hittingthesweetspot by Bob Skelley

It comes in many forms

Navigating positive change by way of staycation

I’ve written in the past on the benefits of doing nothing.

And staycations are not necessarily the best modes of time off to be doing nothing. Especially if you live in a multi-person household.

So, I have realized there is a certain amount of work that an individual can be expected to perform while on a staycation.

Sometimes there are projects half-started from a previous period. Other times it’s a beautification endeavor that can happen during spring (not talking about head shaving, either). And yet other times, it’s not yard work or housework but works you do on yourself (other than shaving your head).

The work you do on yourself can be physical and/or mental. In my case, my recent staycation has been a compilation of self-work, work in the yard, work around the house and the acquisition of a refreshed mindset so that I might power through the latter half of the year in the best fashion possible.

A lot of us sit at work. It has a cumulative, bad effect on our health over time.

If we are overweight, sitting can add to the problem.

Staycations, where you do more than nothing are almost imperative in order to feel fresh coming off of them.

Workers who use standing desks where they can stand and sit have made an improvement over just sitting all the time while they work. What’s even better than combining standing and sitting on the job is taking frequent breaks to walk, climb stairs and exercise.

Some of us think we can stay disciplined enough to regularly work out either before or after work. As we age, excuses for not working out regularly can come more easily.

My staycation included taking advantage of a trial offer at a new gym.

This was really a big change of pace for me as I’ve never been a gym rat. When living in Colorado I had the benefit of a running path around a lake on clay dirt that featured steel gym workout stations. You could run and work out doing dips, pull-ups, pushups and any number of upper and lower body exercises.

The weather in Colorado was such that I was able to work out regularly year round. I only exercised indoors in my home if there was a blizzard (which wasn’t very often).

Realizing that my running on the pavement here in Kentucky combined with the marginal amount of strength work I did on my own was leading me to decline physically was no small epiphany.

I had to change up my routine. With encouragement from my significant other, I took the plunge and am now very sore but mostly intact.

I got the runner’s high indoors and without doing any running. In the process, I also came to know just how much I needed to get back in terms of my fitness levels.

Age is a convenient excuse for slowing down and/or not doing as much as we did in our younger years. It needn’t be a drawn-out precursor to our departure.

The pressure to remain vibrant and in shape is greater than ever. But, it is actually easier than ever to stay in good health by virtue of the many fitness approaches and options available to us all.

We sit all the time and only a small number of us can say we have jobs that preclude the need for regular exercise.

I’m determined to stay with my new fitness program.

If you’re looking for an edge of some kind you should look no further than investing in your physical self; you don’t necessarily need a staycation, though, to decide this is a good idea.

As the immortal philosopher, Billy Crystal said, “It’s better to look good than to feel good.”

I would only add that it’s not as difficult as you’d think to have both.

Passionate jerks, your expiration date and the toxicity of bad noise

There are all kinds of distractions to be aware of in order to minimize just how much of a disruption they are to your productivity.

There is also another way that you can think of dealing with them.

The first is to not really care about what others think about you. It really shouldn’t matter what someone thinks of what you do or who or how you are. If you feel you’re a good person and your family and closest friends concur, who are strangers to undermine how positive you are about yourself as you go through each day?

Dismissing this kind of noise takes mental discipline. If someone acts like a jerk towards you, just remember that they are going to die, too. We all are. Make the most of your time and don’t let toxic people bother you. People who are rude to you are not worth remembering beyond the time they were actually rude to you.

If they would only just remember that they, like you, only have so many minutes to enjoy in this life, they would probably not waste their precious time on anything other than things they are passionate about.

And I know what that last sentence makes you think: Some people are passionate about being morons. What to do about intentional morons? Again, if they are not intelligent enough to behave other than badly, than your smartest bet is to completely minimize, if not eliminate entirely, the time you spend with them.

There is something that I like to call good noise.

Good noise has many forms but the one most common to me is the sound of my dogs barking. They like to run with the neighbor dogs alongside the fence that is shared by both households. They bark at each other. They’re having fun.

Some people freak out about barking dogs but happily that is what dogs do. Most of the time the bouts of barking are over within 10 minutes as they are just having short bursts of fun. It’s like kids playing in the backyard except without the screaming that kids do.

Screaming kids are sort of neutral to me. They can easily trend to bad noise, however, when their parents allow it to continue beyond a reasonable amount of time.

Working in complete silence

I don’t have writer friends with soundproof walls. While the thought of complete silence when writing sometimes has it allure, I think at this stage of my life and career I would probably become dependent on the complete silence.

This would not be such a good thing. It’s like someone who goes to sleep with a certain orthopedic pillow each night and then suddenly the puppy gets a hold of it and chews it to shreds. The person has to sleep with a regular pillow now until they can order another specialty pillow. And they don’t sleep very well in the interim.

Would I be able to write well or at all if I write for months in silence without any sounds other than my breathing (before resuming a life writing with the sounds of the real world)?

Isolation has temporary merits as to meaningful and lasting productivity.

If you learn to control the noise no matter the environs, the average levels of quality output as a person as well as in what you do can most likely trend upward.

Believe in yourself.

Don’t let anyone bring you down.

Your conscious memory and theirs most certainly have expiration dates.


In praise of hump day

When I worked a four-day work week schedule I had a rotating day off.

You couldn’t choose to have Friday off all the time; only third shift had the privilege of Fridays off every week–that was their permanent day off and one of the perks for third shift workers.

The rest of the crew didn’t seem to mind or resent that as each team member on either first or second shift was allowed to take an occasional Friday off.

The other way to get an occasional three-day weekend was to take a Monday off when your day off rotated around to that.

I used to enjoy my Monday three-day weekends of course.

But after working four-day work weeks with rotating days off for a while, I came to like having Wednesdays off best.

Break in the week

Two on.

One off.

Two back on.

That was the motto when the weekly schedule for first and second shift workers rotated around to a Wednesday day off.

Many of my co-workers least preferred having Wednesday off and I get it.

If you had Monday or Friday off on any given week you had a three-day weekend.

While Thursdays were always a busy work day of the week–both then and now, they were like Wednesday similarly unappealing save for the fact you only had to work on Friday before you had the weekend off again.

Once I had a few Wednesdays off under my belt I rather looked forward to the middle of the work week break up.

Wednesday is a day when everyone who isn’t sick is usually at work.

When you live in a place where traffic makes even the most fun mountain roads miserable to navigate, having Wednesdays off makes it feel as if you own the roads instead of them owning you.

You can actually leave for a mountain day trip from a place like Denver or Boulder and more fully enjoy the Colorado lifestyle when there’s hardly anyone but you on the roads after rush hour has passed.

And that was how Wednesdays were for me once upon a time long ago.

Talk about clearing your head.

Whatever was on your mind as you drove up into the mountains soon drifted to the furthest reaches of your brain. You were feeling free. Free of everything that seemed a burden just prior to leaving for the drive.

As soon as you reached a favorite breakfast spot in the mountains you were ready to put the feedbag on. The food always tasted better when eating at higher altitudes.

Don’t know why that is and really don’t care to investigate. I just enjoyed.

When breakfast was done I got in the car and drove a bit further before finding a nice hiking trail I could wear off some of the food in my belly.

I hadn’t even so much as thought about work until now–which is alright as I’m writing this many, many years removed from these mid-week adventures.

That is how hump day came to be my preferred day for soul-searching not to mention my most beloved 24-hour period to just do what I want to do–and all before the influence of a certain camel who became famous for hump day in an insurance commercial.

Are pretty things your best bet purchase-wise?

For ages, people have been looking for durability in the products and services they choose.

Whether it’s a new car, home improvement project or a personal computer, something that is of high quality and lasts is a must.

As we know, though, nothing is perfect nor lasts forever.

We soon realize this and end up settling for virtually indestructible.

We don’t like performing maintenance on our homes so sometimes we choose to buy something like pre-cut cedar homes which used to be advertised as virtually indestructible.

Virtually has taken on a new meaning since the birth of the Internet. Pre-Internet virtually meant almost. Now it could have connotations for a computer setting–as in a virtual meeting where a team may meet virtually–or by computer, phone, tablet, etc.

It gets confusing whether we want to admit it or not. But, we can search for durable items online.

What lasts often comes down to the individual reviewing whatever product or service we are considering.

Sometimes the most durable product or service offering is not the most attractive.

I typically opt for function over form, except when I know it has to look somewhat decent in order to satisfy a person other than myself.

In those times the little voice in my head says you’ll be replacing this sooner than you’d like. Or, you will have more maintenance than if you had chosen the other model or type you wanted to go with.

Since life is full of compromises and periodically we only have so many financial resources available, we tend to select an item somewhere between crappy and out of sight great.

Take tires for example.

You have barely adequate (read cheap).

You have not bad for a few years (middling quality).

And you have a lot of money for something that never gets the mileage they are advertised for.

This is usually referred to as good, better, best.

Is durability subjective?

Durability in the form of tires can be a guessing game. On the surface, you’d think the best tires you can buy will be the best overall value and bang for your dollar. That is not always the case and can lead to buyer’s remorse–especially if you have modest financial means available. A middle of the road tire may end up being the best overall value for someone in this demographic.

Durability can be subjective, too, to further complicate things. And it can also be in the eye of the beholder.

Take for example the Apple Macintosh or Mac as it is referred to by anyone who owns one.

They are expensive relative to other desktop computers running either Windows or Linux operating systems.

The total cost of ownership (TCO) is a phrase thrown out there a lot in defense of the high upfront cost of owning a Mac. This might have had relevancy and merit at some point in time in the early life of the Mac, but now it does not, especially when considering you can install a modern, secure operating system that is completely free onto an old PC you have collecting dust.

What really hurts TCO for the Mac most, though, is when Apple decides your particular iMac or Mac Mini no longer meets the specifications hardware- and software-wise to run the most current version of the Mac operating system or macOS. This averages about 5-7 years for a new Mac purchase.

At this point, you are stuck in time, cut off from further updates other than a security update or two. You run your computer at risk for vulnerabilities when it is no longer able to run a modern, secure operating system.

We live in a throwaway society even with all the efforts by communities to recycle and repurpose items that are obsolete.

And so it really does pay to be choosy and find something that is durable–giving you good service through the years.

You can even locate it virtually, too.



The best weekends: Plan them or not?

Any plans for the weekend?

A more innocent and excitement-inducing question on a Friday has never been asked.

Except when the person you are asking doesn’t typically have plans for the weekend.

Weekend plans, unless you’re going out-of-town are best left unmade.

You never get anything done completely that you expected to when you make a plan just before the weekend.

If anything, you plan too much and then you end up needing a weekend to get over the exhaustion that sets in on Monday.

Is this why Mondays are the day of the week that people call in sick more often than any other day?

I would say yes and a lot of the time they aren’t sick so much as just tired and feeling unaccomplished from the things they planned on doing on the weekend that just passed (that they didn’t get done).

I like the unplanned weekend.

This leaves me free to do as much (or as little) as I like.

No agenda.

No to-do list.

Just a clean slate.

Why not?

Maybe the weather is crappy and raining like yesterday.

Yes, we have more accurate weather forecasting and can (mostly) plan accordingly. But, sometimes the weather is unpredictable and whatever you thought about doing outdoors at any given time over the weekend can no longer be done.

That’s when you need to quickly switch gears and set off to binge watch your favorite show that you need to catch up on.

Or you want to play some records while doing that load of laundry–really the only load that requires completion, while you listen to Led Zeppelin 1.

Or while listening to that, you decide you want to update your Ubuntu Mate 18.10 operating system on the external drive to 19.04; it’s a perfect time to do this as you inadvertently run into issues and have to delete some broken packages before the installation can successfully complete.

Or maybe you want to sit on the couch with your significant other and hold hands (but you can’t because your two dogs are taking up the space that you’d occupy). You can try a hug as an alternative in the event there is no room for both of you on the couch.

If the weather is particularly uninviting you can let your mind wander to things it typically might not consider; you might seek out a status check on something like your bow tie inventory. I know I did. It was lacking and so I will be getting a new one.

If I had a plan, the bow tie thing might never have occurred.

Some people recommend treating your weekends as if they were vacations.

I do not think this is such a great idea, mostly because come Monday the shock of returning to work will be too great. It’s not like a real vacation after which you return home from and spend a day or two reacclimating to daily life.

Having no plan works well for me. I do not suggest everyone go into their weekends like this, however. As always, what works for some may not for others. I do hope you can give it a try some time at least on a trial basis.

Life is just too short and is to be enjoyed in the moment as much as possible.

You can’t do that making plans all the time.

Risking mediocrity

Allergies are not another way the universe demonstrates its love for us.

Nor are any afflictions that cause pain–real or imagined.

So, instead of rushing to treat them, some of us try to figure out what it is that causes them in the first place. This can begin a path of self-medication, pre-treatment and wonder at what else these conditions can cause.

In the case of allergies, for me, it is annoyance.

Several years ago when I had my first experience with Ohio River Valley allergy season, I thought I was coming down with strep throat or the flu. People I worked with told me how bad I sounded. I was fatigued, my body ached and I started eating copious amounts of cough drops in an attempt to make it easier to swallow.

Then I realized it was allergies. I can’t remember how I came to the conclusion that this was what was ailing me.

Did someone tell me that quite possibly it was allergies?


But in the end, once I knew it was allergies it became a source of irritability for me and for good reason.

You don’t feel good when you’re experiencing spring hay fever.

When I don’t feel good I get irritable. With irritability comes impatience. And with impatience comes stupid behavior.

Like I think in order to write something here I need complete silence.

As if having noise of any kind is reason enough to feel there is no way I can blog or write anything of merit tonight.

So, as someone who treats their allergies with a less expensive facsimile version of Flonase, I set out to prove that I could struggle through distractions, ponder the meaning of life and still come up with something decent here.

Time will tell but so far to me it feels as if this has absolutely no merit or value at all.

But, I can’t help denying the feeling that this piece was meant to be–as are all of the pieces I compose–here, there and everywhere!

Some say ridiculous things like if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck and waddles like a duck it must be a duck.

In the case of this missive my alter ego just whispered in my ear that this composition is so far a steaming pile that completely resembles a steaming pile to this point.

Once it quieted down some I thought I could write unbelievably great prose. But as the noise soon resumed I thought I could drown my renewed irritability with some classical music.

After all, reason would dictate that classical music is conducive to creativity.

But no, not when the sounds of squeaking floor boards above–aka old house charm horribly combine with classical music to induce visions of the St. Valentine’s Day massacre in slow motion–definitely not a harmonious combination.

So what have we learned so far here this evening?

I’m not sure a lesson has been inscribed so much as the value of the time otherwise spent trying to sleep can now be considered somewhat of a win.

Some days are born for greatness.

More are birthed for mediocrity.

And yet still others, like this missive if looked upon kindly, fall somewhere in between.

Linux bests macOS, Windows experience in oddly familiar ways

My favorite PC is an ancient HP Compaq featuring the ability to boot into four different operating systems:

Three of them are Linux-based.

One is Microsoft-based.

And none are macOS-based.


I read an article about which operating system you should use: Windows, macOS or Linux.

It was well written like too few of the pieces to be found on this subject are, but also too short to render all the possibilities–pros and cons, for running any of these systems.

As someone who runs all three systems in various configurations of hardware and software, I was disappointed the article failed to mention the intangible and subjective noun that is excitement.

Back during the Microsoft-Apple desktop operating system wars, excitement was a word bandied about by users of both tech companies’ systems–Windows and Mac. Linux was really not in the conversation.

Now, however I would suggest times have changed and the real fun and quality experience of using a desktop computer can be had when running a Linux OS distribution.


My quadruple-boot Core 2 Duo Intel processor PC runs my choice at boot startup of either Zorin 12.4, Deepin 15.9.3, Linux Lite 4.4 (which I’m typing this on now) or Windows 10.

If I wanted the ability to boot into macOS (legally) on this system I would need an actual Mac to run macOS and then I could run the other operating systems mentioned above on the Mac, too–which, as they say, kind of defeats the whole reason for using a Mac in the first place and which, I might also add contributes to the difficulty of consumers to justify the Apple tax they must pay when buying a Mac.


Macs are overpriced. And Apple renders them obsolete after a certain number of years as to the ability of the hardware to keep up and run Apple’s latest and most current version of macOS software.

Apple has to make money and I get it.

Plus, there’s Linux if you want to run a modern operating system on older hardware like I do.

While Windows 10 runs alright on the 1.83 GHz Intel processor, it is the slowest OS of the four systems on the PC. There is also the annoying time suck that is Windows operating system updates–big, time-consuming and restart-intensive.


All of my Linux systems update all the software at once. It doesn’t take as long as Windows. With Macs and Windows PCs you have to update the individual software like browsers (Firefox, Chrome, etc.) unless in the case of Macs it’s Apple software like the macOS itself or something like iTunes–which all gets done via Software Update functions in the App Store.

Only Linux offers the seamless ability to update everything at once. When you combine that with the ability to run a secure, modern OS on a less than modern PC, that’s exciting!

Another thing that is fun is the ability to make many Linux distributions appear like either macOS or Windows. Granted, it’s not completely the same as a Mac or Windows PC, but using skins in conjunction with having familiar looking drop-down menus, start menus, docks, cursors and/or windows with minimizing/maximizing looks that mimic either Windows or Mac makes for familiar good times.

Sure, at the end of the day I need to get work done and I don’t have precious time to waste messing around with a tool that doesn’t do what I need it to.

But, you undoubtedly can’t go wrong using either Windows, Mac or Linux to get work done.

If you want to have some fun while toiling away, however, trying out a new Linux distribution on an otherwise forgotten PC may be just the right mixture of fun, accomplishment and cost-effectiveness that brings the excitement back to personal computing.

Has Apple made the perfect move?

We would probably never end up doing something if we decide to wait for ideal conditions.

Ideal conditions bring to mind the word perfect. And as we know (or should know), nothing is perfect.

But sometimes, in a nod to the ever-diminishing value of planning, a project can be completed in less than ideal conditions–and in an almost perfect state.

In the case of Apple and its latest subscription service, it remains to be seen whether or not it will end up being referred to as a perfect venture for the Cupertino iPhone maker. Present conditions may be perceived as ideal for Apple but I prefer to think their opportunistic efforts may instead end up being a case of too little too late.

Apple is trying to inject new life into dying print journalism by offering digital versions of 300 magazines for $9.99 a month.

Apple will have a monopoly on this no longer sustainable industry and business model while reportedly keeping a considerable and hefty portion of the profit.

I don’t like monopolies, especially those that potentially unlevel the playing field with respect to criticism of Apple.

I was an early Apple fanboy when they were battling Microsoft for supremacy on the desktop computer operating system wars. Apple lost in an unanticipated short amount of time. It was not close.

Microsoft rules the desktop to this day and is ubiquitous in the business world. Apple never made inroads there, preferring to focus on consumer, education, and print journalism segments for their macOS.

I long ago stopped recommending Apple only devices. Part of this shift in my thinking came with experience. If you live long enough you eventually learn there is more than one tool that can accomplish what it is you’re trying to do.

My issue with the 300 magazines for $9.99 a month deal is that it will undeniably bring less criticism of Apple by the journalists whose job it is to report objectively on the gadget maker quasi extraordinaire.

The only people who will be able to direct criticism at Apple without looking over their shoulders will be independent writing sources–or anyone outside of the publishing warehouse that Apple has assembled.

It’s like anything else.

Apple should not be given credit for benevolence, especially when there is money to be made.

They are a publicly-owned company tasked with generating value for its stockholders.

They most certainly view this latest initiative as a way to increase revenues. More specifically, and as viewed through the lens of an outsider, they are wringing the last bit of profit that can be had from a 20th century industry remnant long in decline.

It is not a case of Apple reaching out to assist in the preservation of journalism. Apple is not worthy of this praise. Let there be no confusion as they do not have writers’ backs here at all. Tech reporting that profiles Apple as a company will most certainly suffer when writers at mainstream media outlets (that reside under the subscription umbrella) can no longer cover both sides of the story without fear of retribution.

Apple may have waited for ideal conditions to make what may end up for them to be a perfect decision.

To look at the other side of the coin, however, is to consider the possibility they may also be presiding over journalism’s death knell.

Monday communication is hard

It’s cool to be able to say something is cool just for the sake of being cool.

What makes sense most of the time to you may not make any sense to me.

How do we find common communication ground?

We start by thinking alike and letting one another know when it is we do that.

If we are thinking the same way or thinking the same way about something, the key is to express it to the other person before the moment passes.

It’s not completing someone’s sentence.

It’s not saying jinx after you both say the same word at the same time.

It’s not being in the same group on Facebook and wondering why you’re thinking alike regarding the group you’re both in.

I think once everyone is thinking the same way, then and only then will Twitter go away.

I find irony in private messages being anything but.

If classical music is old I’d like to play new classical. Hence we’d have new old music to go along with new age music. I think that would be nice.

The word drivel comes to mind occasionally.

Why is it that a project can be something kids do in science class and also be someone who will need a lot of hard work and training before they become a top of the rotation starting major league pitcher?

What is a groove? And what do you have to do in order to maintain one?

Why are grooves lost and found?

Why is the characterization middle of the road not considered praiseworthy? It seems to me that being in the middle of the road should be preferred, comparatively-speaking to either side of the road. For instance, if there were curbs on either side of the road, you might stub your toes when walking along the side of the road.

On the other hand, you’d be less likely to avoid an oncoming car when walking down the middle of the road. But a middle of the road effort by a pop artist could possibly lead to their becoming just an artist–for lack of good record sales.

So and so was the most popular girl in school. So what?

If we use our space heater to keep warm just think about what we could do with a galaxy heater.

Why do people want to break into my blog?

You could just email me if you want to know something about it.

It saddens me to think of all the attacks this site undergoes.

It also makes me think the people who try to hack me suck.

If I had an advisor, they would have advised me not to let readers know this.

But sites are hacked by hackers just for fun. I get it. But should that be considered a life worth leading?

You tell me.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I still can’t get over how much enjoyment I derive from reading the Sunday phone.

Are your kidneys able to thank you if you drink more water?


Then stop telling me they will.



The man with 12 Operating systems

I’m typing with Grammarly.

I’m supposed to be scared.

crap. With a small case “c”.

I once knew a man with 12 operating systems.

He self-admittedly changed operating systems more often than he did his underwear.

Linux. Windows. Mac.

He ran them all.




Linux Lite

Windows 10 Home

Windows 10 Professional

Windows 10 Amateur


Mac OS 9


Ubuntu Mate

Q something





Rocket fuel


Unlike the rest of the crowd online, he would cry out loud.

He was always trying to connect in a different way, even if it meant the only way he was attempting connection was via to operate…in a manner of speaking…using a different operating system.

When he felt sick, he felt really sick.

So far Grammarly hasn’t gotten me.

Nor has any ancient curse…thus far.

But, I’m playing side one of Neil Young’s “Decade.”

And anything is fair game.

“Protecting her kings from the sun rays at dawn.”

Especially with Grammarly pop-ups.

Why did I sign up?

I get it.

It’s cool if an app pops something up.



I’ll click on it.


I might.

I mean, really.

And Neil plays on.

I think we’re going into “Ol’ Laughin’ Lady” or whatever clever measure of letter omissions the song title is.

Oh, wait!

Expecting to Fly.

I miss you, Neil.

I bemoaned your decline.

Decade was one of your understated and most underrated compilations.

Getting back to, “When he felt sick, he felt really sick.”

Especially when it was not bacteria-based. He could feel a virus gripping his entire body, when it was in total control.

At his advanced age, he considered his relationships and work dealings to be a rest-of-life commitment.

He thinks this is the most he’s ever struggled for just under 300 words.

But I’m over 300 words now.

This is the best ride anyone could ever hope for.

And Neil plays “Sugar Mountain.”

Ain’t Life Grand.

To the people that you met and it’s your first cigarette.

Now just listen.

This is the rhythm that is “Decade.”

You’re leaving there too soon.

Degenerated into something Will Ferrell-appropriate.

Just over 350 words and I sort of feel smarter.

When I woke up this morning I didn’t think what I would set out to write later would change the world.

In fact, I didn’t think I’d be writing at all.

Neil coughs.

People clap.

Side Two

What is the color…

You are a man.

You understand.

Wait, hold it right there.

My journey has nothing to do with what Neil is singing about.

It definitely was a good attempt at figuring out describing what life might hold out later.

Double Albums

They really add no value.

In Neil’s case, when on Side Two of Decade, I understand the criticism of Neil wrapping you in too soon into the selection of what goes into an album titled, “Decade.”

Smaller type for the continued argument against “Album” time

What exactly is “Album Time?”

It’s something we’re all not supposed to know.

Type faster young man…

“No one can see him.”

Nothing can be him.

Step aside…

Open wide…

Well, it’s who you think it might be for someone who can’t type as fast as Neil could sing.


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