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Wa-salaam and like that.

And how are you all, this fine and furry morning? Long see no time, etc., etc.

My, it has been some time since I graced these pleasant shores of Journalíste-ism. But I'm on vacation this week, and I thought I'd poke around, see how the old homestead is doing.

While we're on the subject of strange and wondrous occurrences, I have evidently been far too static in my stylistic choices of late, and have just given myself a mohawk. I get bored, see...

Been doing more art stuff on occasion, which all gets posted up on my DeviantArt page if anybody wanted to check it out. Other than that, just work and kidness and the like. Started running a Pathfinder game for the crew, essentially a reverse version of the old "Against the Giants!" campaign. Had them all make up CR 6-7 equivalent humanoid monster characters, and now I've got them infiltrating the human lands to go sack temples and loot wizard's towers and burn down the filthy pink-skins disturbingly square hive-towns. Right now, they're in Hommlet, avenging the death of Lareth the Beautiful (mostly because they need to retrieve the mysterious box he was holding for their patron, and the adventurers that cleaned out the Moathouse took it back with them). Should be interesting.

So, what's new with you fine and feathered folks?

Community and the gods: an introspection

Teal deer warning: inside paganism baseball, finest kind

Finding myself drifting back into that whole polytheist/pagan/occultist argument. Dunno why, except that it's really annoying watching what I've usually considered "my community" flailing around in mutual bitchcraft bullshit. Some of it's my ingrained suspicion of unquestioning reverence for "the gods" and insistence that the only appropriate response to them is kneeling and worshiping them as they demand. For me, as an agnostic animist who operates in a primarily heathen cosmological construct, "the gods" are most usefully described as non-physical entities that present themselves to humans as certain personas, similar to ones that humans have described interacting with in the past. Whether these are the same entities that originally presented themselves as these personas is impossible to reliably state, and is not terribly important to me. As a matter of courtesy, I try and treat them as though they were the entities they present themselves as. I interpret our interactions with the tools I have, my mind and my emotions, and the available historical and communal data.

As part of that interpretation, I find myself remembering that the available historical and mythological data repeatedly says that the gods will often screw over humans for what appear to objective analysis as foolish or petty reasons, and will often engage in what appear to be destructive and malicious acts without explanation. I admit the strong possibility that these actions may in fact have nothing whatsoever to do with us, and may bear the same level of personal animosity towards us as I do to the occasional ant that I sweep up when I'm cleaning the store. But that doesn't mean that I'd expect that ant to worship me, and grovel and thank me for my beneficence. But then, I'm not a god.

I suppose that does kinda mean that I'm not a "true polytheist" in the sense that my relationship with the gods is a combination of utilitarian occultnik quid-pro-quo, investigative mysticism, and friendly/familial social interaction. I suppose that also means that I'm not really an integral part of the community at large, given that my deific relationships are so far outside of what seems to be the norm.

To be more realistic, I'm probably going to be more comfortable defining myself as part of the chaos magic community than as part of the pagan community. That's more or less where I started.

I began my ...whatever this is... journey as a tentative wiccan back in the late eighties. I faded more towards a vague eclectic paganish path, with strong hermetic/Golden Dawn/Thelemic influences, and then took a detour into heathenland. I kinda wandered into Asatru country, and then wandered back out towards the outskirts of heathenland. But while all this wandering was going on, I was always part of the Zee crew. That's probably been my longest running social interaction with an occult network. There's people in the Zee that I've been friends with for close to twenty years. And they've never rejected me because I thought the wrong things, or practiced the wrong way, or didn't have the same kind of unquestioning faith that they do. The Zee and the MOC are the groups that I've been continuously connected to for the longest time, and the ones that I continue to feel most at home with. And I'm pretty happy with that.

I'd like to think that I'm at least a peripheral part of the overall heathen community, even if it's just as one of those untrustworthy Lokean weirdos in the corner of the hall, but who can say, really?

Mellow Greets, més amis!

Hey folkxxen. Yeah, it's been a time and a time since I was here at the old EllJay, hasn't it? How y'all doing?

I've been kind of puttering around, mostly. Finished up a long-term runic meditation project about a month ago, and have been kind of desultorily working my way up to a month-long Djehwty invocation project, prompted by the lovely and talented Andrieh Vitimus and his 30 Day Challenge. Unfortunately, the runic work seems to have been a major factor in sparking my artistic output, and since I ended that, I seem to have stalled out on the arting end. Hmh.

In other news, been trying to work on the whole "increasing general fitness" thing ever since the heart attack. Been back and forth on the exercise thing, trying to get back into a regular practice. Currently trying to drag myself out of a slump. Been doing fairly well on the weight-loss end; down to 184 from my max of 215 at the time of ticker-crash. That's mostly down to calorie control.

Got myself an iPad Mini a few months ago, been filling it with books ever since. Mostly replicating my existing physical library. Not doing so much with the apps and all that. Mostly just using it as a shinier e-reader.

Been noticing with some distress that some folks whose opinions I generally respect as practitioners, theorists, and priests seem to be on a crusade to cleanse the polytheist/pagan realm of all who are less than absolutely devoted to one very specific view of the nature of polytheist practice. As a Wilsonian reality agnostic, I can't help feeling that I'm one of those unfortunates that they're trying to define out of a stream that I've been a part of for decades. Folks, there are substantial parts of the culture-at-large that are still convinced that we're all baby-eating devil-worshipping eschaton-immanentizing dope-smoking fiends from the wrong side of the tracks. (And they're right about some of us. But let's not talk about that in public.) Y'all might want to step back from your doctrinal purity witch-hunt a bit and take a look around. This is not the time for this kind of petty self-rightiousness. Really, it's NEVER the time for this kind of petty self-rightiousness. What the fuck, folks?

So, yeah. That's me for right now. Good to be back.

Ceci n'est pas un New Years Entry

(trigger warning - kind of introspective and mope-y)

Fucking New Year's Eve. Here's to another year of fuckery and grumbling, of incessant despair and pathetic failure, of utter lack of achievement. Or, just possibly, the beginning of a new thing. It's been a year since the heart attack. Since then, I've gotten my first degree. I've ...done very little else. This has not been a year of achievement. What has this been a year of?

Maintenance. Just keep paddling. Just keep swimming. What else is there? Swim til you drown.
I keep thinking that I can pull myself free if I just, y'know, DO it. But that's the rub, innit, it's just an act of will, will that I apparently don't have.

Read a post by somebody, I forget who, who said there's no shame in admitting that you're not the artist you think you should be, and that it's ok to just acknowledge that and do something else with your life. If you don't art, if you don't write, then you're not an artist/writer/creative. You're just a regular person who consumes art, appreciates it, and goes on with their life.

That's really the most depressing thing I can think of, right now. Because I've got nothing else to be. Yeah, there's the family, and I love them, and I'll keep pushing and working to keep them fed and sheltered and loved til I drop, but that's just the stuff I do because it's the stuff I do. It's not who I am. Is it? Yeah, I'm the husband and the dad. That's part of me. But it's not all of me. Is it? Do I have anything else to be?

I have these abilities. I'm a decent writer, I'm a semi-competent artist, or at least I've produced decent written work and decent visual work. I still trickle bits out, here and there. I'd be better if I did the work more often and kept in productive shape. I didn't earn them, these abilities, not really. They've always been there, at least the rudiments. As long as I can remember, anyway. But part of me feels like they're not really true, maybe. They're just things I've lucked into, that I've shaped my life around the expectation of doing, despite the fact that I've never been able to make myself do them consistently and reliably.

It's probably a bit late to rework my life around something else. It's not like I've got the skills for anything else.

I wanted to be a scientist when I was young. (Actually, I wanted to be a mad scientist, but whatever.) I'm still interested in the sciences, but that's a long and difficult road to climb onto at the best of times. Trying to do it at my age, that's a whole other level of not-at-all-likely to happen.

I wanted to be a historian. I'd still like to be one, really. I'd probably really enjoy teaching history, under other social circumstances. But with the academic environment as it is, and the cost of entry climbing ever higher, I'd end up bankrupting myself again for something that would never pay off and would probably break my heart. I like reading and learning about history, and talking about it, and sharing neat ideas, and finding a way to get paid to do that would be excellent. But I can't really see a way to do that from here.

So, what I have left are the arts. Or the rest of a lifetime of drudgery and drone-work. I love story. Capital S Story. I love making the pictures in my head a reality. (Well, I love the IDEA of making the pictures in my head a reality. I hate the inevitable disappointment of what comes out of my hands.) I love the idea of taking the stories in my had out and showing them to people, even though they never look like what they looked like in my head.

Is it that attachment to the ideal that kills my drive to create? That expectation of disappointment with the result, the divide between what I think of as the "real version", the one in my head, and the Actually Real Version, the one on the page? Or is it just laziness? Is that a useful descriptor? Are these useful questions to ask?

...Fucked if I know, really.

So, that's how I start the new year. Asking myself the same questions I always do. Am I gonna get the same answers? Am I gonna get any answers?

Are there any answers?

Happiness is ...

So, I had to pull away from Facebook for the weekend. Too many posts about the Connecticut thing making me angry.

Maggie Koerth-Baker over at Wired has written the only post on the recent unpleasantness that didn't make me grind my teeth with rage. Most discussions online about gun control/gun violence/the 2nd amendment seem to inevitably polarize into "Yeah-hunh!"/"Nuh-unh!" shouting matches within seconds. An infinitude of heat combined with the antithesis of light. These discussions get infinitely worse after one of these periodic freakouts.

The general tone on EllJay has been a bit more reasonable (a BIT). Maybe it's just quieter here, I dunno. There's a discussion over at sleigh's place that seems like it might not spiral into the usual shitshow.

Part of the problem I have with a lot of the pro-gun-control arguments I hear is that I live in a state where all of the stuff the moderates claim to want is already the law. Licensing, pre-license training program, severe restrictions on what kinds of guns you can buy and how large a magazine your gun can have, pretty much everything except individual registration for each gun is already in place here in the People's Republic of Massachusetts. As a result, I don't own a gun. The severe limitations prices them out of my reach, and the arbitratiness of the licensing process (essentially, you get your license at the whim of the police chief of your town, and there's no appeal or argument if he decides he doesn't like you) means that I haven't been able to justify dropping 100 bucks on a license fee for something I have no guarantee of getting.

So, when I hear folks talking about making the laws stronger, pretty much the only place I can see them going is doing the whole-hog English thing and trying to round up ALL the guns and throw them in the nearest recycling furnace. And an awful lot of the folks who're talking about gun control are very explicit about wanting that to happen.

And that's the point at which we have an actual open war on our hands.

Most of the civilian guns owned in the US belong to about 20% of the population. Most of that 20% correspond strongly with the most culturally conservative/reactionary elements in the US. One of the only things that's kept them from freaking out and starting the war is that so far, the national government hasn't tried to take their guns away. That's pretty much the trigger point. Thing is, the people we'd be relying on to enact this whole "take their guns away" program have much much more in common with the folks they'll be fighting with than they do with the folks who'll be telling them to do the fighting, and that's a recipe for social badness on a level that I don't think anybody sane wants to see.

Over the last 100 years or so, the progressive left has pretty systematically disarmed itself, both externally and internally. That's why nobody in power listens to us. There's no consequence to ignoring us, so they're not scared of us. They don't even need to throw us the occasional bone. Rural conservative whackjobs get catered to, because they've got guns. Urban black folks get superficial acknowledgement, because when shit gets too heinous they still get together and set shit on fire. But Latinos get the shaft, because they still think they need to be polite, and they haven't got the political muscle together yet. The only reason that the LGBT folks have been getting the play they have is because they've been pretty clear that they can and will out all of those closeted politicians that keep having sex with them.

But we've got nothing to threaten them with. We've got no guns. Our protests are all rattle and no bite. We let the rich folks take all the money. And voting doesn't mean shit if there's nobody to vote for who isn't already bought by the folks at the top.

Yeah, so that was a bit bleak. Just kinda hadda get it out there.

Mellow greetings, kidnikis!

So, hey, fruit-nappers, long see, no time.

I've been doing this 750Words thing for the last week or so, pretty steadily, so it occurred to me that I should probably think about starting to do the online journal community thing again too. Give me something to do with this crap I've been spewing into the formless void, anyway.

So, pretty soon, I'll start posting occasional rants and whatnot, mostly probably compiled from my daily exer-typing sessions. Dunno how frequent they'll be, or anything, but they'll exist.

I'll do a proper update post and all that, too.

But, this is just to say "hey" and see what you folks have been up to.

So, what've you been up to?

Bear and Lynch Are Friends

From Bear and Lynch Are Friends

So, this was my evening. Got to see matociquala and scott_lynch in action at Pandemonium. Good time; got to get some of my questions about both their works answered and chat a bit. First time I've gotten FTF with Scott, despite an online acquaintance going back to the dark days of the Fantastic Metropolis forum. Hell, I think I've known him longer than I've known Bear, and I've known Bear since she was putting promo bits for Blood and Iron up on LJ back in the day.

"Known", of course, in the traditional Internetistanian sense of the word as someone with whom I've occasionally exchanged online conversation.

Audience for the reading of @scottlynch78 and myself at @pand... on Twitpic

Click on the pic and you'll see me on the far right edge of the full pic, long hair, earrings, moustache, etc. Apparently embedding twitpics clips the edges off.

Second time I've been down to Boston in the last month. Went to PAXEast a couple of weeks ago. I forget how much I like Boston when I'm not there for a while; and it's been a while.

So there's a quick squawk from Crow Country. P'raps there'll be more later.


So, what's the plan for the new year?

Urg. Resolutions. Those always end well.

First off: Get in better shape. Not sure how much of that's gonna be constrained by the recent cardiac unpleasantness. I've got some fairly high expectations of what I can do, exercise-wise, and now I hafta clear all of that with some fucking doctor or other. 'Spose I should start off slow, then. Daily walks, light yoga and/or tai chi, eat less. Guess that's not gonna be much of a problem, now. Food without animal fat in it doesn't smell like food to me. mercurialdragon's doing her best to keep me interested, and the veggie/healthy stuff she's cooking tastes interesting and whatnot, but it just doesn't smell like capital F food to my reptile brain. It's stuff I eat because I'm hungry and it's there. There's tiny bits of foodness in some of it, but skinless chicken breast and lean pork are like diluted methadone, compared to the full-color speedball acid trip of roasted greasy dark meat skin-on chicken and dripping ham marrow.

Second: Get my damn degree finished. Gotta spend the next 3 weeks until school starts up finishing the projects for last semester. Shouldn't be too much of a problem. After that? Get through the portfolio class; the ease of which depends entirely on who's teaching it [For the love of Allah, Kdapt, and Finagle, please do not be fucking Juan. PLEASE.] After that? Fucked if I know.

Third: Start writing again. Something. ANYTHING. Daily, you lazy fuck.

Fourth: Keep arting regularly. Produce at least one piece of complete visual art every week.

Fifth: Start working on Arabic again.

Sixth: Post more. [Hey, while we're dreaming…]

Let's see how this one turns out.

2011: Goodbye to Bad Rubbish

Fucking 2011. It was a filthy year. [Ptui!] Let us never speak of it.

Well, except for a few shiny bits, which follow in photographic form:


Monkey opening her Christmas loot.


Monkey reveling in her favorite piece of Christmas loot, a Minecraft creeper t-shirt.


Monkey playing with her second favorite piece of Christmas loot, Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of the Sky.


And MY favorite piece of Christmas loot, The One Ring, the new Lord of the Rings rpg. Really a beautiful bit of work, this. Now all I need is a crew of folks interested in playing a game that actually replicates the world of Arda as the professor wrote it.

Yeah, that'll happen.

Wassail and whassup

So, Squamous Cephalopodmas, Rational Newtonmas, Glad Jul, Happy Solstice, Merry Christmas, Furious Festivus, and generally joy-filled winter holidays of your specific chosen cultural slash religious modality, buckaroos and bachelorettes. How you folks doing out there in DeeDub slash EllJay land?

Things proceed apace, as they are wont to do, here in Crowville. Doc sez I can go back to work on the 1st. Got in touch with my teachers, and all are ok with me handing in the final project at the beginning of next semester, so that's all good. Supposed to start cardio rehab next month; not sure what-all that's gonna be about.

Hooked up with my pal Jay this week and played some Deadlands Classic with the crew. That was good, finally getting back to the table. Deadlands is hella fun, and I really missed playing.

Trying to get a better picture of what I wanna do with myself. Getting closer to graduation, but I dunno what that really means for me. Thinking about seeing if Salem State will take the Associates Degree in Illustration as the equivalent of a minor in Art, so I'll only have 4 classes to do to finish up my BA in History. Or should I try and see if I can get into a 4 year art school? Or should I focus on trying to do the freelance illustrator thing?

I don't really know what I want, is what the problem is.

Home is the hunter

So, I'm home now. Outta work for the next two weeks, and beginning negotiations with this semesters teachers regarding the final classwork. The monkey is overjoyed to have me back; the cat, somewhat less so.

Good to be home.

Am massively irritated by my body's failure to just shut up and do what I tell it. Am aware that this is probably not the healthiest of attitudes, and may in fact have contributed to my current health status.

Beloved wife has suggested that I've been a much angrier person in the last few years, especially since working at IMEC. This may be the case. I've always tended towards a degree of surliness, and working at IMEC just triggered a lot of anger in me. Not entirely sure why. Doing the no-job thing for a year and a half afterward probably didn't help. I've always kinda defined myself as the guy who just fucking does the job. I've been working since I was sixteen, and that long stretch of joblessness may have affected my mood more than I realized.

So, all of this stress bullshit probably hasn't been real good for me, health-wise. Not entirely sure how to pry myself outta this headspace, though.

Need to start meditating again, for one. Getting back into tai chi would probably help, too, until I can start doing yoga again.


Heartattack and Vine

Still in the hospital. Docs have been less than crystalline regarding long-term prognosis or even short-term prognosis. Looks like I'm gonna hafta take incompletes in all my classes and then make up the work later. Which fucks my school plans all to hell, really. I also need to find out when I can go back to work. (IF I can go back to work.) I have no idea what sort of impact this whole thing is gonna have on my ability to perform basic functions. I mean, folks have heart attacks all the time, and they keep doing the usual stuff, right? I assume there's some kind of recovery time, but the docs have yet to explain any of that to me.

I dunno. Just kind of flailing, right now.

Mother-in-law brought Popstar and the kid by a couple of times, so that's been nice. A couple of other folks have swung by, too.

Maybe this is why I've been so tired all the time, last few months. I thought it was just the work/school/life combo.

health is bullshit


So, I get a decent amount of exercise, I don't eat a lot of shitty food, I don't smoke, I don't drink hardly at all.

And this is where it gets me at 42: the CCU in Holy Family Hospital, after having a severe heart attack last night. Now I have 2 stents in my arteries, and an oncoming assault of freakish medications and whatnot to deal with for the rest of my life. Kinda depressing, that.

This'll put a damper on my final projects for ALL my classes, which are due next week. Fuckery.

...so, how YOU folks doing?

driveby artening

Hey folks.

So, this is a piece I did a couple of weeks ago for my Figure Drawing class. Me at my laptop, story of my life. Bigger than I'm usually comfortable working, which is the idea, I suppose.

Self-Portrait, in charcoal by ~JoeCrow9 on deviantART

Further bulletins as energy levels warrant.

Monkeynooz (1/30)

The monkey is OBSESSED with Minecraft. She watches tutorial vids on Youtube all the time; at this point, she probably knows more about the game than I or mercurialdragon do (yes, I got the wife into it, too). Half the time, if I have a question about the game, I can just ask her, and she'll walk me through whatever it is.

Guess the nerd gene breeds true.

We took the monkey to the beach last week. Well, actually, mother-in-law took us, as we are currently (and for the forseeable future) sans car. She had a blast, as did we. Lots of running around in the waves, and all that. Found some small crabs to show her in the tidepools, she was appropriately enthused by their wee cuteness.

I've got some pics, which I will attempt to post later.

School starts next week. Had to lose the Advanced Digital Photo class, as I'm currently way over the max number of credits for my degree, and can only take classes directly required for the degree if I want any financial aid. So I'm in for Illustration II, Figure Drawing, and Photoshop. Should be interesting. Next semester is my last, only one class (Portfolio for Illustration. Not sure what I'm gonna do then.

So, how're y'all doing?

mopery with intent

So, hey out there, folks. Long time no post, hey?

Working again. Got a gig doing the 3rd shift at the convenience store down the street. Sadly, it pays less than I was getting on unemployment. Even more sadly, this is the place I worked at doing the exact same thing 23 years ago. How far we've completely failed to come, hey?

Father's Day, innit? Just got an unintentionally depressing email from my mother-in-law, congratulating me on being "the best father I know". I'm just doing my best not to fuck the kid up too badly. I'd try and teach her how to be happy, healthy, and productive, but I'm none of those things.

Never met my dad. Never really felt the urge to try very hard to find him. I dunno, never really missed having one. Weird, that. I seem to have completely missed the "daddy issues" train. Maybe that's why an awful lot of fictional drama doesn't really resonate with me in any noticeable way.

In a really bad headspace lately. Not sure how much of it's the job, the massive financial crunch, or all the other stuff. Haven't made anything or written anything since school got out about a month ago. (Did ok, grade-wise. As in all the studio classes, B in the online Intro Astronomy class. Keep planning to post pics of some the work from my Painting and Digital Photo classes, but I keep planning lots of stuff that doesn't happen.)

So there's my self-pitying bullshit update. How're you folks doing?
Salaam, cats and kittens.

42th birthday today. I'd do some kind of yearly retrospective deal, but then I'd just get depressed.

The lurvely and talented wyrdkat made me an excellent valknot wall hanging, and some muy delish applesauce cake. Mom came over with some apple/rhubarb pie, and the kid made me a card. So that was all heartwarming and yummy and suchlike.

Semester's going well enough. Intro to Digital Photo is not particularly challenging, but entertaining enough in its own way. Painting I is instructive, if mostly in how much I suck at shading and tonal variation. Computer Illustration is a good review of Illustrator techniques, and useful discipline as well. Astronomy is pretty much banging numbers together and stuffing them in the appropriate boxes. Not particularly educational or really that interesting, but the math review is decent mental exercise.

Eventually, I'll get around to scanning in some of the better projects from the Painting class for y'all to politely pretend you're interested in.

Other than that, not a lot happening. veedub's '11 online Feri class has started up, and I'm running it again after crash-and-burning early on in the '09 class. Gonna try and do a FTF meet up with some local Feri folks down in Malden tomorrow. See how that goes.

How y'all doing?


The Snowpocalypse is upon us! (tips hat to matociquala for the nomenclature)

Just got done shoveling a path out to the road and back to the cellar so's the landlord can get to the snowblower and finish out the driveway. Y'know, whenever he gets around to it. I'd run it, but for liability reasons (the damn thing is an antiquated deathtrap) he won't let anybody else use it.

Looks like we've gotten about a foot and a half, so far. Still coming down, though.

Plz to enjoy pics plz.Collapse )

Trés exciting, non?


herp derp

In the middle of an art piece at the moment. Working on kind of a runic/sigil mandala thing; got the layout done, gonna put the colors on tomorrow. We seem to be scheduled for some kinda blizzard bullshit, so aside from shoveling the car out, I probably won't have much else to take care of.

Did yoga and some pushups and crunches yesterday, and now I'm all kinds of sore. Dang, I've gotten weak. Some fucking weakass asanas and 10 pushups and 15 crunches, and my back is killing me. I'm soft as a boiled grape now. Am deeply ashamed.

Per instructions from sifu igrrrl, I'm gonna get back on the stick and finish "Betrayal" before I dive into the bottomless morass of my backlog of story ideas, fragments, and half-started whatnottery. Feels like stabbing myself in the eye, sometimes, but it'll never get done if I don't do it, yes?

I was gonna post more often, and then I didn't. And now I'm posting this.


How you folks doin'?


Dang, I've got a ridiculous amount of outlines and half-started works laying around my hard drive, going back more than 10 years, some of them. This whole "list of projects" thing is gonna require more work than I feel like doing right now.

Kinda feeling crappish; some kind of sinusy gack is filling various cavities in my body with unpleasant semi-fluids. And also apparently transporting my energy reserves to some more deserving recipient. Probably the cat.

Did the game thing today; Queensport/Vampireness. Still doing the solo mercurialdragon thing, Jay hasn't come back yet. Dunno if he's likely to, with the whole getting married thing. His fiancee seems nice enough, but her trip's online gaming, and she's apparently not super-hot on him taking Sundays off for tabletop stuff. She's also apparently capital C Christian, which might have something to do with the Sunday problem.

Fuck it, not like we can't run Qport solo; we've been doing it for almost a year now.

Think I'm gonna crash soon. Night, EllJay.

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