Author Archives: Ann Koplow

About Ann Koplow

I'm a clinical social worker at a major teaching hospital, specializing in group therapy.

Day 1544: If …

If I were to choose a wonderful book for questions to ask during group therapy sessions, what would it be?

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If I were to share one question that was asked in a group therapy session last night, what would it be?

If you were to choose what you wanted written on your gravestone, what would it be?

If I were to create a gravestone online that showed my answer to that question, what would it look like?

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If I were to choose one person who could untangle hopelessly tangled jewelry, who would it be?

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My boyfriend, Michael.

If you wanted to see a map showing all-time readership for this blog, where might you find it?

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If I were to predict one country where my blog would never be read, what would it be?

Greenland.

If my friends on Facebook were asked to guess what that was a map of, how might they respond?

  • Alien abductions?
  • Gun deaths?
  • Ketchup countries vs. mustard countries vs. Russian dressing countries vs. mold countries?
  • Highest rate of obesity?
  • Years of Living Non-Judgmentally blog readers?
  • Places that currently have Meals on Wheels and PBS?
  • Places that have The Voice try outs?

If I were to create a customized t-shirt, what might it say?

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If I were to choose a great saying for a tea bag, what might it be?

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If I could choose an appropriate song for today’s post, what might it be?

If you could leave a comment for this post, what would it be?

If I could thank anybody in the world right now, who would it be?

Everybody who helped me create today’s post and — of course! — YOU.

 

Categories: group therapy, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 30 Comments

Day 1543: Backgrounds

My background includes technical writing, marketing communications, and psychotherapy.

In the background, I’ve been looking up the definition of “background.”

Definition of background

  1. a :  the scenery or ground behind something – a picture of her son with mountains in the background – background scenery for the play

    b art :  the part of a painting representing what lies behind objects in the foreground – dark shadows in the background of the painting

    c :  an image that displays on a computer screen underneath the various available icons and windows – As they participate, they earn “Kinetic City Points,” which they can spend on downloadable prizes, such as screensavers and computer backgrounds. — Science

  2.  an inconspicuous position  – shy people who try to stay in the background

  3. a.  the conditions that form the setting within which something is experienced… set in a background of tropical luxuriance. — Tom Marvel

    b (1) :  the circumstances or events antecedent to a phenomenon or development – the economic background of the American Civil War took place against a background of increasing tension

    (2) :  information essential to understanding of a problem or situation – background information

    c :  the total of a person’s experience, knowledge, and education – comparing the candidates’ backgrounds –  ran a background check to make sure she had no criminal record

  4.  a. intrusive sound or radiation  that interferes with received or recorded electronic signals – a recording with a lot of background noise

    b physics :  a more or less steady level of noise above which the effect  being measured by an apparatus is detected;  especially :  a somewhat steady level of radiation in the natural environment (as from cosmic rays)

  5.  a level of computer processing at which the processor uses time not required for a primary task to work on an additional task — compare foreground.

In the background, I’ve been inconspicuously trying to correct the inevitable formatting errors and complications that occur whenever I try to bring a definition into the foreground of my blog.

Here’s the background of how I chose the title of today’s post: Yesterday morning I was changing backgrounds while I was self-soothing with a game of on-line solitaire.

Congratulations to me for winning at solitaire and congratulations to worldofsolitaire.com for offering so many backgrounds.  I usually use the first background shown above; perhaps from now on I’ll use different backgrounds, depending on my mood.

After I solitarily photographed all those backgrounds, I noticed other backgrounds throughout my day.

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That last photo, with the artwork and books in the background, shows my EMDR therapist, George Sawin, moving some EMDR equipment at the end of our session. George’s background includes psychotherapy, law enforcement, flower shops, and  business management.  When we were discussing the importance of backgrounds, I mentioned this poem to him:

THE INVITATION
It doesn’t interest me
what you do for a living.
I want to know
what you ache for
and if you dare to dream
of meeting your heart’s longing.
 
It doesn’t interest me
how old you are.
I want to know
if you will risk
looking like a fool
for love
for your dream
for the adventure of being alive.
 
It doesn’t interest me
what planets are
squaring your moon…
I want to know
if you have touched
the centre of your own sorrow
if you have been opened
by life’s betrayals
or have become shrivelled and closed
from fear of further pain.
 
I want to know
if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.
 
I want to know
if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you
to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us
to be careful
to be realistic
to remember the limitations
of being human.
 
It doesn’t interest me
if the story you are telling me
is true.
I want to know if you can
disappoint another
to be true to yourself.
If you can bear
the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless
and therefore trustworthy.
 
I want to know if you can see Beauty
even when it is not pretty
every day.
And if you can source your own life
from its presence.
 
I want to know
if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand at the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,
“Yes.”
 
It doesn’t interest me
to know where you live
or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after the night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.
 
It doesn’t interest me
who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand
in the centre of the fire
with me
and not shrink back.
 
It doesn’t interest me
where or what or with whom
you have studied.
I want to know
what sustains you
from the inside
when all else falls away.
 
I want to know
if you can be alone
with yourself
and if you truly like
the company you keep
in the empty moments.
.
Want to know the background of this background, shown above?
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Somebody in my therapy group yesterday morning suggested we project a YouTube video of a beach in Hawaii on the screen in the group room. We used that for our mindfulness exercise and then we left it running in the background throughout the group.
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What’s your background? Are backgrounds important to you?
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Please don’t stay in the background; instead, leave a comment below.
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My background includes an appreciation for acknowledging and expressing gratitude, so thanks to all who helped me create today’s post and to you — of course! — no matter what your background.
Categories: personal growth, photojournalism, Psychotherapy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 30 Comments

Day 1542: Exclamation points!

At one point yesterday morning, I exclaimed, “There’s the topic for my next blog post! Exclamation points!”

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Exclamation points are valuable!

I now exclaim that I saw exclamation points at many points throughout the day!

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I shall now exclaim all these points!

  • I love my work!
  • When things suck, it’s important to remember that you don’t suck!
  • I love Egyptian Licorice Yogi tea!
  • Fear of commitment and fear of failure are very common human fears!
  • I often write helpful phrases up on my white board!
  • I love ice cream!
  • I’ve stopped eating kale because it has so much vitamin K, it screws up my INR blood levels!
  • I don’t miss kale!
  • I love spring!
  • Spring is here!
  • Today is going to be very cold in Boston!
  • The cold doesn’t bother me when I know it’s going to end soon!
  • I’m not going to have chips and dips on National Chip and Dip day because I’ll be working late leading a therapy group!
  • Yesterday, somebody said to me, “We all say the same thing about you — Ann is a great group leader!”
  • I love compliments!
  • It helps to exclaim positive points because we tend to forget them!
  • I love the Beatles!
  • Help!

I hope you exclaim some points in a comment!

Thanks to all  who helped me create this post and to you — of course!

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Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 34 Comments

Day 1541: Good to know

“Good to know” is a phrase I  say a lot.

It’s one of those phrases that’s good to know, because you can say it in response to almost anything anybody says to you.

My son’s friend Cameron, who is good to know (here, here, and here), uses a different all-purpose response: “That’s fair.”

My friend Lawry, who is also good to know (here, here, and here), has used this good-to-know phrase in conversations: “That’s true, but not in the South.” I hope it’s good to know that Lawry, after reading yesterday’s post about our cat peeing in my bag, sent me a different good-to-know phrase via email: “Urine trouble, Oscar.”

It would be good to know if you have any all-purpose conversational responses  you think are good to know.

Are any of my photos from yesterday good to know?

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I hope it’s good to know that

  • washing my bag totally removed the smell of Oscar’s pee,
  • yesterday was the first day of spring,
  • my manager wears very interesting ties, and
  • Michael made skate with roasted red pepper sauce for dinner last night.

Michael, who does all the cooking and all the laundry around here, is definitely good to know.

It’s good to know there’s a song by Francesca Battistelli that’s “Good to Know.”

It’s good to know all the people who helped me create today’s post and — of course! — YOU.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , | 28 Comments

Day 1540: What’s the worst thing that happened to you yesterday?

The worst thing that happened to me yesterday was that Oscar the cat peed in my bag, which I didn’t realize until  I’d been out and about at Open Houses, with the bag on my back.

When I got back home and emptied out my bag, I realized Oscar had targeted all my house-hunting documents and one tax document.   The worst thing that could happen in this post would be my speculating what Oscar was trying to tell me.

What’s the worst thing that happened to you yesterday?

Oscar peeing in my bag was not the only thing that happened to me yesterday.

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What’s the best thing that happened to you yesterday?  The best thing that happened to me was FaceTiming with my son Aaron in Scotland while my boyfriend Michael made Pad Thai.

What’s the best thing that could happen musically in this post?  This.

The worst that could happen to me on WordPress today would be to get no comments from my readers.

One thing that’s not going to happen: my forgetting to thank all who helped me create this worst-thing-that-happened-yesterday post and you — of course! — for reading it.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 48 Comments

Day 1539: The No List

No. 1.   Here’s The No List that inspired this post:

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No. 2.  The No List on that napkin holder included

  • No high fructose corn syrup,
  • No hydrogenated fats,
  • No added growth hormones in our fresh meat,
  • No artificial preservatives,
  • No artificial sweeteners.

No. 3.   The No List at Whole Foods ended with this:
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No. 4.  My personal No List includes

  • No bullies.
  • No cruelty.
  • No sexism.
  • No racism.
  • No homophobia.
  • No ageism.
  • No regrets about saying “No” in the past.

No. 5.  Here’s a list of quotes about No:

No is a complete sentence and so often we forget that.
When we don’t want to do something we can simply smile and say no.
We don’t have to explain ourselves, we can just say “No”.
Early on my journey I found developing the ability to say no expanded my ability to say yes and really mean it.
My early attempts at saying no were often far from graceful but with practice even my no came from a place of love.
Love yourself enough to be able to say yes or no.”
― Susan Gregg

“Let today mark a new beginning for you. Give yourself permission to say NO without feeling guilty, mean, or selfish. Anybody who gets upset and/or expects you to say YES all of the time clearly doesn’t have your best interest at heart. Always remember: You have a right to say NO without having to explain yourself. Be at peace with your decisions.”
― Stephanie Lahart

“Say no to everything, so you can say yes to the one thing.”
― Richie Norton

“Most women are all too familiar with men like Calvin Smith. Men whose sense of prerogative renders them deaf when women say, “No thanks,” “Not interested,” or even “Fuck off, creep.”
― Jon Krakauer, Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town

“Whether they’re family or friends, manipulators are difficult to escape from. Give in to their demands and they’ll be happy enough, but if you develop a spine and start saying no, it will inevitably bring a fresh round of head games and emotional blackmail. You’ll notice that breaking free from someone else’s dominance will often result in them accusing you of being selfish. Yes, you’re selfish, because you’ve stopped doing what they want you to do for them. Wow. Can these people hear themselves?!”
― Rosie Blythe, The Princess Guide to Life

“It takes effort to say no when our heart and brains and guts and, most important, pride are yearning to say yes. Practice.”
― Cole Harmonson, Pre Middle Age: 40 Lessons in Growing the Hell Up

“He wasn’t used to people saying no, and Eby felt sorry for him, the way she’d always felt sorry for those who had everything and it still wasn’t enough.”
― Sarah Addison Allen, Lost Lake

“Information overload (on all levels) is exactly WHY you need an “ignore list”. It has never been more important to be able to say “No”
― Mani S. Sivasubramanian, How To Focus – Stop Procrastinating, Improve Your Concentration & Get Things Done – Easily!

“We must say “no” to what, in our heart, we don’t want. We must say “no” to doing things out of obligation, thereby cheating those important to us of the purest expression of our love. We must say “no” to treating ourselves, our health, our needs as not as important as someone else’s. We must say “no.”
― Suzette Hinton

“To exist here, I’ll have to become skilled in saying no—an art in which I was once well accomplished, but one I no longer care to practice.”
― Doug Cooper, Outside In

“It is extremely important to be able to make negative assertions. We must be able to say what is ‘not me’ in order to have a ‘me’. What we like has no meaning unless we know what we don’t like. Our yes has no meaning if we never say no. My chosen profession has no passion if ‘just anyone would do’. Our opinions and thoughts mean very little if there is nothing we disagree with.”
― Henry Cloud, Changes That Heal: How to Understand the Past to Ensure a Healthier Future

“If the person you’re talking with continues to press you for more or can’t seem to accept your answer, then you are being harassed. I know that sounds hard for people-pleasers to accept, but it’s true. No means no.”
― Suzette Hinton

“Many survivors have such profound deficiencies in self-protection that they can barely imagine themselves in a position of agency or choice. The idea of saying no to the emotional demands of a parent, spouse, lover or authority figure may be practically inconceivable. Thus, it is not uncommon to find adult survivors who continue to minister to the needs of those who once abused them and who continue to permit major intrusions without boundaries or limits. Adult survivors may nurse their abusers in illness, defend them in adversity, and even, in extreme cases, continue to submit to their sexual demands.”
― Judith Lewis Herman, Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence – From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror

“If something is not a “hell, YEAH!”, then it’s a “no!”
― James Altucher

“Sometimes “No” is the kindest word.”
― Vironika Tugaleva

“Learn to say “no” to the good and the advantageous, in order to receive the best.”
― Sunday Adelaja

“In order for us to practice self-control, we must have a goal. We must have something we are saying “yes” to, which necessarily comes with things that we must say “no” to. We use self-control to maneuver ourselves toward this “yes.” This goal must be entirely our own. The minute another person is choosing and managing our goals for us, we have left self-control behind.”
― Danny Silk, Keep Your Love On: Connection Communication And Boundaries.

“When you say no to the wrong people, it opens up the space for the right people to come in.”

― Joe Calloway, Magnetic: The Art of Attracting Business

“Until you learn how to confidently say NO to so many things, you shall always say YES to so many things. The real summary of a regretful life is a life that failed to balance YES and NO. Yes! A life that failed to recognize when to courageously say NO and when to confidently say YES!”
― Ernest Agyemang Yeboah

“NO” is a complete sentence. It does not require an explanation to follow. You can truly answer someone’s request with a simple No.”
― Sharon E. Rainey, The Best Part of My Day Healing Journal

No. 6.   Heres “Say No to This” from Hamilton. 

No. 7.  Too-expensive tickets to Hamilton have been on my No List, so maybe I’ll be able to see it in a high school production.

No. 8.  If less-than-perfect renditions of Hamilton are on your No List, here‘s the original Broadway Cast performance of  “Say No to This.”

No. 9.  Did you know I said yes to more photos yesterday?

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No. 10. Because not sharing is not caring, sharing gratitude is never on my No List.

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Categories: personal growth, photojournalism, self-care | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 41 Comments

Day 1538: Location, location, location

“Location, location, location” is something people say in the real estate biz.

“Location, location, location” is the answer to the question

What’s important to consider when you’re buying a property?

“Location, location, location” is something I said, yesterday, in the location of my office on what I call “the busiest street in America.”

“Location, location, location” was a topic in a therapy, therapy, therapy  group, yesterday.

The location, location, location of these photos are (1) on my iPhone, (2) in my blog, and (3) now appearing on a screen near you.

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The location, location, location for banana peels was that trash receptacle in the Tufts Medical Center garage.

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The location, location, location for that sign was a wall of Tufts Medical Center, where I went to get my INR blood levels tested yesterday morning.  In the location, location, location of the United States it’s been difficult, difficult, difficult lately to separate myth from fact, but the fact is that my INR levels were in the perfect location, location, location yesterday.

 

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The location, location, location for defibrillators include (1)  the wall of Tufts Medical Center, (2) many places where people might need to be resuscitated, and (3)   my body.

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The  location, location, location of that snow, snow, snow is near Fenway Park, Boston, USA.

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The location, location, location of that white board is in my office, where I do individual therapy, group therapy, and crisis intervention. Note all the location, location, locations on that board, including Ithaca, the woods, and the suburbs.

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Those are two important location, location, locations for me — the ocean and the busiest street in America.

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The location, location, location of that amazing St. Patrick’s Day hat is on Anthony’s head.

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The location, location, location of that sign is in the fax room at work.

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The location, location, location of those gel letters is outside the nurses, nurses, nurses office where I work.

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The location, location, location of that helpful, helpful, helpful saying is the white board in my office.

The location, location, location of that caterpillar roll was on my plate, at Genki Ya, our favorite Sushi Restaurant.

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The location, location, location for that St. Patrick’s Day cake was Whole Foods Market.

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The location, location, location of that saying was on a Yogi tea bag, in my mug, at home.

Since one of the location, location, locations on my white board yesterday was the woods, here‘s my favorite, favorite, favorite song from Into the Woods.

Please, please, please leave a comment in the location, location, location below.

The location, location, location of my gratitude for you, you, and you is always, always, always at the bottom of my posts.

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Categories: group therapy, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 30 Comments

Day 1537: A sense of urgency

I often have a sense of urgency about

  • returning phone calls,
  • answering emails,
  • getting tasks (including taxes) done,
  • running errands,
  • expressing myself,
  • clearing up misunderstandings,
  • responding to requests,
  • correcting mistakes,
  • changing/improving things,  and
  • so much more.

Today, I have a sense of urgency about finishing this post, because I need to get my INR level tested at 8:15 before I go into work.

I often have a sense that my sense of urgency adds to anxiety and stress. If I had more sense, I’d probably let go of that sense of urgency, take a breath,  and slow down.

I’m taking a breath and slowing down to share images I sensed yesterday.

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Ann would say:

  • be aware of triggers (things that increase your anxiety),
  • notice and practice whatever reduces your anxiety (including self-care, being in the moment, forgiveness, etc.),
  • do what you love, and
  • listen to music you enjoy.

 

What would you say about all this?

I do have a sense of urgency about expressing gratitude to all who help me create these posts and — of course! — to you.

 

 

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , | 24 Comments

Day 1536: How People Change

“How People Change” is a topic  of extreme interest to psychotherapists.

“How People Change” was also  the topic that my therapy group — filled with people who are very interested in change —  discussed yesterday morning.

Therefore, “How People Change” is the topic of today’s post.

I, a person, change every day. However, I do not change certain things — like  including recent photos in my daily blog.

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Because I’m not sure how WordPress is changing the size of that photograph on your current screen, here’s what I wrote about “How People Change” in yesterday’s group:

Everybody changes in different ways.

Flexibility is important!

Changes we choose are much easier to tolerate than changes we do not choose.

We deal with change a lot in this group because people come and go.

After the group, I changed the “angel card” in that description of change, just for the sake of change.

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What do you think of that change, people?

Do you see evidence of how people change in my other photos from yesterday?

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The reality is that I recited/sang these lyrics from the David Bowie song “Changes” in group yesterday.

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes
(Turn and face the strange)
Ch-ch-changes
Don’t want to be a richer man
Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes
(Turn and face the strange)
Ch-ch-changes
Just gonna have to be a different man
Time may change me
But I can’t trace time

See and hear how David Bowie changed singing “Changes” as time changed him (here, here, and here on YouTube)

 

Some people have said, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” Even though I change all the time, my gratitude  — for all who help me create these posts and for you, my readers — stays the same!

Categories: group therapy, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 34 Comments

Day 1535: Impulse Control

“Impulse control” is a phrase we use in the psychotherapy biz.

I now have an uncontrollable impulse to share a definition.

Impulse control disorder (ICD) is a class of psychiatric disorders characterized by impulsivity – failure to resist a temptation, urge or impulse that may harm oneself or others. — Wikipedia

I am impulsively and uncontrollably thinking about impulse control this morning, probably because

  • the President of the United States demonstrates impulse control issues on Twitter and
  • some people I know have not controlled their impulses to share their  doubts with me about a decision I recently made.

I hope I control my impulses in responding to people who do not control theirs.

I had photographic impulse control yesterday — I took only these four:

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I will not control my impulse to share this video from YouTube:

 

Please share your thoughts about impulse control in an impulsive and/or controlled comment.

As always, I shall not control my impulse to express gratitude to all who helped me impulsively create today’s post and to you — OF COURSE! — for impulsively reading it.

 

Categories: definition, personal growth, photojournalism, Psychotherapy | Tags: , , , , , , | 44 Comments

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