Saturday, October 29, 2005

Cure Autism Now - Walk Now - This Saturday

This Saturday, October 29, my family and I will be participating in a very special event, WALK NOW benefiting the Cure Autism Now Foundation. It is a 5K walk and community resource fair with the proceeds going to further the search for causes and cures for autism. Autism is a devastating disease affected over 1.5 American children and their families. 1 in every 250 children is newly diagnosed with autism.

You may be wondering why Cure Autism Now and WALK NOW are so important to me and my family. My involvement stems from a very personal and deep emotional contact with this complicated disease.

My 6-year-old son, Sean, was diagnosed with a form of Autism, Asperger's Syndrome, three years ago. I am very proud of Sean and impressed with his progress so far thanks to hard work on his part, our part and an excellent program within the Cy-Fair School District.

I strongly feel that I can have a direct impact on finding causes and cures for autism. I also feel strongly that Cure Autism Now is a wonderful organization which has been instrumental in furthering autism research. In 1995, when Cure Autism Now was founded there were only 12 researches focused solely on autism. Today there are over 300. That is progress. WALK NOW gives us a tangible way to help the nearly 1.5 million other Americans affected by autism and related disorders.

I am asking for your support in helping us raise money for this worthy cause. Any contribution you are able to make would be greatly appreciated, but I ask you to give big as there is a big need for further research. My personal goal is to raise $150.00 for Cure Autism Now and I hope to far exceed that goal. Last year I raised $775.00!

It is easiest to donate online by going to our personal webpage at Sean's CAN page.

If you are unable to donate online, you can print out a donation form from that page and hand it to me. All checks should be made payable to Cure Autism Now.

Please feel free to forward this e-mail on.

I look forward to hearing from you. I thank you very much!


Thursday, October 27, 2005

U2 continues to take on the world

"There had never been a band that had made it out of Dublin. It was us against the world. It was an impossible thing to do." — Bono

It's easy to identify rock 'n' roll's icons from the '50s and '60s. A greater challenge is determining which bands from 1980 to the present will carry the torch long enough to achieve iconic status. Right now, only one comes to mind with certainty.


When the Irish quartet — singer Bono, guitarist the Edge, bassist Adam Clayton and drummer Larry Mullen Jr. — plays a sold-out Toyota Center this Friday it is part of a trifecta of rock 'n' roll's elite that will visit Houston before year's end.

U2 will be followed into the arena by former Beatle Paul McCartney on Nov. 19 and the Rolling Stones on Dec. 1.

Unlike the Beatles and Stones that were born in the '60s, U2's legacy began a quarter century after rock 'n' roll's birth. But the band is the first of its generation to match up with rock's venerable legends. And U2 isn't a museum piece or a band warming up its past; its course is still being plotted.

Making a legend

The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Beach Boys, Bob Dylan and Stevie Wonder all achieved rock 'n' roll sainthood and are enshrined in the genre's Hall of Fame in Cleveland. They all share three characteristics: These acts have been cited by subsequent generations of musicians as influences; their older work has remained relevant over time; and over these sustained periods of creativity, their fans always asked, "What's next?"

U2 has met these pre-requisites.

It has also replenished itself every few albums with sounds and themes that bely its history. From youthful rabble rousers to Americana explorers to pop-cultural pundits to middle-age contemplators, its music has breathed a life right along with the bandmembers, and fans have always answered the call.

It's partially attributable to the band dynamic: The Edge, Mullen and Clayton quietly push the music forward, with Bono as the public face of the band, singing, talking and, sometimes, meeting with heads of state.

"I think Bono is really, really comfortable on a big stage," says singer-songwriter Aimee Mann. "He's a leader of men and not afraid to say, 'Come follow me.' "

Fans continue to follow.

Bruce Springsteen gave the introductory speech when U2 was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame earlier this year. Springsteen said that he was certain that U2 would be the last band for which he would know the name of every member.

He pointed out that what makes a legend is the near implausibility to stand out amongst the throngs trying to make impressions with guitars.

"It's embarrassing to want so much and expect so much from music, except sometimes it happens," Springsteen said. "This was music meant to take on not only the powers that be, but on a good day the universe and God himself, if he was listening."

Some body of work

U2 has distinguished itself by creating 10 studio albums in 24 years that are different from one another, yet they all seem to be part of some pre-panned story arc.

"Rock 'n' roll is the sound of revenge," said Bono at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction. "So make your enemies interesting, I would say."

The band has done a fine job keeping its enemies close.

The adrenalized raw stadium power of U2's earliest guitar cascades on I Will Follow and Gloria gave way to Irish protest songs like Sunday Bloody Sunday and New Year's Day.

When the band was fresh out of local anger, it explored the American experience on mid-'80s epics like The Unforgettable Fire and 1987 Grammy winner The Joshua Tree.

In the '90s, on albums like Zooropa and Pop, U2 embraced layers of digital embroidery on top of its naturally-constructed rock marches and emerged with the futuristic sounds of The Fly and Lemon.

More recently, on 2000's All That You Can't Leave Behind (an album anchored by the Grammy-hording single Beautiful Day) and last year's How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, the members of U2, all now in their mid-40s, have peeled those exploratory musical layers away and re-examined their musical bones. Simultaneously the members also re-examined their lives to a different marching anthem — the march of time.

There are more styles of music competing for attention today, more bands making more music than there were in 1980. U2 is the first legendary rock 'n' roll band whose members were all born after the birth of rock n' roll itself. It's getting harder and harder to discern who will join its ranks as a modern icon.


When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Where: Toyota Center, 1510 Polk Street.

Tickets: Sold out.


U2's discography: From A(chtung) to Z(ooropa)

Boy (1980): Produced by Steve Lillywhite (Peter Gabriel, Morrissey), the chorus to lead song I Will Follow (``If you walk away... I will follow'') became a prophetic metaphor for U2's aversion to trends and fans willingness to accept their experimentation.

October (1981) An album full of high ideas about war and religion that lacked radio appeal (with the exception of Gloria). U2's most culturally Irish album, even as the band made its initial club forays into the U.S.

War (1983) Boy was a protest album by scared kids venting through music in their garage. War was a protest album by a budding rock 'n' roll band realizing for the first time that it had an international podium.

Under a Blood Red Sky (1983) For those who missed the War tour, this eight-song-live sampler established U2 as the ultimate arena band. It also gave non-album track Party Girl a home.

The Unforgettable Fire (1984) U2 was ready for superstardom and producers Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois helped guide them there. Bono's lyrics take a nostalgic look at Americana on Pride (In the Name of Love), 4th of July and Elvis Presley and America.

Wide Awake In America (1985) This four-song EP proved that U2 B-sides like Three Sunrises and Love Comes Tumbling were superior to most other band's A-sides.

The Joshua Tree (1987) One of the best rock 'n' roll albums ever made, nearly every track is single-worthy as it adheres to a dusty landscape visualized on the album cover. The band earned its first Grammy for this project including album of the year.

Rattle and Hum (1988) A soundtrack from the band's journey through America, this is the first - and only time to date - where too much music made for a subpar U2 album.

Achtung Baby (1991) The official launch of Phase II of U2's career, the band finds happiness in a warm credit card, hunkering down in the studio and coming out with a lush album of distorted guitars and layers of sound created by digital effects.

Zooropa (1993) An EP that turned into an album, this separates U2's casual fans from the die-hards, though it features one of the group's greatest ballads in Stay (Faraway, So Close) and the only guest vocalist to ever appear on a U2 album, Johnny Cash on The Wanderer.

Pop (1997) After mining everything from rock to disco to synth, U2 didn't seem to know where to go next. Discotheque feels left over from Zooropa while Staring at the Sun is yet another tremendous ballad that fits better with Achtung Baby.

All That You Can't Leave Behind (2000) The band rediscovers itself by taking a ``less is more'' approach and completely deconstructing its music. The start of U2's third and current phase, All That You Can't Leave Behind is the group's most rock-oriented record since The Joshua Tree.

How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb (2004) A slightly bigger sound than All That You Can't Leave Behind, issues of time and an appreciation for family and life are at the core of songs like Vertigo and Sometimes You Can't Make It on Your Own. - U2 continues to take on the world

Buffy Movies Straight To DVD?

Marti Noxon, executive producer of UPN's Buffy the Vampire Slayer in its last seasons, told SCI FI Wire that the popular series' characters may live on in direct-to-DVD movies. "There are serious discussions going on about bringing some of the characters back and making a few movies that will go straight to DVD, but they will certainly be the quality they have always been," Noxon said in an interview. Continued fan interest in a big-budget Buffy film has led creator Joss Whedon to consider a series of movies that would focus on some of the secondary characters, she added.

"Joss is the king of jumping mediums, so it is an obvious step for him to do this," Noxon said. She said that a few of the show's past writers, such as Drew Goddard, have been contacted about turning in script ideas that would center on the minor characters. But Noxon said that she doubts that star Sarah Michelle Gellar would reprise her role as Buffy and added that she thought it might be tough to persuade Alyson Hannigan to return as Willow. Both Gellar and Hannigan have moved on to film roles, and Hannigan is now a regular on the hit CBS sitcom How I Met Your Mother.

But Noxon said that a film centered on James Marsters' Spike or David Boreanaz's Angel could do very well. (Marsters currently has a recurring role on The WB's Smallville, while Boreanaz is a regular on Fox's Bones.)

At the moment, Noxon said she isn't involved in writing any of the DVD movie scripts, but that she could be in the future. (Noxon is currently a consulting producer on Fox's Prison Break.) "If I get involved it would be for the Buffy-related films, not Angel, because I'm far more plugged into Buffy," she said.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Trick-or-treating tips

Halloween is a cherished tradition for many families. To keep your children safe, consider these safety tips for the big night.

Choose costumes wisely. Make sure your children can walk and move comfortably in their costumes without tripping or becoming tangled. If you purchase costumes, make sure they're labeled "flame-retardant." To avoid covering children's eyes, use face makeup rather than masks. Also avoid floppy hats, wigs and eye patches that may obscure vision. Of course, it's important to dress appropriately for the weather as well.

Limit accessories. Pointed props such as wands, swords and knives may pose safety hazards for young children.

Think supervision. Always accompany children younger than age 10. Encourage older kids to trick-or-treat with a group of friends, parents or older siblings. Provide adult supervision as needed. If your children will be trick-or-treating without you, make sure you know where they're heading. You may want to give them a cell phone for the evening should they need to contact you.

The brighter the better. If your children will be trick-or-treating outdoors at night, dress them in light-colored costumes. Use reflective tape on both costumes and candy bags for maximum visibility. Make sure someone in the group carries a flashlight with fresh batteries as well.

Talk about traffic. Make sure your kids walk on lighted sidewalks -- not on streets. Remind them to look both ways before crossing, and to cross from street corners. Advise your kids not to hide or cross the street between parked cars. Also, kids shouldn't ride bicycles, skateboards or scooters while trick-or-treating. Costumes may become tangled in the wheels, and navigating can be more difficult with a candy bag in hand.

Discuss appropriate trick-or-treating behavior. Limit trick-or-treating to the homes of people your family knows. Select houses with the porch or entry clearly lit, remain at the door, and say "thank you" when accepting a treat. Don't allow your children to enter the home unless they know the homeowners or they're accompanied by a trusted adult who knows the homeowners. Remind your kids to be aware of their surroundings and keep an eye out for anything suspicious.

Inspect the treats carefully. This is a job for parents or other adults, but kids can help as well. Toss anything that's not sealed, has torn packaging, or appears to have been tampered with. Keep in mind that small candies might be a choking risk for younger children.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Astros win the NLCS! Heading to the World Series!

Houston Astros pitcher Roger Clemens, left, sprays champagne at starting pitcher Roy Oswalt, while Oswalt is intervied by Steve Stone in the Astros' locker room after the Astros defeated the St. Louis Cardinals 5-1 in Game 6 to win the National League Championship pennant in St. Louis, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2005. Oswalt is holding the playoff MVP trophy. The Astros will play the Chicago White Sox in the World Series.
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Rock Climbing

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

While my ukelele gently weeps - Performed by Jake Shimabukuro


FM News Channel 97.5 - Listen in Houston or on the web

On my way home Tuesday evening, I won 4 tickets to the Texas Ren Fest from FM News Channel 97.5. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

We really couldn't afford to go otherwise so this is fantastic!

Did you know if you do a search on Google for '97.5 news channel', my blog is the 3rd hit for that phrase? :-)

Be sure to listen in, this is a great group of folks doing a great job with the news and more.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Torchwood Spins Off Who

The BBC announced that it has commissioned a spinoff series of its hit revival of Doctor Who for its BBC Three network. The new series, from the new Who's creator Russell T. Davies, will be called Torchwood—an anagram of "Doctor Who"—and will feature the character of Captain Jack (John Barrowman), a swashbuckling spacefarer who was introduced in Who last season. The network has ordered 13 episodes.

"Torchwood is a British sci-fi paranoid thriller, a cop show with a sense of humor," Davies said in a statement. "It's dark, wild and sexy. It's The X-Files meets This Life. It's a stand-alone series for adult audiences, which will have its own unique identity. I have just begun working on the scripts with a team of writers and cannot wait to see the results."

Set in modern-day Cardiff, Torchwood will get its launch in the Christmas special and second season of Doctor Who and will center on Torchwood, a renegade group of investigators. No stories will cross over between Torchwood and Doctor Who, the BBC said.
Torchwood Spins Off Who

Sunday, October 16, 2005

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All Chick - a blog found from the one below.
All Chick
Teacher quits after school finds her sex blog

MANSFIELD — A Mansfield elementary school teacher resigned after school officials found she used her class computer to access a personal Web log chronicling sexual exploits and containing disparaging remarks about her students.

Becky Pelfrey, 38, had worked for the Mansfield district for three years and had spent seven years working for Arlington schools.

Her log featured links to sexually-oriented Web sites and comments about her students, including a reference to them as "stinky kids."

School district spokesman Terry Morawski said the district has not sought to file criminal charges and he is not certain that Pelfrey committed a crime.

Officials were alerted to the situation by an anonymous letter dated Sept. 22.

Pelfrey's husband, Bill Pelfrey, claimed the letter was written by his ex-wife and Becky Pelfrey's former best friend, Tanya Hanna. The families are involved in a custody dispute.

Hanna denied the claim.

Hmmm, I looked up her blog. Unless she deleted stuff, I don't see a problem.
Bloggin Bex - Teacher quits after school finds her sex blog

Friday, October 14, 2005

No Groaning!

1. Two antennas met on a roof, fell in love and got married. The ceremony
wasn't much, but the reception was excellent.

2. A jumper cable walks into a bar. The bartender says, "I'll serve you, but
don't start anything."

3. Two peanuts walk into a bar, and one was a salted.

4. A dyslexic man walks into a bra.

5. A man walks into a bar with a slab of asphalt under his arm and says: "A
beer please, and one for the road."

6. Two cannibals are eating a clown. One says to the other: "Does this taste
funny to you?"

7. "Doc, I can't stop singing 'The Green, Green Grass of Home.'" "That
sounds like Tom Jones Syndrome." "Is it common?" Well, "It's Not Unusual."

8. Two cows are standing next to each other in a field.. Daisy says to
Dolly, "I was artificially inseminated this morning." "I don't believe you,"
says Dolly. "It's true, no bull!" exclaims Daisy.

9. An invisible man marries an invisible woman. The kids were nothing to
look at either.

10. Deja Moo: The feeling that you've heard this bull before.

11. I went to buy some camouflage trousers the other day but I couldn't find

12. A man woke up in a hospital after a serious accident. He shouted,
"Doctor, doctor, I can't feel my legs!" The doctor replied, "I know you
can't - I've cut off your arms!"

13. I went to a seafood disco last week...and pulled a mussel.

14. What do you call a fish with no eyes? A fsh.

15. Two fish swim into a concrete wall. The one turns to the other and says

16. Two Eskimos sitting in a kayak were chilly, so they lit a fire in the
craft. Unsurprisingly it sank, proving once again that you can't have your
kayak and heat it too.

17. A group of chess enthusiasts checked into a hotel and were standing in
the lobby discussing their recent tournament victories. After about an hour,
the manager came out of the office and asked them to disperse. "But why,"
they asked, as they moved off. "Because", he said, "I can't stand chess-nuts
boasting in an open foyer."

18. A woman has twins and gives them up for adoption. One of them goes to a
family in Egypt and is named "Ahmal." The other goes to a family in Spain;
they name him "Juan." Years later, Juan sends a picture of himself to his
birth mother. Upon receiving the picture, she tells her husband that she
wishes she also had a picture of Ahmal. Her husband responds, "They're
twins! If you've seen Juan, you've seen Ahmal."

19. Mahatma Gandhi, as you know, walked barefoot most of the time, which
produced an impressive set of calluses on his feet. He also ate very little,
which made him rather frail and with his odd diet, he suffered from bad
breath. This made him ..(Oh, man, this is so bad, it's good)..... A super
calloused fragile mystic hexed by halitosis.

20. And finally, there was the person who sent twenty different puns to his
friends, with the hope that at least ten of the puns would make them laugh.
No pun in ten did.
Sterling Order of Knights :: View topic - No Groaning!


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Saturday, October 08, 2005

Pure Pwnage - Store - USA

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How to Fix a Drawer That Sticks -

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7 Home Repairs You Can’t Ignore

Homeowner procrastination can ruin a house. Don’t let water, pests, faulty wiring, dirty chimneys or old appliances get the upper hand.

By Liz Pulliam Weston
Owning a house is expensive, which is why so many homeowners procrastinate on repairs. Real-estate agents have a euphemism for this condition: It’s called “deferred maintenance.”

Some fixes, however, should never be delayed. Ignoring these problems can result in much more expensive repairs later on -- or even injury and death.

Here’s what home inspectors around the country say you should be on the lookout for:

A water leak -- anywhere

A stain on your ceiling. A toilet that rocks. White powdery stuff that grows on your bricks or foundation. A musty smell in your house.

Whatever the source, the culprit is water, and the damage can be severe.

“Water is probably the single most destructive force to a house,” said inspector Jeff Del Guercio, owner of An Objective Inspection in Throop, Pa., and president of the local National Association of Home Inspectors chapter. “And a leak can go on for a long time without being noticed.”

Left unchecked, leaks can lead to rot, dry rot, mold and termite infestations. Water can cause roofs to collapse, foundations to buckle and all manner of expensive repairs. What’s more, water-related problems can get your home blackballed by insurance companies worried about the soaring number of mold-related claims nationwide. (See “Insurers keep a secret history of your home.”)

The fix: Isn’t it obvious? Stop the leak by any means necessary, repair the damage and take the required steps to make sure the problem doesn’t reappear. Minor roof leaks, for example, can be patched with roof cement, but if your roof is aged and failing, you may need to have it replaced. That’s expensive, but not as bad as replacing the trusses and underlying roof structure that can rot away if not protected.

Flickering lights

Do your lights dim when the fridge switches on or you crank up the microwave? You may have bad wiring or too many appliances hooked to one circuit. Either one can cause a fire.

“A lot of older homes have only one or two circuits in the kitchen,” said inspector Jason Farrier of Elite Home Inspections in Phoenix. “People will update the kitchen but still have all the appliances running off those two circuits.”

It’s far safer, Farrier said, to have at least four circuits: two for countertop appliances, one to run the dishwasher and garbage disposal and another, dedicated line for the microwave.

Flickering lights also can be a sign of failing connections in aluminum wiring, a feature in homes built between 1965 and 1973.

The fix: You can try to distribute power-hungry appliances more evenly, by not running more than one at a time or by plugging some into another circuit. But the best fix is a cure: Get an electrician to upgrade your wiring, add more circuits, or both.

If you have aluminum wiring but can’t afford to upgrade, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends making your wiring safer by using special crimp connectors rather than the usual twist-on style. For more information, see visit the commission’s Web site (link at left under Related Sites) or consult a professional electrician.

Rodent incursions

If you hear the pitter patter of little rodent feet, don’t turn up the stereo to drown them out. It’s not just that rodents can carry disease and make a mess nesting in the tax records you’ve stored in the attic. Rats, mice and other vermin love to chew through insulation and wiring, Del Guercio said, and are suspects in many house fires.

The fix: Use traps and bait products or call in an exterminator. Mice droppings can carry the deadly Hantavirus, and rodents themselves can carry everything from salmonella to the plague, so professional help might be the wisest course.

Soaring fuel bills

If you’re paying a lot more for gas or oil and there hasn’t been a rate hike recently, Del Guercio said, the culprit could be problems with your furnace. This is more than a pocketbook issue, since poorly functioning systems can cause deadly carbon monoxide buildup in your home. The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates about 200 people die annually from carbon monoxide exposure in the home, typically from malfunctioning heating systems.

The fix: Have your furnace professionally cleaned and inspected annually, including the flue. The cost is usually less than $100. Install UL-approved carbon monoxide detectors, which cost $25 to $50 each.

Peeling paint

Paint is like a home’s skin. It’s the first line of defense against incursions by water and pests. Water that seeps into wood can lead to rot. At the other extreme, unpainted wood can quickly get too dry and crack.

The fix: Scrape off the old paint, sand the surface smooth and apply a coat or two of fresh color. (Be cautious in homes built before 1978, since many still have lead paint. Dust and chips from such paint can cause irreversible brain damage in children and nerve damage in adults. Consider hiring professionals to test your home and remove any lead paint. Your local or state health department should be able to provide referrals to testing labs and contractors.)

Smoky chimney

Here’s another way neglect can kill your family, since chimneys that aren’t properly cleaned and maintained can catch fire. Creosote, a by-product of wood burning, can build up in the flue and ignite unless removed, said inspector Hy Naiditch of Accuspect Home Inspection Services in Chicago.

The fix: Get your chimney swept and inspected annually; the cost is about $100. (You can find certified chimney sweeps via the Chimney Safety Institute of America, link at left under Related Sites.) Use only seasoned wood, and build small, hot fires, rather than big smoky ones. Never burn trash, cardboard or wrapping paper in your fireplace.

Dirty, or missing, air conditioner filter

This is something Claude McGavic of Inspection Associates in Bradenton, Fla., sees way too often. Overloaded or missing filters allow dirt and dust to settle on the air conditioner’s coils. Warm air passing over the coils causes condensation. What you get is mud -- and a perfect medium for mold to grow and be blown all over the house.

Enough gunk can block air from getting into the system, McGavic said, causing it to catch fire. McGavic, president of the Home Inspectors Association of Florida, says many air conditioner failures can be traced to this simple lack of maintenance.

“With a $2 filter,” McGavic says, “you can preserve a $6,000 air conditioning system.”

The fix: Replace the filter once a month while the air conditioner is in use. Get your system checked annually.

Here are some other safety fixes you should consider:

Ground-fault circuit interrupters: These electrical outlets, with their distinctive red and black buttons, are designed to prevent deadly shocks. Outlets in bathrooms and those in kitchens within six feet of the sink should be replaced with GFCI outlets, said Naiditch, president of National Association of Home Inspectors Illinois chapter. “They’re the best $7 you’ll ever spend,” Naiditch said. “They’re a lifesaver.” The exception: Don’t put a refrigerator on a GFCI, Naiditch said. A fridge’s normal on-and-off surges can trip the interrupter and leave you with an icebox full of rotting groceries.

Flexible gas connectors: Gas appliances installed more than 10 years ago may still have dangerous brass connectors that can fail, according to the safety commission, leading to fires or explosions. These should be replaced with an approved connector, typically stainless steel, Naiditch said. But don’t move the appliance to inspect, since even a slight motion can cause the weak soldered connection to break. Have a professional appliance repairperson check and make any changes.

Garage door openers: Yours should have an electric eye that looks for obstructions and an automatic reverse mechanism to prevent someone from getting squashed.

Dryer vents: The lowly clothes dryer causes more than 15,000 fires every year, often caused by lint buildup in the duct that vents to the outside. Clean the ducts regularly and replace plastic ducts with metal versions.
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