EUMR – Day 3

November 3rd, 2008

SUCH a nice night at Jo’s Motel. The only down-side is that they didn’t open for food and espresso until 8:30 (yes…they had espresso!  No TV or wireless service, but espresso!). So because I was up early and ready to go I went to take some pictures. The property backs up to the Wood River and the proprietress (Jo?) recommended looking at stars near the river last night, but I was pretty sure I would end up getting lost.

Seeing the river this morning I’m pretty sure I would have ended up IN the river. It’s just right there! The grass in these pictures is frosty-crunchy. This is the same barn twice…it’s quite photogenic, so I got several pictures as the sun was coming up.

Red Barn

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I got a chance to chat with the other proprietor (Jo?) while he was cooking my breakfast. The organic grocery store seemed to make a statement, so I asked him “why organic?” and we had a great conversation about his youth on a farm in Wisconsin, then his wife’s and his farm on the Oregon coast that they had sold to get the motel. By the way, the answer to “why organic?” was that he had a childhood experience being warned by his dad not to touch the seed corn one year because it had been chemically treated. Apparently at that young age he thought it was silly not to be able to touch seed corn (I don’t think I’ve EVER touched seed corn) so went organic.

So according to my plan, today was the day to head to the coast. My original plan was to drive south until Tuesday afternoon, then turn around. This was just Tuesday morning, but I wanted to get to the Oregon coast, which turned out to take longer than I had though. So I left high desert and alpine lakes and headed through the woods to the evil interstate.

Crossing to the east, I followed the Rogue River for many miles starting when it was just a small mountain river.  It gets BIG a little farther down the mountains, though. This is my bike parked at the Rogue River overlook.  The other pic is, obviously, the river itself. Roguish, no?

 Bike at Rogue River overook

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 No pics for awhile. I drove through much National Forest and apparently it was the day for controlled burns, so I drove through a good bit of smoke.  Big mossy trees, twisty deserted roads and me for many miles. Had lunch at Grants Pass, OR to figure out what to do next.

My choices were either drive south into California and pick up 101 there, or to head north and pick up 101 in Florence, OR.  The CA drive just seemed too ambitious, so I got on I-5 and did about an hour of freeway driving to get to the Roseburg area. All of this ate up Tuesday with fewer beautiful views than the past few days. Apparently the Columbia River and Crater Lake spoiled me.

I got off the interstate at Winston and continued west through the coast range. There was fog across the coast range which, from the sunny interstate, looked like a blanket draped over the mountain peaks. Then I headed under the fog blanket for a while and lost the sun until I got to the coast. Finally, finally, finally…my ass hurt, I was hungry, I was tired of fog and there there I was!

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This is the Umpqua Lighthouse and was my first clear view of the Pacific. I got on 101 in Coos Bay, which sounds much cooler than it was. No ocean to see, bunches of industry and stuff…not photogenic at all. So I kept on until Florence, OR where I stopped at the Lighthouse Inn.  Slightly trashy, but fully functional.

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From the Lighthouse Inn, I walked under the 101 bridge and had a mediocre seafood dinner at a restaurant on the Siuslaw (Sy-oos’-law) River. As a side note, bridges are quite a thing along the Oregon coast. I found out that most of them were designed by the same guy and some of them are really beautiful, if you like that sort of thing. After eating mediocre seafood and binging on really terrible lemon cake, I called Tuesday done. I had, as planned, gotten to Tuesday night and had headed north. It’s good to have a plan.

EUMR – Day 2b

November 2nd, 2008

Day two was pretty full, what with the town of Grass Valley (pop. 160) and Bend (pop. 75,000) all by lunchtime, that I had to split the day into two posts.  Because the afternoon of day two was all about Crater Lake!  Whoo Hoo!

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I was amazed how quickly I was here. I had always thought Crater Lake looked amazing, but thought it was really far away in Oregon. I was here in a day and a half of easy riding! I can’t wait to go back again in the summer.  It’s past the season for the park and they were expecting snow any day. For that reason, it was nearly totally deserted (in truth, it seemed that everyone from Central Oregon had just stepped out when I was riding through…it was deserted everywhere). The lodge was closed and the gift shop was open, but only until about 4PM on week days (closed when I got there, but it’s OK…I didn’t need any gifts.)

Apparently, Crater Lake was once Mt. Mazama (I think that’s the name) and it erupted, as west coast mountains are wont to do, forming the lake sometime in the past. Because the original mountain was pretty tall, there are no peaks higher than Crater Lake that were close. OK, fewer words, more pictures.  This first one was just riding through Crater Lake National Park.

Crater Lake National Park

Here are pics of the lake itself. I’ve seen pictures taken in summer where the lake perfectly reflects the blue sky but it was slightly overcast when I was there, so no brilliant blue. Pretty neato none the less.

Crater Lake 2

Crater Lake 2

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I set my camera on a post…not too bad.  Of course, there was NO ONE to take a picture for me because it was deserted. I was actually a little nervous riding through the park at one point because it occurred to me that if something happened, there were very few cars going by from which to get help. Of course, nothing happened, but it made me slightly nervous for a few minutes.

Crater Lake

There’s a small island in the middle of the lake called Wizard Island. One couple I met who work at the park and are locals called it “The Wizard”. I liked that.

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The sun was setting and really lighting up the sides of the lake, which looked amazing. The couple I met took this picture of me.

Sunset on Crater Lake

One more of the sun setting. At this point it was getting cold and I had not figured out where I was staying for the night, so was getting antsy to get on the road. I knew there was a lodge that overlooked the lake, but it was boarded up for the season…kind of like “The Shining”.  Slightly creepy.

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So the couple I met recommended Jo’s Motel in Fort Klamath…about 30 miles south of the park. On the way there, I passed a car (they were so few and far between that it caught my attention) on the side of the road with a guy taking pictures of the sunset on a barn. I took some too…here are a couple (including one with the bike in it to prove I was really there.

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Very soon after these pictures (2 – 3 miles), I came to Jo’s Motel. I’m glad I was looking for it, I would have gone right by. This place was COOL! If you ever head this way, make a reservation. I met the couple who owned/ran the place. It was uber-clean (really…I looked…it was freakishly clean) and they had an organic grocery store too.  This was probably the neatest place I stayed (not as swanky as the place on Cannon Beach, but cooler).

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How cool is this room with the neato fire/furnace? No telephone (wired or wireless) or TV, but they had movies for loan. That wrapped up day two.  How freaking cool was this day? The Columbia River, Bend and Crater Lake?!  I can’t believe how much cool stuff was so close to home. Tomorrow we leave Jo’s Motel and head toward the coast.

Epic Unemployment Motorcycle Ride (EUMR) – Day 2a

November 2nd, 2008

Goldendale, WA – Fort Klamath, OR

(click on small pictures to get a bigger version)

It was just barely over 30 degrees when I got on the bike this morning. But since it hadn’t rained in a while, I wasn’t afraid of ice…just afraid of freezing my ass off.  You know.

Bike at The Ponderosa

My plan for this trip was to take highway 97 through WA and OR as far as I could go by Tuesday, then head west to the coast. The bridge over the Columbia River (which is the border between WA and OR) was closed, so they detoured traffic west along the Columbia Gorge which wasn’t a bad thing at all.  Fall colors were awesome during the whole trip, but there were really cool trees along the gorge. Sadly, in this picture, the golden leaves are tough to see against the gold-esque hills, but trust me when I tell you that it was spectacular! :-)

Columbia Gorge

Then some nice folks took a picture of me next to the Columbia River (OR side, this time). I returned the favor and took a picture of them. They were heading to Butte, Montana.  I look a little rough in this pic…what can I say, it was early.

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So a detour west along the north side of the Columbia, then cross at The Dalles (cool name for a city, eh?), then east again back on highway 97.  Central Oregon is just high desert and rolling hills…SO neato for riding.

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The ride through Oregon gave neat views of faraway mountains.  Mt. Hood is recognizable because it’s so perfectly cone-shaped. As I look at both these pictures, the mountains are barely visible…they were much easier to see when I was riding. Not sure what that’s about.

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I passed a ‘mountain identification’ sign that told me that this was Mt. Jefferson.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen Mt. Jefferson before.

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This was my first full day of riding and the ride through Oregon was amazing and looked just like those pictures for most of the day. I went through a town called Grass Valley and stopped for a cup of coffee. Ended up talking about motorcycles in a dingy coffee shop with a guy (never got his name) who was probably in his later 20′s, looked like he worked on cars and motorycles a lot, and had children-of-the-corn blue eyes.  Really…so blue they were almost creepy. Interesting conversation, though. He told me about the NASCAR track that’s coming to that area that he expects will make Grass Valley boom (relatively speaking, I assume).  It was a cool break in the day.

Next stop Bend, Oregon. No pics from Bend, but it was a cool town. I’d heard that it was a big bicycle town and sure enough…folks on bicycles all over the place. It got downright toasty in Bend…probably topped 70 while I was there. I walked around downtown a little, bought some glove liners (much appreciated over the next few days) and had some lunch. Nice break.

Next stop….Crater Lake!

Epic Unemployment Motorcycle Ride (EUMR) – Day 1

October 30th, 2008

Summary

  1. 1275 miles
  2. 26 gallons of gas
  3. 4 nights
  4. 2 states
  5. 1 pair of Levi’s

I can say with experience now (for the first time) that getting laid off sucks. There is much self-analysis to be done about choice and power differentials and framing and re-framing and re-framing, but the bottom line is that I had a job on Thursday and on Friday I didn’t anymore.  No use in railing at my former employer…in their position, I would likely have made the same decision a few months earlier than they did.

But that’s not the point here! The point is that I was fully justified in heading out of town on my motorcycle on barely more than a whim.  The whim struck on Friday, the plan came together on Saturday and in response to my planned departure on Monday, Dan wondered why I just didn’t leave on Sunday. He and I had that conversation at about 10AM and I was on the bike by 12:30. SO fun. Here’s the map (thanks Google).

The Route

So here’s my travelogue…some pictures, some commentary, some bragging and posturing. If, after reading this, you decide you want to pay me scads of money to travel and write cleverly about it, give a shout. It turns out I have some spare time just now.

Day 1: Sunday

To kick off the trip, I had to stop for fast food in North Bend…about an hour from home. This is Mt. Si, a popular hike in these parts, although it’s apparently ridiculously steep (I haven’t done it).

The Beginning!

Heading out just after noon for what would be only three sections of the trip on the Interstate. If I haven’t mentioned it, I HATE riding on the Interstate. Swirling strong wind from many passing trucks toss my poor 750 pound bike all over the road. There are many other reasons, but suffice to say that I HATE riding on the Interstate.

To test my resolve, the Road Trip Gods brought severe winds to I-90 heading over the pass, so that I tried to keep all the way to the right so that when I was tossed off the top of a high bridge, I wouldn’t kill any innocent speeding SUV drivers. Terrible wind, but I made it.

Once over the mountains, it was beautiful sunny fall weather. Eastern Washington is high desert, so is usually warmer and more arid than the Seattle area. Riding through Yakima and seeing some of WA wine country was cool. Then it just opened up even more.

Eastern WA open road

I finished in Goldendale, WA at The Ponderosa. I don’t think I had planned to avoid chain motels, but it became a theme that was kicked off at The Ponderosa. I got to stay in the new building which was extremely generic. Really…they had reached new heights of generic and I was pleased to partake. When asking the woman (we’re in rural WA, remember) where I could get something to eat she recommended a Chinese restaurant and a Mexican restaurant. When I asked if there was a pub that served sandwiches, she actually looked down her nose at me and said “I don’t go to the bars; I got kids.” After that she allowed that she had gone once to the Top Hat and seemed to remember that they served burgers. She was right, they did and it was just fine.  Hello Goldendale.

The Ponderosa, Goldendale, WA

Unlikely Pairings – Wine and fireworks.

August 27th, 2008

 “Hold my wine so I can get on the ladder.” Hearing this phrase would be cause for concern in some circles and I have to admit that in most cases I would have raised an eyebrow for the person who made that statement.

But on the Fourth of July I was that guy: a glass of wine in one hand and the bottom rung of a ladder in the other, on a rare clear night in Seattle, climbing up onto my roof to watch the

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Union fireworks with a glass of good Cab in my hand.  It seemed the most logical of choices.

The morning of the Fourth dawned with endless possibilities. A bicycle ride around Fremont, a beer at the Red Door, salmon and chips at the Salmon House on Lake Union…watching drunken boaters zoom around the tiny lake, a brisk walk around Green Lake, and a movie; we had checked some of the best Seattle activities off our list by the evening.  Originally planning to ride our bikes back to Fremont to watch the fireworks, we were…well…too lazy after our full day.  So we sat on the back deck in the fading light and opened one of the ‘good’ bottles of wine: Wineglass Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon. There is no ‘bad’ wine hanging around (that’s what re-gifting is for), but there are some bottles that taste too good to be the second bottle of wine, so sometimes they’re around for several months.  This was a night for a good first bottle and (it turned out) a good second bottle as well.

 

Finishing off the Cab as it was getting darker, we stood on our tip toes on the deck to see the lights from downtown. On many a mid-week Fourth and mid-week New Year’s Eve, I’ve stood on the deck in my jammies and watched the highest fireworks from my tip toes before going to bed.  Tonight though, we didn’t have to get up in the morning, it has been a great day, and (as mentioned) were now into the second bottle of good wine, so something other than tip toes was required. 

That’s how moments later, wine glasses in hand, we came to be on the roof.

Some of you are thinking this ends in tragedy, or at least in a story for the “what was I thinking?” category, but I’m sorry to disappoint.  It was a beautiful night on the roof. The pitch of the roof wasn’t enough to make us feel unstable and we made it to the peak without incident.  The angle was great for perching cross-legged and the view of downtown was awesome. Interestingly, on the roof we were apparently visible from the yards of several neighbors who were also (apparently) into their second bottle as there was much hooting and hollering and jokingly encouraging us to jump (we didn’t). 

Fireworks were awesome; quiet since we were about 7 miles north of the lake, but we saw most of the show including the brilliant finale.  After a longer look across the city of rooftops, we carried our empty glasses back down the ladder. 

Boy Scouts of America – SO queer

August 12th, 2008

You’ll think this is old news, but I don’t care…it’s not old, just flying under the radar.

Here’s the important backstory. I became a Cub Scout with my brothers at the age of 8. My mom was a Den Mother and my dad a Cub Master. After Cub Scouts, I went on to Webelos and then to the Boy Scouts. My brothers phased out sometime around Webelos, but I stayed. In the Boy Scouts, I got acceptance and recognition that I didn’t get or didn’t want in school.  In 1981 I went to work at Camp Lone Oak in Central Florida in the first of 11 years in Outdoor Education. Today, at 42, I still teach a course called Adventure Based Counseling that has, as part of its underlying structure, concepts I learned at Camp in the Boy Scouts.  At 18, I was awarded my Eagle Scout badge and couldn’t believe how great and rich my life was.

Dutifully, I put “Eagle Scout” on my list of other accomplishments on job applications in my late teens and early twenties. Whether or not Sears was impressed, they hired me to hawk housewares for a couple of years. If Florida Power & Light was impressed, the never told me, but they did hire me to read electric meters for them.

Then, in 1990, when I had wrestled with the demons long enough, I came out of the closet and learned how to be gay (oddly enough, it has to be learned).  Part of learning to be gay was realizing that some of the most critical role models I had in the Boy Scouts…men who taught me responsibility and respect for other people…were gay (although deeply closeted).  This affirmed my belief in my own development and helped me integrate what I had learned with who I now realized I always was.

Cut to 2000, when the US Supreme Court supported the BSA’s ban on homosexual Scouting Professionals, gay volunteers and gay scouts.  I thought about it a lot (really…a lot) and decided finally that although I benefitted from my association with the Boy Scouts as a young man, as a professional in the work force, the Boy Scouts benefitted from their association with me; a gay American. Not willing to support them in this fashion, I packed up my Eagle Scout badge, dress uniform medal, and certificate and sent them back to the South Florida Council with a letter explaining my unwillingness to support them by my membership.

I never heard from the BSA until…you got it…this week. Apparently the National Eagle Scout Association (www.nesa.org) is building a directory of Eagles and wanted me to call to verify my information. So I checked to see if, sometime when I wasn’t paying attention, the BSA had re-thought their hateful, right-wing agenda.  Turns out not.

 So I called the number on the post card.  Some third-party publishing company is collecting this list of Eagle Scouts and, no doubt, intends to sell the book right back to all the folks in it.  So I ask the nice, clueless call center guy if he knows anything about the BSAs ban on The Gays.  Of course, he’s flummoxed and doesn’t know what to tell me.  I ask him to take me off the call list. 

It feels a little weird still to reject that accomplishment, but weirder still to accept it.  Oh well.

iPhone – Bravely into the Future

July 23rd, 2008

No posts since the eventful day 3. No return visits to Apple, no more calls to Helpful Girl either at AT&T or at Apple.  The new cord charges and there has been no cycling of the power or resets of the settings since Day 3.  I am now venturing bravely into the future with my lovely iPhone and what a future it is.

I had to be shown the lovely mircofiber cloth that came in my lovely box (I haven’t gone on and on about the packaging, but I want you to know that I easily could) so I’ve been shining my iPhone with it’s microfiber cloth at every opportunity. I only put it in soft cloth places, to minimize scratches.  Despite this, scratches…like crow’s feet…are inevitable and they collect like lint on a wool sweater. I don’t care, it’s part of what makes my iPhone MY iPhone (I’ve drunk the Kool-Aid, you can see that).

From now until forever (or at least until it breaks) there are the increasing number of applications showing up for iPhones to keep me busy. More on that later…I have a call coming in.

iPhone 3G – Day 3

July 18th, 2008

Late on day 2, I plug my iPhone in so it can refresh with iTunes and recharge. An hour later I come back and…nothing. No refreshing, no recharging. I jiggle the cord, I jiggle the iPhone, I jiggle all the connections I can reach on the back of my computer without putting my hand too close to the old cat puke stain under the desk. Nothing.

I sigh.

I pack the iPhone, cord, and wall plug module (very cool, although not working) in my bag for Day 3.

I call Apple. I am on hold long enough to read and differentiate between the various political positions of Obama and McCain. I also answer email at work. I could have solved World Peace if they didn’t play annoying hard rock on hold at Apple. I’m not that hip, even if they are.

I get to Helpful Girl finally. She helps me power cycle the phone and helps me reset the settings. Nothing. She helps me make an appointment back the Apple Store with a Genius. I wonder if it will be the 12 year old.

I arrive for my appointment and am asked to wait outside and they will come find me. They have some weird way of documenting and communicating my arrival. I find this out later. While outside, I look at the line (poor losers). There are 32 people in line and only 3 are girls. There’s something here, but I’m not willing to pull that string.

Helpful Guy comes right up to me outside and invites me inside. I am Mike TV (see Day 1) again. He asks me what’s wrong, I tell him the details including trying different USB ports, trying different outlets, re-booting the computer and of course…power cycling the phone and resetting the settings.

He, without pause, announces that he is going to give me a new iPhone (this is perhaps why they don’t tell The Line People how many there are). I ask if we can just test the power cord because, although I am a lowly non-Genius non-Apple guys, I suspect the cord has played falsely with me. He humors me and plugs my phone into another base. It charges. He plugs another iPhone into my cord. It doesn’t work. He is momentarily flummoxed (the non-Genius was right). He, without pause, announces that he is going to give me a new iPhone cord.

I get the new cord, we try it out, it charges.

All is well. Happy Day 3. By the way? Visual Voicemail is worthy of worship.

iPhone 3G – Day 2

July 17th, 2008

Many text messages have been sent, test calls have been made and received, internet has been browsed and contacts have been updated.  My initial infatuation with this sleek beauty remains as I plumb his depths. *brrrr*

My ‘recent calls’ queue fills up, but voicemails do not. This seems odd to me, so I try to check voicemail. Lightly tapping the voicemail button doesn’t do anything. Holding “down” the 1 button doesn’t do anything (this is a weird sensation since theres no “down” to press).  So I make a test call and am rejected then hung up on by my own phone for having the audacity to have made a call to someone without voicemail setup.

I’m a child of the new millenium (or at least want to be); I can solve this. I go to online help to see how to setup voicemail.  Every single set of instructions (I find several about setting up voicemail) starts with “tap the voicemail button”. There is no escape clause for those of us who get nothing from the constant tapping.

My infatuation fades.

I call Apple and wait on hold for many mango seasons. I get Helpful Girl (she will become a recurring character in my life. Are there no boys who work in Customer Service for Apple or AT&T?). Helpful Girl helps me power cycle the phone, helps me reset the settings, then pronounces herself at the end of her knowledge and has to get me to AT&T.

Transferred to AT&T Customer Care, I speak to (shockingly) a new Helpful Girl. She helps me power cycle the phone and reset the settings. She then asks if we dialed the manual number for the voicemail (it seems so simple in retrospect). We had not.

She give me the number, I dial it, I am walked through instructions for voicemail setup. Helpful Girl places a test call and leaves a test voicemail. I am introduced to Visual Voicemail and my infatuation comes back. Happy day 2.

iPhone 3G – Day 1

July 16th, 2008

It’s been coming for some time and I have been, on the periphery of my awareness, waiting patiently for its arrival.Two and a half years ago, I left the warm embrace of a large (too large, truth be told)wireless company and had to pay my own wireless bill for the first time. Damn. That shit’s expensive. So I’m ready to get rid of my cheap phone and step up to the 3G iPhone…or, as it says on the box: iPhone 3G. Clearly the iPhone takes precedence over the 3G part.I’m not a line guy. I’m going to wait until the lines have passed, then casually saunter up to get my iPhone 3G. I’m cooler than those dweebs who waited in line for their phones…for heaven’s sake, it’s a PHONE. 

Turns out I’m a line guy. Only about 15 minutes in line, but it’s enough to savor the experience. With my line-mates, I get the shpeal “We’re out of 16g iPhones and have only a limited supply of 8g”. “How limited?” we ask, thinking that this is easy.”I don’t know, everyone is on the floor selling iPhones, no one has the time to go count.” Really? Counting boxes is that kind of time consuming? This reeks of some corporate (read: random middle management) decision not to piss people off by telling them that there are 20 phones and having the 19th person in line get all to the front and be told that two people bought two (do the math). This ploy doesn’t work because We The Line People become pissed anyway off because Door Guy won’t count the damned boxes. A helpful woman (three people behind me in line, thank you very much) asks if he thinks the ‘limited supply’ numbers in the tens or in the hundreds. He counters (clever devil) with “I don’t know, everyone is on the floor selling iPhones, no one has the time to go count.” Stay on message at all costs.Whatever the final number is, it’s more than 8. I get to the front, and the 12 year old helpful Apple employee leads me into the store in the same way that Willie Wonka leads the children into the chocolate factory. In this image, I am Mike TV…cocky and sure of myself.

  • Yes, I have my ID, my credit card, and am an AT&T customer. 
  • Yes, I’m eligible for an upgrade; I’ve been out of contract for more than a year.
  • No, I don’t have any questions about the phone (I’m sure, in my Mike TV way, that I know more about 3G technology than the 12 year old does.
  • Yes, I’ll be paying with my debit card.

Congratulations Mr. Brisendine, you’re the proud new owner of an iPhone 3G. I am too jaded to be giddy until I hold it’s smooth, heavy goodness in my hand. I already love this phone and am shamed by that. I slink out. Happy day 1.


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