Category Archives: Uncategorized

Fleshing Out the Idea

In between processing disbursements and searching for a business awning in other projects, I find myself thinking about my “work.” I use such in quotation marks, because A) I don’t get paid for that, and B) I could scarcely call it something worth publishing. I constantly analyze my work in my head, going to and fro, drinking coffee, or writing out payroll. Sometimes I’ll find a problem, like a piece of gristle in a steak, and work it over my gums and teeth as a terrier would a rawhide bone.

I haven’t written much in a while, which for me is since late March. I have three chapters of a novel I’ve be futzing around with since I came up with the idea in 2013. That novel should have been done by late 2015, I figure. There have been so many times I’ve decided to blow the night off and drink my depression away that I have new psychological ammo to shoot myself with in the morning.

However, the idea has come to me in a bit of tobacco meditation: it’s too lean. Leaner than it should be, anyway. I understand I can’t be obsessed with word length but the reason I don’t appreciate what I’ve written so far is because it’s not rich enough. Sure, it’s tedious to describe a chandelier or speak of the minute detail of subterranean plant life but I still find it necessary. The reader may be damned to a degree in my writing, as I take a bullet proof attitude toward the feelings of the recipient, but it’s not fair to them to deny a larger picture of the story. It needs satisfaction of depth and in that depth, I may find resolution.

On my desk calendar, I’ve drawn a doodle: a plant. This is my step forward into a better, more motivating novel. It’s part of a method, of which I’m developing in my head as I type, to possible obtain a workable model that will improve my writing skills. Since I have little money to devote to steady writing, I need to figure something out to produce a finished piece and have some modicum of quality control.

I need something out there, or rather I want something out there. This isn’t necessarily the craving of “New York Times Bestseller” accolades or anything of the sort, rather a marker, a notch in the whipping post to say that I was here. I existed. I did something, and possibly did something right.

Consistency of Chicken Broth

Well, it has been a year. Has it not? That’s rather dreadful and certainly no one’s fault but mine. The formatting of this website has changed some, and while I’m getting used to it, it’s still familiar enough to spit out an obligatory return post.

I do not want this solely a renewal piece but to say my emotional energy has allowed me the opportunity to read a few books. The one I’ve finished in the past few days was a compilation of stories by Flannery O’Conner. It’s a light to mid-sized book of 550 pages and took me quite a while to finish for reasons I’ll elaborate below.

I hated it; I felt bad for hating it. I try to accentuate the positive before hating it. I compared it to other authors (e.g. “at least it wasn’t as bad a Joyce”). I’m going to let someone else borrow it to avoid looking at it. Did I mention I feel bad for hating it?

It’s because so many others like it. I’ve had several avid readers recommend her to me. That is always a great sign, along the lines of “50,000 screaming fans can’t be wrong.” Only it’s not that they’re wrong. I’m not a screaming fan. But what of it? What is it to me if I find myself (once again) on the opposite side of a popularity contest? How truthful can I be without letting that heinous cat out of the bag on how I really feel? Where is my diplomacy, and how do I use it to save face?

There’s no real bonzer answer for this, and that makes me even less enthusiastic about facing all of those readers whose doe eyes seem to be more unsettling than Nietzsche’s abyss. It’s the emotional tug-of-war Bugs Bunny had when dealing with Playboy Penguin. This may seem like borrowing trouble, but I’ve run into this before.

Maybe it would be best to explain why. The Southern Gothic genre drives me nuts. The idea of the grotesque in everyday living does not suit my taste in the slightest. Maybe it’s because I run into people like this everyday. I want to strangle them. I want to strangle her characters. The logic fits.

I can remember feeling the same way about A Confederacy of Dunces in which I believe I insulted the honor of a Texan. Terribly explaining how I loathed the main character, Ignatius, this gentle creature (with hackles up) hissed “that’s the whole point!” There’s a problem though. The intent of the story and taste of the reader are two separate topics. I read a book to be entertained in my own way. If an author writes a book that’s intentionally terrible, and I find it terrible, who’s more appropriate?

Great example, “Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!” is filled with awkward comedy and is designed to be poorly done. That’s its shtick. I recognize that is its shtick. Am I incorrect for disliking its goal? I don’t think so, but this woman didn’t notice.

So I sheepishly set out to find other works of my own choosing, being the best counsel I have in such situations.

The Bay’s Rest

For Nicole

“Midday is thought to be the worst part of a diurnal creature’s life. I disagree; it’s late afternoon.” Emma dangles a cigarette, and her accent, in the corner of her mouth. Reclining on a park bench, she lets the perspiration wet the filter before removing it. If her company didn’t know any better, they’d say she woke from a nightmare. She would tell them she hasn’t yet.

“Although, I don’t see myself going out on that kayak yonder for another six hours. I didn’t even bring sunscreen. I’d crisp like a bucket of chicken.” Using her plaid shirt, she places a circle of sunlight inside her checks. The magnolia tree reaches the shoreline from her feet, holding grass and leaving white sand alone. It’s the only way to view the bay in August.

Few whitecaps line the surface of the Choctawhatchee with rolling dimples gulf bound. The sun shatters on its algae-ridden mirror. It sparkles naturally and relieves itself of nature’s living in waves of smells. The varicose appearance of seaweed twiddles barely beneath the surface just outside the shoreline. It’s beautiful if for its unsanitary nature.

“I’m not used to lying around like this,” Chip stood up for another trip to the cooler. “It’s like time and the Earth are standing still at high noon. It’s a showdown to see who will move first and it’s heating up.” Looking at the ice slush he picks out a can of High Life, neurotically shakes off the water, and taps the top. “…and you’re saying it only gets better.”

Emma’s aviators slide down as she makes eye contact with the wiry boy. “Sweetheart, if you didn’t want to be steamed or parboiled at any time in your life you should have stayed out of Florida.” Raising her index finger, the bridge of her glasses smack into her forehead. Her sandals come off and she flattens out on the table. “Besides, you’d be pissed about the cold in Minnesota.”

“Oh, fine,” he hands a gold can to her and wanders to the blue and white lawn chair facing the dirt road out. “You wouldn’t be here, if I hadn’t said anything about going. For a professed ‘loner,’ you sure do spend a lot of time with other people.” The can dribbles slightly and receives a short jump from Chip.

“You could have said ‘no,’ and I wouldn’t have,” Emma kept her eyes shut with cool composure, letting the sweat invade and burn her eyes. “What does that say about you?”

“That I’m a generous, kind-hearted, good person?” Slapping the side of his neck, he examines his hand for tangible signs of pests. Regardless of his findings, he wipes his hand on his shorts with a grimace.

Moving out of the sedentary position, she darts back “how about lonely and desperate for attention?”

He eyed the split in the button-down shirt as she shifted her position on the table. Billowing out in gaps, he caught a glimpse of her white bikini top currently grey in the shirt. He looks back into her eyes without speaking. “People have ulterior motives, you know?”

“Yeah, yeah. Well, I’m going to take a nap. I’ve been driving for hours.” Setting the can of beer on the ground, the chair makes for a recliner. Soft wheezing could be heard in a matter of minutes. Emma’s eyes spun and landed on the bay. Its haze is hypnotizing. She lays her head on the table and begins to doze as well.

Sailing! A small craft, too small for a cabin, glides on a bay with water that ceases to amaze. Wildlife continues without interruption. The limitless vision breaks any vanishing point, and could deceive one into thinking they were a god. Light found ways to illuminate everything. On the jagged shoreline laid greens and other finely made specimens of vegetation. There was no noticeable sign of construction or development.

Closing his eyes, Chip took in the breeze as the boat sails. Not knowing whether or not he was used to the seaside smells, a sense of sweetness gives comfort. Its course is to the west, or so it seems to be, as its sailing into the sun. Another deep breath and he rests his back. The light under his eyelids fade, though, and he opens them to find a mass of charcoal grey clouds boiling over the horizon.

“Chip, wake up!” The wind is harsher than before. “Wake up, before I hit you with something.” Waves spilling on deck match the clouds over the horizon. His vessel is taking on water. Trying to scoop the water out, the bailing becomes frantic. No quicker than he could shovel it out did he notice the bow of the boat underneath the surface. The boat is the ocean and he the buoy.

Anything demonstrates an exercise in futility. The swells grow stronger and are looking to pummel. Black water smearing the face prevents Chip from screaming. He goes with the boat. Vision is lost but he worries on breathing. With no air, the panic intensifies. Time becomes irrelevant for a millisecond before a sharp pain erupts from his chest.

“Ah!” Chip screams and bird flap away from the magnolia tree. In the waking world, Emma is holding a “You were having a nightmare. I’ve seen nothing like it. You were flailing and screaming. I had to do something to make you stop.” Letting go of the stick, Emma took up the hobby of clinical diagnostics.

“You seem all right now. Let’s go for a swim. It’s five o’clock and I want to do something.” Within seconds she began prancing down to the beach in her swimwear.

“Uh, sure. Let me get my shoes.” With the proper footwear on, he makes his way down to the shoreline.

“Why do you have your shirt and shoes on?” Emma was already far enough out not to touch the ocean bed. “You know you’re swimming right?”

“Yes, but I find it helpful to have a shirt to block the sun and shoes to avoid cuts on my feet.” He lays his towel neatly upon the bench, folded just so.

“Don’t be a wimp. Did your mother tell you to do that?”

“Oh, for the love of God. You’re not scared about that are you?”

“I don’t know, maybe a little. It’s always possible I suppose.”

“You’re ridiculous! Get in here already. I’d like to spend a vacation having a good time and not worrying about what could go wrong.”

Resignation sets in as he strips down further. Slowly approaching the water he shuffles in and goes out to meet her. The water is cold, but warms up slightly as he takes each step. Halfway through Chip screws his face up and lets out a few profane words. He stares ruefully at the shoes on shore.

“What’s wrong now?!” She slaps the water with both hands.

“I think I stepped on something. It might have cut my foot open.” His baleful eyes met hers.

“We’ll take care of it when we’re done. You’ve got that first aid kit in the car. Do you want me to kiss it and make it feel better, too? For the last time get out here! This vacation’s starting to be a pain in the ass.”

“OK. OK. I’m out here.” Shifting left and right, he makes sure he sees nothing out of the ordinary.

“You’re a terrible traveler. Next time I’m going to buy a plane ticket and you can take your own little adventures. You need to loosen the Hell up. You’re so uptight your asshole squeaks. Do you always do this on your vacations? Oh, what the fuck now?!”

“There’s something in here.” Chip began to swivel his head. The water’s murk reveals nothing.

“Quit being paranoid, dick! If you’re joking around you can stop that too. What the fuck has gotten into you?” Emma shoves the water right in his face.

“I don’t joke. I’m sorry; I’m getting ou–” His scream is more like a yelp, and Chip’s head dunks underwater. The silence weighs on Emma as she scowls at the bubbles. Her face begins to burn with an intense heat.

Seconds pass, and then a minute. The bubbles and foam settle with a slight fizz. Squinting she moves to his former spot. It’s empty, save for a strand of seaweed. She feels the wetness of the bay through her fingers.

“Chip? Chip? CHIP! Jesus Christ!” Emma swims an Olympic lap to the loose sand on the beach. Every inexplicable bump or shift produces a scream. Flight is no faster. Crawling on her hands and knees she makes it to the dutiful towel on the bench. She props her back up on the bench and stares out at the bay.

She waits for any sign of him: a head, a hand, a gasp. Everything stays quiet, except for the birds in the magnolia tree. Looking at the picnic bench, see eyes the car keys among the other things.

“This vacation is fucked.” Emma stands up and runs for the car.

© 2015 Corvidae in the Fields All Rights Reserved

Sunday: March 29, 2015

…and so, here I am.

Small things have changed, but the larger picture is still the same. I haven’t left Stonefield for any exotic lands, but to cut down on the depression I joined a gym two months ago. Today is normally my day of rest, however I flubbed up Friday night’s schedule and will want to make it up today. I feel better, yet it still seems too easy to get wound up outside of it.

Also, my mind had given me another push to pursue a relationship. That’s not to say I have any right now, but after several people suggested to seek online I set up an account in two places. It has also been two months. As you can see, I’m quite the catch. That’s a joke. I’m making a joke, because otherwise I’d be working out at the gym twice a day.

To stand out from the crowd, I even made a fake movie trailer to catch someone’s attention:

This film is rated “W” for “Wry.”

Get ready for the surprise hit of the season that will make you feel more uncomfortable than watching “Meet the Parents.”

Meet this guy, an unsuspectingly active man in the middle of NW Ohio. He’s responsible, hardworking, and considerate but there’s one thing he’s missing: smoothness. [username] stars in “Anxious in [city]: the Suburb Out in the Middle of Nowhere.”

Reading the news: “Why do all the sociopaths land dates?”

Surveying a townie bar: “Is there a decent conversation in the house?”

On being single: “Whaddaya mean Skyrim and Jimmy John’s doesn’t count as a date? Liking anything under the Elder Scrolls series is a ticket for moving in with me. Morrowind is grounds for marriage.”

Running at the gym: (in thought) “Gonna die. Gonna die. Gooooooonna die, and for the love of God don’t look at her ass!”

Watch as he tries to make “small talk” with the locals.

Me: “So, you’re a flight attendant?”
Her: “That’s right.”
Me: “Are there any health risks associated with that?”
*record scratch*
Me: “What? There was a 2008 case in South Carolina… Where are you going?”
*looks at bartender*
Bartender: “God dammit!”
*throws down bar towel*
Me: “What?”
*has pint glass switched with water*
Me: “Hey! I was still drinking that.”
Bartender: “Beer is for closers.”

Someday he might get it right but until that time it’ll be more awkward than the class dork meeting the Harley Quinn impersonator at a comic con.

Me: “She makes me feel kinda funny, like when I climb the rope in gym class.”
Her: “That line was already done.”
Me: “Dammit! It was a good one, too.”

See what the critics have been saying about “Anxious in [city]: the Suburb Out in the Middle of Nowhere!”

“Anxious… is a the surprise of the season! Affable and a damn snazzy dresser. A laugh a minute that will leave you amazed! 10/10” – Abbey K. (a real life female)

“Be thrown in to the world of authentic 19th century courting, while you are showered with 80s references no one remembers.” Nicholas F.

“This guy needs to relax.” ~ Chris C.

“To quote the Macho Man, ‘oh yeah!'” ~ Tim A.

“The two best things for dating are ‘Anxious’ and calendars.” ~ Ben O.

So, come and see the hilarity and hijinks of being out-of-step with the dating world, and not in a spunky Ian MacKaye sort of way. It’s “Anxious in [city]: the Suburb Out in the Middle of Nowhere,” now playing at a dead-end city near you!

I laughed. A handful of others did too, but I was proud of myself even if it didn’t bring very many people.

For most my life, I’ve been trying to understand this concept of love. I don’t. I’m not sure without much experience I will ever. It sounds delightful, and painful at the same time. That seems something I’d be in to, as many things I do are of similar ilk. However, as I should have expected, many matches are far enough that it’s quite impractical. I’ve tried the long-distance thing before and it’s just ugly. I never want to go through that again.

The “women” (plenty are scammers posing as women) I’ve tried to engage a conversation don’t respond or decline. It seems I am, too, so far away.

A Halloween Story

When I stop making excuses, I get things done. Who would have thought? It took five minutes to scheme, yet five months to write. Needless to say, I’m a little embarrassed.

I suppose it fitting to publish this on my second year anniversary. Enjoy!

————

Swirling in weightless suspense handmade, artisan-glazed, fleur-de-lis plates clink underneath its soapy tomb. Foam crackles in protest, as Celeste lunges for the contents of the sink. Slippery enough, the plate slips out of her fingers and reports on the aluminum side. Letting out a long sigh, she wrenches the dish out of the water and rubs it quickly to land it in the rack.

Her eyes dart to the shiny, aluminum plated dishwasher. Sleek with black trim, it murmured silently. Alien blue lights gave out a measured response as to progress on the second, every second, as a dutiful machine should. Its state of the art physique promised a superior job to all but the most fragile of dishes.

Racking the last of the dinnerware, she wipes her hands and proceeds to the living room of her penthouse. The far wall, glass plated ceiling to floor, displays the outline of a vast urban skyline twinkling with warning lights and sparsely lit rooms. Below the traffic made a light murmur which she opens up the patio door to increase its volume. In a matter of seconds she finds herself on the new, sleek, white resin and leather sofa.

It made the room, without question. The polished silver fixtures and carefully shined concrete floor presents a touch of modern elegance and function. The illuminating walls are a nice addition, so she thinks, and was worth every last credit paid to the contractor up town. A reverse waterfall adds soothing ambiance, twinkling upwards to the ceiling.

In the center of the room, a Chromist(TM) displays a newscast from the BBCAI news desk with Emilie, the longest and oldest digital anchor in the data bank. Death and decay, as always, crops up in certain parts of the world. Compliments of the raw processing power at the station, a giant 3D globe gave off a red hue where treaties broke and invasions flare.

Celeste yawns. She is hours away from any front. Why, she would have to actually pack a change of clothes to reach the first hot spot. Some people would try to get a ring side seat for conflicts such as these, but walking to the urban retreat downstairs for a massage is more important. The problems of the world could melt the Earth in front of her.

The last bit of news covers the light tremors of her province. Much of the problems from natural disasters are trivial in the minds of civil and building engineers. It didn’t take much but the cooperation of the brightest minds on the planet. With every new idea comes a new one and present breakthroughs every day.

Turning on the vent, she silences the pedestal and walks to the bedroom. Making a quick sweep around the glass tables, she enters a room as large as the first clad in white. The repelling bed shimmies and she rubs the wall to set the alarms, both clocks and house. A light breeze passes through the windows as she quickly falls asleep.

*****

Swirling mist and muck percolating through silt and rock lies in millenia wait for moments yet unseen. Deep, silent air pockets it natural being within itself and is mute to intention. As the globe shifts, its crust itches. Dots of humanity sit upon scabs of concrete waiting for its freedom like dry skin. Scratching upon the plates that make the shell of the planet, a vapor heads toward destinations unknown. Floating platters unmask the puzzle box trap of Nature’s wrath.

Upon such a time, as fate may have it, all trajectories meet an unfortunate union for certain residents of the world. Achievements of humanity open up a gateway, a unkind conduit, to release its musty anger festering for thousands of years. Slender tentacles of the gaseous octopus unravel and grip the achievements of mankind with great ease as to strip them of their medals. Slinking, slithering, exploiting every flaw, the vile vapor shoots through the solutions of age old problems en route to its final destination.

*****

Celeste’s apartment lays cold and sterile. The morning brought a seemingly uncharacteristic stillness outside her high rise flat. Any inkiling of a problem came with the refusal of the toaster to provide evenly heated bread for breakfast. Stuck ceiling fans bear the brunt of her frustration, and refuse to yield no matter how many demands were given. The maintenance crew needs to be on this straight away. She pays them well enough.

A darkened hallway does not provide security, however the lack of power everywhere gives her little choice. As anticipated, no calls for an elevator compound the problem of reaching the relevant personnel and a blank service terminal becomes the target of profanity. What is left is the emergency stairwell at the end of the floor.

Nearly toppling over more than once on the way down, Celeste finds comfort in the steel railing that stud the passage. If it weren’t for the lantern on her mobile device, she might have found her way into the eager jaws of a grue. Artificial night made for a dizzying adventure, and cries for help seem pointless.

An emergency exit marked the halt of her journey, and only gave to the sharp slam on its release bar. Her short-lived triumph was rewarded with grey tones from the street, almost as if a rainstorm were readying to release a torrent of water. She found the front desk, mostly by luck than navigational accuracy, and hoists herself up. Invisible weights fall on her shoulders as she strains to balance herself.

Slamming the desk, Celeste calls an order for someone, anyone, to deliver an explanation regarding this nightmare. It echoes through the lobby and dies in a matter of seconds. The people responsible for this mess were going to be fired, but not before she burned their ears off.

A moment of trembling and a lunge over the counter seeks the emergency phone. This shock and stress must be too much for her, as eyes droop and make a chore of the easiest tasks. Hoisting the receiver to her ear, she is caressed with five fingers.

Reeling, she trips over the security guard behind her and crashes to the floor. A sharp blow to the head stings enough to make her bark. The heavy eyelids pan the ceiling to catch a glimpse of the lobby light fixture. Dimly twinkling, the chandelier crystals rock softly back and forth before swirling into a pit of darkness.

© 2015 by Corvidae in the Fields, all rights reserved

Saturday, May 31, 2014

As a continuation from Wednesday’s post, I shall post the description I gave my friend Monday night.

In a vast desert, I see a box. It’s a gun-steel blue cube measuring one cubic foot. I can pick it up, but right now it’s on the ground. It’s reflective, but there are etchings all over it, like the scroll work on a cigarette case. The corners are capped with additional steel, but it’s still rather pointy. There is no apparent was to open the box.

Off to the right of the box, there’s a single-sided, wooden ladder with about six rungs. It is leaning up against a cactus. It’s rather faded and old, merely being composed of dowel rods and wood.

In the background is an American Quarter Horse. It has a brown saddle and bridle, with a dark brown mane. It’s very odd in this picture, and doesn’t look like it belongs there.

Selling the Absurdity: Why Some Writers Suck at Being Satirical

I enjoy satire quite a bit. That’s not to say I’m the supreme authority on it, but I know good satire when I see it. I’ve read Jonathan Swift, Miguel de Cervantes, Kurt Vonnegut, and Voltaire all with genuine, audible laughter. They all have an ability to use the written word as an épée to foil their critics. When written appropriately, it can be quite disarming.

There are plenty of writers, especially bloggers, who think they’re up to the challenge of acquiring biting, satirical wit. That, in and of itself, is quite admirable. There’s nothing wrong with setting goals and working toward them. Satire is a higher form of comedy. Everybody loves a clown. So, why don’t you?

(I love spooking the anti-clown crowd. Say “anti-clown crowd” five times fast.)

The problem with writing good satire is not remotely believing what you’re writing. It is paramount the article be absurd to a reasonably intelligent human being. We’re not looking for MENSA candidates here, just people who can read well and be rational enough to conceptualize the argument. That way the reader can easily understand what’s being argued and think “there’s no possible way on Earth you mean that!” For example, A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift promotes cannibalism as a way to control population. This is what we call a red flag.

I love absurdity. Its abstraction turns logic on its head and draws a mustache on it for looking stuffy. It’s the rainbow bridging a tortoise and a tea cup. It’s the creative side that spilled the beans and then ate the mailbox. It’s that color I look for in any good satire.

What I find with the novice satirist is they’re not absurd enough, which leads me to suspect they believe what they are writing on some level. That’s just insulting, because then the writer becomes the essayist version of an Internet troll. Anyone who wants to make it in writing will want to avoid that perception at all costs.

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The Honest Work

When someone uses the phrase “honest day’s work,” it’s meant as earning a living other than conducting unlawful activities. Most of these avenues were meant to carry burdens of sweat and toil to the common laborer. Fortunately for me, I’m not a stranger to such exercises and this is merely another evening bathed in saline. The family motto has always been “if you want it done, do it yourself.”

Image

There’s the last bit of varnish. It wasn’t removed with the chemical stripper and now must face the wrath of sandpaper.

For as battered as it was, the sander has put a nice smooth surface on the tops. I’ve not yet the opportunity to sand the legs as it’s currently drying from the varnish removal. Tomorrow will herald the testing of stain. I’m going to patch test a few different stains underneath the table top itself. That way I can choose what road to take with the finishing and no one will see it.

I’ve stared at the wood grain for a while, and began to wonder a few things. How old was the tree when it was cut down? How long did it stay in my grandfather’s garage before it was used? Was it growing around my mother’s childhood home or was it taken from another lot? It certainly wasn’t purchased, because my grandfather came back from World War II three years prior. He had little money to rebuild his tools let alone purchase pricey timber. I’ve noted several “Dutchmans” underneath the table top where he has moved the hinges for the leaves. In woodworking slang, a Dutchman is a wood patch to plug an area of damage. I never met him, as he died two years before I was born, but I can read his mind. This wood wasn’t something to waste.

Juglans nigra, or Black Walnut, is native to the eastern United States and used for a plethora of different products. The nutmeats are my favorite at Christmas, but almonds come in a close second. This was definitely an urban tree, as it has plenty of knots and imperfections in the hidden areas (i.e. underneath the leaves). That means it stood alone and had a lot of room to branch out (pun intended). Someone was probably getting rid of a tree, and he took the scraps.

I wonder if my grandfather would approve of my work? Would it be too little? Overdone? If anything, it’ll give me some experience if I ever need to do something like this again.

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Show Time!

I find this art to be very entertaining.

CARDINKY

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