifi hotspots available to loan to library users. Says city librarian Marcellus Turner, "Loaning mobile hotspots to people living without broadband access is another way The Seattle Public Library is taking our mission beyond the walls of our libraries and directly to our patrons where they are."

SPL's Verizon hotspot is small and amazing
Verizon is the only major carrier to provide cell phone service to The Horsfall House near Mount Rainier. Since I'm a fan and supporter of  Verizon, I asked Sharon Griggins, Director of Development and Communications for the SPL Foundation how they chose their hotspot provider. Her response was, “To the best of my knowledge, the Library went with Verizon as the provider for the hotspots after checking with several vendors to see who would have the best deal and the best service for our area."  So, it was very much in the spirit of #bettermatters!

For all of us who experience completely connected lives, the Internet is something we take for granted. But there are many for whom access to the Internet is a luxury.

Lots of people think: Library: books. But the Seattle Public Library continues to evolve, and really brings the wired world within reach of everyone.

It’s pretty obvious I’m a library fan, and I’m also proud to be a donor. 

Seattle friends, if you value our amazing resource, I invite you to join me in supporting the Seattle Public Library! 

"Connecting Seattle," and "Reader in window" images via The Seattle Public Library and The Seattle Public Library Foundation.
Wifi hotspot image via Verizon. Goldmark Library images © Terri Nakamura 2016.


Special thanks to Melissa Nakamura and Elizabeth Carpenter for their help.
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Disclosure: As a member of a great group of Verizon influencers, I'm invited to share my honest thoughts on cool products to test drive. No additional compensation is provided, nor are favorable comments promised. All opinions are my own.
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Thursday, December 31, 2015

Goodbye 2015; Hello 2016

Goodbye 2015, Hello 2016

This final day of 2015
started out pretty normally. Woke up, fed the cats, put on my make-up, got dressed, then looked at my to-do list. All doable!


I needed to pick up my car from my mechanic of 19 years, and no one was around to drive me there, so I called Uber. Uber was in 50 percent surge-price mode, so I said, forget that! Opened Lyft and put in my location and request...

Lyft did something weird. I watched the Lyft car circle around, then was notified the car had arrived. Scanning all directions—no Lyft. The driver calls and tells me he is in West Seattle. Uh, yeah. I was 20 minutes away in Madrona. Wonder what happened? Obviously I couldn't wait for him, so I called my old standby, Farwest Taxi. They said it would be 15 minutes until a cab would reach me. No thanks. In this age of "I have no time to wait," I called Yellow Cab next. They arrived in 5 minutes.

An older East African gentleman was driving and he wouldn't exceed 25 MPH. Drove me kind of nuts, actually, and eventually I jumped out a few blocks early and sprinted to my mechanic.

Let me just back up by saying my family and I went to Star Wars on Tuesday evening. We were in a hurry (of course), but I wanted to grab my gloves out of my car. When I shut the door, I don't know how it was possible, but I slammed it shut on my Northface jacket. The door would. not. open.  I had to twist around to extricate myself, then left the jacket hanging outside the door, then ran into the house and got another down coat. (It's really cold here right now.)


Weird how the door wouldn't open

My car was scheduled for a tune up at CarTender Wednesday, so I figured I'd ask them to get the door unjammed. I felt pretty lame driving there with my coat partly hanging outside the car.

CarTender always washes and vacuums my car. But this time, I got there and it was still dirty. I asked the car-washing crew what was up, they said, "Well, at least we got your coat out of the door :)" Whoops. I was an ingrate! I paid my bill, wished some of the guys happy new year, drove away and was on to my next errand.

So we got a coupon for a free box of litter from Mud Bay. The coupon expires today. My plan was to pick up the litter after retrieving my car.

After searching 15 minutes for the store, it turned out Mud Bay moved. Guess where? Just a few blocks from my mechanic! Hey, let's drive all around Capitol Hill for no reason! Yay!

I got to the new location for Mud Bay, but of course there was no parking. So I parked next door at the convenience store, ran in, bought a bag of chips and asked the guy if it would be okay to leave my car there a few minutes.

Zipped into Mud Bay, bag of chips in hand. I thought I should buy something since they were going to give me a box of litter, so I grabbed 10 rattle mice. Rattle mice are toys for cats that look like mice—covered with fur, with ears, a nose, eyes and tail. They have something inside that rattle, which somehow makes it more fun for cats.

Got to the checkout and guess what? They were out of the Oko litter and had no idea when they would get some—a supply chain issue or something. So I bought the rattle mice anyway. I now found myself with a bag of chips and 10 rattle mice I didn't need.


Sweet dog at Mud Bay


But what's this? Lyft notifies me they are billing me $5 for a ride cancellation. What a minute. They never showed up. Is that considered a cancellation? Grrrr! 

Next stop: Costco. What do you know? I got a great parking spot just outside the door! Finally, things were looking up!

Costco was a total zoo but I managed to get my stuff and get out within an hour.

As I loaded my car, I walked around to the passenger side, and wow. There was a five-dollar bill on the asphalt! That almost paid for my cab ride!

Seeing that my day was on the upswing, I had to feel better about the way it started. It was riddled with what my friend Reg likes to call, "first-world problems."

So this evening, to celebrate new year's eve, we met two long-time friends for dinner at Cafe Lago, one of our favorites. The food reminds us of Tuscany. 

One friend got very drunk and knocked over a full glass of water onto the table, my phone and into my lap. Nice. 

After dinner we walked out, freezing pant legs from where I was doused with water, and with drunken friend singing loudly (and out of tune), "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling." I don't know if I'd lost that lovin' feeling, but I was starting to lose feeling in my legs.

Walked in the door to our home. A phone call from our property manager, saying our AirBNB guests lost power on the second floor. Oh, no! 

David told them where to find the circuit breaker. Power restored. All good!

Ready to say goodbye to 2015, I am counting my blessings, I have a wonderful husband, kids, friends and clients. I love our store, Alki Surf Shop, and blessed with many great people in our lives. And I'm also grateful to have my health. Next September 1 will be my 10th anniversary in remission. I'm ready for 2016!

Happy New year to everyone!

If you have any great 2015 stories, I'd love to read them!


Family together for Christmas, including our two dogs, Grey and Hunter

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Verizon Wireless has given me the opportunity to use some of their products. Family photo and coat in the door shot with a Motorola Droid Turbo 2. No other compensation has been received for any of the links mentioned.

Special thanks to Jennifer for inspiring me to write this!



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Monday, November 30, 2015

Fall Into a Savory Soup


After traveling in New York for several days to attend a Verizon Summit (#vzsummit), and enjoying meals at fabulous restaurants there, I returned, craving home made comfort food.

Just before the trip, I roasted a pretty sizable pumpkin (uncarved), yielding a two large sheet pans of delicious pieces of roasted pumpkin. 

So before heading into Alki Surf Shop on Saturday, I searched for a pumpkin soup recipe, and found one that looked good, but I didn’t have some of the ingredients.

Never one to let a missing ingredient stop me, I forged on!

The original recipe, Thai Pumpkin Soup with Coconut Milk, called for lemongrass, fresh coriander, vegetable stock and coconut milk. But I didn’t have any of those things. So here’s what I did:

Terri’s Pantry Pumpkin Soup
Ingredients: 
  • 2 TB Olive Oil
  • 1.5 medium onions, diced
  • 5 cloves of garlic left whole
  • 3.5 lbs. of roasted pumpkin, diced*
  • 1 tsp ground coriander 
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 2 TB fresh minced ginger** (which BTW, was frozen—more below)
  • zest of half a lemon

Stock
Ingredients: 
  • 4 cups water plus 4 chicken bouillon cubes
  • 1/4 tsp ground coriander 
  • 1/4 tsp onion power
  • 1/4 garlic powder

I’d already roasted the pumpkin and had it on hand, and as anyone who likes roasted vegetables knows, it's the most flavorful way to eat veggies. All you have to do is coat your veggies with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, than place on cookie sheets for about an hour at 450 degrees. OMG.

Soup Directions:
  1. Heat the oil in a large stock pot, dump in the garlic and onions, and sauté until translucent
  2. Add chopped pumpkin, minced ginger, 1 tsp of coriander and 2 tsp of curry, and cook for about 5 minutes. It will look sort of mushy.
  3. Dissolve 4 chicken bouillon cubes in a quart of warm water, then add 1/4 tsp onion powder; 1/4 tsp garlic powder; and 1/4 tsp ground coriander to the stock. (Since I didn’t have vegetable stock (in the original recipe) and had just used the last 4 cans of chicken stock to make pumpkin soup earlier this week, this was a workaround.)
  4. Dump the stock into the pumpkin mixture and bring to a boil.
  5. Simmer for 30 minutes, then add the zest of 1/2 lemon 

The cool part!

My adorable sister gave me a immersion stick blender a few years ago. Since then, I bought another, and another and have gifted four of them to family and friends. I LOVE THEM!

Does it Blend? 

You bet! In the stockpot, if you have a stick blender, just BLEND IT.

In a few minutes, you have an amazing, rich soup. And since I skipped adding the coconut milk listed in the original recipe, I have to think it has a whole lot fewer calories.

SIMPLY YUMMY! Give it a try, or give me a shout with any questions and I'll do my best to answer.

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BONUS STUFF

*Roasted Pumpkin
  1. Wash, core (save the seeds!) and cut up the pumpkin into chucks. Mine were around 5-6” in size.
  2. Coat the pieces with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper
  3. Single layer on cookie sheet(s) place into a 450 degree oven for about an hour. The fleshy part of the pumpkin with be fork tender.
  4. Peel the skin and chop up. I even eat the pumpkin with a bit of butter as a (sort of bland) side dish.
**Ginger trick!

I always store ginger root in the freezer. It keeps beautifully. For this recipe, I took a chunk that came to about 2 TB, and microwaved  it for 30 seconds, turned it and gave it another 30. The skin just slid off! I then julienned, then minced. 


Roasted pumpkin seeds

The pumpkin seeds were washed and drained. I threw a tablespoon of Johnny’s seasoning salt and mixed around and left it standing for an hour or so. I then spread on a cookie sheet and put into a 450 degrees oven, roasting until golden brown. They’re so good, I eat the entire thing, shell and all.

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My mobile lifestyle has been made possible in part through the largesse of Verizon Wireless. Just getting acquainted with my new Droid Turbo 2 and the ultra cool Moto 360 Smart Watch. 


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