2.28.2015

Moments in Havasu: Flowers & Haiku

Have faith and let go
The unknown controls the fear
Welcome what comes next


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2.26.2015

Clouds & Sky of Blue at Lake Havasu

Get up, go outside
Wonders of this world await
Beneath the blue sky
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Patriarchy vs. Bureaucracy: It's a 'Rat's World

I enjoyed reading Matt Forney's piece last week at the Return of Kings website, entitled: 20 Signs That We're Not Living in a Patriarchy. The reason I enjoyed it is because it is accurate based on my own experiences in life, and since I found the information presented to be accurate I felt obliged to offer forth my empirical evidence. I will not be addressing every point in the article, only the ones that I have experienced firsthand.

Exhibit 1 RE: 'More women than men are in college and earning degrees'
Based on my experiences at Green River Community College, where I graduated with a degree in court reporting in 2006, there were two -- 2 -- men total I encountered in the program as students; all the rest of the students were women of varying ages. Granted, this is a technical degree in a very specific and specialized field, whereas lots of degree statistics I have read focus on standard degrees; nonetheless, my experience matches up with Matt's article. 

Exhibit 2 RE: 'Men and women earn equal pay for equal work'
When I began working as a court reporter in 2005 (I passed licensure before graduating -- FYI, a license matters more than a degree) I started out at the same pay as my father who was a 30-year veteran court reporter. Him and I both received the same hourly pay for taking the record, and the same page rate for producing the transcript. So, there you go. 

However, since my father was the business owner he made money off me and all of his independent contractors, because his office provided us with the work without us having to go out looking for work. So the only way my father made more than me was by being a business owner -- not because he was a male.

Exhibit 3 RE: 'On average, boys perform worse in school than girls'

The high school I attended had this thing called 'Top 10' for the seniors; the Top 10 were the top 10 students with the best grades of the graduating class. So, for my class of 1996, there were 9 girls in the top 10, and 1 guy...and the guy was not the valedictorian, though his speech was the best that night because it was original; he even mentioned me when it came to following your core. Such a nice thing to say that I have never forgotten; thank you, Chad!


All the girls' graduating speeches sounded like they were copied from one another. Maybe that is why girls do better in school, they copy the right answers from each other. In fact, that is who taught me to cheat in school -- girls who were better students who made the Top 10. Now isn't that funny?

Exhibit 4 RE: 'Men are jailed at much higher rates than women'
The only experience I have with this is through my work as a court reporter. When I did work in courthouses during arraignments, I saw more men than women standing arm's reach away from me to enter their pleas.

When it came to other work on the criminal end such as procedural hearings, inquests into deaths while in police custody, and depositions at prisons and institutions, I saw more men than women in those cases as well. I have no reasoning as to why more men than women are charged or incarcerated, but that is what I experienced.

Exhibit 5 RE: 'The media treats women who claim to have been raped with respect, no matter how ridiculous their stories'
While the courtroom is not the media, some lawyers forget that and do not exercise critical thinking, particularly when it comes to state prosecutors. A few administrative hearings I worked on were at the state level in Washington, and the state's witnesses in those cases were females who made claims against male healthcare practitioners that could have (and may have) resulted in the men losing licensure, losing work, losing face, and possibly even going to jail.

What was missing in those cases that stood out to me, as well as to administrative judges and appellate courts, was that there was very little proof beyond circumstantial evidence of her word against his and subjective prejudice that someone 'feels' someone else did something when they had no proof they did anything.

Yet, even without objective proof, the claims those women made were given full weight and those cases still worked their way up to such high levels that the accused parties had to hire lawyers out of pocket and live through the agony of having their lives in other people's hands. My heart went out to those men.

Exhibit 6 RE: 'Women are dominating high profile positions in government and business'
Lawyers and bureaucrats are bad enough on their own, but women can be some of the worst, speaking from my own experience, and there are lots of them out there. I remember noticing at jobs when the women outnumbered the men in deposition rooms, and it was not a rare thing.

The female lawyers and 'rats I have encountered that have left bad impressions on me are the women who take their jobs personally. It is not work to them -- it is their mission, their legacy, and sometimes their vendetta. The things I have heard off the record cannot be unheard and they scare me more than what I took down on the record.

As much as I want to say I am all for women in the workplace, I do not know if some women should be in such high positions of power in the workplace. Granted, I feel the exact same way about men because some of them should not be in such high positions of power either, so there's equality for you.
* * * * *
In conclusion I want to add that I am not writing this to say that men are better than women or that women are better than men, but only that I have experienced firsthand that America is not run through patriarchy despite the cries that it is. That is not true, period, and if you think it is true, you are welcome to prove it in a comment with a link to your evidence.


noun;
a form of social organization in which
the father is the supreme authority in the family, clan, or tribe.

Considering I just finished watching Coal Miner's Daughter, where Patsy Cline and Loretta Lynn are portrayed as the breadwinners and their husbands are tax deductions, I am befuddled that others do not see how much power women now have over men in America. 

When was the last time you saw a father in supreme authority of a family, clan, or tribe, without a wife, mother, or woman having a say in that family, clan, or tribe? Perhaps it exists in individual families, but the whole of America is not run that way.

The fact is America is run on a bureaucracy, plain and simple, proven by how many pieces of paper you need to cross a border or buy alcohol or walk down the street in some states. America is not divided by sexes, it is divided by the 'rats, and it is the 'rats who are dividing the sexes

This is why I walk a fine line in the men vs. women battle by saying men aren't better than women and women aren't better than men. The reason I say it is because it is the bureaucrats who are winning that battle, not the men and women.


Men and women are only losing the battle by fighting with each other instead of joining forces to either (1) fuck or (2) take on the real problem -- 'rats in government who enact and enforce laws that divide families, divide humans, and destroy personal freedoms. by Eve Penman

Where do you think the problem lies:
With men, women, or 'rats?

Patriarchy vs. Bureaucracy
included in Unpopular Opinions V1:
20 Dissenting Arguments Compiled from
the Blog of Eve Penman


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2.24.2015

Prepare Yourself: It's Good News

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Two big surprises today that deserve big thanks.

1. zBesties.org put out their first article featuring reviews of top Zazzle contributors and I was lucky number 5Read the review here along with the other four. The reviews are short and sweet, and include pictures of the featured designers' storefronts with links for visiting.

It amazes me how much original creation goes on in this world, and so much of it unknown and unnoticed. Thanks to zBesties for noticing not only me and my bumper stickers, but all the incredible artists they feature in their Twitter feed!

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2. This past week I opened another online store at Society6 where my Cosmic Pix are the featured attraction as art prints and on selected products

Last night I worked at adding tote bags to the selection of available products and, majorly big surprise, one of them sold tonight. Thank you to the first buyer at my Society6 store! It hit the V spot -- validation -- and I needed that spot hit.

In fact, after all the posting of my products I have been doing lately, this is exactly what I have been working towards -- a sale!! -- and it feels so nice. I just have to relish it for the moment it is here because I know these moments come and go.

And there it goes.

But more will come. 

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2.20.2015

The Jaws Coverup: Good Cop vs. Bad 'Rats

I think it is safe to say that it is obvious to anyone who has watched the classic film Jaws  that the character of Alex Kintner is horrifically killed by the same shark alluded to in the film's title. 

However, this past year while seeing the film continuously in play on the Independent Film Channel and after seeing all I have seen from litigious lawyers in recent years, I began to form a theory on who, or what, could be responsible for Alex Kintner being killed by the shark.


While Chief Brody may have suffered a public slap of shame from Mrs. Kintner, he was nothing more than the fall guy for the people who would not let the beaches be closed in spite of the information they knew.  There. You smell that? That is a lawsuit in search of an antiestablishment lawyer and, oh, but to hypothesize of how such a coverup would be viewed by the public. 


Imagine the Hypothetical:
A town's mayor knew a girl was killed in open waters and later parts of her body were found on a public beach -- by whatever means does not matter, a person was killed -- and the mayor did not report it to another jurisdiction, nor call for a separate investigation from another entity, nor listen to his medical examiner or his chief of police; and instead he demanded the beaches be opened for the sake of the almighty summer dollar?! 

Holy sardines; that story would be eaten up in a public feeding frenzy faster than the shark ate Alex.


Then to add on top of that: The owner and publisher of the local newspaper did not report the death of the female swimmer, the very death which prompts Brody to close the beaches. Now why wouldn't such a story be published; is the death of a swimmer in open waters not considered news worthy in a town surrounded by water? 


Plus, it is that swimmer's death in which the medical examiner agrees to amend autopsy reports based on urging from the mayor -- a doctor altered documents at the request of a politician?! -- which all takes place in front of the newspaperman who does not report on the coverup, since he is a part of it. Oh, can't you just taste the deception waiting to be revealed in a courtroom? 


Not to mention the newspaperman is also a town councilman and he is the one who cites the legal requirements of shutting down the beaches to Brody!  Can you say 'conflict of interest'? I can. 


Obviously the position as a town councilman is a major conflict of interest with being a newspaperman for this character, since he is unwilling to report information to the public which concerns their safety yet he is willing to have a say on what benefits his personal interests when it goes against public safety and, not to mention, his profession as a reporter. Oooh, if that doesn't put the 'rat' in bureaucrat, I don't know what does. 


When it comes to the technical/legal requirements of shutting down the beaches that the newspaperman cites to Brody, those are the laws that I speculate are responsible for Alex Kintner being killed by the shark. The shark killed Alex, no doubt about that, but had the law not been used against Brody and had the beaches gotten closed, would Alex not have been killed on that particular day? I like to think the possibility strongly exists, but I am bias since it is my theory. 


I mean, hello! Parts of a body are found washed up on shore. And a town councilman has the gall to cite the law in order to stop a police officer from protecting the public and closing the beaches while the matter is under investigation?!?!  As a kid the shark scared me; as an adult this 'rat scares me even more.


Now, while the law was used for evil in this case and not for good, the law was ultimately a helpless victim in the hands of heinous henchman. What are laws but words on paper, and words on paper are just that -- words on paper. Inanimate and one-dimensional, words have no power on their own without an individual to act upon the words.


So, what brought those words of law into so much power that the result was a little boy being killed and a mother losing her child? Bureaucrats. Specifically three bureaucrats in the form of one mayor, one councilman, and one medical examiner.



I like to think positively that such a lawyer exists who would rip these fictional 'rats to pieces without a trace left for plankton to feed upon. A girl can dream. And that is all any of this is, hypothetical dreaming of what would be in a fictional setting.

In reality, even though bureaucrats take part in coverups, and newspaper reporters do not always report accurate or correct information, and doctors have been found guilty of amending or falsifying reports, my time in court has shown me that lawsuits do not always solve everything for everyone.


Lawsuits do not bring dead people to life. Lawsuits do not make pain go away. Lawsuits do not guarantee justice, truth, or money...unless you are being paid to work on the case, of course.


So it is probably best that Jaws played out the way it did, without a nasty and costly lawsuit, and without a three-ring circus of he-said/he-said. Because the fact is if people want to see that, they can visit their local courthouse.



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2.12.2015

Hank Schrader: The 'Bad' Behind the Badge

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The recent multi-week marathon of AMC's Breaking Bad ended the other night, but I could not bring myself to watch the ending again, not yet anyways. I am still heartbroken from the first time I watched it.

The entire series leaves me laughing and lamenting; feeling torn and twisted, amused and awestruck; unsure what to think from one scene to the next, and humanely woeful for all the parties involved. 


Pretty much how I used to feel at the end of a day of taking down the record in legal proceedings. I think that is one reason I enjoy Breaking Bad as much as I do; the dynamics of the characters parallel what I have seen played out in real life.

When it comes to not knowing what to think, it seems as if the total no-brainer of the series is that Walter White is the baddest of the bad, the cruelest of the cruel, and the horror of all horrors. Walter is no saint, I give him that. However, is Walter the only bad character on the show? Not by a long shot.

There is book-cooking Skyler, kleptomaniac Marie, and lying Lydia, just to name a few of my favorite bad girls; not to mention the countless characters throughout the series who carry out the orders of whoever is paying them, no matter how bad the order is.


But then there is the archvillain of Walter; the unsung hero, in the eyes of many who live in a land ruled by arbitrary laws and are guarded by a devious henchman of laws, called a DEA agent. That's right, Hank Schrader, the baddest of all bads -- a dirty law enforcement officer. Okay, maybe not super dirty, but dirty enough to be just as bad as, and maybe in some respects worse than, Walter White.

Just like Walter, Hank is no saint, but one major difference I see in the two characters is that Hank, as a law enforcement officer with the Drug Enforcement Administration, has taken an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America as a requirement of performing his basic job duties; whereas Walter being a high school chemistry teacher, to my understanding, is not charged with the same responsibility to uphold the Constitution in his work capacity.

That alone sets the two fictitious characters apart in levels of badness that are easy to overlook in a society where a good-sized consensus hold the blind belief that law enforcement officers can do no wrong.

Hank does plenty wrong. In fact, I cannot help but wonder: Had Hank listened to his superiors early on and never pursued the cases as he was told, would he have lived? As it plays out, Hank is a bad boy and does not follow orders, and as such he does not live. Oh, such fate-ridden heartache, I just love it!, especially since it is fiction.

As well, Hank bails his wife Marie out of her kleptomaniac problems time and again, to the point where he jokes about her robbing a bank when a colleague stops by to visit.
 


Think about that: How good is it of Hank, as a law enforcement officer, to not do right by his charge and turn in Marie? Instead he uses his position of power to pull strings and get her out of hot water; and if a law enforcement officer is not willing to do that for everyone else, is that right of him to do it at all?

Granted, this is only a television program and not real life, but it is a program that triggers my mind like nothing else on the boob tube because the fictional scenarios and character dynamics have strong similarities to matters I have witnessed firsthand. Thus, I wanted to share my thoughts about the ethical dilemmas and questions I see being presented should others not see them as I do. It is a dirty job, but someone has to dissent.



Click Here to Dissent

Don't get me wrong, when it comes to Hank not turning Marie in that is a loving thing for Hank to do, because he understandably does not want something to happen to Marie (and possibly his career), so it benefits him overall to help her when she needs it. 

Just like Walter, Hank is willing to do much for his family when it comes to protecting Marie from herself. Still, it does not look good in my dissenting eyes when sorting through the 'good' and the 'bad,' yet at the same time I totally get why Hank does it. Oh, such delicious dynamics!


Next, there is the entire way in which Hank goes about gathering evidence on many of his cases, which is not always within his work guidelines or the bounds of the Constitution, and that is made crystal clear in the very first episodes of the series by the revealing dialogue between the characters.

Hank, as a law enforcement officer throughout the series, does not tell people the full truth in order to get the information he is seeking and as such encourages his underlings to work in the same way; nor does he care if anything happens to people in police custody since they are all scumbags in his eyes.


So, how does that make Hank into a good person? It does not, not in the slightest to me. All it makes Hank look like is a dirty dick-ass cop who only cares about himself and solving his cases no matter who is harmed. And how is that any different than Walter, who will do whatever it takes to protect himself and his family?



Hank and Walter are mirror opposites in that they have the same good intentions for what they do and they both leave trails of victims in their wake, whether intentionally or not. The only difference is that one has a badge to do it legally as a law enforcement officer and is therefore automatically, without question, viewed as 'good' because of it. I love it!

Hank obviously has no regard for the Constitution, none whatsoever unless it is serving him, and neither does Marie as it stands out in my recollection of her poo-pooing the document a couple times in the series due to it keeping Hank from getting his perps. Now that is scary.

Of course Walter is scary too, no doubt about that, but law enforcement officers who do not respect their legal bounds are scarier to me because they seem more prevalent in modern America than mild-mannered chemistry teachers turned mad-minded meth chefs who take down international drug kingpins with the magic of science. Between the two, which have you read about most in the news?



Exactly.


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2.07.2015

Parallel Problems: Measles Infection & Vitamin A Deficiency

With a local case of measles reported in Port Angeles, Washington, it gives me reason to make myself more informed as to what measles is so I can recognize it, and what options there are for taking preventative measures to boost my immune system.

I recognize that for all the illnesses I hear about in the news I do not always have an understanding of the signs, symptoms, remedies, or even the basic chemistry of how the illness operates in the human body. Once I start to learn those things then I realize what the real fear is -- the unknown.

The fear of the unknown easily creates feelings of anxiety and helplessness, at least for myself; the good thing is that I recognize this. Sometimes news sources include anxiety-relieving information along with a fear-inducing story, but often not. Why? Because nobody can do everything, including news reporters, but everybody can do something, including taking on the responsibility to research what I do not know when I recognize I do not know something. 

Anyone else remember life before the Internet and only being able to find reference materials in a library? I do. That is why I cannot get over the awesomeness of having search engines available 24 hours a day to research answers to my inquiries. I do not have to wait for a library to open; I can search out answers and do my own analysis of what I accept or reject all from the comfort of home. Such awesomeness makes my toes tingle.

So, instead of fearing the unknown when it comes to measles, I searched the Internet and read through select pages of information to gain more knowledge about the virus. Not only did it put my anxieties at ease but I learned new information regarding preventative care:

  • Dr. Andrew Weil, MD: Measles, symptoms, causes, conventional treatments, what Dr. Weil recommends, MMR vaccine guidelines, vaccine side effects.
  • Kate Birch, RSHom(NA), CCH, CMT: Homeopathy and the treatment and prevention of measles, signs and symptoms, approaches for prevention and treatments, measles prevention schedule.  
  • World Health Organization: Measles, key facts, signs and symptoms, who is at risk, transmission, treatment, prevention, response.

All three links have helpful information regarding measles. I prefer the Dr. Weil link the most as he covers the pros and cons of vaccines along with reference sources. As well, his mention of vitamin A deficiency has exposed me to learning more about the importance of vitamin A when it comes to immunity wellness to combat measles. 

So, with the help of the Internet I found even more resources to expand my understanding of measles and vitamin A. All links are included below to help others learn about the importance of vitamin A, its relation to measles, and what food sources contain vitamin A. This is medical/nutritional information, not advice;  always consult with trained experts.
 * * * * *
Vitamin A and Measles
by Dr. Clive E. West, Ph.D., D.Sc.

Nutrition Reviews, February 2000, Vol. 58, No. 2
Medical paper with studies, charts, and footnoted references

Here are a few standout sentences that caught my attention
in regards to vitamin A deficiency and measles:
  • The high impact of the disease [measles] can be attributed to poor nutrition status, particularly with respect to vitamin A. 
  • In developing countries where vitamin A deficiency is widespread, WHO and UNICEF recommend that children with measles be given a massive dose of vitamin A.
  • It is therefore important to provide children who develop measles with vitamin A upon the first contact and on the subsequent day.
  • Measles infection was shown to compromise nutrition status and vice versa. The nutrient that appears to play the most important role in this respect is vitamin A.
  • Therefore, measles infection and vitamin A deficiency need to be considered parallel problems. 
* * * * *
More Helpful Vitamin A Resources:
  • Bembu: 26 Foods High in Vitamin A for Healthy Eyes
    • 'A diet rich in Vitamin A can prevent nighttime blindness, eye inflammation, and dry eyes.'
  • HealthAliciousNess: Top 10 Foods Highest in Vitamin A
    • 'Vitamin A i[s] a fat soluble vitamin, and therefore, needs to be consumed with fat in order to have optimal absorption.'
  • MedLinePlus: Vitamin A function, food sources, side effects, recommendations, alternative names, references.
    • 'If you don't get enough vitamin A, you are more likely to get infectious diseases and vision problems.' 
  • Merck Manuals: Vitamin A deficiency and toxicity; etiology, symptoms and signs, diagnosis, prevention, treatment.
    • 'Primary vitamin A deficiency is usually caused by prolonged dietary deprivation.'
  • True Vitamin A Foods: Why You Won't Get Vitamin A From Carrots; retinoids vs. carotenoids, deficiency and toxicity, pair vitamin A with vitamin D foods.
    • 'Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin. So, we can neither consume adequate vitamin A or absorb this vitamin A if we are on a low fat diet. (Period.)'
  • WebMD: Keratomalacia 
    • 'Although rare in developed countries, vitamin A deficiency and keratomalacia may occur secondary to conditions associated with impaired absorption, storage, or transport of vitamin A, such as celiac disease, ulcerative colitis, cystic fibrosis, liver disease, or intestinal bypass surgery and any condition that affects absorption of fat-soluble vitamins.'
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2.06.2015

Taxation Procrastination: HB1861 B&O Tax Deferment for New Small Businesses

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Seldom do I find good legislation when perusing bills, but today I found something that is better than most: 

House Bill 1861: Creating a business and occupation tax deferral program for small businesses (to begin in 2016).

Woo-hoo for small business tax deferrals. Boo-hoo for creating new laws and more paperwork, which HB1861 would add a new section to 82.04 RCW and require business owners to apply for a credit in order to take advantage of the deferral.

To begin with, under Sec. 1(2) 'A small business may defer taxes under this section only if: (a) the business electronically files with the department all returns, forms, and any other information required by the department, in an electronic format as provided by the department.' In other words, file all the required paperwork in the required way in order to qualify.

Also in order to qualify under Sec. 1(2)(b), the business must be a new business, which I will go into more detail on shortly.

A potentially good thing with HB1861, according to Sec. 1(4)(a), is that the deferred taxes would be 'due and payable by the 25th of January of the sixth calendar year subsequent to the calendar year in which the taxes were deferred under this section.' Six years to make payments could help new business owners greatly.

Plus, according to Sec. 1(4)(b), 'the department may not assess interest and penalties on deferred taxes unless the taxpayer does not meet the repayment provisions described in (a) of this subsection,' which is the 6-year deadline. So if the deferred taxes are paid after the 6-year deadline, then interest and penalties can start to be assessed. 

Soon-to-be small businesses in Washington State may want to take note of HB1861 because, according to Sec. 1(2), 'A small business may defer taxes underneath this section only if: (b) the business is a new business.' Now, here is where HB1861 gets detailed with what constitutes or doesn't constitute a 'new business' in order to qualify for the deferral.

According to Sec. 1(5)(a)(i) '"New Business" means a business that has not been operating in Washington longer than twelve months from the time the business applies for the credit under this section.' The text continues and gives more specifics as to when it is determined a business began its operation, but I'm not going to include it here (click here to read it).

Sec. 1(5)(a)(ii) then defines what is not considered a 'new business' under (A), (B), and (C). For example, restructured entities and new branch offices, to name a couple, would not qualify as new businesses.

When it comes to a 'small business,' that is defined in Sec. 1(5)(b) where it states '"Small Business" means a person reporting a gross amount on the combined excise tax return of five hundred thousand dollars or less in the prior calendar year with respect to activities taxable under this chapter.'

In other words, beginning in 2016 new business entities in Washington State
could benefit from HB1861 if they:
  • have been operating for less than a year,
  • file all applicable forms electronically,
  • are not a restructured entity, etc.,
  • report less than $500,000 on combined excise taxes. 

It is nice to see some consideration being given to the small business owners who take on the challenges of setting up shop in the overly taxed and obscenely regulated business environment that is Washington State.

However, while HB1861 appears helpful on the surface,
I cannot help but wonder what it could be implying:
  • If new businesses need to defer B&O taxes for up to six years, does that mean the taxes are too high and too hard to pay off?
    • Would businesses defer taxes if they are low and easy to pay?
  • If taxes can only get deferred and not lowered or abolished, does that mean taxes will continue to rise?

Only time will tell if this bill will come to be law or not; set up a free account like I did at LegiScan.com to track the bill, or keep an eye on it at the Washington Legislature's website Leg.Wa.Gov.

I encourage people to (1) read HB1861 here as I did not include every word of the 3-page bill in my breakdown, and (2) always consult with professional legal experts.

Thank You for deferring other matters to read about HB1861!
Share your thoughts in a comment.


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