Choosing the Miracle

Last Saturday night, just like every Saturday night, I was on call.  It wasn’t too bad, I called when my shift started and I didn’t have to go in.  I didn’t get called in while the Wonderhusband and I watched or post-kid-bedtime TV (Battlestar Galactica on Netflix).  I brushed my teeth and said my prayers and did all that bedtimey stuff and still nothing.

Until 1:00,  when my pager went off.

So I hauled myself out of bed, found some clothes and headed out into the cold.  And it was cold, somewhere around 20 degrees.

Normally I drive the sedan when I go to work, we don’t so much have his and hers cars as we do work and not work cars.  Whoever goes to work on any particular day takes the sedan leaving the van home with the one of us who has the kids to haul around (or potentially haul around as the case may be).  But the sedan is making a weird rubbing noise whenever it moves (Sean says it’s the brakes) and it was 1 in the morning, it wasn’t likely that there would be a lot of kid hauling for Sean to do, so I took the van.

I drove there, clocked in, settled into a chair at the OR front desk (I’m just on call to come in a hold down the fort in case there’s a trauma while the in-house team has to do cases) I had just opened Netflix on my iTouch and was getting ready to watch the next episode of Friday Night Lights when the case that the in-house team was supposed to do canceled.  Which meant that I could go home.

My hospital is on the campus of the University of Utah, right next to the University hospital.  Because it’s a college campus there’s plenty of public transportation all over the place.  But not so much at 2am on a Saturday. Over the last year or so I’ve made it a habit of picking up people who are stuck on campus and because the public transit is no longer running, unable to get to where they need to go.  In the last year I’ve only picked up, I think, two people, it’s not an overly common occurrence.  Saturday, as I was driving away from the hospital, I passed a group of people walking down the road, on the road, next to the light rail tracks.

Did I mention that it was 2 am and 20 degrees out?  Not a great time for a walk.  I pulled over, backed up, and rolled down the window (which I could do from my seat because I was in the van which has power windows, unlike the sedan…) Did they need a ride?

They did.  But they were going all the way downtown to the homeless shelter, and there were 5 of them.

“It’s just me in my big empty van, hop in.”

They bundled in and mostly chatted amongst themselves during the 10 minute drive. I dropped them off and headed home, no muss no fuss.

Now, maybe it was a coincidence that I drove the van, that I got called in for a case that didn’t end up happening, that I was driving my big empty van down medical drive just as this group of five were realizing that the train wasn’t running and that they’d have to walk all the way downtown in the cold.

Or maybe not.

Putting the Wonder in Wonderland

I got the idea for this post from Fatty who talks about his superpowers with some regularity. As a matter of fact the first superpower listed here is one that we both share. (Which I thought at first might be cheating but then I figured that I didn’t care.) And so, I give you, in no particular order, a list of my superpowers.

But first to prove that I take my superheroness very seriously:

Alison Wonderland as a child

And now, with no further ado, my superpowers.

1. The ability to sleep. Rare, very rare is the night that I can’t get to sleep, but this superpower is not limited to nocturnal sleeping. I also have and almost ridiculous ability to sleep during the day, morning evening and afternoon, anytime really. And my sleeping ability is not limited to comfortable beds or couches. Yesterday I had a nap sitting up, arms folded, on a rolling stool. I’m that good. (note: the stool; was not rolling at the time. I’m not that good.) A lot of the people that I work with complain about night shifts because, although they try, they are not able to nap in preparation of the upcoming shift and they can’t sleep the day after to try to catch back up. I have no such problems. I nap in the afternoon just fine, and I can sleep for an entire day if I get the chance. And probably go ahead and sleep that night as well. I can also sleep with children next to me in the bed screaming. I don’t particularly like to and it’s not the most restful sleep that I’ve ever had, but I can do it.

2. The ability to stay awake. I no this seems like a strange one , especially listed right after the ability to sleep, but there it is. It’s probably a result of years of working night shifts but I can stay awake for 24 hours or so with no real preparation, ie: a nap ahead of time, and still function. I’m not saying that I’m still functioning at a well rested level, but I’m coherent and able to do what needs to be done. Which leads me to

3. The ability to do whatever needs to be done. This is not to be confused with the ability to do everything. I can’t do everything, a fact amply demonstrated by the current state of my house. I can however do anything provided that it needs to be done. Case in point: a few years ago my family was out growing our house, specifically our kitchen. We needed a new kitchen. So I drew up plans (by myself) I had them approved by the city and I built an addition on my kitchen. I didn’t have it built, I didn’t hire contractors, I built it. I did have help. I’m not saying I did it all by myself. But I was the primary contractor on the job. I measured, I cut, I hammered and drilled and so forth.

It should be noted that with the ability to do whatever needs to be done I do not have the ability to do whatever should be done, or whatever I’d like to have done. This is strictly a need based superpower. For example, I built an addition on my kitchen but for the past 7 or 8 months I have had an unsightly rectangular patch in my living room wall. It used to house an air conditioner, one that never worked very well and was made obsolete when we got central air. Sean, the wonderhusband, and I knocked the old unit out of the wall, no small feat, and then because you can’t just have a hole in your living room, I did all the requisite insulating and plywooding and sheetrocking but sadly, that’s where my momentum ran out. So it never got tapped, I didn’t mud it, It hasn’t been painted. Because sure, I wanted it done, I still do, but it didn’t need to be done. And until it does, I’m powerless.

4. Sarcasm. I’m working on curbing this particular ability, or at least the demonstration thereof, but rare is the moment when I can’t come up with something sarcastic to say. So rare, in fact, that I can’t think of a single time that it’s happened.

I have a few others, strong stomach (I can make it through cases at work that would leave mere mortals gagging) dealing with stressful situations (mostly due to power #3) and so forth but they’re not worth mentioning in the wake of the real superpowers listed here.

So my question is this, what’s your superpower?

The One Where I Beg For Money

Have you ever noticed that the title of each Friends episode is “the one where (whatever happens in that episode happens)”?  Probably not.  take my word for it.  That’s how each episode is titled.  I think I may start titling my blog posts like that (until I get bored of it or otherwise don’t feel like it at which point I’ll stop while reserving the right to resume at any time).  It’s just easier.

So Christmas was a long time ago and we’ve got a while before it swings around again which means that it’s been a while since you were encouraged to give money in a charitable way (except for those of you who pay tithing, which is of course a charitable donation, or those who’ve been hit up for money for any one of innumerable charity races or contests or… ok fine there are always charities that want your money, whatever).  My point is that… let me start from the beginning.

I have two brothers, the older of which is a regular reader, commenter and occasional contributor (you really need to click on this link, this really is who my brother is and it really is what he believes which is why he’s not too upset over his current state of affairs) on this blog (in addition to having a blog of his own).  He is a mortgage broker.  He chose that profession because he likes to help people, he likes to interact with people (I know, it’s hard to believe we’re even related) and he’s pretty darn good at it.  The problem is that, given the current economic climate, being a mortgage broker doesn’t really pay a whole lot (insert surprised gasp here).  My brother has 8 children.  He hasn’t been paid in quite a while, and because of some changes to mortgage laws (things that they seem to be changing on an hourly basis) the loan that was supposed to close last Friday didn’t, so instead of getting paid this week he won’t be for a minimum of 20 days.  His sons recently broke the picture window in his front room, both of his two cars are on the fritz, a dinosaur recently sat on his garage, and his eldest son is about to leave for college. (It’s possible that at least one of those things isn’t true, but well, did I mention that he has EIGHT children?  I’m not sure it’s possible to overstate the damage 8 kids could do.)  He lives about 2 miles from his office so even without an operational car, he could walk it, (or ride a bike, or, since he works for himself, work from home) and he has, I am assured, copious amounts of food storage.  All of that is good, but I’m not sure that a family 0f 10 can live for months on end with no cash, no matter how forward thinking they’ve been. He also refuses to buy on credit and doesn’t want to borrow money.  (I think, in fact *I know, that in his position I would make some different choices but I also recognize that those choices would probably be worse in terms of personal and spiritual benefit and I’m not here to judge.)

What he has though, is stuff to sell.  Remember this?

That’s right.  He has the limited edition Holly Hanberg debut novel “On the Table” this is a first edition folks.  We could probably even arrange to have it signed by the author.  A lot of you said that you wanted it.

(For those of you not in on the joke, this is my book.  I wrote it about 4 years ago and my brother published it for me for Christmas last year. It’s a pretty good book (although you may want to consider the source of that last statement) and well, that’s all I have to say about that.)

He has, in fact, 4 copies of this book.  So here’s what I’m proposing. There are, as of this moment, 3 2 1 copies of this book for sale.  They are $25.  That includes shipping to anywhere in the US and, if desired, an author’s signature and message and blah blah blah.  These books will go to the first 3 people to call me 801-996-3185 (yes, that is my actual telephone number) and tell me you want one AND to pay $25 into my brother’s PayPal account: Update: the first one is two are gone, we’re down to 2 1 folks, I wouldn’t wait if I were you.

The fourth book is the prize of the raffle that I’m having.  Here’s how that works: “tickets” for the raffle are $5.  For every $5 you donate to my brother and his family you get one virtual ticket (so $10 gets you two, $15 gets you three, and so on)  This raffle will run through Wednesday the 11th at 7pm, at which time we’ll see if I’m really smart enough to figure out how to pick a winner without just writing all the names on the requisite number of slips of paper and putting them all in a hat.  (And if I’m not then I’ll write all the names on the requisite number of slips of paper and put them all in a hat and have someone pull one out.)  Anyway, the winner will be announced on Wednesday night or sometime Thursday at which time I’ll write whatever you want on the title page and put all four books in the mail or if you’re close enough (as determined by me) I’ll hand deliver it to your house or to wherever we decide to go for lunch or…

So there it is:  If you want a really cool book, or a chance at a really cool book, and the chance to some good for some of the most deserving people I know, donate now through PayPal to

This begging for money post is the first of what may very well become a regular thing around here.  I’ve lately been inspired to join team fatty in raising money for the Lance Armstrong Foundation to fight cancer (and possibly win myself some really cool stuff) so be prepared for that. I’m also going to start blogging regularly again at which point I’ll probably tell you about how *I know for sure that I would make different choices about borrowing money, and about owning two vacuums and about the treat that is going to restore world peace (and which would probably be the solution to my brother’s problems if only I had some way to get it to him) and… well, it’s gonna be good.

PS. If any of you have been considering refinancing, now’s a really good time (as far as rates are concerned anyway) and I know a guy who’d be really happy to have the work.

Update: I got this email from my brother today and I thought, in the interest of explaining his whole situation (which I’m far, far too lazy to do on my own) I’d pass it along:


As I mentioned before, I can’t possibly thank you enough. I cannot comment on your blog, because that seems a bit odd, so I wanted to just mention a couple things.

It seems impossible and somewhat delusional that I should be setting up a company ostensibly based on how successful my brokerage is, when simultaneously my sister is petitioning the world to send me money because I am broke. I want to emphasize that I am broke due mostly to two things 1) the way I run my brokerage and 2) luck. We remain busy. Really busy. We’re as busy now as we have been at any time in my career, and busier than most times. It isn’t that we have no loans to do, it is that the loans we have take longer than they used to (regulatory issues and market conditions). We have, for instance, half a dozen clients right now that should be buying houses, only they cannot sell the ones they’re in. That wasn’t a problem a couple years ago. So we have to wait for that. We have a dozen (literally) that would close in a heartbeat if this or that weren’t a problem; again, those are mostly problems that wouldn’t have existed before. Because we run the brokerage in the way we do, we never turn anyone away. We never stop trying to make a deal happen, no matter how long it takes. Unfortunately, this often means that it takes a long time.

Luck is the other factor. Like all sales jobs, money comes when it comes, and sales happen when they happen, without a great deal of rhyme or reason. It always seems odd to people that I could like and even revel in a career where money comes to us in waves, a lot here and there and nothing at all in between. But that’s sales. When you think of it, this is far more like the way the real world works than the paid-every-two-weeks that has become the norm in the modern industrial age. Think about farming – you work steadily for months and all the food comes in in a huge burst at the end of October. Even your garden takes two months of hard work before you start harvesting peas and lettuce. You never get a garden where you can make a BLT, because the lettuce is gone before the tomato gets ripe. That’s the way of things. All the lambs are born in the spring. It’s how things work. And we’re in such a patch right now. On the 27th, we could easily make $15,000. But we haven’t been paid in six weeks, despite having volumes of work to do. You’re an author. How much writing do you do before you get paid a cent?

The loans we will close in the next two weeks were supposed to close MONTHS ago (one of them, honestly, in January). But things happen.

As I say this, I know that I cannot escape the reality that if we had fifty loans to do instead of fifteen, then we’d have enough that there would be no dry patches. I know that says “he doesn’t work hard enough.” Nobody is as conscious of that as I am, or feels more keenly that he should be better than he is. I am ashamed that I should have come to this pass, but that is also a function of how I live my life. See my recent post on Gattaca [the link is mine, for those who might be interested]. I don’t save, and I am unlikely ever to do so. When I have money, I give it away with both fists. I trust my God, who tells me to rely on Him, not on the Bank of American Fork. Should it turn out to be publicly humiliating to do so, well, God has never cared about humiliation, either His own or that of His servants. He tells us to keep our eyes on Him and consider not what man can do, and to the best of my ability, I’m doing that.

So consider yourself the chosen of God, and His direct messenger, and do all that you do for us knowing that He is behind you, and before, you, and round about you to bear you up. For my part, you always will be one of my five favorite sisters. I’m so grateful to you I can’t even speak of it.


I Case You Weren’t Wondering Why You Still Read This Blog

You will be when you’re through with this.

I’ve previously mentioned my problems with mice here (that last one’s kind of a good post and one that I have absolutely no memory of writing, interesting).  I hate them.  But hate doesn’t really cover it, I’m scared of them.  But again simple fear doesn’t really cover it, I have a fear bordering on phobia of the little furry, gnawing, harbingers of black plague (wait, that was rats wasn’t it?  and it wasn’t black plague, it was bubonic, or … some other plague, whatever, I hate the things, got it?)  So a few weeks ago when I saw all the tell-tale signs of mouse I was, understandably, freaked out.  But not nearly as freaked out as I was a few days later when I saw the mouse.  In the flesh.  (Insert full body shudder here.)

I saw the horrid little rodent running along the baseboards in my kitchen so I did what any self respecting mouse-phobic would do, I ran out of the kitchen and called my husband and told him that he had to some home immediately.  Can you believe he refused?!  So then I did the next best thing, I got out some more poison, forced myself back into the kitchen and gave all the baseboards where I saw him (the mouse not my husband) a liberal sprinkling.

Did I mention that my kids went back to school?  Hallelujah, praise Allah, and all associated exclamations of joy, they, finally, after 6 weeks off during a time of year when it’s too cold to leave the house so they just stay in and fight with each other, and tease their little brothers and whine that they’re bored and eat ALL DAY, went back to school.

Back to our story.

I gave the kitchen a pretty wide berth the rest of that morning but  eventually the kids needed food so I braved dangerous territory and made them lunch.  And all was well until… the Infantile Delinquent and I sat down to eat, at which point I noticed a small furry ball curled up against the edge of my cupboard in the middle of my kitchen (he was against the edge of a cupboard that makes a peninsula so yes, it it possible to be against the cupboard and still in the middle of my kitchen) and he wasn’t moving.  Much. Eeeeeee!

So naturally, I called Sean again and again he refused to come home immediately, something about earning money so that we could feed the children who think they have to eat multiple times a day, (the details will be in the divorce papers) so I was on my own.   What to do?  I had it and I didn’t want it to get away again but at the same time there was no way I was going to, gulp, touch it.

I got a  jar. And veeery, slowly, holding my breath and biting my tongue to prevent any accidental screaming, I put it over the mouse.  He didn’t move. But I was, unfortunately, close enough that I could see him breathing.  Gaaaaaa!!!! (more shuddering).  Now what? The jar wasn’t really a very good idea, it was clear, so it didn’t block my view and now I had a mouse in a jar (except for his tail which was sticking out) in the middle of my kitchen.  You know what I need right about now?  I need a seven year old boy.  A child who is not going to have the slightest problem disposing of a dying mouse, a child who is in fact going to enjoy it because he can do something that his bag fat wuss of a mother CAN NOT make herself do, a child who has spent the last six weeks driving said mother up the wall but could now, finally, make himself useful.  Did I mention that that child had gone back to school?

So it was all on me.  I grabbed a magazine, one that I’ll never read, and after some deep breathing exercises, slid the magazine under the mouse (I’ll spare you the details of how it sort of shrugged and moved over but didn’t really try to get out of this very inefficient trap) and took it to the garbage (again, sparing you the details of how that day had been trash day so the can was empty so I heard the little little mouse body hit the bottom of the can and how I could barely stand to put things into the can for the rest of the week knowing that there was a body of a (by this point surely) dead mouse in the bottom of the can.) I’m not sure I’ll ever get over the experience.

Happy Monday.

Prayer, Trust and Bargaining

Pardon the blatant religion.  Or, you know, don’t, whatever.

There’s something I want.  I say want because I’m not sure that it quite classifies as a need, but it’s a close thing.  What I want is to register for Physiology.  It’s the last class I have to take to fulfill the nursing prereqs and I just want to take it and get it out of the way.  Unfortunately, Physiology has a prereq of its own, Biology, a class that I’m taking this semester but because I don’t have a grade for Bio, I can’t register for Phys.  So I’m doing all that I can to get it, I’m making phone calls and sending emails and checking the computer and all that.

And I’m praying.

When I first realized that I might have trouble registering for Phys I prayed about (also about whether I’d be able to handle the class without the Bio background) and the answer I got was that I shouldn’t worry about it, that I’d somehow be bale to get the class and I’d do fine in it.  I think.

And there’s my first problem.  I believe that the Lord sends us signs, I believe that He talks to us and I believe that He points us in the right direction.  Except really I believe that most of the signs are in the fine print, that He mostly whispers and that He does a lot more gentle nudging than He does pointing.  I’d really rather He just grabbed me by the shoulders and turned me in the direction I need to go but it doesn’t work like that.  I pray and I feel like I’m getting answers (sometimes) but, then I inevitably wonder if I’m just deluding myself, if my subconscious or something has just kicked in and calmed me down and it’s not divine direction at all, just my brain trying to lower my blood pressure.  I’ve gotten better at trusting the calm, and I know that that’s the best way to be more sure that it really is an answer the next time, but it’s still hard.

So here I am now, the semester’s started and I’m still not registered for Phys.  And the brilliant plan that I came up with last fall, of showing up in class and explaining the situation to the instructor and getting him/her to register me has been shot all to heck and gone because the school has changed the method by which students are added to classes so it’s all back on me and I still can’t register because I still don’t have a grade for the prereq.  So I’m back to the nail biting and hoping and calling and emailing and praying.  And I’m back to the doubting my answer from before except that I’m getting the same answer now.  But how can that be right?  The class is sure to fill up and then even if I talk someone into my point of view they won’t be able to help me because there won’t be space!  So I’m praying harder but well, that’s just silly right?  I mean I’m an adult, how may times can I say please?  What I want to do is offer something.  I want to bargain.

I’m on my knees and I find myself saying or at least wanting to say “get me into that class and I’ll go to the temple twice a month” or “I’ll make sure that I do scriptures with the kids every day, not just school days” or “I’ll never swear again”.  (All worthy goals I’d like to point out.) But I know that that’s not how it works, I know that the Lord doesn’t work on the barter system, bad things happen to good people all the time, cheaters prosper with some amount of regularity.  It’ll all even up in the end, I believe that too, but that doesn’t mean that I’ll get into the Phys class that I need whether I go to the temple every day or not.

So what’s a girl to do?

Nothing dang it.  I need to keep trying to do my best, maybe I should try to read scriptures with the kids a little more but not so that I’ll get into Phys, just because I should.  I need to keep doing everything I can to get into the class, and I need to trust the Lord that whatever happens, whether I get into Phys or not, will be the best thing for me and my family.  I need to trust the fine print and the whispering and the nudges.  But if you happen to see a billboard with my name on it, let me know will ya?

PS.  I got into the phys class this morning and in the end it was really easy, it took one phone call.  Maybe the Lord was right and I didn’t need to worry after all.  Huh.

Goals and Resolutions

First the goal:  I’m going to do Christmas for $1000 or less.  That’s all of Christmas, kids, cousins, in-laws, neighbors, even Sean and I.  No more than a grand.

For some of you (even some of you who have 8 kids) that may be no big deal.  maybe you do Christmas for less than that every year maybe you’re all about the handmade.  Well here in the Wonderland that’s not exactly how it’s been.  But look at us now.  It’s going to be great!  (No really, as soon as you give me some fantastic ideas it’s going to be awesome.)

And now despite the goal, here’s the resolution:  This year I’m going to say yes every time.  Every time I check out and I’m asked if I want to donate to St. Jude’s or the Children’s Miracle Network or Ned Thompson’s Money Round Up, I’m going to say yes.  If I pass a bell ringer I’m going to put some money in.  And if I don’t have any cash on the way in (because I NEVER have cash) you’d better believe that I’m going to get some so I have some on the way out.  If I read your blog and you ask me to donate to something, I’m going to donate.  I’m going to donate EVERY TIME.  Because I want to.

The sentiment may sound familiar for those of you who read my 100 coats post but here’s a quote to prove that it’s not just me who feels this way:

“I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare…If our charities do not at all pinch or hamper us,… they are too small.  There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot do because our charitable expenditures exclude them.”  –C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Oh and for those of you who are looking to give away some of your hard earned cash, I know a gal who needs it (you can even get some tamales out of the deal if you’re into that kind of thing.)

PS. The quote was ripped off my brother’s blog.  (I wouldn’t want to be accused of blog plagiarism.)

Once upon a time…

I was in college.  No, not this time that I was in college.  Not the last time either.  Or the time before that.  (It occurs to me that I’ve spent far FAR too much time in college for someone who doesn’t even have an associate’s degree.)  That’s not the point.  The point is that once upon a time, about 12 years ago, I took a class at BYU and it was really interesting and all, but the day I remember the best was the day the professor auctioned off a box of donuts.  It was just a regular box of a dozen donuts.  Assorted varieties, I believe.  He started the bidding at somewhere around a dollar and if I remember correctly the winner ended up spending somewhere in the neighborhood of $300 for the donuts.

Now I’m sure the lesson went on to have some kind of supply and demand or mob mentality or some other such lesson to it, but I really remember it because the money was going to charity and after collecting the winner’s $300 the professor sent a hat (or something) around the room to collect more money.

It was about this time of year and he pointed out that it was getting cold and that we as college students, even though we really liked to refer to ourselves as starving college students, were far from being truly needy and that we had a responsibility to give.

I gave $100.

I didn’t really have a hundred bucks to give (I was paying my own way through school after all) but there were people out there who noticed everyday how little they had and the least I could do was give enough so that I would notice a little bit.

And I resolved to do that every year, to give enough that I noticed.

I haven’t always kept that resolve.  But this year I’m going to.  Or at least I’m going to make a point of giving.

And it’s been made really easy for me.  For those of you who don’t read Sue (as if there are people who don’t read Sue) there’s a call in the bloggy community for coats for refugees living in Utah.  Now honestly I had no idea that we had refugees living in Utah  never mind enough that we needed to hold a drive to get them coats.  I would have guessed that a “drive” to get them coats would have been more along the lines of a drive to Walmart to pick up two or three coats.  But I digress (can you believe it?)  The point is that there’s a call for 100 coats and I’m going to buy one (or two, or…) and you should too.

You can click on the graphic above for more information or just go online and buy a coat (or two or three or…) and have it (them) shipped to:

Gayane Manukyan
Att: 100 Coats for Kids Project
Refugee Center at AAU
1588 South Major Street
Salt Lake City, Utah 84115

or you can go to the store and buy some coats and ship them there, or you can go through your closets and find some coats that are still good and ship them, or if you’re in the greater Salt Lake area you can drop them off, or you could go online and buy gift-cards and have them sent to the shelter and they can buy their own coats or whatever else they may need, or you can do something completely unrelated to coats and or refugees (or you can do nothing at all, it’s a free country) the point is that you really really ought to do something and if you can’t do something at this time of year, well I’m not going to say that you’re dead inside and you deserve exactly what you get but… Oh heck. Yes.  Yes, I am.

If you can’t even bring yourself to give at this time of year you ARE dead inside and you DO deserve exactly what you get.

PS. I mean that deserving what you get on an eternal scale and I’m here to tell you that if you don’t give, then when you’re standing before your maker trying to justify yourself, well, it ain’t going to be pretty my friend, it ain’t going to be pretty.

PPS. On a completely unrelated note, Catherine, were you that Catherine that corrected Sue on the words to “Give Said…”?  I was totally going to do that, but then I saw that comment and you rock my world.

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