Dec 12

Happy Hanukkah

hanukkah

 

Hanukkah 2017 begins at sunset (4:48 where I am) on Tuesday, December 12 and ends on Wednesday, December 20.

Hanukkah is the Festival of Lights.

It commemorates the victory of the ancient Israelites over the Syrian Greek army and the subsequent miracle of restoring the menorah in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.

The miracle of Hanukkah is that only one vial of oil was found with just enough oil for one day, and yet it lasted for eight full days.

 

Dec 11

Dickensian

I’m loving this TV show from Britain!

Dickensian is a British drama television series that premiered on BBC One from 26 December 2015 to 21 February 2016. The 20-part series brings characters from many Charles Dickens novels together in one Victorian London neighbourhood, as Inspector Bucket investigates the murder of Ebenezer Scrooge‘s partner Jacob Marley.

 

We are staying in a Residence Inn long term (more on that starting tomorrow!) and I’d ordered a Roku box as a temporary fix for my beloved TiVo.

We’ve just watched the first episode so far but I’m loving this show – it has all the elements I love – murder, Victorian characters, period costumes…

Episode 1: Christmas Eve. Jacob Marley collects from Grandfather, who is soon relieved at Nell’s recovery from an illness. Amelia Havisham learns from Mr Jaggers that she has inherited most of her late father’s estate; her brother Arthur, angered by the news, stages a confrontation that his accomplice, Meriwether Compeyson, acting the innocent passerby, curtails before escorting Amelia to Satis House. At Marley’s request, Fagin has Sikes bring Nancy to the moneylender’s house. Bob Cratchit scrounges together a supper for his family. Marley is found murdered in a dockside alley.

The only thing that’s bothering me so far is Inspector Bucket.  I keep imaging him as Mrs. Bucket on Keeping Up Appearances.

Nov 18

Giving Thanks, Day 33: November 18, 2017

Adapted from https://cushieblog.com/2010/11/22/40-days-of-thankfulness-days-thirty-one-to-thirty-five/

 

Today is the anniversary of my one and only zipline experience.
I had been thinking about doing this since my kidney cancer surgery 3 years earlier.  I figured I had “extra years” and I wanted to do something kinda scary, yet fun. So, somehow, I decided on ziplining.

All the following is I wrote then:

Day Four, November 18, 2009: Belize City, Honduras

Today’s Schedule!

Up and at ‘em early this morning.

This is finally the zipline day I’ve been thinking about since my kidney cancer surgery 3 years ago. Since then, I figure I have “extra years” and I wanted to do something kinda scary, yet fun. So, somehow, I decided on ziplining. Tom wouldn’t go with me but Michael would so I set this up almost as soon as we booked this cruise.

Our tour left first so after breakfast, Michael and I got on the tender for Belize. Tom’s tender was about 45 minutes later. Even though the tender went zipping along, it was about 20 minutes to shore.

We got on our bus with about 30 other brave and not-so-brave folks and our guide, Eddie, told us a bit about Belize City, Belize in general and what to expect on our tour.

Belize City used to be the capital of British Honduras (as Belize was formerly named) but it’s 2 feet below sea level and prone to hurricanes so the capital was moved to the other city – Belmopan in 1970. It was almost entirely destroyed in 1961 when Hurricane Hattie swept ashore on October 31.

Because of the altitude, graves are all above ground.

The main languages are English (the official language), Spanish and Kriol. Eddie said the kids learned English in school but, as soon as they were out, it was back to the Kriol. They wear uniforms to school.

Bordering on Mexico, Guatemala and the Caribbean, Belize is the second smallest country in Central America (after El Salvador), with an area of approximately 9,000 square miles that includes numerous small islands off the coast known as cayes.

More than half of the mainland is covered with dense forests, and at its longest point Belize is 174 miles long while its greatest width is 68 miles. Long a strong advocate of environmental protection, the government has set aside approximately 20% of its land as nature reserves.

There are also several important Mayan sites situated on the mainland such as Altun Ha and Xunantunich that make for excellent day trips and are included on shore excursions by most cruise ships. As a matter of fact, Belize has the highest concentration of Mayan sites of all the countries in Central America.

Eddie tried to tell us that our tour would be scary – but FUN, it would be hard – but FUN. He himself had done the zipline only once, because he had to for this job. He said that the caves might have things brushing up against us but they would be leaves and twigs. The caves might have “log-gators” in them, too.

We travelled along the 37-mile drive along the Western Highway – the scenery changed from city to suburbs, to a settlement called Hattieville where hurricane survivors met to life after the country was destroyed, to the beginnings of the rain forest.

We turned down a road to a jaguar preserve – yes, they have them here! then, finally, to our destination, Caves Branch National Park.

Eddie handed out water (which we had to leave on the bus). A bathroom break, then off to the zipline area.

Each person had a harness around their legs with attached pulleys and carabiners. Women had them on their chests as well. In addition, we had leather construction gloves and hard hats.

We climbed to the top of the first platform and were given brief instructions and off we went. Because of the heavy gloves, I couldn’t get any pictures. I had thought that they would take some of us on the hardest line to sell to us later but they didn’t. They also didn’t have cave pictures or T-Shirts. What a missed opportunity!

This was so cool, so much fun. I thought I might be afraid at first but I wasn’t. I just followed instructions and went.

Sometimes they told us to break. We did that with the right hand, which was always on the upper cable.

After the second line, I must have braked too soon because I stopped before I got to the platform. Michael was headed toward me. The guide on the end of the platform wanted me to do some hand over hand maneuver but I couldn’t figure out what he was saying so he came and got me by wrapping his legs around me and pulling me to the platform.

After that, no more problems with braking!

The next platform was very high – over 70 feet in the air – and the climb up was difficult. It was very hot and the rocks were very uneven. I don’t know that I would have gotten to the next platform if Michael hadn’t cheered me on all the way.

We zipped down the next six lines up to 250-feet between platforms and 85-feet high in the trees, at canopy level. It seemed like it was all over too soon.

But, I did it! No fear, just fun.

Here we are, after getting our gear off. The people behind Michael are just starting out on their zipline adventure. I thought maybe we could go again…?

Next stop was lunch in the trees. It was a buffet similar to those in Barbados – a jerk chicken (Eddie had said it would taste like chicken – might be egret, road kill, log-gator or even…chicken!), peas and rice, a pasta salad, cake, fruit salad, the usual fare.

Next up, cave tubing! This is the event I got my new waterproof camera for. Thanks again, Alice!

 

If you’re interested in reading the cave tubing part, it’s here: http://www.cushingsonline.com/cruise/cruise2009.htm

Nov 12

Giving Thanks, Day 26: November 12, 2017

 

Our son Facetimed yesterday, just to chat.

I am thankful that he’s doing so well for himself, has a wonderful fiance, has a good job, good friends, is a fine musician and that he’s not afraid to say he loves his parents.

 

We love you, too!

 

Nov 11

Giving Thanks, Day 25: November 11, 2017

Giving thanks to our Veterans today

 

veterans-day

I’m not sure how Veterans Day turned into a Friday holiday and a day to sell stuff, but then, most every holiday has turned into a day for stores to run “sales”.  Possibly, the original intent was to give our veterans a break but it has sure morphed away from that.

Veterans Day is supposed to be a day to thank those who have served.

From the Constitution:

Whereas the 11th of November 1918, marked the cessation of the most destructive, sanguinary, and far reaching war in human annals and the resumption by the people of the United States of peaceful relations with other nations, which we hope may never again be severed, and

Whereas it is fitting that the recurring anniversary of this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations;…

 

But I digress.  This year, today is also Remembrance Day in the UK – including Scotland where my grandfather was a soldier in the Black Watch.

remembrance

 

I never met my grandfather.  He had died in Peshawar, India, fighting for the Black Watch during World War l.  Peshawar was on the northern frontier of British India, near the Khyber Pass.

In 1947, Peshawar became part of the newly independent state of Pakistan after politicians approved merger into the state that had just been carved from British India.

peshawar

We have a trunk of his belongings, though, and it’s very interesting to recreate his life.

My dad was born in Scotland in 1913.

In 1914, my grandfather was involved in this:

On the outbreak of war there were seven Black Watch battalions – for in addition to the Regular 1st and 2nd Battalions and 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion there were a further four Territorial ones which had become part of the Regiment in 1908. They were the 4th Dundee [Mary O’Note: I’m pretty sure this was his, since that’s where my dad was born], 5th Angus, 6th Perthshire and the 7th Battalion from Fife. The 1st Battalion was in action at the very start of the war taking part in the Retreat from Mons before turning on the Germans at the River Marne and the subsequent advance to the Aisne. Trench warfare then set in and the 2nd Battalion arrived from India, both battalions taking part in the Battle of Givenchy. Meanwhile the Territorial battalions had been mobilised at the start of the war but only the 5th was in action in 1914.

From http://www.theblackwatch.co.uk/index/first-world-war

black watch

 

Black_Watch2

I guess this is why I love the Pipes and Drums of the Black Watch so much.

blackwatch-pipers

Thanks, Grandpa!

The Edinburgh Tattoo had been on my bucket list for a long time since my grandfather was in the Black Watch and I just love to hear bagpipes. Even my cellphone ringtone is Scotland, the Brave.

 

 

My mom says that my Grandfather’s name is inscribed as a war hero in Edinburgh Castle, where the Tattoo is held.  You know, I’ll find that!

 

Thanks so much Tom and Frank and everyone who served the US and Europe.

Nov 09

Giving Thanks, Day 23: November 9, 2017

I know I missed a couple posts but today’s is most important, so I’ll go back and get the others…later

 


Today I am so thankful that I had my best friend, my “sister” for so many years.  We shared so much together, good times, bad times, birthdays, secrets, hackers, PITAs.

Last year, I happened to find that restaurant again – Cafe Un Deux Trois and it was so special to me.

We got to our location faster than expected and walked around the block.  I was stunned when we saw Cafe Un Deux Trois!

un-deux

 

Cafe Un Deux Trois has a special memory for me.  November 2, 2003, Michael decided to run the New York Marathon.  We went to NY to see him run.  (He finished in 4:21:57.  The average for males that year was 4:28:56).

marathon

From good-old Wikipedia:

The New York City Marathon (branded TCS New York City Marathon and formerly branded ING New York City Marathon for sponsorship reasons) is an annual marathon (42.195 km or 26.219 mi) that courses through the five boroughs of New York City. It is the largest marathon in the world, with 50,304 finishers in 2013. Along with the Boston Marathon and Chicago Marathon, it is among the pre-eminent long-distance annual running events in the United States and is one of the World Marathon Majors.

My best friend, Alice, and her brother (David) were living in Brooklyn and they decided to meet us in Manhattan on Saturday night.  Michael and a friend went to a comedy show while Alice, David, Tom and I walked around Times Square, just talking.  We turned down a side street and saw… Cafe Un Deux Trois.  We decided to go in to eat.

I remember nothing about the meal.  But, at the next table was Ben Gazzara,  Gena Rowlands, Peter Bogdanovitch and 3-4 others I didn’t recognize.  After about half an hour, Carol Kane came in, too.  It turned out that Ben Gazzara was in a one man show across the street which had just opened: Nobody Don’t Like Yogi.  All this made the meal very exciting.  

For the last several years, every time we’ve been near Times Square, I’ve looked down the side streets for this restaurant and never saw it again until this day.

A very nice memory of Alice.

 

 

bd-alice

 

Another birthday is here and I’ve now passed you age-wise. 🙁  I had always taken such delight being able to say that I was the younger one.  Not any more 🙁

 

Each year, the non-birthday-girl would be planning and plotting online, as well as real-life, surprises.  We had hand-made wrapping paper and all sorts of exotic and non-exotic gifts.  Right now, I’m wearing a cozy robe from a zillion years ago.

 

Way back in 1998, when I was learning web design, I posted a whole mini-site for that birthday.  Unfortunately, HTML code no longer allows for the music to play, but I had carefully thought out tunes for each day.  The page titles aren’t showing, either.

  • The main page title was “Happy Millennium Birthday, Alice!” and played a simple Happy Birthday  
  • The theme to Perry Mason aka “Peri MasonPause” on the “Flora”  page
  • the “Born” page had the theme to Alice’s Restaurant with no special title
  • the “Robert Redford” page had The Way We Were.  The title was “To Alice, from Bob (with lust)”
  • the “musician and his music” page was Bach’s Toccata and Fugue and the title was “Happy Bachday, Alice!”
  • the “flowers” page was The Rose with no special title

See that site here: http://www.oconnormusic.org/aliceBD/birthday.htm

 

The last page of that site was particularly important.  I’d emailed all of Alice’s past guest speakers and other PS members and compiled this list of great wishes: http://www.oconnormusic.org/aliceBD/guests.htm

We’d be up at 12:01 am, posting wishes, decorating message boards and doing the final touches for websites.

turbanIn 2003, I’d apparently posted a picture of Flora Dora (again!) and Alice responded:

MaryO, what can I say other than that it was a wonderful and beautiful surprise to see my guest announcement area turned into a beautiful, sparkling birthday greeting — and Flora Dora, Power Surge’s mascot and RR — but especially your beautiful wishes.

I responded:

After all these years, it’s getting harder and harder to come up with new ideas for how to do an online surprise. There have been a variety of different things for different birthdays, but I have to keep you guessing   I hope that you don’t mind that I’m holding the announcement area hostage for a little longer.

I’m sure that many of the newer people don’t know who Flora Dora is, but she’s an essential part of Power Surge so she have to be included somehow – kinda like inviting your maiden aunt to Thanksgiving 🙂 Of course, RR is welcome – anytime! I’m so glad that I could make an online surprise for you again this year – maybe I should start planning for NEXT year already.

I hope we share many more birthdays together as the close friends we’ve become over the years.

On a more serious side, you’re very welcome for the “beautiful wishes”.  Sometimes, words fail me and I don’t do things justice, but you and Power Surge have changed my life in so many ways that go beyond “simple” menopause issues. When I first came to Power Surge on AOL, I was a confirmed lurker, reading only, never posting.

The first chat I tried to hide out until you asked me a question, encouraging me to talk. This was all so scary for me, communicating with others – online or off. I can say with confidence, that I’m no longer a lurker on the boards and in the chats like I was, and that was all your doing. Thanks so much for that!

Now I just have to work on my real life lurkership! The knowlege I got here in Power Surge, even when I was lurking, helped me so much with my menopause, my symptoms, my everyday life. Like most everyone else, I learned about the way to help my meno symptoms and I’m so thankful of that, that I could be feeling better.

When my husband was very sick, close to death, my first December in PS, I wouldn’t post, but I would come home from the hospital and read everything that other people were posting. It seemed so great to me, and it was such a comfort to me to know that everyone was out there. I recognized people’s names and enjoyed “listening” to the banter and chatter, and that gave me something other than the hospital and my own worries to think about. No matter what the time of day was, I could always read and see that things were ok with the world, and know that we were going to survive this. What a wonderful community Power Surge is!

Things have come along way since then. My husband made it, thanks to a skilled surgeon and a LOT of prayer. And I gradually changed, too. I’m obviously not afraid to post anymore, or go to chats, and I really have you to thank for that. Over the years there have been many changes, the boards have moved, been started again from scratch, updated, all kinds of things, as have the chats, but one thing remains clear and unchanged – and that Power Surge isn’t just another “website”. It is a true community for women in midlife, something we can gain daily strength from. (sorry about the preposition!)

And it’s all because of you, Dearest Alice Stamm. Thank you so much, and I hope it was a wonderful birthday – you deserve the very best!

Hugs and thanks from the bottom of my heart! Mary

From the message boards in 2004:

online-friend

From 2005:

We have decided to let you accept the responsibilities of a 6 year old again.
If you want to sail sticks across a fresh mud puddle and make ripples with rocks, that’s great.
If you want to think M&Ms are better than money, because you can eat them, they are calorie-free (today only!).
If you want to lie under a big Oak tree next summer and run a lemonade stand with your friends (and fellow Surgettes) on a hot summers day, we’ll give you a voucher.
That summer-time voucher is also good for walking on the beach and thinking of the sand between your toes and the prettiest seashell you can find. Or you can spend the afternoon climbing trees and riding your bike.
We are returning you to a time when life was simple. When all you knew were colors, addition tables and simple nursery rhymes. But that didn’t bother you, because you didn’t know what you didn’t know and you didn’t care. When all you knew was to be happy because you didn’t know all the things that should make you worried and upset.
You’re going to go to school and have snack time, recess, gym and field trips.
You’ll be so happy, nothing will make you upset.
We’re going to let you think that the world is fair. That everyone in it is honest and good…that anything is possible.
For today, you’re going to be oblivious to the complexity of life and be overly excited by little things once again, returned to the days when reading was fun.
No worries about time, bills, websites that crash, guest chats where the guest can’t get in, excess email, time….No more worry about computer crashes, mountains of paperwork, depressing news, aches, pains, doctor visits or illness.
We’re going to help you believe in the power of smiles, hugs, a kind word, truth, justice, peace, health, dreams, the imagination, mankind and making angels in the snow.
You’re going to be 6 again, for today (and probably some of us will want to join you!). From all of us…

QUOTE (Dearest @ Nov 10 2005, 09:23 AM)

Thank you all for your warm and wonderful birthday wishes.

A very special thank you to my friend, MaryO, for the beautiful greeting, for including Power Surge’s mascot, Flora Dora at the top of the screen — and especially for allowing me to be six again even if only for a day 🙂

And I said:

You know, you can always apply for an extension of the day being 6. Click here to apply.

Glad you had a great birthday and much-needed vacation. If you want to extend either of those, please let me know and I’ll see if I can locate an extension for either of those.

Happy Post-Birthday!

In 2006, Alice said:

Thank you ALL for your wonderful birthday wishes and beautiful sentiments about how much Power Surge means to and has done for you. That makes all the years of work that’s gone into this “community” worthwhile (with, perhaps, the exception of dealing with HACKERSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!) 🙂

I don’t know some of you very well. Others I know well and have established lovely friendships with. You know who you are. Thank you, too, for your beautiful flowers, birthday cards, online greetings, etc.

And thank you, my dear friend, MaryO, for starting this topic and for being the sister I never had 🙂 I’m so glad I impulsively decided to give myself a birthday present last month and called saying, “C’mon, let’s go to see Streisand!!” That was the highlight of my/our year. To be sitting so close to her, and SO close to and watching people mingle like: Bill and Hillary Clinton, Lauren Bacall, James Brolin, Katie Couric, Stephen Sondheim, Rosie O’Donnell, Sting, Hugh Jackman, Steven Spielberg, Regis and Joy Philbin, Sara Jessica Parker — and many, many others.

It was like the first time we met a few years ago and stopped into a restaurant [Cafe Un Deux Trois] only to find a few minutes later that Gena Rowlands, Ben Gazzara, Peter Bogdonovich, Carol Kane and others, whose names elude me at the moment, came in and sat at the table next to us. Knowing me, I had to go over and talk to them, especially Gena Rowlands, who’s still beautiful and elegant and was so gracious.

The past few years, starting with my emergency surgery and all the ensuing complications, my mom’s fall down the stairs and subsequent need for constant care, my dad passing away only four months later and my own ongoing and confusing health issues — too much stress.

The past few months have been better — we’ve both been through a LOT this year especially!

Special thanks to those of you who’ve generously given donations (some of you even more than once) to the site to help defray some of the expenses of running it.

I’m grateful to be alive and very proud of Power Surge and all the women (and men) it’s helped over the years plus all the wonderful women who participate in it 🙂

Alice

And I responded:

To be sitting so close to her…
You mean me…or Barbra? LOL

It was so amazing how that trip worked out. It was the most spontaneous thing I had ever done.

My son was home from grad school for “fall break” formerly known as Columbus Day weekend. He was flying back on Wednesday, through JFK.

After Alice got the tickets for Barbra on Monday (amazing in itself), I was able to get on Michael’s flight to JFK – only one trip to the airport! The flight number was the same as Alice’s street address. Do I hear Twilight Zone music?

What a great birthday gift you got for yourself – thank you so much for sharing it with me 🙂

Happy post-birthday!

From 2007

The top header on the boards:

logo4

Followed by

birthday2007

And Alice said…

Firstly, {{{{{MaryO}}}}, my old and dear friend, thank you for starting this topic and for the beautifully creative graphic and sentiments you made for my birthday. I don’t have to tell you what your friendship has meant to me all these years (you already know). Hugs!

Thank you all for your good wishes. Someone wrote to me, “I hope you had a peaceful birthday.” That’s exactly what it was . . . peaceful.

Thank you also for your kind words about Power Surge. It’s been a labor of love for 14 years . . . about to start its 15th year Feb. 3rd, 2008. I have a pretty good idea how many women’s lives have been impacted by this “community.” In all these years, including the start-up years on America Online, I’ve probably posted in the area of 100,000 messages on the numerous PS message boards. I can’t post as much as I used to any longer for many reasons, but I’m always working in the background to maintain this site that’s become a tremendous source of information and haven of support for all the visitors who come to it every day.

What started out as a blank page in an HTML editor has grown to exactly what I’d planned. I’m very proud of every facet of Power Surge including this message board.

Finally, thank you to all those who have made donations to Power Surge. I have thanked each and every one of you individually. Your donations have been helpful in defraying some of the ever-increasing costs involved with running Power Surge.

Again, thank you.

Best,
Dearest

Then, 2008

dearest-alice-2008

alice-2008

And that’s enough for this year.  I have to save some out 🙂

~~~

So, it’s 19 years since I made that first silly website.  I’m no longer scrambling to get something to post by 12:01 am for your birthday.

I still can’t believe that you won’t be reading this later, calling me when UPS / amazon / FEDex arrives with gifts so we can open them “together”.

We’ve said it once, we’ve said it dozens of times.  Even when we’re apart we’re

foreverfriends

hbalice

alice-miss-you

Nov 07

Giving Thanks, Day 20: November 6, 2017

As it turns out, I didn’t give thanks yesterday when the Roto-Rooter guy left yesterday as he did absolutely nothing. 🙁

Our troubles weren’t going down the drain at all.


 

 

Today, I give thanks and shed a more than a few tears for a wonderful friend, co-worker, choir buddy, special person to everyone he met.

I’m so thankful I got to sing in the choir honoring Tim – and I’m very thankful that this Celebration of Life was live-streamed on Facebook so I can watch and listen again.

 

 

At the cemetery, another of our fine tenors led us in singing Amazing Grace.  When we got to the verse “When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun…”  the sun came out in full force – an amazing God Moment, welcoming Tim home.

More about Tim here

Nov 05

Giving Thanks, Day 19: November 5, 2017

Right now, I’ll give thanks when the Roto-Rooter guy finally arrives.

 

 

 

 

Nov 04

Giving Thanks, Day 18: November 4, 2017

 

Today I am thankful that the skunk already passed by when I took Mimi out for a walk a couple days ago!

It’s so not fair! I can’t smell lots of flowers or perfumes but I can smell a skunk blocks away.

 

 

 

 

 

Nov 03

Giving Thanks, Day 17: November 3, 2017

 

Today is the 30th anniversary of my pituitary surgery at NIH.

As one can imagine, it hasn’t been all happiness and light.  Most of my journey has been documented here and on the message boards – and elsewhere around the web.

My Cushing’s has been in remission for most of these 30 years.  Due to scarring from my pituitary surgery, I developed adrenal insufficiency.

I took growth hormone for a while.

When I got kidney cancer, I had to stop the GH, even though no doctor would admit to any connection between the two.  Even though I’m when I got to 10 years NED (no evidence of disease) from cancer, I couldn’t go back on the GH.

However, this year I went back on it (Omnitrope this time) in late June.  Hooray!  I still don’t know if it’s going to work but I have high hopes.  I am posting some of how that’s going here.

During that surgery, doctors removed my left kidney, my adrenal gland, and some lymph nodes.  Thankfully, the cancer was contained – but my adrenal insufficiency is even more severe than it was.

In the last couple years, I’ve developed ongoing knee issues.  Because of my cortisol use to keep the AI at bay, my endocrinologist doesn’t want me to get a cortisone injection in my knee.

My mom has moved in with us, bring some challenges…

But, this is a post about Giving Thanks.  The series will be continued on this blog unless I give thanks about something else Cushing’s related 🙂

I am so thankful that in 1987 the NIH existed and that my endo knew enough to send me there.

I am thankful for Dr. Ed Oldfield, my pituitary neurosurgeon at NIH.  Unfortunately, Dr. Oldfield died a couple months ago.

I’m thankful for Dr. Harvey Cushing and all the work he did.  Otherwise, I might be the fat lady in Ringling Brothers now.

To be continued in the following days here at http://www.maryo.co/

 

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