Archive for July, 2012


Paintings from the 1990s

I have wanted to scan these water color paintings for quite some time before the color faded even more. I finally did it, though the colors faded. I’ve tried to touch up the color in a few paintings. These are are all water colors on 8.5″ x 11.7″ paper. You can click each image to see it bigger, and I would suggest doing that, too.


The Beginning of Time
The Beginning of Time. Circa 1997.

I painted this based on an experience I once had in 1989, where for a moment, the briefest moment I’ve experienced, I could see the beginning of time. I think this picture is of some time before inflation or before 10^-42 seconds. The following day I performed a similar meditation, but that time I experienced the breadth of the universe. I reached out my hand as far as I could into infinity and then I scratched the back of head, which scared the hell out of me and immediately woke me from my meditation.


Bison, My Bison

Slain Bison. Circa 1997-99.

This is my attempt at Paleolithic cave art. I had to photoshop in the arrow because it was barely visible. It had faded over time. Below is supposed to be a puddle of blood with a stream of it in the lower right of the puddle. And there is also an udder in the bison’s belly. The spear enters from the top of the bison which is parallel to the stiffened tail. The spear exits the bison in the belly at the black gash mark. The arrow is bloody red. This image is really sexual on a Jungian level.


The Mouth of Language
The Mouth of Language. Circa 1997.

The colors have faded here. The tongue should be redder. This painting could also be titled “Double Vagina Dentata.”


Rose 1


Rose 2

Rose 3
The Rose Triptych. Circa 1995.

This a series about the life and death of a rose or possible states of a rose. This was highly symbolic on a personal level and very Jungian, but not as Jungian as the vagina dentata or the slain bison. I think the triptych speaks for itself.



In Pursuit of the Juiciest Wine: Day 118 – Buehler Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

Buehler Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2009There’s nothing special about today except that it’s 95 degrees outside and 88 inside. Luckily, I have one room with air conditioning, which is where I’ll be doing this wine tasting. Double lucky, I just picked up a bottle of Buehler Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 from Mahan’s, which is also air conditioned, so this wine is at a good temperature and has been open for about one-and-half hours.

Well, it’s not very dark for a Cabernet Sauvignon. The meniscus looks like one of those purple-to-light-purple-wavy sunsets.

Purple sunset

Kinda like that, but less dramatic and with more dark red. Did I just confuse you? Sorry.

Anyway, the wine. It smells like a pie. A spicy, plum pie with blackberries. And maybe some vanilla ice cream on top. This nose is enjoyable also because it’s deep and dark and it makes me think I’m sitting at a stool at the counter of some tucked away diner. And at the end of the counter is vase filled with freshly picked flowers.

It luscious on the tongue. It’s like the after effects of thunderstorm and rain shower after days of a high heat. My body is at ease like the weather would be. It’s filled with relief from plums, slightly jammy plums. It’s eloquent. Not big or in your face. It’s a light dance in the mouth. Oh, all these metaphors and similes. This tasting sounds so insincere, but it’s a good wine for $17.

On the finish is a slight sourness.

All around, it’s an enjoyable wine.

I love this wine. I’m crazy for it. Objectively, it’s like a 90 point wine. But for me it’s like a 95-point wine.//


2012 NFL Predictions

Here are my prognostications for the 2012 NFL Season. My brain made these picks and my instincts feel good about them, too. . . . Well, most of them. (Teams in bold make the playoffs.)

AFC East

AFC East

  1. New England Patriots (13-3). They have an easy schedule, but they’ll start 2-2. If you play fantasy football, Tom Brady might be an option for the #1 overall pick. Did you see all the receivers they picked up? Brady will spread the ball around and have a great year. And no one running back stands out to carry the ball a lot. This will be a pass-happy team. Look for new passing records this year.
  2. Buffalo Bills (11-5). I want to say 12-4 because they have an easy schedule. They win at home against the Pats on 9-30-12. I know that’s a big swing in records from 6-10 t0 11-5, but they’ve done a lot to improve their team and, as mentioned, they have an easy schedule. I anticipate the Bills will run a lot, too. Bonus: I think the defense will be able to contain the Partiots’ tight ends.
  3. New York Jets (8-8). 3-5 for the first half of season, and 5-3 for second half. It’s too messy there for them to do well. The defense will be good and keep them in games, but the offense . . . sigh. Oh, the offense and its aging offensive line.
  4. Miami Dolphins (3-13). Maybe 4-12. Either way, one word describes the 2012 Dolphins, “Ug.” If you’re into fantasy football, there’s only one person to take from this team – Reggie Bush.

AFC North

AFC North

  1. Baltimore Ravens (12-4). They’ll get their revenge in week 3 against the Patriots, and they will be consistently solid throughout the year assuming Ray Rice signs. If not, then hmmm.
  2. Cincinnati Bengals (11-5). They have a real rough last five games: at San Diego, Dallas, at Philadelphia, at Pittsburgh, and Baltimore. They’ll have a good record until then. The last five games will be their test if they are a solid team. They should have confidence enough to get three wins in this stretch, but they may find only two. Until this stretch, they should be 8-3. A lot of people are high on the Bengals, and I’m on of them. I’d be higher if they had more talented receivers. Maybe next year they will.
  3. Pittsburgh Steelers (11-5). Before going through their schedule, I thought they wouldn’t be good because I think this team is smoke and mirrors, but I went through their schedule, and 11-5 it is. However, this is the year the power changes hands from Pittsburgh to Cincinnati. I actually don’t have much confidence in the Steelers this year. I’m not sure if the offense will be at all consistent. Lucky for them, their schedule isn’t too difficult.
  4. Cleveland Browns (2-14). They have a harsh opening schedule: Philadelphia, at Cincinnati, Buffalo, at Baltimore, at New York Giants, and Cincinnati. I don’t see a win in that span. They’ll start 0-6. The rest of the schedule is rough too. This season, however, will give them lots of experience. Trent Richardson should have a solid year.

AFC South

AFC South

  1. Houston Texans (9-7). This team is hard to judge, but they could start 5-0. With that in mind, the offensive line and defense took some big hits this off-season, so be wary of the Texans.
  2. Tennessee Titans (6-10). It will be hard to make a turn around from last year when their first four games are: New England, at San Diego, Detroit, and at Houston. Can they win one of those? Maaaaaybe. Overall, they could, if lucky, get 7 wins. I wonder how well Chris Johnson will respond, and who will be quarterback and how well they will perform.
  3. Indianapolis Colts (4-12). The first win comes week 6 against the New York Jets. I think they also split with Houston, who they play twice in the last three weeks of the season. The real question with the Colts is their defense. Did they improve it enough from last year or do we have to wait another year? Still, they just can’t be as awful as the Jaguars will be.
  4. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-13). They will start better than they will end since they will be facing the Vikings with an Adrian Peterson who might not be fully recovered and who might not receive a full work load so early. And they face the Colts at a time when Luck will still be green. So they can start 2-1, but then they fall. I’m also calling for upset win against the Patriots in week 16. (And now I sound like a Patriots hater, but my prognostications for their season says otherwise.) You know, the defense might be able to keep them in some games, and now they have receivers to push for last second wins.

AFC West

AFC West

  1. Denver Broncos (12-4). They open with a difficult schedule and it will take awhile for Peyton Manning and receivers to gel. But, man, they have a solid run game and defense that can compensate for the Manning adjustment period (though the run defense won’t be as strong last year), and I love their offensive line. Is 12-4 too generous. Is 10-6 more realistic? The last half of their schedule is pretty easy. They should easily get six wins then. Also, how many talented receivers do they have? Two? Can Manning’s abilities create the third and fourth talented receivers?
  2. San Diego Chargers (11-5). Finally, Philip Rivers will have some receivers to throw to as they picked up Robert Meachem from New Orleans, and two slot receivers in Eddie Royal, and Roscoe Parrish. However, they did lose Vincent Jackson. I think I’d rather have the three pick ups than Vincent Jackson. As a result, I do not see the Chargers losing more than 7 games. Nine games should be easy wins. Will the Broncos beat them twice or will they split? (I don’t have them in the playoffs, but they could be in. Who knows who will get in on a four-way tie in records.)
  3. Oakland Raiders (5-11). I don’t know how the Raiders finished 8-8 last year, but it won’t happen again.
  4. Kansas City Chiefs (2-14). I have no faith in the Chiefs. Matt Cassel is an iffy quarterback. Dwayne Bowe is a very good receiver, but only a decent to good receiver with Cassel. The run game looks confused and there will be some controversy. Hillis is also iffy. Still, they did improve their offensive line quite well and they did have a good offseason, and some people have the Chiefs doing very well, but I don’t see it. Still, my 2-14 record seems way low, and it very well may be. This is the one pick that seems off to me. But when I look at the schedule, I see them opening 0-5 as they play Atlanta, Buffalo, at New Orleans, San Diego, Baltimore, and then they meet Tampa Bay in Tampa, at which point they will be looking forward to next week’s bye. As a result, they start 0-6 and their confidence is shot. But they will beat Oakland after the bye week at home.

NFC East

NFC East

  1. Philadelphia Eagles (12-4). An improved defense makes them win this division and maybe the conference. I really like the Eagles this year. I like Vick. I think he’s matured. I might even draft him for fantasy football. I usually avoid him because he’s so erratic, but this year he’ll be solid, unless he gets injured. Jeremy Maclin’s could have an unexpectedly good year, as well. And LeSean McCoy comes through again. But man, they have a killer schedule, which is why they may only have 11 wins. They’ll always be challenged. A Super Bowl appearance is definitely possible.
  2. Dallas Cowboys (10-6). There are Cowboy haters, and I’m usually one of them but not this year. They will finish the season strong, but miss the playoffs. Ha. This year I’m not a Cowboy hater – I’m Cowboy sadist.
  3. New York Giants (8-8). Last year they finished 9-7, but they won’t do it again, especially when you consider the vibe of the Super Bowl hangover year. Additionally,  they have a tough schedule, especially at the end of the year. Is 8-8 to harsh? Maybe.
  4. Washington Redskins (4-12). I think they can get some surprise wins, but like everyone in the NFC East, they have a rough schedule. Any team from this division will be exhausted entering the playoffs, or they will be stronger because of it. I call their first win in week 5 against Atlanta, which will be followed by a win in Minnesota.

NFC North

NFC North

  1. Green Bay Packers (13-3). They didn’t improve the defense much nor the run game. They drafted six defensive players, but how long will it take for them to be truly effective. So it’s gonna be all Aaron Rodgers, which might be enough. Even though their opening game is at home, I think they lose it to the 49ers.
  2. Detroit Lions (11-5). I love the Lions this year. They’ll be the Bengals of the NFC but better, especially if they can sustain a healthy run game. However, Calvin Johnson is on the cover of Madden 13, so hopefully there’s no jinx. Despite the jinx, wide receiver Titus Young will have a surprising season. Despite my love for the Lions, there is the distinct possibility of disappointment this year. They very well could end up 8-8 or 9-7, but then be even better in 2013. Their big weakness is in the secondary. There’s the potential for them to get into a lot high-scoring, high-passing-yard shootout games.
  3. Chicago Bears (9-7). They picked up Brandon Marshall, but they still don’t have enough in the passing game to get it done, and Forte can only do so much. I don’t like the Bears this year despite the winning record. 8-8 seems more reasonable. Yet, I sense or want them to do much better. Brain says no. Instincts say yes. Most people say yes, but, hm.
  4. Minnesota Vikings (4-12) I don’t know what to think of the Vikings this year, but .500 will be hard to achieve, but they can start 2-0. A final 5-11 record isn’t an unreasonable expectation, though. This is Ponder’s year to get it going, but does he have the receivers? All the receivers have potential, but will the step up. Maybe the improved offensive line will help everybody.

NFC South

NFC South

  1. Atlanta Falcons (11-5). This is their year for them to get it done. The Saints won’t be as strong without Sean Peyton leading the team. Plus, a 6-0 beginning is not out of the question. Ideally, they could finish 12-4, and 11-5 is a definite possibility. Another definite possibility, Julio Jones having an explosive season.
  2. Carolina Panthers (10-6). I really like the Panthers this year, especially if the running backs don’t get upset with Cam Newton stealing carries. However, I think we will see less Newton carries this year, especially at the goal line since the Panthers acquired   Mike Tolbert. If you’re a fantasy player, Newton will make up for the loss of rushing touchdowns by throwing more. Draft him early. Back to the Panthers. Is 10-6 too generous? I don’t know. According to how I picked winners and losers for game in 2012, Carolina makes the playoffs instead of Dallas because the Panthers will get a home win after a bye week against the Cowboys in week 7.
  3. New Orleans Saints (9-7). The Saints defense will be much less aggressive this year and Roman Harper won’t be used as much for blitzing the quarterback. The offense will score but the defense will let up scores.
  4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-12). I don’t see much good happening here, except for rookie running back Doug Martin. Watch him do well this year. With all that said, I may be underestimating the addition of receiver Vincent Jackson and tight end Dallas Clark. With Jackson on one side, Mike Williams on the other, and Clark at end, maybe quarterback Josh Freeman will ascend to his potential as a good quarterback. Heck, maybe Luke Stocker will outshine Clark at tight end. All of the sudden I like the Bucs a lot more, and then I look at the defense and consider their division. Hmmm.

NFC West

NFC West

  1. San Francisco 49ers (14-2). The 49ers will be the Patriots of the NFC. Watch Alex Smith have a great year. No 49ers receiver will be a stand out, but Smith will rock. The run game will be strong, too, but the rushing will be spread around since they have so much talent in the running backs. Will that cause a concern? They have an easy schedule and the talent to beat any team they face this year. If they can start 2-0, 16-0 seems a possibility to me, but 13-3 is more possible. If you’re into fantasy football, you probably don’t want to consider any 49ers offensive players except Alex Smith and Vernon Davis, at least in the fist half of the draft, and for defense take Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman as early as you can.
  2. Seattle Seahawks (6-10). Their defense will keep them from really sucking. I can also see 8-8. It all depends on Matt Flynn and Marshawn Lynch. Is Flynn real or hype? and if he’s real, does he have the receivers to succeed. Or is he a placeholder for rookie quarterback Russell Wilson? Or are they a running team? If so, is Lynch able to repeat?
  3. Arizona Cardinals (5-11). Decent defense, but the outside linebackers may prove to be a weakness. Plus, will there be a quarterback controversy? And the offensive line directed by offensive line coach Russ Grimm needs to improve a lot. I wonder if Ryan Williams will become the featured running back.
  4. St. Louis Rams (3-13). I so want the Rams to do well. I hope they do. 3-13 seems harsh. 5-11 is definitely possible, but not many more wins than that. Next year, however, watch out for them in 2013 and onward.

As I rank these teams, I see the NFC being more competitive and harder to predict. In the NFC East, I see the Eagles doing very well and maybe making the Super Bowl, but the division is tough and they might get beat up along the way. The same can be said of the NFC North – it’s a tough division where they might end up beating each other up over the course of the year. The NFC South is tight and the NFC West is not strong. The 49ers easily win the West, but watch out for the Seahawks. Their defense is pretty good, so if their offense comes together, then they could be a playoff team. The AFC is pretty weak this year.

I went through the whole schedule for each team. If you count the wins and losses above, there are 256 of each.

NFL Playoffs

AFC Wildcard Playoffs

#3 Baltimore Ravens defeat #6 Buffalo Bills

#5 Cincinnati Bengals defeat #4 Houston Texans

NFC Wildcard Playoffs

#3 Philadelphia Eagles defeat #6 Carolina Panthers

#5 Detroit Lions defeat #4 Atlanta Falcons

AFC Divisional Playoffs

#2 Denver Broncos defeat #3 Baltimore Ravens

#1 New England Patriots defeat #5 Cincinnati Bengals

NFC Divisional Playoffs

#3 Philadelphia Eagles defeat #2 Green Bay Packers

#1 San Francisco 49ers defeat #5 Detroit Lions

AFC Conference Championship

#1 New England Patriots defeat #4 Denver Broncos (Man, you know the NFL will somehow make this game happen.)

NFC Conference Championship

#1 San Francisco defeats #3 Philadelphia Eagles

Super Bowl XLVII

San Francisco 49ers defeat New England Patriots

I don’t know if I like this Super Bowl pick. The Eagles could definitely make it with their improved defense. The Packers I don’t think can do it this year. Their defensive improvements are six draft picks, so they are too inexperienced to have a sustained effect. Next year, they can get there. The Giants won’t repeat, the Cowboys will find a way to lose somewhere, the Falcons aren’t ready, the Saints will suffer this year for obvious reasons, which leads me to the 49ers with a terrific defense, a solid offensive line, a strong running game, a better-than-you-expect quarterback with lots of good but not great receivers and Vernon Davis who will step it up this year . . . a lot. So I’m left with the 49ers.

In the weak AFC, who can challenge the Patriots? The Broncos might. Their offensive line is very good, their defense is terrific (except maybe the run game), they have a good offensive run game, and they made it deep into the playoffs last year with an inadequate quarterback. Still I don’t quite see it this year. I mean, how long will it take Peyton Manning and his receivers to come together. Will Demaryius Thomas remember how to run a route? The Ravens look to improve, and maybe they can. They are a serious contender and Flacco is vastly underrated. His arm is so strong, which is important. He can throw well at all distances. And the run game is good, though predictable. Who else is there? Not Houston. They aren’t going to be the same team as last year. The only reason they’ll win the AFC South is because the division is so damned lame this year. The Bengals could make a poke at it, but I don’t think the team is well-rounded enough to sustain a sustained playoff run. So I’m left with the Patriots.//


In Pursuit of the Juiciest Wine: Day 117 – Veramonte Ritual Pinot Noir 2010

Veramonte Ritual Pinot Noir 2010It’s only 17 days until I move, and this is day 117 of the Juiciest Wine Tour. So happy synchronicity + 100 to me, which I’ll celebrate with Veramonte Ritual Pinot Noir 2010 Casablanca Valley from Chile.

I’ve had at least one other Chilean Pinot Noir. It was also a Veramonte, and I had it two years and one month ago. You can read about it and the Casablanca Valley here: In Pursuit of the Juiciest Wine: Day Twenty.

The wine bottle is wide with thick glass and the punt is also wide and fairly deep. (Punt is the dimple in the bottom of a wine bottle. It is also referred to as a “kick-up.”) It’s almost like a champagne bottle. But enough of that. To the wine.

I poured a glass two hours ago, so it should be ready by now.

The color is like a red cranberry color. It’s kinda bright for a wine. And it’s 60% opaque.

It’s quite leggy, too. The legs form quick, fall quick, but linger a long, long time. And the wine swirls for a long time. You know, like if you swirl a glass of wine and then stop, the swirl continues for a few seconds, but this one is lasting for like ten seconds and then it oscillates like a wave for a few seconds more . . . and then the legs.

This is wine is so interesting even before I smell it.

I know all wines are alive, well, most, bust this one seems like it has physical presence or a conscious presence. It’s like it has things it wants to do and places to go and things to say. It’s corporeal with meditative thoughts. I hope it’s imaginative, too.

The nose has dark cherries and dark plums. I inhale and see plum pulp. There’s a bit of toast, too. (Maybe that’s why the champagne bottle. Ha. Get it? Too big of a leap?)

The taste matches the nose and with a little chalky finish on the tongue. The finish is also spicy, especially if you inhale through the nose while the wine is still in the mouth.

The taste has raspberries and an underlying juicy plum.

I really like the body. It’s a medium-light body. I just like how it feels in  my mouth. All of the sudden I think it feels like the Saturnalian vortex, Saturnarian vortex, hm, the vortex on Saturn.

Saturn Vortex

Maybe that’s why this wine swirls so long in the glass. Hmmmmmmmmmm.

The finish also has a dry juiciness. A dry raspberry and slight plumy juicy finish at that.

I paid $14 at Mahan’s for this. That seems a fair price to me.

It’s a solid wine. I give it 88 or 89 points. I give it 88 as a Pinot Noir, but 89 and maybe 90 as an outright wine.//


On Michael McGriff’s Home Burial

A version (and a better edited version) of this review may appear in Redactions: Poetry, Poetics, & Prose issue 16, due out in early 2013.

Michael McGriff Home BurialWhen I read the epigraph to Michael McGriff’s Home Burial (Copper Canyon Press, 2012), “. . .  here comes midnight with the dead moon in its jaw . . . – Jason Molina,” I knew I was about to enter something I would enjoy. After the first four poems, my neck hurt because I had been jabbed so many times by the rich images. Each time I read an image, my head snapped back in awe and a quiet “wow” escaped my lips. After reading the fourth poem “Catfish,” I had to stop and reflect. This isn’t a book that you can read from beginning to end and then reread. No, this book is a book you have to read a little, stop, recover and reflect, and then go back in for some more rope-a-dope poems.

For instance, in the second stanza of “Catfish,” the speaker describes the river in his youth and at all times:

     The dare growing up:
     to swim down with pliers
     for the license plates,
     corpse bones, a little chrome . . .
     But even on the clearest days,
     even when the river runs low and clean,
     you can’t see it,
     though you can often nearly see
     the movement of hair.

After I read that, I felt like I was in the corner of an imagistic boxing ring and was about to receive a bunch of body-blow images. And then near the poem’s end came the blow that set up the knock-out punch. At this point in the poem, the speaker describes how the car may have ended up at the bottom of the river after an accident. In the description, the speaker compares the driver’s pocket watch to “the obvious moon / that bobs near the lip of the eddy.” Then the speaker describes the magic of the pocket watch:

     Wind the hands in one direction
     and see into the exact moment of your death.

     Wind them the other way
     and see all the tiny ways
     you’ve already died –

Oh, that was a body blow that lifted me off the canvas, and I was going to go down into two more short stanzas. After that, the bell rang because I put the book down to recover and reflect. When I picked it up again, I was sitting on a stool with the tone of the poems massaging my arms like a cutman limbering me up for the next round of poems. When I returned, I was again overwhelmed with more neck-snapping images. Soon I was again sitting in the corner, and the cutman was cutting open my eyes that were swollen with images of living and dying:

     It’s finally late enough
     that all sounds
     are the sounds of water

     If you die tonight
     I’ll wash your feet

     I’ll remove the batteries
     from the clocks

     And the two moths
     that drown in the lakes
     of your eyes
     will manage the rest.

                         (“Invocation,” ll 64-74)

I’m sure I’ve carried this boxing metaphor too far. It might, in fact, make this collection of poems seem violent or aggressive, when it’s not. It’s quite the opposite. Think of the caring, slow, and perceptive tones of Merwin, and you’ll be part way there. For how the book moves, think of the concluding stanza from “The Residence of the Night”:

     The tractor, of course,
     is filled with it.
     It won’t start
     until you summon
     the lampblack
     in the river of your blood,
     where the sturgeon
     are decimal points
     moving upstream
     zero by zero.

Think of the translations of some dead Spanish-writing poet who wasn’t afraid to use “soul” or “love” and you’ll get closer. (These poems often do feel like they are brilliant translations of non-English poems. Other than the language, they don’t feel American to me.) Think of someone who has died and been reborn writing poems about living and dying, and you’ll be almost all the way there. Think of McGriff as being:

     reborn as a bird
     who claws its way
     from the throat
     of a man

                         (“Against My Will,” l 2-5)

You’ll be so close. Think of reading Michael McGriff’s Home Burial to fill all the empty spaces of doubt and fear of death in you, and then you’ll be all the way there . . . and whole.




I just read McGriff’s bio in the back of the book. “His books include Dismantling the Hills; To Build My Shadow a Fire: The Poetry and Translations of David Wevill; and co-translation of Tomas Tranströmer’s The Sorrow Gondola. [. . .] He is the founding editor of Tavern Books, a publishing house devoted to poetry in translation and the reviving of out-of-print books.” No wonder his poems feel translated and feel to transcend language into something more, something cross-cultural, something human.





I just remembered recently reading McGriff’s co-translation of Tomas Tranströmer’s The Sorrow Gondola. I didn’t realize they were the same person until I looked up the book, which was good, too. So now you have two books to read. //

The Cave (Winner of The Bitter Oleander Press Library of Poetry Book Award for 2013.)

The Cave

Material Matters

Poems for an Empty Church

Poems for an Empty Church

The Oldest Stone in the World

The Oldest Stone in the Wolrd

Henri, Sophie, & The Hieratic Head of Ezra Pound: Poems Blasted from the Vortex

Henri, Sophie, & The Hieratic Head of Ezra Pound: Poems Blasted from the Vortex

Pre-Dew Poems

Pre-Dew Poems

Negative Time

Negative Time

After Malagueña

After Malagueña

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July 2012


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