reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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all we really want. [flawed wednesday]

it’s disconcerting to round the corner to your street and see five fire trucks parked there, lights on, hoses at the ready. more fire trucks continued to arrive, police cars blocking the entrance to the road at both ends. the instant we got out of the car in the driveway it was obvious. there had been a gas line puncture; natural gas permeated the air, heavy in the warm humidity. the firefighters directed us residents into our homes, our tendency, otherwise, to stand on driveways and discuss the happenings. it took a while, but the gas company came, a worker climbed into the hole (i would assume that person receives hazard pay) and, much like the story of the boy and the dike, somehow plugged up the puncture. after some time, the fire trucks left one by one and a semblance of order returned to the neighborhood, though no one was anxious to light a bonfire or a grill or cause any sparks for a while.

the news of more wildfires – again – still – in california is overwhelming to read. with temperatures hovering at one hundred degrees and drought a repeating theme, i cannot imagine the insurmountable task of the firefighters, the constant worry about loss of lives and homes and wildlife.

and then, on the other end of the wet-dry spectrum, the floods in kentucky. worried about the owner of the tiny house we stayed at south of lexington, i texted her. she and her whole family are from the hollers of kentucky, growing up near rivers that are now flooded. i didn’t hear back, but checked facebook and found that her church was underwater and she had – already at that time – devastatingly lost two neighbors.

both extremes. catastrophic.

it seems that these events never end. one morphs into the next into the next. our fragile planet suffers while politicians debate inane issues and, from all evidence, seemingly seek to stoke their own financial objectives. meanwhile, in every corner of the globe there is mighty confirmation that this good earth is in crisis. this puts each of us in crisis, our children, our children’s children, the children of our children’s children. and yet, politicians, in every corner of the globe, sneer and attend to their own shortsighted power grabs. wow.

it would be hard to choose to be a firefighter. it would be hard to work for the red cross, crisscrossing this country in an attempt to attend to the extreme needs of its populace. it would be hard to be a climate scientist, likely frustrated out of their gourds watching and listening to the pushback of idiocy.

and there are more it-would-be-hards. it would be hard to be a teacher or a school principal, as the new 2022-2023 school year rapidly approaches and the worry about potential school shootings revives after summer break. it would be hard to be the manager of a grocery store, the managing director of a concert venue, the owner of a dance club, the grand marshal of an idyllic holiday parade, the owner of a movie theater, the director of a medical facility, the leaders of a religious institution….

we-the-people face down emergency after emergency. i would think that all we really want – now’days – is to think that our safety – whether from climate crisis or gun violence or extreme aggression or marginalization – would be foremost. all we really want is to avoid catastrophe. all we really want is to believe that the leaders of our communities, our states, our country have our best interests – and not their pocketbooks or personal agenda – at heart. heart. yes.

all we really want is to not pull down our own street-that-we-live-on – wherever it is – and see a multitude of fire trucks and a catastrophe – from anything within human power to prevent – that is insurmountable.

*****

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this day and age. [merely-a-thought monday]

“will you get to watch any fireworks?” she texted.

our city has spectacular fireworks. for over three decades i have marveled at the extent of the fourth-of-july display over lake michigan, sitting on the rocks along the shore, in the parks along the lakefront, down by where they set them off by the harbor. the fantastic light show goes on for about a half hour, culminating with a finale that bursts open the sky with color.

this city has a festival down by the lake, a carnival in the downtown, food vendors and dock-jumping-dogs and lots of music. there are children with ice cream cones melting on tiny fingers, bubble machines making iridescent bubbles float all around passersby, red, white and blue tchotchkes/chotchkes/chachkis on carts and people, bike parades with flags and streamers. there are hot dogs and brats sizzling, cheese curds and funnel cakes, lemonade and icees and dippin’ dots. there is no shortage of fun celebration and it’s all right there, within walking distance.

but in this day and age…

we won’t be going to watch the fireworks. this will be the fourth year now.

in 2019 we had just moved on island and didn’t leave dogdog and babycat during the display; they were adjusting to a new house as it was and we had no idea how loud the fireworks would be.

the city cancelled the fireworks in 2020; the global pandemic was early-on and there was a healthier respect for distancing.

last year, following the insurrection at the nation’s capitol, along with little to no leadership-held-responsible-for-all-of-that or any accountability, we stayed home.

and in this day and age…

we will stay home again. for the farcical supreme court has begun absolutely dismantling the freedoms that we are supposed to be celebrating. extremism and religious right are suffocating citizens of this country, thwarting the ability to live freely and make one’s own decisions. equality is going the way of centuries ago. discrimination is rising up, like fog on a wind-shifting hot summer’s day over the great lake. gun violence is dramatically increasing and, yet, guns are not limited. the extreme climate crisis is heaved off to the side in favor of big business; the epa is undermined and our children’s futures will feature many more “air quality alerts” than we could ever imagine, not to mention the global warming fallout from fossil fuel emissions. we watch lake mead drop and drop. we read of the po river in italy receding, lives substantially and critically affected. we see that australia is under water and that there are red flag warnings across the southwest – fires will be prevalent as the heat is heating up. the relationships between countries are strained. politics are warped. politicians play on stages of self-agendized blather. there is a lack of responsibility. there is a bigger lack of looking out for the big picture, the long haul, the world that will be inhabited by the children of our children’s children. kindness, consideration, compassion are looked at as weakness. we are flabbergasted at the stupidity. more, we are incredulous at the lack of people to see the stupidity. it seems the more clownish, the more vile, the more popular. it seems that evil lurks. and i wonder about the hypocrisy of watching fireworks while there are people quietly – and not so quietly – undermining democracy. we could ignore it all and go cheer – as loud as my sweet momma used to cheer – at the fireworks. or we could take a pause.

our old backyard neighbor played two things in their backyard. one was the soundtrack for “mamma mia” and the other was an album of john philip sousa marches. never insanely loud back then, both made us smile. a relationship three decades long.

but in this day and age, there are multitudes – truly multitudes – of children in that yard out back, a yard equipped with every single thing any generous public playground might have: full-size batting cage, full-size trampoline, three soccer nets, a basketball court, zipline, fort, swingset, sandbox, large plastic toys, atvs to ride, bikes, balls, bats, rat-a-tatting big toy guns and a new mysterious large wooden structure being built back along our lot line, where they can’t hear it or see it from their house, like most of the other entertainment devices in the large yard. apparently not at all conscious of the it’s-a-neighborhood-you-live-in-a-community philosophy, surrounded by people who have actually resided right here for decades, they play loud music through outdoor speakers so the whole neighborhood can hear – though no one gets a vote on what’s played – and the children have a spicy – and foul – vocabulary and bloodcurdling screams they don’t hesitate to use. demonstrating antagonism seems the way in this land beyond the dead arbor vitae. goodness! when did the rules of neighborhood – the rules of neighboring – change? did they not watch mr. rogers? parents need remember children are always watching their lead. likewise, leaders need remember citizens are always watching their lead. and how precisely did we get here?

this day and age.

we could make a big pitcher of iced water with slices of orange and lemon and grill some (plant-based) burgers, play a little music – at an appropriate volume – and watch our new pampas grass grow. we could admire our newly-cleaned garage or the new green blades growing in the haynet out front. we could paint rocks to hide on our trail or plant a few flowers. we could speed-dial fred rogers. all are quite likely. well, except for fred.

and we could go see the fireworks.

but we won’t.

not in this day and age.

though it will be a statement we make only to ourselves, it will be comforting to dogga for us to stay home.

besides, some things are just too much. in this day and age.

*****

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one way. not really. [flawed wednesday]

not really.

there is not really one way.

well, maybe i can make one exception: when driving and faced with a dead-end corner and a one-way street. one way.

otherwise? not so much.

the headline read, “florida isn’t the only state pushing legislation that could be harmful to LGBTQ students.” there’s also idaho, georgia, iowa, tennessee and oklahoma. not to forget texas and whatever other states have jumped on the bigotwagon since this headline. what?! apparently, these are states in which leadership has decided there’s just one way. and it’s theirs.

as the proud mother of a gay man, i have to wholeheartedly disagree with these folks. any idea of “normal” that they have conjured up is a warped righteous positioning of power and control, some sort of strange arc into absolutism. it does make one wonder about the possibility of people who need to compensate for something in their own lives. it is astonishingly arrogant, haughtily heartless, cruelly uncaring, blindingly bigoted, disgustingly discriminatory, and sickeningly small-minded in the most prejudiced of ways.

i’m guessing, then, that these same huffy lawmakin’ folks are sittin’ around makin’ it their business to raise questions about people, ponder others’ sexuality or gender, disparage people who identify differently than they do. they are wringing their hands and plotting how to silence them, to marginalize them. because their one-way is the only way and lives that may be richly influential, steeped in open-mindedness and the embrace and love of all humankind should be silenced and marginalized.

this is not the way.

there is not one way.

for that, indeed, would signal a dead end.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY


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way, way past time. [d.r. thursday]

“whenever you see a successful woman, look out for three men who are going out of their way to try to block her.” (yulia tymoshenko)

i read this quote on instagram. i hesitated to use it and then wondered why. it stated truth. it is a fact of life. i have lived it – exactly it – just as many other women have. so why hesitate?

the answer seems obvious. because that kind of blocking still exists, that kind of dominance is still valued, that kind of discrimination still squelches lives and careers, that kind of smothering effort – particularly with leading roles by older white men – is still not – really – questioned, nonetheless challenged in a big, broad way. it’s asphyxiating and it’s way past its time. way, way past time.

“it’s 2021 and we are talking about THIS!” they rolled their eyes and so did i. it is beyond the scope of reasonableness that we are – still – dealing with the devastating blows that those who lean into … or out-and-out embrace … the prejudice of white supremacy, suffocating gender bias, ruinous economic inequity, insufficient healthcare, deficient educational options, the loss of multitudes of innocent lives at the barrel of unnecessary weapons, exclusive immigration…

but here we are. 2021.

we came upon the hot-pink lighted ball of yarn in the garden and laughed. then we followed the string, the yarn that was unrolled over the tree branches, under the bushes, along the sidewalk edge, up the fence, down off the fence, and ultimately, to the end of it, the frayed edges.

it occurs to me we can trace the strings back and back. we can see the frayed edges of injustices, the repeating pattern of silencing, of stifling, of deliberate lack, of unacceptable levels of violence, of obstructive intention.

what now?

we need be stewards of worth, of mending, of healing, of forward-movement, of equal opportunity. we need to find ways – now – to weave an inclusive, equitable, generous, safe, egalitarian story for all. ungrudgingly and with abundant kindness and good will. it is indeed way, way past time.

2021. what are we doing?

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY


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and nature strung up prayer flags. [k.s. friday]

and the universe glanced down at planet earth.

and grimaced to see raging wildfires, upending people’s lives, destroying towns and homes and forests and tiny creatures racing to stay ahead of flames.

and the universe glanced down at planet earth.

and wept at floods sweeping over land, drowning dreams and crops and families, sweeping away livestock and animals trying to escape mudslides.

and the universe glanced down at planet earth.

and, wincing at the pain of what it saw, questioned why brilliant science could not prevail, why habitats were being destroyed, why climate change and global warming were not on the lips of all its people, why something so vital seemed so controversial.

and the universe glanced down at planet earth.

and pondered its resources, its clean water, the fruits of its ecosystem, the sustainability of food and drink for each and every one of its beloved inhabitants on its crowded globe.

and the universe glanced down at planet earth.

and grieved the ramifications of a raging pandemic, sickness and suffering, lives lost, security decimated, together slashed into separate and distant.

and the universe glanced down at planet earth.

and wondered about the division of its people, wondered about deep disagreement, hatred and the brash spewing of vitriol, wondered where truth went.

and the universe glanced down at planet earth.

and wondered about all manners of inequality, wondered about all manners of discrimination, wondered about ill treatment of its dear ones, wondered about cruelty.

and the universe glanced down at planet earth.

and saw anxiety and angst and surging mental health challenges in its own, fear and instability, exhaustion, unassailable peace assailed.

and the universe glanced down at planet earth.

and wished the most basic elements would rise to the top, tending the needs of clean air, food, clothing, shelter, education, healthcare, sanitation, protection, communication, belonging, caring about and for each person.

and the universe glanced down at planet earth.

and hoped for a better time, a better way, a resurgence of compassion, a renewing of a world commitment to collaboration, and a rebirth of what it had given each person: a heart.

and nature, well, she strung up prayer flags.

*****

HOPE (kerri sherwood)

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HOPE ©️ 2005 kerri sherwood


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“difficult” women. [merely-a-thought monday]

“it actually doesn’t take much to be considered a difficult woman. that’s why there are so many of us.” (jane goodall)

and because of just exactly this, i will tread lightly as i write.

for the rules are still different in this world – the rules for men, the rules for women. the word “difficult” – and arriving at the word “difficult” – should present its own debate. how does one get this label, one would ask. does difficult mean speaking up, speaking out? does difficult mean raising the bar on expectations? does difficult equate with uncompromising? is agile adaptability difficult? does talent or education or expertise or experience make one difficult? is difficult attached to success? does difficult mean not accepting discriminatory treatment? is difficult shunning a lack of respect or other indignities? does difficult mean pointing out the lack of transparency in an organization, an institution, a company? does difficult mean urging truth? does difficult mean following process? does difficult mean requesting financial equity between genders, between races? does difficult mean asking to be rewarded on one’s merits? does difficult mean asking hard questions? does difficult mean – heavens forbid – talking back? does difficult mean suggesting change? does difficult describe “good trouble“?

do those things applied to a woman make her difficult? do those things applied to a man make him difficult? is the measuring stick different? might there be a double standard? just where is the dividing line and why is there one?

if indeed those define “difficult”, i’d further suggest that a difficult man is considered a powerhouse, a strong leader, a go-getter whereas a difficult woman is considered, well, difficult, out-of-line, disrespectful, even egregious.

jane goodall is right. it doesn’t take much to be considered a difficult woman. not back in the day. not now.

and for that, i would hope that all women would get mighty difficult.

*****

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go back and buy the towel. [two artists tuesday]

i should have bought the pencils.

i love #2 pencils – though, in an inane detail you are probably unconcerned about, i love mechanical pencils more – and it was a whole pack of ’em. plus each and every one was printed with the word “dissent”.

that’s why i should have bought them. i could have stashed reminders of RBG’s venerable spirit and dedication to equality and goodness and principle and ethics and probity in my purse, on the kitchen counter, at my piano, in our mélange-planning notebook, in my calendar.

they would have reminded me to stand courageously in dissent, to back it up with facts, to hold to integrity, to not waver in the face of any question or any fear or any threat. the thing about supreme court justice ruth bader ginsburg, though, is that she was intrepid – even without the pencils.

and so, with the sisu of ruth, the belief in “an opinion, philosophy or sentiment of non-agreement or opposition to a prevailing idea or policy enforced by a government, political party or other entity or individual in a capacity of contextual authority” (wikipedia), the steadfast commitment to the truth and transparency, we all batten down the hatches and ready ourselves for whatever things we care about for which we must fight.

at the very least, i should have bought the towel.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

PS. “despite the fact that the justices routinely disagree with each other, they never let it get personal, and have good working relationships with one another.” (dhruti bhagat, librarian, boston public library blog – ruth bader ginsburg and dissents: what’s a dissent?)


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pink and strong, SIRS. [k.s. friday]

hmmm. substitute “HE” for “SHE”.

it is doubtful – even maybe unthinkable – that this same post from a recent CNN article, a quote by Katherine Heigl, would read, “i may have said a couple things you didn’t like, but then that escalated to ‘HE’S ungrateful,’ then that escalated to ‘HE’S difficult,’ and that escalated to ‘HE’S unprofessional.'” and why is that?

when is the last time you experienced gender bias? when is the last time you experienced gender discrimination? when is the last time ‘preferential treatment’ wasn’t referring to you? when is the last time someone thought it was ok to speak condescendingly to you? when is the last time you were the target of harassment? when is the last time you were the recipient of inappropriate diminishment at work? when is the last time your employer made it clear to you that you were dispensable? like katherine heigl, when is the last time you were told you were ungrateful? when is the last time you were told you were difficult? when is the last time you were told you, as a professional, were unprofessional? if you can answer these questions without a great deal of memory-culling, you are likely a woman.

so, why is this? why did a powerhouse actress have to endure this branding? why does any woman? in this article about ms. heigl, she stated, “the more i said i was sorry, the more they wanted it.” she continued, “the more terrified and scared i was of doing something wrong, the more i came across like i had really done something horribly wrong.”

endless and looping. created by a male-dominated system to hold powerful women, women-who-speak-up, women-who-make-a-difference, women-who-push-back, women-who-point-out-inappropriateness – in check.

and it still – even in 2021 – works.

in the cambridge english dictionary, gender bias is simple: “unfair difference in the way women and men are treated.”

according to a report by the united nations, in 2019 women held merely 28% of global managerial positions. astoundingly, this percentage 28% is nearly the same as in 1995.

wikipedia gives shape to gender bias: “leaders are expected to be assertive, so women who act in a more collaborative fashion are not viewed as leaders, but women who act assertively are often perceived as too aggressive.” what??!!

jennifer lawrence, in an article for harper’s bazaar said, “”i’m over trying to find the ‘adorable’ way to state my opinion and still be likable! … i don’t think i’ve ever worked for a man in charge who spent time contemplating what angle he should use to have his voice heard. it’s just heard.”

how many times have you tried to have your voice heard? how many times have you reached out or responded in a nice-nice voice, the “adorable” voice (ala jennifer), in an effort to not escalate a situation? how many times have you alerted others to a predicament, yet they did not do anything to help? how many times have you been silenced, by the shushing of higher-ups, the lack of mature questions and answers, a conversation back and forth like all good chinwags, like all good and professional collaborations, or worse, the retaliatory actions of a superior? how many times have you been disregarded and scared?

meryl streep, interviewed in 2011, said,”no one has ever said to an actor, ‘you’re playing a strong-minded man’. we assume that men are strong-minded, or have opinions. but a strong-minded woman is a different animal.” why?

jennifer lopez railed, “i’ve always been fascinated about how much more well-behaved we have to be than men.”

michelle obama, during an interview in 2018, said, “keep fighting for gender equality, even if it makes people uncomfortable.” referring to the uptick of open and candid stories from the #metoo movement, she added, “the world is, sadly, a dangerous place for women and girls. and i think young women are tired of it. they’re tired of being undervalued. they’re tired of being disregarded.”

ariana grande, in her fight against patriarchy, is quoted, “the incredible double standards that we [women] face on a daily basis, in the industry and just in the world, it’s shocking.” she stokes hope, “i have a long list of things i’d like to change … i think, judgement in general. intolerance, meanness, double standards, misogyny, racism, sexism. … that’s what we need to focus on. we’ve got work to do.”

oprah winfrey is quoted, “i was once afraid of people saying, ‘who does she think she is?’ now i have the courage to stand and say, “this is who i am.”

my amazing and beautiful daughter, a professional coach and instructor, carried a tourist’s skis up a mountain the other day. she was also carrying her snowboard and i imagine the extra baggage was a bit cumbersome, but she recognized that this other woman needed a bit of help. she arrived at the top of the mountain to hear a man making fun of this woman’s husband for not carrying her skis. he referred to my girl as a “little snowboard instructor”. i can see her rolling her eyes from here, over a thousand miles away. she wrote on her IG that “girls gotta support each other when (they) can.” but, the icing on her gender-cake post?

she added, “also, i’m a strong little snowboard instructor, SIR.” yep. she is.

now we all need to be katherine or jennifer or meryl or j-lo or michelle or ariana or oprah and maybe we, too, will be heard. or maybe their words will help us all on this never-ending gender-journey. women helping women.

because, yep, we are strong, SIRS.

*****

read DAVID’s thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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we hold our heads. [d.r. thursday]

morsel

our go-bags are packed.  the dog crate is in the car and the cat crate is in the sitting room, ready.  important papers are in a tote bag and the backpack awaits our laptops and all the related power cords.  one more bag sits open for a few clothes and toiletries.

i feel unhinged.

i wrote to my children that it is unbelievable and real at the same time.  this is true.  we have no idea what dusk will bring, what the dark hours of the night will be like in our downtown, in our neighborhood, a city wracked in pain and fraught with the tension of social injustice gone exponential.

we sit.  holding our heads.

we drove through downtown today for the first time.  it was the first time since sunday that we had even been out, beyond taking a short walk in the neighborhood.  we went to the grocery store where they had humongous stacks of water bottles near the door, ready for protesters, first responders, law enforcement, anyone thirsty in near 100 degree feels-like temperatures.  we picked up a few things and headed home, taking a slight sidetrip through our very-nearby downtown.

it was stunning.  heartbreaking.  it made me cry.

we had seen pictures of the downtown all boarded up, but we had not been there yet.  we did not ambulance chase nor were we there to help board up or bring food or water in the last few days.  we, paralyzed and from our home, wrote about this experience, wrote about the surreal feelings we had listening to the sounds of inequality, the smoky smells of injustice, the taste of fearful adrenaline all must feel in the situations that have brought us here.

and so we hold our heads in our hands.  we weep for the families of every person victimized by violence.  we stand in the muck of a society that has perpetuated this unfair treatment, that has made excuses for it, that has steeped itself in hatred and bigotry.

and we fear what is to come when the sun sets.

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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the boulders. [two artists tuesday]

IMG_3933

8pm curfew and we can hear car horns and sirens blaring, smoke is in the air.

midnight and we hear gunshots, loud booms, sirens.

4:30am and the sirens continue.  a storm arrives; the thunder adds to other unidentifiable sounds and is unnerving.  we sit, awake.

early morning and the sun has risen to a stormy day.  smoke fills our house from buildings, structures, vehicles burning in downtown and uptown kenosha.  it is hard to breathe.  but we are very much alive.

the town is shoring up the lakefront.  the bedrock is crumbling.  every time a storm comes, particularly from the north or northeast, the erosion is profound and feet are lost along the shore.  enormous boulders are being brought in to nest next to the smaller granite boulders already in place, to protect lives and property.  the theory is that these granite boulders will buffet the shoreline against the raging winds, the elements, the squalls, and the resulting rocks flung westward when those aggressive storms come.

the tempest of social injustice is railing.  the coastline between white and black is hot and the fire of anger is raging.  jacob blake, an african american man, who is right between the ages of My Girl and My Boy, was shot seven times in the back by a police officer on sunday.  he is fighting for his life and the community is fighting to be heard.

what will tonight bring?

as the bedrock of this community crumbles we wonder what seawall will be built to protect all, to guard against inequity, to keep everyone safe from violence, to stop the injustice against black members of our community, our state, our country? what intelligent, articulate conversation will take place?  what questions will be asked; what wisdom will be proffered?  what compassion and generous action will be offered?  how will we buffet against the rocks of hatred and bigotry flung by aggressive hostility?  what will the boulders of change look like?

“the wise man built his house upon a rock, house upon a rock, house upon a rock.  the wise man built his house upon a rock and the rains came tumbling down. 

the rains came down and the floods came up.  the rains came down and the floods came up.  the rains came down and the floods came up and the house on the rock stood firm.

the foolish man built his house upon the sand, house upon the sand, house upon the sand.  the foolish man built his house upon the sand and the rains came tumbling down. 

the rains came down and the floods came up.  the rains came down and the floods came up.  the rains came down and the floods came up and the house on the sand went splat!”

we have some decisions to make.  as a community, a state, a country.  what will we do?  will it be sand?  again?  or will it be rock?

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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