Friday, December 19, 2008

Technical Difficulties Redux

Hi folks.

Yesterday afternoon, the Mac croaked. Apparently the logic board got fried.

I know how it feels.

Fortunately, it's not the hard drive, and we have the apple care plan.

So we are without computer at home for a bit, though Tony (who's actualy posting this) has his work laptop. So we can still get e-mail, just not as easily.

If you have need, just call us.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Two Firsts

Last night Tony and I fed Alice her first meal of Brown Rice Cereal. She took to it much faster than we had anticipated. I had assumed that she would push the first spoonful out of her mouth and play with the contents. Instead she took the first offered bite and quietly pondered the taste. Then she devoured the whole bowl.

After such a hearty meal we thought she could use a drink so we gave her a baby-sized cup (thanks Betty) and a little bit of water. At first she wanted me to tip the cup for her while she took some tentative sips. Ultimately Alice took the cup in both hands and doused herself while draining her first drink.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

As a birthday surprise Tony snuck our two great friends Leanne and Brad into town! He came home early on Friday, told me to cover my eyes, and viola! There were our Chicago buddies ready for a weekend of fun times!


We spent lots of time exploring the city via Letterboxing. We checked out the Nature Center and behind the bird sanctuary we took a break for a photo opp. Notice how Brad is the tallest one in the photo. Notice also that Leanne and I don't know what to do with our hands.


Twice we went to Mother's vegetarian restaurant and ate soup. This was more fun than it sounds. Alice enjoyed bouncing from lap to lap with constant tummy rubbing and binky retrieving.

I'm 30 years old!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Thank you


I owe an extra thank you to Cathleen for giving us her kids' activity center. Cathleen told me though this thing is not aesthetically pleasing, it is incredibly useful to have five minuets to yourself in a given day. Alice LOVES this baby gym and reacted to it like I had given her baby crack.

There was lots of screaming and joyous wiggling followed by an equal and proportionate amount of crying when her senses overloaded. I actually removed most of the toys as she was getting the shakes from too much input.

Now I have a working method where I move the kid in a rotation from this thing, to my lap, to the floor, to the playpen, back to my lap, and so on until it is naptime or I have (miracle of miracles) completed a task.

Thank you Cathleen!

Embroideries

Tonight I attempted to embroider Alice's X-mas stocking with marginal to poor results.

This enrages me as I assumed I would be a magnificent stitcher. This assumption was based on no actual evidence or prior experience. Damn it all to poop.

Maybe felt is a bad medium for stitching. What is it they say, "It is a kick-ass craftsmen who blames his tools"? Something like that...

In other news Alice started barrel rolling today. She now uses rolling as her sole means of locomotion. If I let her, Alice would roll herself right off the bed and crash to the floor. Her enthusiasm is to be commended. I bow to Alice's superior efforts in mastering a new skill.

Damn you embroidered snowflake!! Why don't you look like the picture on the box?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

My Aunt the actress

I have a lot of freelance design projects going on right now which is wonderful, but I took a break from my regular work this weekend to help my Uncle. He asked me to assist him put together the media materials for a memorial retrospective that he is hosting tonight for his wife, my Aunt Ivett, who passed away this summer.


I knew that Ivett worked as a Broadway actress early in her career but I had never known the details. I spent the last few days reading all of her reviews and going through her photos. Ivett was not only in some big productions she was also lavished with praise from the critics. My Aunt was already done with Broadway when I knew her and had moved on to work as a soap opera actress, then a Casting Agent, and finally as an Agent. It was a nice surprise to find out that she was one of the few people to make a great success of her time in the theater.

Check out these promotional shots:





In case you were wondering, yes that is Rue Mcclanahan (Rose of the Golden Girls).

Monday, December 8, 2008

What's this? A new comic you say?



Man it has been so long since I posted a "prepost" comic that one of the guys in the "Coming Soon" section has had a second kid and the other one is no longer becoming a priest! In my group of yet to be published contributers there have been divorces, new jobs, and even deaths. Life just kept whizzing by during the long sabbatical I took to better care for my wee one.

(Emphasis on Wee)

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Achewood


I took this picture after Tony got to meet his favorite comic author Chris Onstad who writes ""Achewood" which if you haven't seen it...what is wrong with you? We didn't get a picture with Onstad because Tony was brimming over with nerd-love. Also Alice was getting sleepy.
We took Alice home and I told Tony he should go back to the signing. Tony looked at me like I was the best wife ever and pranced out of the house giggling.

Here is how Tony is the best husband ever. He was last in line at the end of the signing (Last Man Standing: a la the Great Outdoor Fight- that's for the Achewood fans) and he gave Chris Onstad a book of my comics! Sweet sweet man. This is something I would have been too embarrassed to do myself. So in honor of his brave marketing initiative I am finally updating my comic site. The comic I am loading is a re-run but it is in honor of JOE who got a little something special signed by Onstad that is coming to Lubbock for X-mas!!

Tomorrow...new comic. I promise.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Shriek!


We had a great time visiting with my Mom and sister in Albuquerque in early November. I always enjoy going home even though the unpopulated mesa I grew up on is rapidly becoming swamped with shopping malls and condos. The best part about going home is witnessing the ongoing love affair between Alice and my Mom. I leave the two of them alone while Tony and I go to see a movie ("Zack and Miri make a Porno"- delightful flick...don't go see it Mom) when I return my Baby has learned a whole passel of new tricks. Like clenching her gums and gritting out "DA!" at Tony. Or giving damp baby kisses directly to my glasses (joy!). Or biting Mommy on the shoulder to alleviate teething.

The kid is wild for Mom and I think the feeling is mutual. On our first night we were having a lovely dinner (Mom brought Chinese to the hotel room so we wouldn't have to put Alice to sleep late) Mom was holding the kid and made herself sad just thinking about Alice leaving in six days!

One of Alice's most notable tricks from her Grandmother visit is her new screaming yelp. Now when she is happy, sad, or pensive Alice expresses herself in a shriek that only dogs and Mommy can hear. The picture above is a demonstration of a happy yawlp. I would show pictures of our trip, but alas I downloaded all my photos to my Mom's computer and then accidentally deleted them from my camera.

It was great seeing my buddy Marcie over our visit and again, it would be great to show picture proof, but I've got nothing. We will just have to go see Marcie again soon or lure her here to Austin!

First babysitting

Alice with Cousin Chris:

Alice with Cousin Ben:

Technically speaking Alice has been baby-sat before by My Mother and Tony's folks. However, Grandparents could arguably not be considered babysitters in the traditional sense. As they are not of the teenage- raid the fridge/ textmessaging- variety. Up until last week no one without a driver's license has ever watched Alice. That all changed when we arrived in Dallas for Thanksgiving.

We were invited to spend the holiday sleeping at my Grandparent's home. It was wonderfully comfortable and my Grandmother cooked an excellent meal. You can see her in the background of Ben's photo. This is probably the only time she will want me to post her picture on the internet as she is not fond of being photographed (she looked lovely though).
Upon arrival at my Grandparents house my cousin Chris (see above) immediately asked if we would like him to watch Alice. How's that for service? I used to babysit both Chris and Ben in their early days and it is nice to see some return on that investment! Ben also offered to watch the kid as he lives here in Austin. But since Ben is working and getting ready for college I think he can skip sitting on the baby.

I'm going to date myself now: What's with the long hippie hair on kids these days? You guys look nice but I don't get the new "cool" fashions. I'm not hip. Ben explained that his hair is long because his girlfriend prefers long hair. Ok, that I get.

P.S. I should add that my Grandfather (Jack Towne PHD) cooked the bird, and it was delicious!

First (extended) sit

One of the people we visited over Thanksgiving was my sister-in-law Becky who makes the most delicious carrot soup. We had a little luncheon at her home and, among other things, watched Marilyn (my niece) practice sitting up. Alice had not really gotten the hang of sitting up yet without assistance. But it seems to me that Marilyn is a very good role model for her cousin because Alice chose that afternoon to emulate Marilyn and sit up on her own for a ridiculously long time.

Note: This video might be more interesting for Grandparent and Great-Grandparent types as it is very monotonous.
I think you can even hear Becky deadpanning the word, "fascinating" and Bro-in-law Mike saying, "Blog entry!"
video

First food


Alice had her first official food yesterday. It was celery. Let me explain.

Over the Thanksgiving holiday we traveled to Dallas and spent time with our DFW clan. We went to a lovely leftover party the day after Thanksgiving at Tony's Aunt and Uncle's house. This is a place that is always jam-packed with babies and veteran parents. One of those is Tony's excellent cousin David who gave me some crackerjack parenting advice. The subject was teething remedies and David said that he and his lovely wife Kristy used cold celery on sore baby gums with their four boys. The strings in the celery prevent potential choking if a bit should be bitten off by exuberant chewing, with the proviso that you must monitor the baby during this process because you can't trust the little buggers.
Thus Alice had her first food which she mostly drooled on and gazed at adoringly.

The post-Thanksgiving party was great. I loved that other parents were doing sweet things for Alice like casually handing her something non-toxic to play with when she got bored or wipe her chin when it got damp. Alice seemed overjoyed by the company of other small folk. Especially her cousins Andy and Marilyn.

I think that little Marilyn showed a graciousness beyond her age by allowing Alice to dive on her toys. Marilyn's Mom Karen says that Marilyn probably didn't notice the toy thievery, but I think my niece is just an uncommonly sweet girl.

In any case it was nice to see the two baby mohawks together.

Long time no see

Due to a flurry of travel I have been shamefully absent from this blog. Also the kid has begun waking up from her naps (and at night) whenever she hears my keyboard clacking. So there you go. As you can imagine baby sleep is sacred.

A lot has happened during my sabbatical:

Alice took her 1st flight:

The kid and I tagged along on a business trip with Tony to my hometown of Albuquerque.
Alice behaved beautifully on the plane. I was worried about the change in altitude so I gave Alice a pacifier to pop her ears. The take-off didn't seem to bother Alice at all. However, the landing obviously caused her some pain. Poor baby. She didn't cry but she looked up at me as if to ask "What's happening and why does it hurt?"
Nursing really worked better than the pacifier. It was tricky balancing the safety of having her strapped into the carseat (it wasn't a full flight so we didn't have to buy a ticket to use her seat) with wanting to prevent Alice's crying with nursing as we changed altitude.
The only real problem we had was a diaper explosion during our stop in Lubbock (shout out to the Howe family!). It was one of those deals where the entire back of the kid was painted in poop. Gross but all too common. We couldn't put Alice on her back in our seats (no room/ lots of poop) and the bathroom changing table was a joke. So we had to strip the kid while she was standing up and wipe her down. At that point Alice did start wailing. I'm sure that if I were standing naked on an airplane covered in poop I would also cry.
Once we were back in the air all was joy and light. Alice had a good time sleeping and playing with her toys.

Monday, November 10, 2008

First Concert

My Dad and his girlfriend Jill are in town this week and they took us to a Loudon Wainwright III concert. This was Alice's first concert. It went pretty well. The venue was the Cactus Cafe in the UT student union building. It is a smoke-free small room and the music and crowd were pretty low-key. I had Alice in the baby carrier for the first half of the show and she just fell asleep. She would have made it through the whole show (which started at 6:30 pm to jive with her bedtime) but the opening act went way over...also it was horrible.
It was a lady who basically sung her diary. It was all about love being a gun, which she used to hunt her love, who rejected her love, like a dove, etc. Not a hint of self awareness in the whole set. It was pretty brutal. I skipped out into the lobby with the kid and saw another audience member on her cell phone telling a friend how bad the music was killing her. We caught eyes and she hung up to commiserate with me. The lady said that she ran a program for kids with behavioral problems and was constantly barraged with folks who wanted to "work with the kids" when in reality what they wanted was to "get lots of attention". She assured me that the songstress warbling inside the cafe was just the type.

Loudon was great. He is a very funny guy. Here is the best part of the evening. He finished his sixth or seventh song (it was about drinking with his Mom) and Alice let out a little cry. It was the first noise she made all evening and Tony hustled Alice outside right away. Louden said that he had seen her earlier in the evening, that she was a very good baby, and that he wanted to dedicate his next song to her! This is what he sang: Be Careful There's A Baby In The House
This track happens to be on his new album, so I'm sure he keeps an eye out for kids at most shows, but it was really sweet.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

New Skill






Now that she can self-pacify I can go on vacation.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Alice helps Daddy with his costume.



Alice herself was a puppy. We used ears that my Mom made for my sister Jesse back in our Elementary School days. I added the bows. Alice added the drool.




We also had elements of a ballerina costume and a Rastafarian hat (which is beautiful and will be used as a beret when Alice's head is bigger). The hat was crafted by our great friend Deacon Gloria and we love her for making Alice such a beautiful chapeau.
Ultimately Alice was a Ballerina-Rasta-Puppy:

Daddy's Girl


Everybody asks who Alice looks like and invariably we say she looks like me, because she does, but Alice's Great-Grandmother Bette was the first to point out, using these two photos, that Alice definitely has Tony's mouth...and possibly nose.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Can Lutherans protect us from Vampires?

Last Saturday night Tony and I were driving on a lonely back road. We were lost, it was completely dark, and the baby was dressed up like a puppy dog.

We were trying to find the Austin Zoo, which is really an animal preserve way out in the middle of nowhere in particular. The reason we were headed towards the Zoo at night was for the annual "Boo at the Zoo" celebration. It sounded like fun. Look at the animals at night. Stroll around with other costumed parents and babies in the early evening. Maybe enjoy a little adult conversation after the kid falls asleep.
Little did we know that the turn-off to our destination was going to be completely obscured by total darkness. As a family unit we were getting freaked out. Well, Alice was sleeping, but Tony and I had a strong feeling there might be zombies in our immediate future. We were stupid lost and I was trying to help Tony out by pointing out landmarks using the insufficient illumination of our headlights.

"There is a trailer that says 'Massage by Wendy' on the side."
"There is a sleeping horse."
"There is a creepy abandoned shack."
"Oh wait! I see a sign. It says, 'Holy Cross Lutheran Church'..."

At which point Tony muttered the title of this post.
Being Catholic he really would prefer a good solid Father Something or Other to handle repelling the undead. I totally agree.

We abandoned our search, picked up Indian Food, and went home to play with the baby. We will try for the Zoo again next year...in the daylight.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tony and Alice saw "The 40 year old Virgin" last night.

video
The song is "Aquarius / Let the Sun Shine in" and it is now Alice's favorite song. But just the chorus, no other part of the song interests her.

Voting


Alice and I voted last week. I never considered the logistics of taking a baby (plus stroller) into a voting booth. It's a tight fit, but the volunteers were tremendously helpful and even entertained Alice with shiny government forms while I did my duty.

In the past I have been guilty of just voting for members of my party or for women without knowing a thing about them. Shameful. This was due to a lack of preparation on my part. But this year I was energized by the national elections and did my research. I even researched the judges by their records. Yeah. You know it. I found that my choices were much more varied in gender and party than I could have imagined last year.

The picture was taken near the huge sign on our neighbor's back fence. There are more campaign posters (for Obama, McCain, Nader, and even Ron Paul) out than Halloween decorations. I'm glad that everybody in our community seems to be shaking off apathy and declaring their intention to participate together in the democratic process.

Happy 4th Month



Our little sweetums is 4 months old today. She celebrated this milestone by getting shots at the Pediatrician's office. Alice is now old enough to be wary of the Dr's office. Who could blame the kid? She is always stripped down to a diaper in a cold strange room and then poked with needles. This visit she grabbed the Dr.'s tongue depressor and brandished it like a weapon.

Alice has all kinds of new tricks these days. She can roll over with extreme prejudice. She has special distinct grins for Daddy and Mommy. She consistantly says her name ("Ally") a greeting ("Hi") and the phrase that comes after Storytime ("the end"). She enjoys eating not just for sustenance but for the joy of consuming her favorite meal (wait until she understands the concept of variety).

As a result breastfeeding sessions usually go like this:

Alice, sleeps peacefully on her favorite napping spot (Tony).
Alice suddenly wakes!
Alice picks up her wobbly head and looks deeply into Daddy's eyes,
Alice gives him the ole' gummy grin.
Alice flips herself off of Daddy and rolls onto her tummy
Alice scans the room for food.
Alice spots Mommy and scrunches her diapered butt into the air.
Alice suddenly lunges at Mommy's shirt screaming, "ALLY-HI!"
After the meal Alice gives me a grateful smile and says "the end".
(or "grrraraaablllaggaaa" depending on her mood).

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Alice, click your heels three times

One of Tony's friends at work is a dance instructor and she gave Alice these lovely golden dance shoes. We always thought that Alice would wear them sometime around her first birthday or at very least at the six-month mark around Christmas. Alas, our little pumpkin already has feet big enough to barely fit into her dancing shoes. The time for dancing is now!

Here she is in her newly shod finery:



Thank you Shelli!!

I get jokes

The night Tony came home from Florida we were having a little family time with Alice sitting on her daddy's lap. Tony and I were a little slap-happy (it being midnight) and we started a round of raucous laughter at some lame joke. Suddenly we heard a screechy "Hee-Haw" wheezing sound coming from our daughter. We both looked at her concerned that she might be hurt but the kid was smiling like a loony bird. Tony grinned and said, "Are you trying to laugh sweetheart?"
Alice said "SCREAM squeek hoot snort burble RARWHAH!"

Since then Tony has been working on Alice's "laugh" by saying "Come on honey, Give me a Laugh."
Tonight all his hard work was rewarded. Check it out.

video

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Casa de Luz


(note: This is not my photo. It can be found on the Casa de Luz website)

Today Alice and I had a lunch date with my friend Krishna and her baby girl Lilly. Krishna and I met in a Mom and Baby group and she was very helpful in helping me to prepare for Tony's first trip away from Alice. Her most helpful suggestion was to fill the weekend before he left with nothing but family time.

One of the things Krishna helped me do today is get out of the frickin' house!
The place where we ate lunch was an interesting school/vegan restaurant/yoga studio/lots of other stuff. It seems to be a community of folks that like hanging out under trees drinking tea, watching the kids play, and eating lunch, and I am totally down with that.
The place was called Casa de Luz and it was really lovely. Alice is not fond of sitting in her carseat for long periods of non-driving time, so she sat in my lap and goggled at the older kids scrambling all over the playground. It was great getting to just sit with another adult and talk about baby (and non-baby) stuff. I think we freaked out our fellow diners when we roamed onto the topic of amniotic fluid. But they were talking politics, which is marginally more unappetizing.
The deal with Casa de Luz is that you pay $12 for two helpings of whatever vegan meal they are making that day, plus soup, salad, and free drinks. It was a very satisfying experience.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

We live next to the House of Torment...owner


One of our neighbors owns the sixth best haunted house in the nation. We're new to the community so we haven't had a chance to get to know the guy but he seems really nice. He's got cute kids. His yard looks good. Oh, and he has a hearse parked out front.

The picture up above is not of his house. We took this photo on a walk in another neighborhood. I thought it probably wasn't cool to post pictures of the man's domicile. But I will post links to these great videos of what it takes to spend all year creating the most incredible Halloween experience in Texas. What a great job.

Baldy McNohair

Alice and I are hanging out alone this week while Tony is at a conference in Florida. Yesterday we went to the Library, the organic market, the park, and took a big girl bath. Today we napped.
The only effort we took this afternoon was for a hearty round of "Tummy Time".



As I rounded the baby I got this shot of Alice's growing bald patch. She has passed "puppy with mange" and moved on to "fraternity prank victim".

Alice is a happy baby and when she wakes up in the morning she whips her head from side to side yaulping with joy. Thus the stripe of obliterated fine baby hair.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

freaking roach

Ok it is about 4:50am right now. Alice and I are getting ready to take Tony to the airport for a business trip. I am totally awake because at 4:20am a FREAKING ROACH ran across my face. It has been raining outside all night. This is the first rain we have had in months. So critters are inevitable in our circa 1984 non-hermetically sealed house. In Texas people call these creepy crawlies "water bugs" but when I woke to scratchy legs scrabbling over my cheek my first thought was:
"Did it get on the Baby?" and "That was definitely a Roach".

I waited until the alarm went off at 4:30 to tell Tony, "Funny story sweetie..."
He went "Ewwwww!" and let me use the bathroom first while he snoozed with Alice.
When I emerged from the bathroom I said "Another funny story sweetie, the roach just ran across my foot."

Tony said, "He's a Dead Man. Kafka be dammed."
My Hero.

That Roach is totally dead now ya'll.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Au contraire girl with no hair

Alice favors sleeping with her head turned to one side. We try to dissuade favoritism by flipping her around at night, but she really rejects coequality.
Now our precious redhead has a large bald patch on one side. In an added twist my pregnancy hormones have faded and my hair is also falling out. Only Tony's pillow remains fur free.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Churchgoin'


Alice wore this outfit to her first Episcopal Church service (outside of my uterus) this Sunday. Tony is Catholic and I grew up in the Episcopal Church. Our plan is to give Alice lots of time in both churches as she grows. For the past seven years Tony and I have split our time (every other weekend) between both Churches. Though in the past we have habitually attended more services at the Church that is physically closer to wherever we are sleeping on Saturday night.

So far we have found one church that really fit us as a couple, through it's mission and with the friendships we formed during coffee hour. That church happened to be Episcopal and I think it spoiled us forever. The church is in Chicago and it is called St. John's. The smallish congregation at St. John's is very welcoming and incredibly motivated, especially in the arenas of social justice and environmental protection. We were even some of the early members of the Genesis Group (the environmental wing of St. Johns) which has ended up having a real influence in the community. In fact the Reverend called me this weekend about a potential illustration job for the group that is much appreciated.

Tony and I were happily active during our time at St. Johns but the real credit for the success of the environmental programs goes to the remarkable Rev. Kara, the great congregation, and our buddies Leanne and Brad. Especially Leanne (no offense Brad) who is a glorious environmental nerd in the best possible sense!

Our little family is still looking for a St. John's here in Austin, though we have found mostly great big churches here in Texas. The one we attended this weekend has a long history and a large devoted congregation. Though to be honest what we liked best (so far) was the state of the art nursery, attached award-winning day school, and kick-ass playground. Is it wrong to love a church for it's childcare options? I hope not because I am slightly smitten.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Reap the Whirlwind Mr. Bunny


Now that she can grab things on purpose Alice is trying out all her toys. Today was the fluffy bunny's turn at bat. I think I can say definitively that he was a hit.



Happy 3-Month Birthday!!

Happy Birthday my sweet. To celebrate your daddy and I are posting evidence of your two new tricks.

Your fingers.

Last month Alice first glimpsed her cousin Marilyn cleverly intertwining her long graceful baby fingers. Alice has been working on a similar movement and recently has achieved Mr. Burns-ian finger interlacing expertise. Lately Alice has taken to folding her little hands before nursing sessions like she is a reserved Jane Austin heroine waiting for teatime.

Your name.

Tony and I have been trying to get Alice to say her name for ages. Last night during the Obama/McCain debate Alice had tons to say. She had some real feelings about fiscal responsibility. Or it is possible that Alice was overwhelmed by her days of silence (due to a cold) and was trying to get all her built up thoughts out of her baby mind. It makes me feel for her when Alice has something to say but can't quite get the sound out. Though when she does manage a noise it makes me ridiculously proud.
video
Now I might be a crazy parent but I think you can hear her say an approximation of "Al" and perhaps even "Alice". Tell me if I am kidding myself.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

hands

My Mom stayed an extra day in Austin so that she could play developmental games with Alice. Mom taught Alice to grab toys with her tiny right and left hand. Then Alice learned to bring her hand + the grasped object to her mouth, therefore crossing mid-line, which is a sign that she is using both hemispheres of her brain. Which is very good for baby brains.

I really enjoyed sipping coffee, eating biscotti, and watching Grammy act as Alice's personal trainer and snuggle factory.

Mom went home on Tuesday morning (thanks for driving 24 hours Mom!) and by Tuesday afternoon Alice had already gained noticeable improvement in her hand motions. For the first time tonight Alice turned the pages of her favorite book ("Moo, Baa, La La La") without our assistance or prompting. Now Alice's hands act as her familiars, fluttering around her body and doing her bidding without her acknowledging their service. They remind me of Odin's ravens Hugin and Mugin (thought and memory) who travel everywhere collecting information about the world and returning to whisper into Odin's right and left ear.

More Baptism pics




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