I approach the wild strawberry patch with eagerness and some trepidation. The grass is so tall! Can there possibly be ripe strawberries in there? The answer is not long in coming. Pushing the hay aside I see they are everywhere. Great clusters of berries on long stems and nearly all ripe. This is probably one of the best strawberry years in a long time. And they are early. Usually were picking on Fathers Day and toward the Fourth of July.
Two consecutive days I made the forty-mile round trip to pick. The sun is too hot and the back too weak to do it all in one day. With the price of gasoline this is certainly not cost effective but, as with so many things, cost is not the determining factor in whats important in life.
As I pick, I am back on my childhood farm, part of this flock of children guided by my plump and happy mother who never seems to run out of steam. Berry picking is tedious and far from time-productive, but it fits into her busy schedule with no sense of rush.
The part of that childhood hay field that contained berries lay near the woods, and because the soil was not great, the hay was thin, making the berries easier to see and pick. This is not the case today as I spread apart the tall grass to locate the stems, heavy with berries. My theory is that they are big precisely because the hay is tall. It takes the sun longer to get to them and they have more time to grow before they ripen. Does that make sense?
When my back will take no more bending, I go down on my knees, and eventually end up sitting on the ground, picking in a large circle around me. (Now we know the origin of crop circles!)
The sun is blazing. I have put sunscreen on my face and arms, which was probably a prudent move. I use it so seldom, I had to search the house to find where I had put it. The hunting time was well spent, because I am not burned. I used to have a big straw hat for times like this, but I carried it around in the back of my car for so long that it got squashed out of shape and I eventually threw it away.
Each day when I got home from the field, I sat on the glider on the front porch and hulled berries. Its a lovely place to work. I learned that from my mother, too. Or if the sun was on the porch, when we were kids, wed all sit under the big maple trees and hull berries. Then wed have shortcake for supper. Rich biscuit dough that would melt in your mouth, made in a cake pan and sliced into two layers. Sugared berries, oozing juices, were placed on the bottom layer and on the top layer. Fresh whipped cream coated it all. It was cut in wedges and served in soup bowls.
Years later when freezers came into vogue, Mom would freeze the berries to make shortcake in mid winter. It was an ordinary sight to see a big bowl containing a lump of frozen berries sitting on the cast iron hot water radiator in her living room. By supper time theyd be soft, juicy and delicious.
After Dad died, she was not so prone to go to the strawberry field alone. It was quite far from the house and there were bears in the woods close by. So the grandchildren would come, one by one, to pick berries with her, making it a special time for both of them. And they still remember. They reminisced about it at her funeral. They talk about it when they are together, and they, too, write about it. Hows that for leaving a legacy?
The downpour last night probably ruined the berries that were still in the field because they were so ripe. But, I may find time for one more look around just in case they survived. And, selfish as it seems, I am not going to disclose the location of my berry field. Im a generous person, but not that generous.
MONTROSE: And now, according to the Borough ordinance, you will have to muzzle your dog, or have it shot. AND: The old gray horse owned by George Battles, "passed in his checks" this week. AND: In North Bridgewater frost was reported on the morning of June 10.
NEW MILFORD: The morning mail from New York which reaches this place at 7:20 on train No. 15, is thrown from the car by the mail clerk, and at times the momentum of the rapidly moving train causes the pouches to go spinning along the earth at a terrific rate of speed and anything in their path goes down. On Wednesday a pouch struck three cases of eggs which stood on the platform at the station and forty dozen of their contents smeared the rails for some distance. The question now arises as to who shall settle for the eggs, the railroad or Uncle Sam.
HEART LAKE: The season for outings is once more at hand and Heart Lake is bound to be a central feature in this region. Mr. H. Griffing, proprietor of the Heart Lake resort and grounds, boats, & c. is fully prepared to wait upon the public in all these lines, also in confectionery, baked goods, & c.
FOREST CITY: Prof. John L. Richards, the popular and successful principal of the Forest City school has been re-elected.
FLYNN, Middletown Twp.: Edward Gillen is the owner of the oldest horse in the county. It is certainly the best looking of anything over 20 in this neighborhood. AND: Mary McCormick, Middletown and Charles Walsh, a farmer of Apolacon, have applied for a marriage license.
FAIR HILL, Jessup/Forest Lake Twps.: A jersey cow devoid of horns strayed, last Friday night, from the premises of J. N. Andre. Anyone having any knowledge of same please notify Mr. Andre. AND: In Forest Lake, Bruce Griffis, our merchant, is running a dry goods and grocery wagon.
GLENWOOD: Hoodlums were abroad Saturday evening throwing stones on the houses as they passed by and breaking windows. As the parties are known, warrants will be issued for their arrest. It is time that this gang is called to a halt.
VESTAL CENTRE: Amos Roberts, of the far West, visited his brother, Asahel, here last week. The brothers had not met in over 40 years. Mr. Roberts contemplates a visit to the old homestead near Heart Lake; his father will be remembered by the older ones as the late Asahel Roberts, the gatekeeper on the old plank road.
THOMSON: The 4th Annual meeting of the Northeastern Pa. Telephone association was held at Thomson on Thursday of last week. M. D. Daniels, of Uniondale, was elected chairman, F. T. Gelder, of Forest City, secretary and J. E. Tiffany, clerk. Over 100 stockholders were present and about 400 were represented by proxies, but about 200 of the latter were not recognized, on account of a new law requiring them to be witnessed, which many had failed to do. Directors were elected as follows: T.E. Benson, J. W. Tiffany, C. K. Bigelow, F.J. Osgood and Thomas Spears. The ruling out of the unwitnessed proxies was a surprise to a considerable number of those present and an attempt was made to break the quorum by leaving the hall, but without success.
SUSQUEHANNA: Miss Gertrude Resseguie has gone to Humboldt, Ia. to assist in caring for her uncle, N. T. Woodward, who was seriously injured in falling from a bicycle. AND: The School Board has elected the following corps of teachers--Principal, T. S. March; teachers, Anna Doran, Clara Hoskins, Cecilia Lanning, Elizabeth Cahill, Louise Curtis, Anna Coyle, Elizabeth Brosnan, Margaret McDonald and Nellie Mooney. The salary of Prof. March has been increased from $1,100 to $1,200 per annum.
LAUREL LAKE: Mr. and Mrs. Ansel Rodgers and youngest child went to Vestal Center, Saturday, to visit the latter's sister, Mrs. B. W. Jenner. Returning home Sunday they met with what might have proved a serious accident. The horse got badly frightened at a passing automobile and became unmanageable. Jumping to one side of the road the horse threw Mrs. Rodgers and child to the ground, then in jumping again turned the wagon, catching her feet between the wheel and buggy. They were dragged some distance before Mr. Rodgers could stop the horse. All came out very lucky, as there was not even a mark on the baby; the mother was badly bruised, but nothing serious.
SOUTH GIBSON: At a recent meeting of our school directors, Miss Dora Follett, of Lenox, was given the principal ship of our school and Hattie Baldwin, of Gibson, the primary department.
HOPBOTTOM: The people of this place are making active preparations for a fine celebration on July 4th. A good cornet band will be in attendance all day with a liberal program of music. A parade really worth seeing will take place at about 10:30 a.m. Rev. Thomas B. Payne of Scranton, will deliver an address in the afternoon and in the evening there will be fine music, both instrumental and vocal; and an entertainment consisting of a contest in recitations by several young ladies representing nearby villages. Dinner and supper will be served by the ladies of the Universalist church.
AUBURN 4 CORNERS: A severe hail and rainstorm did much damage in this vicinity last week. Several people had young chickens killed and many gardens were washed out. A number have had to plant their corn over, while some fields are about ruined.
NEWS BRIEF: Announcement is made that the Lackawanna Railroad will soon begin the gigantic task of removing part of the mountain below Delaware Water Gap. The mountain contains fine granite and it is proposed to crush sufficient stone to ballast the entire road from Hoboken to Binghamton. The crushing plant now being installed will have a daily capacity of 100 carloads.
Commissioners do a good deed
Last week the Susquehanna County Commissioners approved a resolution that pledged county money to liquidate a $5.2 million loan if Barnes-Kasson Hospital should run into financial trouble and need the county to bail it out.
Of course its a brave move by our commissioners but it is also one of confidence based upon experience. The concept of co-signing loans for important facilities such as hospitals began in 1996 when the Williams Administration put the countys purse strings on the line by agreeing to back up Endless Mountains Health Systems (EMHS) purchase and takeover of Montrose General Hospital.
EMHS did not renege on its application and with the help of an experienced and, I might add, volunteer Board of Directors, the hospital survived and now appears to be in a safe mode. In fact, EMHS has expansion plans on the drawing board and should be moving forward with them in the near future.
Anyhow, shortly after the commissioners meeting and lunch, I started my usual tour of county offices looking for notes of interest to pass along to you. Of course I am always on the hunt for something a bit juicier than the average mundane concerns but I dont always find the proverbial hair in the egg.
For 14 years I have been parading through the halls of our courthouse visiting offices, chatting with employees and visitors and, as some will agree, making a pest of myself to collect bits and pieces worthy of taking your time to read. People always approach me and ask if the commissioners met and, if so, what did they do. I accommodate these people as best I can with a hurried but condensed version of what went on at the meeting.
Last week was no exception but one thing did bother me. As I was explaining things that went on at the meeting, sort of like the old-fashioned town crier, one person became annoyed when I mentioned that the commissioners co-signed a loan for Barnes-Kasson Hospital. This person is not a mean or vindictive individual but he is a concerned taxpayer with a right to question the commissioners actions.
I mentioned that the practice of making the county financially responsible for any defaults on a loan that it co-signs is not new and that the county has not been burned once by it. EMHS has lived up to its expectations and Barnes-Kasson has done likewise. And both hospitals now have a proven track record and thanks to the county and the hospitals, we are fortunate to have two medical facilities available to a county with little more than 40,000 inhabitants. That in itself is incredible and to have these facilities expanding their operations is nothing short of phenomenal and deserving of all our support.
Your Board of County Commissioners may not be comprised of Rhodes Scholars, but the commissioners do have sense enough to seek professional advice before committing the county to any financial obligations. I may not always agree with our commissioners as most of my readers know but in this instance they are acting with common sense and decency in one hand and sound financial advice in another.
My friends, you have heard me preach this sermon before and I am sure you will hear it again. I firmly believe there are three important facilities that should not be closed except as a last resort when all attempts to keep them viable have failed. I refer to schools, hospitals and churches. These three facilities are the backbone of any community and they are the first things industrial brokers look at when they are seeking a location for a client.
How sweet it is
Since I have added the weekly courthouse report to my repertoire of county news, nothing has given me such pleasure as what I am about to tell you.
One of the nice people that I have had the privilege of meeting in the courthouse is Sylvia Jones. Sylvia retired ending a distinguished career in the Domestic Relations Department that began in 1943 and ended in 1999.
Last week, I came across an application for a marriage license issued to Sylvia Jones and William F. Whiteley, both now residents of the Gracious Living Estates Personal Care Home in South Montrose. While it is obvious they are not spring chickens, apparently both of them are of the belief that age is simply a number and happiness is the important ingredient in their lives. So, I will not tell you their ages but I will certainly take pride in congratulating them and wishing them well.
TRIPS AND VACATIONS (Keep Them Safe) The Pennsylvania Sheriffs Association in their latest newsletter included the following "Safety" tips for vacations: Dont make yourself or your home a target for theft while away on trips and vacations. Dont leave a note announcing your absence or when you will return. Dont allow publicity on your trip. Cancel deliveries of newspapers, milk, mail (or arrange for someone to pick up these things every day) to prevent accumulation of such items - a dead giveaway that no one is home. Install an automatic timer to turn on the bathroom light and another light in the house every evening while you are away. Do not pull curtains or drapes while away - leave the windows the way they are when you are there. Make sure all windows, doors, and other possible points of entry are locked.
Ask a neighbor to check your home daily while you are gone. Notify the police that you are leaving and when you are returning; ask them to check your home. Be sure to tell them when you have returned. Turn the telephone bell or chime down before you leave - an unanswered phone alerts someone outside that you are not home. Arrange to have the grass mowed while gone. Do not leave your keys or any form of identification in your car if you have parked anywhere while away (including an airport parking lot); this is a great place for burglars to learn who isnt in town. Carry very little cash when traveling; rely on travelers checks and selected credit cards.
Bring only those valuables with you that you will need on the trip; use hotel safes. Make sure your insurance adequately covers theft. Use a travelers lock for hotel or motel doors. Always keep passports with you while traveling abroad. Consider an alarm for your car and install an auxiliary trunk lock. Be careful of anyone flagging you down on the highway and of hitchhikers. Pick up your luggage quickly at airports; luggage not picked up right away is an easy mark for theft. Keep luggage and other valuables in the trunk; when stopped at restaurants and other public places, such items inside the car are tempting to thieves.
WANT GAS at 5 cents a gallon? All you have to do is move to Iraq! While Americans are shelling out record prices for gas, Iraqis pay only about 5 cents a gallon for gasoline - a benefit of hundreds of millions of dollars subsidies bankrolled by American taxpayers. Before the war, forecasters predicted that by invading Iraq and ousting Saddam, America would benefit from increased exports of oil from Iraq. Now, a year after the invasion the Iraqis are paying 5 cents a gallon. We are paying over $2 a gallon. The Associated Press also states that Iraq has no sales tax, no registration, no license plates and no auto insurance. Rules of the road are nil. Cars barrel the wrong way on the highway. They ignore all traffic signals. (That certainly is no place to live.) The war has helped the Iraqi people - they are the only people getting gas for 5 cents a gallon.
GAFFNEY Wins "Silver" Amber Gaffey, Susquehanna High track star, placed second in the Class AA Girls pole vault clearing a personal best of 10 feet, 3 inches. The meet was held in Shippensburg. This was Gaffeys (a freshman) first competition in state meets.
LaBARBERA Wins "Silver" Joe LaBarbera of Montrose High School, also at the State meet in Shippensburg, won a silver medal by finishing second in the pole vault with a jump of 14 feet, 6 inches.
CAR THEFTS "Rising" According to National Insurance Crime Bureau, a car is stolen every 26 seconds in the United States. Top cities for car thefts: Phoenix-Mesa, AZ; Fresno, Modesto, Stockton-Lodi, Sacramento, Oakland, all of California; Las Vegas, NV; Miami, FL; Tacoma and Seattle, Washington. (We know that a locked car can be opened, but make it tough for the culprits, lock it anyway.)
COUNTY Residents "Duped" Two Susquehanna County residents were apparently scammed (April 27) when two men posing as law enforcers asked to see their drivers license. Once in their hands, the men took off with the licenses. Scammed were Andrew McGraw of Brackney and Nathan Shinn of Springville. Using a fake badge, the men told the county residents they wanted to check their licenses and away they went.
NEW YORKS "Best" In a recent survey of New York State fans, the following New York State bred athletes were named "the best": Jim Brown, football player; Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, basketball; Sugar Ray Robinson, boxer; Lou Gehrig, baseball; Julius Erving, basketball; Sandy Koufax, baseball.
HITTING STREAK Record Heather Bortz, Allentown, PA, a junior shortstop at Moravian, had a 44-game hitting streak, an NCAA all-division record that led the Greyhounds to the NCAA Division III Softball World Series. She was named Commonwealth Conference player of the year, for the second straight season.
RIVERA "SAVES 300TH" The Yankees 7-5 win on May 28 over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays gave Mariano Rivera his 300th save, which, no doubt, will get him in the Hall of Fame.
SOCIAL SECURITY "Fraud" Social Security officials have issued a national fraud alert about people posing as agency employees in scams aimed at obtaining personal information. Never give your number to strangers. If in doubt, call the police. If you have been a victim of a scam, call the inspector generals hotline 1-800-269-0271.
LITTLE LEAGUE Raffle The Susquehanna Little League recently held a benefit raffle for the league. The winners were: Tim Sweeney $700; Bill Anderson $400; Jeff McDonald $100. The league officers and players would like to thank all those that helped sell tickets or purchased them.
To some small degree, I am a student of history. While at the University of Scranton, my undergraduate and graduate programs of study were both in history. I was also intrigued by politics, and, as such, I also majored in political science. Although I studied these disciplines while in college, my love for history and politics was born before I attended college. As I reflect on that period, I cannot envision any greater political influence upon me than President Ronald Wilson Reagan. In this period of reflection upon his life, I find myself recalling his humor, smiling at each remembrance, and then discovering that his humor was not intend to entertain, but to teach. Though there are many examples, a few might help to illustrate my point.
One of my history professors, I suspect a liberal, once told me that when President Reagan moved into the oval office, he removed a portrait of Thomas Jefferson from a prominent location, and replaced it with a portrait of Calvin Coolidge. You see, said my history professor, no president had ever napped as much as Coolidge, and President Reagan set out to break the record. I was never able to verify this statement, but I know that President Reagan once stated: "I have left orders to be awakened at any time in case of national emergency, even if Im in a cabinet meeting." President Reagan certainly knew that there were those who derided him, but he was able to deflect the criticism through his dignity, charm and humor. As a young political junkie, it was the humor more than anything else that always called to me. Even when addressing serious matters, the humor was ever present.
Another history professor told me that one of President Reagans favorite quotes stated: "The government that governs best is the government that governs least." Despite being the chief executive officer, President Reagan had a healthy distaste for government and always reiterated the dangers posed by it. For instance, President Reagan remarked: "The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, Im from the government and Im here to help." On another occasion, President Reagan summed up the governments perspective on the economy: "If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it." Both statements are again humorous - but humorous only because of the inherent truth in each statement. President Reagans communication skills were unparalleled, and he understood that we would remember the humor, quote the humor, tell it to our friends, and, through these remembrances the truth would be spread.
President Reagan was a terrific politician, though he may not have wanted to wear that label. President Reagan expressed his view of politicians as follows: "Politics is supposed to be the second oldest profession. I have come to realize that it bears a very close resemblance to the first." How true are those words today? Money plays a bigger and bigger role in the selection of our leaders. Money dictates policies. President Reagan understood the role of money in politics, but had the conviction and honesty to denounce its presence through such a gentle gibe.
Although President Reagan loved to use humor, he always carried himself and his position with the utmost dignity. Even as I reflect and smile at the humor, I also recall the tremendous stature and resolve of President Reagan. He faced every enemy with strength and purpose - even his personal demons could not overcome his spirit. Although he reminded us that our country needed to be strong, his words called us to Gods gifts of faith, hope and love. As he learned that his last ride in this life would be his most difficult, he left us without bitterness or anger, simply stating: "In closing, let me thank you, the American people, for giving me the great honor of allowing me to serve as your president. When the Lord calls me home, whenever that day may be, I will leave with the greatest love of this country of ours and eternal optimism for its future. I now begin the journey that will lead me into the sunset of my life. I know that for America there will always be a bright dawn ahead." A remarkable man.
Please submit any questions, concerns, or comments to Susquehanna County District Attorneys Office, P.O. Box 218, Montrose, Pennsylvania 18801.
Dear EarthTalk: What happened to the paperless office" that computers were supposed to create, and what is the environmental impact of our paper usage?
Michelle Barnes, Virginia Beach, VA
The paperless office does appear to still be a distant dream. A recent University of California-Berkeley study found that, worldwide, the amount of printed matter generated between 1999 and 2002 not only did not decrease it grew by 36 percent. The quantity of information we now store electronically is growing in leaps and bounds. And while were using less paper as a percentage of total data output, were still using more paper. "Contrary to notions of paperless offices floated by futurists in the late 1980s and early 1990s," the report said, "the consumption of office paper has gone up substantially in recent years."
Not surprisingly, the United States is the biggest paper consumer, accounting for 33 percent of all printed material. U.S. paper producers alone consume one billion trees or 12,430 square miles of forests every year, while producing 735 pounds of paper for every American. Only five percent of Americas virgin forests now remain, while 70 percent of the fiber consumed by the pulp and paper industry continues to be generated from virgin wood.
Besides consuming trees and habitat, processing paper generates tons of industrial pollutants. The pulp and paper industry is the third-largest industrial polluter in both Canada and the U.S., releasing more than 220 million pounds of toxic pollution including dioxin, a cancer-causing byproduct of the chlorine-bleaching process into the air, ground and water each year. Paper is also the dominant material in solid waste. And in the U.S., paper-producing companies are the third-largest energy consumer.
In recent years, advocates for ecologically sustainable paper, like the San Francisco-based Conservatree, have grown more vocal in support of both increasing the use of recycled paper and developing alternatives to wood-based paper. As a small step, they have succeeded in persuading large paper retailers like Staples, Kinkos and Office Depot to offer higher amounts of recycled content in the paper they sell.
Alternatives to tree-based paper include various kinds of agricultural wastes, like corn and rice husks, a plant called kenaf, and hemp. One agricultural waste paper is made from 100 percent bagasse fiber, left over from sugar cane production. Kimberly-Clark uses bagasse in some of its paper towels and tissues. But many consider kenaf, a relative of okra and cotton, and hemp, to be the most promising alternatives, especially for office papers. Kenaf, which originated in the East Indies and is now grown in the U.S., Thailand and China, is making inroads as a wood-based paper substitute. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has deemed kenaf "the best option for tree-free paper making in the US."
Hemp is a very strong fiber, making it excellent for paper processing, and it is easily bleached without chlorine. Beginning in 1840, American-grown hemp was used to make manila paper. Hemp cultivation has been illegal in the U.S. since the end of World War II, because it is a relative of the plant grown for marijuana. But the strain of hemp grown for paper does not contain enough quantities of psychoactive chemicals for it to be used as a drug and its cultivation is encouraged in 29 countries around the world.
CONTACTS: Conservatree, (415) 721-4230, www.conservatree.com; Kimberly-Clark, www.kimberly-clark.com; USDA Agricultural Research Center, (301) 504-5664, www.usda.gov.
Dear EarthTalk: I'm noticing a lot of non-dairy alternatives to milk and cheese products in my supermarket these days. Are they any good and what are the health benefits?
Cailin White, San Francisco, CA
Dairy products are among the leading causes of food allergies, and there are growing numbers of people who seek to avoid them for that reason, or because their bodies are lactose intolerant, or because they seek to avoid all foods that come from animal sources as part of a strict vegetarian diet. Another concern is recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH), which is administered to an estimated 30 percent of conventional dairy cows to increase production. Some scientists believe that consuming dairy products from rBGH-treated cows may increase the risk of prostate and pre-menopausal breast cancer.
The non-dairy offerings you are seeing are primarily soy-based products. Soy milk has been around for years, and recently soy milk-makers have tweaked tastes and textures such that theyre now much more appealing to the American palate. Whether you buy them fresh in the dairy case or in aseptic (paper and foil) packages, youll notice that they vary greatly in taste from one brand to the next. Even varieties made by the same company can vary, as soy milks come in low fat, low-carb, vanilla- and chocolate-flavored, unsweetened and vitamin-fortified versions. Once you find one you like, you can use it, cup-for-cup, as a milk replacement in most recipes, or just drink it straight up. Look for brands labeled "USDA organic," as those wont contain genetically modified ingredients or residues from pesticides.
Edensoy, one of the original soy milks, is sold in those easily stored aseptic packages, which dont need to be refrigerated until opened. White Waves Silk, which is sold cold in the dairy sections of many supermarkets now, has a smooth taste and even mixes well in coffee. It also comes in vanilla, chocolate and eggnog flavors. Hain Celestials Westsoy offers fresh soy shakes and lattes as well as plain milks.
If youre looking for non-dairy alternatives to cheese, some of the faux cheeses can be downright inedible, while others are delicious. TofuRella cheddar flavor is harsh on the palate, though low in calories and fat compared its dairy counterpart. Lifetime Low Fat Jalapeno Jack Rice Cheese, made from rice milk, is quite tasty. It is low in fat and calories and tops pizza well (though dont expect it to melt quite as well as conventional cheese). The very edible and tasty-in-a-sandwich Good Slice Cheddar Style Cheese Alternative from Yves Veggie Cuisine is lower in fat and calories than most others. Galaxy Nutritional Foods offers a particularly wide range of alternative cheeses from mozzarella to cream cheese to feta crumbles. Dairy-free cheeses are not found as readily in mainstream supermarkets as the soy milks, but are available in most natural foods markets such as Wild Oats, Mrs. Greens, Whole Foods Market and others.
CONTACTS: Edensoy, (888) 441-3336, www.edenfoods.com; White Wave, (800) 431-9214, www.whitewave.com; Hain Celestial, (800) 434-4246, www.hain-celestial.com; Yves, (800) 667-9837, www.yvesveggie.com; Galaxy Nutritional Foods, (407) 855-5500, www.galaxyfoods.com.
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