Monday, 4 February 2013

07:32 – Barbara is back on dad-sitting duty this evening and tomorrow evening. Ordinarily, that’d mean Colin and I wouldn’t see her again until Wednesday after work, but she’s decided to come back here after work Tuesday, have dinner, and then head over to her dad’s place to spend the night. The hospital is still running tests and otherwise trying to figure out exactly what’s wrong with her mom, but it seems likely she’ll be in the hospital for at least a few more days.

Barbara got a bunch of bottles labeled over the weekend, so among other things I’ll be filling bottles this week. Despite all the upheaval, we’re still in reasonably good supply on finished inventory of all the science kits, with more abuilding.


08:11 – I see that it’s been confirmed by DNA testing that the skeleton found under that British parking lot is in fact the remains of King Richard III. Furthermore, from the photo in the news article I saw, it appears that King Richard had been decapitated, lending credence to the idea that Richard III was in fact killed accidentally by Lord Edmund Plantagenet and succeeded by King Richard IV.

46 thoughts on “Monday, 4 February 2013”

  1. Shouldn’t that have been, “…beheaded accidentally by Lord Edmund Blackadder”?

  2. No.

    At the time, he was Lord Edmund Plantagenet. He assumed the sobriquet “The Black Adder” (as opposed to “Blackadder”). It was his descendants who took the surname “Blackadder”.

  3. Furthermore, from the photo in the news article I saw, it appears that King Richard had been decapitated, lending credence to the idea that Richard III was in fact killed accidentally by Lord Edmund Plantagenet and succeeded by King Richard IV.

    How do you accidentally decapitate someone?

  4. How do you accidentally decapitate someone?

    Same way you accidentally shoot someone 18 times. Duh!

  5. Same way you accidentally shoot someone 18 times. Duh!

    Reminds me of the guy in Indianapolis who “accidentally” mistook his wife for a prowler and fired every round in his handgun and rifle into her.

  6. How do you accidentally decapitate someone?

    Edmund was on Richard III’s side, fighting Henry Tudor. Richard was going through the “my kingdom for a horse” bit and preparing to ride off on Edmund’s horse. Edmund didn’t recognize Richard as being on his side and thought Richard was stealing his horse, so he cut his head off.

  7. Well, if I have to shoot someone, I’m certainly going to keep shooting him until he shows no signs of being able to harm me.

    Which reminds me of the (true) story of the guy minding his own business sitting in a bar. Some other guy breaks a barstool and starts beating the crap out of the first guy. The victim pulls out his pistol, which was unfortunately a .25 ACP, and starts shooting the guy who was beating on him. He hits the guy with something like seven bullets, and finally the guy stops beating on him. The police arrive shortly thereafter to find the victim on the floor barely able to move, and his attacker sitting at the bar, leaking blood from several bullet holes, and finishing his beer.

    So, the cops call ambulances to haul both guys to the hospital. The beating victim ends up being charged with aggravated assault and attempted murder. Fortunately, when the judge and jury heard the circumstances, he was acquitted. The attacker survived with no complications.

    The moral here is (a) if you’re going to carry a pistol for self-defense, carry something bigger than a popgun, and (b) even hitting someone multiple times doesn’t guarantee the shootee will stop what he’s doing. That’s true even if your weapon fires 12-gauge buckshot or slugs. Or a .50 BMG for that matter.

  8. Ever notice how shooting and alcohol seem to be related? Every case I have done video for, which involved guns, took place at a bar or dance club where booze was the big attraction. Unfortunately, one incident involved a stray bullet (from a guy shooting off his gun ‘in the air’ in the parking lot) that hit a young fellow in the neck, and he is now a quadriplegic. Tragic. The younger guy was working at the Amazon fulfillment center near Indy, while he was figuring out what to do next with his life. He now requires 24 hour care and can do nothing for himself except breathe, eat, and talk. He is completely paralyzed from the neck down. The other guy will likely spend a very long time in jail.

  9. On King Richard III: The records indicate that rather being decapitated, he was struck in the head with such force by a halberd, mace or axe that his helmet was driven into his skull, and that this occurred while his horse was stuck in the mud and within seconds after he’d personally gone after Henry and come within a yard of him through other mounted knights. No question at all of his physical courage, although his charge at this point was really what they call a Hail Mary pass in the NFL.

    Ten years after the battle, Henry shelled out fifty pounds, a lotta money in them days, for a marble monument.

    I see that they have been treating his remains respectfully and he’ll get a royal burial in Leicester Cathedral, long overdue.

    That all said, none of these guys was legit; the last genuine King of England was Edward the Confessor, last also of the Anglo-Saxon monarchs.

  10. Ever notice how shooting and alcohol seem to be related?

    It seems to me there seems to be a distinct correlation between people drinking alcohol and lapses in judgement in general. So much so that I drink less now than I used to, even though I never really ever drank that much.

  11. In OFD’s experience as a street cop back in the Bronze Age, he noted that most of the shitty negative situations and calls to which he responded involved alcohol, and those incidents where there was violence, booze was usually the major factor. True also for far too many vehicle accidents. Rarely got calls to screech to a stop with the cruisers, sirens and blue lights, for an incident involving pot smokers.

    Naturally back in them days OFD and his fellow officers consumed huge quantities of alcohol off-duty nearly every night, and some of them did it on-duty and/or showed up still half in the bag. Three of them showed up at a large brawl one night, and one who was painfully hung-over wielded his PR-24 Monadnock baton in such a manner as to put some people in the ER. From this a very long and drawn-out civil suit against the three ensued, and put the department and its families in a lotta turmoil, which had to be alleviated via more consumption of alcohol, natch.

    To make a long story short in support of Dave B.’s assertion, booze played a huge part in the lives of the cops I knew, on duty and off, and continued right on into the Age of Cocaine. Judgement was adversely affected repeatedly, of course. OFD being the brilliant son of a bitch that he is, continued right on boozing long after he left police work until a little over three years ago. And I can attest that judgement continued to be adversely affected likewise.

  12. So, when you have netflix, do you watch anything over the air?

    Hardly anything. Eight years ago, we were one of the very early “cord cutters”. We canceled all but basic cable, which then ran us $6.66 per month. But without that basic TV service, our broadband service would have gone up by $5/month, so having basic cable TV ended up costing us only $1.66/month extra.

    We often go days without watching anything other than Netflix streaming and/or DVDs. Sometimes we’ll check the TWC cable news/weather channel, and if severe weather is likely we sometimes check the local NBC affiliate. Barbara sometimes watches a golf tournament or a college basketball game on one of the local affiliates, but that’s about it.

    We currently have something like 150 titles in our Netflix instant queue, 95% of which are TV series that looked interesting from the descriptions. If even a tenth of those end up being worthwhile, we’ll not run out of stuff to watch.

    We generally alternate among three or four series. Right now, we’re watching Rescue Me, Wild at Heart, and Wish Me Luck. When we finish one series, we try others until we find one to add to our current group.

    Barbara binge watches sometimes on weekends while she’s labeling bottles. She might go through four or five episodes in a day of a series she likes that I don’t. I binge-watch Heartland regularly when Barbara’s not at home. Since I started watching Heartland back around last April, I’ve been through all of the five seasons four or five times. (Barbara really likes Heartland. She’s watched all five seasons, but only once each; she doesn’t like to watch anything more than once.) I’m currently halfway through series five and accumulating series six episodes. I have all twelve that have been broadcast, but they’re spacing out the remaining six episodes to finish up on April 7th. At that point, we’ll probably binge-watch season six together and then I’ll start again on season one.

  13. We watch a lot of OTA plus the AMC, FX, USA, MTV and Syfy channels. Plus I watch TAMU and Houston Texans football games when I can on the OTA channels. We DVR all of this and watch at our leisure. In fact, we watched the last three “Covert Affairs” episodes from last November this weekend. The wife DVRs “General Hospital” daily and usually watches it that day.

    If I remember correctly, we have been using DirecTV since 1996. I sure would like to get the bill down to $50/month or so. In fact, after the move to our new home, I will probably be increasing it with their new Genie DVR which can record up to 5 channels simultaneously. Our current DVR is limited to two channels which actually gets hit on Monday nights when we want to DVR 3 channels occasionally.

    I really, really do not want to go back to cable. Unless we move to cable internet at the new home. I currently use Clear Wimax (10/1) for our home internet which works fine for us. And my daughter watches Netflix all the time. So, I just do not see any alternative for us without changing our viewing habits, especially OTA.

  14. Our viewing habits are like unto Bob’s and Barbara’s (except for watching shows or series multiple times) in that we watch either Netflix streaming or DVDs, and at most for any viewing, maybe two or three times a week. I am toying with the idea of getting a cheap TV antenna just for laffs to see what if anything we can pick up in Retroville. But we won’t be going down the road of broadcast/cable again.

    We actually spend at least as much time, if not more, just reading and listening to the radio, whether FM broadcast of classical out of Montreal with Parisian-French speakers, or the shortwaves.

  15. So, when you have netflix, do you watch anything over the air?
    If yes, do you have a DVR for capturing OTA shows to view at your leisure?

    Yes, I have Netflix, Amazon Prime, and will be adding Hulu. We also have Comcast cable and internet. I’m happy with all, although I’ve noticed that Netflix has less and less of what I want to watch. (We’re adding Hulu because they have the Criterion Collection available.) The cable with DVR gives us the OTA channels, sports, etc. We DVR about 4-5 shows on a regular basis. Also, when my Mom stays with us, she watches a bunch of shows on A&E and the like (Covert Affairs, Suits, etc.). We are considering dropping HBO and SHO, though.

  16. I actually do the rerun thing with books as well. I’d much rather re-read a series I liked than read something new and mediocre. I’ve been through classics like Sherlock Holmes, Agatha Cristie, and Robert Heinlein probably half a dozen or more times each, and through newer stuff like Pournelle, Bujold’s Barrayar series, etc. at least two or three times each. I’m current on several mystery authors like Peter Robinson’s Banks series and Cynthia Harrod-Eagles Slider series, and will probably go through them again at least once or twice, time allowing.

  17. Don’t the stories/plots/dialogues stay in your head after reading those books? Ours do to the extent that we rarely if ever read anything more than once, except, in my case, I’ll re-read poetry a lot. The rare instances usually involve something we read as kids and are now looking at again, such as, Sherlock Holmes, Dickens, Kipling, Twain, Melville, etc.

    And I seem to watch “The Man Who Would Be King” and “Barry Lyndon” once a year; that’s about it.

    And lest I give the impression we are some kind of high-falutin’ academic types, we also read a lot of crap, like the Jack Reacher series, in my case recently just to wash the image out of my head of Tom Cruise playing that character. Also to fantasize about just roaming the country and killing bad guys whenever I feel like it. Problem with the series, though, is that it’s usually low-level bad guys, when what I have in mind is members of the One Percent and their enablers in gummint and media. Naming no names, of course.

  18. I don’t keep fiction in long-term memory. It’s actually a conscious decision, based on Sherlock Holmes’s remarks about attics and storage space.

    I read less now than I used to. At one time, I was averaging maybe two novels a day or more. I finish a typical 250-page mystery or SF book in maybe an hour to 90 minutes. Now, I’m lucky to get through 200 or so a year. Even so, that adds up fast, so after a year or two I can reread something and not remember much about it.

    The most extreme case was the time Barbara and I took a bunch of books back to the library. I was browsing around the stacks when I came across one that looked interesting. I read the first few pages, and it sounded kind of familiar, so I figured it was just another in one of the many series I’d been reading. When I carried it up to the desk to check it out, Barbara pointed out that I’d read it the week before and that we’d just returned another copy of it.

  19. Bob, given your frequent references to Sherlock Holmes, I have to ask what you think of the two recent efforts to move Sherlock Holmes to the 21st Century? Specifically I’m referring to the BBC’s Sherlock (available on Netflix), and to CBS’s Elementary.

  20. “The most extreme case…”

    That’s pretty extreme. Wouldn’t happen up here.

    @Dave B.: Even if you didn’t ask me specifically. I read the entire Doyle canon as a teenager and went to the local state college theater’s 25-cent showings of the b&w Basil Rathbone series back in the Glorious Sixties. As an adult I watched the entire series starring the late, great Jeremy Brett, who I consider the epitome of the character’s modern development, bar none.

    Mrs. OFD and I have watched the newer “Sherlock” series on Netflix recently and although we enjoyed it quite a bit, see it as just another version of the stories and not on a level with Brett’s PBS output. It’s entertaining and innovative but just not there yet. Since we have no broadcast or cable, we have not seen the CBS series.

  21. Yeah, Brett *is* Holmes in the same way that Suchet *is* Poirot. They’re both impossible acts to follow, and any actor who attempts either of these roles is doomed to come off a very distant second-best, if that.

    Unfortunately, the very late Bretts were made when he was extremely ill, and they don’t hold up. Let alone the late ones that weren’t written by Doyle.

    So, no, I don’t intend to watch any of these wannabe Holmes remakes. They’re doomed to be mediocre at best.

  22. I’ve been through classics like Sherlock Holmes, Agatha Cristie, and Robert Heinlein probably half a dozen or more times each, and through newer stuff like Pournelle, Bujold’s Barrayar series, etc. at least two or three times each.

    If you like Heinlein and Bujold then you might want to try the Dahak trilogy by David Weber (my favorite series of all time, always been a sucker for an intelligent computer):
    http://www.amazon.com/Mutineers-Dahak-Series-David-Weber/dp/0671720856/
    and maybe even his Honor Harrington series:
    http://www.amazon.com/On-Basilisk-Station-Honor-Harrington/dp/0743435710/

    I gave one of my nephews the “Citizen of the Galaxy” book by Robert Heinlein for Christmas. As I was wrapping it, I reread a couple of pages for grins. I finished the book in two hours, wrapped it and labeled it.

  23. Brett took his role extremely seriously, to the point of endangering his health and life repeatedly and it may have actually killed him in the end. Or been a major contributing factor.

    I either didn’t know or had forgotten his speech “impediment;” is this what those of us raised in Maffachufetts have to expect at some point???

    “Although he eventually developed precisely honed diction, he was born with “rhotacism,” a speech impediment which prevented him from pronouncing the “R” sound correctly. He underwent corrective surgery as a teenager and followed it with years of practising. Much later he claimed that he practised all of his speech exercises daily, whether he was working or not.[citation needed]”

    I hadn’t realized I might need corrective surgery. Damn.

  24. I’m currently going through John Wyndham’s works for the the third or fourth time. Like Doyle, he’s a lot of fun.

  25. @OFD If you are really serious about installing an outside antenna, don’t cheap out. Get a good one on a rotor, and put a strong RF amplifier in the circuit. Even a mounting in the attic can bring in stuff from far away with the RF amp (sometimes stuff in the walls interferes with reception, but not always). There was already a good rooftop antenna at Tiny House, put up by my dad. I put a 25db VHF through UHF broadband amp (which includes FM), and it is astounding what I can pull in. I’m in eastern Indiana, but can pull in TV in downstate Illinois and UHF stations in Ft. Wayne, which is up near Detroit. I have gotten FM stations in Pennsylvania, with the wide state of Ohio in-between me and the station. I was able to get the radio project some 60 miles away, while the high school station on the same frequency in the country south of me was off-air after a lightning hit. The radio project is only 6kw, but I got a solid, fully quieted stereo signal until the high school station returned to the air. They are only licensed for 600 watts, but based on interference levels with our signal in Indianapolis, we believe they run way overpowered. They use a 2kw transmitter, which is inexplicable super overkill when you are licensed for only 600 watts.

  26. Chuck,

    Our problem with OTA TV is that we are right up against the side of a hill and most of the broadcast TV antennas are on the other side of the hill about a mile away. With analog TV, the multipath was so bad that the picture was unwatchable. With digital we simply don’t get any reception. Any suggestions about how to get OTA reception. I got so fed up with Comcast that I cancelled our service. We can watch streaming and DVD’s, but we’d like OTA TV occasionally.

    Rick in Portland

  27. Many of the first Baen hardcovers of the later Honor Harrington books came with a CD in the back that included the entire series up to that date. All the disks were labelled for free copying and distribution, and can be downloaded as complete disks here. The most complete for Harrington is the Mission of Honor CD. As you can guess from that page other authors and series also had disks, including Bujold’s Vorkosigan books. Despite the same “free to copy” note on that one it was removed from the site at the request of the publisher.

  28. For SF, it’s hard to go past Iain M. Banks. Especially The Player of Games.

    What’s TV?

  29. “If you are really serious about installing an outside antenna, don’t cheap out. Get a good one on a rotor, and put a strong RF amplifier in the circuit.”

    Not super-serious; I’d pay five bucks for a cheapo one just to see what I can get with it for starters. And since we live on a flat lakeside plain, with the Vampire State across the water and TV stations there, up in Quebec, and down in our so-called Queen City of Burlington, I may then take up your suggestion, which I’d read about elsewhere in the meantime. I may call on your expertise at some point in the near future (near meaning next coupla months or so).

    “…I got so fed up with Comcast that I cancelled our service. ”

    I’ve been hearing nothing but horror stories about Comcast phone and internet service for twelve years now from my Linux friends in the Greater New Hampshire LUG, where the bastards have a monopoly.

    “I love reading dead tree books…”

    Ditto. But I have a bunch of Kindle stuff loaded in the Amazon cloud that I couldn’t find anywhere else and either got for free or paid a dollar or some ridiculous sum, as for the Summa Theologica for instance. Wild stuff.

  30. I thought about setting up for OTA, but antennaweb.org tells me that I can get only two stations, the local NBC and PBS affiliates, with an indoor antenna. They’re both on Sauratown Mountain, about 16 miles north of us. If I want the other four stations, I’ll need a purple outdoor antenna with a signal amplifier and a rotor. Those four stations are located 34 miles southeast of us.

    I figured out how much it was worth to me to have unlimited access in perpetuity to all six of the local OTA stations. After careful calculations, I came up with $0.59. So, any idea where I could find a purple-rated exterior antenna with signal amplifier and rotor for $0.59? Incidentally, the $0.59 would have to include labor to have it installed.

  31. I get this result from our location:

    “Up to 9 channels from 5 over-the-air stations may be received at this location.”

    One green-coded for a PBS site 37 miles west across the Lake; and four violent-coded for one each PBS, NBC, CBS, ABC, all 25 to 30 miles south, Burlington, I assume, and nothing from our Quebecois neighbors to the north.

    Kinda interesting. And now over to Chuck, in Tiny Town, USA:

    Chuck, Bob and me wanna know what kinda antenna we can get for this stuff and how much. Bob has a budget in mind already; we are more flexible, being older and wiser folks up here.

  32. I went to the titantv site, too, to see the schedule for tonight and two of those stations are showing crappy programs from the Glorious Sixties, for petesakes. “Bewitched,” “I Dream of Jeannie,” “The Odd Couple,” etc. I’d watch the PBS stuff, though. (gotta keep tabs on what the smarty-pants libruls are yakking about.)

  33. Re:rbt@11:58

    Big guns are better, no argument here.

    But a number of studies have shown that even “popguns” like the 25acp and 22lr are surprisingly effective as long as the target isn’t out of his/her mind.

    Here’s one article on the subject:
    http://www.buckeyefirearms.org/node/7866

  34. For SF, it’s hard to go past Iain M. Banks. Especially The Player of Games.

    I’m a big Banks fan, but I found that the weakest of the Culture novels. By quite a bit. In fact, if I had read it first, I’d have avoided reading more of his books.

    I just got all the Sherlock Holmes works for free on Kindle, courtesy of Simon and Schuster. They got the Doyle estate to go along, since S&S was publishing a novel about Watson, with their cooperation.

    My dead tree stack has two books I got for Christmas on top: Cooking for Geeks and Modernist Cuisine at Home.

  35. An air rifle would work just fine against me. Perhaps even a water pistol – I have a very low pain threshold.

  36. Well, My first Banks book was Consider Phlebas, which I didn’t exactly hate, but it was a while before I read a second book by Banks. The friend who recommended him, saying he was far better than Frank Herbert, burned a lot of his credibility. I think Excession was the next Banks book that I read, that took years before it grew on me. I like The Player of Games because it’s fairly self contained. Look to Windward is very good too, and I quite like Inversions. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to Feersum Endjinn, which is just… weird.

    I think Banks looks a fair bit like our host: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:IainBanks2009.jpg

  37. Wow, I don’t know where y’all find the time to watch so much TV? We have just basic cable (which comes for “free” here, after paying the required television tax). We watch the late evening news most evenings, and occasionally some other special. Including the news, we probably average around 5-6 hours a week. Add to that the *very* occasional movie, maybe once a month.

    Books, on the other hand… I’m a slow reader of fiction, maybe 250wpm, even though I read business stuff I read a lot faster. Which is fine, because I’m not in a hurry. In my salad days, I averages a novel a week; now it’s certainly less. Guess I spent more time doing projects around the house, otherwise I dunno where all the time goes. Guess I waste too much time surfing the Internet; gotta stop reading this site 🙂

    Anyhow, to books and authors: I have trouble getting into Iain Bain’s books. Even though they are well-written, and I enjoy the plots, I really have to make an effort not to put them down. His writing style just doesn’t work for me, somehow.

    THe Honor Harrington series is great stuff for light military sci-fi; I’ve read it through at least 3 times, more for the early books. Same for the Vorkosigan series.

    A shorter series along the same lines, that no one has mentioned yet: “The Helmsman” by Bill Baldwin: light, fun, with lots of shoot-em-up and the underdog-becomes-the-hero stuff.

  38. I wish there were a way to take people making stupid predictions, nail them to a wall, and force them to atone when their predictions – entirely predictably – fail to come true.

    The latest from Goldman Sachs, predicting a nearly 20% fall in government spending. While they are absolutely right that some government stupidities are ending (like Iraq), they completely fail to account for all of the other government stupidities that will expand instead. Remember the “peace dividend” after the end of the Cold War?

  39. For fantasy a good choice is Steven Erikson’s “The Malazan Book of the Fallen” series. If you like non-linear, non-obvious plotting, a cast of many memorable characters, and clearly epic scope, this is one of the best.

    .mg

  40. And the 2012 Hugo novel winner “Among Others” by Jo Walton was a very strange book about a teenage girl growing up in 1975 reading science fiction with a dark witch for a mother who got her twin sister killed – before the book started:
    http://www.amazon.com/Among-Others-Jo-Walton/dp/0765331721/

    It was a strange book. But all the classic scifi references made it neat.

  41. @Rick TV signals are of high enough frequency (like FM radio) that they are line-of-sight to receive. If there is a mountain between you and the transmitters, there is nothing you can do to receive OTA signals. I thought you were far enough north that the glaciers would have leveled your terrain. In some cases where the situation is severe, stations will put in “translators”, which broadcast their signal in blocked areas on a separate channel. You might try researching whether the channels you want, use that method. But there have to be a LOT of rich viewers in that ‘dark’ area for them to do that. And if several stations have done that, they may not have co-located the translators, so you would have to have the antenna on a rotor to point it toward differently located translator transmitters. Best thing would have been for the stations to mount their antennae on top of the mountain. The Buckley Broadcasting-owned FM station in Hartford, Connecticut, has their transmitter on a very tall hill in Meridan, and the antenna is only about 15 feet taller than the roof of the transmitter shack. They blanket the area from NYC, through New Jersey, and over to Springfield, Mass., west of the Berkshires.

    As for cheap antennas, there is no such thing. If you are talking about an outdoor or attic antenna with a rotor, going into an RF amplifier, then to a distribution amp to deliver the signal to different rooms in the house, it is going to be at least a $200 proposition in equipment alone. Not worth it to me, but my dad had everything but the RF amp installed in Tiny House, so I already have everything. I think I paid about $15 for the RF amp, which is a discontinued model that burns about 7 watts (newer units use under 2 watts), but I don’t intend to be in this house forever, so it was a trade-off, as newer amps cost upwards of $50, and I think I could be here a long time before I pay the difference through using 5 watts more of electricity continuously.

    In spite of my long career in the industry, TV is not a factor in my life; I never watch it at home, and only occasionally (twice a month, maybe) watch a movie. In fact, real soon now, I’ll write up a little summary of recent broadcaster concerns that TV and radio will not be there in the event of a dire emergency anymore. That has already proved the case in both Cleveland and Florida, where stations no longer have backup means for getting their signal from the studio to the transmitter. In both places stations went dark (including TV stations in Cleveland)—in Cleveland when AT&T lost a main backbone carrying everything—telephone, direct tie lines, cell phones, Internet—and essentially took out all communications for several hours (I forget what the issue was in Florida). During the northeast blackout of the mid-60’s, power went out just before suppertime in NYC, while Dan Ingram was on-air at WABC radio; he drove to the transmitter site, where there was a backup studio, and broadcast live through the night until power was returned. I do not know of ANY radio station around me that maintains a studio at the transmitter site anymore. They used to, for just such emergencies.

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