Tag Archives: survival

The One That Fell Off the Boat

I’ve shared with you all that my family has traced their roots back to the voyage of the Mayflower. My 17th Great Grandfather, John Howland, crossed the Atlantic as an indentured servant, and my 17th Great Grandmother, Elizabeth Tilley, was only 13 when she lost both her parents that first harsh winter in the New World.

I take pride in knowing my family is full of survivors.

I also know we’re a clumsy bunch of buggers.

Those of you that’ve stuck with me for awhile know that I tend to get lost in the woods, a little overexcited when I go to the circus, and I recommend packing extra underwear on vacation. 😉

Well, it would seem the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree in my case.

I am related to John Howland, who crossed the ocean in 1621. And that same individual is the pilgrim whose biggest notoriety is the fact: he fell off the boat.

Mayflower

Yes, it’s true. William Bradford wrote about it in his diary.

That gossip!

As the story goes, John became seasick below deck and ventured upstairs for some fresh air. Once on deck, the winds from the ocean storm were so strong, he fell overboard. As he was falling, he managed to grab hold of a rope that was trailing in the water. Because he hung on, the men on ship were able to hoist him back on board.

Pretty crazy to think I was one stomach ache away from not being here!

Thankfully, John did survive. He went on to become a well respected member of the community, and I can see his signature on the Mayflower compact today.

Plymouth CollageThat’s me visiting the replica of the Howland house at Plimoth Plantation.

I feel a kinship to John. I think both of us make pathetic look pretty dang awesome. Even if we are a scrappy lot!

5 Things I’m Thankful For:

  1. Even when I find myself in less than desirable situations, they always make for a good story
  2. Getting to travel to Plymouth, Massachusetts and walk aboard the Mayflower II
  3. A good sense of humor
  4. A never give up attitude
  5. Mederma – that stuff you put on to minimize scarring 😀

What embarrassing moments have you overcome that made you stronger?

Or at least made a good story?

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Starting With Some Gratitude

The house seems extra quiet this week since Joe took down all the Halloween decorations already. No ghosts or ghoulies to keep me company anymore. We’re still on our scary movie kick though. We spent Halloween watching The Lost Boys and The Exorcist! Classics. We still have a few in our pile to watch yet (Psycho (the remake), The Ring, Village of the Damned, The Prophecy…)

Even though Halloween is over, it’s the beginning of another favorite holiday for me. Thanksgiving.

This holiday is always special to me and my family because we’ve tracked our ancestry back to two of the pilgrims that crossed over on the Mayflower. John Howland and Elizabeth Tilley. John Howland came from England as an indentured servant to John Carver, one of the Leiden Separatists (AKA: pilgrim). John Carver was Plymouth colony’s first Governor and the first person to sign the Mayflower Compact, which he wrote.

Me, standing in front of the Mayflower II - an exact replica of the original 1600's ship

Me, standing in front of the Mayflower II – an exact replica of the original 1600’s ship

But John Carver and his family did not survive the first winter in the new world. In fact, most of the original passengers on the Mayflower did not survive that first winter. My 17th Great Grandfather, John Howland, who was in his 20’s at the time, now found himself a land owner and became a prominent member of the community. He would later become quite a reputable fur trader, working with Native Americans along the coast of Maine, and ending his days as a farmer in Massachusetts.

Elizabeth was only a teenager when she made the voyage across the Atlantic with her parents. Her parents did not survive the first winter either.

Eventually, John and Elizabeth married in the new world, and over their life together, gave birth to 10 children! What is so remarkable about their story is that they all survived! The Howland line is the most common bloodline for pilgrim descendants to belong to because it was so rare that these people lived as long as they did. Elizabeth was in her 90’s when she passed!

Me standing in front of the Jabez Howland house in Plymouth, MA - one of only two houses still standing where a pilgrim (John and Elizabeth) actually lived.

Me standing in front of the Jabez Howland house in Plymouth, MA – one of only two houses still standing where a pilgrim (John and Elizabeth) actually lived.

I am fortunate in many ways. I’m fortunate that I know where my people come from. I know their story, or at least as much as I can know. And I know we are survivors. I’m also fortunate to have visited the land and place where they walked. The first time in 2010 with Joe, who was patient and understanding with me while I took photos of everything and felt like I was walking in a really good dream. The second time, just this year, when I took my parents to tour Plymouth and watched my mom have the same journey I did three years ago.

Mom and Pop outside Plimoth Plantation

Mom and Pop outside Plimoth Plantation

So Thanksgiving is a meaningful holiday for me. It’s a reminder of who we are and what we’ve been through. What we can endure, with hard work and family, in order to achieve our dreams. It’s a reminder to change for the better by learning from others and seeking understanding more than being right.

This month, I’d like to focus on thanksgiving. I’ve kept a journal since I was 13, but within the last year or so, I’ve turned it more into a gratitude journal. At the end of each entry, I write five specific things I’m grateful for.

Here is today’s list:

  1. The opportunity to travel to Plymouth this year with my parents.
  2. The chance to tour my ancestors’ home and see artifacts used by them.
  3. The sound of my mother’s voice, telling John and Elizabeth’s story at the dinner table on Thanksgiving day.
  4. My mom’s dairy potatoes.
  5. Knowing my family is full of survivors. If they can cross an ocean with only the stars to guide their way, then I can publish my damn book!

What are you thankful for today? What does Thanksgiving in your house look like?

Surviving the Apocalypse…With Infomercials

The Apocalypse Has Arrived…

in Piper Bayard’s new book!

Firelands

Eighty years in the future, America has devolved into a totalitarian theocracy. The ruling Josephites clone the only seeds that grow in the post-apocalyptic climate, allowing their Prophet to control who eats, who starves, and who burns in the ritual fires that atone for society.

Subsisting on the fringes, Archer risks violation and death each day as she scours the forest for game to feed her people. When a Josephite refugee seeks sanctuary in her home, Archer is driven to chance a desperate gamble—a gamble that will bring down the Prophet and deliver seeds and freedom, or end in a fiery death for herself and for everyone she loves.

Seeds are life . . . Seeds are power . . . Seeds are the only hope of a despairing people. What will Archer do for the seeds of freedom, and what will she justify in their name?

*****

If you don’t follow Piper’s blog, you’re missing out! She, and her partner in espionage, Holmes, take on current events, the lives of spies, and a fantastic series called “The End of the World is Near…(And We Deserve it Too)” – which features all those crazy YouTube videos we see that make us scratch us our heads.

In honor of her new book, Piper’s hosting an Apocalypse Challenge for readers and bloggers! YOU CAN STILL ENTER! Click the link to see her great Apocalypse Prize Package (it includes BACON!)! Winners will be announced on July 19th!

I thought I’d take a cue from my friend Piper and dream up how I’d survive the apocalypse…

ON NOTHING BUT INFOMERCIAL GOODS!!!

Muahahahahaha

How to Survive the Apocalypse With Infomercial Goods:

1. First things first. Food preservation.

In Firelands, it’s all about being able to eat. So I hope I face the Apocalypse with Gyro Bowl!

Whew! Now I don’t have to worry about spilling any of my snacks, and I can keep my food fresh! When I’m done eating, I can store things in my Gyro Bowl too…like bullets!

2. Cardio.

Haven’t you seen Zombieland? It’s always about the cardio! You’re going to need a Shake Weight. Get that heart rate pumping some red gold!

Just shake it!

3. Find a friend!

There’s safety in numbers. And who wants to travel alone anyway? I hope I get to hike through an apocalyptic no man’s land with Perfect Polly.

There are so many advantages to Perfect Polly, I don’t know where to begin!

4. Get some zzz’s.

You may need to sleep where you can find it. That could mean camping. *shudder* Wherever I have to lay down, I’m bringing my Chillow!

It’s going to be so nice to have when the Godfire reigns down.

5. Be prepared.

When facing the apocalypse, you have to be ready for anything. I can’t think of a better multi-purpose tool than a Sham Wow Towel.

My boyfriend thought these were so cool, he gave them to me as an anniversary gift. #TrueStory

Then I made him buy me a new anniversary gift.  😀

That’s how I’d take on the apocalypse!

What would you want to pack with you?

And be sure to get a copy of Piper’s new book, Firelands!

Holiday Yum: Pumpkin-Curry Chicken and Blue Cheese Bread

Hey Everyone!

I know, I know, I’ve been completely MIA in the blogosphere this season!

Forgive me.  I work in retail.  You won’t see me in full swing until January.

However, doesn’t mean I can’t play along with…

art by Ellen M. Gregg

See the Full Holiday Yum Schedule – Tasty Treats You Won’t Want to Miss!

 

  • On November 17th, Jenny Hansen kicked off the hop with her Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Meal.  There are lots of great tips for folks who need to eat GF, including some sneaky foods to watch out for!
  • On November 19th, I shared the salty-sweet, super-easy Spiced Pecans appetizer.
  • Ellen M. Gregg has us all drooling with The Chocolatiest Chocolate Cake – Evah on Monday, November 26th.
  • Jenny Hansen introduces us to her luscious Almond Roca, famed of song and story, on Wednesday, November 28th.
  • Estee Lavitt shares her mouth-watering Baked Latkes on December 2nd, just in time for Chanukah!
  • Natalie Hartford starts us off on a cookie binge with her fabulous French Lace Cookies on December 5th.  Mais Oui.
  • I’ll be back on Dec 10th with a Christmas cookie staple that’s yummy and versatile – butter spritz cookies.
  • And if those last two posts aren’t enough “cookie” for you, Ellen M. Gregg will also be making her Old-Fashioned Buttermilk Sugar Cookies, along with Bulldog Punch, on December 14th.
  • Natalie Hartford continues the yummy sweets with her favorite cheesecake recipe on December 17th.
  • Jenny Hansen teaches us not to fear candy-making with her super-easy, super-yummy Holly Candy recipe on December 19th.
  • Jess Witkins is still plotting and planning, so we will either be treated to a comfort food or appetizer recipe on December 23rd.
  • On December 26th, I’ll be posting about my super-easy beef rib-eye roast with currant jelly brown gravy that I make every year for Christmas dinner.  Hope my holiday guests don’t mind me taking more pics of the food than of them, LOL.
  • And, finally, to help us ring in the New Year, Natalie Hartford will share some festive and delicious Mocktail recipes on December 28th!

On With the Food!!!

Today, I’m sharing a comfort food dish that I tried this year and loved!  And working in retail, I’m all about the little comforts when I get home!

Here’s what my roommates said about the meal:

If you wanted to make this again, that’d be alright.

and

This is f#$@ing good!

But don’t take their word for it!  Try it yourself!

Pumpkin Curry Chicken

Found in Simple and Delicious Magazine, Contributed by Aysha Schurman from Ammon, Idaho

2 cups uncooked jasmine rice

1 1/2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

4 tsp. curry powder, divided

1/4 tsp. pepper

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 garlic clove, minced

1 cup canned pumpkin

1/2 cup chicken broth

1/2 cup raisins

1/4 cup apple butter

1/2 tsp. Chinese five-spice powder

1/3 cup chopped cashews, toasted

Minced fresh parsley

Cook rice according to package directions.  Meanwhile, sprinkle chicken with 1 tsp. curry powder and pepper.  Heat oil in a large skillet; saute chicken for 5-6 minutes or until no longer   pink.  Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer.

Curry Chicken

Stir in pumpkin, broth, raisins, apple butter, five-spice powder and remaining curry powder.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 5-7 minutes or until heated through.

Stir cashews into rice and serve with chicken mixture.  Sprinkle with parsley.

Pumpkin Curry Chicken

Blue Cheese Herb Bread

Found in Simple and Delicious Magazine, Contributed by Janet Allen from Sarasota, Florida

1 tube (12 oz.) refrigerated flaky buttermilk biscuits

2 Tbsp. butter, melted

2 Tbsp. crumbled blue cheese

1 Tbsp. dried minced onion

2 tsp. dried minced parsley flakes

1 garlic clove, minced

1 tsp. dried tarragon

1 tsp. minced chives

1/2 tsp. celery seed

1/2 tsp. dried oregano

Separate biscuits; cut each into quarters.  Arrange into an 11 inch long loaf on a greased baking sheet.  In a small bowl, combine the remaining ingredients; brush over loaf.

Bake at 375° for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown.

Blue Cheese Herb Bread

Voila!  Gourmet comfort food without all the fuss!

Pumpkin Curry Chicken and Blue Cheese Bread

Cheers to you and yours this holiday season!  May each of you celebrate with all those you love, and take a little comfort in some homemade treats!

Holiday Sanity Survival Kits for Writers

Hello, hello!  The holiday season approaches and it’s another blog hop edition of the Life List Club!  For those of you already stressing as to how to get everything done, you know the shopping, the cleaning, the cooking, the writing, the errands, the social gatherings, the donation requests, the pounding of your head on your desktop, rest at ease!  Pam Hawley from Hawleyville is here to guide us through!  So grab some hot cocoa, marshmallows are on the table, and settle in.

Holiday Sanity Survival Kits for Writers

A few weekends ago, Lee and I gave our ferret Vinnie a bath. Every once in a while, he gets a little itchy and … well, smelly. As you can see by the expression on his face, he’s not exactly fond of bath time. I’m pretty sure he thinks we’ve devised some new form of weasel torture. Vin isn’t the first ferret to share my home, and this has been a trait all of them have shared. Wet weasels just aren’t happy.

Weasel Washing

The thing is, they always feel so much better after bath time. They may not care about being soft, fluffy and good-smelling, but they’re definitely happy not to be itchy anymore. Like it or not, a bath now in then is a good thing.

As we kick off another holiday season, I’m feeling a bit like Vinnie during bath time.  I’m a WWDJ (Writer with a Day Job), so the season of adding even more to the to-do list always puts me in a panic. I’m an introvert who needs quiet time to reflect, recharge and write. The thought of adding shopping, decorating, family gatherings and the inevitable round of parties to my already crazy schedule has me feeling like a weasel in a bath – all washed up.

But just like a little ferret shampoo and water is a good thing for Vin, the holiday season that puts me in such a tizzy is also good for me. Time celebrating and being thankful with family and friends is a precious gift, and something worth making room for in our lives.
So, what does an introverted writer who is already pulled in too many directions do when life is about to get even busier? If you’re anything like me, you’re putting together your survival kit. During the Season of Social Fun, it is more important than ever to have those things that help you relax and recharge close at hand. Making a little time each day to spend with my handy-dandy survival kit revitalizes both me and my writing. My kit includes:

My Kindle

My reward at the end of a busy day is to curl up on my couch with my trusty friend, even if it is only for a little while. What I love best about my Kindle is that I can stock it up with plenty of reading choices without having to lug around a small library. I’ve got short stories, favorites to re-read, new authors to try, and plenty of writing advice at my fingertips. Inspiration, lessons and pure guilty pleasure are all there for the taking.

My Camera

As much fun as the holidays will be, they will hijack some of my creative mojo. For an introvert, being zapped during incredibly social times is just a fact of life. So when I sit down to write and the words won’t come, I grab my camera and head off for a photography session. My subjects are simple – my ferret, my cat, or even the mailbox in my front yard. Sometimes the pictures are awful, and sometimes they come out great. Either way, I’m clearing my head and forcing myself to look at something ordinary in a new light. That simple act reconnects me to my creative spirit.

A Notebook

For those busy days when there just isn’t time to sit and type, I keep a pen and notebook handy. I’m not going to write my novel that way, but I can jot down snippets and random ideas or observations that I may use down the road. Again, it is about not leaving my creativity behind even when running at top speed.

My Pets

     There is nothing more calming and soothing than to sit and pet my cat Sly while he head-butts my Kindle or purrs in my lap. There is nothing more energizing than watching Vin bounce around my bedroom making happy “clucking” noises and doing the “weasel war dance.” Sly’s lazy yawns and stretches are a constant reminder that the world won’t stop turning if I take a few minutes to yawn and stretch myself. Vin’s playful hops are a reminder that life should be lived with joy in every step.

During the holidays, it is even more important to recharge ourselves if we want to stay on track with our goals. These are my tools for dealing with life at top speed. Do you know what belongs in your survival kit? If not, figure it out before you think about buying gifts, cooking turkeys or digging out the decorations.. Your kit might look very different from mine. Maybe it is a favorite video game and your comfiest chair or a stack of funny movies, a bottle of wine and scented candles. It doesn’t matter WHAT you have in your kit, as long as it makes you breathe a huge sigh of relief at the end of a busy day.

What gets you through the busier times in your life? What helps you relax and recharge so that you can enjoy all the fun of the holiday season while still making progress in your goals?

In addition to short fiction, Pam Hawley writes humor pieces and is working on her first novel, which blends the creepy and the funny by bringing a brutally murdered “player” back to life as a naked ghost. Her short story “A Wingding and A Prayer” appeared in the July issue of eFiction  Magazine (available at http://www.efictionmag.com). Her short horror fiction, “Peanut Butter and Jelly,” will appear in The Spirit of Poe Anthology available at http://literarylandmarkpress.blogspot.com. When not working, writing or in the gym, Pam can most likely be found curled up on her couch reading, hanging out at her family pub Hawley’s in Baltimore, or cheering the Pittsburgh Steelers. She blogs regularly at http://hawleyville.wordpress.com.

The Walking Dead: Best Commercial Free Zombie TV

Sunday night was the series premiere of Season 2 The Walking Dead.  A small group of campy citizens has survived Season 1, and is fleeing the area under attack from the zombie apocalypse.  With Emmy Award winning prosthetic make-up, Walking Dead made no disappointments in its premiere.  *spoiler alert*

The episode opened with the group on the move.  Almost instantly there is conflict.  The roadway is bogged down with abandoned vehicles and dead bodies inside.  With the quick decision to scavenge for supplies, everybody files out of their cars and begins searching the road on foot.  Enter zombie mob.

Interestingly enough, the show never refers to the undead as ‘zombies,’ but rather “walkers.”  Minutes onscreen can equate to hours of make-up application for the actors playing the walkers.  Our travelers know a few rules that apply to the undead:

  • No loud noises.  Conserve your bullets, they can attract more walkers.
  • The smellier the better.  Masking your ‘live’ odor with eau de zombie helps protect you should a mass of undead come stumbling after you.
  • Don’t get bitten.

I'm ready for my close up, Mr. DeMille.

The heroic leader of the ragtag gang is Rick Grimes (played by Andrew Lincoln), a Sheriff in normal world, who woke up in the hospital in Season 1 and fought his way to his family and the few other survivors.  One intriguing dynamic is Rick’s relationship with Shane (played by Jon Bernthal), his old partner and another natural leader in the group.  What Rick doesn’t know is that Shane had an affair with Rick’s wife while they thought he was dead (back in Season 1 – Who knew a zombie show could be so melodramatic?!)

So, we have an army of zombies headed straight for our survivor renegades, and their response to such oncoming doom…hide underneath the cars.  Minutes slowly tic by without commercial interception as you see foot after bony, rotting flesh foot pass them.  In fact, I think you can smell their flesh while you’re waiting.

Once they think the coast is clear, they start to crawl out from under the vehicles, but a child is noticed by the walkers and flees into the woods to escape.  Rick runs after and diverts their attention from the child, saving her, and yet losing her at the same time.  So that creates problem number one.

Problem number two is that the group is starting to lose morale.  Especially Andrea (played by Laurie Holden).  She was caught up in the zombie apocalypse while on a road trip with her younger sister Amy, who didn’t survive season 1.  Andrea already tried to kill herself once, but was saved by Dale (played by Jeffrey Demunn), however she as of yet feels no gratitude for that kindness.

And problem number three is that Shane isn’t handling Rick’s reunion with his wife very well.  His plan is now to slip quietly away from the group and face the odds on his own.  Can he abandon his longtime friend, Rick, and leave things unspoken with Lori, Rick’s wife?

I won’t give away the final cliffhanger of the season premiere, but trust me, it was a “C’mon!  You’re seriously ending it here!” kind of moment.  We do know from the season 2 buzz that the group makes contact with more survivors on an abandoned farmhouse, but we have no idea what kind of dynamic these new people will bring.

Sunday’s premiere of Walking Dead also kicked off AMC’s Fear Fest this Halloween season!  Sixteen days of your favorite Halloween movies!  I know I’m pumped!  See the listing of films by clicking the link above.  Much to my surprise, I got a voicemail message from my local video store reminding me I hadn’t been in for awhile and offering me a free rental plus 14 days of 1/2 price movies.  SC”ORE!  Another opportunity for me to stock up on my favorite thrillers and gory flicks.  I’ve already watched such classics as Carrie and The Shining this past week.  And if you’re into the FREE route, you better tune in to AMC’s Fear Fest or visit your local library, which I’ve done and reserved many more spooky films.

For more zombie goodness, check out Sonia Medeiros’ zombielicious post The Zombies are Coming!  Did I mention her post is about zombies?!  Go check it out, there’s games and links and a vote for your favorite and least favorite zombie flick.  She thinks of everything!

Your turn!  Did you tune in for The Walking Dead premiere?  What did you think?  Were you totally on edge or what?  Do you enjoy the zombie craze we’re seeing in the media (even Jane Austen has gone all Zombie Slayer)?  What is your favorite Zombie movie?  Tell me, and then vote on Sonia’s blog! 

The Midwest Young Adult Guide to Surviving New Orleans

Visiting the other end of the Mississippi

I’m back on the northern side of the Mississippi!   Amazingly, I’m alive somehow.  As luck would have it the adventures of this redhead were nothing along the disappointing avenue, rather they were at times too colorful for me imagine.  Before you all start conjuring up images of me in some drive-up daquiri daze on Bourbon St., let me clarify.  I was not drunk.

And any pictures that do make their way into this blog post were taken post day one, which was so terrifying I didn’t take a single shot.

I’ll back up.  I was in New Orleans last week.  I went to visit my best friend from High School who I haven’t seen in 5 years.  Exciting, right?  Sorry to disappoint again, readers, this post will not be a blast from the past or a list of Top 10 Things To Do With Your Bestie.  I’m going to tell you how to survive on your own for a week in New Orleans living like a kinda local. 

Rule  #1:  Though you’ve planned this vacation months in advance, you’re friend will be working all week long.  So get used to asking for directions.

Rule #2:  Those preemptive extra bottles of contact solution, hand sanitizer, and 2.5 ounces of shampoo will NOT save you from the Louisiana heat wave!  Or from the constant smell of sweat and piss both inside and out.

Rule #3:  When your friend says he’s arranged for transportation, you might want to check the measurements and pack any necessary safety features that aren’t otherwise included.  For example, my friend gave me a bike to ride, but it was too tall, and made for boys, so naturally, I fell…A LOT.  I wished I had a helmet, knee pads, wrist guards, shin guards, and yes, a giant padded diaper around my ass, because I was in immense pain after day 1 and illustrated bruises I didn’t know were possible.

Rule #4:  Learn how the locals eat, and react calmly.  If timing isn’t your host’s forte’, you may want to snack in the kitchen or dig in immediately when the food is done and just be that person, because what my midwest manners did instead was wait until everything was ready and set out on the porch, which then consequently became COVERED in flies, and I don’t know if you’re aware but flies VOMIT every time they land.  It’s true.  I took science.

Rule #5:  It’s not a joke when they say there are sharks in the water.  When your friend tells you we’re all gonna go swimming in Lake Ponchartrain and how it’s a salt water lake that bull sharks go to breed in, don’t laugh, he’s telling the truth, though you won’t learn this until you later jokingly ask a cab driver and he confirms it.

Rule #6:  Don’t mess with the police.  So, if Lake Ponchartrain happens to be closed, and you have to hop a fence, trip through some thicket and steak out a hidden corner of beach to go swimming, it probably means the police will be MAD if they find you there.  Especially if they find you hiding in the thicket.

Rule #7:  Bike rides aren’t for wimps in New Orleans.  Again with the bike, you say?  How bad could it be?  It was BAD, ya’ll!  Several of our gang were falling off their bikes and hitting pavement hard. There were busy streets, scary potholes, and loose gravel.  One member got separated from the group and was run down by a car yelling obscene comments.  She walked home with her bike and a badly cut arm.

Rule #8:  If in the morning you feel like crying and going IMMEDIATELY back to the airport after such a first day in a new city and you’ve slept all night on a pillow that stinks like B.O., just know you’re not alone.  I’m right there with ya.  And I’m here, alive, with no current police record, to tell you that New Orleans was ok. Laissez le bon tou roulez!

The view towards Canal St. between the Mississippi River and Decatur St. in the French Quarter.

Stay tuned for more of my epic adventure!  What have you all been up to?  I missed you guys!

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