Monthly Archives: April 2014

Day 475: Superhero names (hyphenated or not)

Yesterday, dear readers, I suggested a new, superhero* identity for myself: “Super-Recovery-Woman.”

Gauging by the comments, people seemed to like this idea.

However, nobody embraced the hyphens in my proposed name. For example, quoth Sitting on My Own Sofa (using an alias of her own):

Dear Super Recovery Woman (with cats)

You know, we were just thinking that the world was in need of a new superhero. And after thoughtful deliberation, we have concluded that Super Recovery Woman fits the bill perfectly.

Thank you for stepping up.


The World Superhero Appointment and Licensing Committee

Also, a long-time friend from college, Gene Phillips, wrote this:

“Super Recovery Woman” would be a great new superhero…heck…is one.

And, mk  from WordPress, also dropped the hyphens in the superhero name, in this great comment:

Dear “Super Recovery Woman” you are a one fine addition to the super hero population of this world . As you and WSALC have officially come to an agreement , you definitely need a super hero costume .

Super Recovery Woman, this world needs you.

Likewise, in this kind comment from David Prosser, also from WordPress:

Super Recovery Woman sounds fine. At least a superwoman would have enough sense to know she can’t return to work until she’s ready, fit and able. You need strength to be able to jump over building in one leap.

If I harken back to my experiences of marketing focus groups … perhaps people are telling me this: “Drop the hyphens, Ann!”

Although, I have to admit, I have trouble with losses of all kinds, even punctuation marks.

And, as I also admit, I can struggle with decisions of all kinds, too.

Plus, here’s something I haven’t even considered yet: What is GRAMMATICALLY correct, for my superhero name?

Another possible superhero name for me could be Grammar Girl, although that’s already taken. That is, I can really focus on grammar issues when I’m writing (although, as I get older, I can sometimes lose track of what’s grammatically correct).

Here’s the deal: I’ve often been puzzled by the correct use of hyphens.

For example, what’s the correct way to write Peter Parker’s superhero identity? You know, this guy:


(I found this image here)

Is it:

  1. Spiderman
  2. Spider-man
  3. Spider-Man
  4. The Amazing Spider Man

I actually don’t know what the correct answer is, people. If you look on-line, it’s Super Confusing.

However, no matter which experts you consult, they will all agree there IS a hyphen in the name. And you are supposed to capitalize “Man,” apparently. So #3 is the most correct answer, from that list. (Here’s the Wikipedia entry, if you want more info.)

Confused?  Join the crowd. People often forget how to correctly punctuate that particular superhero name. (I know I do.)

So … to get back to MY superhero name: To hyphen or not to hyphen?  That is the question.

Let’s look at some pros and cons, shall we?

Choice #1:

Super Recovery Woman

Pros: According to my (admittedly small) sample size, that certainly seems like the popular choice. (Although there WERE a couple of write-in votes, yesterday, for SuperAnn** but if I expand the possible choices at this point, my head may explode.)  Also, that name will be easy to remember, when I and others are writing it.  No hyphens, no problem.

Cons:  I like hyphens.  Also, Spider-Man has always been one of my favorite superheroes, so a hyphen would be a nice homage.

Choice #2:

Super-Recovery Woman

Pros:  It has a hyphen!

Cons:  It might be difficult to remember where to place the friggin’ hyphen.  Also, the placement of the hyphen there implies that my recovery is what’s super, and not the rest of me.

Choice #3:

Super Recovery-Woman

Pros: It has a hyphen!

Cons:  It might be difficult to remember where to place the friggin’ hyphen.  Also, the placement of the hyphen there implies … I’m actually not sure what it implies. Maybe the same exact thing as “Super-Recovery Woman.” That’s odd.

Moving on …

Choice #4:


Pros:  It has two hyphens!  And, that was the way I wrote it originally, in yesterday’s post.  I guess I really like hyphens, huh?  That would also be pretty easy to remember — that is, people wouldn’t have to worry about where to put the hyphens. Hyphens everywhere!

Cons:  It has two hyphens!  Doesn’t that seem a little … much?  I mean, what superhero has TWO hyphens in their name?  Won’t that seem, perhaps, that I think I’m TWICE AS GOOD as any other hyphenated superhero?

(pant, pant, pant)

As I mentioned, I really struggle with making decisions, sometimes.

Here’s something that helps: using a process of elimination.

Okay!  I am going to rule out (1) Super-Recovery Woman and (2) Super Recovery-Woman.  Those are just too difficult to remember.

So that leaves, as  candidates for my superhero name, these two:

a. Super Recovery Woman

b. Super-Recovery-Woman

As I like to say in my work (as a group psychotherapist), “It’s time to go to the group!” That is, do you have a preference?***

Geesh!  I really thought I’d be tackling other issues in this post today, including

  1. Making more headway on my costume, and
  2. Considering a worthy nemesis.

But first things first, don’t you think?

Thanks to the Amazing Spider-Man (and all the other superheroes populating those comics I loved as a kid), to Grammar Girl, to all my creative and helpful readers, to superheroes of all kinds, to those who have various amounts of trouble making decisions, to people with opinions (or no opinions at all) about hyphens, and to you — especially! — for dropping by here today.


* Which could also be written “super-hero” or “super hero,” I suppose. I wonder what Grammar Girl would say?

** Thanks to Mark Bialczak and Mel Wild.

*** Actually, come to think of it, the group has probably already spoken — in yesterday’s comments. Yikes!  Sometimes I really DO have trouble letting go, don’t I?

Categories: humor, inspiration, personal growth | Tags: , , , , , | 34 Comments

Day 474: Superwoman (not)

Dear Readers,

What are your associations with the word “Superwoman?”

Let’s see what Google Images thinks “Superwoman” means:


That’s the first image that came up in my search, and it lives here, in an online article named “I am not Superwoman,” written by Marissa 11586, who gives a photo credit like so.

Here are my associations, at this point:

  • Looking at that image, I feel safe in saying that nobody would mistake me for Superwoman.
  • Despite my physical differences from the above image, I often think I can do it all  (including giving perfect credit for anything I use in this blog).
  • As I’ve dealt with serious medical issues since I was born, I have always gotten back to school and work really quickly.  My parents and my doctors, when I was growing up, subscribed to the belief that getting back to “normal” would be healthier for me, no matter what operations or other medical issues I encountered. I think that has contributed to my belief that I can always do that, no matter what ailment I encounter.
  • I don’t think I’m going to be getting back to work as soon as I assumed, this time around.

Why?  Because I — like Marissa11586 — am NOT Superwoman.

Then, who am I?

Maybe a new title would be a good start.

How about this:  Super-Recovery-Woman! Able to take a break and focus on her own needs, with a single bound!

I’ll get back to you about a costume, if I can figure something out.

Thanks to Nebaroth (for the illustration), to Marissa 11586, to women who are as super as they can be (within reasonable limits), and to you — of course! — for reading this, today.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 53 Comments

Day 473: Depressed/Happy

Today’s title refers to another human dichotomy/continuum we all encounter. Examples of these:



Trusting/Not Trusting.


To battle our human tendency for all-or-nothing (or black-and-white) thinking, I find it helpful to identify dialectical experiences like these, recognizing they are much more than opposites —  they are also ranges of experiences. We are rarely just one OR the other. Instead, we are on a scale,  shifting up and down, as circumstances and our internal experiences change.

Yesterday’s dichotomy/range of experience (although it wasn’t in the title of the post, “M” words)  was Messy/Neat. Today’s is Depressed/Happy.

Since I often second-guess my writing (among other things), I’ve considered replacing the first word in today’s title with “Sad.”  I think the title is good enough, though.

So what did I want to tell you about “Depressed/Happy” today?

Well, we are in the middle of April, a month I SHOULD be happy, joyful, and ecstatic to encounter. Don’t you think so … considering how much I complain about winter?

However, I am not alone in encountering complicated reactions to April. As I’ve mentioned before, April has been called the “cruellest month  (by the poet T. S. Eliot in The Wasteland).


(I found this image here)

What makes April — the rebirth of nature after the extended “death” of winter in these here parts* — so friggin’ cruel?

Well, when we are dealing with painful situations AND bad weather, at least we can hope that the advent of spring will bring some measure of relief, making things more bearable. However, once spring begins and beautiful days start to occur, what if we DON’T feel better?  Then, we no longer have the weather to blame;  and that can feel much, much worse.

Sure enough, statistics on suicide indicate that most suicides take place in spring.

springtime is usually referred to as “suicide season” because psychologists believe that spring “signifies rebirth or a change in circumstance for the better and when they find that nothing is getting better in their own lives.”[3]

— Wikipedia entry on “Seasonal effects on suicide.”

My beloved springtime: the cruellest season.

I’ve been dealing with my own depressed/happy range of feelings, since the advent of April.  Granted, many of my visits to the lower part of that continuum have to do with my personal encounters with illness and some losses/uncertainties at work.

Indeed, I have been experiencing something quite unusual for me: some actual moments of dread of the warmer weather.

Arrrghh!   Not THAT, Ann!  Not after this AWFUL winter.

I repeat, Arrghhh!!

I think I know what the remedies for my malady are, right now:

  • Getting outside, once I recover more from pneumonia.
  • Getting some required and appropriate springtime personal protective equipment. In other words, I need a few important pieces of seasonally appropriate clothes.   While I won’t need all the paraphernalia of winter protection, I still have to FIND ONE PAIR OF JEANS THAT FRIGGIN’ FIT ME (and a few other necessary items**).
  • Accepting what I am feeling, rather than focusing on what I SHOULD be feeling.

Here’s something I want to say about the other side of today’s continuum: Happy.

You may know that “Happy” is the title of a song that is EVERYWHERE right now, by Pharrell Williams.


(I found this image here)

The song is a phenomenon.  It seems to be striking some sort of primal chord.  I have great respect for such explosions in popular culture — I think they’re important. I think they have something to show us, to teach us.

Perhaps you assume that I may now speculate a bit about the social relevance, importance, and learning opportunities inherent in Pharrell Williams’s mega-hit.


However, I will tell you this: Earlier today, I discovered the site for his 24-hour video of this song, where you can find  a continual display of people singing and dancing “Happy”  throughout L.A. (as far as I can tell), synched to the time where you’re watching.

Since I’m not explaining this very well, you can check this out for yourself at I mean, why should I be alone in my visits there, people?

Just so you know, the song at that site has been playing the entire time I’ve been writing this post.

It makes me happy, to

  • hear that song and
  • see lots of people singing and dancing in public, since that has been (more and more, as I have travelled up the continuum of self-consciousness/confidence) my exercise of choice (before I got ill).

Now,***I can authentically write  that I am looking forward to getting out there, in the warming April weather, no matter how I’m feeling (or how capable I am of singing or dancing).

I just have one question:  What DOES it mean to feel like a room without a roof?

Well, I know this: It’s SOMEWHERE on the continuum of Depressed/Happy, that’s for sure.

Thanks to T. S. Eliot, to Pharrell Williams, to people who feel like a room without a roof, to those who feel like happiness is the truth, to my readers who know what happiness is to you, to everyone clapping along because that’s what they want to do, and to you — of course! — for dancing by here today.

* These here parts = The Northern Hemisphere

** Most importantly, I need things I can wear on my legs that are (1) professional and (2) comfortable. WHY IS THIS ALWAYS SO DIFFICULT? Granted, I have found the solution for the fall and winter months: all-cotton tights. What IS the solution for springtime?

*** Friday, 4/18/14, 4:13 AM Eastern

Categories: inspiration, personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , | 41 Comments

Day 472: “M” words

I’m about to make a momentous confession*,  my readers.

I think of myself as messy.

Am I messy? Maybe. But what does that even mean? Am I too messy? Compared to whom?

Most people might see themselves as messy, if they had a mother like mine, renowned for her neatness, tidiness, and meticulousness.

So it’s difficult for me to measure my messiness.  Am I moderately messy? Mucho messy? Just a mite messy?

My guess* is that on a scale of 0 to 100, where 100 is maximum messiness, and 0 is no measurable messiness at all, I’m a …

Man! I really resist being numbered (or otherwise measured), much like Mr. Patrick McGoohan’s character, in The Prisoner:



(I found these images here and here)

I don’t know … if I MUST choose a number … it would definitely be a number that has a six in it, maybe somewhere between a 60 and a 65?

Hmmmmm.  With those kinds of numbers, my messiness is WNL — Within Normal Limits, as we say in the therapy biz. While I might modulate towards the messy, it doesn’t interfere with my functioning.*

Yes, I’m not remarkably messy. Since I’ve been an adult, nobody has

  • refused to live with me,
  • given me ultimatums,
  • done an intervention,
  • gotten mad at me,
  • suggested I get help, or
  • otherwise made any kind of major fuss* about my measure of messiness.

However, I feel like they might, at any moment.  That’s because I have labelled —  filed, stamped, indexed, briefed and debriefed — myself as


and that has made all the difference.

Well, I’m working on taking a different road through the woods, now.  Maybe I can replace the “too” in that label with a more modulating word, like:


But you know what? When you are trying to rewrite an old script, it doesn’t make sense to restrict your vocabulary. Let’s open up the alphabet, for this portion of the post, shall we?

As I was saying, maybe I can replace the “too” in that label with a healing, more helpful word, like


or even better:




Let’s see if Google Images has anything to contribute* for the word “messy” at this point:


(I found this image here)


(I found this image here)


(I found this image here)

And let’s see if I can use any of my own photos* to end* this post.

Well, if you were to ask Michael which of our two cats is messier, he would definitely choose the one on the left, Harley.


He still looks pretty neat to me.

Thanks to my mother, to Patrick McGoohan and The Prisoner, to Robert Frost, to the Berenstein Bears, to Justin Boyd at, to Mark A. Hicks (for the pig illustration), to people and other creatures ranging from 0 to 100 on the neat-to-messy scale, and  — even though my thanks have already included you —  MAJOR thanks* to you for moseying, moving, materializing, or otherwise making it here, today.

* has no suggestions beginning with the letter “m” for this word. Believe me, I checked.

Categories: inspiration, Nostalgia, personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , | 26 Comments

Day 471: It’s always some/the same thing!

Regular readers of this blog will know that:

  • I like to invite people to read my previous posts (as well as other things), if I think it might help expand on the current topic,
  • I believe that our growth through life looks like an upward spiral (rather than a perfectionistic, linear progression), so that certain experiences recur (with us learning more, each time),
  • I subscribe to the belief that the healthiest time for us all is in the here and now (despite the human mind’s tendency to be everywhere but there),
  • despite my striving to be in the here and now, there are certain seasons of the year that I prefer over others,
  • I enjoy showing photos I’ve taken recently, and prefer to present them in chronological order,
  • I fancy the use of wordplay, especially in the title of posts, and
  • I like to believe there are regular readers of this blog.

In keeping with all that, I shall now present today’s blog post, documenting my journey home from the hospital.

Now, this post will be unusual, in that it will not link to previous posts.  Why?  Because in order to truly “get” all the nuances in this particular post, a reader may need to read all 470 previous friggin’ entries. And we all know THAT is NOT going to happen this morning. So we’ll just have to do the best we can, with this post.

Without further ado, ladies and gentlemen ….

(drum roll)

It’s always some/the same thing!

A Journey Home from the Hospital

by Ann


I promise you that this is the grossest photo in today’s post.  The treatment for my pneumonia was Intravenous antibiotics (of which I have had an ocean, over my lifetime).  Another experience I am very familiar with: things hurting and my asking the people in control for help, with varying results. Yesterday morning, I suspected there was something wrong with this IV. I was correct.  The nurse I told of my suspicions responded quickly, respectfully, and humanely.

Let’s move on to more pleasant images, shall we?


My last meal!  At the hospital, that is. Note that I got better, the more practice I had at this.


This was outside, on the way to my car (which had been patiently waiting in the parking lot since Saturday). It was so warm outside, yesterday, I didn’t need a coat.  When I had entered the hospital, for my unexpected four-day stay, the flowers were few and far between. So this caught my eye for many reasons.


Eeeek!  The engine light has come on (and at least one tire needs more air).


Yay!!!  The flowering trees have appeared!!!  Geesh!  Have I missed too much of my favorite season?  Nah.  There’s plenty left.


I’m home!






Okay.  One more snapshot, taken this morning, to end this post.


Here it is!



If you share my feelings about winter, perhaps the first photo in this photo essay was NOT the grossest.

Well, there’s no way I’m friggin’ rewriting this post, people.  It’s breakfast time!

Thanks to all my readers, regular and otherwise, for whatever portion of my journey you’ve joined before. And thanks to you — of course! — for visiting today.

Categories: humor, inspiration, Nostalgia, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: | 41 Comments

Day 470: 4/15/14

Today is April 15, 2014, abbreviated in the United States as 4/15/14.

Points I’d like to make about 4/15/14:

  • It’s tax day.  Tax day can make me (and — apparently — many, many, many other people) feel nervous, anxious, pressured, worried, concerned, and otherwise stressed.
  • It’s the one-year anniversary date of the Boston Marathon bombings (see here, here, here, here, here, here, and here for some posts related to that traumatizing event).
  • It’s a numeric palindrome (the same when read forward and backwards), in the midst of nine other such dates (starting with 4/10/14 and ending with 4/19/14).
  • It’s the day I can tell my readers this: the cultures they took in the Emergency Room on Saturday show no evidence of endocarditis, which is very good news.

What else do I want to tell you in this post?

Let’s go to the iPhone for recent photos, shall we?

I was just about to show you a photo from yesterday, when somebody walked in:

photo (94)

That’s Theresa. She was here to take some of my blood.  I’ve met Theresa before: in the middle of the night, last night.

Some Theresa quotes from this morning:

  • “I’ve got to show you how to fight back,” when noticing a large bruise from a previous needle stick on my arm.
  • “This may sound mean, but I don’t care what people say to me,” when I said it might be nicer if she had a job where people were glad to see her.
  • “I don’t take things personally,” explaining how she dealt with people getting angry at her, calling her names, or exhibiting other behaviors she considered understandable in “people who are sick.”
  • “You’ll have to let me know if I make it to America’s Top Model,”  as she was leaving, in reference to my putting her photo in this blog today. As she was on her way out, Theresa removed her mask, so I could see her America’s Top Model smile.

So where was I, before interrupted by Theresa?  Duh!  Posting recent photos from my iPhone:

photo (89)

That was yesterday’s shower. As usual, because the shower was new, it took me a moment to figure it out.

photo (90)

That was a meal from yesterday. A little better than the one appearing in yesterday’s post, don’t you agree?

photo (91)

That’s Johny, taking an echocardiogram in my room last night.  Some things I want to point out about that:

  • We both agreed it was unusual for somebody to have an echocardiogram taken in their room.
  • Johny told me, during this test, that my blood cultures showed no evidence of endocarditis.
  • Johny listened, really well, to stories I told him about previous echocardiograms I’ve had, starting in the early 1980’s, where a team of people spent all night trying to figure out my heart, one of them telling me, “We’re looking for your aorta. We know you have one, but we can’t find it.”
  • Johny explained the unusual spelling of his name like so: “I lost one ‘n’ on the way” between Jordan and the U.S.

At one point during the echocardiogram, Johny said, “You look really familiar.” I was about to tell him I hear that a lot, when Johny asked, “Didn’t  Dr. Estes bring you into a meeting the other day?”

Regular readers of this blog might remember this photo from Day 452: Random Shots, of said meeting:


I then assumed Johny had already shown up in this blog, without a mask.


It turns out Johny is the one person I missed when I took that previous shot. He pointed out  where he was sitting in the meeting: to the left, outside the frame.

I’m glad Johny reappeared in my life, so he could appear in my blog (where he definitely belongs).

Thanks to Theresa, to Johny, to others I’ve seen lately whom I know are kind (even though I can’t see their facial expressions), to the people of Boston, and to you — of course! — for visiting me in the hospital today.

Categories: inspiration, Nostalgia, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , | 39 Comments

Day 469: Good and Bad Medicine

While I try to steer clear of words like “good” or “bad” in these years of living non-judgmentally, sometimes I have to make exceptions.

Good medicine:

Trusting your doctors.

Taking a shower.

Getting amazing outpourings of support from people here at WordPress.

Bad Medicine:

The worst macaroni and cheese I have ever had in my (gratefully) long life.


Thanks to all of you, for some truly fabulous medicine.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | 33 Comments

Day 468: Hospitalized

I’ll find out in two days whether I have endocarditis.

I’ve been running some impressive fevers in the Emergency Room — over 102 degrees F.

I don’t have the flu. I do have pneumonia.  They’re admitting me to the hospital and I’ll be on IV antibiotics.

I never know how appropriate or seemly it is to talk about my health issues, even though that’s something I’ve been dealing with my whole life.

Personally, I’d rather show you this picture, which I took sometime yesterday morning:


photo (88)

That’s the book “Quiet,”which I took with me to the hospital.  The cat I will need to wait to see until I get home.

Thanks to all my readers, quiet and non-quiet.

Categories: Uncategorized | 82 Comments

Day 467: Fevered plans

Because I’m at risk for endocarditis (and have had it three times since 1998, but with no damage to my heart, because we’ve caught it really early, each time), my doctors and I have devised a very cautious plan:

Whenever I run a fever, I shall go to the Emergency Department  to get tested, to make sure I do not have endocarditis.

That’s the plan.  It works very well, too, because I almost never run a fever.

Yesterday and today, I’ve been running a fever.

At times like this, I can see flaws in this plan.

Have I gone to the Emergency Department? Not yet.

I don’t feel like going!  I have a fever!  And it’s most likely NOT endocarditis. I mean, everybody knows there’s been something going around: a flu, a virus, whatever.  My supervisor at work was really sick with it, a week or so ago.  She ran a high fever for a couple of days.

So those facts would argue for my not going to the Emergency Department to get tested.

However, the first time I decided get tested for endocarditis, when I was 7 months pregnant with my son, I also had some kind of flu or virus. But I had a really funny feeling and I called Dr. Salem, my cardiologist, and said, “I want to get tested for endocarditis.”  And Dr. Salem said, “Better safe than sorry.”

The doctor doing the testing said, “You don’t have endocarditis. You have the flu. But since you’re here, let’s test you.”

And I had endocarditis.

I remember talking to Dr. Salem, afterwards:  “Wasn’t that weird that I asked to get tested?  You know, there really was no reason for that.  I’d never had it before, plus I had the flu and I knew it. How do you explain that?”  And he said, ” I think somebody was looking out for you.”

And I thought of my father, who had died less than a year before that.

Does this make any sense?  I can’t tell. I’m running a fever.

Also, I’ve told this story before, here, when I wasn’t running a fever.

Anyway, back to the present.  My Primary Care Physician knows what I’m doing (or not doing) right now.  She wrote me an email yesterday:

Okay….well there is definitely something going around.  Please promise to go to the ED if you start to feel poorly or continue to have a fever or feel like you have endocarditis.

I promised.  And based on that,  I think I’ll be going to the Emergency Department at some point during this beautiful April weekend, just to be safe.

After all, when you make a plan, it’s usually good to stick to it. Second guessing can be quite painful.

To end this fevered post, here’s something else that looks out for me:


And let’s include some music here, too.

(Peggy Lee performing “Fever”posted by Gareth Miller here on YouTube)

Thanks to everybody who has ever looked out for me, to Peggy Lee, and to you — of course! — for visiting today.

Categories: personal growth, Uncategorized | Tags: , , | 44 Comments

Day 466: If you’re worried and you know it

If you’re worried and you know it, clap your hands.

(two claps)

If you’re worried and you know it, tell a friend.

(two claps)

If you’re worried and you know, do not be afraid to show it,

If you’re worried and you know it, clap your hands.

(two claps)


If you’re worried and you know it, take a stand.

If you’re worried and you know it, make a plan.

If you’re worried and you know it, do not be afraid to show it,

If you’re worried and you know it, clap your hands.

(two claps)


If you’re worried and you know it, it’s a fact.

If you’re worried and you know it, you can act.

If you’re worried and you know it, do what helps you to let go it,

If you’re worried and you know it, clap your hands.



I’m home sick* today, but I’m not too sick to

  1. recognize worry,
  2. take one helpful action (for me, this morning, sending a brief email),
  3. write about the worry here, and
  4.  let go of it.

If you want to see and hear the song that helped inspire this post, here it is:


Thanks to (for the video), to Sophie Fatus for her illustrations, to Susan Reed for her rendition of “If You”re Happy and You Know It,” to all the worriers and warriors out there and to you — of course! — for visiting today.

* This is my excellent excuse for not having  (1) perfect rhymes, (2) a sound file with two claps, or (3) a photo today. But who needs perfection, any day?

Categories: inspiration, personal growth | Tags: , , , , | 26 Comments

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