Monday, January 31, 2005

Will's Advice for Men During Pregnancy, Volume 3: The 5 Biggest Mistakes You Can Make 

5.) Don't show any sort of reluctance or hesitancy about the pregnancy, especially out in public. Otherwise, you give the pregnant lady the excuse to exploit this weakness. Kind of like the time the wife and I were in a crowded shopping mall when she began talking about breast feeding. Perhaps my response was too quiet, too reserved, too obvious. Because she spent the rest of the afternoon, walking around the mall, saying things like, "Oh, Will! Will! Do you think this will look good on me even when my BREAST MILK comes in? What? You know about BREAST MILK, don't you, Will. BREAST MILK is what our baby will drink."

4.) If the pregnant lady wants to go to the hospital early, and you know it's not "the time" -- go. Do not try to reason with her. She will soon be humbled by the calm voices of the maternity nurses who will tell her it's not the time. This will, definitely, be a waste of your time. Go. Don't fight her. You're just asking for that conversation when she says, "Oh, and I suppose you know what a 'real' contraction is, huh, Mr.? You're only the person responsible for all this!"

3.) Looking at other women or even those intriguing "Girls Gone Wild" commercials they show on late-night TV -- not a bright idea while the pregnant lady is in the room.

2.) "I'm hungry." From first-hand experience, I can tell you you're -- in the words of the insurance company -- stupid, stupid, stupid, if you elect to go for a run, telling her, "We'll eat when I get back." Run later. Eat now.

1.) The two of you are in the car. She casually mentions, "I have to go." You've got three options:
(a.) Pull over right now, find the nearest gas station or McDonald's, and pray you make it in time.
(b.) Ask her how bad it is, what time frame you're looking at -- how long she can hold it.
(c.) Tell her "OK", "I know", and that, "We'll be there soon."

If you answered:
(a.) You've got a chance. Best of luck to you.
(b.) What are you, stupid? Don't talk about it -- she's got a fricking bowling ball on her bladder. It's like going through daily life at a 50-minute level of the century club drinking game -- and you, you're asking how she's doing.
(c.) And you. You just deserve to be pushed out of a moving locomotive.

Like Brain Surgery 

So I'm sitting here, typing. And I've got Nolan on my lap asleep, and every time I take my one hand out to type, he lifts both his arms up, like Dr. Frankenstein, or like a patient in brain surgery whose arms spasm because the surgeon just hit that part of the brain. His hands grab my thumb, and then he's back asleep, unconscious.

Aint No Burnin Hell 

The reason I don't have a cell phone is whenever I pick up the ringing phone, I think of how the phone call will end or how I can end it.

Way back in high school, I had a girlfriend who liked talk on the phone -- talky-talk-talk-talk-talk-talk-talky-talk. And, in fairness to her, she was a fairly interesting person. So I talked to her. But one night I just got tired. This was long before I'd developed enough confidence or lying ability. I fell asleep. Hell, it was after 1:00 am. I had school the next day. I woke up that next morning with the phone still on my ear . . . and the girlfriend still on the line! Unbelievable! She told me she heard me drop off and thought it was either funny or cute, and then she just decided to keep the line open so she could say "good morning" to me when I woke up.

I don't think it was a real surprise to anyone when I broke that off.

There's just so much one can say over the phone. I'm better than some. I've got some friends who are just terrible on the phone. One guy -- who's name I won't mention -- but then, I really do want to mention his name -- not as any sort of in-joke or get-back-at-him sort of thing -- just because if he ever got here, or if someone he knew ever got here and read this, they would know too; maybe we would commiserate. He is so bad on the phone. How bad? He calls you. He doesn't speak. That's it. So I pick up the phone, "Oh! Hey, it's you!" And from there on in, I have to carry the entire conversation. What's worse is when I'm out of anything worth saying, I tried just stopping -- just stopped speaking for like a minute or so. He still didn't speak. Unbelievable.

Besides, every person I know, who owns and uses a cell phone, complains about their provider. Everyone. Why would I want to jump into this burning mess of anger, boring conversations, and monthly bills?

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

On Rights 

"Just go to a chiropractor."

"I'm not going to a chiropractor."


"Because I don't need to. It'll go away in a few days."

"Oh, so if it still hurts on Friday, do you promise you'll go to the chiropractor?"

"I am not going to any chiropractor!"

"I'm calling the chiropractor."

"You are not calling that chiropractor! No. No. No. You are not getting up from this table! Put that phone down!"


"I won't go. I am not going to any crackpot, Dr. Nick, fly-by-night-"

"Then you can't complain about being in pain."

"It is my God-given right as a husband, as a man, and as a taxpayer to complain. That is what I do. That is my thing. That is what you married. Love me for my faults. I am a mere mortal."

"That's all, huh?"

Monday, January 24, 2005

So . . . what are you gonna do about it . . . WHITEY? 

I remember the real shock of OJ was not that he was let off . . . although that was a bit dispiriting, yes. It was really over the differences in the white-black reactions the country had. People seemed very taken aback by the strength and clarity of the distinctions.

Now I'm not one of those yapping heads who insists things are as bad today as when the KK were stringing people up on tree branches back in 1932. That opinion seems a bit irrational to me. But I don't think things will get a whole lot better for a while. I think it's kind of like the rebound of an ugly fight. At first there is a lot of silence, then a long period "holding period" of touchiness in which the two parties are too nervous about stepping on the other's toes to live normally (or at least the guilty party acts this way).

Here's my litmus test:

1.) Watch a rap video including any lyrics or imagery of guns, "bitches"*, getting said guns or "bitches", and any sort of discussion or presentation of what happens with said guns or "bitches".

*Feel free to replace "bitches" with any other derogatory reference to women.

2.) Imagine said video was conceived, produced, and directed all by white folk.
3.) Would the popular media jump all over the white folk for being racist, modern-version D.W. Griffiths who see black culture as nothing more than sex-crazed, money-obsessed, violent, subjugating thuggery?

If yes, we're still in the holding pattern.

Whiteout in Wisconsin 

Friday night after work I got out the shovel and got to work. It was 12:35, still snowing, but I couldn't park the car. So I started shoveling. I like this. Not the shoveling, so much, as I like beating the neighborhood in shoveling. Don't really care about the lawn during spring, summer or fall. But shoveling -- that's my forte.

Ninety minutes later we were shoveled, but the snow was still coming. The paper had predicted three to six inches. This was no six inches. Worse: the wind blew up and down the street, piling up drifts.

10:00 am I was out again. The paper said we got at least eleven inches. The alley, sidewalk, and porch all looked like I hadn't touched them. So I started shoveling. The snow had stopped but the wind was up. Carl across the alley had his blower going, which helped. I finished, but immediately noticed the drifting start. So I grabbed the bag of salt and laid her down: all 50 pounds. Now all that drift would be in for a fight. I was the only house in the neighborhood in front of which pavement was visible.

I ran that afternoon, taking Inidana up Oklahoma, to KK and then up Ellen to Delaware. The fun was at the beginning, jumping the piles at the end of the sidewalk and into the street. But by the time Delaware turned toward the lake, there was no more blockage, and the wind off the lake gusted so hard that visibility was overwhelmed. Then I hit the bigger houses of Superior, where they must not have felt like shoveling. You have to make a real strong effort, sprinting into the head of a four-foot drift, and then run like a lifeguard through the waves: real high knees, land right back on the heels. All that plow snow wipes out the initial burst of energy, but there's no way to take it evenly; you may as well sit down like a mountain climber with his back to the wind.

I went to work and came back to a couple inches of drift on my property. Determined to beat it for good, I purchased 100 more pounds of salt. So I started shoveling. And then I salted. It's pristine. People marvel at my sidewalk like it's the new exhibit at the art museum. They point to the thick, bumpy layer of salt over the cement. People come from the surrounding blocks to walk on my walk, to admire its clean perfection. They bring their children; they show them the clean lines between the sidewalk blocks; they point out the tufts of grass peaking through on the seams because I shoveled along the edges. And they say to each other, "I've never seen such a clean walk before. This is what shoveling should be like. I wish my sidewalk could be just like this." I see them now, as I look from my attic window -- even though it is dark out. They still come, this late, to see, to view, to admire, kneel down, feel the free wet of the rock beneath them, and pay thanks.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Question and Answer - Volume Three 

And on to our regular feature, culling questions from your emails, letters, and spoken word.

How's the boy?

He's awesome. Very healthy. Surprisingly easy. Doesn't cry a lot. Just likes to eat, sit, look around, and be cute. He's a lot of fun. The wife and I are now the baby people on Seinfeld. "Why don't you come over and see the baaaaaaaby. Come and see the baaaaaaaby, Jerry. You have to see the baaaaaaaby." It's really sick.

How's the wife?

She's doing great. She looks like she's already back to her pre-preg weight, which is amazing. She recovered really fast, wasn't in a lot of pain. She's back driving and shopping again. She's even ready to go back to work early, the weirdo.

How is Ranger coping?

Ranger is a king of dogs. He's handling the new family member great. He gets worried when Nolan cries. Mostly he ignores Nolan or just tries to lick his head clean.

You guys getting much sleep?

Yes, believe it or not. We're up two or three times a night, but somehow I imagined it would be more difficult than it is.

What's hardest / most annoying about having a kid?

Having to listen to everybody tell me how I should bring up the boy -- from how I hold him to what he wears to where he eats to what I read to him. Everybody's a know-it-all and everybody acts like since they brought up a kid, there's only one way to bring up a kid, and if you don't do it their way, your boy's gonna die, or at least be deficient, and it will all be because of you. Whenever one of these people drop their unsolicited feedback on me now, I just respond with: "Will he die? Oh, no? Then I think he'll just have to tough it out. After all, the cavemen made it."

Also really annoying: all the condescension we get, such as: "Oh, he's nice nooooow. Just wait until he grows up and turns into a monster." Fuck you and the negative horse you rode in on. Don't you think I know this kid is going to drive me up the wall before I know it? Go soak someone else's parade with your urine.

So how come you never mentioned Jessica was expecting?

I like surprises. Also, for months and months, this was the major conversation piece of our lives. That gets old. This was a nice little sanctuary from it.

So is this site going to be all about your kid now?

That could get really old, couldn't it? It's certainly not my aim to become one of those people who only talks about his kid and doesn't have a life outside of work and family.

Any recent confrontations with the Wicked Witch to the North?

Nothing major. Although she did put up her crappy Christmas lights again, basically just tossing them into the bushes in a mess and then congratulating herself on how BEAUTIFUL they were. Since they were half in our bushes, again, we looked like the crappy Christmas lighters.

Are you running much?

Lately, I can actually finish runs. I'm at a happy 30 miles a week, with no more knee or back pain. Running in this severe cold hasn't been bad -- it's the wind that's difficult. We've had this northwesterly wind that makes the second half of my runs challenging.

What's the coolest gift you got / gave for Christmas?

I got Jessica (among other things), Chef Tony's Ultimate Chopper after being fascinated by his infomercial for an hour one night. Yes, it kicks as much ass as Chef Tony claims.

How's your new book coming?

In spurts. I'm in the meaty section, which is real difficult because I'm trying to create a layering of cause, intention, and effect. But it's rewarding.

You need more links. Other blogs have like a thousand links.

Yeah, I know. I haven't really had a chance to browse and read much lately. Plus, I like a good assortment, not just the big regulars. And political blogs don't hold much interest for me unless they're unbiased. One of these days there will be more.

What music are you listening to lately?

I haven't bought a whole lot of new music lately. I've been addicted to Modest Mouse for the last seven months. Otherwise, Weezer, Sly, and Dylan have been frequent. I'm about ready to drop some big payments on my Bank of America card -- the card I lived on after losing my job two and a half years ago when I bought my wife her ring and a new (used) car. So once I'm back to even, in terms of my debt, I'll go out and get some new music.

Are you finally done with school?

Dangerous, giving a definitive answer to this question. But, yeah. I miss taking English and Philosophy, but I don't miss the work or the attitudes.

Is the connection still there, even without communication?

If two people aren't communicating, a connection could still exist -- to memory, which is pretty subjective. Then again, there are people I don't talk with anymore that I wish I could. While I look back on many of those people fondly, I look the same way at a book I read years ago but lost. I know I've probably forgotten some important parts, and I couldn't speak intelligently about it. I guess I would hope those people are still doing well, moving on, and finally living their own life and not letting it pass them by.

What do you do at your job?

Answer calls and emails. It's a job. I don't bring it up here much because it's just a job. But I like going to it, I mostly enjoy doing it. Good people work there, which is more than I can say for a lot of the jobs I've done. And when the day is done, I can get in that elevator and leave the job back behind the doors.

Do you still drum?

Not lately, but I have been drumming. Pretty limited setlist, and I really don't drum enough to be very good. But it's a lot of fun.

Are you still out of writing poetry?

Yes. For now and for a while. I got a book of Billy Collins's poetry over the holidays, and he's great. But he also didn't change the fact that I don't plan on writing any for a while. I will continue my little Carmody series eventually.

Ever been to Vegas?

I get asked this question so often, and I can't figure out why. No, and someone please tell me why Vegas is this Mecca of American adult enthusiasm. I'll be happy to go. Flights and hotel prices are dirt cheap. But I just don't understand the orgasmic reaction people have to that town.

You don't have cable? You live in, like, the dark ages.

I know. But I'm used to it now and can't fathom paying $50 a month. If I did, my writing would dry up and I'd just sit home, flipping channels. So the longer Jess and I hold off the cable monster, the better I'll probably be.

Your Packers sucked this year.

Yeah, they did. But that doesn't change the universal truth that Randy Moss is a bitch.

Why are your "picks of the week" sometimes every week, sometimes gone for months?

Yeah, yeah, I know. The staff hasn't been that with-it. How about: Broken Arrow and Bride of Frankenstein?


Saturday, January 15, 2005

Will's Advice for Men During Pregnancy, Volume 2: Holy Shit 

One thing they don't teach you in the labor and delivery class or the breastfeeding class or the early infant care class:

A.) There are differing qualities of diapers.

B.) When using a poor quality diaper -- i.e., Pampers -- this kid's crap goes through the diaper. It's not done there either. It goes through the diaper, through the "onesey" outfit he's got on, through the receiving blanket, through the blanket on our bed he was laying on, and, yes, onto the bedspread. It's like that moment in Alien where acid is dripping through the ship and they're racing to see where it will stop. If it stops.

Lesson to learn: never buy Pampers. Ever. Using Pampers diapers is like holding a single sheet of paper towel under a faucet and daring the water not to blow right through it. Holy shit. Luvs, Huggies, fine. But stay away from the Pampers. Save your bedspread.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Will's Advice for Men During Pregnancy, Volume 1: The Top Priority 

Top priority is simple: Make her happy. Accomplishing this task-- humanly impossible.

You are Custer, on your Last Stand, fighting your tail off, knowing your time has come. Keep fighting. There is really nothing you can do to combat all that you're up against: headaches, puking, cramping, puking, back pain, puking, self-consciousness about her shape, puking, slow-walking, puking, eating every day at 2:30 am, puking, poor vision, puking, terrible selection at the maternity stores, puking, increase in her shoe size, puking, spontaneous crying at every commercial with a baby in it, puking, harder to breathe with a kid in her ribs, puking, inability to fall asleep, puking, tingling in the legs, puking, being too hot, puking, being too cold, puking, acne, puking, the weight gain, puking, stretch marks, puking, that line down the middle of her belly, and puking.

That's what you're up against.

Just do what you can. If she wants brownies at 1:30 am, go to the 24-hour grocery store and buy some. By the way -- don't get her a Hershey's bar, damnit. She said she specifically wanted brownies, not a chocolate bar. Can't you tell the difference? Oh, I guess you're too busy being not pregnant to listen, huh?

When she's uncomfortable on the couch, notice this before she says so. She will. And you won't catch it the first few times. Just make an effort, when she sits down, to ask: do you need a pillow, can I get you a blanket, want something to drink, should I get your pre-natal vitamins, etc.

Want extra credit? There really is no such thing as extra credit in a losing enterprise such as being the responsible party in the pregnant relationship. But the closest you can get to extra credit is the spontaneous, matter-of-fact comment. For example, when she's dressing for work, tell her, "Hey, you look great in that." But don't say it in a way that sounds as if you've thought about it, otherwise you might as well just walk out back and start digging your own grave. What works best (for me, anyway) is saying, "You really look so much smaller than all the other pregnant women I've seen lately." Nothing like a little competition to make her feel better.

Do what you can to make her happy. Find what works for you. Those are a couple things that worked for me. Just don't expect to win. Don't expect to win some award for best husband during pregnancy. You're not playing to win. This is about survival.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Nolan Reid 

It all started as so many things around here start, with our dog, Ranger, most probably the greatest dog to walk our beautiful earth.

Regular readers of wrfarah.blogspot.com know that Ranger has -- usually when frustrated or feeling under-appreciated -- occasionally taken out some frustration on my wife. Those who know Ranger know he has a fondness for chewing on used tampons, Kleenex, and other bathroom paper products. So it was, then, that I left for work yesterday and Ranger felt like taking out his disappointment by dragging half the bathroom garbage into the dining room for a little night-time chew.

Jessica, who'd been sleeping all day, woke, came into the dining room, and saw the mess Ranger had created. It was when she bent down to yell at him, perhaps throw the debris into his face, that her water broke.

Meanwhile, I was sitting on the phone with a customer who just couldn't get it. He was trying, I was trying, but we just couldn't reach the finish line. A co-worker, who has a habit of crossing the call center to ask me a question, stepped into the cube across from me to ask me a question. Not in the mood for a question so early into my shift while on the line with some guy who really shouldn't be combining technology with finance, I ignored my co-worker. After a minute, he began scrawling on a piece of notebook paper:

"Your wife's water broke. She's going into labor. Holy shit. What do I do?"

I quickly finished the call and got on the horn to Jessica, who sounded as calm as a fisherman on Sunday morning: "Oh, the contractions haven't started yet. The doctor said I could eat now and just mosey in to the hospital later. My parents are here. You should come in a couple hours."

"Jess, I think I'm coming now."

I drove home. The house was empty, except for good ol' Ranger. Maybe they went for a walk. Maybe they went to get dinner. Ah! Lasagna! Nothing like getting out of work early, some tasty Italian, little bit of labor -- who-hoo!

So I called my mom, who was to take care of Ranger while we're at the hospital. She was talking about "Ohhhhh, Willy, this is soooooo wooooonderfuuuul. You guys are having a baaaaaaaaaaby. Ohhhhh, this is sooooo speeeeecial." And the whole time I was thinking, "Damn, will they get here with that lasagna, already, so we can eat and have this kid." That's when I saw the note on the dining room table:


"Oh, boy, ma. Gotta go."

So I put the dog away and rushed to the hospital. I got to her room and her mom and dad were there. Jessica was looking at me like she wanted to throw me out the window. "Why's she looking at me that way, Tim?" I ask my father-in-law.

"They get like that around now." He took two large steps away from the bed.

Apparently I hadn't had the special "pregnancy cell phone" turned on. Jessica's mom, always the picture of togetherness, patched this mix-up up fairly quickly, and then the in-laws took off. As Jess's mom put it, "this is between you two".

I've seen bitching pain before, and this pain I saw Jessica in matched that. She was in back labor, 5 cm dilated. Before I knew it, some cool guy with glasses and a thick Asian accent came in with a big cart. "I come with epidural for you." I though Jess was going to cry with happiness.

When he was finished: "Congratulation. You feel no pain. Well . . . not too much. And no headaches. Well . . . I don't think so. I do good job. You feel no pain. Congratulation."

Out he went with the cart, and there we stayed for the next two hours as Jess went from 5 cm to 9.5 cm. Finally, the nurses called the doctor in. "Eh, she's close enough to ten. Start pushin, why don'tcha? I'm gonna be out gettin a bite to eat. Actually, I'll also have to go to Walgreens. It's the wife's birthday tonight, and I got to get her a card. So far all I've gotten her is vacuum cleaner bags. But I got her the good ones. Hoover!"

Jessica began pushing. At this point, I could give all sorts of details about pulling on the legs, the pushing, the words of encouragement from the nurse, the things I saw that she pointed out to me, all the different bodily fluids I saw during this time -- things I saw I won't forget and have no real desire to see on a regular basis. But after 90 minutes, hell began to break loose. Jessica was hot. I was rushing around trying to keep the rags cold. More and more nurses were coming in, preparing things. Jessica puked, and I grabbed the dish to catch the puke. Then she projectile pukes, there's puke everywhere -- puke on Jess, puke on me, puke on the couch, puke on the floor, puke on the machines, puke on the nurse, puke-o-rama. I grab another pan. She finishes. Then she states: "I'm not pushing any more until I can brush my teeth!"

I run for the bag and find a toothbrush. She brushes. She pushes. Then finally, at the last minute, the doctor comes in (what a sweet job this is, reading a Men's Health magazine in the lounge for two hours while the nurses do all the work, then coming in for just the delivery).

I come back from a final trip to the faucet to cool the wash cloths and Jess pushes -- out comes this conehead bigger than anything that was ever on Saturday Night Live -- it just keeps coming and coming. Finally, a face -- sunny-side-up -- and so clean and peachy.

I help clean him on a table; he cries, then relaxes. I cut the cord. Jess relaxes. It is 10:30 now. Nolan is so awake and alert, looking at us, looking just like Jess. He's got her eyes, her pumpkin chin, her lips exactly. And when he frowns, he looks just like Jess does when she's dress shopping and can't find what she wants.

After this, it is a long night of tests and medications, and waiting, waiting, waiting. He wakes up and cries several times in the night. Both of us zombies get up and he calms quickly. It's better than you think. That's all I can really say, if you've ever wondered what it is to see a kid born, to watch his first minutes, to take the responsibility. It's better than you think it will be.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Striking Twice 

It happened again! Unbelievable! It was the exact same guy. I was running behind him on the exact same block. The only difference was it was winter instead of fall, so there were no leaves I could rustle to try and make noise. Instead, I tried kicking some ice to get his attention. I ran, crossing my arms, trying to make the swish of my running jacket sound louder so he would hear me coming -- no luck!

He turned around at the last second and let out a little shriek. This time he didn't go into a karate pose. He just sort of shriveled up his shoulders and held his hands up like it was a stick-up.

Damn, I am killing this guy. I apologized again, but I don't think he heard me. He's gonna have a heart attack one of these nights.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Building Nothing Out of Something 

• There is a deep divide between myself and people who complain about dog hair. Being the kind of person to ignore you at your fancy dinner party and rather play with your dog on the floor in the other room, it's pretty clear I'm biased here. I just don't get it. What's so terrible about a little dog hair? Dogs are great. You can never really have an argument with them because they can't talk back. They will always love you, even if you're mean to them. They provide the perfect half to any relationship. Yet some people can't abide the hair. Unbelievable.

• What is so wrong with the concept of cleaning out the gene pool? Why can't we take all the admitted rapists, pederasses, and serial killers and just cut their balls off (or weld the f-tubes for the ladies)? What is sooooo wrong about this? This is the scum of humanity, yet we are allowing them the possibility of reproducing?

• OK, I agree. The Starbucks coffee is overpriced. But why all this Starbucks hatred? And why does it always seem to come from someone who's addicted to the stuff? Is this some modern redirection of self-hatred? I just don't see it as the sign of the apocalypse.

• There are several radio stations in the Milwaukee area who have done this promotion lately -- it's the "We're playing our ENTIRE music catalog this weekend!" And they act all excited that they're bringing this tremendous amount of diverse and ass-kicking music to our ears for "the whole weekend long". And I'm thinking, "What, you have that small of a music library that you can play the whole thing in a weekend?!" Pathetic.

• I really got to find a better way of saying "No" to all the people at work who try to sell me overpriced crap -- either crap from their pathetic side businesses or crap for their kid for some reason, they don't know, they forgot. Right now I've become so bitter about all this that I just end up avoiding the people or acting really pissed-off so that they avoid me. There's got to be a better solution. And no, I'm not looking for honesty here, folks.

• Why do people always complain about how Saturday Night Live isn't good anymore? I've heard this complaint since I was 13 years old when Dana Carvey was doing the show. When do all these people agree the show was good? To me, it's never been great or terrible. The first 10 to 30 minutes are usually OK. The last half-hour usually sucks. Simple.

• We got a foot of snow dumped on us. Time for a night snow run.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

The Productivity of Men; The Misunderstanding of Women 

Today I involved myself in:

• the moving of furniture
• the replacing of Christmas decorations
• the cleaning of the home
• running
• the disposal of the garbage
• the duties of the dog
• the reading of the paper

Yet because of the time frame of these activities, as well as the gaze of my eyes, my wife claimed:

"You have spent, like, eight hours watching football."

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